River Frays bread punch dace spree ended by a Covid 19 time warp council

July 21, 2020 at 8:13 pm

A sunny Sunday afternoon drive in my classic 1972 MGB, wound its way back to the small Buckinghamshire village of Iver, where my wife and I had bought our first house, then onto a local beauty spot at Little Britain lake, that lies between two prolific rivers, the Frays and the Colne. We had often walked around the lake, while I had regularly fished all three and we were keen to rekindle a few memories, but were unable to park our car due to every space being occupied by Staycationers. Deprived of their foreign holidays, Brits are crowding out open spaces on their days off. Judging by the number of people fishing, the rivers were in fine form and I resolved to return in the week.

A couple of days later I drove the van along the lane beside the Frays, stopping to look over to the millstream, where I could see several barbel moving over the clean gravel. There is no fishing access here and I continued down to a deeper section, where I could park and fish close to the van, choosing a shady spot on the outside of a bend.

There was a good flow here, only a foot deep close in, but dropping to three feet a rod length out. Perfect for the stick float and I was optimistic that there would be a few chub under the tree ten yards downstream. Setting up the Hardy float rod with a 4 No 4 Drennan bodied stick float to a size 16 barbless hook with a 6 mm punch of bread, I dropped a firm ball of liquidised bread, carp pellets and hempseed, six feet upstream and followed it through, letting the float run a foot clear of the bottom hoping for a chub.The float dived half way down the trot and it was a chub, but only a small one.

After several more this size and smaller, I added another foot to the depth and trotted down again, following a small ball of feed. The float dived under, but popped up again before I could strike, then held under and I struck into a dace that surfaced in a shower of spray, before being guided straight to my landing net.

Not a monster, but worth netting, the hook dropping out in the net. I missed the next couple of bites and added another six inches to the depth holding back on the trot, deciding to stop feeding, as I thought that the dace may be hitting the shot instead of the bread. Dip, dip, hold, strike! Not a dace this time, but a small roach.

I failed to connect with a few more unmissable bites and went down on punch size to 5 mm. Success, a smaller dace was boiling on the surface, which was swung in.

Then the first of several gudgeon, following another ball of feed.

Going back to a 6 mm punch, the rod bent over with the unmistakable tumbling fight of a respectable dace, reaching out with the landing net to secure it.

Fishing well over depth and inching the float down resulted in fewer missed bites, some of the dace hooking themselves, some of them also managing to unhook themselves in the process.

The fast flowing, shallow Frays is the ideal environment for the dace, named after the Anlgo Saxon word for dash, they nip in and dash off with your bait in a blink of an eye.

As I dropped another good dace into my net, a council van pulled into the parking bay behind and a man climbed out, walking over to me. Thinking that he was about to congratulate me on my skill, I smiled and wished him “Good Morning.” Grim faced he spoke. “Don’t you know that there is no fishing along here?””Since when?” I queried. “Since the Covid – 19 Lockdown. Haven’t you seen the signs?” I replied that it was packed here with people fishing on Sunday and that I hadn’t seen any signs. He pointed a hundred yards further on from my swim, although I could not see one. “THEY know that we don’t work Sundays, that’s why THEY come fishing”

I pointed out that everyone in the country was now able to go fishing, following the Angling Trust rules of social distancing, etc, what was special about this bit of water? “It’s the Hillingdon Council ruling, they control the waters and say they are following the Angling Trust guidelines, you will have to pack up” He said that he was an angler himself and had been fishing his club’s waters since the Lockdown was eased, but the Council made the rules and he had to carry them out.

There is no arguing with council red tape, some Jobsworth somewhere is afraid of an angler catching the Covid -19 virus, while fishing on their property and bringing a court action, so they are playing super safe, even if they are in their own private time warp.

The council worker watched from his van as I packed up, then drove off. It was a shame as I was just getting the dace lined up and I had also mixed up more feed.

There were about ten dace and another ten bits in the net and was expecting more roach to put in an appearance once more hemp went into the swim, but I am unlikely to find out as the council enforcer also pointed out that keep nets are banned on their waters too. “Why?” “They are all touchy, feely, fluffy at the Council,” he had said with a shrug, before returning to the van. First time I’ve heard that combination of adjectives.

After taking my gear back to the van, I walked downstream until I found the sign. Here it is. I wonder how long this will stay in place? I personally think that the council have been looking for an excuse to ban fishing here and are waiting for another Lockdown to ban it completely.