27/09/2021 - Ups and downs!

Have had some very rewarding days in September through the years, but it can also be very fickle with mellow, warm days in short sleeves suddenly giving way to rain, howling gales and the need for a decent set of waterproofs. The latter certainly seemed to be the case for later in the week according to the weather forecast, so it was now or never if I wanted to use up those maggots. 

A few short, sharp showers in the morning were followed by clear blue skies and a fresh breeze, so once again I headed off to the River Soar confident on two counts - that I could find somewhere to tuck in out of the wind and, given how low the river had been on my previous visit, that the earlier rain wouldn't have even touched the sides. Made my way through the wood, reminding myself to bring a bin bag and a thick pair of gloves next time to clear up an abandoned tent that was rapidly being covered by leaves - love nest, drug den or failed wild camping trip, who knows? Slid down the bank into the same swim as last time to find that the water level was indeed slightly higher, but that the clarity had been unaffected.

The bleak were all over it from the very first cast, snaffling the maggot on the drop and rocketing across the surface like tiny tarpon, so I was able to get the perch rod out and working at the downstream end of the swim from the off. Eventually the other usual suspects managed to get a look in and I started adding dace, chub, roach and perch to the tally. 

On the rare occasion the bait actually made it to the bottom a couple of skimmers and a handful of gonks also put in an appearance, further adding to the species count. Carried on in this vein for a couple of hours, my rythmn of casting, unhooking and rebaiting only interrupted by the occasional clump of the dreaded pennywort floating through the swim like a green iceberg. 
Had two chances on the perch rod during this time, both of which I managed to cock up. The first time I was a bit slow to the rod and the bait had already been ejected when I wound down - lack of scales and no puncture wounds suggesting a stripey was the culprit. Second time I was perhaps a bit too eager as I failed to find a hook hold and the rig came flying back minus bait completely. 

As the sun dipped a bit lower it started to feel a bit chilly despite my fleece so, having had a mixed bag of 70+ fish, I decided to treat the ravenous hordes to the remains of my bait apron and pack up. 

Was making the final trip back up the bank with the last of my kit when  my feet slid away from beneath me and I hit the deck, taking most of my body weight on my right shoulder. Had to take a few moments while the pain subsided before managing to finish packing up and heading back to the car. Shoulder was a bit painful during the night, but it was only in the morning that I looked in the mirror to see that it was very swollen with an obvious lump at the end of my collarbone. Fearing the worst, but not wanting to dash straight to A&E, I got the daughter to take me down the GP's for a quick examination. Thankfully he confirmed the collarbone was intact but that I had probably "disrupted" my acromioclavicular joint (ACJ for short!), prescribing anti-inflammatories, ice packs and rest. 

Something I can now afford to do as true to form it's absolutely pissing down outside!

21/09/2021 - Multi-tasking on the river

Arrived back in Nottingham from my Cornish idyll to be plunged into a family crisis. Mum's dementia carers had arrived at her home one day to find empty packets of pills and she had been rushed to hospital on suspicision of an accidental overdose. Thankfully this was not the case, but then safeguarding issues were raised and social services became involved. Mum then had to spend six days in hospital with no visitors whilst various assessments were carried out and paperwork completed - a very confusing and frightening experience for an 80 year old with her condition. The family has basically now been left to deal with the aftermath. For me this has already meant several 2hr+ round trips to Birmingham to visit her while she is temporary respite care. As a result, before this week had even started, I was feeling mentally and physically drained. My wife therefore suggested that I take a break and go fishing to clear my head. 

Whilst I actually felt more like nipping to bed for an afternoon snooze, I subsequently threw my tackle in the car and dragged myself into Long Eaton to get some maggots. Plan was to do some trotting with the pin, but have a sleeper rod out for the perch at the same time. With that in mind I headed to the River Soar near Kegworth. As I walked upstream to the weir the local farmer was busy baling up the last of his wheat straw, a reminder that autumn was definitely on it's way despite the warm, sunny conditions. Crossed the lock and followed the path throught the nettles, a bit more defined since my last visit but still hardly indicative of much angling pressure as this section of the river tends to be neglected by those wanting an easy walk and a nice level spot for their seatbox. 

Got to my chosen swim to find the river carrying a tinge of colour but very low. This had me wishing I'd brought the longer float rod as the main flow was pushing along the far bank. Thankfully I'd had the foresight to put on my chesties and I was able to wade out far enough to reach the crease with a gentle underarm flick. 

First trot down and the stresses of the week were temporarily forgotten as the float disappeared at the end of the run and my first fish, a bleak, came to hand. Was therefore able to get the perch rod out early doors, positioning the bleak on a paternoster at the downstream end of my swim just off the crease. Carried on trotting away and building up the swim with a few freebies each time, hopefully attracting some predators at the same time. 

There was obviously a lot of small stuff about as the maggots were invariably getting crushed each cast. However, thankfully the dace soon appeared, bullying the bleak out of the way, but allowing the occasional roach and chub to also get a look in. Out of the blue, a couple of bleeps on the micron indicated some interest on the other rod and I was on it before the line pulled out of the clip. Wound down to feel a solid weight and applied some pressure to see something long, lean and spotty loom out of the depths before it decided to wake up and spit the bait. 

Oh well, not what I was after anyway. Another bait was therefore quickly obtained and the paternoster re-positioned. Had started to pick up a few perch on the float rod by now, so was hopeful that a bigger one might be lurking on the fringes. 

As if on cue, I had another take on the paternoster and again wound down into a fish. However, this time I felt a welcome, tell-tale head thumping on the end of the line. A flash of red fins and black stripes as it went into the net confirmed it was what I had been after. Not a monster, but at a gnat's over two pounds, it was the biggest perch I'd had from the river for some time. Carried on for bit with the float rod and after two and a bit hours had amassed a mixed bag of sixty-odd fish, the vast majority being dace. Didn't manage to get any ruffe or gonks this time, but a decent stripey was ample compensation for that. Headed back to the car just as the sun was dipping below the horizon, glad that I'd made the effort and still with the best part of a pint of maggots - enough to treat myself to some more fishing therapy in the near future.

11/09/2021 - Rockpool beasts

Flushed with the success of the previous morning I once again zig-zagged my way down the cliff at first light. On this occasion the day dawned bright and sunny. Again, the cormorants and the seal were in attendance and at one stage I had a shoal of sandeels at my feet. However, despite going through my whole repertoire of lures, I eventually headed back up to the cottage frustrated, frazzled and fish-less!

On the plus side, the tide had also been a bit lower when I arrived this time, exposing some interesting looking rock pools in the gullies that had me thinking about a species that has been on my wish list for quite a while - the giant goby, Gobius cobbitisConfined to sheltered beaches on the south-west coast of England, this mini-monster spends its life in the rock pools at the highest extent of the inter-tidal zone and if these have a bit of freshwater running in to make them brackish even better. There it munches on gut weed and consumes anything unfortunate enough to be washed in with the tide. Living for up to ten years and reaching a maximum length of nearly 30 centimetres it is a target for any self-respecting LRF angler, but one I had not a chance to try for. 

A few hours later I was therefore back down again (absolutely no problem getting my 10,000 steps in today!). Tactics were simplicity itself - a 0.5 g bright pink, tungsten jighead baited with the tail section of a mini-isome worm, which would be "dabbled" in front of any likely-looking goby lair. Creeping up to the first rock pool I lowered the jig down the side of a large rock and wiggled the isome with the tip of my Rock Rover in what I hoped was a suitably provocative manner. It must have been a higly amusing sight for anybody looking down from the coast path to see a fully grown man basically fishing in a puddle. However, I thought I had nailed it first cast when a fish shot out, grabbed the bait and shot back under the rock.

Unceremoniously dragged him back out into the daylight kicking and screaming only to find that it was just a mere pretender to the rock pool crown - the perpetually glum-looking shanny, or common blenny. Popped him back under his rock then proceeded to try a few more spots, but it seemed that only shannies were in residence and my enthusiasm began to wane. I eventually came to the final pool, which was no bigger than a bath and only inches deep. Again, I made the isome do its little jiggy dance in front of a gap under the only rock big enough to house a potential "monster". Literally a split-second later something aggressively launched itself out from its hidey-hole and wolfed down the worm down with gusto. 

This time I knew straight away that I had my intended quarry and after another one-sided tug of war I was looking at my first giant goby and he certainly was a splendid chap - fine scaled and deep brown in colour with a head like a bulldog.

Returned him to his pool, hopefully to terrorise his tiny domain for a few more years, then scampered back up the cliff despite knackered knees and with a stupid grin on my face - job done! 

10/09/2021 - Bars of Cornish silver

An annual holiday somewhere with the "lads" (youngest 54, oldest 65!) has now become an permanent fixture in the calender. Unfortunately our planned trip to Sardinia earlier this year was cancelled to the dreaded COVID. However, by way of recompense we ended up in a cottage on the scenic Roseland Peninsula in Cornwall for a week in September instead. 

The plan was do a bit of walking, surfing, paddle-boarding and just generally chill out and catch up. However, a quick look on Google beforehand revealed a nice-looking rocky cove within walking distance of our digs, so some bits of fishing tackle went in as well, with wrasse, bass and mini-species in mind. 

Managed to source some ragworm, albeit on the turn and barely usable on close inspection, from a local garden centre and popped down with the wrasse gear one evening at high tide. Found a nice looking gully and fished a simple twisted boom rig with a single size 4 hook and a rotten bottom down amongst the boulders and the kelp. Unfortunately my one chance came when I had my back turned ferreting in my bag for something and I turned round to see the rod bent double. That was enough for a suspected decent wrasse to well and truly snag me and after some alternate slack-lining and heaving the rig eventually came back minus lead and fish. 

On the plus side, another angler had arrived and was obviously lure fishing for bass. After a quick chat, which established that he was local and sounded like he knew what he was talking about, I at least made it back up the cliff with some idea of what to try next. A couple of mornings later I was therefore back at first light with the lure rod with the intention of fishing one hour either side of high tide. Made my way out to the end of the rocks and started casting a white, weedless Savage Gear sandeel out into the gentle swell. A couple of cormorants were actively working the bay and, whilst I didn't see them come to the surface with anything, I took this to be a good sign that prey fish were about and with them hopefully the predators that I was after. 

The rising sun briefly made an appearance between the horizon and the low cloud, but otherwise it stayed dull and overcast and I briefly had to put on my waterproof as a light shower came through on the light westerly breeze. Had been fishing away for about 15 minutes when I got the thump on the rod tip that I was hoping for. 

After a spirited fight and near cock-up with the landing net I was looking at a pristine schoolie bass in the safety of a nearby rock pool. Popped him back and very next cast had another! Things were looking good and got even better when I added a third a few casts later. Went a bit quiet after this, so I moved slightly to my right to cover some different ground and duly added a fourth little spikey. 

Moved a couple more times but, as quickly as they had appeared, the bass seemed to have passed through. Didn't help that a grey seal suddenly popped up in front of me and just sat there despite some arm waving and choice words! To be honest my stomach was rumbling by now so I left him to it and headed back for breakfast, my morning's work making the long climb back up the cliff seem a little easier - but not by much!