Thursday, 8 March 2012

A Tale of Three Rivers.

A bit like a matchman practises on a venue before the big day, I've taken to practising catching my target species on local rivers. Although a pb shaker might not be on the cards I find the confidence it gives me carries over into the days on those 'special places' where something extraordinary is truly possible.

To prove (to myself) I could still catch chub and dace I spent short sessions on the upper Avon before travelling South to fish for three days solid.

I was rewarded well with chub on the Warks. Avon catching half a dozen fish in quick succession in my first proper after-work foray of the year.

5 of 6. Biggest 4lb 8ozs at the top.

Full of anticipation Jeff and I then headed South well before the crack of dawn to start our three day event on various southern venues, starting at the Lower Itchen Fishery.

This was my fourth visit to this river and it's starting to feel like home. I could just as easily imagine myself on the bank as I could down at Lucy's Mill on the Avon for example.

Last time around the short hooklink maggot feeder provided me with a pb grayling of one pound fifteen ounces and a string bigger fish so it was straight to the top of the fishery for me - to the upper limit peg where I'd caught before, and out with a feeder.  

There was far more water in the river than previously and times were hard up there, apart from a couple of trout and a kelt there were no grayling to be had.

A wiry kelt.

I moved steadily downstream during the course of the morning, pulling out the float rod where necessary and gravitated to an area which is the bottom end of the upper coarse beat where the river splits.

Far from flogging away, I became absorbed with running a float through a couple of swims, studying the nuances of the current, the shotting pattern on the line and lost count of the number of trout, seatrout and small grayling I was catching.  Slightly overtired now, I was firmly in the zone of semi-reality where the fishing and surroundings conspired to make it physically impossible for me to stop fishing! I missed my lunch appointment with the others, I totally emptied one pool of at least a dozen fish but I hadn't had a decent grayling yet. Without food, sleep or drink (which I'd left in the car) how come I was feeling this good!?

Time was ticking on and so certain there must be some decent grayling in one particular run I sat down again and put the feeder out.

A depression in the river bed.
Within the hour I'd had a grayling of one pound ten, two at one pound eleven and one at one pound twelve ounces, proving again that the feeder shouldn't be overlooked for the bigger fish.

The move downstream for the remainder of the evening resulted in chub, an eel, and loads more trout. No roach or dace for me today.

The following day saw us at a nearby pool fishing for roach. The results were uninspiring and as such I don't have any photographs to share. I caught plenty of roach throughout the day, perhaps thirty or more in number but didn't encounter one of the hoped for specimens. I weighed one fish in at twelve ounces early doors to 'get my eye in' on weights but didn't exceed that weight for the remainder of the day.

Our third and final day (and my third river of the week) saw us on the Dorset Stour hoping for chub. In my head I'd committed to fishing the waggler even before we'd arrived and so I found a suitable swim and started to feed maggots whilst I set my rod up.

I caught two small dace and minnows-a-plenty in the first hour.

The next strike met with a more solid resistance.

The fish was heavy in terms of weight on the line but it wasn't charging around looking for cover as a chub would. This had me guessing it's identity.

Playing it like a massive pink meringue in a puff-ball skirt. 
I was on a very fine 2lb bottom and so played the fish very, very gently.

It started to come upstream of it's own accord.

Jeff who was now with me speculated: barbel, bream even?

Once under the tip the fish caught sight of near bank reeds and made a heavy dive for them.

We could both now see the unmistakable shape of a fat chub in the water.

6lbs 6oz Stour Chub.
At six pounds six ounces it was a new pb for me and provided me with a very warm glow. Jeff takes a good photo, we all know that, and when he's telling you to, "Hold it a bit closer to you, it looks flipping massive!", you know it's a good fish.

After the capture and return of this fish I went for a walk along the stretch and had a chat with Yoda.

About twenty minutes later I returned to my peg, fired out a pouchful of maggots and ran my float through again and almost immediately received a bite which again saw the rod hoop around and a fight commence. After being on for only twenty seconds this fish slipped the hook and that was that for this peg.

I've saved the best until last as usual though.

Whilst on the canal this week I hooked a fish I must have spent about fifty quid chasing a couple of years ago whilst engaged in another fishing competition.....

A Bloody Ruffe!!

Here are our Top 5 - % of record weight challenge scores this evening: