Tuesday 24th November, 16:10 - 16:45. Warks Avon. Gusty wind, overcast with a little rain. 12C mild.
I've made arrangements to fish with Pete tomorrow evening but I was itching to get out and so made arrangements with the necessary authorities to have a couple of hours after work tonight.
The forecast for this evening was iffy when I looked last night and so I needed somewhere close to home and where the likelihood of a fish was good given I didn't want to be out too late.
I couldn't think of anywhere in competition terms that fitted the bill. I'm currently after Roach and Perch. Float fishing for Roach with bread at Brandon made it onto the short list but I just didn't fancy it in the dark. Instead I thought I'd have a night off from the competition. Once that decision was made all sorts of ideas came rushing through the gates, Barbel, Chub, Tench even!? Quite a liberating state of mind, but tempered by a worry that complacency would chivalrously open the door marked 'Opportunity' for Pete.
I settled for a go at the Chub on the river close to home given the mild weather and recent rains, and plumped for a method which is both active and killer on small rivers at this time of year- wafted bread.
Word has it that wafted bread is the bastard son of trundled meat. Theoretically simple it involves pinching a large piece of flake onto a hook and running it downstream off a centrepin. The only addition to the rig is a small weight say twelve inches up from the hook. This weight ensures the whole lot goes down along the bottom. In recent times I've also preferred to hair rig the bread as it improves hook-ups as you're not striking through the doughy stuff around the shank.
The skills associated with this type of fishing are threefold. Firstly, when baiting up you want to leave enough fluffy bread so the bait floats. Secondly (and coupled with the first) you need to judge the amount weight added to the line so it pulls the floating bait down to the bottom but still allows the whole ensemble to bounce lightly downstream. Too little weight and the rig will rise in the water and skate across the surface. Too much weight and it will always be snagging and catching on the bottom. Obviously current speed is a big factor in the first two. Thirdly is the line control from the reel. Often the current itself is enough to pull line from the reel even if the rig has lodged on the bottom, this is to be avoided. A combination of slow circular rod tip movements and thumb control on the rim ensures you remain in contact with the bait as it 'wafts' downstream.
Bites are registered on a light quiver tip and are often plucky affairs. The fish feels little if any resistance upon slurping down the bread and wrap-arounds are very rare.
With a little practice you can use a combination of line-lay in the current and reel control to guide your bait right under rafts and other overhung places where Chub love to live.
It was this method I employed this evening and after puffing up my capabilities in the preceding paragraphs I lost the lot on a snag on the second cast. In my defense it was not the best swim for the method with a tree tunnel at the tail of the pool! A snag was always on the cards.
I set up again and moved downstream one peg. I rebaited, adjusted the weight on the line and swung out into the flow.
After quite an initial peel the bait moved off the main flow towards the near bank and into marginally slacker water. There was still enough pull to inch the bait along the bottom, it was not static.
A twitch on the tip signalled interest. I left it for a second or two and the line remained slightly more taught than when just under the influence of the water.
I struck and felt a thumping weight on the line. At first I thought it was a Barbel. My gear was stout and I drew the fish upstream and could soon see it was a Chub - not a happy one though, it thrashed the water to foam.
I haven't been Chub fishing for ages and so my eye is not in weight-wise.
I netted the fish in the nearside slack and lifted it onto the grass. It was definitely a good fish.
Once unhooked it weighed in at 6lbs 2oz, just 1oz short of my pb;
Chuffed to bits I decided not to be greedy and to call it a day, sated.
I did however find time to ring Pete and let him know I'd caught a fish (and species he still needs!) worth five points in our competition within 30 minutes of arriving on the bank. Instant gratification is not something that comes along regularly in fishing.
Here's hoping this is a good omen for tomorrow evening!