The first feint signs of spring are starting to tentatively appear. Last week there were mallards mating, collared doves chasing each other, and a magpie adding twigs to an old nest. This afternoon the sun shone with more warmth than it had since before the winter solstice and birds, mostly great tits, were making a happy racket when I got out of the car in the deserted car park.
I'd expected to see a few more anglers on the bank on a sunny Sunday afternoon with the season's end set to leap out and take us by surprise like it does each year. But no. The banks were deserted on my chosen stretch. The gear was dumped in a fancied swim, the thermometer chucked in the water. There'd been rain in the night and I had braced myself to find the river bank-high and cold. It was up a couple of feet all right, coloured slightly and flowing at a moderate pace. The thermometer said it was a cool 4.5c. I was glad I'd packed the chub gear.
For a change I cast a couple of lobworms out on the upstream rod, and fished closer in and straight across with the cage feeder and cheese paste. Although three ounces wouldn't hold out on a long chuck there was hardly any debris coming down to drag the rigs out of position. It looked hopeful. I got a bite early on to the paste, but failed to connect. Then it went quiet.
It was nice to be out in the fresh air again, soaking up the sun without having to be bundled up in warm clothes. A few bites would have improved things though. It wasn't until the sun had sunk below the tree line that the paste rod started to indicate some fishy interest. Nothing positive but my hopes rose. By now I had noticed that the water level was higher than when I set up. It hadn't risen much though. Last night's rain was slow coming into the system.
With it still fully light at five thirty I swapped the worm over to an 8mm crab Pellet-O with a golf ball sized mesh bag of mixed pellets on the hook. It hadn't been out half an hour when the tip got bouncy-bouncy and I hooked a fish. Not a big fish, probably a chub - possibly a small barbel, which fell off half way to the net. This prompted me to swap the paste rod for one fishing two S-Pellets.
It was six o'clock by the time the stars were fully bright. Another cheering sign that winter is on the wane. Looking at the water level it was clearly rising faster than it had been, and the rod tips were taking on a slightly greater curve against the increasing water pressure. On the plus side, the water temperature was creeping up. While I was rebaiting the upstream pellet rod the other rod tip jagged down in chubby fashion. Oh well. With the pellet recast I picked up the S-Pellet rod and found the daft chub had hooked itself!
As the main reason for turning out was to blow the cobwebs away and cure my cabin fever a fish meant it was mission accomplished.