Sunday, 11 November 2012

Stunning morning on the river

First of all, this is a big long, blog entry so get a brew and be prepared. Secondly, I've included lots of photos because I think so many are worth sharing.

I've had a bit of a steady week on my usual spot. A few hours fishing before work produced just one pike. Not a big fish but I was happy at the time as it was a ferocious take and the fight it put up was a cracker for a fish of only about 6lb. I was excited at the time and eager for a few more perfect conditioned pike, but as the week went on it just got tougher and tougher. Not the greatest results and this change in weather has certainly made it a bit harder to get a result. But a change in weather can also bring some other gems. Just being out this time of year can be an unbelievable experience in itself. Sunday morning I had plans to go off on an adventure to some part of the river i've never fished or even been to look at. I'd wanted to have a crack at this place late summer when lure fishing can be a bit more productive but since the weather and river levels were unkind this never happened, so Sunday I was going in blind, all apart from a look on Googlemaps.

I awoke on Sunday morning to a bright start. As I had my quick pot of tea I could see the sun was starting to come up so I quickly downed my brew and headed off. I live on top of a hill, and when I got in the car I thought the weather was pleasant and the car thermometer told me it was three degrees. As I made my way to the river the weather changed and I was met by frost and fog and a temperature drop to minus half a degree. I guess my hill is a bit closer to the sun or the equator then?  I parked up next to the canal and all though this wasn't to be my target I did have a quick ten minutes with the ultra lite rod, however I didn't get any action. I saw a few small fish and something quite large surfaced but I didn't tempt anything and then I also noticed some signs telling me this bit of canal was run by a private angling club. So I nipped back to the car and got the heavier pike gear out, crossed the canal lock gate bridge and headed for the river.

Canal lock gates
Beautiful morning

Foggy barge

First impressions of the river weren't good. Both sides of the river the bank were really high and I was going to struggle on my side to get to fish it seemed. I'd made a few notes on a piece of paper pointing me in the direction of a few interesting features to have a look at, but already my first spot was no good as I couldn't even get down to the river. I do fish some awkward places at times, but the first thing I always ask myself before fishing is "can I get a twenty pounder out of here?" What I mean is, if I hooked a monster could I get down to it and get it out of the water and then back in again without killing either of us and if this is a no then I walk on, no matter how inviting the swim may look. So with this first spot no good off I went in search of somewhere to get closer to the water, safely.

High steep banks on both sides of the river

Already I was not seeing much sign of other fishermen. I don't mean someone on the bank already but footpaths, pegs or anything else that might show me people already fish here. The further I marched the less sign I saw. In fact to get to the river now I had to make my own way, ducking under some trees, over a small fence and over and through nettles and brambles. I finally made it to the water and had a few casts but it seemed pretty shallow here and the water was just pushing through, not really pike looking but it did look good for silvers, trout, chub and the rest. I spotted a bend just up the river and I knew this was another feature I was aiming for. From the satellite images on Google, I made out that this bend had a massive bay. This was as fishy a looking spot as I'd ever seen and as I made my way through more over grown nettles and brambles I was a little giddy at the prospect of fishing a bay like this that no one else seemed to fish. Who knows what could be waiting for me. Making my way down to the waters edge I was greeted by another bit of stunning scenery.

The bay was huge compared to the rest of the river and I got myself set up ready. This bit of water was full of bird life as I made my way here, the water was nice and steady and it was the kind of feature I love to have a go at because you can find all sorts of fish holding up in them. The picture below will give you an idea of what was in front of me. The far bank was where the river current ran and with the river being about thirty feet wide it meant the rest of the water in front of me, sixty feet or so, was the bay. I made a cast and sods law it hit some snag but luckily it was just a bit of weed so I quickly brought it in to cast back out again and again I hit something. What the hell, three or four casts in and I realise this bay is about a foot deep at most and full of silt. The bay was not full of fish like I'd hoped, but was in fact full of mud. It might have looked perfect from space, it might have looked perfect from the bank but in fact this feature was a waste of space. Oh well, never mind. I immediately wondered what this place would be like in flood though. Maybe it could still be that fish holding spot I originally thought it was, just under different circumstances!

Perfect spot? Nope!

I continued on my adventure. I had to double back and then around as the area around this bay was obviously muddy and there was no way I could follow the river course. I clambered back up some steep bank and marched a good hundred yards or so before pushing my way back through the thickness again and in to the unknown. I had an idea there was a large bend in the river, a kind of dogs leg. I knew that this meant I had been heading in the wrong direction and so now had to make tracks and find it again, but judging by what was ahead of me this wasn't going to be easy. I was kind of on a hill and the river was way off further down and between us were more brambles, nettles, bushes and all sorts. I also worked out that when the river is in flood this whole area would be under water, which would be a sight if I came at that time, though I reckon not very safe to fish. Anyway, I had to get through the jungle and without a decent machete I knew I was in for a workout. Typically I'd over dressed for the occasion. With my thermal long Johns and t-shirt underneath, plus my combat trousers and a pair of water proof trousers over the top, together with my other t-shirt, hooded top and quilted camo jacket, not forgetting my fully lined furry wellies I was now starting to get a bit of a lather on. But the water proof trousers and my tough jacket were also giving me protection against the wet, frosty vegetation and all the armoury and spikes they had as their defence. So I had to just sweat it out. It was very tough going now and even with me walking like John Cleese I still couldn't always manage to manouvere over most of the brambles as they were just so tall. I then found myself nearly neck high in the stuff as the ground below me sloped away and what I thought was a two or three foot tall bramble bush was much taller. This is fun.

Need to get to that river, where ever it is.
Not an easy task though

Eventually I got by the worst of the brambles and was met by an awesome sight. A combination of amazing vegetation and stunning light shining through the fog and I had to stop and take some more photos. I was in another world right now. Fishing was taking a back seat as I just tried to take it all in. I was surrounded at one point by ten feet tall cow parsely (I had to search Google to find out what it was called) and it was kind of surreal with the light shining through. it seemed as though I was in another country, or maybe even another planet! But no, it was our very own beautiful little country and one I love to get out in to.

I finally, eventually made it to the river. I think I jumped out of my skin a total of four times as a pheasant after pheasant shot up from nowhere just a few feet in front of me while I clambered through the undergrowth to get there. The bird life along the river was spectacular, I counted four individual herons and a couple of kingfisher (that's a good tell tail sign if ever I saw one) and the amount of ducks and other similar that were scared to death of me (not the local birds which want to eat out of the anglers hand) made me think that not many people come here.

But alas, the fishing was hard going and no matter how many juicy looking spots I tried I didn't get much joy at all. I covered a good distance up stream with the river changing from fast water, to shallow water to deep water but I just couldn't find any pike. I might have been better off with the lighter set up to be honest to give me the chance of other species. I couldn't help but spot chubby looking spots and much of the river screamed trout to me. Not a fish I've ever targeted on the lures but I do fancy coming back here with the right gear and some trouty knowledge to go with it and see what pops up. I reckon that the fact it seems so tough to fish there's not too many people that do come here and that could mean this place has potential to throw up something special.

I did have one bit of action though which I managed to mess up. I was busy eyeing up a swim on the far bank while not paying 100% attention to my lure. I felt a knock and struck but I was a bit late and managed to just see the rear end and tail of a pike disappear out of sight. I cast at it again and saw the pike follow the lure but it didn't hit I switched lures and the same pike followed my real eel four more times. Nothing I could do would get the pike to take the lure. Fast, slow, erratic retrieves with a combination of lures plus I even called back on this spot on the way home but I just couldn't get the pike to take. I'd guess the fish was knocking on nine or ten pound, so would have made a right good catch but it wasn't to be. I did enjoy the cat and mouse I had with the fish though in crystal clear water, looking down on it from about six feet up. I also had a feeling the pike was watching me at times. One point it seemed to be looking directly at me, while blowing bubbles out of its gills. Funny!

What a cracking few hours I had. I can't stress enough how enjoyable the morning was despite not even catching a single fish and also coming on the back of a tough week. It would have been nice to bag up and find a new super spot to fish. It would have been nice to catch a few fish having not done so for nearly a week. But I just enjoyed being out, somewhere new and enjoying my self exploring. I could have easily gone back to my favourite peg and who knows the pike might have been on the feed and I know what that can mean. However I was also aware of the fact I could have gone to my local spot and blanked. I often get a feeling within the first ten or fifteen minutes how my local stretch will fish. Sometimes you know you're on to a loser and the rest of the fishing isn't enjoyable. It can sometimes feel like a hard slog, wasting time and also there's a bit of pressure put on myself because I know the place can produce. When it doesn't produce it can often feel like a let down. As good as the fishing has been to me on my local stretch it's not always easy and not always enjoyable and if anything, the reason I go fishing is to enjoy myself and not just to catch fish. Of course that sounds silly and of course I want to catch fish but I also want the whole thing. I'm not fishing for fishing's sake nor am I fishing simply to catch a load of fish, despite how my blog often looks. I want to get out and enjoy everything about fishing. The sunrises and sunsets that are so stunning at times, the seasons which create their own moods and feelings, the wildlife around me bringing me smiles and if I can enjoy all that and catch the odd fish too, that's what will bring me joy to match a twenty pounder on the bank.

2012 pike tally
Doubles 34
Total 212
Largest 22.5lb
Twenties - 2
Bonus Perch 54
Largest 3lb 12oz
Bonus chub - 1


  1. Bloody fantastic photos mate, who cares about the fish!

    1. Thanks Matt. Pity I didn't get that pike first go but it would only have been the icing (no pun intended there).

  2. Top photo's and top blog, good work fella. Tight lines :)

  3. Bloody hell Paul, if that doesn't win you the Pulitzer Prize for journalism,
    I'll eat my bloody hat !
    Top blogging fella !
    A man after my own heart - Sometimes just being out there is enough !

    1. Ha ha, thanks Mark, I'm guessing that's a compliment. Off to Google "Pulitzer" now!