Hello, my name is Ian Firkins and I am a very ordinary angler. If there was a school report for fishing, mine would read "tries hard, could do better"! See below my attempts to catch big fish (well, any fish!) of various species from the rivers Trent, Derwent, Dove and Soar.
Santa was extremely kind to me this year and got me a new pair of neoprene chest waders to replace my old, leaky ones - victims of my ungainly attempts to straddle too many barbed wire fences.
I was therefore keen to christen them and hopefully catch a few more grayling in the process, so I had been keeping a watchful eye on the weather forecast and river levels since Christmas. After enduring several days of rivers flooded by rain and snow melt everything came together this week, with the weather staying dry long enough to allow levels to fine back to normal. I was therefore pretty hopeful of catching a few fish as I headed west on the A50 into the wilds of Staffordshire again.
After squeezing on the new neoprenes I headed upstream across the waterlogged fields. First glance at the river confirmed it was low and clear. Had a handful of fish out of the top swim before I moved down to one of favourite bits of the river - a fast run dropping into a pool, with another fast run immediately downstream. However, when I got there I found that the last floods had done some significant remodelling. A fallen tree had created a trash dam that virtually blocked the river. This had obviously funnelled the force of the flooded river causing the far bank to collapse. The diverted flow had then scoured out the first run and the pool and dumped the gravel in the run downstream. Far from destroying the swim, this had actually created new features so, whilst it was probably a bit "raw", I gave it a few exploratory trots through.
Sure enough there were a few fish already in residence, including decent grayling that did a good impression of a brownie, leaping a foot vertically out of the water during the fight. Worked my way downstream, but by mid-day I'd only had 14 fish. The usual spots just weren't producing for some reason, so I had a break for some food and a cup of coffee.
Sat and listened to various birds shouting their alarms at something and eventually spotted a big dog fox casually trotting up the field on the opposite bank. I imagined him rocking up sheepishly at his den and his vixen berating him, "what time do you call this, Reynard?". The sharp call of a buzzard overhead brought me back to the real world, so I gathered my things and carried on downstream. I was starting to wonder whether things just hadn't settled down after the last flood. However, in the next few swims I finally dropped on some fish in numbers, possibly temporarily relocated from their homes further upstream. Ended up in the "big pool" towards the bottom of the section with an hour of daylight left hoping for a chub or dace, but just had a single perch to break the grayling monopoly. Wasn't as prolific as last trip due to the slow start, but I was happy with my 54 "ladies" and even happier not to go home with a damp crotch!