Thursday, 24 January 2013

Three miles downstream of small stream adventures by Jeff Hatt.

Snow brings out a hardly seen part of my personality. The sight of falling flakes settling all around brings on first twitchy excitement. Then as it piles up I begin to feel like a belligerent Scot of the Antarctic bar drunk type. It's like mother nature has just given me the classic shove to the chest  and beckoned me on like "c'mon then what you gonna do about that" to which I always react in the same way thinking 'yep I will have me some of that'. Conversely though I am rather un-inclined to drive around in the snow! 
I think my general disdain for insurance companies and my natural stinginess subconsciously stops me risking my car. Walking round in it though, well now that's totally a different matter. Having DNA made up partly of northern, welsh and polish blood goes some way to making me rather durable in cold weather. Add to that the oversize nature of my feet and I find myself only a talcum powder covered chewbacca the wookie costume off of the best impression of a yeti ever seen.

I suppose other than my natural comfort in the snow, the fact that where I reside has local to it a useful little stream, that when I am not inclined to drive acts as a back up fishing spot, does help me get out when the weather is bad. 
I know I treat this little river like a common whore and only venture there when I can't get to the money rivers. I know full well that I should explore it more, as the things I hear about this tiny trickle every time I am on its banks really do warrant more investigation. But its just one of those situations that falls into the 'there is not enough time in my life to fish everywhere I want to' catagory.

But anyway, with Jacky determined to hunker down for the weekend with a sustenance plan more detailed than the Normandy landings, I decided both Saturday and Sunday mornings seemed viable for sessions on my fall back venue.

It's an odd feeling walking through streets fishing gear in tow. Normally it's, pack up your car and head off to some secret place away from society, but doing this you feel like an alien. If I pass anyone on the street carrying fishing kit you always get the same look. Like you're wearing a Kermit costume or have suddenly turned into John Merrick.

When ever I got out suburban fishing I never dally walking through the houses. It's always a constant fast pace until I pass through natures archway away from people and into this little fishing oasis hidden in plain sight.

So often am I used to fishing rivers that are ten or more times as big as this, that I forget how delicate my tackle must be on these small streams. A packet of cumbersome fat 3xssg shots that I had been handling all the way here seemed far too bulky once opened and were quickly substituted for a single swan shot as weight for casting. Once I swung a tiny feeder into this little stream, and the moment it hit the water I regretted it. The plop it made sounded like a bomb going off in the silence. 
Now a pair of walnut sized balls of liquidised bread tossed up stream is more than adequate enough way to feed a small swim quietly. They float for maybe a metre before beginning to dissolve and spread salty sweet hints of food through the shallow swims.

It was roach I hoped that would be stimulated into biting and the first fish hooked was a sliver of a silver roach. It was however a small chub whose spirited fight smashed my four foot wide swim to bits in only a few zig zagging runs moment later.

The next spot which had water that seemed deep and green enough to contain fish was on the outside of a seemingly innocuous bend where I doubt anyone had walked since I was last there over a year ago.
Again the initial rattles seemed rather roachish, then it went very quiet until I was just about to pull my hook to apply a new pinch of bread and then the tip lurched round.

I never expected a real fight from anything in this little stream but the unseen culprit was really bending my light tip rod and the thudding fight had me very confused. The site of something big and silver had me praying to old Isaac for a roach. The bright light and silvery flanks had tricked my eager mind one way, but the identity was far more obvious.

Although not the holy grail we all seek of this small river. It is however a great sign!The chub have up until now seemed to have a ceiling weight of a pound and a half, then I catch one of 2.10lb proving my theory totally wrong This fish will certainly be a three next year and how long then till it's four I wonder.

After such a close quarter scrap I never thought I would get another bite from this swim, let alone another fish. But with limited deep areas for the next half a mile I chanced another cast and landed another chub of  maybe a pound and then only went and landed a third on my third cast.

Its amazing how much mud three small chub can stir up in two feet of water. The arrival of four ducks who were very excited by the turgid water, got me moving off downstream a good ways to a bend in the river where the flow had scoured deep under a tree on my own bank. I would have never have know of this hidden feature should a fish not have zoomed under there after I hooked it mid flow a few years ago.

It is always a one trick pony this swim. Casting a bit short then paying off line allows the the flow to catch hold of my rig and skips it in under the tree so sweetly it's beautiful. Then it's just a case of wait...wait... wait for it and knock knock bang! another small stream chub does its very best to stay in its hidey hole.

Five chub in as many casts from a stream long forgotten by most anglers. Saturday could not have been any more satisfying I am sure. Sunday on the other hand was another day indeed.

Six inches the stream had risen overnight and the water that now swelled it was not rain but melted snow. New riffles and swirls had appeared where none had been twenty four hours before, and now nothing seemed as keen as the day before.

The moment my first cast hit the water, flakes began to fill the air and by my fist bite visibility had fallen by half. I was lovely and warm but my warmth soon worked against me as the snow landing on my legs melted instantly soaking into my trousers.
Covering my legs with my small hooking mat enabled me to stay long enough to land one measly chublet, the smallest of the entire weekend I should say. Lack of attention kept me moving from swim to swim but little was interested in feeding. So by the end of the stretch I was ready to leave.

It is amazing what a difference a little bit of cold water can do to a small river, because the two sessions could not have been more different and the only reasonable reason was the change in water. I can only hope that this snow does not all melt at once before I next get out, as every river in the country would be back over its banks should that happen. So fingers crossed it melts away slowly.


  1. Brilliant, you said exactly what I felt walking on the outskirts of my town with tackle last Friday, doesn't seem right does it?

  2. I've lost all shame where that's concerned. Then again, everyone local knows there's a canal at the end of the road so they think I'm off to a legitimate fishery! When I get near the stream though, I don't look them in the eye... and especially not their dog's eyes!

  3. I've just bought a Browning Ambition Tele Feeder road that when retracted is around 1.2metres, ideal for strapping to my mountain bike. I usually travel light anyway and have a bait pouch which contains all the bits I need so all I need now is a folding landing net and pole. Combine fishing and exercise and another excuse to go fishing. Obviously I want broadcast the fact to the Wife I'm going fishing, just that I'm off for another bike ride. Lots of streams near me in Stratford, the Alne river too.

    Remind me why fishermen still visit commercial fisheries ?

  4. I think I might go down the over compensation route and every time someone stares at me when I am off suburban fishing I will bid them GOOD MORNING!!! at the top of my voice. They will soon stop looking me in the eye ;)

    As for commercial fisheries Mick the answer is simple. Big perch! and if you are after a great value folding landing net I recommend your hit the A46 later this month and get to the Richo on the 16th or 17th of Feb for the Midlands carp and coarse show. I saw some very nice examples of folding nets there last year.

  5. been fishing about a half mile upstream from where you were my parents home is in one of the closes that run down to the river i have caught roach and chub using worm but nothing of that size.may have to give up the avon and concentrate on the little river.

  6. If people stare just think - you are going to enjoy yourself, what are they doing going about their boring life! :)