I fished the Lugg on my second season over here. At that time I was learning the Wye (a mighty task) and flitting back and forth to the Teme and occasionally the Severn for some easy fishing, so the Lugg was a side dish, a distraction. Had it produced a few more fish I would have spent more time there but....
For a river where fish location can, at times, be quite easy, the fish were extremely difficult to tempt. I once found a shoal of chub just hanging in mid-water below an overhanging bush. I was on a high bank, out of sight and my approach was (for me) quite silent. I flicked a pellet upstream and a modest fish intercepted it. I threw two more above them, they fell, slowly, toward the fish which all parted and let them sink beyond them. Within seconds the fish had drifted away.
How was I to catch fish that were this spooky?
I did, no fish are impossible but these were all a challenge. I had a few barbel, none big. The river record is just over ten pounds although I have spoken to those that claim larger and I tend to believe some of them. I had a good catch of chub one evening but was distracted for a while as I watched two hot air balloons lock together and appear quite stuck (mating?) for some twenty minutes before drifting apart. I scanned the local papers that week - no mention - one of life's mysteries.
It was also on the Lugg where I spent much of the day prepping a swim for the the evening 'hot period'. I crept into position as the light fell, carefully placed my bait and sat back. I had a couple of 'liners', they were in my swim..... just a matter of time when - Spaloooosh!
That is the sound that a cow makes as it (Bambi on ice style), loses its footing and falls flat on its side into the river - directly opposite my position. As the tidal wave subsided I packed my gear away and watched as the hapless beast swam - spluttering - to the cattle drink and out of its unexpected bath, all this watched by an audience of silent, chewing cattle. What was going through those bovine brains?
Anyway, after a long leave of absence, I returned to the Lugg yesterday and joined wandering barbel fanatics Conrad, Richard, Steve and Hobby as they experienced the delights of the river in their quest to catch barbel from as many rivers as possible.
As I waited for them to arrive from their travels from the frozen north (I'm sure there was snow on their cars), I had a wander and saw a fish flash over a gravel run, that'll do for me.
The lads all went their merry ways and I set about introducing some feed. Despite my best efforts and keeping low amongst the thistles - ow! I only had a modest chub enter the baited area...... then leave immediately.
I gave up with that swim but put a few visible baits on a spot before I left.
I tried a few more swims without a sign of a fish, stopped for a chat with Rich and Conrad then wandered back downstream to go and find the others. On my way I looked in on the swims I'd been fishing for any signs of feeding fish, there were none until I reached the first spot - the baits had gone.
I put more in and and waited. I saw a puff of silt drift beyond a feeding fish, then - a flash! This continued for a while but still no bites until three swans started feeding in the shallows upstream. This had the effect of sending a 'smoke trail' of coloured water through my swim and, as it passed, my rod bent forwards.
I was taken somewhat by surprise by the size of the fish. I had seen and expected just small barbel, maybe a five or six pounder, this fish was at least two pounds bigger and looked huge in such a tight swim. It fought well but I soon had it over the net, in it went but then - splash! Out it went and the fight started again. Annoyed at myself, I played it back to the net and said to myself, 'you won't do that again'...... it did. This time however, the lead caught in the mesh and the fish snapped me and escaped....... Bugger!
I haven't lost a fish like this for ages, I was not happy, I had that fish all but landed and, either through bad luck or, much more likely bad angling, it was gone.
I quickly recovered my composure, packed my gear and continued downstream to catch up with the others. Hobby - the Ninja Barbeller - had caught but then he always does. He'd also found some more fish and decent chub in another swim.
I'm looking at the Lugg in a different way now. I used to see it as 'not worth the effort' but nowadays I value fish that require a bit of brain power above all others. I shall return.