River Welland (21)
Arrival time: 10.15
Weather: Bright and although chilly when I arrived, it warmed up when the sun gained some strength.
Hardly any wind. A perfect day in fact.
Tackle: 12ft Korum multi-feeder, Shimano bait caster, 8lb line, 6 hook tied direct. Three SG shots on a short link.
Bait: Luncheon meat.
Fish: Two chub, best fish 3¾lb
With only a couple of weeks of the season left and a favourable weather forecast, I decided to fit in a visit to the river.
It was still running fairly strongly although nowhere near as high or heavy as on my last visit. The level was perhaps down a good foot from then. It was still coloured although again nowhere near as heavily as previously. The gravel bottom could be seen along the shallower runs.
I headed first for the spot where I’ve managed a fish on two recent visits. When I got there three women dog-walkers were having a loud chinwag while their dogs were splashing around in the river just downstream of where I was intending to fish. By the time I tackled up they had moved on but I wasn’t that confident of success following the noise and disturbance, and I was proved correct. I decided to move on after about 15 minutes and would return later in the day.
I moved upstream trying likely slacks alongside the main flow, as I have done on previous visits, but while these spots looked attractive none produced even a twitch. I then arrived at one of my favoured spots where, again, I have taken fish during recent visits. It was almost unfishable last time but today I could roll the bait under an overhanging tree. I gave it about half an hour but drew a blank. I usually find that if chub are in the swim a bite comes fairly quickly. Moving upstream I tried other spots that have provided fish in the past but, today, not so much as a touch.
Crossing the footbridge I tried yet another known chub hole and was fairly confident that it would provide a fish as the river wasn’t running too fast as to make the swim too difficult. Still no luck.
Moving upstream further I dropped into likely slacks and finally, with the bait almost under my rod top, and with me crouching low away from the edge of the bank, the rod top pulled down and I was at last into a fish. It wasn’t particularly large at 2lb 6oz but it got into the fast stream and gave a good account of itself. The bank at this point is very high and landing it was quite challenging. The time was now 12.10.
I decided to walk back down stream and met another angler, who was also named Bob, fishing just upstream of the bridge. He and a friend were there from St Ives and it transpired that they, like me, visit the venue a few times a year, and we shared a liking for the character of the river. He mentioned that his friend had actually caught a 5lb+ fish on a previous visit, which made me envious, as I’ve got close but have yet to break the 5lb barrier. We spoke about the stretch further upstream above the weir, which I had never explored. It was quite unusual to meet another angler.
As the sport was decidedly slow I decided to have a stroll up there. As one would expect the character of the river is entirely different above the weir, with deeper slower water. I had a couple of casts into likely spots near the far bank but decided that this part of the river would probably respond better to fishing a chosen spot for longer and introducing lose feed to entice fish into the area, whereas my approach downstream of the weir is to roam and try likely looking lies, not staying put for more than 20 minutes or so.
At this stage I decided to work my way downstream again trying my favoured spots on the off chance that one would provide a fish on a second visit. I spent quite a lot of time at the large pool where I have caught many fish during the summer. It hasn’t fished as well in the winter, which is surprising as it offers what appears to be some perfect slacks alongside the main flow. I tried longer casts to the tail-end of the pool and did actually have one half-hearted bite. I don’t know whether it was a chub or something else trying to mouth the large piece of luncheon meat.
I continued to move downstream and drew blanks at all the spots I had visited on the way up, finally reaching the swim where earlier the women and dogs had been in place. It was now quiet and the time was 15.10. I had decided to pack up at 16.00 so thought I would persevere in this spot until then. I think it was the second cast when I got a positive bite and hooked a fish that actually took line against the clutch, helped I think by a strong midstream current. After a bit of a tussle I landed a chub of 3¾lb, which was a nice bonus at the end of what had been a bit of a challenging day. It had quite a bit of tail damage and I only hope that wasn’t caused by somebody keeping it in a keepnet for an extended period.
So, depending on next week’s commitments, that may be my last visit this season.