My plan to fish the weir pool of my local river fell at the first hurdle today, when a drive-by revealed a van parked in the gateway and a leger angler seated in the only swim. Winding down my window, I asked if he’d caught. A slow shake of his head told me that hadn’t, or that he was being cagey, not wanting to pass on his success. That swim is full of big roach, chub and the occasional carp; he must have caught. Where now? The river flows away from the lane, behind private houses and across fields, passing under a main road two miles away, where I now headed off to investigate.
I have driven over this bridge many times, but the lack of parking and chest high wild hop vines have put me off attempting to fish in the past. An overgrown gateway a hundred yards away, allowed the van to squeeze into a space with the wheels off the roadway, while with the onset of autumn, the hops were dying back. It was worth a try.
The weir swim is next to the parking spot and hadn’t packed the trolley, but now I needed it. Deciding to travel light, I set up my 14 ft match rod at the van with a 4 No 4 ali stick float, taking only a landing net and my bait bag on the hike. Getting down to the river proved a challenge, a steep slope, coupled with the unrelenting vines and stinging nettles wrapping round my ankles, made me consider the wisdom of my decision to fish.
Once down on the flood plane, the pool looked promising, the flow from under the bridge forcing along my bank, then swinging across to the exit, creating an eddy along the opposite side. Making myself comfortable on the bank, I laid out the bait trays from my tackle box on either side, while sitting on the box cushion, quite a home from home. While getting ready, I’d put a couple of balls of crumb down the middle of the flow, following with a single before dropping the float in, baited with a pellet of punched bread. I’d guessed the depth at three feet and was not surprised to see the float drag under. Too shallow. I lifted the rod to confirm, disappointed that I’d hook the bottom, when the rod bent over. The float traced a Z in the surface, then disappeared. A large fish had been woken up, slowly at first, then bursting into life to rush across the pool and down the far side toward the tail, forcing a rapid backwind of the reel under pressure. It turned, coming back along the near bank. This river has many carp, due to the lakes along it’s length and a flash of bronze scales seemed to verify my suspicion, but another surface roll exposed the gaping white lips of a chub, which dived into the reeds below me, before being forced out into the waiting landing net.
A long lean chub, it weighed in at 3 lb 4 oz, way off it’s expected winter weight, which could exceed 4 lb. Not bad for a first cast with roach in mind. Released it sank slowly away with a flick of the tail.
Ready to fish again, the float followed two more balls of bread into the swim. Looking down to free line caught on a nettle, I missed the float going under, searching the surface to see the line speeding away downstream. I was in again with a bang, the rod arcing over into a more powerful fish, that was already heading for the exit. Again on the backwind, I leaned back, letting the rod do it’s work, the size 16 barbless hook holding. The relentless run had to be stopped. If the fish got out of the pool it would be lost. My days of chasing a fish downstream are long gone and I was relieved to see the chub broach the surface, turning to fight up the middle of the run. After battling right under my rod top, it popped up to the surface like a depth charged submarine and just lay there to be netted.
Four ounces heavier that the first, this chub was shorter, but “chubbier” in much better condition. Two in two casts, how many more were down there?
Now regretting taking my keep net out from the bag, to cut down on weight for the walk, I returned the chub before sorting out the tackle for another trot through. Two more balls plopped in followed by the float. It sank out of sight as though a lead weight was attached, the rod top following it down the instant I lifted. Ping! Bumped it! The float sprang back, wrapping round the tip in a bird’s nest tangle.
This was game over. Spare float rigs were in the tackle box, back at the van and there was no way that I could untangle the knot. I could go back and return with a float to start again, but decided to pack up. This was only an exploratory visit anyway, which had turned out better than expected. Next time I will come fully equipped with the tackle box on my trolley and a keepnet.