Small river tales of the unexpected

July 27, 2016 at 6:02 pm

With left over red maggots in the fridge beginning to turn to casters, it was a case of “having” to go fishing this week and decided that the river Thames at Windsor would be the ideal venue, but by lunch time, cloud cover had burned away, leaving one of those still, hot, dog day afternoons. I didn’t fancy the long walk from the car park to an exposed bank of the Thames and changed my mind at the last minute, to visit my much closer local river for the first time this season, where I would be sitting under trees in the shade.

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My secluded, shady swim was no more, the old oak had fallen, taking out those alongside, leaving an open space blasted by the sun, the recently revealed bank a now popular fishing spot with easy access. Those overhanging trees had given shelter to some rod bending chub on my last visit and I settled down for a comfortable, if hot, few hour’s fishing. The river was down by six inches and barely moving along the outside of the bend.

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The maggots were well past their sell-by date and the frozen lump picked from the freezer thawed out to be an ancient mix of hemp and casters put back in after a long forgotten session. Liberally feeding under the opposite bank with both offerings, I set up with my Middy 3 No 4 stick float, setting the depth for the bait to just trip bottom, while pushing the No 6 shot up to give a 10 inch tail.

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Cast to the far side, the float had no time to cock before it slid away upstream and a healthy rudd was kiting back over to my outstretched net, a bit too big to swing in.

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More casts, more rudd, many too small for the net, the response instant from the shoal packed under the bush. Dropping the float short met a dip, then a lift, before it sank purposefully away, the strike putting a proper bend in the rod as the fish hugged the bottom, the barred green flanks of a chunky perch showing for a moment as it turned.

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Caster, or maggot made no difference to these fish, the float rarely travelling more than a few feet before it sank, regular feed keeping them interested. After an hour the net was filling with small perch and rudd, plus the occasional roach, but the expected chub were still missing, when the float vanished, the rod setting the hook into a fast running fish, that took me down beneath the trees. At last a decent chub, but then a bronze flash well downstream suggested a carp, another flash and a deep thudding fight said bream. The size 16 barbless hook held and the bream turned, heading upstream along the far side, churning up mud in it’s wake, as it wallowed with it’s last ounce of resistance, before laying on it’s side for the landing net.

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Thick set across the shoulder, this bronze bream at around 2 lb, is small for it’s species, but big for this little waterway, more of a brook, than a river. When I first moved to the area and fished six years ago, smaller bream were common among a net of roach, but apart from a three pounder a few years back, they seemed to have disappeared.

Cleaning the slime from the line, I tried again on the same trot, the float easing out of sight, this time the unmistakable bouncing fight of a nice roach met the strike and a good sized, if not battered looking specimen was in the net.

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The roach now seemed over the hemp and I deepened up by six more inches, casting in, then holding back hard, producing bites that almost hooked themselves, one such bringing a small skimmer bream to prove that the big one was not a total fluke.

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At 5 pm my deadline was reached, bringing in another roach. Traffic was building up on the road only yards from the river and I had promised to be home by 6 pm for my favourite meal, smoked haddock with two poached eggs on top.

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A real net full, no chub, or the usual gudgeon, but a good, no pressure catch on a hot, lazy afternoon.