26/05/2020 - Time for a rain dance already?

Didn''t get up to much this weekend, just spent it relaxing in the garden and soaking up the glorious, atypical Bank Holiday sunshine. 

Elsewhere though the great British public packed the beaches and engaged in mass brawls, firmly putting into context the wrongdoings of the Government's chief advisor, but enough of that! Sitting out under a clear blue sky it is easy to forget that February 2020 was the wettest on record in a data series going back to 1862 and that overall the UK had 237% of the long term average rainfall (LTA) for that month. In complete contrast, the Midlands only received 32% of the the LTA in April. With the 3 month prediction from the Met Office of below average rainfall and above average temperatures for May, June and July on top of that, it is not surprising that we are already seeing impacts on river flows. I was therefore in two minds where to head next - the tiny Staffordshire River Blithe, or the much larger River Dove. In the end I plumped for the former, having meant to recce it over the winter and never getting 'round to it.

Tuesday morning therefore saw me pulling into a deserted farmyard at about 6.30 am. The sun was still low in the sky, but it looked as if it was going to be another warm and bright day, which was another reason for getting there early. Got the chesties on and walked across the field to the river, which ran through open pasture.

I'd got two outfits with me as other members had already had some big brownies on spinning gear  - my usual 7ft brook rod and an heavier 8ft rod to fish a streamer, although the opportunities to use this turned out to be limited. The river itself was low and clear and as I walked upstream I found that large sections were choked with ranunculus. Those areas that were weed-free were generally silty and featureless, with balls of green "snot" on the bottom, so I ended up concentrating on the deeper pools and the faster runs where the flow was keeping the gravel clean. It was in one of these runs tight to some marginal reeds that I had a knock on a small goldhead on my brook outfit. Lifting the rod I thought I'd snagged bottom....until it started moving. However, the black edged tail I could see waving about above the water as I gave it some welly on the light rod revealed that it wasn't a brownie, but a really fat, well-conditioned chub of 3lb 8oz instead. 

Unfortunately, as I made my way further upstream, the only other fish I saw were hundreds of minnows and a of couple of tiny trout that were sent shooting into cover by my shadow. Despite switching between the rods and tactics I failed to buy another bite in any of the other spots I tried. There was a bit of excitement at about 9.30 am when there was a small hatch of mayflies that had me hastily tying on an artificial, but nothing appeared to be interested in them apart from the demoiselle damselflies that were snatching them mid-air and then retiring to the bankside reeds to eat them alive! When I got close to the upstream limit I was mobbed by a herd of over-excitable, young heifers that insisted on following me like a gang of heavyweight groupies as I waded upriver. Had to wait until they got bored and wandered off to find some shade before I could carry on, by which time I'd had enough myself. 

The sun had risen quite a bit by now and as I walked back downstream I could clearly see the bottom in all of the spots I'd tried earlier and, apart from the hordes of minnows, nothing appeared to be in residence. Similarly, the farmyard was still deserted when I got back to the car, hot and sweaty from the walk and looking forward to a coffee and a late breakfast. Realised that I was probably lucky to avoid a blank given the conditions and I had to be pleased with that chub on a little fly rod. 

From talking to other members since it seems that it's always a bit of a struggle this time of year, but there are big fish there as a reward. Where to next? Well the new river season is bearing down on us rapidly, so who knows, but we could really do with a drop of the wet stuff soon please!


  1. Just think what will happen in the autumn and winter when the LTA averages out.

  2. belting Chub. Sadly they seem to have dissapeared from the local trout streams.