River Dane 8th February 2015
With the car in again for repair on the Saturday I decided on a Sunday session on the Dane. The levels looked plausible and the weather nowhere near as windy so I arrived around 8:30am and marched confidently down the hill. It was foggy and overcast, perfect conditions for a days chubbing and the levels were good too, today could be the turning point.
I dropped quietly into ‘Shrinkers’ swim and setup away from the water’s edge, dropping a piece of free lined paste in I settled back and routed out the flask, a hot cup of coffee warming me up. After half an hour the peace was broken by a panting dog some six-foot behind me, an angler appeared out of the mist and enquired as to whether I’d had anything, my reply was short enough not to engage further in conversation as aside from spooking my swim I didn’t want to get into why he’d obviously not noticed the sheep at the top of the field nor read the club rules about dogs on club waters, I just couldn’t be bothered.
Another half an hour passed and another pair of anglers appeared, they stopped in-line with my bait right on the skyline and I was asked once again had I had anything, ‘No and I probably won’t now from this swim’ my response prompted the pair to continue downstream probably calling me a grumpy old git. Finally a friendly face appeared, this time crouching to my right and speaking in a hushed whisper as you should do, it was Paul and he’d had a couple of 1lb chub in the corn field earlier.
I thought I’d try another swim way down stream in the corn field, I’d had a double figure barbel from the swim this time last year and a decent chub so I trudged along the river’s edge and passed the two sky-liners. The swim was baron and provided no cover so I set up well back and crept into position. As I dropped the first cast in with a gentle plop one of the sky-liners stomped across the back of me and headed for the other side of the overhanging tree, no-more than 20 yards away – unbelievable!!
Any chance I had of drawing a chub up from downstream was completely ruined whether it was intentional or not I’d have never gone anywhere near another angler had I stumbled across them like he did, now I really was peed off with the ‘Sunday Circus’
I gathered the tackle and again stomped off towards the final beat but on approaching the Rope Tree swim a couple of anglers on the far bank had me adjust my course and I veered off left towards the Sandbank swim. I knew this would need a very stealthy approach so lay down my tackle some twenty yards away, as I did so the mobile rang and the silence was broken, bugger!!
Settling into the swim everything seemed right, an under arm lob was all that was needed to drop the cheese paste on the spot. I perched on my bucket like an expectant garden gnome and touch ledgered, my favourite means of fishing. Within a couple of minutes I felt a vibration through the trapped line and as I struck prematurely the cheese paste flew over my right shoulder and tangled in the trees behind me. At least I knew a fish was present so I recast and repeated the procedure – feel the bite, strike, untangle the line from the trees and recast. After the third time I realised I wasn’t going to get this crafty chevin so as darkness fell I headed back upstream to the Gate swim, surely the fishing Gods had seen enough of my amateur antics and would take pity on my last ditched attempt to avoid another blank?
The Gate swim doesn’t give up it’s secrets easily so I was a little hesitant but it felt right so a baited with a large chunk of meat and tossed it out into the flow. The isotope nodded occasionally and I imaged the free lined bait wafting seductively at the end of the run which in the summer you can see the streamer weed and imagine a chub or two darting in and out to collect free offerings.
I’d left all the paraphernalia at the top of the swim and sat patiently on my unhooking mat, if it was going to happen it’d be quick so I didn’t want to create any undue noise setting up a chair or clonking a tackle bag down.
As my eyes honed in on the isotope a shadow on the far sandbank distracted me, it was almost pitch black and still very overcast but I could just make out the dark shape – it was the resident otter. I stood up to get a closer look and as I did so he dived into the river his red eyes caught in my head torch submerged like torpedo and headed up-stream – game over.
River Dove 14th February 2015
Back on my favourite river and this time a new stretch to try. Known as Monks bridge the river runs under the main dual carriageway which means lots of road noise but that didn’t detract from its appeal.
I set up in a lovely looking swim just before the bridge, it ran through in two places either side of the central pillar so either way I’d cover a lot of water from one vantage point.
It was close to the main road but the drone of the traffic soon disappeared into the background as I got on with the task in hand. The pace of the river was deceptively slow and a 1oz lead insufficient to hold bottom so I let it take the bait along and under the far arch rather than step up to a heavier lead. I think chub are opportunist so they’ll lay in wait and pick up baits on the move as much as they will search out a static bait.
Oddly I didn’t get a bite not even a pluck so after two hours I moved to a more familiar beat and settled in for the evening session. My phone rang, it was Cliff and we both agreed that Spring was just around the corner, the evening bird song was reminiscent of those long forgotten Spring evenings, the river was in fine form and with a cloudy sky I couldn’t have planned it any better but did I catch? Well let’s just say the self take below taken to set-up the camera before dark says it all…… note how optimistically wide apart my hands are!!
River Dane 21st February 2015
Back on the river Dane this week again due to some final repairs to the fishing wagon, this time an early morning visit whilst my mate ‘Little Robbie’ replaced the offending part, hopefully now it’ll stop losing water. I can’t complain it’s approaching 200,000 miles on the clock and usually doesn’t miss a beat when peddled at a steady 75mph on the motorway, it never complains even when driven down the muddiest of dirt tracks and I rekon it’s good for another 100,000 miles if I look after it.
After the car was repaired I headed off to catch the second half of my sons football match where he made his début as goal keeper, they were 4-1 down but he did his best and only one more goal was scored in the final moments.
It was early afternoon by the time I arrived I headed upstream of my usual beat and bumped into Phil and Dave who’d had a few fish in the morning so things looked promising. I picked a somewhat inaccessible swim that required my rope to descend into but that was part of my logic, if it’s popular with anglers and easy to get to perhaps the fish have become wise to that area and found sanctuary elsewhere, I mean how many times do you catch within ten minutes of your first cast only too sit there for a further hour without a bite?
I started off on cheese paste made as usual with the Laguna Blue Cheese SAC juice and their Milk Based Pro base mix, a few small piece were tossed in randomly to entice, if there’s a fish within the immediate area they’ll soon be onto it and so I took my time tackling up before a gentle under arm lob placed the 1/4oz bomb out in the flow, it bounced around and swung in under the downstream tree, perfect.
Sure enough a familiar feeling was transmitted through the line as a young chub toyed with the bait, I didn’t hesitate and struck into my first fish in many, many weeks. The pristine chub lay in the bottom of the net, it wasn’t worth weighing and soon returned but my confidence was restored,
I decided to chance another cast as the mid-afternoon showers had arrived meaning I’d get soaked moving swims so I took a lazy approach and recast to the same spot. In between the showers I’d move upstream poking the rod through the trees and improvising with whatever was available, this is how chub fishing should be but far too often we take enough gear to sink a battleship and moving swims can be a major operation.
Today I was happy to rest the first swim and run a bait through these little fished areas just to see if I could catch an unsuspecting chub or two.
It was well after dark before the first swim showed any kind of activity, a flick on the isotope before a steady pull around producing three more fish in quick succession, I had not only broken my run of blanks but had hit the jackpot!!
I left after the swim went quiet again, it was late and I’d had my fill, time to return home a very happy angler.
The final weekend of February was spent in the good company of fellow chevin chasers on the river Lugg and river Wye in Herefordshire but I’ll save that write-up for next time.
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