Thursday, 21 January 2010

A Billowing River

Wednesday 20th January 2010, 16:00 - 1830. Upper Warks Avon. Grey and muddy.

Driving towards Ryton on Dunsmore from Coventry I craned my neck as the Avon passed under the A45. If you were to see the river from only this vantage point from a moving vehicle you would be forgiven for thinking nothing spectacular lies within. As it passes under the dual carriageway it is little more than ten feet across. It appears for less than a second but that appearance is often a weather vane for swim choice. Even when not going fishing I crane my neck to look.

After recent snow melt and rain I was glad to see the river back in it's banks and figured I'd return to the lower section of the club stretch I was aiming for.

I parked at the bottom of the village, loaded up my trusty tackle steed i.e. me, and made off upstream. I had on thigh waders as this stretch is notoriously prone to flooding and can be very muddy.

I took a look at the swim in the reeds I fished the other week but the water was too riotous to think about fishing it. The river looked a couple of feet up and there was menace in the pace.

The wooden foot bridge I mentioned before during the snow had knee deep water gliding over it. I took out and extended a bank stick as though divining for solid earth and waded gingerly towards it. I could see the path over the other side of the footbridge was also knee deep in water but this was flowing with more purpose than that in which I was currently standing. I stood stock still for a short while and let my brain do some thinking. The swim I had in mind was a good few hundred yards upstream and the muddy path was evidently submerged by flowing water. I turned on my heels and retreated back to the car.

A good fisherman is more than than just good at fishing. Before you even start fishing there are swim, tackle and bait selection decisions for the current conditions to consider. Once fishing and even once catching you have to ask yourself could you be doing better elsewhere or with a different method? Once fishing and not catching, is it your method, your bait, your location or the quarry letting the side down? The fishing itself is just a manifestation of your decision making. The execution of your ideas.

Where trudging back fully laden to the car without wetting a line is on the spectrum of skill I'll leave you to decide.

I drove upstream to a more accessible stretch.

The river still looked energetic up here. I walked upstream and found a swim with a sharp ninety degree left hand turn with a large and relatively sedate back eddy on the near bank.

The water hit the far bank and turned sharply left, rattling reed stems and occasionally gurgling as it did so. I waded round the back of the tree you can see in the above picture and out onto what is usually a grassy outcrop to try and find a vantage point to fish downstream into the slacker water but I would have had to have stood up to fish and it was again knee deep and I didn't know whether the river was rising after the days rain and so thought better of it.

On the nearside the flow was left to right as it swirled in a big whirl. On the far side the flow was a frothy pacey right to left. In the middle of the whirl was some slacker water. For the first time ever I cast my feeder upstream and put it on the rest. Fishing upstream looked weird on the tip. None of the gentle nodding I'm used to, just prolonged increases in tension as the water billowed round the corner and spilled turbulently into the dead area. I wondered how the river did this - water coming downstream in powerful waves changing the whole dynamic of the pool. It seemed too organised for something so benign in form and well... liquid.

I wasn't rewarded for succumbing to the hypnotism of the flow and the tip didn't twitch. My only observation was that the hooklength was being gently wrapped around the mainline by the swirling water I was casting into.

As dusk arrived I moved downstream one peg to the swim with the willows on the far bank. The flow was again too malevolent to throw a feeder at so I switched my gear over to a two swan shot trundling bread rig in the hope of guiding my bait under the willows.

First run through was like being hooked up to a train. A steady and unforgiving force pulled line from the reel and quickly downstream. Hmmmm... sub-optimal (as the Germans would say).

Second run through with a reduced size flake on the hair I somehow managed to steer the bait off the main flow and to the right under the willows. Once over there the pull on the tip eased and I could let the bait progress at a pace the fish would stand a chance of at least seeing let alone eating. Tug tug. A bite. I missed it.

Third run through the same result and I landed a Chub of 2lbs 3ozs.

I stayed put in this swim until the end missing one more bite and landing a second Chub weighing exactly the same as the first.

A misty rain forced the third retreat of the evening but this one ended in a pint of Guinness back in the village.


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