Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Stripey's lair...

I had it in my head, in fact I woke with the notion fully formed, to go trotting the new stretch of river I had 'found' last time out at Bretford. I figured that only trotting could cover the stretch in a proper way and besides I'd neglected the method all winter
and really wanted to reacquaint myself with the joys of the Wallis cast and enjoy the vision of a well balanced float bobbing sedately downstream, suddenly plucked under by a fish.

The morning, which had started overcast and warm, was turning bright and clear by the time I'd cast the first line of the day, and though the river was still tinged with colour it was sluggish and fining toward clarity, the bottom could be made out in the margins and that I thought was probably not a good thing. The float bobbed downstream just as sedately as I had imagined it would, its gliding motion sending me into a trance of anticipation that was to remain undisturbed by the sudden dipping away I had also imagined. I soldiered on with this for and hour and a half and then moved upstream under the cover of the woods and out of the sun.

The thirteen foot float rod, which was enjoying its first proper outing in my hands, was a nightmare to handle under the trees but I found a reasonably open spot and cast my worm into the water. Second or third cast I fluffed badly and in my haste to get the float down to the safety of the water and away from the overhanging branches, managed to over run the reel and caused coils of line to loop around the backplate, Normally these tangles are very easy to unpick if you exercise patience and the right technique, but somehow this one had knotted on the spool and wouldn't budge easily. I put the rod down and teased out the knot.

When I turned back toward the float, which should have been more or less where I'd left it, it was gone...

I pulled into what I thought was going to be a snag only to have the snag move upstream and shake its head. This was no chub, perhaps it could be that big roach I was after? but when the fish emerged I saw a green flank slashed with dark stripes and saw that I'd finally contacted the elusive river perch. And it was good one too, turning the scales to exactly one pound and a half, beating my previous personal best (set by a Thirlmere fish some thirty years ago!) by a few ounces, and really making my day. I wouldn't have to catch another fish now, I could just quietly retire from the fray and enjoy the sunshine, but that thought lasted no more than the time it took to weight, photograph and return the fish, and then I was casting after the shoal!

A pound a half perch

A bit of a bruiser...

Of course I had no more bites, and thought myself lucky to have had the one, perch being renowned for not feeding in bright sunlight, so eventually I moved out of the shade and back to the old stretch for a spot of roach hunting, where I met another angler, fishing match tactics and pulling out the tiniest roach and perch which were a welcome sight because the swim was the very one where I had witnessed the eruption of a cormorant from below the water last summer. He informed me that there were no less than five other anglers on the stretch , which must be something of a record.

I trotted the float in and around a difficult slack water area next to a submerged bush and got bites that I could not connect with, probably those tiny, tiny roach and perch. Eventually I snagged, broke off the hooklink and retired the float rod. I set up the quiver rods and settled into my reedy glide and put out a small worm and a piece of breadflake under a tiny cage feeder stuffed with crumb, baiting the swim with loose hemp and a few balls of breadcrumb. After half an hour I was considering a move when the rod top was wrenched over violently and I was connected to what I knew was a chub. For some reason these Bretford chub are taking the bait recklessly and aggressively of late. The bites used to be typical chub tap-tap-pull affairs, but now they just pull over hard without preliminary warning.

Evening falls...

As evening approached I had the urge to go back to the new stretch once again, and try a swim that I'd passed over, above an overhanging bush that jutted out into the water providing cover for who knows what? I fed the swim as before, and put out the same end rigs and baits. Predictably, twenty minutes or so in, the rod top wrenched around in a quivering taut bow and in came another three pound chub. It had taken the swimfed breadflake, not the worm, and only last week they had wanted the opposite, worms and lots of em!

Then later, a delicate kind of bite took shape on the worm rod, a small pull and then a tug, a snatch and then a pull around that I struck into. Fish on! I hoped for roach and it felt the right size, but it was another perch, a quarter of a pound lighter that the morning fish, but just as lovely. Two perch in the same day when I had spent so much time fishing the very bait that would have caught them was quite a thing. I'd finally found the lair of the big perch, and these two were, I fancied, just the younger members of the gang.

An evening perch

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