|Kingfisher poised overhead|
A Long weekend.
Long sessions and an unusually long drive.
Predators were offering themselves in the mind of temptation.
Lamprey, sprat & sardine were stocked with meat, bread & maggot the alternative options.
The days might provide a clay bed, a gravel bottom and chalk without cheese yet all would involve the Avon, both rivers and their respective rods.
Fellow blogger Nathan Walter had, very generously indeed, arranged a guest ticket on a stretch of the Hampshire Avon, in Wiltshire as it happened, but the prelude would play-out on its less vaunted Warwickshire namesake.
How trusting can wild birds possibly be?
Mute swan, moorhen, robin and even carrion crow all happy to risk trespassing in my space in a place where no doubt they are regularly fattened by the non-believers.
"What is it mummy? A Blackbird?".
"It's looks a bit big for a Blackbird darling".
The robin had a penchant for luncheon meat; the crow for bread and apple core; the moorhen of damaged foot for pretty much anything and the mute swan for floats. It's just not natural...but then fish take bread, pellets, bits of plastic, lures too.
In reality it's just the natural world surviving by the most readily available means in tough conditions. Who could complain about that? It's not just humans content with an easy life.
For their part (the river fallen, pulling nicely, colour gently departing) the fish did not want bread, lamprey, sprat or herring in slack or along crease but they did have a taste for spam.
Loose feeding 5mm cubes regularly tight across near a distinct feature for an hour before adorning the meat-peppered gravel bottom with a hookbait gave the resident chub time to gain confidence and, without ever being rushed, gradually a very nice net of fish to three and a half pounds was compiled during the rest of the day until dusk. Not that there was any intention of using all the luck up locally with The Trip to follow.
|We weren't holding back|
Sixteen and a half pounds of fish. Chub from 1.14 plus a single perch of 1.9 on lamprey and a small roach on bread comprised the catch. Tomorrow would surely be an anticlimax after such a rewarding day but, with thoughts of grayling and dreams of giant glistening silver roach, there was no shortage of hope.
Rain for the two hour journey into Paradise. Rain in paradise. Rain on the way back. A childhood dream nevertheless
Thankfully it was not windy and thus the low air temperatures did not penetrate deeper than layer four of the cocoon.
Nathan paced the porch. Breakfast was not served but, a tap at the window, a cheery chat and soon we were devouring Wiltshire's finest to gird the guts for the challenge ahead.
Walking the stretch, an unseasonal chiffchaff foraged in the dense overhang that would prove to be the swim for the day. A steady seven foot trot down past the branches in water with 'that green tinge'.
My host imagined a dozen fish under each bush along the stretch and it was hard to disagree.
Steady trickling of maggots took a while to produce a bite but the trotting rod and centrepin performed nicely once the extension to fifteen feet was added. The first fish flattered to deceive and a serious impersonation of a big roach was the result.
Nathan and the wandering red or blue man sauntered forth in anticipation but we were all disappointed yet happy that something had been caught an hour or so in. Even if that fish was a chub of just over 2lbs and not the Holy Grail.
As things progressed a very satisfactory couple of hours, topped with three cracking and immaculate fish of 3.13, 4.0.8 and a new river p.b. of 4.4, ensued. All coming to a single red or fluoro maggot trotted under a 4.5 swan chubber.
Grins all round.
Meanwhile Nathan really struggled in a variety of swims but gallantly refused to move elsewhere as long as I was catching. In fact it was very noticeable that he was a thrilled as I was with the experience; and certainly the red or blue man had not caught since we arrived either.
Cetti's warbler and water rail issued their unmistakable calls from the far bank and a tidy bird list extended.
In retrospect it was clear that I had simply been fortunate enough to sit on a shoal and it was panning-out at lunchtime like an end had come to it anyway with only one more 2+ fish coming after a lost leviathon turned downstream and could not be stopped on the fine tackle required to conjure a maggot induced nibble this particular day. A further p.b. outwith the grasp.
We pondered the option of a move but on consulting the Timex there really wouldn't have been time and so the decision was made to stay, although the ghillie would be trying another swim and, for my part, I resolved to start feeding bread mash about two hours before close of play such that it would drift in the flow and settle under the leading face of the bush.
Regular enquiries from small fish kept the trigger finger twitchy and an hour or so later a more pronounced question met with the inevitable and the final chub of the day was on.
This time the two of us were conjoined via a size 8 to 4.4 fluorocarbon.
On the face of it there should only have been one winner and, ultimately, that of course would be the case but it took a while and the further upstream the fish was drawn the better it felt in the flow, she facing into the aqueous pressure, the trotter with other ideas and angles.
Prior to this day the best fish this rod had handled was only just over two pounds but it really was now showing itself to be an impressive piece of design and engineering. Not the most recent of products but new is not always best and the fighting curve was a joy.
The fish meanwhile was not so impressed by the gear albeit it was getting to subdue this prey slowly.
Soon, mouth out, a gasp of air and a street slide sideways had it in the net.
"Another four!", I muttered to myself.
Rod laid to one side and a lift of the net met with nothing. Aha, the net must have been caught but, no, it transpired it was the belly of the fish that caused the issue.
This was no four pounder. Earlier p.b. beware.
I knew the sling weighed around a pound, and 64 ounces on my small yet perfectly formed scales represented 4lbs.
"107 ounces!", the scales pronounced. Less 16odd was looking like 90 ounces.
What did that mean?
I was reckoning on five pounds ten.
Shaking and not unduly stunned I floated along to my partner for the day who simply asked, "What's that?!" upon sight of straining net approaching.
"A massive chub", came the bemused reply, "I reckon it's 90 ounces, 5.10!?".
We gave it a proper, considered, undithering weigh and Nathan confirmed 5 pounds 11 ounces on the button.
|Second and massive p.b. of the day|
A truly beautiful fish, yet more impressive than that; and in celebration the local otter drifted past and, just as quickly, out of sight.
A conclusion to events and I couldn't thank poor old Nathan enough. He wore Lone Angler and occasionally cut the figure of one but he remained irrepressibly enthusiastic for my catches and that's just fishing; sometimes you're on 'em, sometimes you ain't and there's nowt to be done. At least as the host he could sleep comfortably that night. There is surely nothing worse than inviting an angler and them catching nothing.
Two consecutive river chub p.b's, a catch of 22lbs, a good friend made, tales and knowledge shared and new lessons learned.
What could be better, but hold on!...there's Monday yet.
Warwickshire Avon again...piking.
We track down the topping dawn shoal and good pike tear through very active two to six ounce fish three or four times.
Three runs, three inconclusively hooked fish, all lost and one dropped run.
Secondary bread swim primed ready for last two hours of daylight.
As I said, you're either on 'em or your not.