River Welland (22)
Arrival time: 10.00
Weather: Bright start with a light breeze but rain was forecast for later in the day
Tackle: 12ft Korum multi-feeder, Shimano bait caster, 8lb line, 6 hook tied direct. Three SG shots on a short link.
Baits: Luncheon meat and cheese
Fish: Seven chub, best fish 4lbs 7oz.
I’m always amazed at the transformation of the river bank between the last trip in March and the first in June. Bare banks replaced by four foot high vegetation comprising predominantly nettles. Great cover for stalking although casual walkers do have a habit of coming up behind you as you’re crouched behind the vegetation screen, and while standing bolt upright ask how you’re getting on. Dogs also find it amusing to seek you out and today one actually peed up against my bag and coat. The owner assured me that it wouldn’t smell as the dog was a male. Warped logic if ever I’ve heard it.
The water was low and clear and as the day progressed it seemed that the best chances of success were from the shallower glides where the fish could actually be seen. Some of the deeper spots that worked well in the winter didn’t produce any bites. I wondered if this was because spawning had been delayed as a result of the lower temperatures.
First success was in a particularly shallow stretch where I saw a number of fish over the gravel. None was particularly large but the odds for a bite were high. I crept up behind the bank side cover and dropped a piece of luncheon meat in their midst. The bite came almost immediately and the first fish was on. It fought well in the strong current and netting was tricky off the high bank, but a nice chub of 2lb 5oz was soon in the net [Time 10.30]. I tried to tempt another fish from the group but that was wishful thinking. However, I noticed a couple of the bigger ones had moved upstream, so I repositioned a bit further upstream and cast down to the head of the shallows.
My first cast wasn’t quite where I wanted it but the second one was fine. After a short wait a firm pull on the rod top was followed by a fish ploughing into the reeds on the far bank. Twice I muscled it out and after a few more lunges and an attempt to enter the near-side reeds, I netted a nice fish of 4lbs 7oz [Time 11.00]. I was at the extreme reach of my new Drennan landing net handle, which I’ve reviewed in a separate post.
I made my way up the stretch trying spots that had proven productive on earlier visits but, as mentioned previously, the deeper swims didn’t produce any bites. I eventually reached the pool below the footbridge and saw a fish at the tail of the pool. Casting down and across the pool I missed three good pulls. I changed to cheese. It was a piece of Red Leicester that I had purloined from the fridge. Another firm pull and a fish was on, a chub of 2lbs 15oz [Photo below right: Time 13.30]. I tried a few more casts and then decided to move on above the footbridge.
The flow is very fast above the bridge and the bank very high. I decided to try a spot where the flow was moderated by some streamer weed and was rewarded by an almost instant bite. I was still using a piece of cheese that I had on the hook after leaving the bridge pool.
It was a small fish of 1lb 15oz (no photo) but gave good account of itself in the very strong current. [Time 13.55]
Next I tried a spot that has been consistently productive on earlier visits but today the vegetation made accessing the swim difficult, let alone fishing it. There’s also a sheer drop-off the river bank which makes the spot a bit hazardous. Second attempt at casting snagged the vegetation and sprung the end tackle into a tree, resulting in loss of everything. Having re-tackled I decided to give the spot a miss on this occasion.
Another couple of spots upstream produced nothing, even though I could see a fish in one of them. My presentation was obviously not good enough. It was now gone 14.00 so I decided to make my way back downstream retrying the successful spots.
First stop was the swim just upstream of the bridge pool. It was déjà vu, with a bite almost instantly, this time a fish of 2lbs 5oz. Again it was a good battle against the fast flow.
[Time 13.55: Bait luncheon meat].
Next I was back at the bridge pool, where I experienced a run of missed bites. These were firm pulls, and even after I started holding the rod, I still missed them. Normally the chub are easy to hit unless you’re not paying attention, and I was amazed that I failed to connect while I actually had the rod in my hand. My theory is that the large eddy in the pool was perhaps bowing my line and I was actually seeing the bite a bit late. I tried tensioning the line more. I still missed a couple more bites but managed to connect with a couple of fish. The first was a shade under 4lbs [Time 15.20] and the second just over 3lbs [Time 15.35]. Both were taken on luncheon meat. I also had a fish come off after a few seconds. Given the large number of bites there must have been a good shoal of fish in the pool.
It started raining lightly while I was at the bridge pool and after missing yet another bite I decided to make my way back down stream before the forecast heavier rain arrived. The fish were back in the shallow glide where I had my first fish of the day, so I decided on this spot for my last attempt. I had a bite but didn’t connect, after which the fish remained but showed no more interest. It was now just after 17.00 and it had started to rain more heavily so I decided to call it a day.
So seven chub and at least as many missed bites that were almost certainly also chub, which must rate as my best day ever on this river. Being able to stalk the fish added to the enjoyment. Yes, summer chubbing is definitely hard to beat.