Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Boy with the Gift (Small river roach and chub)

During a temporary lull in the high level of the Leam we at last had the opportunity to test Parps' Christmas present, a new John Wilson twin-tip 10' Avon, on Saturday. The level was dropping a couple of inches every two to three hours at Kites Hardwick, where the upper river passes trout angling Mecca Draycote Water, according to the ultra-useful Environment Agency website, and it seemed we were likely to be able to find the odd slack from which to attempt to prise a gem

It would be a brief session, with civil sunset due at 5pm and our arrival at the bank not before 3.30

For ease and balance we matched the Avon with a closed-faced reel loaded with 4lb line and settled on a shelving bank right in front of a willow that stretched from far bank almost to near and he gently plopped various flakes of bread into the slack for the hour with no lack of skill but, despite a tawny owl calling as we reloaded the car, the highlight for him came second cast when the tip pulled down quite urgently a couple times before pulling more steadily and he struck into a fish that put a bend in the rod as it wandered out into the flow. Recalling without prompting that snagging swims call for no line to be given he leant into the fish and drew it neatly over the net after it had been convinced not to hang in the flow for too long

A perfect jewel of a roach hung in the hammock of a landing net, all sparkling ten ounces of it - it was sparkling I am sure of it - and both initial incredulity and beaming smiles ensued

Rod christened
A picture of calmness - outwardly
 Next day it was a heavy frost and he who was still pleased and dreaming of record roach had Rugby training (subsequently cancelled) so I, quite thankfully once I saw the extent of frost in the previously water-logged field, returned to the site to try some further slacks and glides

After having over-confidently selected a swim too short and snaggy to trot a topper through I was soon on the prowl and primed four swims with mashed bread. Roving with an 1/8oz bomb link-leger, eventually a shoal of roach were located at the end of a steady glide which shallowed-up towards the end but due to the fact that I had left my quivertips in the car the one being used was rather too stiff and the peg did not allow the rod to be pointed at the bait to accommodate a bobbin indicator but, nevertheless, a proper bite did occur and it felt a good fish in the flow at 20-odd yards distance. That said the fish was on under control and the closer it came the less sizeable it seemed until it flashed its washed-out flood water colouration on the surface and into the net. 13 ounces the gullible one went and that was an enjoyable result after two fishless, but tap-tappy-tap-tap, hours

Next peg soon produced a couple of additional taps to add to the growing list I imagined I'd carved as notches on a stick like a nineteen century cricket scorer before a gentle pull-round, and twang back, followed by a longer gentle pull-round, striking into which a chub attempted to take me into roots of the undercut near bank from whence it bit. With a strand of barbed wire to contend with too, this was no time to mess around and the fish was soon bullied into the net at which point it spat out the hook and I thanked myself for not giving it any chance to escape. It only went around a pound and a half but it made the effort worthwhile. Unusually, in fact for the first time on this river, I think, I had used a keepnet in slack area

Today the company of a grey wagtail illuminated the day (having chosen to fish out of direct sunlight in the hope of getting more bites later into the day and appeared to be successful) plus drumming of green woodpecker and creeping of nuthatch and treecreeper; the piping and arrow-like flight of the passing kingfisher as well as the omnipresent long-tailed tit, blue and great tit

The river was the to rise again later and has probably been largely unfishable since but hopefully, by this coming weekend, we might again venture forth into falling levels and sneak the odd inhabitant from its lair of murk. To see the face of a twelve year-old Crabtree with a chub in his hands - now that would be something

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