Thursday 11th March, 16:30 - 20:00. Wasperton. 6C arrival, 3C departure, light NE.
I don’t think I need go on any more about the looming close season. Suffice to say I wouldn’t normally be fishing on a Thursday.
Despite previously using the lightest 1.75oz tip on my 11ft Barbel rod and scaling my terminal tackle right down I’ve still been missing a lot of flickering bites recently. Especially on maggot. These indications initially pull the tip round about a centimeter and then after a lightning quick rattle are gone. Usually the maggot comes back looking like one leg in pair of old wet tights.
I know a delicately shotted float might be the most forthright route to resolving what is causing the bites but, being me, I wanted to solve the problem within the context of the quiver tip. I don’t have a problem connecting with bites from larger fish, however I want my skill in feeder fishing to cover as broad a spectrum of quarry as possible. That way I can call upon it without prejudice whenever it might be required.
I recently bought a Shakespeare 10ft ‘wand’ which comes with four push-in tips and a very forgiving through action. I threaded the reel line through the rings with the lightest tip inserted. When I picked up the end of the 4lb line laying on the floor the weight of the line alone registered a ten degree bend on the tip. Super sensitive. The end of the quiver tip itself looks only about twice as thick as the line. The sensitivity and delicacy of this instrument can mean only one thing….…I’ll have trodden on or otherwise rendered it broken by Christmas.
With a christening on the cards I started with a half ounce bomb and single maggot on an 18 hook. Low and behold the first cast following the pouch full of maggots had the tip a-tremblin’. The pressure from the flow on the line wiped out the top third of the super fine tip leaving it pointing down at the lead. The bites however were amplified significantly through the remainder of the whisker thin glass. Enough for me to catch four very small dace over the next forty five minutes. I still missed my share of trembles though but now I understand why I'm missing them.
These fish are simply so small they don’t have enough weight for the hook to prick and take hold when they have the bait in their mouths. Without even the beginnings of a hook hold they are able to spit the hook as soon as they feel resistance. Seeing how the flow itself wiped out the most sensitive part of the quiver tip I believe I have established for myself the vanishing point in terms of size of fish you can hope catch with a tip on a river - the size of your forefinger. When a larger fish picks up the bait it’s weight against the point of the hook is enough for it to be pricked. Once the hook has taken this initial hold any further movements by the fish will show as a bounce or pull on the tip - a bite. Without flowing water I reckon the lightness in this tip will allow a fish to move perhaps four inches almost unhindered. I’m looking forward to seeing what those bites looks like.
As the sun set the rattles dried up and I switched from straight bomb to small ground bait feeder. I could sense a change of shift in sub-surface residents. I’d been dribbling in small balls of ground bait onto the line I was fishing.
The first dusk pull round was from a chub; 4lbs 12ozs.
The second, third, fourth and fifth were from bream of a good average size. I wasn’t sure of the weight needed for a point in this years record weight challenge but reckoned I had about twenty pounds in the net. I ran out of ground bait after the fourth bream and had to continue on with a maggot feeder.
I held out for a sixth bream thinking that would clinch things for me but after pricking a fish soon after the fifth I just couldn’t conjure up another bite.
I weighed the five bream in at the end for 20lbs 10ozs and rang Pete to find out how I’d done challenge-wise. I’m sure I could hear the smile in his voice when he told me I needed 22lbs+. One more would have done it.
If only that chub were a bream!
addendum: What a turn around! Whilst uploading this post I took a look at our challenge spreadsheet. It turns out the weight of bream we are aiming for is 19lbs 10oz not 22lbs. A 22lb bream was caught in September 2009 but when I put the sheet together at Christmas using information on the Angling Trust website the record stated was (and still is) 19lbs 10oz. After a hasty ring around both Danny and Pete agree to awarding me the point so I splutter off the mark.