The curtain is about to close on another river angling season and the Boy Wonder and I, like, we are certain, many others, still await our Rod Licences yet soon we will be obliged to buy more of these mythical permits. I do hope the price will be reduced by the savings made in not producing them last year
Although my own angling activity has been as regular, if not more so, than 'normal' the weather has been such this past month or so that sessions have largely been blank or producing just the odd fish, usually a chub of 2lbs it seems
I have been losing a lot too. Not fish, but items. I left a tub of lobworms in a lay-by, a bait dropper on the bank which I retrieved three weeks later (yesterday), and my bestest rubberised roach fishing landing net (which reappeared a fortnight later)
Since targeting those bigger then average fish I have been surprised how many are actually landed as compared to match fishing. I would say I have found I lose on average around one in ten fish but (I can't confirm it) I think in matches I would probably have lost around twice as many bigger fish. Smaller hooks, lighter lines, less powerful rods in tight situations, etc, etc., all contribute of course
My keenness to get on the riverbank has meant a high number of very short sessions of late, some of them less than two hours duration, but this has provided the opportunity to try a wide range of methods on various and varying lengths of river. Pole, float & link leger have all played a part and bread and lobworms have both produced some entertainment. Until yesterday however the level of that interest was limited to the odd fish or perhaps a few roach on the pole, and I mean few!
So what was different about Sunday March 8th 2015?
There had been various false dawns over the past three weeks or so when I had managed to convince myself that tomorrow would be the day when the fish (by which of course I mean the roach) would feed and adorn the occasional capture of the larger fish with intermittent sparkles of silver and ruby
The colour might have been right, the temperature maybe, or the flow levels, or perhaps even my own availability to fish but somehow until the day before today it just didn't happen
A few days ago though frosts were avoided by that perfect insulating blanket of cloud known in the FF&F household as 'night night cloud' (don't ask). Consequently day time temperatures rose too. Colour was falling out of the water such that I was concerned it might then be too clear but, most importantly, a strong wind got up, forcing that warm air into the subsequently increased surface area of water and suddenly there we had it. Perfect conditions. Not Saturday, no, but Sunday, yes, it all clicked...or maybe plopped...into place
Saturday I ventured forth twice with Parps besieged by his ongoing illness I was again undertaking the pursuit alone in the early morning (though his is still gloating over his first Angling Times Kingfisher Award from last week with 'that perch' so I was quite happy not to keep being reminded about that!). It wasn't by any means a bad morning losing what felt like a really good chub in the incredibly snaggy swim I'd previously taken my Leam p.b. from a season or two back and then taking one of two pounds from another peg before breakfast called, with another gentleman of the angle queued up to jump into my grave the moment I reeled in for the last time
Later that same day I did manage to drag the (not so) littl'un down to another stretch in search of a chub and, as per usual, he sneaked one chublet out while I watched a tip constantly do its job of quivering under the continuous attention of sprats. Another blank
Sunday though was but one sleep away. The temperature overnight was tantamount to illegal and the wind continued to blow. The water running through the valley was noticeably warmer to the touch and, revisiting the same swim as the previous morning, I had hoped to entice the big brother of the one that got away the day before
A third of a Warburton's toastie was mashed and potted the night before in readiness and a good percentage deposited behind a fallen branch at the head of a steady glide. Bites were immediate and positive. Fish topped with unusual abandon
I knew immediately this would be the annual event. That day when the out and out roach angler, not concerned with size, would fill his or her net. It is a rare event on the middle Leam that conditions conspire in this manner but this, at the eleventh hour, would be this season's example
I also knew that the next day I would suffer my annual regret that I no longer chase anything that swims for the sight of a net of quality roach, such as these were soon to prove to be, cannot be beaten
For now though the thrust is to pick-out the bigger fish and so I awaited the wrap-around of the rubber-lipped quarry only to find that constant alternating between crust on a 4" tail and flake on a 15" tail produced roach on the latter and, eventually, once suitably whittled, roach on the former
I was having to sit on my hands in expectation that at some point a proper pull round would occur and only twenty to thirty minutes in round it did indeed go. Smooth as silk, not at all savage and in the immediate aftermath a small chub could be seen rotating under the surface...or could it? Soon it was round an invisible snag in this snag-pit to end them all. Slack line was given in the time-honoured fashion and action resumed. The chub came to the surface and that involuntary intake of breath occurred to me, as very few things in life can cause, when chub became roach, a large, chunky, river p.b. challenging roach
A cracker indeed. 1-3-7 of rare small stream beauty that would not quite take the crown from one an ounce or so its superior two seasons ago
On the return trip with about two handfuls of mash left I introduced them to a very shallow glide and again had roach but this time the tip did whack round and a strongly fighting chub of 2-5-5 took great advantage of every stem of grass and thrust of flow before sliding into the safety of the deep blue net
A lovely mornings' reward, around 6 to 7lbs of fish. Surely double figures, and maybe the traditionally sought stone of roach, were on the cards to the suitably geared-up all-rounder, but that angler was not me, nor was it last year.
Yes, I do miss that one thing, once a year
Five days to go...