Syndicate trout stream rewards persistance

May 18, 2019 at 11:34 am

Following up on my visit to a free urban trout stream, where the mayfly were just beginning to fly, I was encouraged to take the ten mile drive to my Hampshire syndicate chalk stream. The sun was shining and a light upstream wind was ruffling the surface, when I arrived after 3 pm.

Walking upstream it looked perfect, but something was missing, flies and rising trout. I had hoped to start with the White Mayfly, that I had used on the urban river, but was not so sure, deciding to make my way up toward the wier, before changing to a nymph.

This is what I found, when I got my rod down from its rack in the garage. A mouse had eaten the cork of the handle. Although off the ground, the mouse must have considered that it was worth the climb, only eating into one side, where my fingers wrap around. Maybe the floatant grease that I use had permeated into the corks, making a tasty mouse snack. The positive side is that I now have finger grips in the handle!

Without waders, I kept well away from the bank, pausing to study the river ahead, spotting a single rise 50 yards upstream close to the opposite bank. It rose again as I neared the spot, a raft of branches that had collected at a small bush. Another rise coincided with the first sight of a white mayfly lifting off from the surface. Casting was going to be difficult from this high bank, with trees hanging over the water, but a mayfly disappearing in a swirl ahead of me spurred me on. Sitting on the bank with my legs over the river, I made side casts up to the spot, but the upstream wind caught the leader each time, swinging it back over to my side. Mayfly were still lifting off, but a vertical cast saw the fly line land heavily ahead of the fish. It stopped rising.

The artificial was soon waterlogged, sinking on landing, so I got up and moved on, making false casts as I walked to dry it out. There were still a few Mayfly about and another rise a 100 yards ahead saw me approach with caution. Here cattle had broken the bank down and was able to stand at water level to cast, although once again overhanging branches called for a side cast.

The trout was rising every few minutes on the outside of the bend below a willow and I edged closer, increasing the length of my casts, being frustrated each time that I had the range, to catch on dead, long grass and cow parsley along the bank behind me. Plenty of time, mayfly were still coming off and the fish was still plopping away. Retrieving the fly for the second time, I went grass cutting, reducing the obstacles by hand, then inched back to my rod to start again.

The artificial was regreased, rubbed between my fingers, recast and ignored. The wind was still blowing the fly away from the bank and I aimed further in, watching it float down dangerously close to the bank. The trout took in a side swipe and I was in! An initial boil and it bolted upstream, stripping line toward the bend. Side on it was a long fish and not stopping, testing the rod as it bent to the butt. Against the pressure it came back, giving repeated, but shorter bursts of power each time. Standing at the tail of the pool, I bided my time, until it was ready for the net, drifting it across the shallows to be scooped up.

Not a wild fish, but a well conditioned stockie 17 inches long, fueled by a regular supply of Mayfly. After returning to the river, holding its head facing upstream, it kicked away to swim back to the pool.

I was content with this brown trout, walking back to the road, not being tempted by the few fish now rising to another Mayfly hatch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild trout ready for Mayfly bonanza on urban river

May 15, 2019 at 7:09 pm

An ankle injury had kept me away from the river bank for over a month, but using my landing net as a walking aid, I was able to cover the short distance from the car to the bank of my urban trout stream this week. Arriving after 7 pm, the sun was close to the horizon as I made my way upstream, disappointed that there were no fish rising.

Although it was bright sunshine beyond the trees, in the shade there was a chill downstream wind and assumed that this was keeping the fly life down. I decided to start off with a size 14 unweighted Gold Ribbed Hares Ear nymph, casting along the edges of the weeds and close to my bank, the nymph just hanging in the surface film. After ten yards, a swirl, followed by a tightening of the leader, saw an automatic response as I made contact with a seven inch parr, that tumbled across the surface and came off the barbless hook. Oh well, that got my heart thumping, raising my hopes of better fish to come.

Moving up to open water below an overhanging laurel, the nymph now waterlogged, failed to get the attention of any more trout, wherever it was cast. Seeing a small rise alongside a weed bed, I tied on an Elk Hair Emerger, rubbing floatant grease into the fly, before casting above the bed. A pound trout appeared from nowhere, took one look and dashed off in the opposite direction. My other were casts ignored. This is free, unmonitored fishing and I got the feeling that these fish had been covered too many times already, my usually successful Emerger, not cutting the mustard this evening.

I decided to backtrack downstream along the road, where the sun was still on the water, seeing that Grannom flies were scudding across the surface, a rise further down among the trees confirming my choice of the Orange Elk Emerger. All I needed was a place to cast from the high bank, my sore ankle too unsteady to be climbing down to the waters edge.

I stopped at an open bank covered with cow parsley, where reeds and wild watercress grew out into the water. It was difficult casting from this point, but this was my only option, the overgrown bank making it difficult to control the line. I had brought my 7 ft 3 Weight rod, where my 9 ft 5 Weight would have been the answer to cope with the bankside vegetation. A month before, only the occasional daffodil would have been present.

White Mayflies had begun launch into the air and like a switch, the apparently barren river came to life with fish rising in front of me. A few casts with the Emerger were ignored, but a last minute grab of the Mayfly box, when leaving home, was now to pay off as I rooted through it to find a white Mayfly.

Tying this monster on was easy compared to the smaller flies earlier. Rubbing it in with floatant, saw it sitting high and proud on the surface. Not for long. It had drifted only a few feet, before it was engulfed in a splashy take. The strike was absorbed by the line caught in the watercress and I missed my chance. Maybe a small fish. Watching for the next rise, I made a long cast upstream close to the far bank, this time seeing a deep bronze flank roll over the fly. Yes! I was in, the short rod bending double as the trout bucked and dived in the clear river. The hook held and I stripped back line as the trout ran downstream past me, boiling on the surface. “Stay down!” I pleaded, fearful that the hook would shake out, but no, the gods were on my side this time and with the landing net at full extension, the wild brownie was scooped into the net.

About 12 oz, this beautiful trout was already deep and round, the early feast of Mayfly a healthy boost to its diet. Holding the trout upstream in the landing net for several minutes, I waited until it was ready to swim off, before turning the net over, watching the dark back disappear beneath the cress. The sun was now touching the fields across the river and I was glad that I had put on a sweat shirt as the breeze had transformed into a downstream wind, dragging the fly across the surface seconds after it had dropped onto the water.

As the last of the sun sank beyond the field, the wind dropped enough to allow the fly to float down to the surface close to my side, being taken aggressively in an instant by an 8 oz fish that boiled on the surface, as I frantically tried to free the flyline from the cow parsley along my bank. Soon the leader was caught in the watercress and the trout gone. Untangling the line, the Mayfly was still in place, deciding to call it quits for the evening.

I had hoped for more fish, but it was good to get back out on the river with a fly rod, the adrenaline helping me to forget the pain in my ankle for an hour, or two.

 

Magtech 7002 semi auto .22 rimfire spring rabbit watch

May 6, 2019 at 1:50 pm

Once a regular on my list of permissions, the equestrian centre has been reduced to just the occasional visit these days, due to lack of rabbits on this once prolific 80 acre site. Bounded by a large housing estate on three sides, it is possible that poaching, or myxomatosis has decimated the numbers, but a call to the owners had a positive report of more rabbits seen around the grounds.

Arriving on a bright spring afternoon there was little evidence of a rabbit revival, the long driveway, once offering a shot, or two, still devoid of rabbits. Parking up in the yard, I was met by the lady owner, who told me that they had seen rabbits around the feed storage sheds recently, but walking out that way with the Magtech failed to show any sign of rabbits, even recent droppings and I carried on out toward the wood.

Bluebells were already covering the ground, being early this year. Birds were singing, making this a very pleasant country walk, but there were still no signs of rabbits, despite frequent stops to wait and watch for movement. A muntjac deer burst from cover, making me start, the young doe trotting on to the next clump of fresh green foliage, being the only thing of interest apart from squirrels.

The nature walk continued, passing through the wood I could see from the higher ground two boundaries with no sign of bunnies, where once there would have been small groups every hundred yards. Turning back I took the path parallel to the wood, there was still time to drive on to another permission, where I was bound to have more success. Picking up my pace to climb the rise, I stopped and ducked down. A big rabbit was feeding in the enclosure next to the path ahead about 70 yards away.

Keeping down, I slowly moved forward, getting down to crawl to the top of the rise. It was still there, sitting up facing back to the path. Resting the rifle on my bag, I got ready for the shot, just as it moved back to the path. The rabbit stopped at the fence post, it’s head clearly visible. This was my only chance. I squeezed the trigger and it sprang forward, lying motionless.

The rabbit was only yards from a fresh burrow, a delay on my part would have seen it lost. I was pleased with the shot, at 45 yards just behind the eye, a testament to the accuracy and hitting power of the 42 grain Winchester subsonic rounds.

After cleaning out the rabbit I moved on, this action had reduced my future chances here once more, but as they say, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. I did see a pair of rabbits along a far hedge line as I walked back to the stables, but nothing else and had removed the magazine ready to return to the van, when a rabbit ran across the path toward the sheds. Stopping to refit the magazine and cock the action, I stepped round the fence into the alleyway to see the rabbit against a shed twenty yards away. It froze and I fired. Two others now appeared from nowhere down by a wood pile and I hit one of them, firing again to make sure. Short and sweet.

As the owner had said, they WERE around the feed sheds, a stake out may have saved a walk, but its not all about putting food on the table.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bread punch roach and rudd shine at Braybrooke closer

May 1, 2019 at 3:30 pm

Having injured my ankle, I had been out of action for a couple of weeks, but was determined to get down to my local Jeane’s Pond at Braybrooke Park for a last chance at the roach and rudd, before its annual month long close season was imposed on May 1st. With the carpark only a 100 yards from the pond, I had reduced the tackle in my box to a minimum, needing to pull my trolley, while hobbling along using a walking stick in the other hand. This was a slow painful process and had never noticed before how uneven the path was, twisting my ankle at every step. A dog walker coming the other way gave me a smile “Don’t worry mate, you’ll get there”. Get there I eventually did, justifying my choice of peg 18, the nearest of the disabled, wheelchair friendly pegs.

The scene was welcoming, little breeze and bright sunshine, while the pond had a soft green tint, the only downside being branches and logs that had been dumped into the water at my feet, the disadvantage of a public park frequented by bored teenagers at night. I spent the next ten minutes removing these with my landing net, tipping them onto the bank, ready for tonight’s revellers.

Intending to fish my reliable bread punch method, I gathered everything I needed to within hands reach, selecting a light antenna rig to a size 18 barbless hook, choosing to begin with a 6 mm bread punch. Plumbing the swim, the ledge was 3 feet deep, sloping down to 4 feet, 5 yards out.

Ready to begin, I squeezed up a small ball of liquidised bread, dropping it in just over the shelf, intending to create an area of feed that would roll down the slope into the deeper water. With my pole at 3 metres, I cast in and pulled back to the shelf, the float skating away immediately as a small rudd took the bread on the drop.

Half a dozen of these made me think that I might have chosen the wrong method, but then the following rudd began to get bigger, as the feed attracted in better fish.

More better rudd took confidently, the bites sliding away, then a different bite, the antenna giving a few dips before slowly sinking out of sight. The No 6 elastic came out as a good roach flashed in the green water, following it with the pole as it ran from left to right, sliding the landing net out ready for it to give up on the surface.

At last, the first decent fish, the size 18 fine wire hook holding firmly in the top lip. At this stage I had not introduced any more feed for fear of encouraging the tiny roach and rudd that had plagued me earlier, but now I chanced another small ball to the top of the drop off, fishing to the left of the cloud.

Another nice roach sank the float and the landing net was out again, followed by the best rudd so far.

Good fish were now coming every cast, some from the top of the shelf, some half way down.

The midday sun was so bright, that I had to hold the fish in the shade of my body, the glare from the silver scales, whiting out the images. Fishing either side of the feed kept the bites coming steadily and the landing net in constant use.

These rudd would take the bread and run back out to the deeper water, but I was not tempted to fish further out, while I continued to catch these clonkers close in.

Another good roach followed a ball of feed, beginning a run of the hard fighting fish that were taking the bait close to the bottom.

Then it stopped. The water erupted as a pike chased a roach, that almost jumped into the landing net as it tried to escape, the pike grabbing the fish through the net, pulling it down. I dragged the net free and the water boiled. The fish were panicked and would not take, more forays causing good sized fish to scatter across the surface.

Time for a cup of tea and a sandwich, while I reflected on my efforts so far. I had been fishing for two hours and reckoned that I already had six, or seven pounds of fish in my net, but it was too early to pack up, the sun was out and the birds were singing in the trees, accompanied by the staccato hammering of a wood pecker. I would stick it out. Putting in another couple of balls of feed five metres out, took the pike further away, while I fished along the edges, picking up smaller roach and rudd, although rapid swinging in caused a few to drop off, when the pike came visiting.

There were still a few decent fish to be had, this rudd avoiding a mauling as I hussled it to to the net. By 3 pm the local school had begun disgorging its pupils, several deciding that throwing logs and branches into the pond was a good idea, and after landing yet another big roach I called it a day.

Pulling out the keep net, I knew that I had under estimated the weight before, the number and quality of the fish pushing the scales well beyond 9 lbs and considering all the small roach and rudd that I had thrown back, 10 lbs would have been in sight.