Stick float perch boost mixed bag

July 15, 2016 at 11:41 am

With the coarse fishing season already a month old without wetting a line, a day with no heavy showers forecast could not be missed and I called in at the tackle shop on the way to a local river, for a pint of red maggots to accompany the pint of cooked hemp from my freezer. By the time I’d reached the river it was already approaching noon and the sun was high in the sky. Any serious angler would have be packing up by now, but I like my bed too much these days and was already paying the price, finding all the tasty looking swims occupied by barbel anglers, intent on catching these recently stocked battlers.

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Being a long walk from the car park this looked promising, with the flow coming off a bend sweeping across to the bush on my side of the bend. Setting up with a 3 No 4 Middy Ali stemmed stick float on my 14 ft match rod, I pumbed the depth, finding the river went from 2 ft down to 3 ft deep, 5 yards downstream then levelled out. A bit shallower than preferred, but it should hold a few fish.

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A couple of handfuls of hemp were scattered into the deeper water, followed by a pouch of maggots as I made my final preparations, following more maggots with the float. For 15  minutes the float sank on contact with the surface, a layer of small dace and chub snapping up the maggots in seconds, each fish swiftly unhooked and thrown upstream away from the swim.

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Soon I had either caught them all, or fed them off, as the float carried further down the trot before it sank from view. A small perch put a good bend in the rod before it was swung to hand, red maggots spewing from it’s mouth. Time to ease off on the feed.

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It was now a perch a chuck, an underhand cast downstream, the float held back, then allowed to run at the speed of the current, before being held back again. Most takes were on the drop, the float lifting before burying, these perch fighting all the way to the net.

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I kept the hemp going in as I hoped for some roach, but this encouraged the small dace, many just tipping the maggot, dipping the float and often impossible to hit, or lightly hooked, coming off as I swung them in. A few good gudgeon also managed to get to the bait, some real fatties.

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I continued catching at a pace, passing anglers stopping to watch the forgotten art of stick float fishing, before moving on. One visitor sat in behind me, having been told that I was emptying the river. Like all the others fishing, he was after bigger fish on the quiver tip, using hair rigs and meat.

Eventually the bites slowed, not surprising with over twenty perch in the net, the float often carrying to the shallower water and weeds at the far end of the swim, pick up just the odd small chub. At the head of the swim over the hemp, bites were still fussy and I managed to hook a small roach. One of the anglers had given me a couple of slices of fresh white bread, so I got out the bread punches to see if it would make a difference. I’ve sat next to anglers fishing maggots on the canal catching nothing, while I have been taking roach on the punch and it was worth a try. The 5 mm pellet of bread looked too small on the size 14 hook, but the fish didn’t mind, the float sinking out of sight and a better dace swinging in. My visitor was amazed, when the float sank again and a nice roach was pounding around off the end of my rod, needing the landing net.

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The roach were there over the hemp, but not interested in the maggot, only the bread, as the float sank away with another thumping roach, that needed the net again. More bread on and another roach fighting deep. Suddenly there was a green flash and a swirl as a pike took the roach. “Mr Toothy” my visitor said. The line stripped out as I back wound against the strain, the pike running across the river to stop and turn the roach, safe beneath a raft of streamer weed. With 5 lb main line and a 4 lb hook link, I was equipped to cope with big chub, or even a barbel, pressurizing the pike to come out of the weed. Come out it did, cruising upstream, then running down, boiling and turning in the swim. After five minutes it was on it’s side, a pike of  6 to 7 lbs about 30 inches long. The net was out, but one last shake of it’s head saw the line cut on the razor sharp teeth and my float fly back into the tree behind me.

It was over. The float was tangled, the swim ruined by the pike. Resigned to the fact that this could have been a red letter day, I packed up. I would be home early for a change.

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 A satisfying net of fish in a busy two and a half hour’s fishing, despite the abrupt ending.