Monday, August 10, 2009

Sitting by a river throwing in pellets*

Although England managed to bat for longer than I thought they would the collapse still arrived before I'd finished whipping all my rods. Nonetheless, despite the day turning cloudy and threatening rain, I stuffed an early tea down my neck, left the brolly at home and headed for the river.

First stop was to look at a new-to-me length and have a walk. Even with the overcast I worked up quite a sweat. Then headed off to visit my feathery friends. It wasn't long after I'd set out my stall that they arrived, milling around in the edge waiting for the pellets they knew were coming. They were the only companions I had as the river was deserted. It looked as if the stretch had seen a bit of stick over the weekend though, with trampled grass in a few places.

With the baits out I sat back to relax with a brew. I was idly watching the rod tips when I heard rustling and a quiet 'peeping' sound in the grass to my right. The feathery horde wasn't satisfied and wanted more. There are two missing from the brood since I first made their acquaintance but the remainder are almost fully grown now. Even so, mum still keeps a watchful eye out for them.

Beware - ducks!

It took me by surprise when the downstream rod sprang into life. It only felt like a small fish but was proving difficult to get under control. When I saw the boilie hanging from a pectoral I knew why - it was foulhooked. With the river low and, more importantly, clear it was vividly coloured. Bright coral fins and deeply brassy scales. A fish for the future.

Dusk still lingers with hatches of flies coming off the river, but the long shadows come earlier. Summer is showing signs of drawing to a close now. Swallows were flying high, far above the wood on the far bank, leaves now turned dark shades of green with hints of autumnal browns in places.

I had pulled the upstream rod out of a snag, fraying the hooklink, and was tying up a second spare one after recasting when that rod was away. A decent fish by the feel of it. A well filled out none pounder as it turned out. Fifteen minutes later the same rod jagged down a few times and I lifted into a fish that felt equally good. Then it fell off. I'm still not convinced by the S5 hooks in smaller sizes for barbel fishing.

Half an hour went by when a sharp take to the downstream rod stopped suddenly, then the tip jabbed again. I expected an eel, so a small chub was a pleasant surprise. A fresh bait was attached to the hair and recast. Barely had I sat down again and the same rod was in action again. No chub this one. Immediately I picked up the rod and bent into the fish it took line. Always a good sign.

Sure enough, it was a cracker. Another solid and chunky fish. The bigger fish have lost their early season flabbiness and with the clear water are looking good.

Throw pellets out, wind barbel in...

When I was returning the fish I noticed that it had a slightly deformed barbel. I'll have to check back through my photos to see if it's a fish I've caught before. [Yes I have and at the same weight. Which is odd as it's on the web at over a pound heavier... Must buy some new scales!]

A closer look

There were some strange noises coming from the far bank woods after dark. The first was a rather loud bark. Just one. Then later there were sounds of things crashing through the undergrowth. This didn't sound like deer, which can sometimes crack a twig or two. Maybe badgers, they can be less than subtle at times. One thing I doubt was causing the noise was the big black cat that I have heard is prowling the valley. It's strange how talk of big cats sometimes spooks you. Last time out I packed up early because I couldn't get the animal out of my mind and kept looking over my shoulder! This time it didn't bother me. Even though I'd had an unexpected feline encounter as I approached the river.

Coming down the bank I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of something stalking in the long grass by the river. It's long tail twitching in anticipation. How amazing that I had only heard of the 'panther' a few days before and there I was, face to tail with..

...a small white kitten that bounded off in fear as soon as it became aware of me!

I was too lazy to fill any more pva bags of pellets, so when the last one was used up I started to tidy the gear away at eleven thirty. Five minutes into this process the upstream rod was off again! Just a small one, but nice to finish the session off. Why low and clear conditions put people off I really don't know. Barbel can be caught, and in daylight too. Okay, the biggest fish of the session came after dark, but I'd had a couple before the headtorch was required. Still, I'm not grumbling.

* With apologies to John Gierach