Mixed fortunes on the river

Over the last few months, heavy rain and flooding more or less put a stop to my usual winter river fishing, but recently I did manage a few trips.

On the first of these the river was absolutely bombing through, so I made a start in a slack water swim where fish might be holding on the edge of the current. When I arrived the sun was shining, but soon the skies darkened and it started raining. I put up my umbrella and peered out from underneath it:

Fishing under an umbrella

For bait I was using cheese paste which creates a scent trail detectable by fish even in muddy flood water. After a couple of hours I had a positive pull on the rod tip which I somehow missed. Of course, it might have been a branch or bit of weed catching the line; one of the problems of high water fishing is the amount of debris brought down on the flow.

I moved to a swim at the top end of a lock cutting which offered an even more sheltered environment for the fish. Here I had a couple of chub quite quickly. The sequence of events was interesting:

  • First cast – missed bite on worm
  • Second cast – chub caught on worm
  • Third cast – missed bite on cheese
  • Fourth cast – chub caught on cheese
  • Fifth cast – missed bite on bread
  • Sixth cast – nothing!

It went quiet for a while, but as the light started to fade a sharp bite on worm resulted in a lovely roach of 1lb 5oz – a good size for this species. The photo does not do the colours of this fish justice; in reality it had shades of blue, orange and pink which were quite remarkable.

Roach 1lb 5oz

On the next trip I started on a side stream of the main river. It was a much warmer and brighter day, feeling somewhat spring like:

Small river

Again, the issue was to find the places where the current was not too turbulent. Fish don’t like being pushed around. They prefer a steady flow of water. In about the third spot I tried, this small chub quickly grabbed the cheese paste:

Head of a small chub

In the afternoon I was back fishing the lock cutting. Here the cheese and worms were ignored but I managed to catch a variety of fish on maggots including roach, perch and bream. This is one of the bream:

River bream

For the final session, two days later, I headed straight for the lock:

Fishing a lock cut

The previous time I had missed a lot of bites with my bait anchored to the bottom by a swimfeeder. With this setup, fish sometimes drop the bait before you can strike when they feel the resistance of the feeder. I wanted to see if using a float would result in more fish hooked – it is a much more subtle method.

I adjusted the float so the bait would drag the bottom, then tried to hold it back to slow it down as it drifted through the swim. This was a bit tricky as trees to my right stopped me holding the rod in the right position. Luckily the breeze was pushing the line in that direction and bringing about the desired outcome. Soon the float shot under and I felt a solid pull from this 4 pound chub:

A 4lb chub

This was a good start, but it soon became apparent that the fish generally were not in a feeding mood. All I caught otherwise was a roach. Thinking that maybe the feeder would be better after all, I gave it a try to no avail. It was a good example of how from one day to the next the response of the fish can differ, despite apparently identical conditions.