01/04/2024 - Bank Holiday bits and bobs

Managed to get down to Pembrokeshire for Easter despite the weather throwing everything at us on the way down, including a hail storm near Merthyr. Had an inkling that something was about to happen when the low temperature alert starting pinging as we came over the highest point on the A465. 

Luckily for us the worst of the shower had already gone through, but half a mile down the road we came across the aftermath - banks of hailstones big as marbles in the gutters and a dozen vehicles, including an ambulance, strewn across the carriageway and up on the verge. Thankfully everybody was out their cars and seemed okay, so we inched our way through and cautiously carried on. Once down at the in-laws it seemed as if it hadn't stopped raining since the last time were there at Christmas. The local River Cleddau was the colour of a builder's brew and tonking through, so I left it a day for some of that extra freshwater to flush out the esturary before heading to Pembroke Dock on Saturday morning for high tide. 

Had a bit of salted rag with me, so started off by fishing small sections down the wall on my scaled down, two hook flapper. Second or third  cast I felt a bump as the rig dropped past the kelp, so changed the rag on the top hook for a small strip of squid. Did the trick as next drop down it was taken with a bang by a fat, hand-sized pollack that gave me a good scrap on the light gear. Had seven more of these, all on the squid, whereas the bait on the bottom failed to attract any attention. When the tide starting running along the wall I moved around the corner and had a rock goby, then a black goby in successive casts. However, I failed to buy another bite over the next half an hour and with the tidal flow increasing and making it hard to hold bottom I called it a day. 

Popped in to see Roddy for some fresh rag but found that he'd stopped doing live bait and was winding down and selling off his stock. Therefore headed up to the town to J & M's Tackle instead. With Anglers' Corner over in Milford recently shutting, this is the only local shop to sell live worm now - a bit of a sad state of affairs for the visiting angler. Back home the laddo asked if he could come with me next time, so the following morning we took a bit of a gamble and headed to Hakin on the opposite side of the estuary. 

I knew that the wind had changed direction and was blowing from the South-East. However, I hadn't bargained on it being so strong. When we got to Hakin Point there was a brave soul already there with two bait rods out. However, the pier was being battered not only by a stiff breeze sweeping down the Haven but also by the resulting wind chop, which had churned up the water in the bay. Therefore didn't take much of a decision to jump back in the car and make the 15 minute journey over the bridge to Pembroke Dock. Was still a bit breezy stood out on the ramp, so we tucked ourselves around the corner on the pontoon instead. Tactics were same as before, but with fresh rag on the hook this time. Thought perhaps this would have made a difference, but it was again very slow. 

After a couple of hours we'd only had a few pollack and gobies between us and were getting a bit cold, so we packed up and headed off for a much-needed coffee. I suppose it is still early in the year and the sea hasn't had long to warm up, but equally fellow bloggers on the south coast are already catching what you would consider "summer species", e..g mackerel, garfish and black bream! Anyway, I wasn't going to keep flogging a dead horse, so this morning I headed off to Haverfordwest with a tub of worms and a box of jig heads to try for some brownies. 

Once again it was a bit parky first thing and there was a dense mist shrouding the Cleddau Valley as I dropped onto the A40. Police cars were blocking off Freemans Way due to an accident, so I had to take a quick detour through the town before parking up at the bottom of the section. Whilst it had rained in the night resulting in a slight touch of colour the level had been unaffected, so I got togged up and slid down the bank. Flicking a worm up to the head of the pool I had a rattle straight away as it drfited back towards me and a couple of casts later I had my first fin-perect little brownie. Carried on in the same vein, missing far more than I hooked and landed, possibly because I had to tie on a larger jig to keep the worm down on the deck. The brook was also "hungrier" than usual as I kept snagging up on the urban debris littering the bottom. 

This inevitably resulted in a bent or blunted hook and a new jig, so at the end of the session I had a handfull of scrap and a very short leader! Had to keep an eye on the time as laddo wanted to use the car to meet a friend later, but after a couple of hours I'd had eleven little brownies and a proper little "silver tourist", presumably about to start her perilous journey down to the estuary and out to sea (the vast majority of sea trout are females, their male partners remaining behind as resident brown trout). With a bit of colour in the water it was difficult to see the bottom at times and I had been sliding about on the rocks even with my studded boots. Crossing the brook to get to a spot on the other side I was just thinking to myself "I could have really done with my wading staff" when I slipped and fell forwards, ending up on all fours in the water and cracking my shin in the process! 

Luckily my waders and my rod survived, but it had knocked the wind out of me and when the next cast ended up in yet another snag I called it a day. Headed home to find that the lad had cancelled his plans, scuppered by another closure on the A40 at St Clears and cancellation of all trains from Cardiff, which meant that his friend was now stuck in Swansea. Happy days!

14/03/2024 - A last hurrah!

The rain at the weekend put paid to any plans of adding to my tally of Trent grayling. Having confirmed their presence last winter I had been keen to see whether they had established themselves any further and had got any bigger. 

However, that will have to wait until next winter now - providing that they've all not been washed downstream and into the Humber that is! Instead I was yet again watching the weather forecast and checking the river levels in the hope that there would be somewhere fishable come the 14th as I'd already booked the day off work in anticipation. On the day the local "lowland" rivers like the Trent and the Derwent were still too high for me, although I suspect that the barbel anglers were probably happy enough given how mild it was. The Dove, however, by virtue of it's flashier nature had recovered far more quickly and up at the top end of the catchment it was virtually back to normal winter level. 

I therefore had a leisurely breakfast before heading west once more, hopping briefly into Derbyshire before heading over the boundary into Staffordshire. Arriving at the river I thought I'd made a mistake as at first glance it looked to be far too coloured, but it turned out to be a bit of an optical illusion. A closer look confirmed that there was indeed a bit of colour but I could easily make out the gravel bottom from up on the bridge, so I breathed a sigh of relief and went and got togged up. The club section here is only short, consisting of a single field, and has a limit of two rods at any one time. Whilst all of it is easily wadeable in the summer, there's really only two swims suitable in the winter for trotting that offer easy access into the river combined with a decent, unhindered run. 

I was therefore pleased to find that I had it all to myself again and dropped into the first spot, literally sliding down the bank like a big, fat otter and into the footprints that I'd left behind last session. Although the river was only a few centimetres higher than last time, there was noticebly more flow, so I put a couple of droppers of maggots in at the head of the run before I started fishing just to make sure that I had some loosefeed on the deck. If I had a tenner for every first cast grayling I'd have a few quid by now as the very first run through with the float resulted in a fish that dogged about in the flow putting a pleasing bend in the Acolyte. From then on it was steady if not as prolific as last time with the fish coming in bursts, much like the rain. 

With my Sundridge bait apron finally biting the dust I'd bought a boilie bag for my maggots that I could hang around my neck. The only problem is that it doesn't have a lid, so during the showers I had to clasp the bag shut by holding my arm across my chest like Napoleon! Would account for the funny looks I got from two teenage girls on the opposite bank, although when they got upwind of me it was obvious that they were smoking more than just tobacco. In between the grayling, I was again troubled by out of season spotties, although I felt a little less guilty knowing that the trout season was only 4 days away, but still encouraged as many of the buggers to unhook themselves before I had to put the net under them! 

The dipper was active again, flying up and down the river several times, as was the red kite soaring lazily over the coppice by the bridge. Was also distracted by loud call from the trees on the opposite bank at one point and a quick check with the excellent Merlin Sound ID app revealed it to be a nuthatch, which I eventually spotted before it disappeared higher up into the branches. By lunchtime my interest was waning and my stomach was growling. The bites had tailed off and instead of moving to a different spot I decided to call it a day, consigning the remains of my maggots to the river in a final offering. Finished with 25 grayling and 15 trout, although the bigger fish eluded me once more. 

Can't say that I'll look back upon this winter with too many fond memories as yet again so many plans fell by the wayside, mainly because of the weather. Oh well, time to regroup, sort out the tackle and tidy up the man cave now!

08/03/2024 - That's more like it!

With plenty of flexi in the bank I booked Tuesday off with a view to venturing a bit further afield in search of a 2lb grayling. 

The only potential fly in the ointment was going to be the gusty, easterly wind, so I had a think about where I could best go to avoid it. In the end I decided to head up to the upper Dove to a short club section near Norbury, which would give me options downstream if needed. Had a leisurely breakfast then headed west on the A50, arriving at the venue just before nine. The river looked spot on when I had a quick look over the bridge but more importantly the high, tree-lined banks were providing some protection from all but the worst of the gusts. 

Got togged up in my chest waders and made my upstream spotting a dipper and a kingfisher in the process before dropping into the river mid-way along the section at the head of a nice, evenly paced glide. Spent a few minutes trickling in a few maggots before sending the Avon through the swim for the first time. Halfway down the run the float disappeared and the strike was followed by the mad gyrations of a hooked grayling. 

Was the first of many as I carried on catching steadily throughout the morning. After a few modestly-sized fish I had a cracking, chunky male, the darkening, battleship grey hues of his flanks contrasting with his flambouyant dorsal fin. 

These bigger fish fight completely differently to their smaller brethren, staying deep and plodding away in the current against the bend of the rod and just giving the occasional head shake to test your nerve and the hookhold. It's a relief when they eventually capitulate and the sight of that fin waving above the surface as they head towards the net for me is one of the best sights in fishing and one I'll never tire of. Being quite a way up the river and loose feeding maggots it wasn't long before the resident brownies joined the party. Beautifully marked and in mint condition they were still obviously a couple of weeks out of season, so they all went back as quickly as possible. 

Before I knew it three hours had flown by and by now the bites had understandably started to tail off, so I clambered back out of the river just as a red kite came lazily spiralling overhead on the wind. Dropped in again about 50 metres downstream. However, after a grayling first cast the next half dozen fish were all of the spotty variety. It was also lunch time and I'd left my pack up in the car, so I decided that I'd call a halt to proceedings, have some snap and then head a short distance downstream to a different section. Up to that point I'd had 32 grayling, including several over the pound mark, and 18 brownies, so anything else would be a bonus. Scoffed my sandwich in the car then made the few minutes drive towards Uttoxeter. 

The river down here is bigger and therefore more exposed to the wind, but I'd brought along the feeder rod just in case float fishing became too difficult. As it was the strengthening breeze was blowing straight downstream and it was difficult to control the float from the off and almost impossible to keep track of it any distance down the swim. 

I suppose that I coould have put on a bigger float and nipped a shot on up the line to help things but instead I opted to head for a swim where I could comfortably sit and watch the tip, plus have the chance of a bonus chub. 

There was a pair of black swans in residence when I got there, but after a bit of head nodding and whistling they slid into the river and made their way over to the other bank. Got set up with a 30 gram blackcap with a short hooklink to avoid deephooking the grayling as much as possible. Spent the next hour filling the feeder and casting it down the crease very five minutes. Bites were a bit slow so I let my gaze wander over the fields opposite me, spotting a pair of buzzards, a male sparrowhawk and a huge, noisy flock of fieldfares that landed briefly in the tree to my left. Decided that I'd had enough about 5 o'clock having added just 3 more grayling to the tally for the day.  Didn't catch a monster, but it had been just what I needed after such a crap winter. 

We'll see what we can do with what remains of the season, but it looks to be turning wet again and that wind isn't going to go away!

07/03/2024 - Give us a break!

I'll be glad to see the back of this winter. Fishing wise it has been very poor, with just a handful of snatched sessions in the few windows of opportunity available. 

However, with the local rivers out of sorts yet again at least I had a weekend with our friends in Exmouth to look forward to and with it the prospect of some early season LRF. 
When Friday came around the fishing tackle went into the boot with the suitcases along with some of last summer's salted rag that I'd found in the back of the bait fridge. However as we drove down the M5 it soon became apparent that it had been pissing down in the South West all day. Sure enough a check of the conditions the following morning revealed the estuary to be the colour of a fresh turd (probably contained a few as well) with zero visibility. Any thoughts of fishing were therefore abandoned and we headed over to neighbouring Budleigh Salterton and had a mooch along the seafront instead. 

Sunday morning my friend Simon and I headed down to the marina hoping that conditions had improved. Unfortunately it appeared that the incoming tide was just returning all of the crap back up the estuary as again the water was highly coloured with little or no visibilty. Undaunted we tried a few of the usual spots and actually found a few fish, including a few shannies, a tompot and a couple of mini-ballan wrasse. However, fishing blind into structure had the inevitable result and after snapping several hooks and losing a set of gear we packed up and headed back for a full English. 

Upon our return to Nottingham it not only looked as if the local rivers were finally heading in the right direction, but that the weather was also going to behave itself as well. By Tuesday I therefore reckoned that it was worth a quick punt on the Derwent for the grayling, so I wrapped up work early and was 
out the door shortly after 3 o'clock. Fifteen minutes later I was at the river in bright sunshine. Whilst the level was still a bit higher than I'd I was sure that I would be able to find a few fish and headed for a spot downstream of an island where I knew from previous sessions that that the flow would be a bit gentler. Had a few trots down the inside without a bite then had a speculative cast upstream into a slightly deeper pocket of water right under the hanging branches of the trees on the island. 

As the float trundled back towards me it promptly disappeared as a grayling snaffled the double maggot. Added half a dozen more in the same way from this little spot before it all went quiet and I headed downstream to "the beach". By now the slight breeze had dropped away to nothing and the surface of the river was like a mirror. Found that the river had done a bit of re-modelling and had scoured out a channel down the nearside bank forming a bar. Added three more grayling stood out on this new feature, but rather annoyingly pulled out of a much better fish that hung deep in the flow and never showed itself. However a mini-murmuration of starlings over the fields as I made my back to the car was a nice highlight.

Two days later I was back again, but in contrast it was dull and overcast with a cold, brisk Easterly wind. The river had also dropped significantly allowing me to try a couple of my more usual spots further upstream. However, whether it was because of the conditions or that the fish had yet to re-distibute themselves after weeks of high flow I don't know, but I failed to buy a bite until I got right back down to the beach. Thankfully I managed to avoid the blank by adding a trio of graying before the gloom descended, which made me rue the decision to head upstream when I first arrived. Hopefully the rivers will continue to improve for the remainder of the season as I've got some flexi to take, although it's looks like the east wind is going to be with us for another few days at least.

01/02/2024 - A scrappy Soar session

Fancied dusting off the pike rods, so when I saw that the wind was due to ease on Thursday, accompanied by relatively mild temperatures, I booked the morning off and made the necessary preparations. Was up nice and early and made the short trip down the motorway, the moon setting to my right and the first glimmers of orange appearing to my left.

Bumped my way down  the track to find an empty car park and the river running at a prefect level with just a tinge of colour. As usual, I'd chopped up any old bait left in the freezer and as I walked upstream I flicked a couple of bits into any likely looking spots in the nearside margin. Don't know if this actually makes any difference, but I'd like to think that it puts a bit of scent in the water and stimulates the Esox tastebuds for when the main course arrives a bit later. Got to my starting point around the bend and soon had the rods out - a smelt flicked upstream next to a dead reedbed and a headless joey over against the far bank. Unfortunately the baits had only been in the water five minutes when a double scull crewed by a middle-aged couple came steaming towards me. Had been sat concentrating on the floats, so just had time to jump up to reel the far bank rod in as fast as possible, losing the bait in the process.

In total they came passed six times that morning, which had me constantly on edge, as I not only had to watch the floats but also had to keep glancing upstream and downstream for their next appearance. I was therefore relieved when they finally disappeared back upstream from where they came. With nothing doing after half an hour I moved downstream, again putting one bait in the nearside next to a clump of reeds, whilst the other bait I alternated between the far bank and mid-channel. It was the nearside float that eventually bobbed a couple of times and then lay flat on the surface. When I picked up the rod I thought the bait had been dropped. However, after a few seconds the float started to turn slowly on its axis, so wound down and hit it. Met token resistance before winding what turned out to be a small jack upstream towards me. Could see that he was only lightly hooked and as I went to land him the hooks pinged out and he swam into the net! 

Moved again and as I came around the bend and looked down the long straight I could see that two anglers had set up camp right in the middle of the section and had at least five rods spread out between them, which meant that they effectively monopolised all of the swims that I had pre-baited and had intended to fish. Was cursing my luck as I hardly ever see another angler mid-week, but flicked the baits out again, one down the side and the other over to the boats. Wasn't long before I was spotted by my fellow anglers and one soon got up and started walking upstream towards me. Couldn't believe it when he stopped and leant over to peer at my float in the margin! When he eventually ambled over we had the usual exchange starting with "You had owt?. They'd arrived about an hour after me and were yet to have anything. As we talked his mate came over, stomping past my marginal bait again. 

Chatted a bit longer before they both ambled back to their base of operations. As my near-side swim had been well and truly compromised I lifted the rod to wind it in and found that it was in a snag anyway. Bent the hooks hooks with a straight pull, losing another half mackerel in the process. By now it had turned into a bright, sunny day and I had contemplated packing up, but went back to my starting point instead. The jack I'd caught had been covered in leeches, so I decided to be a bit more active and move the baits every fifteen minutes or so in the hope of dropping one on the nose of a fish. 

Nothing in the first spot, but when I put half a lamprey in mid-channel it must have dropped into a slightly deeper hole as the float was barely visible. When it disappeared completely in the ripple caused by the freshening upstream breeze I let some slack out. However, the float didn't re-appear and I saw the line tightening up. Wound down into another jack as it made off with its prize, although again it was barely hooked when I got it on the bank. Moved 25 metres downstream and repositioned the rods. This time it was the rod down the nearside margin that bobbed and disappeared within a few minutes. As I drew this one closer I saw that it was only hooked by one point of the bottom treble, so bundled it into the net where the hook promptly fell out. Seemed that even when I dropped a bait right on their head they weren't really committing. Made another couple of moves before the lamprey in mid-river shot off, the float shooting across the surface towards the far bank. 

However, my strike met no resistance and the bait came back with hardly a mark on it. That seemed to mark the end of the actionas I failed to elicit any further response. Packed up and made my way back to the car, stopping to chat to my angling companions who were still sat in base camp, where they'd had one jack each. One of them showed me a bait that had been down the throat of one of their fish - a very familiar, undigested half mackerel! Oh well, at least I'd had some fish, but I do ask myself sometimes why I keep going back there given recent results. Perhaps time to try somewhere else.

30/01/2024 - A brief window of opportunity

Good riddance to disposable vapes! Not a day goes by without me picking up at least one on my morning walk. 

Whilst acknowledging the risk to children's health, there is a massive environmental cost to them as well. The figures are staggering - according to Greenpeace roughly 8 vapes a second are binned in the UK. The way they are manufactured make it difficult and expensive to recycle them, so in 2022 in the UK alone 40 tonnes of lithium was thrown out with disposable vapes - enough to make batteries for 5000 electric cars! You only have to feel the weight of one to realise how much non-recyclable resource is packed into them, ultimately just to be chucked in the bin, or worse still in the gutter, on the verge or in the ditch. Anyway, as well as discarded vapes, I've seen some nice sunrises on my morning jaunts recently. 

In contrast, today it was grey and gloomy and didn't look very promising at all, but by mid-day I could see some patches of blue sky from my office window and within another couple of hours it was clear and sunny. Not wanting to waste an opportunity and with a few maggots still remaining in the fridge I wrapped up what I was doing by three o'clock and was out the door asap. Was at the river and pulling into an empty car park within 15 minutes. Felt pretty warm as I got out of the car and there was a cloud of midgey looking things dancing in the afternoon sun. However, reckoned I only had about an hour and a half of usable light, so decided to split that evenly between the two swims I'd fished on my previous visit. 

Therefore quickly headed upstream, disturbing a little egret and then a kingfisher in the process, and dropped in behind the island once more. The river had fined down a little since last time, but again it was a case of targetting the steadier water away from the main flow, which was still tonking along the far bank. Waded out onto the gravel and started running the float down off the rod tip. Bumped a fish almost straight away, the hook coming back minus the double maggot, but a few trots later I had my first grayling in the net. By the time my 45 minutes were up I'd had another three and had even seen a decent fish rise on the surface, so was in two minds whether to stay or move to another spot. 

However, the sun had now gone behind the trees on the island behind me and it was difficult to keep track of the float in the ensuing gloom. I therefore upped sticks and legged it downstream to my second swim, where I added three more grayling as the light faded, although I was actually fishless for the last fifteen minutes. Was back home shortly after 5 o'clock and got the kettle on as the wife walked in from work. Whilst it's nice to have some grayling fishing on mydoorstep I just feel like I'm scratching an itch at the moment and I need to be putting in more time and travelling further afield if I want some better quality fish, but we'll have to see what the fickle weather wants to do and there's more wind on the way last time I checked! 

26/01/2024 - Another short session with the float rod

Had a rare day in the office today as I had some scanning and printing to do, but fortuitously had wrapped everything up by mid-afternoon. 

Still had the gear in the car from last week and so had chucked in the remains of my maggots on the off-chance before leaving the house, so took the opportunity to drop in on the Derwent near Draycott on the way home. Despite a brisk westerly breeze it was bright and sunny and at a balmy 8 degrees Centigrade it felt positively warm. Reckoned I had two hours of light at best, so headed upstream to the first sheltered swim in the lee of an island. Storm Jocelyn had brought yet more rain during the week and, whilst the river was fining down, it was still actually higher than when I fished it seven days ago.  The main flow was therefore racing along the far bank. However, it was again far less angry and had much more of a gentler pace down the inside. 

Waded out over the dead reed beds until I was stood on clean gravel and started running the float down off the rod tip. Bites were slow in coming, so doubled up the maggot on the hook to give the fish a bigger target. Also amused myself by flicking a few maggots in the direction of a beautifully marked grey wagtail bobbing up and down on what was left of the sand bank. Eventually the float buried and the hook went home with a satisfying thump causing the grayling on the end to start gyrating like mad. Again, not huge but big enough to put up some stubborn resistance in the flow. Carried on but after about an hour I had only added one more fish, so with nothing to lose and about half an hour of light left I decided to head downstream to another swim. 

This was the same spot that I had failed to attract a bite in last week, but I was sure that it would hold a few fish in the conditions. Avoided the boily water at the head of the swim and moved downstream until the flow had settled into a nice, even walking pace. The sun was now low in the sky making it a bit difficult to keep track of the float in the glare on the glassy surface of the river, but not enough for me to see it disappear resulting in another feisty grayling. Seemed to have dropped on a few fish as I quickly added half a dozen more and lost one that got itself wrapped up in the hooklink, making me think I'd hooked an absolute monster. Called it a day with the best fish of the session as the sun finally disappeared below the horizon. 

A couple of dog walkers came past at this point causing a bird up in the dead tree next to me to start calling in alarm, so I got out the phone and used the excellent Merlin Bird Sound ID app to identify it as a greater spotted woodpecker. Sure enough, peering throught the gloom, I eventually made him out hopping up the side of the trunk. Headed back to the car accompanied by the cackles of the fieldfares roosting high up in the riverside trees. Think this will be the pattern until the rivers and the weather settle down - short trips as and when the opportunities arise. Looking at the forecast ahead the wind definitely can do one - my pike rods hanging from the ceiling of the garage have got cobwebs on them!

19/01/24 - Not getting any easier

With the cold weather continuing through the week I thought I'd have another go for the grayling in the hope that they'd had a few more days to acclimatise to the temperature and make their way back into their pre-flood haunts. Had an appointment in the morning, but wasn't in a rush to get out anyway as it had been minus 4 degrees Celcius overnight. 

Therefore got work out the way first and headed to the Derwent after lunch when the sun was about as high as it was going to get and the temperature was a much more bearable 1 degree! There was a couple of cars in the car park when I arrived, but looking downstream I could see their owners hunkered down out of the breeze with rods up on rests, presumably after a chub, so got togged up before heading upstream. The river was still at about the upper level that I'd normally fish it with the float rod, still influenced by releases from the reservoirs further upstream, and in my first swim I could just about comfortably stand in the margins. However, third trot down the avon disappeared and I felt the familiar mad gyrating of a grayling on the end of the line. 

Bumped one soon after and as there appeared to be a few fish about I decided at this point to put in a couple of droppers full of maggots at the head of the swim. May not have been the best decision as over the next hour I could only manage one more fish so, despite the sun nicely warming my back, I headed downstream to my next usual spot noting where the river had breached the flood bank and meandered across the adjacent field. Discovered that a tree had come down in the margins making access into the water impossible, so found myself in my third swim a bit sooner than expected. Funnelled by the island upstream the main flow was whipping along the far bank. However, the pace inside was far gentler and althought the water was only about three feet deep I reckoned that's where I'd be if I was a grayling. 

Didn't bother with the dropper this time as I was a bit more confident that my loose feed would be getting down to the deck in the shallower water. Seemed to be correct on both counts as after a few trots down I had another grayling that, although modest in size, punched above its weight in the flow. Added half a dozen more over the next hour and whilst not as prolific as normal, at least I was getting a few bites. However, when I bumped a good fish at range (the maggot had folded back onto the hook at just the wrong time!) and with the sun falling lower in the sky, I opted to try another, usually reliable swim a bit further downstream. Again, with hindsight it wasn't one of my better decisons as I couldn't buy a single bite. 

In addition, as the sun disappeared the combination of the falling temperature and upstream wind began to bite and my fingers that were in contact with the metal cage of the centrepin were soon completely numb, so headed back to the car. On the way home, the stubble that had been washed off the fields and trapped on the roadside fence betrayed how high the water level had been over the winter, reaching its highest recorded level, so it possibly wasn't surprising that the river and its inhabitants hadn't yet returned to normal. 

However, looking at the forecast for the weekend we've got rain, double figure temperatures and 70 mile an hour winds to look forward to. Bonkers!

14/01/2024 - Tough going on the Dove

Whilst we've had at least a couple of weeks of dry weather now, due to the ground being absolutely saturated everywhere, it's taken an age for the local rivers to fine down to fishable levels. Even as we speak the Trent and the Derwent have only just come back down to what I would call "normal" winter levels. 

The Dove on the other hand looked to be perfectly fishable at the weekend, so early on Sunday morning I headed west on the A50 into Staffordshire. Let myself into an empty car park, quickly checking before I pulled off onto the grass that I wouldn't sink up to my axles. The sun was just coming up over Nestle's and with the lack of any wind it looked as if it was going to be a pleasant, but cold morning. Walked up to the first glide, flushing a kingfisher from his bankside perch as I did so, set up the rod and slid into the river. 

Sent the float down after a handful of maggots and was surprised when it promptly disappeared halfway down the run. The water still had a hint of colour, so didn't see the fish straight away and thought I'd managed to snag a decent grayling on my first cast. However, changed my mind when it tried to dive headfirst into the nearest reedbed and after a bit of welly a small chub slid into the net. Didn't take long though before I had my target species as I had a small grayling just a few casts later. Thought I was in for a few fish, but subsequent bites were very slow in coming. Over the next hour I could only manage another small chub and a couple more grayling before deciding to move downstream towards the end of the glide. 

In the new spot it was again a first cast fish, but this one put a bit of a bend in the Acolyte as it hung stubbornly out in the flow. Drawing it upstream and into the waiting net it turned out to be a nice fat hen fish of well over a pound. A couple more followed, but it seemed that either the fish weren't there in numbers or that they just weren't having it, so I upped sticks and headed up to another glide at the top of the section. There were hundreds of fieldfares hopping around in the pasture next to the river and as I walked upstream they flew in front of me cackling their alarm calls and showing me their grey backsides. First cast in a new spot yielded another small grayling again, but it was the same story with further bites hard to come by. 

Did have a bit of excitement when I hit a fish that shot off downstream, forcing me to bully it back against the flow. However, when it got level with me it kept going and eventually went airborne showing off a spotty flank. Got him in the net and back in the river and carried on, but my heart wasn't really in it having fished hard for three hours. Called it a day after having nine grayling, two chub and that out of season brownie. Did think about dropping back into my first swim, but two chub anglers had plonked themselves down directly opposite. Carried on back to the car, spotting a mink slinking under a bush on the far bank. Had earlier dropped my Korum rod butt protector somewhere between the car park and the river and fully expected to find it in the grass, but it was nowhere to be seen. 

Possibly picked up by one of the dog walkers that had passed me during the morning. Oh well, that's two odd sets that I can make a pair with now!