Stick float chub and a carp reward optimism

February 22, 2015 at 6:08 pm

With the days counting down to the end of the coarse fishing season on rivers, I was determined in my quest to catch some chub from my local river, the previous week failing on this count, but giving me a respectable net of roach. Two days of rain had kept me inside, but a damp grey morning was giving way to weak sunshine by the afternoon and I decided to play my joker and fish at the Last Chance Saloon, the weir, a mile downstream.

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Driving down the lane, I nearly kept on going, the river, the colour of milky coffee, was lapping the underside of the bridge and spilling onto the roadway on either side, rushing at full speed towards the Thames. Already with a heavy heart, the fishing trolley was loaded and pulled the two hundred yards to toward the weir, which was in full flood, pounding away, draining the town’s treated water, swelled by the recent rain. The force of the river was pushing it’s way to the middle of the weir stream, but there were slacks hard under my bank and on the bend opposite, so all was not lost and I went through the motions of setting up my 14 foot rod, with 5lb line to a 6 No 4 ali stemmed stick float. This was already made up on a winder, with a 3lb hook link to a size 16 barbless hook.

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I had a range of baits with me, sweet corn, hempseed and liquidised bread from the freezer, red worms from the compost heap and red maggots turned to casters from the fridge, that were well past their sell by date. Balls of bread, were dropped two feet from the bank at my feet and I watched them being swept down toward the bush on the corner. Even the slack was pushing through and now the wind had picked up, bringing a light drizzle. What was I doing here? What chances were there of catching a fish in these conditions? Anglers are optimists. We see opportunity in every difficulty.

I set the float a foot over depth, the hook baited with a 6mm bread pellet and eased it down to the bush, held back clear of the tangled branches, where I could see a couple of floats, lost by previous anglers. After a few minutes, my float dipped and held, but I missed the bite, being taken by surprise. Encouraged, I fed another ball and missed the bite, the bread gone. I would only get a bite following a ball of bread, which I missed every time, so changed bait to a small worm. Success! The float sailed away and a good fish was on. Pulling it hard away from the bush, the fish dashed off down the middle against back-wind, then began a head shaking fight back upstream, only to come off unseen. Not amused, I tried several slow trots to the bush to no avail and decided another bait change might work. Deepening up more, I laid on with the worm in the edge, while I rooted through my bait bag for the hemp and casters, feeding the casters at my feet, with the heavier hemp across the slack and flow. The float bobbed and pulled under. I was in again, another fish zooming away downstream, the rod bending round to take the shock, as it made for the white water. This time it stayed on and a nice junior chub came to the net, the worm taken well down.

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The wind and drizzle forgotten, more hemp and casters were fed in and a single caster put on the hook, being dropped just short of the bush and laid on again. The float dipped, then nothing. The caster had been shelled. It happened again. There were fish under that bush, but twenty minutes into the session and I only had one chub to show for it. I shallowed up and let the float run through. It dived, the rod bent over then sprung back, the hook link tangled round the float and I was cursing myself. A bumped fish and now a tangle to be unravelled with cold, wet hands. A few more casters were fed in and soon the sorted rig was lowered in to follow them down, the float sinking out of sight. I lifted and the float stayed down, just long enough to think it was snagged, then pow! The rod was ripped round and I was back-winding furiously, as the line zipped across the weir stream toward the far side. Convinced this was a losing battle, I hung on, not trying to bully the fish across, applying pressure and giving line, when needed. Back on my side of the whitewater, a flash of reddish tail broke surface. A monster roach? A broad flash of gold now had me thinking rudd, then a roll and it was confirmed as a carp. The rolling continued, as I brought the carp against the main current over to my landing net, holding my breath, it slid over the rim. Phew! Didn’t think I’d get this one. Time for a much needed cup of tea.

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Everything from now on was going to be a bonus and next trot down I was playing a 6 oz chub, which fought well in the fast water, this to be the last from the bush. I fed the casters further out into the flow and began feeding a few pieces of sweet corn over to the opposite bank with a view to fishing the slower water on the bend. More shelled casters and an on-off, persuaded me to switch lines, adding depth to fish the heavier sweet corn, the fourteen foot rod lifting the line clear of the fast running river, giving good control to the float, as it fished the crease of the bend. Half way down, the tip angled over and skated sideways; a chub had hooked it’self. Not a big fish again, but a spirited fight, the hook neatly in the top lip.

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The sweet corn was working well, taking another four small chub, but time and the light were against me and I called it a day at 5pm, the two hours giving me plenty of action and food for thought on a grey February afternoon, when apart from that carp, nothing else, but chub were interested in feeding.

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Unusual net fellows, this little river runs through several lakes on it’s way to this point and often has a surprise, or two in store for the few in the know local anglers, who take the time to search out some of it’s secrets.


Bread punch roach on the stick float, stand in for chub.

February 13, 2015 at 6:52 pm

Discovering some ageing red maggots, that had mostly turned to casters in my fishing fridge, sparked the idea of trying for chub on the small urban river running through my local park. In past years, each session with bread punch had begun with a brief flurry of small chub, before the roach moved onto the liquidized bread groundbait, but this year they had been absent.

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Casters over a bed of hemp in one of the more chubby swims might just do the trick, so that was the plan with punched bread as a back-up, setting off early after lunch, on a dull and dismal afternoon. Parking up the van, events took a turn, when the seat belt wedged in the door, preventing it from shutting. Tucking the belt back quickly, I slammed the door again and ouch! I’d managed to shut my little finger in the door! I had to open it again to get my finger out and saw blood oozing from a nasty cut. What now? Go back home? Wrapping a tissue round the finger, I jumped back in the van and headed up the road to a nearby petrol station, where I bound the wound with the heavy blue tissue provided at the pump, than fitted a couple of the complimentary polythene gloves over the top. It stung like hell, but at least I could still go fishing.

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In this swim, the flow from right to left cuts across a bend, pushing along the nearside, where on a previous visit, I had several chub, the best being over two pounds, trotting bread punch into the base of the fir tree. This is how I started off, a couple of balls of bread thrown to the middle downstream, which could be seen breaking into a cloud to drift in towards the bank. The 3 No. 4 ali stick was cast down to follow the cloud and the line mended to stay behind the float. The float had only drifted a few feet, when tell tale rings radiated out from the tip, it bobbed and sank, the size 16 hook setting into a nice roach. A chub would have dived away with the float.

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Without feeding more, the roach were queueing up to be caught, but still no chub, although I was happy with these little thumpers, until the gudgeon moved in, three gudgeon to a roach in ratio, just keeping me satisfied.

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Half an hour in, I baited the fished area with four pouches of hemp and a couple of dozen casters and as I picked up my rod baited with a caster, a fish rose to suck in a floater. Casting down to the spot, the float disappeared immediately and I struck into a solid fish that skated across to the opposite bank, swimming hard upstream. Surely a chub? Nope, the deep golden flash of a rudd could be seen battling away in the clear water, before skimming across to the net.

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It was pot luck as to what was on the hook each time the float sank and after more caster feed, their mouths were spewing red maggot juice. This was my last ditch attempt to persuade any chub in the swim to feed, but to no avail. If they had been there, the chub would have bullied their way to the front of the queue, instead the bites were getting fussy and the casters shelled on the hook, as a gudgeon feeding frenzy took hold. Without more feed, I swapped back to a 5mm pellet of bread on the hook, cast down beyond the feed and watched the float dither and sink.

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Another fine roach came to the net. The river runs below a pathway and the fishing demonstration garnered many comments from passers by, plus the unwelcome attention of curious dogs, one of which leapt into the icy waters upstream of me, it’s apologetic female owner using some very inappropriate language in her attempts to drag the white coated animal up the muddy bankside. No doubt an early bath needed, when they got home.

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I continued to cast well downstream and the roach got bigger, two or three hugging my bank on the way back, snagging small branches along the way, hanging like presents on a Christmas tree, as I lifted the tangle over the rim of the net.urbanfieldsportsman 1158

This was my last and best fish of the afternoon, the light was almost gone and the cold was getting uncomfortable, the hemp and caster had held the roach, but it was the bread punch that had selected them.

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Pulling up the keepnet, that welcome deep sploshing sound indicated a decent bag, my new digital scales indicating just over 8lbs of fish in three hours of fishing. Without that lost half hour, it may have been nearer 10lb. Nonetheless an impressive haul from such a small river.

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I don’t know where the chub have gone, but with a month of the coarse fishing season left, I hope to find out.




Magtech 7022 shines in the winter sun

February 10, 2015 at 5:45 pm

A bright afternoon tempted me out, removing the .22 Magtech semi auto rifle from the gun cabinet for the first time this year and taking me back to the equestrian centre I’d visited just before Christmas, where three big rabbits had filled my game bag.

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Weeks of storms and snow had left the ground sodden, making it heavy going as I trudged to my first rabbit hot spot, an uneven patch of ground pockmarked by burrows, bits of blue glazed plates and broken pottery jars, revealed by the burrowers, evidence of past use as a Victorian rubbish dump. Settling down at the base of an ivy clad oak tree, I lay prone with the rifle rested on my bag and set the scope zoom to the centre burrows 40 yards away, expecting one of the occupiers to hop out into the sunshine at any moment. I was in the shade and the north easterly breeze was slowly chilling my bones. Waiting for rabbits to emerge, is an investment in time and after fifteen minutes without a show, I was ready to move on, but the thought that one could pop up at any time kept me there longer.

The sound of clattering wings drew my eye skyward, to see several wood pigeons gliding in to settle high in my tree. I was obviously masked from their keen eyes by the ivy reaching into the upper branches and did a slow motion roll onto my back, raising the Magtech vertical to find a target. At this point I expected an explosion of wings, as I was spotted, but the cross hairs found the illuminated outline of a fat woodie and I gently applied pressure to the trigger. The hollow “knock” of bullet on feather, a couple of flaps and the pigeon was spinning to the ground, to hit with a thump only feet away, it’s brethren scattering to pastures new.

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Giving up on the rabbits, I broke cover to de-breast the plump bird, turning it on it’s back, pulling the skin away from the breast to reveal the dark rich meat, which was soon cleanly removed by following the breast bone with my knife, the two steaks wrapped and bagged. Moving further into the wood, the low sun was casting long shadows among the tree trunks, warming the air a few more degrees, encouraging snow drops to come out above the leaf litter.

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Turning off the track into the sun, a rustle through the leaves to my right, brought the rifle to my shoulder, as the deep russet coat of a fox became visible through the undergrowth and crossed my path ten yards away. Fox are off limits on this land and I am reluctant to shoot them at any time, so was happy to watch it glide effortlessly on it’s way, it’s full brush of a tail extending straight out behind it, disappearing among the rhododendrons. Maybe he’d got to my rabbit warren first, hence the no-show.

Rounding a corner, I was unaware of a rabbit sitting twenty yards away, perfectly camouflaged, until it moved and turned to slip unmolested into a tangle of dead brambles. I’d just broken a rule of hunting. Assume there is something around every corner and lead with your rifle raised and ready to fire. The spring like afternoon had dulled my senses and I’d paid the price. Fifty yards on the path takes another turn and I was ready to see a rabbit, or two basking on the grassy bank, pushing the rifle ahead round a holly bush to see four grazing pigeons, hitting one square between the shoulders, before they could flinch.

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With breast number two in the bag, I was eager to add a rabbit, or another pigeon, but it didn’t happen, a wait beneath another sitty tree not being rewarded and the only other rabbit seen, made a quick getaway before I’d got within 80 yards. I thought that the early sunshine would have brought them out in numbers, feeding, or gathering nesting materials, but that’s how it goes sometimes, so it was back to the van before the evening rush hour snarl across town began.