Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Sergeant's orders

The weekend came and along with it the storm, rain and relentless winds, lights flickering in the Erdwin household and eventually culminating in a 14 hour power cut, many trees had been uprooted in the area and quite frankly I was glad that I had eventually seen sense and decided against popping out for a spot of fishing on Saturday.

Unfortunately Sunday passed me by too and was spent with disposing of perished items from our fridges due to the power cut, can't say I was best pleased as it was very spring like and the thoughts of fishing and photo opportunities of wildlife that I was probably missing did irk me somewhat.

It was lunchtime Monday when I decided come hell or high water (the latter being very attainable..) that I would grab the gear and head off back down to the river in search of perch for a few hours. So with some liquidized bread laced with krill and mixed with maggots, caster and a plentiful supply red worms  from the family compost to chop up and feed in too I set off.

Getting to the river was a bit of an ask, debris everywhere, silt had been deposited into areas I didn't even think were possible and this combined with deep pools of mud along the way gave me a distinct marshmallow man meets Bear Grylls feeling, it was a slow process and at times precarious.

On casting an eye on the river I could see that the winds had not left the area unscathed, rows of trees still stood to attention as if mourning their fallen comrades, but in this negative there was still a positive, new features had been created that will no doubt provide sanctuary for many fish come next season.

The river had fined down a bit, if you could call it that and I decided to target a slack, fishing lob worm tipped with maggot for the stripeys.

Within the first half hour and having lost a fish earlier to a hook pull, I found I was in a lively scrap with a very fit perch, its proud dorsal creating a miniature maelstrom each time it cut through the surface, before bullishly darting back down for the safety of tree roots and sunken debris.

Dry tongue and throat were quite an issue until I finally slid the net under her. She was plump and very beautiful.


After taking one last look at her and finally saying goodbye she glided away majestically into the river, little did I know that this was going to be the catalyst for a red letter trip.

As I sipped coffee and was being kept company by kingfisher and woodpeckers on the opposite bank, the rod twitched, a more subtle bite as the fish mouthed the bait, I lifted the rod and held the line to feel for any more activity, sure enough every so often a soft pluck which slowly become more regular, almost with its own rhythm, I struck, the clutch ticked steadily and rod lurched as the fish bolted for cover, this felt another solid fish and as I drew it toward the landing net I could see it was lightly hooked in the upper lip, I winced at the thought that the hook hold might slip, thankfully it held true and she was soon recuperating in the net.

Replete with a cavernous mouth, the last thing that most minnow and gudgeon might ever see, she was a finely conditioned river stripey on both flanks, this trip was becoming something else.


Opposite flank and looking fresh off the perca production line

By now I was in the land of surreal and this jelly baby had an almost warm and fuzzy glow about himself.

The rain came and went in fits and spurts and it remained overcast, low light levels, perfect perch conditions, it was just after one such spell of rain that I slipped the net under the third stripey of the day a pristine fish.


By the time daylight had faded I managed to add one more, a fish of 2lb, with some very striking markings and a distinct little orange blemish under its chin.


The way events had unfolded really had been very special and as I packed up I took a long thoughtful look at the river  thanking it and the army of proud, healthy sergeants for such a red letter day.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Floody hell

It has been a long time since I can remember any dry weather and I'm sure most of you may agree that it has been rather monsoon like, many rivers and brooks have become bank bursting torrents.

Being someone who prefers flowing water the choice of places to fish were somewhat limiting.The canals did spring to mind but I thought that I would instead head to a new area of river and see if I could perhaps tempt some perch and chub.

Looking somewhat like a jelly baby in chest waders I carefully made my way to the spot, the river had burst its banks in places and despite being a very intimate waterway, it was almost double in width due to the excessive rainfall. I had looked at this area some time ago and it looked like the perfect place for perch to hang around, part of me wished I had also fished it back then too but I was rather distracted by other waterways.

Opting to fish off the main flow and not too far out,I introduced a black cage feeder, filled with liquidized bread (mixed with krill), maggot and caster, with a nice juicy lob worm tipped with maggot so as to help it show up a bit more.

The first few hours showed promise with fish breaking the surface on a couple of occasions, but the quiver tip remained motionless, the coffee flask was opened and a cup drained, it was just nice to be out wetting a line and I was as happy as a pig in the proverbial.

A light pluck, delicate and very tentative, was followed by a couple more, I struck and was met with a welcome resistance, wading out a little way to play this fish I eventually saw the flank of a large perch, looking every oz a 3lb fish, the landing net was slowly being guided toward it when the inevitable happened, "ping" the hook flying out and it was gone. Calmly putting the rod back in the rest and somehow managing to not mutter a single blasphemous word I sat down annoyed with myself, but at the same time very happy to know that they were about.

Little did I know that the scenario was going to repeat itself, but it did, this time I did not get a chance to fully see the culprit, but the bite and scrap felt all too much like another good perch, the same result, another hook pull. By now words failed me and I was beginning to think it was just going to be one of those days where your luck is in but not quite fully.

Not long after these two fish, a pike decided to gatecrash the swim, snaffling up the lob worm and giving me a lively tussle on the light setup. A large framed fish but weighing 6.12, it had some very nice markings and obviously had mistaken itself for a perca.

It was getting near to the end of the trip when I had the faintest of plucks, slowly the confidence grew, each pluck becoming a bit more daring and resembling every inch of a perch bite.

As I set the hook the fish charged off out of the slack and into the main current, this felt reasonable as had all the other hook pulls, "get out of my head" I muttered, but there it was still gnawing at me as I played this fish and was not to be silenced until the net was slipped under it.

It was a perfectly formed perca (2.13), with a resplendent dorsal and vivid colouration, after losing the other fish this was a very welcome reward and made for a very pleasant way to end the trip.