In a perfect world, everything would go to plan and we’d always catch loads of big fish etc etc. Today’s fishing trip was a good example of how things don’t need to be perfect or to even go to plan in order to be classed as an enjoyable day out.
Jason & I had planned to pike fish the River Avon near Keynesham, Bristol, but a match on that stretch of water put pay to that idea. I’d travelled up to Bristol to meet Jason with only my pike fishing tackle in the car which as it turned out, proved to be a bit of a school boy error. Not being able to fish the Avon we scratched our heads and came up with a plan B. Fish the River Chew! Hopefully we’d pick up some grayling and chub. Thankfully Jason was able to lend me a rod and the requisite gear plus provide maggots and worms to make plan B viable.
We met at day break, and proceeded to try various swims along our chosen stretch of water. It was a cold start with no wind at all, although the temperature did begin to rise as the morning wore on.
My first trot downstream resulted in a nice (but out of season) brown trout on single maggot under a waggler, set pretty shallow. Jason also swiftly had another, before things went quiet and we moved on. Things didn’t get any easier and after this we moved frequently to scratch out a few gudgeon and numerous minnows. Jason did bring in a couple of small chub, but the chub just didn’t seem to be feeding in any numbers today. We had hoped for a grayling or two as well on the upper sections of the Chew but these also eluded us. Whilst it turned out to be a day of small fish, at least it was a lovely morning weather wise. What was particularly educational was getting to explore the river without the mass of summer undergrowth hampering access to the bankside. This allowed us to explore and fish swims that just weren’t accessible during the height of summer. It also helped give me at least, a slightly better understanding and knowledge of the river which should all help for next time I return.
We’ve had a very mild autumn until now and it was only on Guy Fawkes night that the temperature here in the South West has really dropped to somewhere approaching what we’d usually expect for this time of year. Bonfire night in Devon was clear and cold, and the following morning was frosty and bitterly cold to match. I was awake early and down at the river Culm for around first light hoping to grab a couple of hours fly fishing for pike.
Trampling through the frosty fields to get to the river I was feeling really optimistic and hopeful. It only took two casts for that early enthusiasm to wane… The rod rings were iced up by the 2nd cast which meant stopping to break the ice build up off. Numb fingers also required warming before continuing casting. This cycle carried on for a while with me only able to get a couple of casts before needing to stop to de-ice the rod rings and warm my fingers.
The cold and a distinct lack of fishy activity quickly dampened my desire to be out in the countryside at this hour of the morning, and with the onset of numb toes I decided to head for the warmth of the car before the first hour had played out. Maybe it was the sudden temperature drop after such a long period of mild weather that had put the fish off feeding, or maybe I just didn’t put in the time – either way I didn’t feel bad to be heading for home early on this occasion. There’s always next time in any case.
I managed to pop out for a couple of hours on Monday in the hope of trying for pike on the fly rod but was thwarted by events in the end. The access to the river where I’d hoped to fish was blocked by farmers sorting livestock on the only access path to the fields that led to the river, so I switched to plan B.
Plan B involved a short drive to Newcourt Barton lakes to fly fish for the carp there. Being a weekday I had the place to myself and wasted no time in introducing a few dog biscuits to entice the carp into feeding on the surface. This didn’t take long and it wasn’t too difficult to connect with my first fish. After this the fish became a lot more cagey and steadfastly ignored the imitation dog biscuit fly whilst happily taking all the free offerings.
The fish did seem to be feeding on the surface on the other side of the pond amongst all the floating leaves being shed by the autumn trees so I moved round to investigate. It wasn’t apparent what the fish were feeding on, but I switched to a small black foam beetle fly and was immediately into a fish. A few more followed after that – nothing what you might call large, but fun all the same and satisfying to catch them on a ‘proper’ fly rather than a bait imitation.
Still looking forward to kicking off my pike fly fishing for this year, but it’ll have to wait by the looks of things.