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!