River Welland (26)
Arrival time: 09.20
Weather: Started warm and cloudy but became very hot when sun broke through.
Tackle: 12ft Korum multi-feeder, Shimano bait caster, 6lb line, 8 hook tied direct. Two SG shots on a short link.
Baits: Luncheon meat, cheese
Fish: Three chub and a small jack pike. Best fish chub 4lbs 5oz.
I can’t remember the last time I went fishing on the first day of the season. Probably when I was a lad. Actually we’re often away in June but this year we weren’t, so off I went.
On reflection going to the Welland at Stamford on the first day wasn’t perhaps a good idea. It’s not easy fishing and often I have the stretch to myself, or there’s only one other angler. Today of course it was busier, with at least four or five anglers walking up and down the stretch, a couple of whom were spinning. While that may not seem a lot, there are not many fishable swims and the chub are easily spooked. When alone you can dip in each likely spot and then move on, picking up a fish here and there, if you’re lucky. With a number of people doing the same thing the fish tend to become very fickle.
It started quite well. I dropped into the ‘beach’ swim, where the dog owners take their dogs for some water sports. Casting down stream I was soon into my first fish, a chub of 1lb 9oz on luncheon meat (09.35). Over the following hour or so I missed a couple of bites and then a man and woman turned up with their dog, and the woman proceeded to throw a stick into the water right next to me for the dog to fetch. This went on for about ten minutes. She didn’t even acknowledge my presence, let alone care whether she was disturbing me.
I shifted downstream a bit and after missing a bite hooked and landed another small chub of 1lb 2oz, again on luncheon meat (11.00).
I decided to walk upstream to see if I could sight any chub but, unusually for summer, I didn’t see any. I stopped off at a couple of spots for a few casts but they didn’t yield anything. I ended up at the large pool below the bridge, where I stood in dog crap, causing me to have to dunk my boots in the water to wash off the foul smell. Having got settled and cast to the tail of the pool I got a strong pull on the rod top, only to snag the reel handle in the bottom of my over-trousers as I struck, causing me to miss the bite - curses.
I changed from luncheon meat to cheese. First cast something took the bait as I was tightening the slack. It turned out to be a small jack pike that had obviously gone for the movement (13.15). The next cast with cheese produced a more typical chub bite and I connected, the fish pulling off about 10 metres of line. It fought strongly but as it came in I suspected a foul hooking, and sure enough when on the bank I saw that the hook was to the side of the mouth in the gill cover. It seems likely that the hook caught the outside of the mouth after the fish had rejected the bait. I don’t like foul-hooking fish but in this case it wasn’t the more typical foul hooking of a fin. The fish weighed 4lb 5oz (13.30). I stayed at the pool for another hour and a half or so but that was the last bite I had.
Making my way back downstream I spotted a couple of smallish chub. On my knees with the rod over the edge of the bank I cast and quickly had a take, which I missed! Amazingly the next cast produced another take, which I also missed. I think I was probably too close to rely on rod-top indication, there not being enough slack in the line, causing the fish to feel the resistance almost immediately.
I then went back to the ‘beach’ only to find a woman exercising her dog in the water - again! I slotted in a little further downstream and had a number of tentative bites, which I suspect weren’t chub, but I didn’t connect with any of them.
Finally I went back to where I seen the two chub. It was a repeat performance. Two casts, two takes and two misses! At that point I decided to give up as I had had enough sun, let alone anything else. It was around 16.30 and I regretted not living nearer, whereby I could pop down for the evening, as I’m sure the chub would be more obliging nearer to dusk - c’est la vie.
It’s strange really, last year I went to the river a week after the season opened, and had my best day ever. This year it was much harder work but it was good to get back to the river.