Saturday, February 21, 2009

Chub by accident

The fly that was on the horizon last week never landed in the ointment. It's due next Monday now. I had a chance to sneak away for a longer session on Thursday. It wouldn't matter what time I arrived at the river as I could stop late and fish again on Friday. The day was warm again, cloudy but bright. No surprise to see the car park full. It turned out that only two of the cars belonged to anglers so there was no fighting for swims, especially as the other two anglers turned out to be roving for chub. Lacking a plan I walked downstream, spotting a couple of nice looking spots I hadn't noticed before. Ideal places for a stealthily lowered barbel bait. Nonetheless I headed back up the 'alley' to while away the hours of daylight in a comfy swim before a move or two after dark. If anything the river was clearer than it had been on Tuesday, and a little lower. Despite the water temperature having risen to over 7c it would be darkness when the barbel would come out to play.

I sat listening to the test match unfold with one crab Pellet-O cast downstream towards an overhanging willow, and a couple of S-Pellets cast about a third of the way across, slightly upstream to a bit of a crease.

One of the chub anglers stopped for a chat. He'd had three but it had been hard work. It was his first session on the stretch so I told him of a couple of swims I'd taken chub from. On his return, chubless, from the swims we talked further about the size of the chub the river was producing and I bemoaned the fact that I'd not managed a five pounder this season. Usually a few chub of that size succumb to my barbel baits. Thinking about it further I haven't been using boilies as much as in previous years, concentrating on the Sonu pellets as barbel so seem to approve of them. Perhaps that's the reason why.

Darkness fell and I thought I'd leave it until the tea break in the test match before making a move. The church clock chimed five, six, seven, zzzzzzzzzzzz. The rod fishing to mid-river was away. I pulled into something. Then it was gone. At first I feared an inexplicable line failure or cut-off, but no. The rig was intact, the hook point sharp and unmasked. Just one of those things. Another hour in the swim was called for.

I started to tidy my gear for the move when it started spitting with rain. Out with the brolly. I could have sworn I'd replaced the collapsing brolly with a different one. But I hadn't. A battle ensued as I struggled to assemble the damned thing. The rain eased off almost as soon as I got the pole in the ground and myself under cover. On with the waterproofs. Half an hour later I had everything ready for the move bar the brolly and the rods. The rain came back. I sat on my rucksack under cover and let it pass.

In the new swim I rebaited and positioned my baits in the same way to the previous swim as the features were not dissimilar. While moving swims I missed two West Indian wickets. Two more and England would win. But time was running out. The sky cleared, the West Indians dug in, my eyelids drooped. I was disturbed from my reverie by a screaming baitrunner. The downstream rod was hooped right over. At last! Hang on. This ain't no barbel. Sure enough a long chubby-looking thing appeared in the Petzl beam. Once netted it went berserk. I left it there while I sorted the scales and sling. It proved to be a late entry on the five pounder list. It's just typical that when I target chub I catch middling sized one, when I don't they turn out bigger.

An anorexic chub

Perhaps that earlier missed take was another supercharged chub bite? It's an explanation I'm happy with. While all this was going on a wicket fell. Close of play, one way or another, wouldn't be far away. That would be my cue to wind the rods in and head for a secluded place by a river to spend the night. England's hopes faded with the light, so I was tucked up in bed by eleven.

The luxurious accommodation of Hotel Astra

The alarm was set for six thirty. I awoke early to hear a blackbird singing it's head off before there was much of a hint of daylight. Where to fish? Not too far from the car! It seemed like a good idea to put the rods out and have something to eat and set me up for the day. You can't beat a bacon butty and a mug of tea on the bank.

Food of the Gods

The swim looked good. Some slacker water with a bit of depth. A touch of colour and a decent temperature was encouraging. Nothing happened. The sun came out. Nothing happened. Back to the car, stick a rod out on an alarm on the off chance while filling the flask and drying off the brolly, which the forecast said wouldn't be required, so it could be left in the car. Three buzzards soared overhead. I could have been miles from anywhere.

I wasn't feeling brave enough to enter the Lion's Den. The rat Hole would do me - even though it has been far from kind to me. I inspected Son of Rat Hole, a swim that has been recently opened up below the Rat Hole. It lacked depth. Depth might mean a chance of a bite in daylight. Besides, the Rat Hole was sheltered from the wind and it's offspring wasn't...

An other angler arrived and revealed that he didn't think there'd been a barbel out all week. Maybe two on Monday but he wasn't sure. Yet conditions were good following the prolonged cold spell. I chose to fish one rod on the edge of a crease during daylight, then put a second rod out closer in after dark. Even out of the wind the day was cooler than Thursday. The river wasn't much different though. I wasn't dispirited.

A couple of fieldfares flew into the hawthorns as it got near to dusk. They made a noise, looked agitated and flew off. A small brown bird flitted from the bushes to the base of a willow. A flash of cream suggested to me it might be a treecreeper. When it came round to my side of the trunk it was, indeed, a treecreeper. A nice spot for the day. As the light level dropped further so birds became silhouettes a skinny looking moorhen alighted on a branch trailing in the water. An odd looking moorhen with an exceedingly long beak. It was a water rail. A secretive and nervous bird. I've seen them before elsewhere, but not for a long time. Another nice spot.

By the time it was dark enough for the isotopes to glow bright rain arrived. Great... Zip up the rucksack fold over the bait bag and don the waterproofs. Not cold rain and far from heavy. Not really heavy enough to wet me through. It still put a dampener on my spirits though. If I'm not enjoying being there, I go home. At eight that's just what I did.