Monday, 1 February 2010

Small Stream Adventures - Old Brook, Young River

Further explorations of the brook...
On Sunday morning I met with Keith for a session exploring the further potential of the local brook that had produced such fabulous roach fishing for me during the recent snows. Keith had already conducted a recce
and had chosen a couple of places to receive our immediate attention, the first of which was located along the edge of a playing field. This spot was just a couple of miles downstream from where I'd had the roach, but had grown considerably in the meantime. This was almost a proper river...!

Spot the angler - Keith fishing a pool

Apparently, a little way upstream our stream benefited from a number of confluences with other brooks, one of which was almost as large as itself, and this explained the remarkable increase in scale. Later on we would, if time went accordingly and we weren't detained by a bounty of fish, get to see them both first hand but for now we confined ourselves to the thorough exploration of all the fishable pegs along a few hundred yards of bank. If there were fish in residence and feeding in this cold weather then we would get indications, if not catch a few.

First impressions were not so encouraging - I did not get a bite straight away - and that is what I have come to expect of this brook fishing if any fish are around. I have got into the habit of upping sticks in a peg if a bite does not come within ten minutes and moving elsewhere, on and on, until they do. The fish do seem to reside in numbers at certain locations and avoid other locations that on the surface of things, look very similar. I have also noticed that swims that look distinctly 'chubby' are not where the roach will be, and that is a problem if you are the kind of angler who had become accustomed to looking at small rivers in a certain way, as I was.

Keith chose to fish a cage feeder stuffed with groundbait with maggots on the hook and I went with my usual freelined breadflake. It was obvious that our approaches were both over and under gunned. I had trouble getting the little eight foot pixy wand set up that had been so at home a few miles upstream to cope with the significant increase in the scale of the river, and Keith's eleven foot feeder tactics looked more appropriate for fishing the nearby reaches of the Wark's Avon for six pound chub and barbel. Clearly, a number of compromises are in order...!

Like a new rod, for instance. Hrrrah!

I wonder what could be suitable? Something around the ten foot mark and with a test curve of half to three quarters of a pound but no more would be appropriate. I do like the little eight foot winklepicker's through action and the fact that its actual fighting curve (not the much tinier tip curve) of just four ounces and a full half pound to bend it through the butt section (aah bless!) makes for heart stopping tussles with roach, but it just lacks the length to control the line properly in a larger volume of water. I'm working on it, in fact I have a cunning plan that should see the finished article, a roach ledgering rod to beat all-comers, a tool designed especially for my kind of up close and personal roach angling, just right for all canal and small stream work, in the shops by next winter...!

I digress.

My roach...

I eventually found what I was looking for, an area of relative slack water in a near bank eddy where I had some bites and then a small roach for my efforts and Keith landed a small chub and lost a better one from a surprisingly large and attractive pool on a corner. So, we'd established the presence of some fish at the very least. Quite exciting really.

...and Keith's chub

We then moved a mile upstream to the confluences (by car) and had a quick look around there. The difference between the waters upstream of the first confluence with the largest tributary was really very marked indeed. Downstream it was now a sinuous and alluring young river with more than enough overall depth to make every nuance of flow a potential fish holt, but upstream it was just a tired old brook, with entire stretches a fish desert of shallow swifts that would benefit from a stocking of grayling and trout, punctuated here and there with the odd deeper area that might hold a fish or two. At the second confluence we found that someone had dug a peg into the bank to fish the slightly deeper waters found there, but my flake cast into them went untouched and then it was time for lunch.

This was an interesting adventure, and in terms of establishing a few key points, very successful. We have decided that a good long fish spotting walk along as much of the stream as possible would be the best way to pinpoint the best areas to fish next winter. And besides, the close season is looming...!

What else can a river angler do then but walk the banks in search of future prospects?


  1. I think I only took my hood down for the fish photo.

    I found the hood, cap and sunglasses helped with the uncomfortable feeling of fishing a spot where fishermen are not the norm, and who looked distinctly out of proportion with the watercourse. Not to mention parking in a Close outside people's houses and unloading tackle.

    Jeff assures me these self-conscious feelings will fade over time......

  2. I don't care a jot anymore...! I have no shame...