What better thing to do on a wet Tuesday evening than to walk for a mile from the car in the rain through chest high nettles and balsam wearing your Winter bib and brace to try and catch a fish? Oh and why not throw in the fact that you’ve got to be up for work just after 5am to add to the fun.
I finally cast out at 8pm and sat back in my chair wondering how the next four hours might pan out. This bit of the river was relatively new to me as I had only fly fished it for Pike previously but I was trying to find somewhere that held some bigger Zander than the one’s i’d recently been catching. It was obviously never fished because it was a struggle to fight my way through the undergrowth. I’d setup in the same way as I always do with a chunk of roach hair rigged to a size 4 hook casting one rod short and the other to the crease about a third of the way across.
Immediately I started to get knocks on the line but I put it down to the shoals of Roach that were milling about in the edge but it wasn’t long before I had a proper bite which I promptly missed. On reeling in though I noticed that the hook had become embedded in the bait. Some more tweaking of the rig is required I think. I didn’t have to wait long before I had another bite though and in came a little Zed scrapping all the way to the net. I’m still astounded by how many there are in the river but where are the big mo fo’s?
With the rain and the murky skies it got dark earlier than normal and to pass the time I flicked slugs off my wet gear into the river in the hope that it would give the Chub something to feed on, a la Mr Crabtree style. In reality though they probably just sank to the bottom and drowned.
It wasn’t until it was fully dark that I had another bite the same as the one’s i’d been missing on another stretch of river. Again I managed to miss it despite the fact the rod wrenched over a couple of times. I managed to put a bait out on the same spot and then a few minutes later it went again. Finally the culprit was apprehended and it turned out to be an eel. I decided to weigh it for the simple fact I don’t catch many these days and it weighed in at 2.12. It’s great watching eel’s swim away as they always seem to swim with such purpose. None of this “ooooh I’ll just swim around in the edge for a bit”, they’re more like “no i’m going there and i’m going there now so shift out of my way”. They’re a joy to watch.
Time appeared to be flying by. It felt like i’d only been on the river an hour but it was 10:58 when I checked my watch. Another hour and i’d have to pack up which was a major bummer.
As I sat watching a spider making it’s web through the corner of my eye, making sure it didn’t get too close, the left hand rod gave a typical Zander bite and I struck into a fish. I’d like to say at that point that I had an idea of how big it was but I didn’t get chance because within literally a second of striking the right hand rod pulled over sharply before the rod was pulled off the rest. I picked the other rod up and the fish tore off further out into the river. I was now in a dilemma. With a fish attached to the rod in my left hand and a fish attached to the rod in my right hand I had to think about what to do. I needed to keep the left hand rod out of the way as it was obvious the fish on the right hand rod was much bigger so I stuck the left hand rod between my legs and stood there in a pose Larry Grayson would be proud of. I didn’t want to put the rod back in the rest as the line would be too near the other rod and I had a bed of lillies in front of me to contend with too. Let’s just say, the situation was complicated but was dealt with in a matter of seconds.
Now I was back to dealing with the fish on the right hand rod. After that first run my initial thought was Pike but this thing just kept running and taking line. After the third searing run I came to the conclusion I was into a cat. I just knew that was what I’d hooked. The balanced tackle handled it perfectly although there were a few scary moments when the tail was flicking against the line that I thought the hook had pulled. Desperate to keep it away from the other line and the lillies I gave the fish maximum teddy before it took line again making it’s way for mid river. That was to be it’s last attempt at freedom though and the fish was very obliging as came through the gap in the lillies and into the net. There I was looking down at another catfish only this one was much bigger than the other that I had from the river. Now I just had to deal with the Zander on the other rod which came in remarkably easy all things considered. It wasn’t a big Zed around 4lb but I unhooked it in the water before dealing with the slimey moggie in the net.
These things have a habit of looking a lot bigger than they actually are and as I lifted the net my first impression was a weight of around twelve pounds so was more than happy when the scales pulled around to 13.13. A couple of quick snaps before putting her back where she laid sulking for a few minutes before taking refuge in the lillies.
With both rods in I checked the time and it was 11:20. Do I continue fishing or do I call it a day and head for the hills? I was soaking wet and although I really wanted to fish on my head told me to do the sensible thing and head home for a brew. I’d fished for just over three hours and had more than enough fun so I let my head rule my heart for a change. I do feel blessed having some great fishing on my doorstep. There’s no doubt the river is changing and it’s a far cry from the halcyon chub days but I quite like the fact you never know what the next bite will bring.