I have been really fortunate this course fishing season being able to get out fishing as much as I have. The lakes have been good to me, so too has the river.
I had taken a few days off work prior to the 14th in order I could get some fishing in, just in case the river flooded and became un-fishable, which is common-place at this time of year.
Working in Wessex again, I only had a two and a half hour drive too the river. Packing my car to the gunnel’s on Saturday morning, I set off in good weather looking forward to catching a Roach on the river Stour, with four days to achieve this I was hopeful of landing at least one.
I was on the river by late afternoon, via a detour to a local tackle shop to purchase a pint of their finest ‘mixed’. The river was in good shape, but there was rain forecast for the Saturday evening, with no real indication of how much precipitation was to fall. This could easily scupper the fishing for the next few days, including the final day if a real heavy downpour was to occur.
I was joined by my friend who is the river bailiff for this stretch of the Stour. I setup at my favourite swim that I like to call ‘the beach’. I first mixed up some groundbait and fired it across the river towards a deepening channel on the far bank.
I set my vintage Aerial reel onto my Fred J. Taylor rod with a small cage feeder and cast out. It did not seem like one minute had passed when the top of the rod began bouncing around; I had my first fish! I could not believe it? A Roach on my very first cast. Very small, but a Roach non-the-less.
I caught Roach after Roach, and was having an absolute field-day. The wind made it impossible for float fishing and very difficult getting the feeder into the same position each time, but I was not bothered, I seemed to still be able to catch. My friend had moved swims and was now in a corner just downstream of me. He came running up to show me a huge Roach he had just landed, what a corker! Strangely we did not weigh it. This was gently returned, serenely swimming off as if nothing had happened. The day ended with thickening cloud and a threat of rain. During that night the rain fell. It fell so hard that it woke me up. That’s it, I thought, the river will be knackered now.
Arriving at the river on the Sunday, I was met with a total surprise, the river had actually fallen in height. Yes, it was very coloured, not ideal, but still totally fish-able. Once again I fished late afternoon and into evening and was treated to some nice Roach, and also a good soaking due to a cloud-burst or two. As darkness fell I latched into what I first thought was a huge Roach, but it did not have that noticeable ‘jagged’ fight. I then thought it may be a small Chub, as it seemed to be making its way towards every snag in the water that it knew. It was not until I managed to get it near the surface when it rolled to reveal I had hooked a huge Perch. A Perch so big I have never seen before. I did not weigh it, but did take a couple of photos before I gently returned the splendid Sargent. I was kept company by a nearby Woodpecker hammering away randomly. I can only imagine that it had quite a headache by the end of the day. Great to hear a Woodpecker again, and I was also pleased to be accompanied by the Kingfishers which are always a delight to see.
Monday began with a call from the river bailiff to say that river fishing was over due to the river now had actually risen quite dramatically and was very coloured. Disappointed, but not put off, I went to the river in the afternoon. There were still lots of slow glides available to fish. Another friend joined us that afternoon and we all caught some lovely Roach, Dace and Gudgeon, even though the river was now far from perfect.
The 14th arrived, as did perfect weather. Cloudy and rather mild for this time of year. The river was still very coloured. I fished the same spot as yesterday, and watched the bailiffs’ brother land an absolutely huge Roach, without weighing it and nonchalantly returning it as if it was common-place to land such a big fish. I, on the other hand, was catching minnow after minnow after minnow. The odd Roach did grace the river bank, as did a small Chub and a couple of Dace along with the odd Gudgeon. A good friend brought along a superb fruit cake that was made for Christmas. It had obviously matured beyond Christmas and was very, very tasty indeed and was a welcome accompaniment with a mug of tea brewed from a Kelly kettle.
A number of other fishing friends joined us in the evening for a pint to celebrate the end of this cracking season.
The traditional course fishing season is over, I can look forward to planning my allotment, sowing vegetables for the coming year, and looking forward to June 16th with a dream of a Tench.