Chasing Ladies

It’s always nice to fish a new river and for this grayling session I was on the Frome, a river I’d been intending to fish for a while. Initially, I wanted to try for some of the hard to catch monster roach that inhabit this river. The conditions were a tad too cold for this, in my opinion, so a day after grayling was probably the right choice. A number of heavy frosts and then some snow melt going into the river were what swayed me. However, I made a promise to myself to target some of the big roach, probably next season.

I was fishing with a mate called Bob, who I’d recently met at the launch of Mark Wintles latest book, Big Roach2. We’d spoken online before we met, but it’s always nice to put a face to the name. We share a lot of passions, mainly big roach and cricket, but Bob’s also a cracking angler who knows the Frome like the back of his hand. When he invited me down for a bash at the grayling I was thrilled as his local knowledge would give us a chance of some big girls.

After meeting Bob and driving to the stretch of river, we had a little walk with Bob pointing out some classic swims. Long glides, slacks, hatch pools and carriers were all in front of us, making this a cracking stretch of water. Add to that the fact that this stretch had produced 4lb+ grayling to fly anglers in the summer and I was chomping at the bit to get going!

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Bob showed me a good swim on a carrier to start of on. A lovely trot between a couple of fallen trees. My 2 swan loafer float ran down a couple of times with no action, before diving under on the third trot. A good battle followed with me winning, the result being a grayling of around a pound and a half in the net. More of the same followed with most of the grayling between the 1.4 to 2lb mark. I weighed one, just to get my eye in, so to speak, and that fish weighed 1lb 13oz. After 8 good grayling from the first swim, plus a few sea trout and one fish lost that felt really big, I moved on.

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I wasn’t taking any photos of the fish I caught (apart from the one above) because by now heavy rain had set in. It was so heavy it was soaking me through. All of my maggots in my bait apron started to float and the fishing was going down hill fast. Swims were now producing only the odd smaller grayling plus the usual sea trout. I think the sudden influx of heavy cold rain had put the grayling down, though there was to be one final drama played out. Bob hooked and lost, at the net, the biggest grayling he’s ever seen. When you consider the fish he’s caught and seen in the past, this tells you it must have been a possible record breaker. I didn’t know what to say to him, but I’ve a feeling we’ll both be back in better conditions!

Chub Concern

Desperate to get a bend in my rod, the freezing weather had put a lid on still waters and canals, forcing me onto the rivers. Some of the obvious southern choices to try and catch catch a big fish or two looked iffy, due to snow melt, so I decided to stay local. I was so local I can see the river from my bedroom window! The River Torne.

The Torne was the river I learnt to fish on. Every summer I would pit my wits against it’s shoals of specimen roach, but then turn to the masses of gudgeon to try and save a blank. This was the start of being a self taught angler and my first summer saw me land 1 roach of about 10ozs, but lose a far bigger fish to a hook pull. So much for young anglers wanting instant action or they’ll not bother with fishing! The following years saw me land more and more big roach, including some real monsters, though scales and a camera weren’t needed in those days. Eventually, thanks to years of local knowledge, modern hi tech lines and tiny hooks, I could catch a number of big roach every time I fished the river. That was before the cormorants came and wiped them out. After that I never bothered, until I spotted a few decent chub. These were very easy to catch on big baits, but at around 3lbs they hardly set the world on fire. Still, it was great fun stalking them on a summers day.

In 2009, at a loose end in similar wintery conditions, I again tried my hand for those chub, wondering if they’d grown on. The answer was a resounding yes. After losing a good chub at the net, my next fish was 5lb 2oz, a big surprise and very welcome from my tiny local venue.IMG_1838

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Even this fish had a healed up stab wound from a cormorant! I also caught a few 3 to 4lb fish before catching a different 5lb fish a couple of years later. The first ‘5’ was like a breeze block, the second like a torpedo.

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Again, I only fished for these chub when the weather seemed too bad to travel to venues that would give me a better chance of special fish. That brings me back to my latest session. The river is very neglected and overgrown these days, but I like that in a way. It means the small shoal of small roach that I saw this summer might have a chance of avoiding the cormorants and bringing back the rivers glory days. I fished the same areas that have always produced a few decent chub and the conditions seemed perfect. The water clarity was just right and there was no wind, meaning I could long trot my bread flake under a small loafer float.

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After a lot of work I finally caught my only chub. A scabby looking thing that might have weighed 3lbs. I was slightly concerned I’d not done better than this so I had another day out. Again I only caught one chub, the same fish as before! This worries me. Have they all gone? could an otter or something else be finishing off the last decent fish in the river? I suppose I’ll have to wait until summer when I can walk the river and observe the fish in clear water. Maybe it was just me. I could have fished crap, or maybe a lot of the chub have relocated in another area. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that that’s the case.

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