Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Soar swansong

After ten days of mojitos in the sun in Cuba I was itching to get back on the river bank, I was still looking for some decent roach, and havn't fished for pike yet this winter so I thought  that I would combine the two activities in a brief session that would probably prove to be my last of the year. I had spotted a pike swirl though the slack near the dace swim of a few weeks ago , and though that it might still have something to offer.
Pulling up near Ratcliffe church a couple of cars hinted that I wouldn't have the stretch to myself, though as I neared the stile the sight of two pikers ambling towards me on their way home would confirm my solitude. A brief conversation revealed that they had seen a single pike but caught nothing.
Bites were slow coming at first, a single minnow was the sole reward for the first five minutes, though as I progressively increased the depth I began picking up more takes, chub at first, all quite small, before a tiny roach of less than an inch found the hook (with its belly), and was then followed by a bleak.
I took this as my cue to give the pike rod a go, mounting the bleak on a wire trace with a single size 1 hook on a 2 oz paternoster and fished at the tail end of the swim. Back on the flot rod I continued to catch the occasional chub. Maggots seemed to be the only bait working, casters and bread failed miserably and even with the maggots bites would dry up from time to time, sometimes a change of depth might yield another, and after a lean few minutes a switch to laying on hard on the bottom produced a succession of gudgeon.

The pike rod remained untouched throughout, and a switch of swims as the light faded would produce no further fish. with my freezing toes burning their way through my waders I wandered back to the car and scooted back to the warmth of a centrally heated house - a few hours in the cold is just the thing to make you appreciate creature comforts...

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Lugg Grayling

Trekked back to Herefordshire this weekend, I still had 10 or so Wye and Usk passport vouchers, and the office had said that I could send them back for credit to fish one of the booking office beats.  I had invited Phill to join me, our first outing together since the grayling trip back in Feb. With the days so short a long journey seemed like a poor choice, and Phill had heard that the Lugg was in the best form it had been in all season. We therefore plumped for The Bodenham beat, two stretches of the river Lugg in the shadow of Dinmore hill.
 The day was bright and fresh, with a bit of wind which made it feel a few degrees cooler. There had been some rain during the week, but it had barely changed the level of the Lugg. We started off at the downstream end and worked our way up, leapfrogging  as we tried out any likely looking swim. Phill was fishing with maggot feeder and I was trotting maggots or breadflake, generally giving each swim a couple of trots with each bait before moving on. The lower section of the beat is quite a nice water, with variable depth and some good bankside cover, though access isn't that easy and in places I spent as much time untangling the termial tackle from the shrubbery as I did dangling maggots. At one stage, I was using the landing net to coax the float down from the branch it had tangled on, and which was frustratingly beyond the reach of an outstretched hand and tiptoes, Phill leapfrogged past... "If you like... after you've got that down, drop by my peg and I'll show you a thing or two about how to avoid getting tangled in trees!..."
We worked our way upstream without any sign of fish, eveutually reaching the top peg, where a fallen tree pushed the current over to the far side, creating a large back eddy. I liked the look of this spot, in particular a point about 8ft out where the float would sit virtually static, and fancied that the float had dithered a couple of times during the first few minutes. Striking the next imperceptible movement of the float yielded my smallest ever minnow, too tiny to even register on the jewellery scales. It was not fairly hooked though so I cant really count it as a personal worst.

I fished on, striking into thin air on a more definite bite made me begin to suspect that my minnowy nemesis had tracked me across the country, however, the next time the float dipped the strike was met with more solid resistance and a silver flash three feet under got my pulse racing. "Grayling!" I called out  to Phill once I'd got a clear look at the erect dorsal. a minute or two later the fish was in the folds of the net and Phill rattled off a couple of snaps using my phone.

 I had fished the Lugg from time to time during my teenage years but never caught a grayling, yet here I was, on my first trip to the river in over 20 years with a 1lb 3oz lady. To say I was happy is understating it a bit.

We fished on in this spot until about 2pm before returning to the cars and moving half a mile upstream to the upper section. Access to this section was much more difficult due to the steep banks, and there were comparatively few tempting spots to run a float through. If i'm honest we would have been better off sticking to the lower section.  Phill however did a bit better, managing to lose a chub he estimated at about 4lbs which had chased his feeder in before taking the maggot. As the sun set the wind had stopped and it seemed to warm up. I had managed to find the ubiquitous shoal of minnows, Finally Phill came out of the gloaming with a big grin on his face, "caught something then..." I questioned "...if theres no photo it doesn't count"... "Oh i've got a photo alright" he said getting out his phone, getting more interested I turned away from my float to vew the capture...

a minnow, still if he hadnt brough me a pic I'd have insisted forever that he blanked!