13/03/2016 - Last day on the river
I suspect that many other peoples' plans for the last week were scuppered by the ill-timed, heavy rain. My own plan to finish off the season with a couple of predator sessions was pretty much doomed last wednesday when I drove over the River Soar at Kegworth.
The river was the highest I'd seen it for a long while and the adjacent "flood" lock was almost completely drowned out. A bike ride up the Soar valley on Friday confirmed that the floodplain between Barrow on Soar and Cossington was still inundated. However, rapidly dropping levels over the weekend gave a glimmer of hope, but advice from the local tackle shop was that the river was still heavily coloured and was likely to remain so for the next 48 hours........plan B! Scanning through the river level graphs a number of the tributaries higher up the main river catchments looked perfectly fishable so, rather than the pike and zeds, I found myself heading west to Staffordshire to a small tributary of the River Dove for the grayling again.
Set off along the A50 before dawn. Whilst the sky promised a good day to come, it was quite chilly and many of the fields in the Trent valley were shrouded in white blankets of mist. There was nobody else at the venue when I arrived. However, I didn't expect that to last too long, so got the gear on and set off across the field pronto! First swim, second run down and I was rewarded with a nice male.
Had a couple of smaller ones as the sun rose through the trees then moved down to one of the more reliable spots. Judging by the fresh boot marks, somebody else had been there quite recently. However, after taking a tiddler straight off the end of the rod tip, I had four better fish out of the main body of the pool. Moved again down to a shallow riffle, which had also proven to be a proven holding spot.
The trick here is to hold the float back really hard and work it down the riffle, picking as many off as you can before the rest get spooked. Shallowed up the float to about 18", threw a few free offerings as far upstream as I could and then sent it on its way. It had travelled less than a rod length when it whipped sideways under the water and the strike was met with the thump of a fish, which I could see madly twisting and gyrating under the surface.
Had a few more before the swim predictably died off and I once more headed downstream. The boot prints of my fellow angler were much in evidence and we seemed to be treading a common path, so much so, I could have been following myself! I was therefore keen to see if I could find some, as yet, untouched spots. Spotted a likely looking swim where a riffle dropped into a pool under a tree.
Again, because of the variation in depth, it was a question of holding back hard and then releasing the float to drop the bait down into the pool. However, the first fish, a nice fat hen was actually sat in the riffle, the float shooting off before it had even got to the deeper water. Had three more of her companions from exactly the same spot then worked the pool itself. However, just had the one male from right down the bottom end.
It was interesting that I was finding quite a few fish in shallow water, so I headed to another riffle where I'd picked fish up in the past. Unfortunately, the floods had shifted quite a lot of debris into the spot, including the macabre addition of the carcass of a calf that must have fallen in the river and drowned. Still managed to winkle one out, but couldn't concentrate with a body bobbing up and down in the corner of my eye, so moved on again!
Found exactly what I was looking for just downstream - a long, knee-deep run down the far bank. Shallowed up the float again and started at the head of the run, taking a couple of steps downstream each cast. I was having to hold back so hard that I felt the first bite through the rod before I saw the float go! Again, it was great not only to feel the fish thumping away on the end of the line, bit also to see it in the clear water.
Carried on downstream, dropping into similar spots, until I go to "chub" pool. I'd intended to spend the last half hour or so here, but I'd had such a great time and was starting to feel hungry that I called it a day. I'd had 25 grayling in total and had found a couple of new spots for the future. Treated myself to a large Costa and a steak slice from the local garage, then headed home. What next? I may well head back to Staffordshire for the trout at some stage, but I've got some unfinished business with some predators and a freezer full of dead baits, so it looks like the canals are beckoning!