Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Boxing Day Battles

A traditional day for country pursuits and in our house that means fishing. A day I look forward to but not a day that has been kind to me in terms of fish caught or conditions faced. Last year I braved freezing temperatures to land two tiny Roach and a small Silver Bream. 2010 was the year the river froze and in minus 18C I found a spot to cast a line but went home bite less and shivering. 
Whilst the Warwickshire Avon continues to burst it's banks almost daily I decided to dig the fly rod out and go hunting for big Trout. My favourite small water is Lechlade fishery and I turned into the car park just after nine this morning. Gloucestershire has not escaped the barrage of rain either and the babbling brook that gently flows around the perimeter was full to bursting and parts of it were running into the lake.
Brook to the right joined to lake on the left
As I paddled through the water something flashed and caught my eye, a baby Pike had almost stranded itself, I went to give it a nudge and it shot off back to the lake.
Predation in miniature
 I started off slowly retrieving a damsel, with little success. Fish were spotted but nothing followed the lure and the ones that I cast towards ignored it completely. A couple of hours passed without incident so a change of tactic was required. A stalking approach with a flashy red lure. Despite the inflow of flood water visibility was not too bad and within minutes I had an interested rainbow, a little jiggle and it was hooked. The fight was fun but not spectacular, only one scary moment when the Trout got me wrong side of a bush but a change of angle by shuffling along the bank had me back in control. I had seen the take and knew it was a good fish, possible personal best, so there was a slight sense of relief when it slid into the net. The scales confirmed what I had suspected, 9lb 3oz, beating my previous biggest by 14 ounces.
9lb 3oz PB
I seem to have an uncanny knack of catching a fish and then losing the fly next cast in a tree-I did just that again! Thoroughly disgusted with myself I took a break and wandered up the far end of the fishery. I could see the odd fish patrolling the margins and there were some big ones, time for a quick brew and then back to the fishing.
The next couple of hours were spent chopping and changing flies trying to find a killer pattern and colour. I had a few follows and flashes but no bites. Just as I was beginning to lose heart I had a take. I did not see the fish but on a slow retrieve there came that moment that you only get fly fishing. A fish had taken the lure and time seemed to stand still as neither the fish nor the angler realised they were attached to each other. It then dawned on me, I struck and the Trout set off for the far bank, a blistering run that took me down to the backing. We both knew what was happening now. I managed to turn it and gradually started to claw back line. It then set off left down the near bank, I had no choice but to follow it, rod held high to avoid nearside vegetation. I turned it again and it went the other way. Again I followed it. Eventually I started to make an impression on it and I got my first glimpse of a very broad flank, I could see it was big. The runs became shorter and the head shakes less vigorous, I was starting to get the upper hand. I prayed for knots to hold, line to hold and hook to hold and after about ten minutes I squeezed the fish into my undersized net. A second new pb and to make it even more special my first double, 10lb 9oz, happy boy!
10lb 9oz-gonna need a bigger net
Fish limit reached just as it started to chuck it down, result, job done, home time.
Nearly twenty pound of fish, the smaller one for our freezer and the bigger one given to the neighbours-showing off!

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