I usually struggle during February, especially on the rivers and this year was no different. A couple of reasonable chub early on in the month was my best result. Other sessions were a struggle in often difficult, hard to predict conditions. I had a first session on a new river, which is a good 40 mins drive away but seems to hold a much greater number of pike than my local. The river was up and pushing through fast, hard going for a first session, which was quiet and was more of a rod 'recce' session as nothing was landed. Some bait snatching and a recce of a potential eel still water kept me busy as the month ended.
A hectic finish
As the end of the season edged closer I made a decision to get on the bank as much as time would allow, short sessions before or after work, even if it was just for an hours fishing. Despite working ridiculously long hours I managed to fit in 7 sessions before the season ended. A quick round up below will bring the blog up to date as I haven't felt the need to get out now the rivers are out of bounds.
A return visit to the previously mentioned river but a different stretch this time. I was fishing with Mick, he has spent a fair amount of time on this river this season and has done quiet well, so I wasn't fishing blind as he shared what info he had gained. Plenty of action (compared to my closest rivers anyway) with 8 takes between us, 6 to Mick and just the 2 to my rods. We both landed 2 each, nothing of size but it was nice to get off the mark on a new river.
|The first from a new river, always pleasing regardless of size|
Back on my local river, which wasn't in the greatest condition, pushing through hard and coloured. In previous seasons I have really struggled when targeting pike in these conditions, but this season I have persevered and managed to land a few.
A short roving session with float ledgered sea baits, 5 pegs fished with the only coming in the last peg.
The mackerel was lost during the fight so I was down to my last bait, a bluey, a bait I don't have a great amount of confidence in. 10 minutes the float was bobbing, another take from the same spot, however excitement got the better of me and I went arse over tit down the slippy bank! With 17 stone crashing down the bank the pike sussed that all was not as it seemed and buggered off.
A quick detour on the way home from work for an hour after dark chub fishing. I shouldn't have bothered! As soon as I closed the gate behind me the heavens opened and despite having decent waterproof gear I got soaked. One bite from 5 pegs, which I struck far too early and blanked.
I had planned on trotting lives on my local river and was en route to a favoured stretch but a quick call to Mick to find out how the river was called for a change of plans. Despite daily checks of the levels and weather conditions the river had risen and was heavily coloured. I decided to head to a slack bay and sit it out with a couple of dead baits.
Conditions were crap and although I have caught in worse this season I wasn't very confident. Around midday there was a single bleep from the delkim, the line was pulled from the drop arm but none was taken from the spool. I couldn't feel anything on the braid, whatever was there had gone.
After retrieving the bait it looked like an eel had been at the mackerel. I recast to the same area and 30 minutes later the bait was taken. A screaming run this time, the most confident of the season, I was convinced it was an eel until after I struck. The rod went round and a healthy curve was put in the 2.75lb blank, the fish wasn't really fighting just plodding around in the heavily coloured water. I didn't have a clue what it was until I netted it and surprisingly it was a chub, a good one.
|6.03lb - my second six from this river in the last few weeks|
Six pound chub are scarce on this river, I know of (very) dedicated chub anglers that are yet to land one despite decades of trying. Somehow I've managed two this season, both different fish, caught on very different stretches of river over 5 miles apart. The first was 6lb 6oz and was legitimately targeted and caught on chub gear, this one was fluked on pike gear but I'll take a six any way they come!
As fast as the river rose and coloured it dropped and cleared, the best conditions for a while so I took advantage and went for that trotting session.
I usually lower the bait in a rod length out, allow it trot downstream then edge the bait back slowly along the near bank margin. This means that the bait is fishing 100% of the time and also the bait lasts much longer as no casting is involved.
The session was hard work, 7 or 8 pegs before I got any interest. The pike fought hard, I knew it wasn't massive but thought it might sneak over the 10lb mark, which it did. 10lb 6oz.
Two days after near perfect conditions the river was up and coloured again, down to around 12" clarity. I was roving with a float ledgered mackerel again and despite fishing the slacks I had to fish the rod tip high and keep all the line off the water, which meant fishing off the baitrunner.
It was hard going, no interest during the first couple of hours and I was expecting the blank. Last peg of the session, just as sat down to remove a stone from my boot, the rod went, a barbel-esq take. The fish put up a good fight on my lighter roving gear, but it didn't take too long to net.
My final day plans were to fish my local river for the pike, come home for a few hours, then head out again once the kids were in bed to target the chub on a different river.
In the end I only managed time for the chub session. Mick had been on this stretch for most of the day sitting it out in the hope of a late season barbel. After a brief chat with Mick I was on my way, searching out likely pegs for the chub. It was my first chub session there this season so I didn't really have too much to go off. 30 mins in the first peg before any interest, but it was a very delicate bite, nothing that I would usually strike at. Another similar bite 10 mins later, which again I sat on my hands and left. An otter drifted down mid river, very aware of my presence but it didn't flinch until I moved.
At this point Mick had given up and he called in to say he was going, the delicate bites started again, gentle nodding on the tip, nothing compared to the usual violent chub bites on my local river. Mick stayed to see if I could get anything and within 5 mins I had a nice 4lb'er on the bank. The chub was sacked and I had the rod back out quickly to see if I could tempt another. Within 5 mins I was playing another decent chub, the fight was a little longer but after a a few hairy moments with a marginal weed bed the chub was netted. Just over 5lb on the avons, my best chub from this river.
|Mick, 4.03 and 5.0lb|
Again the chub was sacked in the margins whilst I tried for another. The bites had stopped, nothing after 20 mins so I got a couple of photos and moved on. After a couple of moves I started to get some interest in the baits, again very delicate bites, even on though I was only using a 2oz tip the bites were hard to spot.
The first was bumped as the hook bait masked the hook point, missed one then landed the next.
|4.12lb the last fish of the season.|
A hat-trick of decent chub, a great way to finish the season. I'm planning on spending more time next season on this river. It has a greater head of chub than my local and usually they are a larger average size. A six pound chub is a good target on this river, a challenge but should be achievable if I can put the time in.