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Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Fishing with Dad...

Yesterday was my birthday. I don't normally do this but this year I decided to take the day off and go fishing with my Dad.

We decided to go to the Avon for a bit of chubbing as the river temperature has dropped since last week and the barbel weren't that likely to feed. We set off at the crack of about 0930 and instead of the hoped for mild early spring day we had a biting north easterly and temperatures of around 5C. Oh well, hopefully there'll be a chub or two out there...

As we walked across the Avon flood meadow dad and I reminisced about when I'd started fishing. We agreed that it was on my fourth birthday and we'd gone to the local millstream on the Wey in Surrey. Dad had brought a length of rope and tied me to him! I have a shocking memory but distinctly remember a mild wet day and fishing a swim where the mill stream joined the main river. I remember the excitement and awe when after a few minute the float went under and a wriggling silver fish came out of it's environment into ours. Another fisherman was born....

Dad and I have fished all over the world since that date 34 years ago, and I still look forward to fishing with the old man. We were hoping for an Avon 6 for dad and started fishing in a swim where I've had a few in the past. It's a difficult swim, where you have to cast to a small break in the willows and trot down the far bank. Any fish hooked make a bid for freedom in the overhanging branches.

It can take a while for the fish to come on the feed but after about an hour of me constantly feeding maggots whilst dad trotted, nothing had happened. Dad uses a 15 foot harrison foat rod and the weight of this coupled with the biting cold wind had taken a toll on his hands so he decided on a break. Whilst he had a cup of tea he suggested I had a trot through. And of course this is when the chub decided to feed....

After a rather hairy fight I landed a lovely fish of well over 5. And after apologising to dad I returned to my duty of catapulting 6-10 maggots in a cast whilst he got back to trotting the far bank. After about 15 minutes he got the cast just right and after moving along the trees a short way the float bobbed then disappeared from view - "your in!" 

Now the difficult bit began as this was obviously a big fish. When you first hook these big Avon chub it is literally like the cliche of hooking the bottom as they hold out in the powerfull flow of the river. The key is to get the upper hand and get downstream of them and get them moving before they make a dash for the sanctury of the trees. We'd talked this through before and Dad had formulated a game plan which involved rapidly moving downstream and leaning into the fish. All looked good at first and I grabbed the net and started to follow him downstream. Unfortunately at this point the chub had other plans and started to head towards the trees. The only thing you can do in these situations is hang on and keep changing the rod angle to confuse the fish. Unfortunatley dad just held on and after a second that seemed to last more like ten the float came catapulting back across the river as the fish achieved its aim of reaching the trees. The battle had probably only lasted 30 seconds but it had left Dad shaking at the pure power and dirty tricks of these fish. Bad luck...

After another cup of tea, with me continuing to feed the swim, Dad's confidence was back and he started fishing again. A similar pattern occurred and eventually the float flew out to exactly the right spot and we both said that's the one. And sure enough, after serenely sailing around the mini eddy, caused by the branches, the float shot under again. He's in!

Again the plan went into action, and again the same result... This time the rod was chucked down and words were said.

I convinced dad that he needed to get trotting again as these chub are shoal fish and once one has plucked up the courage to feed you can normally get a few bites (although losing fish can be the kiss of death!)

This time when the bite came it was a bit further down the swim and dad timed the strike perfectly. The plan was put in place again! This time the execution was perfect as he got below the fish and never let it gain any composure by constantly changing the rod angle (even going down on one knee at one point - not bad for a near 70 year old!) Eventually the fish was in mid-river and then about 30 yards downstream from where it was hooked, ready for the net. In she went and another 5lber was unhooked and returned. Brilliant!

A celebratory cup of tea followed but by this time the wind had picked up, making trotting impossible, so it was time for a move. It was lunch time and the sun had come out so a quick call home and Mum, Ali and our little boy came out for a picnic. Although the sun was warm the wind was keen and the little fella didn't think much of this fishing lark so we found a sheltered spot and I had a birthday cake!

Hopefully Alfred will enjoy fishing in the years to come - but who knows! He does already own a rod and reel.....

After the family had left Dad and I chose a much more sheltered spot with the wind behind us and again began trotting - Dad on bread and me on maggots. We both caught a couple of chub, but for this stretch they were mostly smaller fish between 3 and 4.5lbs. After a quiet hour we decided on another move. A long walk to an area I'd fished before where a long cast again puts the float under a far bank tree.

A similar pattern followed to before as Dad and I fished two adjacent swims. Mine seemed to be full of small dace and a solitary grayling, whilst Dad's appeared empty. I tried to convince him to stick it out but he was tiring after a long day of trotting with a heavy rod. He said I should have a couple of trots....

 After a few casts I was beginning to think there was noone at home but then just where it should have the float disappeared. After another exciting fight a near five pounder was in the net. Dad's keeness returned and he caught a couple of fish in quick sucession, neither particularly large but they fought well in the current. Dad decided to finish his last cup of tea and kindly offered that I have trot through. I couldn't resist, and on about the third trot down, the float sailed away and I was in. This was obviously a big fish and I couldn't budge it from it's far bank lair. After a bit it started to move and it came to the top and we could clearly see it to be a good fish. More tense seconds passed before the pressure of the 3.6lb line and 18hook started to show and the fish came across the river. Eventually Dad bundled it into the net and we both agreed it was a biggie! The fish weighed 6.13. What a way to christen my new birthday present trotting rod.  Dad had a few more casts in the fading light but apart from seeing a couple of fish swirl we had no more action.

What a lovely day, with some lovely fish and I hope that I will be able to share the pleasures of angling with my son in 34 years time!



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Comments (1)

Andy 'Scoop' Freeman Mar 09, 2011 11:31 AM
Tom, you should be banned from this website! First you cause me to while away an afternoon on the Avon Roach Project website and then you leave me misty-eyed over opportunities I didn't take and haven't been able to take for more than ten years now. I need to rekindle adult son's interest in fishing.

You should be offering this to one of the angling mags.

And to top it all, it's not even about sea angling for heaven's sake! Top stuff. I'm awaiting the next instalment.