I've never been much of a wader. Except when bass fishing on the estuaries of the Essex coast where it was pretty much obligatory that I'd have to get in up to my waist to fish the flood tide and getting back to dry land requiring a quarter-mile walk through thigh high water, it has never appealed, the bank being my domain. This coarse fishery though, has so little access to so many great swims that I think I'm soon going to have to invest in my own set of rubbers but meanwhile I'll borrow Martin's.
The swim chosen was an interesting one. A bank-to-bank shallow and rapid riffle falls toward the confluence with a mill outlet where the waters of both combined have created a 45 degree bend in the main river with a scoured pool where the two forces meet. It can be accessed in low water conditions and fished from a cut off spit of bank but it's one of those places where waders are ideal because they allow all kinds of lies to be explored otherwise out of reach.
Working a lump of meat under the cover of an overhanging stand of mature bushes growing out the far bank and covering much of the pool, it went in the head OK, but then stopped half way where it had to be teased and plucked until it began moving out the other end. It didn't feel effective and wasn't because I didn't get a touch in an hour. Nevertheless, it was a lesson in how I might approach the swim next time around for the barbel and chub who likely live beneath the bush.
Fetching out the bread and roach gear, I made a searching cast downstream where the waters exit the pool then flow along a fringe of club rush by the far bank, where I had bites immediately. It was 'interesting' ledgering from within the river rather than its bank, but keeping the tip still something of a problem as was keeping the landing net from escaping, the hollow handle too buoyant and wanting to float away. A fish was hooked and though I was hoping for my first roach from the stretch it turned out to be just as good. A dace and a good stamp too at six-ounces.
Of course chub just had to put in an appearance too and what was great about that was the light tackle was tested well, the chub got to display itself admirably as a sporting fish, and I could just go stand wherever I wanted to create great angles for control.
With 360 degrees of play it was a spiffing fight!
Martin came down to visit announcing a 5lb 4oz chub he'd caught whilst fishing for barbel in the weir pool. The stretch holds a very good stamp of chub it has to be said, and now they're showing up more often than not I think it might do better and better in time.
The dace though, they were my discovery for the day and my entire attention turned to them alone.
They were hard to hook. Bread is loved by dace but the bites shown on a quivertip are even harder to hit than with roach, who are difficult enough at the best of times.
I needed maggots and a maggot feeder when the dace would simply hook themselves and I could find out just how far above the average stamp they'll go, because every one I did manage was 5-6 ounces, none were below and that's a good sign of better to come in my book. They ain't at all easy to find in decent shoals either, but when they are decent and this one seems to be, who knows what's possible on a warm summer's evening?
Next time I'll take along a float rod, a couple of pints of reds and a pint of hemp too and then get up to my waist at the head of the swim, set up my sub-aquatic stall mid-river and trot the swim all evening long. Then I'll know whether or not my new found cache is going to throw up something special.
If that is, Martin lends me his neoprene, sticks with his quest for a 14lb barbel, doesn't decide to try out his brand new and as yet unused twenty-footer, and oust me from it...