The incessant rain has knackered the river again and apart from a zander trip earlier in the week where I caught a 14lb pike on a 4" crankbait I've struggled to get out so after finding a group of fish in the same area last week I thought I'd try a little experiment. When the river is in flood lure fishing becomes pretty much a waste of time, and the few times I've tried fishing deadbaits in those conditions that has failed as well. Why this has been I don't know as I've caught well in flooded rivers before on big smelly deadbaits; was it because they switched off or was I just in the wrong place?
Knowing the whereabouts of a few fish allowed me to test for an answer so off I set with a coolbag of baits and a couple of rods. On arrival the river was a good 4ft above the levels of last week, with heavy flow and quite a dirty colour.
Float fishing the slacker margins was the order of the day so I dropped a whole mackerel on the left of the swim and half a mackerel to the right. Twenty minutes or so later the whole mackerel float bobbed. I picked up the rod and pulled the line out of the clip as the float started to bob again. A quick strike saw me into a fish which although didn't seem to have a lot of weight made up for it by charging around the swim. I got it near the surface and with a swirl she shook the hooks! It felt a low double at best so I wasn't too concerned.
Back out with another whole mackerel in the same spot and half an hour later the same float bobbed, then moved off. I quickly picked the rod up and leant into the fish. This felt a lot heavier, staying deep and feeling powerful. After a couple of minutes of her trying to shed the hooks in the vegetation hanging in the water I got her close and could see she was a nice fish. I lowered the net and in she went. This is where it got really interesting. I lay the rod down and grabbed the net frame with both hands but as I lifted the rubber mesh gave way and the fish fell through a big hole and back into the river. It took me a split second to realise what was happening; I was still attached to the fish but the braid was running through the hole in the net! I grabbed the rod again but at 12ft it was too long to manoeuvre so took hold half way up the rod. It was now a bit easier to control through the outstretched net but the fish was now fighting harder than it did initially, charging left and right. I eventually got her close but the swim meant I had no chance of handing her out so she'd have to go back in the net. As I was steering her to the net she lunged and now the tip ring was caught in the mesh as well! What a mess! I got it off after a minute or two and as she came into view I scooped her up. With one quick motion I dropped the rod and hoisted the net straight out onto the bank. I couldn't believe I'd actually landed her after such a calamity!
Luckily she was well hooked otherwise I wouldn't have got her in and on the scales she went bang on 24lb...
I thought it might be the same fish I had from the same swim last week but photo's show it is a different fish. I already had the camera set up for a self take but as the timer was nearing its countdown the other rod went off so you'll have to excuse my facial expression as it took me by surprise at the critical moment. I quickly put the fish in the margin where she bursted away, picked up the other rod and wound down. The fish had dropped downstream but wasn't very big so she quickly came in. Just a tiddler of about 5lb.
I stuck it out in the same spot for a couple more hours but with nothing happening decided to move to another swim downstream. After making the move the baits were put out and I sat back for a coffee. Within 10 minutes the whole mackerel float bobbed and started to move off downstream. I was on it in a flash and leant into the fish. It felt small and came in with no problem but as it came to the surface something didn't look right.. it was a chub! The bottom treble was a couple of inches inside the mouth; now I know chub have big mouths but to take a whole mackerel is a bit much.
On the scales the chub went 4.11lb..
I lost another fish just after this before deciding to move back upstream for the last hour. I fished a swim which looked "right" for 15 minutes but with no takes I made my way back to my original swim, which I'd fed with chopped up baits before I moved.
Out went a couple of whole mackerel in the same spots as earlier and a small handful of mashed fish were thrown around each bait. Time passed without incident and with dark nearly there I decided to move one for the last 5 minutes. I stood watching the float for any signs of movement before picking up the rod but it wasn't doing anything. I'm not sure how but on picking up the rod there was suddenly a fish on; whether it picked up the bait at the exact same time I lifted the rod or whether it snatched it as it moved I'm not sure but was certainly glad of the action. Again, this felt like a good fish but as she hit the surface I could see the top treble was a few inches out of her mouth, meaning the bottom treble was only just inside her mouth at the snout. I eased off, fearing a hookpull but after a minute or two she was in the net. Hmmm, bigger than I thought! I got her out and straddled her to remove the hook but it had come out in the net. I took hold of her to put her on the scales but as I did so I noticed a mark on her chin.. it was the same 24lb fish I'd had earlier!
That was it for the day and what a strange one it was... very successful but fraught with incident. I'm glad most days aren't this weird but it was good to get a conclusion to my experiment.