The following week saw me back on the Soar, but in a different swim. As with many of the swims along this section, lack of maintenance by the controlling club meant that the willows had encroached, forming an impenetrable curtain about three feet from the bank, so a couple of days earlier I'd been along with the extendable loppers.
After half an hour's work I'd cleared the swim enough to give me a decent length to trot through, but enough cover and space downstream for me to position the paternoster.First run through with the stick and I was into a hand-sized roach and it continued from there, with some clonking dace, skimmers, bleak, chub and perch and even a small jack that took a roach off me, transferring the size 16 to his scissors in the process, all falling to the float. Once I'd got a few baits in the bucket, the paternoster was duly positioned at the tail of the swim to work its magic. Unfortunately, two more jacks were the initial result, doing their best to ruin things by charging around the swim. It wasn't until it started getting dark that I started getting some indications that something else was around. First had a bait snatched off the hook, then a dropped run with the bait coming back virtually scaleless.
Third time lucky I struck into fish that went head banging into the cabbages before rolling into the net - another scraper 2lber with a few battle scars. Fished on into full darkness without any more interest. Had a funny experience on the way back to the car. Had crossed over the lock from the island where I'd been fishing when a fox appeared and kept pace with me along the far bank. When I stopped, he stopped and when I turned and walked back the way I'd come from, he did the same. He only stopped following me when he ran out of bank and even then he sat and watched me walk off. Don't know if he's been fed by the boaters, but he certainly wasn't at all afraid of me!
One week later and another venue, the River Derwent, on a section recommended by a work colleague. It certainly looked the part, as I settled into a tasty slack in between two overhanging willows, my only concern being that it was a bit shallower than I would have liked.
However, got the float rod out and soon found that the swim was actually full of perch, just the wrong size! Managed to catch a few silver fish in amongst all of the stripeys, including some chub, roach, dace and bleak. Put the paternoster rod out up against a willow, but after two hours I'd had no interest. Moved to the next swim downstream, where I stayed until dark. However, despite concentrating on the paternoster rod alone and moving it around various features, a bigger perch remained elusive. It was a similar story on the River Trent a few days later. This particular section had been kind to me in the past, with five fish over 2lb in two session, including my current PB of 3lb 10oz. However, arrived to find that some of the swims were completely different in nature to a few years ago and were unfishable, or inaccessible. Undeterred, I managed to find a suitable spot, but then struggled to catch anything on the float rod. Resorted to shallowing right up and snatching half a dozen bleak off the surface. Even that wasn't worth the effort as the paternoster rod failed to attract anything and I was back off home once again with out any decent reward.
The last of this series of sessions saw me back on the River Soar. A stiff, Easterly wind meant that I was back in the swim where I started four weeks ago. However, the river was carrying a bit more water this time, which made trotting a much easier and more enjoyable affair. Soon had a few suitable baits in the bucket to allow me to deploy the paternoster, while I carried on trotting for the hell of it. A couple of sharp knocks on the rod tip alerted me to some interest and a few minutes later a nice perch was in the net. Had one more take that resulted in a stolen bait before I upped sticks and tried a couple of spots upstream before it got dark. However, apart from a greedy half-pounder, that was it. Ran into my foxy friend again on the way back. This time I'd not even made it across the lock before he appeared no more than six feet away from me. Judging by his boldness and a certain air of expectation, he must be being hand fed. Said I'd probably see him again (I fancy some of the swims for a chopped worm approach after Christmas) but, after a short break for surfing and possibly mini-species hunting in Devon next weekend, my next mission will be to up my zander personal best.