Friday, September 05, 2008

Rain, more rain and dead sheep

When I was loading the car the rain had finally eased. By the time I was at the river it was coming down harder than ever. I knew the river would be up, which was why I arrived with four hours of daylight left so I could suss out likely floodwater swims. It was a surprise to see the level only six inches or so up on where it had been when I left the river on Wednesday night. Looking at the grass the river had obviously been higher and dropped back, even though it was on the rise again. Spate rivers are fickle beasts.

As I hoped, the swim I thought would be right at this level looked spot on. Not too pacey close in, with faster water further out, and downstream. Because of the rain my approach was different from my favoured PVA mesh bags on the hooks. I'd broken out the big feeders. A mix of Hemp and Hali Crush 50/50 with crushed halibut pellets was all I put in the feeders. One was cast slightly downstream fishing a Tuff 1 and the heavier feeder fished a 'snake' a couple of yards upstream of the rods, and a little further out.

The lighter, 110g, of the big feeders

Just as the last time I fished there were swallows and martins working over the river, undeterred by the rain, as they fed themselves up for their impending journey south. They weren't swooping low over the water, but flying higher, often up close to the trees on the wooded bank opposite my fishing position. The upstream rod jagged, jagged again and pulled over. Surely not a fish after just twenty minutes? I bent into something that could have been leaves on the line - until it pulled the rod down and tried to head out into the flow. Whereupon the hook came free. A couple of leaves and a small twig on the hook might have been there when the barbel picked the 'snake' up I suppose. At least I had judged the swim right.

After an hour the pace was quickening between the baits and the bank, the level rising and the frequency with which I was having to clear 'washing' from the line increasing. I moved up a few yards to where a well worn swim was creating a slack. By now the rain was hammering down. An hour later and this swim, too, was becoming less attractive as somewhere to fish. Another move was called for.

Upstream a bend was channelling the flow out across the river and there was quite and extensive crease with slower water near the bank. Such was the rate the river was rising at that it only took an hour before I had to move to a slack in order to keep the baits out for long enough to expect a bite. Although the rain had eased off large branches were starting to come down the river. Then the obligatory football, followed by a dead sheep. When dead sheep start to appear it's time to wind in and head for home!

Baa baa dead sheep

I stuck it until dark, by which time the river must have been carrying at least four, maybe five, feet of water, and the slack was starting to shrink. Despite blanking the session had been worthwhile. If nothing else I had proved to myself that I could find fish on the stretch when it was carrying extra water. When I walked it the first time I fished it I saw a couple of other possible floodwater swims. Maybe I'll try them the next time the river is up. That won't be this weekend though, as I have places to go. One of which might be a river somewhere...