Monday, October 13, 2008

Underneath the branches

It took me an age to get on my way yesterday. The road to the motorway was closed and the Sunday drivers were out in force with the sun shining and the day better than many we had during the summer. Given the weather I was surprised to find only one car parked up when I arrived at the river. Naturally the angler was in one of the swims that I had in mind to start out in. Not to worry there were others. So I went for the long walk confident there'd be nobody else on the stretch.

Imagine my disappointment when I rounded the last bend to see an angler casting out in my banker swim. It turned out he'd parked up at the next bridge downstream and walked up. Never mind the 'under the tree' swim was free. It had changed a bit since I last fished it. There has been some bank erosion and the platform of earth beneath the branches might not be there for much longer.

Underneath the willow

I had cunningly planned ahead with a new tactic. A barbel rod went out to the downstream raft of rubbish while I set up a tip rod to fish a maggot feeder on the crease created by the upstream bush. I'd fish for whatever might like a bunch of three maggots on a size fourteen until an hour or so before dark then put out a bigger feeder on a barbel rod fishing two plastic casters. Fishing the tip would get some bait down, attract small fish and draw the barbel in. With the river almost back to normal level and carrying a mere hint of colour I thought this might be worth a try.

Bites came immediately, the first fish landed being a small chublet. I hadn't blanked... The second fish was a grayling, my second ever and a new PB. I don't know what it weighed but it was a bit bigger than my first! On release it swam around upside down. So I fished it out and gave it a 'torpedo release'. That did the trick. A minnow followed, then a slightly smaller grayling which I torpedoed back and watched swim happily away.

The Lady of the Stream

I was first introduced to the 'torpedo release' by zander anglers. Apparently in Holland this is the preferred way to return zander - another species that can prove problematic to revive. What you do is throw the fish head first at the water as if it was a dart. It sounds awful to anglers brought up to hold fish level in the water until they regain their strength and swim off, but for zander, and it seems grayling, the torpedo release appears to revitalise them more quickly. Maybe it's the shock factor or maybe it forces water over their gills. Whatever the reason it's worth a try.

Plenty more bites were had, all from plump little minnows, so I swapped the rods over and cast out the big feeder in anticipation of some dusk barbel action.

Shortly before dark Roland came out to play. He's the only drawback to the 'under the tree' swim. Oddly, when it had gone dark he disappeared. I wasn't too far behind him in leaving the swim, as around eight I decided on a move to a spot I have fished before and really fancy for a barbel. Despite a clear sky, and a bright shadow-casting moon, the night was pleasantly mild. Or it was until I'd been settled in the new swim for about an hour when a chilling wind sprang up. One bait was fished close in and down to a bush, the other recast occasionally to the far bank and mid river. One chub bite to the close in rod was all I got. Shortly after eleven, feeling that nothing more was going to happen, I headed for home before the mist that was threatening to descend closed in.