Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A Stream of Ideas

Barely wide enough for the rod. Newting with a jam jar had the same feel
I tried to conujure up an analogy all the way home, all twenty minutes of it, and concluded it really was like a right-handed batsman being asked to bat left-handed for the rest of his foreseeable career

I had avoided blogging immediately after the blank on the second trip of the new era in the hope I might be able to make more sense of things after another attempt, I shirk use of the word 'session' at this point as it implies some kind of control of the situation, something I clearly do not currently benefit from

The second and third trips of the new era, given that the river season is running on empty (in fact most of the rivers are empty) and nearby is therefore good, were back on the Leam. As every venue, indeed every peg, is a novelty at this stage it is difficult to walk past any swim which looks anything less than fishable and this is exacerbated by the fact that I have been limiting myself to a couple of hours late in the day for a whole range of reasons, related and unrelated to angling. The river itself cuts through some delightful countryside enabling the distractions of the wider world to tangle with fishy deliberations and actions, particularly as darkness decends

A 10 year old companion on a narrow clear river is perhaps not the most comforting of thoughts but Parps was very careful to keep still and below the skyline keeping himself amused mashing some bread, muttering about the numb bum he'd succumbed to and later, of course, taking complete control while I knelt behind the stool in search of a solution that never came. The team match angler in me clearly has not been quelled by the passage of time as I attempted, in diming light, to avoid a blank rather than stick to the point which was to attract the same sort of violent bite I'd had the previous week

A coiled spring in stealth mode...can you see where he is?

The questions were many-fold and confounding, due largely to a lack of suitable experience. Was the water too clear, was it simply that those chub big enough to hit the rod top hard weren't present in that swim, was the rig wrong, the feed wrong, etc, etc? Had I been doing this for sufficiently long the answer would have been obvious but at this stage there are more questions than answers (cue Johnny Nash)...and the answers were often guesses as the experiences start to accumulate

So, waffling apart, trip two ended with a good old blank! Only the suggestion of fish presence conveyed by the tippy-tappy tip for a good percentage of the time was a comfort and we traipsed back to the car metaphorically empty-handed but with dreams intact

A week later (was it really that long?) I revisited to pursue the target 4lb chub again. How many challenges does an angler require I asked myself as I sat there in a far tastier looking swim for the last hour or so of daylight, plus a bit. I mulled over the factors I was grappling with and started to see some understanding float to the top by the end of the 'attempt' or, as Sven would say, 'opportunity':
  • Water clarity is more of an issue on a narrow river than on a canal it seems and it was just noticable that the water flowed very slightly more turbid than the previous week after a midweek downpour, with a sizeable chunk of crust perhaps visible to a foot or so beneath the gently wrinkling surface
  • Flow rate of the watercourse was a touch increased this time
  • A longer, deeper glide to go at before a semi-raft in mid-river was better then the previous two swims I had tried
  • Concentrating on the link leger rather than float (the latter suggesting to me a more compromising approach which would likely produce more fish but diminish the prospects for the target to be hit), even though the float would have been my natural preference
  • Being limited to one swim by time constraints when it is clear from all available advice for this type of fishing that a series of swims and a regime of baiting is the most profitable approach
  • First time with a centre-pin, which, apart from two wraps around the stem, went rather well
  • How to fish after dark? Betalite or headlamp for the tip? Gut feeling was the former - only had the latter to hand (trip to shop required)
  • and many, many, more

The attraction of the problem

Somehow though, despite this stack of odds against me, it seemed, a certain confidence returned which pushed the previous blank out of scope. The tippy-tappy tip was back and fully ignored and I was convinced that the link leger was working as it should at the correct weight and associated movement round the swim until perhaps an initially quite immaculate mute swan sailed past, some of my feed must've floated into the raft and once she had sniffed that out could I get rid of her? She was up-ending for my bait and feeding the swim was out of the question. Eventually we reached an agreement, she would stay well upstream if I fed a line for her as well as the fish and ultimately, but not until close to darkness, she drifted off to roost by the road bridge where she seems to spend most nights. At one point a kingfisher shot over her head and twice afterwards a pair, or pairs of (they weren't labelled), ravens loped by, punctuating their stuttering aerial route with a laid-back series of cronks

A stronger than normal burst of tapping on the tip produced a 3 ounce roach mid-session, there I said it!, and about 10 minutes before dark a 10 ounce roach gave a proper bite; a fish in which the swan took an interest strong enough to suggest she might try to snatch it if I didn't whip the landing net out of the water quickly!

Around this same time that massive yank I already recognise as a chub bite occurred and while I connected the fish was on for only 2, maybe 3, seconds before the hook pulled-out and certainly not long enough to speculate on the nevertheless truly monstrous size of it (this is a fisherman's tale!)

I had never tried it before but I knew from reading avidly on the subject that the period after dusk was highly prized by anglers far more experienced and skilled in such matters than I as an optimum time for fish to come onto the feed. So I gave it 20 minutes or so longer than I had intended (Scamper and Monty apparently enjoyed my Sunday dinner) and had a couple of presumed roach bites which I missed and the presence of a foraging bat overhead combined with the by now incessant hooting of two tawny owls prompted me to smell what was left of the chicken and head off

There's a bat in there somewhere
 I came away with the feeling that it was starting to make some sense and that, with the benefit of one more, more extensive, go before the end of 14th having thus far fished for a combined total of around 6 hours in three visits, I might yet end this crash-course in small stream fishing, perhaps against the odds in low and clear water, with something of a plan to set in motion toward the end of next season...if not even the target


  1. Ah, the old tippity-taps...

    They're the kinds of bites I like. I would suggest no feed at all for the first ten casts and no feed after if the roach bites still come. Every missed strike puts bait in the water and I've found that enough to keep them coming back for more.

    Of course for chub you can just ladle it in!

    1. Thanks Jeff!

      Obviously I've largely been trying to avoid roach, etc to date - after today that will change as I head off back to the cut for some bread fishing to see how that compares to days long since gone

      I tried the ladle to follow (once I've mulled)