Stick float river season opener madness

June 19, 2019 at 2:36 pm

Time was at a premium this Sunday June 16th, the first day of the coarse fishing river season, it being Father’s Day and dedicated to Family and not fishing. Monday was forecast with good weather, with heavy rain returning for the rest of the week, so it would have to be Monday to fish the river, but then friends invited us over for coffee in the morning, this was extended to lunch…….. Driving home my wife commented that I would not have time to go fishing now, as we were seeing other friends in the evening. I knew this and was already calculating how much time I would get to actually fish.

Once home, I was rushing around sorting tackle, getting changed and taking bread from the freezer, before loading up the van. Time was slipping away as I drove down the drive, my wife mouthing the words, “You’re mad” as she waved me off. Yes, I suppose I and many other anglers take things to the extreme for a bit of fishing, but this was my only chance on the river for the rest of the week. The ground is still waterlogged from the last floods, when we had a month’s rainfall in a day.

Slowed by school traffic, I arrived at the carpark, loaded up my trolley and set off on the 500 yard walk to my chosen swim on the river Cut, where I had ended the season on March 14th. Then I had two large chub, a lot of nettable chub and roach; today was an unknown.

The bankside vegetation was stained with silt from the floods of last week and I dragged my trolley through black mud to reach the river. This was not going to plan, it was 4 o’clock already and I had not even tackled up. Having promised to be on my way home by 6 pm, this would have to be a very quick visit.

I could see a raft of 3 to 4 inch chublets close to the surface in the sunshine and decided to make up a heavy bread mix, that would go down quickly and roll along the bottom. Setting up my 12 foot Hardy float rod, with a 3 No 4 ali stemmed stick float and starting with a 5 mm bread punch on a size 16 hook, I was ready to fish in 15 minutes.

Putting in two firm balls of bread, one close to the opposite bank and the other two thirds over, I followed down with the float. Despite the previous floods, there was little flow, but the float soon slid sideways and the rod bent into the first fish, a 6 inch chub. Swinging this in the rod tangled in overhead branches. In March the trees were bare with plenty of clearance, now the elder tree was full of leaf and flower it hung much lower catching the line, leaving the chub hanging over the river. Putting the landing net out under the struggling chub, I pulled it back to me, releasing the line from the branches. The tiny chub had now moved into the swim, diving away with the bread. After throwing back a few and missing others, I increased the punch size to 7 mm. The next fish was a decent rudd, which I netted, keeping my rod down. The larger bait seemed to be working.

The rudd was full of fight and in perfect condition. The following trot saw the float slide away again, as an even better rudd fought for freedom.

I swung in another smaller rudd and yes, got the rod tip stuck in the tree again. While I reached for the landing net to release it, the rudd wriggled free, falling back into the river. Luckily the line did not bounce up into the branches and I dragged the net through to catch the hook. I then , hooked and lost another good rudd at the landing net, the line springing back to tangle in the nettles at my feet. I could hear my wife’s comment, “Serves you right for rushing.” Time to sit back, have a cup of tea, relax and undo the tangle.

I put in another ball of bread and followed it down with the float. A fussy bite and a slow sink met firm resistance as a decent roach now came to the net.

The rudd had now cleared off and this was my only roach, the bites now coming at the end of the trot, where the conker tree branches met the river. More small chub, plus a rod bender of 9 inches kept me interested. I tried another ball out in front of me, hoping to bring the fish back up, the result being sharp dives and nibbles, missing the bites, the hook stripped bare in a couple of yards. I swapped back to the 5 mm pellet, squeezing it on the hook and bounced a dace, that stayed on long enough to see its tumbling fight. More missed bites, until I held the float back hard midway down the trot. The float dipped and I struck into a better dace, this time keeping it on long enough for the landing net. While playing this fish, I missed a call on my phone.

These dace, introduced two years ago, have grown rapidly, but are not easy to catch in the shallow river. Dace, the saxon word for dart, describes them well, they will rob bait from a hook in seconds, often somehow crushing a maggot to a skin without getting hooked.

I checked my phone. It was my wife reminding me not to be late home. A few more missed bites, then the float dived away at the end of the trot, the Hardy bending round as a fish dived for the sunken branches. It was a chub, not massive, but that first run was impressive, as it ran toward the sunken branches, it turning to search out safety along the opposite bank. Keeping my rod low, I avoided the parrot cage of elder above my head and slid the landing net underneath.

Time to pack up. I would like to have fished on, there may have been more chub there, but I had my orders, time has a habit of slipping by quickly, when it is in short supply.

Not a bad net for such a short visit. I spent more time getting to and from the river, tackling and packing away, than actually fishing. Was it worth the trouble? Of course it was!