Thursday, January 28, 2010

Not quite what I intended, but it'll do

After some study of the 'dace' photograph and a couple of second opinions I came to the conclusion that they were dace. That their size and chunkiness had thrown me. There was only one thing to do. Go back and catch some more to put a weight on them.

Everything was boxed off before noon, sausage rolls scoffed in the car on my way to buy fresh maggots, then leave the barbel rods out of the sling and replace them with a float rod - just in case. Swap the barbel net for a pan net and dig out the keepnet. A keepnet that must be getting on for 35 years old. Flask filled, bunny suit and boots donned and away.

The river looked pretty much as it had on Sunday. level and clarity very similar but the thermometer showed a fall in temperature to 3.8C. There was a wind blowing from somewhere cold in the north. With the gear arranged to my satisfaction in the swim I cast out and awaited action. It was a while coming. Thirty-five minutes and many casts around the swim to be precise. A lovely slack liner that only required me to pick the rod up and wind until I felt a fish on the end.

Upstreaming is a lovely relaxed way to fish. There's no hurry when a bite comes. The fish is hooked (more often than not) and there's plenty of time to put the cup down and attend to the rod. That bite had come after I had decided to leave the rig out for longer seeing as bites weren't coming quickly. The fish that flashed in the margins showed silver and red. A nice roach of twelve ounces. The keepnet was set out and the fish popped in it ready to be joined by its shoalmates.

I'll be fishing matches next!

That was the plan. Two hours later, with cold rain being blown on a wind that had swung to the west but still had some north in it, it looked to have failed. There'd been bites, but not full-blooded ones. Watching a wren dealing with red maggots I threw to it livened up the hiatus.

The hooklink was regularly coming back twisted or tangled round the mainline. I wasn't happy. I was using the same set up as for chubbing last year, but with a maggot feeder in place of the cage feeder and a lighter hooklink with a smaller hook. The hooklink wasn't standing as proud as it should have been for some reason. Even on the previous session I'd not had this problem. How to solve it? It struck me that if I moved the leger stop over the loop in the mainline and pegged it there it might make the shortened loop stiffer. I had nothing to lose so I tried it.

Shortly after the change the second fish of the session hooked itself. It felt bigger and I thought it might be a chub, but again there was silver and red. I took things easy and a fish an ounce over a pound slid into the net. The net could do with being a bit bigger I think. It'll have to do for now, though.

No day can be a bad day when you catch one of these

With the light fading once the church clock chimed four bites came closer together. A third roach, the smallest of the day as it turned out, came a quarter of an hour after the biggest of the day. A poundish chub was next, initially fooling be into thinking I had hooked a roach of the stamp I was hoping to connect with on Sunday. The thick white lips showing in the gloom gave the game away. Darkness, as so often when maggot fishing, saw the bites tail off and me cursing that I had not picked up a loaf on my way to the river.

A cast closer in resulted in an unmistakeable bite and a dace shortly before six. Alas it was a dace sized dace. By now the rain and the wind was making me feel colder than the air temperature should have done. It was getting a bit miserable. My belly was growling too. I set a departure time of six thirty. A couple of finicky knocks on the tip saw the maggot come back with a nipped head. One last cast then take the gear to the car and return to weigh the better fish. I thought the isotopes had moved. I wasn't sure. On winding in to call it a day the maggot was a mere husk. One more last cast? My cold toes said, No.

A funny sort of session. I'd fished for roach on Sunday and caught some nice dace. I return to catch more of the dace and catch roach. Same swim, same rig, same bait. As soon as you think you have something in fishing sussed the fish confound you. I must remember the bread next time, set the float rod up in advance, and try to make an earlier start so I can put a bit more effort in. More angler friendly weather would be a big help. Cold, dry and not quite so windy would be nice. Despite not fishing gas well as I could have done the change to the rig seemed to make a difference, it certainly stopped the tangles. A little more thinking gave me another idea though. Watch this space.