Artful Angler

Rob Kavanagh's fishing blog


The inside line on fishing

River Frome, Eastington

Saturday 2nd October 2010

A short afternoon session was called for today, the target an elusive chub. Travelling light with one rod, net, a few bits and bobs of tackle and a bait bucket to double as a seat it was easy to keep moving unhindered giving each chubby looking spot a few casts. Starting beneath the little weir I began by trotting a float along the crease a rod length out allowing the float to drift around into the eddy beneath my feet, keeping well back from the edge of the high undercut bank. Second cast the float shot under and I struck into a nice fish that belted off downstream, zooming under the overhanging tree to my left. Too slow in getting the rod low the line snagged a low branch as the fish, a plump brownie, went ballistic on the other side of the tree leaping two feet in the air and snapping the hooklength. Curses!

Moving on downstream to another likely spot I decided to put out a small feeder of mashed bread with breadflake as bait, quickly screwing a quivertip into the top of my trusty old avon rod and rigging up a simple paternoster. A fluffy chunk of flake was pinched onto a size 10 hook and cast into a deeper hole fifteen yards down near a tangle of roots on the far bank, and I settled back to await developments. There is always the expectation of an instant response on a day when the conditions seem perfect, and I had hardly set the rod on the rest when the whole top section of the rod bucked hard several times. The fish hooked itself rendering my feeble strike unnecessary and I was forced to backwind a few turns to absorb its initial lunges. Lacking the usual frantic trouty dash I suspected that I was connected to a chub, and this impression was reinforced by a determined charge towards me and into a hidden snag. I could feel the feeder bumping over branches as the fish made a mockery of my attempts to control it, piling on as much pressure as I dared but to no avail. The suspected chub stitched me up good and proper as all went solid. The nature of the swim prevented me moving downstream to try a different angle, and steady pressure could do nothing to extract the fish so I was forced to give slack line, a last desperate option with everything crossed, clinging the pathetic hope that the well and truly stuck fish would obediently do an about turn and swim out the way it swam in, unthreading itself as it did so. I tightened back up every so often and could feel the fish thumping away, applying pressure in all ways available but it was no good. Setting the rod down once more I racked my brains for ideas, but the only one I could think of, wading in, was a no-go due to the thick silty mud I would have never got out of. After a contemplative cigarette I resigned myself to pulling for a break and was surprised when the paternoster link parted before the mainline and I reeled in a foot of rotten branch with the hook firmly embedded. My suspicion of chub increased, past masters as they are of shedding hooks into snags. Curses!

Fish 2, Rob 0.

Although the rig was intact the frail line was severely frayed and kinked so I removed several yards of damaged stuff and tackled up once more. I stuck it out for a while longer but with all the commotion I'd caused I knew I'd be flogging a dead horse. After a wasted an hour I admitted defeat before heading off downstream once again.

A deep bend produced a nice trout which took the legered worm right under my feet next to the thick mat of willow roots and led a merry dance in the confines of the overhanging trees before it was netted, a dazzlingly well spotted fish of about a pound. Heading through the tunnel under the motorway I checked out a stretch in which I hadn't wet a line before but it looked promising, slower and deeper with a long winding section. Time was running out with the onset of dusk so I just had a few casts here and there before settling in under some willows and losing another good fish on a lobworm to sunken branches and vigorous head-shaking when it got too dark to see.

Annoyingly I'd forgotten a torch so the walk back was more stumble than stroll, until my phone rang and I remembered the torch function mid-conversation. Naturally enough the battery was low so I didn't talk long knowing I still had nearly a mile to go,several stiles to negotiate and a dark, spooky, yew shadowed churchyard to get through before I made it back to the car...

Sunday 3rd October 2010

Heavy rain changed the character of the river overnight with at least six inches of extra water and the mild weather changed to the constant threat of rain and an icy wind cutting across the fields. I decided to walk the full stretch down to the willows I'd lost a good fish last night and work my way back upstream. Along the way I couldn't resist a cast or two in a swim with a deeper channel along the near bank before the water shallowed up over a gravel bar. A small trout on a worm was soon hooked and returned before a golden retriever came paddling towards me from up-river. Obviously it was used to climbing out where I was sat but struggled to get a purchase on the bank with the extra flow running and an angler in his way. I attempted to lend it a hand but my efforts only resulted in the baffled pooch having a good old chew on my hands before it nonchalantly paddled off downstream clambering out forty yards or so away.

I moved on having a cast or two on the bend where I had the nice brownie yesterday but to no avail. A chap and his young son were fishing the next swim down under the motorway but had had no chub luck and just a couple of trout. We chatted a while swapping tips and ideas before I struck out downstream, eager to get to the willow swim and begin working my way back up. As I got near, the chap whose dog had gently savaged me earlier was on his way back so we chatted fishing for a few minutes. He used to fish the stretch for chub so was full of useful information, but readily admitted that they were a fairly few and far between but a good size if you were lucky enough to get amongst them. He reckoned that building a swim up over several hours was a better strategy than my more mobile, ambush-like approach and revealed his best sessions had been the result of dragging the swim with a weed-rake as you might traditionally do for tench, stirring up all manner of goodies to switch the chub on. It's not something I would have ever even thought of doing, and a great example of thinking outside the box...

Arriving under the willows I kept well back and managed a tricky cast through a narrow gap under the overhanging branches. The swim was a bit of a birdcage and maneuvering 11 feet of rod was a tad awkward with all the foliage both up and downstream. I'd been there a while when the lad and his dad arrived, the lad a bit miffed that I was in the swim they'd intended to fish, but after a bit of a chat about where to try instead and mutual "All the bests" they headed off to the try under the road bridge downstream, a great looking spot I've yet to fish properly. After ten minutes or so a good rattle on the tip indicated a lurking fish with a taste for lobworm but my strike was poorly timed and met with no resistance. Recasting I didn't have long to wait before the rod hooped over and I was in to a hard scrapping fish that banged away under the rod tip with a perch-like frenzy of headshaking. In the confined space with all the snaggy branches I was glad I'd decided to use a more rugged 4lb mainline than the soft low diameter kit I'd used yesterday, giving me more confidence to bully the fish away from trouble. After a few minutes a lovely trout was in the net, definitely my biggest from this stretch of the Frome and probably getting on for 2lb and worthy of a photo. I tend not to weigh trout, especially if I take a photograph, preferring to get them returned and recovered as quickly as possible ensuring they remain to fight another day.

The cold wind bit at my ears and a splitting headache began to form as I mooched back upstream spending a while in several swims. Dropping into the place I'd lost the probable chub yesterday I stuck it out till dark trying a variety of baits - bread, lobworms and peperami - but without even a nibble to show for it. Calling it a day I trudged back to the car, nose starting to run like a tap as I did so. It was a less frustrating day's fishing today despite the grimmer weather, and although I'd got fewer bites than yesterday at least I'd converted them into fish on the bank, only missing one and landing all fish hooked as opposed to 1 in 4, the result of yesterday's pathetic display!

The loss of that likely chub rankles somewhat but I'm sure I'll return soon for a rematch......

Rob, 15/11/2010


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