Sunday, January 24, 2010

A late start

A pint of red and white maggots was purchased yesterday, and three Interceptors rigged up ready for a roach session in the Land that time Forgot today. I couldn't get off to sleep last night as my mind was thinking out an idea for a website. It was gone two am when I nodded off and almost nine when I managed to crawl out of bed this morning - and it was raining. I pottered on the PC. making a start on the website and wondering if it was a good idea while listening to the radio. When the repeat of Just a Minute came on I snapped. Two slices of toast were slathered in honey and swiftly eaten. My plans had changed.

It was getting on by now, a session on the lake would be short. With this being the first weekend when anglers would be out in numbers, and the lake well filled, there might not be any swims vacant. To the river, still in search of roach. The river rod sling was ready, as always, even my quiver tip rod was set up. All I had to do was swap the stillwater tackle box and feeder bag in the rucksack for my river ones, fill the flask and load the car.

Crossing the local river it was much lower than it had been on Friday, meaning the big river should be just about spot on. parking up next to the only other car in the car park I headed straight to the river's edge to check it out. Not high and not low. Not too coloured. Great. The owner of the car had already caught a couple of roach. Things were looking good. Downstream there were more anglers in evidence, and a wander along the bank revealed that fish were being caught - on both float and leger. But no roach. Back upstream to the car, unload my burden and haul it down the slippy bank. There was not much to go on from the surface patterns on the water. There were fish in the area though, so it was worth a shot.

Almost February when the annual end of season desperation starts to kick in and a line not yet wet, no fish landed. Time to put that to rights. There was a light drizzle falling from the grey sky. The clouds that could be seen were coming from a vaguely northern direction as far as I could tell. No wonder the air temperature was below 5C. When I took the water temperature I was pleased to note it was 4.1C - and it rose slowly as the session progressed. The river level dropped. Not bad at all.

The first rod out was speculative 'barbel' rod. I wasn't expecting a barbel to pick up the paste wrapped boilie, but a chub might manage to hang itself. Having that rod out would do no harm, cast as it was downstream. The maggot feeder rig was cast upstream about a quarter of the way across the river. I'd half filled the feeder with maggots then topped it up with a mix of tinned hemp and micro trout pellets. The same combination I'd have used on the lake. The size 16 was loaded with one read and one white maggot.


The appetiser

Quarter to two and plenty of time to fish on into dark for an hour or so. Almost immediately the quiver began to jiggle. I wasn't happy though. There was too great a bend in the tip. I recast farther upstream. That was better but I still wasn't happy. The third cast went about five yards upstream and three rod lengths out. A bow was fed into the line and the tip pulled into a gentle curve pointing downstream. Within minutes the tip sprang back and I was connected to a fish. As I grabbed the landing net the fish fell off.

A repeat performance from the tip signalled a second bite on the next cast. Reasoning that I'd tried to drag the first fish upstream too quickly against the strong flow I took it easy this time. A chub of maybe a pound and a half was netted. The first fish of the year. One goal achieved. Now for a roach.

Up and running

Another chub was lost through another case of ignorance and brute force before I landed what looked like a big dace. I'm not accustomed to catching dace but I do know what a small chub looks like. This definitely wasn't a chub. Something about its appearance was telling me it wasn't a dace either. Dace alwasys seem dainty and delicate to me. The scales were smaller than those of chub, the mouth more refined. But... Not to worry. It was another fish.


A second mystery fish was followed by another chub. All these fish hooked themselves giving stomping slack line bites. Then I started missing bites and bumping fish off. I put on a fresh hook and promptly snagged up and lost the lot. I'd noticed that the last missed bite had seen just the white maggot sucked to a skin. After retackling I put just a single white maggot on the hook.

The next bite was again a classic slack liner coming soon after the feeder settled. When I saw that the fish was a roach I eased off as I drew it carefully upstream of the waiting landing net before dropping the rod tip so the fish slid into it. No monster but a nice fish of around nine ounces (as in eight or ten ounces). There would have been a photo of it here but the camera battery failed on me. Particularly annoying as it had been on charge for at least 16 hours, having been put back in the camera minutes before I left home.

All in all the Olympus 770SW has been a disappointment. It takes reasonable photos, many of the snaps I post on this blog (including all these in this post) are taken with it simply because it's compact and waterproof, but the colours and contrast don't always look right to me. I'll concede that the underwater shots have been good, and the macro facility too, but those are not what I use it for most. Now it looks like the battery is one the blink. It's never lasted too long on a charge to be honest. So there's no pictorial proof of my second target achievement of the day. You'll just have to trust me!

I made a longer cast to the middle of the rive which produced two very dacey looking, and dace sized, dace. A chub that wasn't much bigger fell to the single maggot when I dropped it back on the nearside line, then another definite dace.

The twin Drennan isotopes on the quiver tip didn't start to glow faintly until it had turned five o'clock. Reaching full brightness after another fifteen minutes. The nights will shorten rapidly from now on. I've found maggots to be less effective after dark, or so it seems, and was considering this after rebaiting by the red light of my Petzl when the tip sprang back to signal the final chub of the session taken from mid-river. The air temperature hadn't dropped too much but the flask was almost empty.

A prolonged bout of cabin fever can fool you into believing there are other ways to enjoy your spare time. I'd finally kicked the fishing year off and, although the fish weren't huge, I had enjoyed myself so much I was already working out how to approach another session. I'd come close to losing my senses. That website I started work on can wait. There are more fish to be caught.

I'm sure that if I had taken a keepnet I would have caught more fish. Chub, like perch, don't take kindly to their shoalmates being returned and stop feeding - or disappear. A float rod wouldn't have gone amiss either - if only for the sheer pleasure of watching a float follow the river's flow. Also because there were fish topping occasionally, increasing in intensity as the light faded. There had been a bloke fishing the 'pin upstream on the opposite bank and doing well too.

Getting back up the bank was a muddy struggle. Two trips with the tackle seemed advisable. A couple of times I thought I might tumble down the slope into the river. By the time I was on level ground and heading for the car I felt a good inch taller due to the mud on my boot soles. What does a bit of dirt matter on the car floor?

By the way, Fred Bunny accompanied me today. He's been lucky so far!