Reports of huge bags of dace coming from the river Thames at Windsor led me to suggest to my wife, that I would drop her off at Windsor High Street for some window shopping, on my way to fish at Home Park in the shadow of the castle. She could then enjoy a pleasant walk down to the river, where I would be hammmering out dace one a chuck.
All was agreed, but there was one problem, the Windsor tackle shop was now an estate agent and I needed bait. No problem, I had plenty of hempseed, punch bread and some sweet corn, while in the back of my fridge were some maggots tightly sealed in cling film, unused from a previous outing two weeks before. I’d been informed that they would keep for long periods, if sealed from an air supply and kept cold, going into hibernation. I unwrapped them and sure enough they began to move, putting them in a bait box, then leaving overnight in the fridge. This was a mistake, as by morning, they were already turning to casters, but they would do for the day’s fishing.
A picnic lunch was assembled and we were off to the shops, then on to the riverbank, where with tackle loaded onto my trolley, I began the long walk to the noted pegs, but only a third of the way down the bank, I was already flagging and stopped off at a likely looking swim.
It looked perfect, not too much flow, running left to right into an overhanging tree, the only down side being the sight of bleak topping, these small silver fish running in large shoals near the surface, eager to grab any offering. The target dace feed near the bottom of the river and decided to fish a 6 BB balsa stick float, with the shot bulked to within 18 inches of the hook, to punch through the bleak down to the dace. Also to discourage these bait stealers, I opted to feed only with a bait dropper, placing a line of mostly hemp seed, mixed with a few casters, 8 feet down on the bottom, a rod length out, using my 14 foot long float rod.
So much for the theory, first cast in the float raised almost flat, as the caster was taken on the way down, a lift of the rod resulting in the first of many bleak being swung in. Only in the water for a few seconds, the caster was well down the fish’s throat, needing the disgorger to be used to retrieve the hook.
Maybe I could fish my way through them, my net soon filling with the unwanted bleak and was losing hope, when the float got through, to be held down with a proper bite, my rod bending over to a decent dace, juddering away to the surface and the landing net.
False alarm. More bleak with the odd dace to keep me interested. I tried different baits, hemp straight on the hook getting down, but only giving short stabbing unhitable bites, bread and sweet corn, more bleak. I gave up on that line, shallowing up the float, to trot the inside shelf in search of a few predatory perch. First cast, the float gave a couple of dips, then slid away and the rod bent over with the initial rush of a 4 oz perch. This would do until my wife turned up, casting in again to be met by a similar bite, but this time the rod doubled over with the full bore run from a far larger fish, that headed toward the middle of the river, as I back wound the reel to avoid a break. Briefly the green flank, barred with the black stripes of a big perch broke the surface, before diving again, but coming closer to my out stretched net.
This was worth coming for, the perch taking a single caster on a size 16 barbless hook, that was lodged in the scissors of it’s gaping jaw, being relieved to finally get it in the net. More small perch lined up, running the gauntlet of the bleak, which were still trying to be first to the bait, hooking into another quality perch, just as my wife arrived, this one fighting as hard as the first, although slightly smaller, taking my time, allowing it to run where it wanted, until it was on it’s side on the surface. A couple of last minute flips on the top and it was mine.
Spine erect, this was the last decent fish of the afternoon and I rested my rod, one eye on the float, the other on the picnic, interrupting the mouthfuls between fish. Soon even the perch were gone, the float reaching the overhanging trees, where 3 inch baby chub raided the hook and it was time to declare “Last Cast”.
Not all days go to plan, that’s fishing, if it had, I probably would not have seen these perch and my wife would not have got home before the rush hour began.