Tuesday, August 11, 2009

First blood

For a change, and a challenge, I thought it a good idea to fish a different stretch of river. It's often hard to leave the comfort zone when you've had a good session or two but then again you can try to ride your luck elsewhere.

I'd checked the weather forecast on the BBC website and rain was predicted to arrive after dark. I put the brolly in, just in case they were right. As I got out of the car on arriving at the river to meet a customer at five the rain arrived. Just a light shower that soon passed. After doing the dodgy deal I got back in the car and set off to look at another stretch I had yet to fish. Half a mile along the road the rain came back. Heavier and more persistent this time. Knowing that a walk would be involved I carried on to the stretch I'd walked on Sunday. I could fish closer to the car there.

Getting the gear out of the car I realised that I had no PVA bags of pellets tied up, and trying to tie them under a brolly would be almost impossible. I left the rucksack and rods in the rain and jumped in the back of the car with my pellet bucket. I spent fifteen minutes or so making up pellet bags and eating my butties before trotting (more like limping!) off upstream.

The rain eased as I walked past the only other angler on the bank. I dropped my tackle by the first swim I fancied, but I was compelled to have a look at the next swim along. There was definitely something about it. Maybe the flow patterns appealed subconsciously. The gear was moved and carried gingerly down the bank.

The first task was to cast a lead around to get a feel for the swim. Then I droppered out some pellets upstream and about a third of the way across the river. Some more pellets were thrown downstream (I forgot my catty) about a rod length out. An 8mm crab Pellet-O went upstream and an Oyster and Mussel boilie downstream. By six thirty I was settled in with the brolly up - rather pointlessly as it turned out. The high bank at my back made it difficult to get the brolly angled to get any real shelter from the light rain, especially with the upstream wind that was blowing. Still, it wasn't cold and the rain was more of a drizzle.

Even with the rain there were swallows wheeling around and twittering. They will be feeding up ready for their long journey south. There was certainly a good hatch of some sort of flies on the river so they should be well fuelled.

It wasn't long before something showed an interest in the pellet. The rod shook and the line fell slack, but there was nothing attached when I wound down. Then there was a really sharp chub knock on the boilie rod. I thought I might be in with a chance of a fish of some description.

As the light was starting to fade, early with the heavy cloud cover, there was another shake of the pellet rod and this time the line fell slack, and slacker, eventually moving downstream and into the wind. That had to be a hooked fish. Sure enough there was a fish kicking when I got a tight line. Eel. Fortunately lip-hooked and not wrapped up the line it was easily flicked from the hook.

Half an hour later the boilie rod started dancing and a feisty chub of some four pounds was netted. That would do me for a first session on the stretch. I hadn't blanked. I'd fish until ten come what may. I'd seen enough of the stretch to want to return.

At half nine I started to tidy the gear away. I'd put the rods on my short sticks with the alarms attached. While I was sorting the gear out I switched the alarms on. There not being anyone around to disturb should one go off. The rucksack, chair and bucket were carried up the bank and I was stood watching the rods for the final few minutes when the tip of the pellet rod tapped. I was watching it for further movement when the other alarm sounded out a one-toner. The rod was pivoted round on the rest and the butt off the deck!

I grabbed the rod and applied finger pressure to the spool as the fish continued taking line against the baitrunner. I flicked the 'runner off and started to make some impression. Not being too sure what the river bed was like in front of me I leaned into the fish and it came upstream. When it passed me and carried on upstream I was beginning to wonder what it might be. As I stopped its powerful run out to mid-river it rolled over on the surface and soon after was in the net. Nice! I staked the net and scrabbled up the bank for the scales - the sling was in my quiver still by the rods.

A starter for ten

The fish looked a 'nine', but felt heavier. The Avon's needle removed any doubt by spinning round more than 360 degrees. Back in the net for a rest while I sorted the camera out. There was more of that damp stuff falling now, so I threw my towel over the camera while I carried the fish up the bank. A few snaps then back to the water. As soon as the mesh was submerged the barbel was trying to swim away. I dropped the net cord and helped her over it. Away she went, swimming strongly out of the beam of my head torch. I finished packing the rods and net away. I ate a Nutrigrain bar before trudging back to the car damp, but satisfied that a combination of instinct and watercraft had put a fish on the bank.