Sunday, 2 January 2011

Twitching and Trotting

02 Jan 2011 08:30

River Nene @ Bluebell Lakes Complex, Tansor, Oundle

Twitching and Trotting

The morning was very dull and misty with temperatures staying around 3°C . So much warmer than the last few weeks where nights of -7°C has been common. With the thaw now in full swing large chunks of ice were floating down the river making it look more like an Arctic ice flow rather than the tranquil river I had fished in the warm summer months. The owner had been keen to tell me that I was the first ticket sold since the 14th of December and the river and backwater had only just become “fish-able” but the need to fish was too great and I needed to dispel the effects of the mandatory festive eating.Besides I had pike on my mind and to be honest I have neglected pike and trout over the last few years, something I intend to correct this year.

I chose to travel light and roam the riverbank looking for good spots to cast a lure or sprat. Opting to fish the section from the weir to the lock first. The river here is quite deep in the boat channel giving me a chance to use some of the deep diving plugs that have been gathering dust for the last few years.

I walked between the marked pegs casting all the angles and varying my retrieve attempting to follow the contours of the riverbed. In my mind I could imgine the huge pike following every cast, turning away at the very last moment denying me the pleasure of the strike, teasing me, playing with me. Working down to the lock for a spot of “jigging” against the gates. A tap on the lure here gave renewed confidence that today may not be my first blank of the year.

Past the lock the river is slow and wide with roach showing in the clear water. A small handful of maggots told me that even in the near freezing water they were happy to feed so I set the float for the approximate depth of the river and baited the size 18 hook with 2 red maggots. First cast and the float ran down the swim peeling line off the centre-pin with out effort. Happy with my choice of a small float and shot pattern I threw 3 maggots into the swim and cast just behind them slowing the line to match the speed of the free offerings. The float travelled around 20 meters before I wound in for the re-cast. Second trot down and the float gently slid under the surface rewarding me with a beautiful roach of around 10oz scale perfect and blood red fins.

Fishing or me is never about quantity of size, just being by the water with the occasional bite is all that I ask from the day. So I was more than happy to sit on the bank and raise a warm cup of tea to my first fish of the year. Sitting there in the cool and damp I caught site of the motionless figure of a heron on the opposite bank. Standing perfectly still surveying the river in front of him, watching for the slightest sign of his next meal. Splash! As quick as a bolt of lightning his head returning from the water with a roach bigger than mine. 
I continue my tea and tipped my cap to the better fisherman on the river.

Moving downstream I located a large shoal of roach tightly packed together as if seeking safety in numbers from the predators. Following the same tactics I trotted my float through the shoal being rewarded at each trot with a handful of bright silver. Skipping every fourth cast to allow the free offerings to be snaffled by the hungry shoal without the risk of being removed from their surroundings.

Time disappeared during my encounter with the roach and I returned to the weir around late afternoon, the light starting to draw in for the night “golden hour”. A long cast across the river with a sprat towards a willow met with a solid response. A short fight in the cold evening air and a jack of around 6lb slipped over the lip of the landing net, very lean but with lovely clean golden and green markings shining in the sun that had just peeked through a gap in the cloud as if to say hello and goodnight.

I instinctively knew this was going to be the last fish of the day but continued to cast for another half hour or so hoping for “just one more”. I decided to concede defeat after I landed a fertiliser sack that took a sprat in the margins (mind you it was put up a good scrap in the current)

Homeward bound, cold but very happy with my first session of the year.


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