It has been a busy time of year, with work and family commitments I have struggled to get into a routine on any particular water. Not being the type of person to give up, I had to find something to fill the little time I had available.
After a bit of thought and a few recce trips with a good friend, I decided to tackle a local stretch of river. I knew absolutely nothing about the stretch I had access to, nor did I know anyone who had fished this particular section… brilliant!
For me personally, there is nothing better than not knowing what you are going to find when you get to a water. It brings a real buzz to my angling.
When I first arrived, it was clear that it had not seen any footfall for a long time and access to the waterside would be a challenge in its own right. After a long battle through the undergrowth and a face full of nettles I finally got to the water’s edge. Much to my disappointment it was 6 inches deep for as far as I could see. I fought my way back to the van to prepare for plan b.
With nothing more than a pair of waders and a small bucket of bait, I made my way back to the water’s edge. The plan was to walk upstream until I could get out and walk along the bank in the hope I could find some fish. The further I ventured, the more twisted and overgrown it became. I kept going, hurdling the vast amount of fallen trees that littered the banks. After what seemed like miles I had stumbled across a section of slighter deeper water with substantial bank side cover. I pushed myself into the bank side foliage and peered through my Polaroid’s in anticipation of seeing something move. Before long, a few chub appeared from a small raft of debris on the far bank, making their way back into open water intercepting anything that came into their path. This was such a refreshing sight to see just as I was starting to doubt myself.
I started flicking in a few chopped Krill boilies from my bucket to see if I could get their interest. Sure enough they started taking the odd one as they fluttered down in the flow. Fascinated by watching them feed I had failed to see a group of carp move upstream and start hovering up the remains that had settled at the end of the swim.
With my confidence high, I introduced some chopped boilie and pellets into any likely looking spots and made a hasty retreat back to the van. I had clearly underestimated the distance I had been walking upstream in search of fish. By the time I could see my van I was losing light quickly! I had to call it a day, as I had other commitments that evening.
Unable to distract my thoughts from the river that evening, I ventured back down the following morning before first light. I only had a couple of hours at my disposal and decided to start by checking the spots I had baited the previous day. However, this time I went armed with a rod and a few essentials to get some angling done.
I had high expectations because of what I‘d seen the previous evening; but on arrival I was greeted by a resident swan with a huge smirk on his face and a dozen or so glowing clear patches!
Feeling defeated, I stood back from the water’s edge and watched for 30 minutes or so without seeing so much as a roach fart! Even the swan was bored and had drifted downstream. I decided not to waste any more time and at worst I would explore even further upstream for next time. I rather crudely started to pre bait the same spots as the previous evening before heading off upstream. No more than two handfuls in and a barbel of around 8lb shot out of the undergrowth snatching at the boilies as they rolled past. No more than 5 minutes later and this single barbel had cleaned up every single morsel. I had fallen into the same trap as the day before and found myself hypnotised as I watched its reactions to my bait. I continued feeding and before long the carp were back in the swim muscling their way through. In a controlled panic, I started to rig up my rod.
With the river only being around a rod length in width, 2-3 feet deep and crystal clear water, I needed to make as little disturbance as possible. With this in mind I decided that free-lining a bait would be my best chance. Hook choice was important. I needed a strong reliable pattern for hit and hold situations with a beaked point to prevent blunting if I decided to roll the bait down the gravel runs. I attached a size 4 Covert Wide Gape Talon Tip directly to my 10lb GT80+ clear mainline with a simple Palomar knot. This was baited with a large chunk of Krill paste that was moulded around the hook and squashed flat to help it to hold bottom.
I flicked the bait in at the head of the run and followed it with a handful of chopped boilie and pellet. After initially backing off, the carp slowly started gaining more confidence. However, they were still waiting for the loose feed to reach the end of the run before they would feed. I quickly wound in and halved the size of paste moulding it into a more rounded shape to allow the bait to roll through the swim.
Another handful of bait was introduced simultaneously with my hookbait at the top of the gravel run. I kept contact with the hookbait, feathering the line between my fingers as it rolled down the run almost perfectly amongst the free offerings. Just as the bait was out of sight the line plucked from my fingers and the rod hooped round double!
I had no idea what I had hooked but it was sure making a good account of itself in the shallow water. Having nowhere else to go the fish thundered downstream heading for one of the fallen trees. I held on with everything the tackle had and managed to prevent it from going any further. As the fish turned, it decided to charge back upstream. Crossing my path in the crystal clear water I could see I was hooked into a carp – a nice dark double figure common.
After an intense battle the first of my new adventure was in the net. Mission accomplished! I let the fish gain some breath in the net as I introduced a large helping of bait in preparation for the next opportunity I would hopefully get later in the week. A quick snap of my prize and off she went to fight another day…
As I gathered my gear together, with a smile on my face, I had one last look at the spot before I left. As I clumsily peered over the bank side vegetation I froze with shock. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing as I watched a dozen or so carp with the odd barbel and chub thrown in, all absolutely demolishing the bucket of chopped boilie and pellet I had just thrown in!
I checked the time on my phone, I was already late. Thinking of further excuses to tell the girlfriend, I debated if the grovelling required would be worth it when my enthusiasm got the better of me. Just one more cast…
Hastily I rigged up with another lump of paste and I was fishing again. Not long after hitting bottom I had lost ‘feel’ of the hookbait. I gingerly pulled back the mainline between my fingers. I could see it entering the coloured water created by the feeding frenzy. Pulling back further I could feel what I thought was a head shake. A sharp flick of the rod tip and I had set the hook and another angry resident decides to give me the run around for another 5 minutes or so before the second one is secured in the net. A nice double figure, two tone common had its picture taken before being slipped back.
A ‘leaving now’ text message was sent as I had my last few casts. Nothing further came from that session but I continued to be successful throughout the week, fishing very short sessions and landing a PB barbel, some good chub and an absolutely cracking scaley mirror. Most importantly, I had rediscovered what fishing really means to me. Setting your own goals, avoiding the hype, getting out and enjoying it!