Sunday dawned bright and clear and with not only an utterly cloudless sky but one also minus the ubiquitous Coventry contrail display that so mars virtually every bolt of clear blue we get up here in the dead centre of England. It was promising to be a fine day, if not a proper hotty.
I would liked to have dressed accordingly in lightweight summer clobber but I was set for a place where a lack of any form of bank side management bar that practiced by the farm's hilariously angler curious and freshly shorn sheep, demanded that all shorts be longs — heavy nettle proof trousers and long sleeved shirts would be the order of the day, attire more or less ensuring a sweaty afternoon.
The Sence was as pretty under a cloudlet flecked summer morning sky as it ever was under the cold steel of winter stratocumulus, only this time out the green shoots of water weeds I'd seen back in March had flourished to the point where only the deepest parts of the deepest swims, the shallow fords and those areas under the cover of a dense canopy were actually fishable. And the water was as clear as mothers ruin.
It was hard to see any other fish but minnows, though I did eventually find, with the aid of my brand new, very cheap, completely styleless, but for fishing purposes surprisingly effective, Aldi polaroids, some small fish at the bottom of a hole — they looked roach like, but they weren't — on red maggot investigation they were just perch, each the size of a finger and not worth the effort.
I found a little opening beneath a bush and had a half pound chub, then some more perch but larger than before at four to the pound. I abandoned this peg as too expensive for the stamp of fish when I snagged something unmoving for the third time, wasting three hook-links and six swan shot in the process. I had been experimenting with a return to the use of the link ledger, but had been forcefully reminded of just why I had abandoned it in the first place - the method, for all its aesthetic loveliness and supposed practical superiority to other forms of ledger, snags like a bugger.
I went back to the weedy holes and flicked out a bunch of maggots to see if anything was down there larger than a spawn laden minnow ~
As it turned out, the answer was; not larger, but different ~
At this size I'd now need to catch three of these little fellas to earn myself a challenge point for the species, Cottus gobio. Such is the way of the fishing challenge that, unbelievably, I then found myself actively pursuing the crazed task of catching three bullheads, a crepuscular fish that hides in the day and feeds at night! No-one told this maverick that of course, but after half an hour it seemed that all his mates were just yer bog standard dullards having a regular daytime kip avoiding the near vertical midsummer noon time sun rays, in other words, I was out of luck for now. I was however staying till nightfall, so later, my fat little friends, later, perhaps...?
I moved down to the swim on the stretch of this shallow small river that I would call reliable all year around, the only swim with sufficient depth and cover to always hold a big fish or two no matter how slow and low the flow. Here I baited up with maggots and breadcrumbs but had lunch before casting a line - two bottles of cool beer, two sausage rolls, two homemade fishcakes and some peeled prawns that I'd brought along to eat, and trial as bait.
I fished maggots as I had all day so far and caught a few more minnows before a surprise arrived in the form of a glistening dace, the first of its kind yet caught in this river by me ~
Soon after I had my first ever Sence roach, the very species I had first come to Mythe Farm to track down ~
That was a grand total of six species caught in the first third of the day. Some kind of personal best, perhaps? I wasn't quite sure, however one more species would certainly confirm. Amazingly, just when I had decided to move along again I had a rattling bite that connected with something that almost jolted the rod from my hand on the strike. I thought it was a chub but distinct lack of white lips and a curious greenish colouring had me doubting and then a blistering, shockingly violent run upstream brought fully home that what I had on was a wild brownie, and a good one, at that ~
The fish went just under two pounds weight at one fifteen and a gnats cock, and so it set not only a new personal best for brun trut but as the seventh species of the day thus far, also set a new personal standard for my newly fangled 'most species caught during the one session' record, a record that comes very near to Kev's eight species mind-boggler set last year at Anchor Meadow.
Best pleased? You bet...! Now, all out for a gudgeon, grayling, bleak, bream or barbel...
At this point I set up a float rod and caught a load more dace up to three ounces, moved downstream with it when it was obvious they weren't getting any bigger and caught more perch, some dace and tiny chublets in various places, but after hours of wasted effort exploring the if anything, weedier Anker stretch and catching nothing remarkable, came all the way back in the evening to where I'd been mid - afternoon.
I decide to fish bread for a fat chub. Now that the rays were slanting I thought they'd be more inclined to play. I balled in a few fistfuls of liquidised bread and watched the cloud burst and dissipate rapidly into millions of imperceptible particles and dissapear from view very quickly. I then realised that now that the sun was low that I could see the very bottom of the deep swim extremely clearly, and there I could see exactly no fish whatsoever. The rod top confirmed this.
I became fascinated by watching the feeder empty, or rather not, in the slow flow. It had to be jostled to release any of its contents. I also watched the flake floating and wafting in mid water on its two foot leash, surprised by its distance from the river bed. I was just wondering what a chub would make of this when a dark shape quickly emerged from beneath the bush, circled once around the flake and decisively engulfed it. The rod was bucking in the rest before I got back to it and the fish was on, fought and landed in no more than twenty or thirty seconds.
A three pounder. I thought that I might be in with a chance of my chub point if any more fish were present, but I'm afraid they weren't and with an hour till dark I upped sticks and went back to the serious business of catching bullheads by design.
Needless to say, I failed!