Isn't it usually the case that the perfect tip off comes along just after you really needed it?
Saturday last I made use of another of the family's girly shopping trips to Stratford (including a return trip to Brum this time) for another shot at the bream challenge point. What could go wrong? The water would be down after the recently small floods, I had more than five hours available depending upon how involved in the wonders of Accessorize (the female equivalent of Tackle Shop) they became, and if the right swim was open, because at Lucy's Mill I'm thinking it really has to be just the one for the bream, then I should sew it up comfortably.
Flood stranded debris...
I got the swim OK. I set up a pair of avon rods with large open end feeders and size 10 hooks, filled the feeders with liquidised bread, red and white maggots and casters with a bread flake and maggot cocktail on the hook and sat back to wait for the first bream of the day.
Some readers are probably thinking here, why on earth load up with bread and maggots when it should be fishmeal ground bait all the way if you want to target big bream? Well, there's a very good reason why I never use fishmeal in the feeder or on the hook whilst fishing rivers for any other species but barbel, the logic of which will become clear as we progress through the day.
Note the name of the Kayak...
My first problem was that I had left the avon top of the JW Avon at home and it was fitted out with a too light quiver tip. I was casting to the hotspot of clean ground in almost still water which I have identified about half way across the weirpool, but in reaching it the line enters the water at a place where there's still some considerable flow (carrying lots of weed debris) from the main channel that was roaring over the weir and under the near bank.
The second rod was fine. It was poker straight at one and three quarter pounds test. Note to self: I think its well worth having stepped up tackle for this bream fishing malarky, as they do run pretty big and have to be hauled some distance.
A fishing family...
The first bream, a skimmer of a pound or so came on the half hour and I thought I was about to fill my boots having put down quite a bit of feed, or so I thought. However, it was a further hour before the second arrived, this time a three pounder. Obviously my regime was out of whack or the fishing was just plain slow. Three hours in and I had a brief run of three good fish up to four pounds over just twenty minutes that took my running total to fourteen pounds. Interestingly, every single bream had come to the dexter rod despite having a few bites on the sinister.
This is the third time when feeder fishing at Stratford after bream that every single fish has fallen to the one rod only. And it still has happened even after swapping both rods over. Weird.
Things were different after the rain
When I finally did connect with a bite on the left hander it felt a small fish, but somewhat too lively and spirited to be a bream. When I saw a nice fat one pound roach coming to the net my 'no fishmeal approach' was proven to be the correct one.
Sure enough, the next fish was also a roach but a little smaller. I would never had found these fish - and the first is actually my Wark's Avon PB for the species and reassuringly, a young fit fish that can only get larger - if I'd used fishmeal, as river roach do seem to hate it.
I'd already abandoned the bream campaign, retiring the hitherto moderately successful upstream rod, and was now concentrating solely upon catching roach. This makes perfect sense to my mind as bream can wait, but big roach are an opportunity that I simply cannot turn down lightly, challenge points notwithstanding.
Unfortunately, the brace was to be all I would have...
And when the girls turned up at dusk it was all over. The bream campaign had failed once again, but hey, who cares? I'd rather a one pound roach than a four, five, or even six pound bream. A seven would nice though...
Zena with a skimmmer
The fourteen pounds of bream was all I had, just the same weight as the previous session, but over twice the time...
On the way home we stopped off at Tescos and I bought Angling Times.
A really top notch issue this one, with loads of pertinent material about feeding a river swim and even one article on how to keep a shoal of bream interested at distance. I never thought I'd ever be following Steve Ringer's advice, but today, I buy my first Spod.
It'll be the biggest in the shop, and if it's not a real whopper then I'll make my own monster from a washing up liquid bottle, because next time I visit Lucy's Mill, I will be armed with beachcaster, multiplier and 50lb shock leader to suit, and then be chucking it out, fully laden...
Scary! Especially for the residents of the Lucy's Mill apartment block opposite, should I crack off!
But needs must.