I managed to get the day off work Tuesday to go fishing and after a call the night before agreed to meet Rob in the picturesque village of Welford on Avon for an autumn blow out. Last time I was here I lost a huge fish, probably the biggest and most powerful fish I have ever hooked in the Avon. Ever since I have been haunted by the violence of that last run it made before it broke off so much that I have wanted to return to have another go, however small the chance of hooking into the same fish.
I fear the title of my last blog may have been taken a little to literally by mother nature and when I got onto the river the wind was pounding off the fields across the river onto the bank so hard I couldn't even put my brolly up for shelter. The sky was grey for most of the day but still the river was so clear I could see the last vestiges of weed standing up three feet off the bottom.
My plan was simple; put down a large bed of ground bait, corn, maggots, pellets and any left over bits of bait I had kicking around and then gamble on sitting on two heavy rigs all day to see if any carp or barbel may get on it.
As it turned out I gambled wrong and the two rods remained still all day whilst myself and Rob half froze to death as we sheltered behind the brolly, taking it in turns to hold on to it so the wind wouldn't blow it across the fields towards the village. Even regular cups of tea couldn't keep us warm and by the afternoon I was so cold I took the desperate measure of wrapping my legs in my unhooking mat just to keep warm enough to last until the light fell.
As I suspected when the light fell the tip of my dead bait rod which I had put out an hour before dark received it's first tremble of the tip. It never really went round but after two or three more knocks I picked it up and gave one almighty strike. The culprit turned out to be a small Zander of around 2lb.
Thinking that finally after six hours on the bank do nothing the fish were about to come on to the feed I cast out again into the half light. Within fifteen minutes the tip rattled again and I struck into something that felt much bigger. I would be lying if I didn't admit I was hoping the fish on the end of the line was a Zander, because if it was it had double figure written all over it. Before I had even seen the fish it found a snag in the deep water under my own bank. A few nervous moments of solid yanking on my behalf and the fish came free and flew clean out the water. My first view of an Avon pike came as she tail walked off down the river shaking her head violently. I was a little gutted it wasn't a Zed but the ariel display more than made up for it. In the net she gave me as much trouble as she did in the water. I never bothered weighing it but 6lb pounds I feel sure is about right.
After this fish I didn't stick around and after packing up we made our way back to the cars the the eerie alleys of the village. On the way back the cars heater got a real work out to warm me up and next time I am out the big coat will be getting a run out for sure.
This trip only serves to reiterate the point I made in my last blog that with the river so clear even the predators aren't feeding until the light fades never mind the prey fish.
The pope comes to Coventry canal
With Friday off to and a few hours to spare I decided to make use of Jeff Hatt canal guiding service to continue my hunt for the elusive Ruffe. I know Jeff has had a few out the cut and he doesn't need much arm twisting to get him take a trip down the canal fishing, rod in hand. We couldn't have been fishing in two more different methods. I opted for ultra light pole tactics and Jeff went with his now legendary giant lob worm technique.
I didn't have to wait long for my float to dip though at the time I was grubbing round in the bag and Jeff spotted it first. A second dip resulted in a mint little skimmer of all of six ounces. After this the bites came regularly but not quickly. Whilst Jeff nipped off to get the brews I nabbed a couple of micro perch, then low and behold I landed a Ruffe. As Jeff came walking back along the tow path my hand went up to signal my capture.
I carried on catching a slew of perch with the odd roach mixed in for good measure whilst Jeff caught a pristine little Zander and some much larger perch than I was getting.
I only had till 10am to fish, but in three hours on the bank I had caught 3lb plus of fish and finally caught a Ruffe all in good company. And the photo shoot was still to come...
It may seem insane to some readers that I would spend such a large amount of time and a reasonable amount of money to catch what most people would consider to be nothing more than a nuisance fish. But these diminutive fellows have a real place in my heart, as when I was knee high to a grasshopper fishing on my child hood haunts I could always depend on the Ruffe to slowly pull my float under when no other fish were interested. I was beginging to think they were almost extinct after so long searching for one but after finally catching one but I think my face says it all.
I have to thank Jeff for the use of his invaluable knowledge of the local canal and for helping my rekindle a child hood experience I was beginning to think I would never have again. Nice one mate I will be the first one buying you a pint at the Christmas knees up in a few weeks.