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Thursday, 23 June 2011

Proper fishing...

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Finished work bang on 1700 yesterday and decided on an evening trip to the Stour.

I was fishing a stretch I'd made a couple of quick trips to in the winter, but not had a serious look at in the Summer.

I try to walk as much of a new stretch as possible as the fish in many stretches of the Stour these days are few and far between and there can be hundreds of yards of what looks like perfect water without a single fishy resident.

I started at the car park and walked downstream. Fish spotting conditions weren't ideal as it was quite windy and only occassional sun. However the river is still fairly low and clear even after the recent rain so I expected to see a few. I'd walked about 250 yards downstream, past a number of good looking swims, to what looked like a perfect swim, plenty of rununculus over about 4-6feet of water tailing off into some willows. Almost imediately I could see some large black shapes ghosting in and out of the trees. They were definately chub and some of them good ones. I decided to put a bit of bait in on a clear gravel run, just in case there were any barbs at home.

A few of the chub were quickly on the bait, but after about 20 mins no whiskers had put in an appearance so I decided to pop in some more bait and move on to have a look on the way back to the car.

I carried on downstream for about a kilometer but apart from a number of pieces of water that were too deep for real observation and a couple of sensational looking swims I only saw small fish.

On returning to the original swim, the chub shoal had increased in number and  were now feeding on the bait. But still no barbs. I decided to stick to the plan and kept walking.

Upstream the river widened out and then shallowed, I almost discounted this stretch, and due to the angle of the light and broken nature of the water was walking by when an unusual movement caught my eye. From under the rununculus I coud just make out the coral coloured fin of a barb. I stopped in my tracks and tried to subtley blend into the background and take cover behind the single grass stalk waving in the wind. I backed away from the water and thought about my plan...

The fish was in a small hole in the rununculus, where the water depth increased by about a foot. I waited until I could see that the fish had retreated under the weed before putting out a couple of handfulls of very small pellets and then retired to watch. After about 10 minutes a small barbel (not the one I'd seen) came out and started shuffling up the bottom. It was closely followed by three others. One of which seemed a particularly good fish. They all proceeded to feed quite hard, with the bigger fish tending to stay at the back.

A heron flew over the fish after a while and they scuttled back under the weed. I took the oportunity to add some more bait, this time making sure it went in right at the front of the hole. After about 15minutes the barbel started to tentatively return to feeding. Eventually they were all out on the gravel, with the biggie sitting at the back again. I decided that the only approach to single her out was a long hooklength that might pass over the fish at the head of the shoal.

So on went my trusted combi-link of 10lb mono tied to a small swivel and 10lb Drennan sink-braid hooklength, knot-less knotted to a size 10 hook and 2 small pellets for bait. I tied it in a rather ungainly 5 foot length, and waiting until I knew exactly were all the fish were made a cast. The 3/4oz lead gently entered at the head of the hole through some weed and landed on the bottom without disturbing the fish feeding heartily on the pellets. The long hooklength did its job and bypassed these fish to gently rest a foot or so below them in an area being patrolled by the bigger fish. Almost immediately you could tell she'd seen them as she started moving over. I couldn't actually make out the bait as it had sunk into the gravel but the fish was soon working the area. The line trembled, there was a couple of tentative pulls and then the big fish left the swim at rate of knots closely followed by the rod tip. Fish on!

After a great fight with the fish in and out of the weeds, and making a number of good runs in the pool below, it eventually rolled on the top and into the net. The small barbless hook was just in the corner of the mouth and having popped it out I had my first look at the fish. It was an absolute stunner, not a scale or fin out of place and hardly looked as if it had been hooked...

On the scales she went 13lb 6oz. What a great start to the season.

 
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