The last week of the season has often been very good to me in terms of bigger fish and I was hoping that it would be a similar story this time around and booked a couple of days off work in anticipation. I had originally planned on perch fishing for the last few trips but suddenly every man and his dog seemed to be fishing for them and, even worse for me, my favourite stretch of river was proving to be extremely popular this year thanks to a few high profile newspaper stories involving perch captures from said river. Somewhat disgruntled I decided to bin the perch idea off altogether and try something else.
At the back end of last summer I found a lovely little pond in Staffordshire with some nice carp in and seeing as it seemed quite prolific I had it earmarked as a bit of a winter water. Unfortunately I never got round to fishing it in winter proper but seeing as I couldn't get it out of my mind I decided to give it a go.
As expected, upon my arrival, the lake was empty and didn't look like it had been fished much at all over the winter. I setup on the main body of the pool as I figured this would give me a good vantage point to spot any fish movement should it occur.
The weather decided to take a turn for the worse as the morning progressed and my maggot hookbaits remained untouched by the fish although the local tufted duck population seemed rather partial to them! Just after lunchtime I decided to reel in and have a mooch around to see if I could find any clues to the whereabouts of the fish.
The water was pretty clear and it was obvious that there wasn't much happening in the margins, that is until I arrived at the far corner of the lake and the water there was noticeably cloudy. Although it was the shallowest part of the lake, it was also the most sheltered and on the back of the cold wind to boot. There hadn't been any bird activity over there all day either so it didn't take a rocket scientist to work out there might be a few fish moving over there. I rushed back to fetch my kit sharpish but at this point divine intervention occurred and the heavens opened proper. I cowered under my brolly to wait it out but 30minutes later it was still going strong and I had seriously lost my enthusiasm to move! Shortly after that I decided to pack up on the next lull in the downpour and return on a better day!
The next day I wanted to fish for Chub on the Trent as I felt I had neglected them way too much this season and first light saw me stepping out on the bank and forging a path to my favourite haunts. The weather was in complete contrast to the previous day being bright and sunny if a little cold, good conditions I hoped.
The first spot I picked was my total banker swim, how quickly and how many I caught here would be a good indication of how the day would pan out. It didn't take long to get some interest either as my mashed bread and flake combo proved too tempting for the first fish of the day, a lively 3lber which gleamed nicely in the early morning sunshine.
A bumped fish on my next cast quietened the swim down somewhat and it took around 20mins before I had another pull. This fish was slightly bigger than the previous by the look of it but I never got chance to find out how big exactly because a large pike walloped it right at my feet and broke me off, a move was definately called for!
My next two swims never produced a rap despite being reliable spots in the past and the third gave me a missed bite within a minute of casting in then nothing else. I was somewhat disheartened and decided try one last spot before upping sticks to a new bit of river. It was very shallow but there was a distinctive crease in the flow where it came off the side of a gravel bar into slightly deeper water.
Ten minutes after casting in the rod tip tapped a couple of times and I hit into a decent Chub which was well over 4lb. It had a nasty looking wound on its side so I put it back ASAP without weighing and quickly got cast back in. Another ten minutes later and I found myself playing a heavy fish which stayed out in the flow, it kept me guessing right to the end and the hoped for monster chub suddenly became a Bream which was most surprising considering the scrap it put up!
A move to a new stretch followed and rather than trying my usual swims up there I decided to look for new spots in the shallower areas. The decision paid off aswell and I went on to take several more nice chub over the course of the afternoon.
Just before packing up I had a swimfeeder taken by a sizeable pike on the retrieve. The fish bit me off but was certainly large enough for me to start making plans to come down and catch it on my next trip out!
The following Friday I found myself setting up in the same swim armed with the dead baiting gear. It was a fairly tight swim so I opted to Floatfish a sardine under the rod tip. Unbelievably, as I was plumbing the depth, a jack hit my float and bit me off! The pike must've been really hungry in this swim!!
Once I got fishing properly I noticed that the river was starting to colour up and after a biteless hour it really was quite brown and starting to rise. The previous nights rain must've been heavier than I thought . I decided to move swim to some more sheltered water but before I did so I had a couple of casts with a small shad on the the lure rod. A gentle tug from deep in the murk at my feet had me striking into something heavy and I was pleased to see a very large pike break the surface like a crocodile. It had to be the same fish from the week before and having had a good look at it I knew it was a good upper double, maybe bigger. At that point it decided to wake up and one shake of its head had my shad flying out of its mouth and into the grass at my feet before, with a flick of its tail, it sloped back off out of sight, I was well gutted!
I did get a consolation Perch of over 2lb on the shad a short while later but the river was coming up fast and I didn't hang around for long before heading home with plans to fish the Soar for pike the following day which also happened to be the last day of the season.
I wanted to finish the season with a few fish under my belt so I headed to my favourite pike runs area where I knew I'd get at least some sort of action. The weather was surprisingly cold but fortunately the soar was running low and clear which was in total contrast to the Trent which by now was carrying nearly 3ft!
It took around half an hour to get some interest but I managed to lose the first two fish which picked up my baits to hookpulls. The third run I had more luck with and promptly went on to land my first pug nosed pike from the river which looked about 6lb.
Another jack to the same rod half an hour later had me thinking I'd cracked it but the local rowing club soon started up their usual Saturday morning activities and my action was killed stone dead. I was pleased to get a few fish anyway and an early packup at lunchtime was to herald the end of my river fishing season. I've certainly had better seasons but as long as I keep getting my string pulled there's no such thing as a bad season!
Now, a couple of weeks into the closed season I find myself in the doldrums slightly as the water is still a little too cold for the summer species to feed with any vigour and the canals suddenly have lots of boat traffic which makes them slightly more tricky on the lures due to the coloured water. I need a plan of action methinks..............