Sunday 19 July 2020

Golden Rudd and Slimy Buggers

There hasn’t been enough rain lately to make the river viable and I just can’t get my head round struggling down the Valley at the moment.  I fancied a change and I haven’t taken the boat out since March, partly through being housebound and mostly because we had the closed season.  So I spent Friday afternoon in the garden listening to England grind the West Indies down on TMS and sorting out some gear.  I tackled up two feeder rods with helicopter rigs to which I’d add open end feeders, tied up some short hooklengths and even found some groundbait I’d forgotten I had.  I can’t remember what brand it is bit it contained hemp and smelled pretty good.  I also found a couple of other bits and pieces that had been missing for a while even though I’d hunted high and low for them a few weeks ago.

I didn’t set an alarm the following morning but I was still awake early and on the road heading north before 0800 with ‘Dose your dreams’ pounding out of the speakers.  The roads were relatively clear and I made it to the slip in no time.   Whenever I’ve been away for a while I always anticipate trouble at the slip but there was none, the boat was on the water easily despite the level being as low as I’ve ever seen it.  Not only that the engine started easily without even using any choke and I was soon heading out into the wetland wilderness.  The day was mostly cloudy but still very hot even with a moderate South Westerly.  It was good to be back, the broads looked lovely in the full green summer uniform.

My first stop was a quiet weedy bay that I enjoy as much for its seclusion as the sport it provides.  When the Bream are here it’s a lovely place to spend time but the weed can make the fishing difficult.  As usual the area had changed significantly since my last visit and the clear channel I’ve fished in the past just wasn’t there.  After a bit of mooching about I managed to find a clear area so dropped a marker over the side and rowed a little way upwind.  There was just enough space to drop two feeders into the clearing, on one I used a size 14 hook baited with a grain of corn and one maggot, the other was a 16 baited with three maggots.  I was fishing by 1000 and bites came from the start, I caught a succession of beautiful Rudd averaging about 4ozs along with a single small Roach but no Bream.  In hindsight I’d have been better off fishing this spot with a waggler.

After an hour I’d had enough so rowed out of the bay through thick beds of Mares tail and set off exploring.  There’s another bay close by that I haven’t  yet fished in summer but today it looked like a jungle of weed so I decided to give it a miss.  I ended up tying up to the reeds and fishing the boat channel, a spot I know holds Bream but one I usually avoid because the boat traffic drives me mad.  For some reason I expected the traffic to be light today…

The good news was I caught a Bream of about four pounds after ten minutes or so but bites were slow.  I didn’t mind this as it gave me a chance to chill out a bit but the bad news was the boat traffic was as irritating as any ‘normal’ summer.  Most of the craft were no problem but there are always a few that either through ignorance or oblivion have you winding in frantically.  I stayed here for a couple of hours with Harriers constantly floating across the panorama and boated half a dozen Bream averaging a couple of pounds along with a couple of small Roach.   The trouble with Bream is they are slimy buggers and I must be getting squeamish in my old age as I don’t like handling the bloody things.  All were unhooked in the net, where I photographed one of the smaller ones just so I could post a fish on here.  Eventually the bites slowed up and the armada sped up so I pulled up the weights and headed off to quieter water.

My last stop of the day was back towards the slip and is a very hit and miss spot.  When the Bream are here it can be hectic but when they’re not it can be frustrating.  Once again I had bites from the off, mostly Small Rudd and the occasional Roach on maggots.  In the end I fished both rods with corn just so I could make a brew and I did catch a couple of small Bream.  When the big bowl of groundbait had all but run out I decided I’d had enough and slowly tidied up.  There was another reason for my trip to Norfolk; Maddie’s surreal university term has finished so she’s coming home for a week.  After a brief diversion collecting her from her house in Norwich the two of us were heading back to Suffolk.

I’ll probably do this again before too long, mostly because I just like being in the boat and exploring but fishing this way I rarely stay in one place long enough to get a bed of feed down and get into a proper catch of Bream, maybe next time?

Sunday 5 July 2020

Looking for Gipping Barbel part two

When the princess left for work I hitched a lift and she dropped me in a lay by a couple of miles out of town on a cloudy, breezy morning.  We’d had a bit of rain during the preceding week and I hoped to find the river with a bit of flow.  To reach it I had to walk down a bridleway and through a bit of farm land, I passed a farmer herding cattle who returned my greeting but a second farmer completely blanked me, miserable bastard.  I couldn’t help saying “Well fuck ya then” which probably wasn’t necessary in hindsight.

I made it to the river which seemed to have a bit of flow but not as much as I’d hoped.  I barely know this stretch having only slung a lure around on a couple of occasions in the past so I explored a little before dropping my stick float into a pool below a weir run off.  I had bites straight away and was soon swinging small Dace to hand.  I could have made myself comfortable here and fished for a while but decided to move on before the farmer came back with a gun.  After that I proceeded downstream, dropping my float into any clear water that I could comfortably reach and I caught fish from most of them.  Most of these were Dace, including some good sized ones along with a few Chub, Roach and Rudd.  I saw no sign of any Gudgeon and as none of the swims I fished looked likely I kept on the move, even when I was getting bites.

There was one run in particular where I really fancied my chances.  I’d trotted a deadbait through it during the winter (unsuccessfully) and even then thought it would be a lovely spot to run a stick float.  All morning I looked forward to reaching this spot where I expected to be able to stand in the river and let the float run away from me.  Of course when I got to the spot it was completely different to what I expected, I could have stood in the water if I wanted but there was no flow and it didn’t inspire any confidence.   Half an hour later, having caught another Dace or two, I was wandering back along the concrete of the high street.  People look at you funny here when you’re wearing wellies and carrying a rod and net. 

By 1100 I was back home but still had a fishy urge so after a quick cup of tea I put the gear in the car and headed off to another stretch of the river.  This area was close to where I grew up, walking distance from one house I lived in and back then was an area where I would frequently catch Gudgeon.  I parked by a bridge on a busy road, a short distance from the largest and most unfriendly tackle shop in Suffolk.  I took my gear out of the car and went wandering but not for long.  Here the river barely flowed at all; in some places it was overgrown and soupy but in others I could see a sterile muddy bottom.  I made three or four casts but didn’t feel comfortable at all so soon loaded the kit back in the car and headed home.

I’m sure there must still be Gudgeon in the river somewhere though it’s become apparent they are far less numerous or widespread than they once were.  I won’t give up yet though but I will wait until the river is flowing before I try again.