Saturday 19 March 2022

A is for apple, B is for bream

Date fished 19/3/2022

7.30am until 2.30pm

The curtains closed on running water, with some impressive nets/individual fish caught from the Swale and Tees. I may book the last day of the season off next year, I tend to fish opening day but never closing day. Who's to say its any better or worse on any given year? I just see it as a day off to go fishing!

This closed season (as per the last two), I will be targeting the bream on Tilcon, and probably hooking and being snapped up by carp along the way! They have an amazing ability to be in the weeds before you even get a chance to pick the rod up. 

Preparing for the closed season pushes me towards pellets, the power of pellets:

Pellets in all different sizes and flavours, easy to store, easy to use. A very versatile bait.

I had the ever faithful hybrid feeder to use on the ledger rod and the float rod with a puddle chucker just in case. Along with a plethora of pellets, I had some bread and worms. 

As I drove to the lake the car told me it was four degrees, then 2 degrees. The fog clearly showing me it had been a chilly evening. I arrived at the lake, it was still quite high from water that runs in on the far side. I opted to fish over that side as the sun would be over there in the morning and the wind (that was quite strong) was blowing that way too. 

First cast and I was getting line bites, fish were in the area. I decided to switch from pellet on the band to a worm on the hook. The taps continued. Setting up the float rod was enough to get more interest in the feeder, I was soon ignoring the float and awaiting a three foot twitch. 

I didn't happen quite like that though, a small inch pull. I struck, fish on. Was great to feel a bend in the rod and the usual fight and amazing first sight of a bream soon followed. I never fail to be impressed when I first see them. They look so huge! A quick weigh however gave it only 3lb 13oz, it looked bigger. Was still happy! 

I fished on a little while but as the  sun moved around behind me and the wind picked up, I was soon actually quite cold. I decided to move to the other side. A brisk walk and chat with another angler and a couple of guys doing some maintenance and I was soon warm again. Is always nice to chat to others whilst fishing, I always say the social side is enjoyable.

I fished my old favourite swim for a couple of hours but no luck. it is very different before the lillies have grown. It was much warmer here and I probably didn't need the thermal t shirt, the jacket came off. 

I finished my lunch and before I packed up, I noticed my groundbaiting had worked. I had managed to get the antz (I know!) feeding!! 

Thursday 10 March 2022


Date fished 10/03/2022

8am until 1pm 

The parents had come North again, so I offered Davey the usual "guarantee" of catching a fish. I had taken him a few times recently in the hope of getting him a Chub but sadly ending in blanks. Today was different, as I had about a pint of maggots I offered him the guarantee of a Grayling or (he said and) a Chub!! 

We set off early as it is parents evening tonight, me to attend, fortunately not about me! Arriving just as another angler was setting up in the car park, we said some pleasantries and headed to the river. He was fly fishing and was going to fish the area  I wanted to for Grayling. We headed off upstream first, the Grayling would have to wait. Within minutes we were fishing, six passed and no bites, very odd! Some casting practice for Davey, resulted in a lost hooklink. 

After a bite less hour we headed off for a new spot. The fly fisherman had moved so we jumped into the spot. I stepped in the water, only to discover a leak in my thermal wellies now. A wet foot for the rest of the day. 

Davey was soon casting to the same (ish) spot each time, and I was firing out maggots with aplomb. As the jets practiced around us, we fished on. The second Davey looked round to see the planes his float buried. I shouted "strike", he did and the fish was on. He felt the pull and twisting, but sadly it was off just as quick! We persisted until the maggots were all gone, there were some more float disappearances but none as good as the bumped fish. 

We moved to a new spot, determined to change our luck.

Up until now, we had been using meat. I decided to change to a bit of cheese paste. Davey cast in and waited. In a matter of minutes, the rod gave an indication. Davey struck and the rod stayed bent. His first ever Chub, so obviously a pb. Unweighed but a good three and a half pounds I would say. 

We fished on for a little while but no other bites. It was a successful trip, my guiding skills have paid off. I have put two people on their first Chub, same swim too! 

I gave Davey an overall score of "greater depth". 

Sunday 6 March 2022

First cast

Date fished 6/3/20222

10.30am until 6.30pm

I finally made it back to the Swale after a month. I wanted to fish here since 6/2/2022 but conditions didn't allow. Was it worth it? Let's find out.

I arrived and there was two other cars in the car park, dog walkers I assumed. The full poop bag hanging from the rear bumper gave me my biggest clue. I walked to see the river, it was up but looked good. I checked to see if Shane was fishing, he was not in his usual swim, so unless he fell in I assumed he was not fishing yet. 

I wasn't sure where to fish, so I walked a few swims. I settled on one of my favourites. I fished it Christmas day in 2020 and had my pb Chub from it on Halloween 2019. 

At 11am I cast in, the first cast. It was perfect, I sat back. At 11.06 my rod tapped once, twice. I got ready. It hooped round. I struck, met with thin air! I had missed the first bite. I cast back in and waited some more. 

It's now 16.48 and am sat on the bank typing this, in short- still waiting!

I have fished a few swims, watched the Mink, Kingfisher and Cormorant in the water. Its been a coat off day until about 4pm when the sun started to dip. In truth, fishing earlier was difficult, I forgot my sunglasses and couldn't actually see the rod as the glare from the sun was so bright. 

Home now and writing the rest: I swapped baits but could not tempt another bite. I chatted with another angler whilst we packed our cars, he had only caught Trout on bread and cheesepaste, no Chub. Made me wonder what had been the culprit at 11.06. We will never know. 

I fished until my only companion was high in the sky above me.

Night all. Of course it was worth it. It always is!! 

Saturday 5 March 2022

Still blanking

Date fished 5/3/2022
9.20am until 4.20pm

The weather is not being kind at the moment. It must know there is limited time left to fish the rivers! 
I had planned to fish, so with the rivers buggered, I decided to go to Ryton and fish Tilcon. I generally fish here during the closed season and on summer evenings. 
I had an array of baits, natural and man-made and two rods. I intended to have a ledger rod out as a sleeper and fish with the float rod in a spot close to features. 

It was cold when I arrived, a little ice on the edge of the lake. I tackled up the float rod, the ledger rod was already set up and fishing. Breadcrumb in the feeder and bread flake on the hook. 

I alternated between maggot and worm on the float rod, but neither seemed to get any interest. I decided to have a wander and was surprised how high the water was. A swim in the corner that Tom and I regularly fish was completely under water. 

Can just make out the platform below the water

I met some club members/ trustees and had a good chat. I was given some good advice and fished in that way. However, luck or skill not being on my side today and no bites.
At 15.37 my float dipped and I struck, no fish, maybe a bite, maybe not. 

With plenty of smaller fish topping, I shallowed up in the hope to tempt them. They didn't fancy my worm but enjoyed jumping over my float! Is one of those days when fish repeatedly jump over your float like a game. 

The chill started to descend and I had run out of tricks, it was time to head home. Hopefully I can get back out there tomorrow and turn my frown upside down!! 

Tuesday 1 March 2022

Ring the changes

Date fished 06/02/2022 01/03/2022

1.30pm until 5pm 6.30pm (it does not get dark as early now!)

Today's trip started yesterday last month evening. Yes, I did the usual prep, but also I charged the head torch! I was planning to stay into dark again. 

This blog beginning was actually written in February. I generally write the introduction before the trip just to get some thoughts down on "paper". I wrote the start on the evening after my last trip, fully expecting to go to the Swale the next day. The weather put stop to that and the river was flooded and unfishable. What followed was three named storms in a week. Pretty much meaning February was a write off fishing wise. 

Going back to the office some (not all) days a week has its benefits. The main one being I am 30 minutes closer to the river from home. With some leave put in for the afternoon, I thought I would finally head to the Swale  Tees so I could finally write this bloody blog entry!

The torrential rain on Monday hit the Swale this morning, so a quick change of plan had me heading to the Tees. I was determined to get this trip done! Armed with  float gear and just ledger gear,  maggots, meat and cheese paste I was going to target chub. 

I arrived at a club stretch and chatted with the farmer as I got my kit ready. We talked about the recent floods, politics, badgers and river works. It was very interesting but I needed to see if I had made the right decision. I crept over the brow of the hill and saw the river. It was up but looked good definitely un fishable! 

I started in a swim I fished a few sessions ago. I caught then so thought it a good place to start. In truth I only fished  four swims today and only two for any length of time. I felt time was not on my side so didn't wander about too much. I rigged up a rubbish size 10 hook, ledger bomb and cast into the river. Plenty of debris was coming down the river so I stuck to the inside crease near to bushes and over hanging trees. It's where I fish usually anyway! 

In this second photo, the bank you can just see underwater was where I was sat last time and stayed wet dry! 

No bites here so I moved on. In the second swim I had my first knock. Then the rod hooped over, I missed the bite. I fished on but no joy so went for a walk, resting the swim for a few minutes. 

I returned, same thing happened but I now missed bites 2,3,4,5 and six!! Six bites without connecting was drastic, not even a pixie gnome impression could help!? 

I had found the fish, I just wasn't able to do the catching part. The definition of fishing does include an element of wanting to catch, I was just not doing it well. The fish/es (maybe just one) were tucked up out the flow under a bush. 

After the sixth missed bite it was starting to get chilly. I had resulted in holding the rod and touch ledgering to feel the bites. The fifth and sixth bite gave a solid yank but I missed them. 

I decided I needed to stop being stubborn and ring the changes. After all this whole blog and session had changed since the intended trip to the Swale in February. I changed the hook for a slightly  bigger wider gape in the hope it would find a hold. I cast in and waited. Within minutes the line pulled taught, I struck into thin air solid resistance, the fish was on!! 

I played it to the new net (nicely christened) and gave a whoop phew to the watching birds! A nice Chub about  9lb 2 1/2 to 3lb.  

Ringing the changes definitely worked. Now, not all the strikethroughs above are "true" but I am not going to tell you which. I was adaptable (eventually) after some fannying. But it all paid off and I left with a smile.