11/10/2022 - Another short Soar session

Either I am very frugal with my loose feed or the chap at the local tackle shop is very generous with his measures because I had over half a pint of maggots left over after my session on the Soar last week. Either way, he certainly looks after his bait as they were still top quality after a few days in the fridge.

With the weather forecast to be unsettled for the rest of the week I therefore headed back there this evening to finish them off. Walked up to the island past the rapidly establishing beds of floating pennywort to find - shock, horror! - another member sat in the peg immediately downstream of my usual spot. He'd already got one rod out for barbel and another for pike.  However, after a quick chat he was perfectly amenable to me dropping in upstream of him. As it was the river level had dropped since last time and I had to wade a bit further up the bank to be able to reach out into the main flow with my 11 ft Ultralite. Had also brought the perch rod again but, unlike last time, I struggled intially to catch anything big enough for bait as I was immediately pestered by masses of this year's chublets,.

Slowly the loose feed started to attract some better fish, including some nice dace and roach, and I was faced with the opposite problem - too big. Not that I was in a rush and I didn't want to play my cards too soon given the close proximity of a fellow angler. The river was also gin clear, with the bottom visible at least half-way across the channel, so I doubted that there would be much predator action before the light levels started dropping off anyway. Eventually got a couple of suitable baits in the bucket, positioning one of them just upstream of a trailing willow. The rest of the session was virtually a carbon copy of last week's with dace and small perch dominating affairs,  although it was nice to see a few gonks turn up this time. 

I've had a total of ten different species from the river on the float now after the Essex Scribbler identified a silver bream from a picture on a previous post, the only ones left now really being barbel and carp. It's a shame that such diversity doesn't seem to breed specimens, although the presence of so many prey fish along with signal crayfish must mean that there is a monster perch, pike or zed lurking down there somewhere. Not on this occasion though. Heard the bite alarm on the perch rod beep a couple of times  before the line came out of the clip and started tumbling off the reel. Wound down into a lean, feisty jack that charged around a bit before throwing itself in the net. He was cleanly hooked in the scissors, so I easily unhooked with my fingers and sent him on his way. 

Put another bait on and re-positioned the paternoster at the tail of the swim. A couple of tentative knocks a bit later signalled some more interest although, having quickly pulled the line out of the clip, there didn't seem to be any subsequent movement on the other end. However, after a few seconds I saw the line start twitching across the surface, so wound down to briefly feel a fish that banged its head a couple of times and was then off. Perch. Possibly. Hopefully not a big one. Not long afterwards a couple of pipistrelles appeared in the fading light, twisting and turning over the river. This signalled the end of my session as I was now struggling to make out the tip of the float in the gloom. 

Had fished for two and a half hours and had had a fish about every two minutes including bleak, roach, dace, chub, perch, skimmers and gudgeon. Packed up to find my companion was doing the same having had a chub and a jack. And yes, I had some maggots left over, so turns out that I am actually a scrooge! Not sure what's next - I would like to catch a decent perch, but we're off the France next week and not long after that my thoughts will be turning back to pike, zander and grayling. Where's the year gone?

08/10/2022 - A brief Devon dalliance

Headed down to Saunton at the weekend for our twice-yearly surfing trip, although the advancing ages of all involved mean that, unless conditions are absolutely bang-on perfect, the surfing is often replaced by other activities, such as walking, golf (God forbid!) and of course fishing. 

On this occasion I was keen to catch another bass or two, so had packed the lure rod again along with the usual LRF gear. Had a walk down the beach upon arrival to check the conditions (blown out mush!) then went on the scrounge along the high tide line for any free fishing tackle, but picked up a ball of sundry rope, nylon and twine discarded by the commercial boys instead. Following morning I was out early and first in the queue for the gate on the toll road down to Crow Point to be opened. Had rather unwisely packed my neoprene chest waders and by the time I had struggled through the dunes to emerge on the estuary I was already sweating cobs. However, it was a worth it as there was not another soul in sight, - only me, the egrets, oyster catchers and waders of various description. 

The tide was already racing out exposing the rocks and mussel beds despite it being only a couple of hours into the ebb, so put on a baby Patchinko  and spent the next hour or so following the tide and working the surface lure in amongst the rock gullies as they emptied out into the main channel. Looked back over my shoulder at one point and was surprised how far I had gone - it almost felt as if I could touch Appledore on the other side of the estuary with the tip of my rod! 

Slowly made my way back to the shore and then walked up to the river mouth where the current was ripping along the near bank. Took the Patchinko off and then spent another hour swinging and bumping soft plastics along the bottom. By this time the constant casting and "high-sticking" was playing havoc with my tennis elbow, so I reluctantly resolved myself to a blank. Took some comfort in that the two anglers moored up in boats nearby and the commercial hand-liner zig-zagging backwards and forwards across the estuary had also failed to catch anything either. Made the long walk back along the beach - I covered 8 kilometres in total, and felt like I'd lost about a stone in sweat by the time I reached the car! 

Back at the bungalow the others were proposing a trip into Ilfracombe, so after a quick shower we were off again. Left the majority to trawl around the tat shops whilst my friend James and I wandered down to the harbour. Unlike the bliss and solitude of the estuary earlier it was absolute carnage! The tide was already coming in over the lower deck of the pier, so the upper deck was completely rammed with noddies with rods and lines all over the place. Was minded to go and get a pint instead, but James persuaded me to get the LRF gear and we squeezed into the one available gap. Fished a mini two hook flapper made up with size 16 Drennan widegapes and baited with small pieces of salted ragworm left over from the summer. 

Dropping the rig down the wall resulted in bites straight away and alternating the rod between us we soon built up a respectable tally of sand smelt, pollack, ballan wrasse, rock gobies and shannies - much to the amusement of an elderly couple that stood watching us, but less so for everybody else who were catching bugger all. A very canny cormorant was patrolling close to the bottom of the wall for an easy meal and caused James to lose the best fish of the day as he popped up at our feet just as James was bringing the fish (probably a wrasse) to the surface. In the time it took me to scare him off the fish had found the sanctuary of a snag and was gone. By the time the others eventually rocked up with their tat shop bounty the odd wave had started breaking over the upper deck, so called it a day. 

Not what I was hoping for, but at least it wasn't a blank and the cod & chips at Squires in Braunton later that evening was top drawer as usual.

Roll on next May when we are back again!

04/10/2022 - Trotanostering

Caught up with the latest series of Mortimer and Whitehouse this week - one series too many in my view. Even John Bailey, the show's angling consultant, appears to have lost interest given the distinct lack of any decent fish caught and the only thing that really made me laugh out loud was Ted the dog dressed in a dinner jacket. 

However, at least the perch episode inspired me to drag my lazy arse out to the Soar for a few hours this evening. Headed for the top of the club section at Kegworth where I knew that I'd be tucked out of the wind. Found it to be gin clear, although the recent rain had topped the river up to near normal levels again. As usual I had the whole section to myself, but dropped into my usual trotting peg downstream of the weir. However, unlike in the summer the fish weren't there in numbers straight away.

Took about half an hour to build the swim up, but then it was a bite a chuck, including dace, roach and colourful perch. Had brought the paternoster rod and had set it up next to me within arm's length ready to go, but I was actually struggling to catch anything small enough to consider using as a perch bait. Eventually got a couple of suitable roach and chub in the bucket and was able to position the paternoster at the downstream end of the swim. Got couple of subtle takes very quickly - the rod tip just pulling down a couple of times before I was on it and pulling the line out of the bobbin clip. However, wound down on both occasions to find that the bait had already been rejected with just a few missing scales on the flanks to show that something had at least had it in its mouth, albeit only momentarily. 

There had been a pike lying up in the lilies when I arrived that ghosted away downstream when it spotted me, but I suspected that small perch were to blame as I was catching quite a few on the float rod. I like to present my baits Archie Braddock style on a size 16 hook that's hair-rigged to a size 4 or 6 Korum Expert Specimen. The point of the bait holder is turned in on itself with pliers to keep the bait on and also to prevent it catching in the perch's mouth. However, presenting baits in this way does mean that small perch may not take the main hook into their gobs. Popped the bait out again, but wouldn't get any further action on that rod until it was almost dark. 

Carried on trotting away, adding a little skimmer and a couple of bleak to the species count. Decided to swap the bait on the paternoster rod for one of the latter for the last half hour or so. Dropped him in downstream but then wondered why the line kept dropping back in the clip. Took a couple of seconds to realise that the bait had been taken on the drop and wound down into something that definitely wasn't a perch from its subsequent acrobatics. Scooped a jack into the net - probably the one I'd seen earlier and nicely hooked in the scissors. Sent him on his way, but didn't bother putting the paternoster out again. Kept on working the float rod until I could no longer see the orange tip of my stick float in the gloom. 

Ended up with a nice mixed bag of seven species including the pike, so at least a better effort than Paul and Bob! Devon this weekend with the lads and the chance of another bash at the bass on the lure rod  - weather permitting, as it looks like its going to blow a hoolie!