Monday, 9 July 2012

River Cows and Sheep

Finally got out of the office and onto a stretch of river I've been wanting to fish, for river cows (Bronze Bream), for ages. The day was predicted to be dry, but I still packed the umbrella; well the met office have been know to be wrong from time to time.

The car was packed and the bait sorted for a 6am start, trouble was the alarm went off at 6am, so that went out the window. But in the end I was on my way for the hours drive to the river only an hour later than planned.

I arrived at the top of the section of the river that the club owned and drove down to a spot that had been productive for predators last autumn, so I was hoping that the bait fish would be in the general area and the river cows would then pass by on one of there patrols during the morning and afternoon.

The morning was warmish and cloudy with a light breeze on my back, but not enough to warrant the umbrella or jacket. The river was coming to life and adult grebes were diving for their breakfast and also to feed their young. Terns were on the wing search for the fry and the warblers were in the reeds hunting out some tasty snack of green caterpillar or some other bug life.

On the bank the grass was being grazed by a million and one sheep who worked their way up one way and back down the other with a baa baa there and a baa baa here (followed by an occasional sneeze and snort).

I had decided to ditch the bite alarms an heavy tackle and go with a one rod approach, whether that was a float or a feeder was dependent on the height of the river after the recent rain.

The river was running a bit high, but not at any great pace, so I decided that the feeder would be the best approach for the clear water. The feeder rod does not come out that often these days now that match fishing isn't on my list of things to do (wasn't any good at it anyway) and it was a pleasant change to fish with one rod.

I tackled up the feeder rod with a simple front drag reel loaded with 6lb line and 2ft, 4lb hook link with the feeder on a pasternoster rig. I was introducing maggot and corn in with the ground bait so a size 14 carp feeder hook was being used to start with. If the bites proved hard to get, I could soon change the hook and hooklink length.

10 small balls of ground bait were introduced by hand into the swim and the feeder was soon cast over the top of the baited area.

After an hour of recasting the feeder, the first bites started to show on the tip, and it was then not long before the tip was being pulled around by a river cow. It was the first river bream of the season for me, but at about a 1lb it wasn't breaking any records. This was soon unhooked and returned. Feeder was refill and cast out.
Bites continued, mostly from small roach and dace, but the the tip was around again and a 1/2lb perch had engulfed the hook bait.

The bites were proving hard to come by and hit, so the hook was reduced to a size 16 and the hook link length increased to 4ft. This small change was enough to let the bait sink at a slightly slower pace to the feeder and also gave the fish time to sample the bait before they moved the tip. This change resulted in 3 more bream of a 1lb to 2lb and another smaller perch before one of the bigger bream made an appeared, the bream fort well, but soon was over the rim of the net. At about 3.1/2lb it was no river monster, but was the biggest I had from a river for a long while.

The tip action continued and I hit some and missed some (probably missed more than I hit) before the tip was around again, but this time the rod was being pulled of the rests! I fought with this fish for 10 minutes before the fish and the weed got the better of me and the hook pulled out. Was it a monster bream or one of the carp that seem to be thriving in the river?

Best of the bunch - 3.1/2lb Bream
I land another bream of 3.1/2lb before the bites dried up and after some chopping and changes that didn't yeld a bite, I had an final cast with the last crumbs of the ground bait. One final 1lb bream fell to the red maggots before I packed up and headed for home.


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