So, the end of the river season is upon us once again! Just as everything seems to be coming right weather and temperature-wise the carrot of plenty is cruelly snatched away leaving us somewhat wanting.
I had a couple of days booked off work and my intention was to spend my last few trips in pursuit of one last giant of a Perch. As ever though the weather intervened but not in the usual rainy and floody way, this time the weather got too warm and sunny! With daytime temps hitting 17.5degrees at one point I struggled through two blank sessions and started to get a bit twitchy. The weather really wasn't great for big perch on my local bits of river and with time rapidly drawing to a close I decided to switch to chub and barbel in a bid to put something on the bank.
Whilst the weather is very springlike, under the waters surface everything is still in winter mode. The water itself is still very cold and, on my local rivers at least, they were still carrying extra colour and water from the rain of the not too distant past. Location would be absolutely critical if I was to have any hope of putting a barbel on the bank.
After much thought I decided upon a swim I'd caught barbel from in cold conditions in the past as I figured it would be a good starting point. With the extra colour in the water I opted for luncheon meat coated in curry powder on one rod and a paste wrapped boilie on the other. Once everything was in place I sat back to await events and I have to admit, I wasn't confident!
The afternoon soon turned to evening without any bites to speak of although a sizeable fish did roll just downstream of my swim just as it got dark which gave me a little confidence. An hour into darkness and the meat rod signalled a twitchy drop back and I wound down into a hard fighting Chub which tipped the scales at a pleasing 4.12, at least something was feeding!
After returning the fish I noticed the air temperature had dropped significantly and wasn't helped by the cold wind, it was bloody freezing! Like an idiot I had decided to leave my salopettes in the car earlier when it was sunny and warm and I was certainly suffering for it now! My teeth chattered and it became a real war of attrition as I fought the urge to pack up and head back to the warmth of home.
By nine o'clock I really wasn't enjoying myself and was all but ready to go when suddenly the fishing gods decided to throw me a bone. The meat rod went into meltdown and I struck into something that pulled back a little too much to be a chub. After a few tense moments when it snagged me up I was most relieved to slide the net under a small but very welcome Barbel, mission accomplished!
That was my signal to pack up because I genuinely couldn't feel my fingers after that! Before I went though I baited the swim with the intention of returning the next evening.
The next day I arrived at the river and it looked dead, not even any small fish topping which was unusual. As expected nothing happened in daylight and at around 7.30, an hour into dark, I received a savage take on the meat rod. A fairly uneventfully tussle ensued and I netted a pretty decent looking chub. At 5.12 it was a good fish and I was more than happy with it.
Now I've spent many many hours out in the countryside on my own in the hours of darkness and I'm well accustomed to the various noises and things that happen out there at night but this evening Whilst photographing the fish I had the weirdest feeling I was being watched. I couldn't put my finger on it but I suddenly felt very uneasy. My swim was surrounded by dead nettles for many yards in all directions and I couldn't move without snapping and cracking my way through them so you can imagine my startlement when I heard what sounded like someone walking through them towards me. I stood up and shone my torch in the direction, nothing there yet I still felt I was being watched from somewhere, the air had gone very still and cold too. I was well spooked now and decided to get the hell out of there!
As I hurriedly packed up I could suddenly hear the twigs cracking again further along the bank, so armed with a bankstick I went to investigate, once again nothing there. Jesus this was like the flaming Blair witch project! I chucked my gear on my back and quickly headed away from the river out into the open field beyond and straight across the middle towards the car. As I walked I became aware of footsteps in the grass nearby, at first I thought it was my own, echoing in the still night air, but it quickly became apparent it wasn't. I stopped and could hear the grass rustling as if someone was walking nearby, Im sure I was on the verge of a heart attack as I swung my head torch all around fully expecting to see a shadowy figure about twenty yards away!
I could clearly see 70-80 yards in all directions and there was nothing there, fortunately my light reflected off the car parked up a short distance away. I practically threw my gear inside it and drove up that lane like a champion rally driver!
The next day I decided to spend a morning having a wander and chucking some lures about. My local stretch of the soar was still colored somehow despite the level being well down, it's as good a place as any for some lure action so that was where I fished.
I started by using a 3in kopyto shad bumping it slowly across the bottom but visibility wasn't great, prob around 12inches, and I blamed that for not getting any takes! After about 30 blank minutes I decided to switch to my pike setup with a 20cm real eel on it. This too was short lived because I snagged up and whilst I was trying to free the lure there was a resounding crack as my rod snapped in two!
Looks like I was just fishing light lures on my other setup then. Back out went the kopyto and straight away I had a hefty tug on it but the fish let go again and try as I might I couldn't get another pickup.
A change of stretch was called for and upon arriving there was a chap already fishing and just about to land a small pike. After giving him a hand I got down to some fishing of my own. After a dozen fruitless casts in a swim I knew full well held perch I decided to switch to a Mepps to prove the fish were there. Sure enough I had two perch in two casts and missed several other taps and bangs aswell.
Back out went the kopyto, nothing . I switched to a dropshot rig with a fox rage mini fry on. A couple of bangs on my first cast and I thought I'd cracked it. Nothing happened on any subsequent casts so I gave in and put the Mepps back on. Once again I caught one straight away!
The rest of the morning passed fairly uneventfully until near the end when I had a jack literally beach itself to hit the lure but it missed it and then a couple of swims later I nailed another jack which actually stayed on.
I was quite annoyed I'd had to resort to a Mepps to catch once again but in hindsight I guess the clarity of the water meant that the Mepps was much more visible to the fish and therefore more likely to get hit.
Well, that's another one done, next time I fish a river it will be in its full summer glory and hopefully the fish will be way more obliging than they have been of late. A couple of weekends off now and then bream and tench it is!