I've had a late afternoon session on the Lugg this week. The river looks so different compared to a couple of months ago - winter is almost here. The trees have shed almost all of their leaves like tears for the summer gone and the countryside is bracing itself for the lowering of temperature which must surely come - eventually. This has the advantage of opening more of the bank to the wandering angler who can drop into swims that were inaccessible before.
I'd made up some cheese paste and had a tin of meat ready cut into strips and flavoured with a special ingredient ;-) Tackle wise, an 11' Avon rod and centre pin is perfect for the little river and, to keep up with the different conditions in each swim, I was using Plasticine as a weight on a free running rig with a size 8 or 10 hook at the end. I was experimenting with a circle hook that I started using in the depths of last winter, my logic being that as bites may be of a premium I wanted to hit any that came my way and circle hooks are excellent hookers. The model I was using are fine wire and although suitable for chub and when worming for perch, I wouldn't usually use them for barbel.
The 'clever' bit of my rig was a bead attached to the hair by one of those V shaped hair stops that buries itself into the hole in a pellet. Using this I could mould paste around it securely and, if I wanted to change to meat, just remove the bead and use the hair stop as normal. Changing weight, bait or method to meet the needs of each swim was simplicity itself and even a lazy angler like me was fishing thoughtfully and diligently.
The Rig but with a better hook
It took a while to find some fish, they were small chub but they helped to keep the enthusiasm up and I was pleased to catch them. I had tugs and pulls from several spots before discovering the culprits when I foul hooked a gudgeon. In one swim a number of small silver fish topped and rolled on the surface, I'd like to have run a spinner through that area - maybe next time.
As dusk approached I made for the swim that I thought would give me the chance of a decent fish and, as the sun gave up on us for another day, the rod jabbed and I had a chub of about 3lbs. I walked well upstream and released it before lowering another knob of cheese paste to the point where two creases met and walked the seven or eight yards back to my chair where I sat back, holding the rod and feeling for bites with my index finger over the line. When it came it was a beautifully solid pull and it fought deep and hard, I was surprised when the chub rolled into the net that it only looked to be a mere four pounder, it had felt bigger in the fast water.
No matter, duly returned I went through the bait lowering procedure again only this time I had removed the bead from my hair and had slipped a lump of meat on. The bite was soon in coming and quite savage as a barbel felt the weight of my line and bolted. However, the contact was short-lived and everything went slack. Confused, I reeled in and found that the circle hook (that I really should have changed), had snapped!
Certain that the swim would be spoiled and lured by the thought of a hot meal I packed and walked the long walk back to the car. A very pleasant session during which I fished well enough but that one lapse in attention to detail cost me the best fish of the day - but isn't that usually the case?