'You know you've have had a good session when you run out of bait!'
I arrived before first light and fumbled my way through the undergrowth in the dark nearly going arse over tit several times before arriving at the swim I intended to fish. With the fishing the way its been lately on the river I have decided the blunderbust approach is far more productive than targeting specific species. By this I mean rather than fishing one specific method targeting one species I am using a generalised method to target anything in the area.
The river looked dowdy in the dull January light, which on this river is only a good thing and once settled in I made my first cast with a feeder full of liquidised bread mixed 70/30 with sensas noire. I am glad I remembered this spot because the feeder never hit the bottom before the tip rattled. Straight away I was on the fish, and roach after roach were swung in as the sport got faster and faster.
Most of the roach were between 2-4oz but after a long winter of scratching for a bite here and there this was pure heaven. I kind of wish I had bought a keepnet with me as after an hour I lost count of numbers but I caught loads of these little blighters.
Around nine the bites strangely stopped and I suspected a pike may have moved in but before I had chance to grab my pre set-up pike rod out of the quiver, the tip went in an altogether different way. After striking a nice dace of 5oz was landed, followed by four more in quick succession. I don't know whether the dace pushed the smaller roach off the area I was casting to, but whilst they were around not one roach took my double maggot hook bait. Then as quickly as they arrived they went again and the little roach turned back up.
By 10.30am my ground bait was already dwindling which was shocking as I had brought about one and a half kilos with me. Again the voracious roach disappeared before the tip went with some real venom. I was only using a light feeder rod and this fish put the most bend in it I'd seen all day, and soon a much larger dace was wallowing in front of the net. As soon as I saw it I began begging the river gods to stop old essox turning up and nabbing it off me, an all too common situation in this area, hence the pike rod I had bought along.
Mr Pike never did get it and a seriously fat dace was mine! I already had the scales to hand from weighing previous catches and this went straight in the carrier bag and pulled the needle round to 9oz. After double checking and triple checking it I was satisfied it was right and let it go back to get ever closer to that magic one pound.
By 11.30am the ground bait was all gone, as were most of my maggots after switching to a mag feeder. My only option now was to mash up what ever bread I had brought along as bait, keeping back only a few slices as possible hook bait. Using this mashed bread mix in the feeder pretty much killed the fishing as I suspected the fish were following it off down stream. I could have stuck the pike rod out for a while but was more than happy with the mornings fishing and the thought of the baked ham Jacky was cooking up for Sunday dinner had me chucking kit in the bag and racing back to the car.
I was well pumped over my dace capture until out of interest I had a look at the 8oz fish Baz from Return to Ryton caught a few weeks ago. The moment I saw it on the screen the doubt began to creep into my mind about the possibility of my scales being out. I consider myself to be an honest angler and challenger - a fact my fellow competitors from last year will confirm after I turned down crucian point as I believed the linage of the first 6lb of crucians I caught was doubtful. So as the dace percentage is a high scoring one I went back and checked my scales for accuracy by weighing first 9oz of flour and then 9oz of water on Jacky's fancy kitchen scales before checking both on my flyweights and found they were weighing right. After this I measured the length of the fish using the scales as the constant at nine inches and compared it to Baz's 10 inch fish. By Monday I had become a little obsessed and contacted Baz to get some original copies of his pictures to try and quell my doubts.
With the two pictures next to each other I was satisfied to see that, yes, Baz's fish was much longer and leaner but mine was a totally different shaped fish that seems shorter, but a lot more stocky and fuller bodied.
So with my scales checked and pictures compared I leave myself with no doubt that it was 9oz and will be claiming that one at 43% After such a uplifting session I am gagging to get out again soon!