I'm the kind of person who once he picks something up is loath to put it down, hemp fishing for river roach for instance, my current fad, and so, on Saturday I went back for more. I should have known that nothing ever works out quite so well the second time around. Second time is punishment time, second time is when you learn the limitations. I thought that because hemp worked once it would work twice, work always.
Well, it does work always, in some way or other I'm sure, but not always the way you want it to, and it had precisely the wrong effect on this day. It was a calm sunny day and warm too. As I walked down stream to my peg I could see lots of small fish on top basking in the sun and these would later prove troublesome.
The romantic ruins of Guys Cliffe House loom over the Avon
As before, I fed the swim carefully, working down to just a few grains from an initial offering of half a handful over the first hour. To keep myself occupied I trotted breadflake and caught a single roach of half a pound. When I began to fish the seed I noticed that something was wrong, something was different. The float nipped and ducked but never buried and after a while I got so annoyed that I gave the swim a blind trot, one without bait, to see what would happen.
Well, the same happened...
I threw in some hemp and watched the grains sink. What I had not noticed before, because was it difficult to see it happening, was that as the grains hit the water a crowd of hungry tiddlers would shoot to the surface and worry them on the way down - I was sure that none were reaching bottom. The same class of tiddler it seems were doing exactly the same to my float, line and shot, laying into it as they would any object of curiosity that entered their field of vision.
Given that no bait was reaching the bed of the river I had to up the amount of hemp freebies just to ensure that some would. This didn't work either, it just encouraged more of them to join in. I did manage to land four more roach over the hours that I spent in the swim and had the privilege of witnessing a regular fly-past of kingfishers and a grass snake entering the water and heading straight at the float, but later when the frustration of catching little for much effort had become too much, I caved in, abandoned hemp fishing altogether and moved downstream to fish bread the rest of the afternoon.
My swim in the nettles
Here things were little better, as before a blind trot got just as many bites as a baited one. I tried everything I could think of on the float, tried ledgering but that only brought a succession of sharp raps and the one good bite that failed to connect because on retrieve I noticed no hook present, the line sliced cleanly off... I persisted on the float throughout the late afternoon, catching the odd roach here and there until my days total stood at a measly ten over a six hour stint and none over half a pound in weight. Hard work!
Then I had a small chub as the light began to fade. I dropped it back into the water, sat back to rebait and the water erupted beneath my feet, a pike of some size lunging at the innocent baby chevin.
Pikey, I know where you live!
I decided to stay into darkness, determined to land something worthwhile, predicting that the small fish would retire as the light dimmed. I had a lead out again by now, had baited the swim with bread mash to attract the bigger fish and the sharp raps gradually faded away with the light and a few tentative, but more certain pulls from bigger fish took their place in what by 9 O'clock had become a quite impressive soot black night.
It was good fun fishing with the pin in such conditions, Wallis casting my three shot link ledger out to midstream time after time and not tangling even the once. Such a nice way to ledger too with all that infinite adjustment at the touch of a finger. The bites got better and better and eventually the rod top trembled and hooped around and I struck into what I supposed would be a roach only to be met with a force that charged off hard into the deepest part of the stream. Encountering such a weight and power after a day snatching small fish was breathtaking, I dearly hoped that the fish actually was a roach because if so it was really going to be something to crow about, but as the fish tired I caught the white lips of a chub in the headlamp beam and my hopes fell away. I netted it inexpertly but effectively from my perch five feet above the water in the weak beam of the lamp and hauled it onto the air, luckily I have a ten foot carbon net handle for just such occasions otherwise I'd have never managed it.
I was a three pounder, and a bit perhaps, the largest chub I have ever seen from this stretch of the Avon though I am sure that with such deep water it must contain one or two somewhat larger, and after such a slog, a very welcome fish indeed.
As I looked at this middling chub laying in the net, its bronzed scales made silvery in the light of the lamp and with its pink lower fins glowing, I suddenly, and just for a brief and shocking moment, saw a roach laying there.