Chub and roach on the stick...
Day 2 saw us traipsing off to the Saxon Mill for a spot of roach and dace fishing. On the way we noticed a gathering throng of photographers and joe public held back by police cordons around the Courtaulds factory site
which is currently in the process of demolition. The big brick chimney that has served as a local landmark for a century was still standing but it was obviously not going to still be around when we passed by on the way back.
On arrival at the mill we saw that the dace prospects were somewhat spoiled by a gang of match anglers occupying all the dace pegs upstream of the weir so it would be have to be a roach day or nothing. I decided that our best bet was a long walk down to the pegs furthest downstream where some roach sport is pretty much guaranteed - it's was a good job for Kev that he's trimmed the excess fat off his tackle and luggage because fishing with me always does seem to involve a long walk, one way or the other.
We settled into a couple of adjacent pegs and I set up the float rod for trotting intending to go for broke and stick with it come what may. Kev set up a feeder and went for a stationary bait approach, probably angling, I thought, after the chance of another big chub after his initiation into their appealing world just yesterday.
I thought I might be wasting my time after half an hour without a single bite but when eventually a few tentative dips and dithers came my way I saw that the feed seemed to be having something of an effect and decided to stick with my plan. Then I hooked a fish, a dace of a few ounces and then a few trots later another baby dace, smaller than any other I'd ever caught from the stretch. After this the rhythm started to really pick up with a steady procession of chublets coming to hand and then the first roach. I could see Kev was catching similar fish on the lead but with far less frequency.
I pitched a few balls of wetted liquidized groundbait to the very head of the deep swim to augment loose fed maggots that had been creating a bite zone a little too far downstream for comfort and this had a marked effect once it had settled in front of me. Suddenly the stamp of the occasional roach increased markedly and the chub were coming one after the other culminating in a couple of net fish. I then switched to bread flake on the hook to capitalise on the roach.
By now it was a fish a chuck, the bread producing a steady stream of roach topped by a net fish of ten ounces. The bread only worked briefly though and suddenly the swim died off and it was back to maggots and a struggle for further bites. I worked the feeding regime backwards, backing off on the amounts to induce more competition and eventually re-established the biting zone at the bottom of the swim.
After three or four hours of this constant action and the onset of arm ache I needed a break and so I set up a feeder rod and chucked out a breadflake. I was taking a leak when the rod started bouncing around in the rest as a self hooked fish lunged around attached to my line. My policy when this happens is to stay calm and assess the situation, for only the instance of a barbel or similar fish dragging an expensive rod and reel actually into the water is worth wetting yourself for, I believe.
In this instance I saw no danger of that, so I had plenty enough time to have a good old shake and a fastening of my button flies at leisure before taking rod in hand and landing another net chub, who proved to be the first and last fish on the lead. I went back to the float eventually and had a few more roach and chub before we called it a day around mid afternoon.
I do like a bit of float fishing intensity match stylee, and it's been a long time since it was a going prospect on the Avon, I've found. Most knackering though.
We hauled our nets and I weighed mine in at just a tad under five pounds for about forty fish, half roach, half chub, and a few dace for garnish. I thought it would come to more, surprising really how little a lot of small fish amount to, isn't it?
When we got back to Cov, sure enough, the skyline had been irrevocably altered. The big old chimney was rubble. I think it really should have been kept, for in this country, such massive industrial scale erections are rare nowadays ...