Monday, 14 September 2015

Kids and Fishing (Chapter MCMXXVI), and Other Stuff...

There was an air of change.

In a period of a few increasingly short days waterside green had tended to straw and higher up some trees displayed shades of red.

Soon carpets would be suspended by that unfathomable phenomenon, surface film, perhaps as multi-coloured running contorting in the twists and turns of increased flow or caught as decaying rugs in a bay or against a fallen log.

The feeling of being fully alive as the chill takes to the air coincides with migration in birds and, largely throughout the animal world, hunger. This marks September to November as the time the coarse angler expects. Yes, autumn is peak feeding time for most coarse species.

Personally I had set the summer aside to add a few stillwater fish to the Blogger's Challenge scoreboard, in a season I usually avoid, thinking this would give me the best chance of whatever success I could muster but, with only one species to show for it and a handful of canal and river fish from May and the past few weeks, that tactic seems to have been somewhat high-risk. On the upside, there are two or three fish there that will take some beating locally but I am still too short in the stillwater department at a time of year when I will be inclined to fish canals if the rivers are too low and clear through to the season's end. I fear I may have to fit in some more stillwater sessions yet and rely on a more concentrated approach to the other two options later while stillwater fish remain likely to respond.

The Boy Wonder for his part has been unable to fish until the past three weeks but took his first ever ruffe amid great excitement after we discussed free-lining lob tails a fortnight back only to feel that nauseating sensation when he realised a guaranteed twenty points would be precisely zilch upon noting that the species is ineligible!

His high jinx continued to influence my own luck as I blanked that same ruffe day and also this weekend when he caught a two ounce chub in his first session touch-legering (a new method for every occasion this lad!). As we strolled back to the lay-by, inadvertently late for dinner, we pondered how many points this chublet might have been be worth and, assuming the chub record to be around ten pounds, figured ten points to every pound would be somewhere near so surmised one to two points. Tiny result though it was he was chuffed that night, as we filled in the table last thing before he went to sleep, to see that he no longer propped up the leaderboard and had at least five anglers behind him on the river chart.

A happy chap he was as I sat back with tipple in hand recalling his thoughts immediately after the points conversation.

"What would happen if you caught a new record chub? How many points would you get then?".

"Well, if you equalled it exactly you'd get one hundred as it would be one hundred percent of the record. So if you caught, let's say, to keep it easy, an eleven pounder how many points would that be worth?".

"Err, a hundred and ten".

"Yes, plus ten more for catching the biggest chub of the challenge...until someone caught a bigger record of course, then they'd get the extra ten".

"Okay, that's what I'll do then", he replied. Matter of fact.

I'm uncertain as to whether he meant the first record, the second or both, but it's gonna be fun finding-out!

We may need a bigger landing net.

In between being jinxed by my now returned companion, I did managed to increase my own river perch from a few ounces to one pound three last week from 'our stretch' of the Leam on a free-lined lob and then increased that again to 1-12-0 just yesterday a mile or so upstream using a 'new' traditional method to me, that of laying-on with a whole lobworm on a 6 hook and a large shot nailed to the bottom. Traditionally of course this would be balanced against a crow or porcupine quill but, in the absence of those, I was employing a thirty year old Max Winters stick float (anyone remember him?)...which I then duly lost on a snag later. The bites were un-missable and totally contradict everything I thought I'd learnt match fishing with, for instance, squatts on 26 hooks and 0.055mm bottoms.

One, three.
One, twelve.
Prior to this I had my own one-pointer, a perfectly-formed micro-pike!, and a lovely river roach which couldn't quite tip the scales at a pound, try though it did as I weighed it.

Don't ask

The undoubted highlight of the past between posts period followed the sound of crashing below me on 'the day of the ruffe'. The river was bank to bank with rushes downstream of the hole I was dipping tail ends of lobs into without success and as the noise became closer I expected the resident family of swans with four maturing cygnets to appear in series as they reached the open water I surveyed so it was with no little surprise that when ripples started to emanate across the pool nothing appeared to follow them. Until, that was, I became conscious of what could only be described as an intermittent double-snorting or snorkelling effect. Whatever was making the disturbance was tight under the near bank, out of sight, beneath overhanging rushes, nettles and grasses but it didn't take me long with my standard process of elimination to discard whale and dolphin and get to otter as a conclusion.

Just as soon as I thought it relatively risk-free I ran on feet as light as I could make them and approached the ruffe hunter while telepathically praying he would turn round without speaking, which he thankfully did and I was able to give him the accepted 'silence' signal. We sat and waited as I pointed urgently downstream. Nothing. Then, slowly, an impression of sound. Then out came her head, oiled in arrowheads and pallid beneath the cutest of carnivorous chins. Sure enough a female otter in broad daylight. We watched her make her way under far bank hawthorns getting tiny glimpses here and there and all the time conscious of her blowing and then sucking in fresh air between each dive, occasionally punctuated by the crunching of snail of crayfish.

Otter bait
For me the otter remains the holy grail of native mammals and a sight I wouldn't have believed I'd experience locally in my lifetime until maybe five years ago, and now three in a year or so within a mile stretch.

Ripples of the passing otter
Sometimes life really can be so rewarding, it makes those sessions jinxed by The Boy Wonder all the more easily forgotten, until he reminds me of course...

...and when he's not fishing he makes a mean chef too!


  1. A farmer told me there were otters around there (apparently spotted nearer to "your stretch"). I wasn't sure whether to believe it. Now I know for certain!

    1. Yes, you've a good chance of a sighting there Sean, especially if you fish into dark

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  3. Seen otters on the River Culm and Bridgwater Canal in the South West. Most incredible sight was a mink which popped up and say on the bank not three yards from me, with an eel in its chops!

    Nice to see Ruffe show. Always a pleasure. read a fair bit online about them and there are often references to their invasiveness but as an angler it never feels like that.

    1. 'Can't beat the other sights and sounds of angling for sure!

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