I was intending on posting sooner than this, however after a few disappointing sessions this has led to me have little enthusiasm for blogging.
A day trotting on the river Teme, saw the capture of my first grayling, even if it was only a few ounces. I lost two which were getting towards a pound, which was most frustrating. Mick, my work colleague, fared a little better with one of 12 ounces. It was a lovely day though and made a change from my local Warwickshire Avon, which is more often than not motionless of late. A day chubbing at Wasperton drew an unsurprising blank - I think that'll be my last trip there this winter. Looking forward to the new season though, where I hope to capture a carp from the lilies, after failing last year! (Heavier line needed.) A good result on Sunday, round 9 of Packington somers winter league, 4th in the match and 1st in section, which leaves me 11th overall. Another good result Sunday and a top ten finish is a real possibility.
With very mild weather forecasted, along with light winds and a no doubt very low and clear Warwickshire Avon, I thought my best chance of a few fish was light lines and maggot. Fishing around Luddington on a spot, I had success catching a few small barbel from in the summer. I set up my 17ft Map ultra II float rod, with a big 4AAA crystal avon float on 3lb line. The river is very narrow here and with about 5ft, gives the river a nice pace which screams barbel. With any water on the river, the float would be out the question in this peg, but today it looked perfect. With a couple of pints of maggots and my new toy in position, a Preston Spacestation compact seatbox, which is a bit unnecessary for river fishing I know, but positioned in the rivers edge gave me a great platform to fish from.
Feeding sparingly to start with, I began trotting the float through at the river's pace getting a feel for the swim. A barge passed which came as a surprise at this time of year - he noticed the river had dropped considerably over the morning. I also questioned this as the old level was clearly visible on the far bank. My only answer was that perhaps the water companies had started their extraction pumps, with them panicking over water shortages from our freakishly dry winter. I heard plans that they were topping up Draycote reservoir with water from the river Leam, anyone else heard this?
An hour or so had gone by with no response so I went deeper and began to just edge the float through. First fish! It came quite high up in my run which lasted, if I wanted, around 50 yards. It dived for the near banks rocks, but I guided it away and as expected a chub of around 3lbs was in the net. Good start and at least I had avoided the dreaded blank.
The three cormorants that had been roosting in the trees above me flew over. I told myself this stretch is too small, fast and shallow for them to feed here and would rather have the easier pickings in slower stretches downstream. Hopeful thinking I know!
I carried on edging my float through, with the occasional bigger handful of maggots to try and spark something into feeding. It did the trick: the float buried and I was connected to what could have only been a barbel. It bolted off downstream, with my little Maver Reactorlite reel screaming. I carefully adjusted the clutch and it began to slow, by this time though it had took a good 40 yards of line and was way down stream. I was now panicking that it was going to go right round the corner where there is a huge bolder, that the summer pirates (holiday/day boaters) like to catch their hull on. So I raised my long rod high in the air, to try and avoid being cut off, and I began to make line. At this point I allowed myself to think I might even get this in - after its initial powerful run I now had it in some sort of control. A couple more surging runs later and it boiled in front of me, I was unsure of its size but I didn't care. I began to get the net in place and eventually a few attempts later, I had my first barbel on the float. Result!
She weighed in at 8lb 1oz, had small head considering its size, but still stunning. Popped her in the Keepnet for a few pics later.
I fished on, upping the feed slightly knowing there were fish responding in the area. I expected to wait a while for my next fish after all the commotion from the barbel and that proved to be the case. My next bite came right at the end of the swim and a good fish was on. I was unsure what it was, could be a good chub. I couldn't do much with it and it being way down stream I kept my rod high like before and after a little run I began to make line. The prospect of a larger chub excited me and all of a sudden it was gone. Inspecting my rig it had straightened the hook, was odd as the barbel had fought far harder. The hook hold just mustn't have been right. Even so I still upped the gauge of my size 18 hook and tried again.
I carried on and caught one more chub of around 3lbs. Getting towards the end of the day for me now and I thought there was one more fish in the swim. I played around with my depth and shallowed up, allowing the float to trot through at the rivers pace. Bite! I struck and the fish swam straight for the far bank reeds and before I had time to react, it was already in there. I applied some pressure and the line parted. Poor angling on my part. I admit, I had been outdone, so I called it a day, still happy. Just goes to show though, how good chub are at finding the snags, in comparison to barbel. If you're lucky enough for them not to swim through a snag on their initial run, then, as I proved today, they can be tamed and caught light on the float.