25/09/2015 - An unusual treble

First zander trip of the season on the River Soar and I probably couldn't have chosen less suitable conditions - a low, clear river and a bright, sunny day. There were two others on the section when I got there in the late afternoon - one chap had just set up after the barbel and the other had been chubbing, but had struggled all day. My favoured swim was empty. However, it was far too early to think about putting any baits out, so I messed about with the float rod for a couple of hours, catching bleak after bleak with the odd small chub and dace mixed in. Waited until the sun had dropped and river was in the shadow of the embankment behind me before putting two deadbaits out into the pool. Was getting a few strange pulls and taps on the downstream rod that made me think of crayfish and I was just about to wind it in to check the bait when a couple more determined taps signalled a fish. Not my target species, but at least a jack to start proceedings.

Failed to connect with the next run, winding down and striking into thin air despite the line initially fizzing off through my fingers and the hooks coming back bare. However, when a further opportunity presented itself not long afterwards, the strike was met with firm resistance. This turned out to be a rather empty zander of 5lb 12oz and another one with "frilly" fins, possibly just natural wear from being in the river?

Missed another run after this, but the one immediately afterwards may go a long way to providing an explanation. Responded to a tap, tap on the rod top by opening the bail arm and feeling the line out between my fingers as usual. However, when I wound down and hit the fish all hell broke loose. I was getting such weird feedback up through the line that I thought that I was fighting a fish through a snag on the bottom. The reason became obvious when, after making some headway, a decent eel popped up, gyrating madly on the surface. I'd only just hooked it on the bottom treble and it had then rolled on the line. Took a few minutes to free it from the unholy mess it made of my landing net, but eventually weighed it at bang on 3lb.  

The Soar has turned up a few big eels in matches recently, including one of 5lb 11oz in a Riverfest qualifier (Eels galore on the River Soar). Could they be the reason for some of the mysterious, unhittable runs I've been getting? Apart from completing an unusual predator treble, it also gave me an opportunity to practice my snake wrestling........unsuccessfully!

11/09/2015 - Earning my stripes

Back home and no trips to the coast forthcoming until October, so my thoughts have turned to river predators. Had a "trotanoster" session on the River Soar to see if there were any perch about to kick things off. Upon arrival, I found that I had the whole stretch of river to myself, so was able to wander up at leisure to my favoured swim downstream of a weir on a nice, natural section off the navigable channel. Obviously hadn't been fished much judging by the undergrowth, so I nearly trod in the plastic tub filled with what looked like cat food in the middle of the path - curious!  

River was low and clear and I could see large numbers of silver fish hanging off the cabbages and streamer weed. As soon as I got the float rod going it was a bite a chuck, mostly from chub and dace, but also bleak, roach, small perch and skimmers.  Could just make out a pale, torpedo ghosting around the swim, so wasn't surprised when the water erupted in front of me as a pike tried to snatch the roach I was lifting out of the water. He stuck around for a bit after that, hanging just under the surface and taking a mild interest in every fish I put back, before finally drifting off and leaving me alone.  As soon as I'd got a few baits together I dropped the paternoster onto the crease between the flow and slack area to my right. Wasn't long before the tip jabbed down and the indicator smacked into the back rod rest. This carried on happening on a regular basis throughout the session - unfortunately, whilst it was down to my target species, they were not the size I was after!

Had eight of the little buggers and numerous stolen or mangled baits before the rod tip went over again I was into something more sizeable. I knew that this was a better perch from the head-banging and so it proved. A very hollow and slightly battered old warrior, but my first 2lb+ perch of the autumn at 2lb 4oz.

Quickly popped another bait out in the expectation that he'd have a companion with him. Again, it wasn't long before the rod started tapping and then hooped over. However, I knew from the solid weight that it wasn't a stripey, confirmed when a spotty missile (possibly my friend from earlier) went airborne and tail-walked through the swim. Eventually got him under control and in the net, where I tried to unhook him, rather than take him up the bank.

Unfortunately he span on my hand, driving two, long teeth on his lower jaw into the ball of my thumb. Aside from the copious blood at the time, I've still got a numb thumb, so I'm hoping he's not done me some nerve damage. My stupid fault if he has! Fished on until dark, catching a few more silvers on the float, but had nothing more on the paternoster - not surprising given the disturbance from the pike. Wandered back the the car by the light of the head torch, noting on the way that the plastic tub was now empty. Even more curious!