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!