21/09/2020 - Making hay....

Was in two minds whether to write this up or not as it was basically a carbon copy of my previous session and I wouldn't want my audience to think I'm getting a bit "samey". However, this is as much my own angling diary now as anything so even if I'm the only one that reads it there will be some benefit, not least because it helps me to justify the cost of the club book to myself every year! Anyway, looking at the calender and the weather forecast, this was my last chance to have a few hours on the river with the float rod and the 'pin before it got wetter and cooler. Therefore switched off the laptop at three o'clock, left the work mobile on the table and was out the door pronto, only stopping at Bridge Tackle at Long Eaton for some more of their super-sized grubs. When I arrived it seemed that the local "yoof" had the same idea, but for a different reason, as a gang of them were already stripping off to their swimming trunks near the footbridge.

Luckily the swim I had in mind was well upstream from them. Rather than rove around I was just planning to spend a couple of hours in the spot I ended up in last on my previous session, as this had been the most productive in terms of numbers of fish and species. Waded out at the tail of the island to mid-thigh so I could trot down the flow, which in the low water conditions was pushing down the far bank. River was gin clear again and there were big shoals of minnows everywhere. I fully expected these to become a pain in the arse once I'd started feeding a few maggots. However, after just a few casts, I had a nice grayling of the stamp I was hoping to be catching over the coming winter period. 


Carried on sending the stickfloat down the run, pausing only for a very polite canoeist and picking up a couple more grayling, along with a few dace, roach, perch and bleak in the process. As expected, it wasn't long before the loose feed started attracting attention, but not from the minnows. 

A shoal of small chub had moved in and were soon smashing into the maggots in a mini feeding frenzy as soon as they hit the surface of the water. Played around with my shotting pattern and float depth and managed to trick a couple, but the majority seemed to easily avoid my hookbait amongst the free offerings. You wouldn't think that they would be that picky, but I've since found an interesting article called "The Fall of the Maggot" discussing how different factors, including type of hook, age of maggot and hooking style, affect the "naturalness" of your hookbait here! Wasn't sure at this stage how much loose feed, if any, was actually making it past the surface and down through to anything else, so I moved about 50 yards downstream and started again. 

Had a few more chub and the biggest dace of the session before I got a text from the wife to say she was home from work and was ringing the dinner gong. Didn't have any gudgeon this time, but it was another short, enjoyable session. Give me a pint of maggots and a float rod and I'm happy as Larry. However, as much as I love catching "tiddlers", there's a big stripey or zed out there with my name on it somewhere.

15/09/2020 - A shiny new(ish) pin

Had about half a pint of maggots left over from my trip to the Soar, so decided to down tools at three o'clock and head for the River Derwent to try out my new centrepin. I'd felt for a while that a pin would give me more control over the float in the more pacier swims, so had a look on eBay for something affordable. Spotted an Ikonix that fitted the bill, used once according to the description and still its box. Whilst not a true pin, with the spool running on two bearings, it received good reviews when it came out with a clutch of similar "affordable" centrepins a few years ago. At less than half the original price including postage I duly hit the "buy now" button. Wasn't disappointed when it arrived - with a smart brass finish and wooden handles it was very light and free running and already spooled up with new Maxima! 

At the river there was only one other car in the car park and that belonged to a chap fly fishing the run at the downstream end of the section. He'd also only just arrived and had yet to catch anything. I therefore had a wander upstream to try a spot I'd found on my previous visit, where a shallow riffle at the tail of the weirpool split around an island and dropped into a small pool. I was sweating in my chesties by the time I got there due to the unseasonably warm day, so it was a relief to get into the water! 

Holding the float back hard by feathering the reel with my thumb I had several bites just as the maggots dangled over the "drop off". Some of these were so fast I felt them on the rod tip before my eyes had even registered that the float had shot away!

However, even with my dull reflexes, I managed several dace and chub and a solitary grayling before the swim went quiet and I headed back downstream to try some proper trotting on a long, steady run. Again the reel performed really well, with the 4BB stick easily getting the spool spinning, and I soon got the knack of flicking the drag on with my forefinger to stop over-runs when I was un-hooking a fish or re-baiting. 

Had a few more dace and chub before I moved again down to the run where my fellow angler had been fishing when I arrived. He was just packing up having not had anything on the fly and pronouncing the swim "dead". However, first trot down I had another grayling! 


After a few more casts I'd added bleak, roach and perch to my tally, along with half a dozen gudgeon.

Having not come across this species since the formative days of my youth fishing the canals and park ponds in and around Birmingham, it was great to see that these handsome  "mini-barbel" are present in at least two of my local rivers. Along with the masses of fry and minnows that seem to be everywhere at the moment, to catch seven different species again in another short float session would also appear to be a good indicator of the current health of both of those rivers. 

Would have happily carried on into dark, but I was getting plagued by viscious little, grey mosquitoes that left me with several bites on my face and elbows. However, that didn't detract from another enjoyable session. I was also very pleased with the new pin, so perhaps I won't put the float rod away just yet. Just need to remember the Jungle Juice next time!   

12/09/2020 - Bagging up on the float again

Can't believe it has been nearly a month since I last wet a line, but work and home life have been incredibly busy and time seems to be on permanent fast-forward at the moment. As much as I have enjoyed working at home during the current COVID-19 crisis, the days do tend to get blurry at the edges! In an attempt to slow things down a bit I'd earmarked last Thursday afternoon for a session on the river, but even that fell through last minute as work intervened yet again. I had a new purchase to try out as well. Not happy that I was fishing the pacier swims on the Derwent as effectively as possible with the fixed spool and with my trusty Speedia permanently attached to the Drennan Ultralite, I'd purchased an Ikonix centrepin at a bargain price off Fleabay. Thankfully, my very understanding wife suggested that I go out on Saturday instead, thereby foregoing a trip with her up to the allotment to do a few hours digging and rotavating. Tough choice, as normally a few worms is the scant reward for a stiff back! 

However, a stiff breeze from the west dictated that I travelled over to the relative shelter of the Soar at Kegworth rather than the Derwent again, where the downstream wind would have made it tricky with the new pin - that would have to stay in the box for now. Headed up to my usual sheltered and shaded spot in the wood and stationed myself on the edge of the flow, marked by the line of foam generated by the weir upstream. Running the stick float down with the bubbles I was into a bleak straight away. 

As on previous visits it was a bite a chuck, resulting in yet more bleak, occasionally interspersed with a dace or chub, or a crushed maggot, requiring constant re-baiting on my part. 

Increasing the depth on the float and continuing to loose feed saw a subtle shift in species, with roach becoming dominant and, on the odd occasion where my underarm cast fell a bit short and the bait scraped the bottom, the odd skimmer and very welcome gudgeon. 

Having got the swim going I positioned the paternoster rod in the slack to my right, hoping that a big stripey was hanging around on the fringes ready to pick off an unsuspecting silver fish. Carried on catching steadily for a couple of hours, by which time my bait pouch was empty and I couldn't face clambering up and down the bank to fill it up again. Whilst I had some small perch on the float, the paternoster rod failed to register any interest for once, even from the usual "nuisance" pike. Never the less, I'd had seven species from a still productive River Soar, the final score being 45 roach, 34 bleak, 21 dace, 10 chub, 3 perch, 2 "gonks" and a skimmer! With some calm, warm days still to come and a much less busy work calender, prospects look good for another float session on the Derwent with the new pin, before things start to cool down and thoughts turn in earnest to the pursuit of some predators.