Friday, 11 September 2015

Four Rivers, Four Short Trips.

After so much time spent on stillwaters, tenching, followed by a couple of angling trips to highly industrialised areas, I had need to once again see moving water.  As chance would have it, I made four trips to four different streams.   Barbel were still in my mind for the first trip, and although the river is NOT known for its barbel, and has actually produced very few of them for anyone, I was determined to have a try. There are several swims that, were barbel definitely present in the river, would definitely hold barbel.   Of course it is still me, judging the river by its cover, or surface, whereas any barbel would be looking at entirely different factors.  So take the word definitely with that pinch of salt. 

To give myself the best chance on river one, I arrived about midnight, edged cautiously down the steep bank, and hurled lead at two different areas of the swim.   The noisiest thing that then happened during darkness, was the totally silent bats flitting past, and them occasionally tripping over my line.    No barbel, no chub, nothing.   

I had time to ponder, and started to think about galaxies, and spiral galaxies in particular.    The spiral arms are a sure sign that the whole of the galaxy is rotating, that it has a large amount of rotational energy. But when the galaxy first formed it cannot have then shown any spiral characteristics.  They could only have developed as a result of the rotation  itself.   Initially though, there must have been some structure, blobby areas of dust or gas clouds or some such, from which the arms might develop.  As gravity drew it closer, so any inherant rotational energy would have formed the flattened disc, and as the matter structures condensed, they would tend to string out. In a manner similar to the planets in the Solar System, as the stars/dust/gas clouds got closer to the centre, so they would tend to rotate faster, in order to preserve  constancy of angular momentum.  Hence the spiral would be generated.   The idea I then had,  which I realise is certain not to have been missed by astronomers, is that somehow, it must be possible to use the tightness of the spiral to measure how old the galaxy is?  The mathematics is way beyond me ( and I am myself no slouch with numbers),  but I wonder if this might be part of how they calcualted how old the universe is?   Are globular galaxies far older, their spiral structures obliterated by time, or are they galaxies with little initial angular momentum?  No doubt I shall spend other biteless nights thinking about this one...and getting nowhere.

 Daylight, and I converted one rod to fish for smaller species.  This was a good plan and eventually I had landed 4 grayling, with a couple of the fish being about a pound.  Unusually: no trout.  In this area of the river I invariably see and hook a trout or two: but not on this day.  The river seemed far more devoid of fish than in any previous trip.  It also had more signs of angling pressure.   Worn banking, litter, and signs of someone being very obnoxious: toilet paper.  This was very near to a giant hogweed plant,  one of only two examples I have ever seen on this river.  I hoped, probably without much real chance, that the plant had managed to burn him seriously where it might hurt him the most. The first plant I had seen on the river was destroyed a couple of years ago by the council.  I destroyed the new plant myself, being very careful indeed to avoid the sap.

Trip two, and a different river, one I have fished very little these last two years or so.   I found a delightful little spot, and fished generally, not bothered as to the species I might catch.   Early morning dog walkers passed by and one stopped to chat, asking what fish the river held.   After a few minutes he asked whether he knew me.   I thought not.  But as he then appeared to correctly guess both my Christian and Surnames I concluded that, after all, he maybe  did know me.   He was on my university course, back in the late sixties!   I didn't recognise him at all.   Coincidence indeed, and a sign that my memory is not keeping up with others in my age group.  And he was a couple of months older than me.

The river is small, and I feel that, if I am not catching or getting bites, it is time to change swims.   As I prepared to do so, a large splash at the waters edge drew my attention.   I thought it a fish, but minutes later a rustling in the vegetation proved to be a mink.   No more than 4 feet away.  It wanted to get past me and move upstream.   I prepared the camera,   and when it did finally pass, took a quick shot.    Of course it is blurred from movement and poor focus, and is now deleted from the camera.  I was surprised that close up it was a deep brown, and not black.  Maybe a young one?     I was to see three more in different swims that morning, another single beast, and a pair that were obviously together.  They provided me with another blurred photo.   All were a deep chestnutty brown.    I am sure all I have seen before were black. Definitely mink though.   The last swim I chose was at the base of a very fast ripply section.  A "V" of fast water spiked on down into a large wide slackish pool, the "V" reducing in width as it went.    I decided to lob a bait into the far border of the fast and slow water.     It then started to rain: hard rain, and I sheltered as best I could under a standard sized gentleman's umbrella.   I was travelling a little too light again.  On the other side of the river was a concrete culvert, carrying little more than a drip.   Within 15 minutes this became a torrent, and I could see the river at the far side of the "V" turning grey from the new water.  It was motorway run-off: Grey and smelly water, made worse for being the first significant rain for some time.   I knew from previous experience that it would put the fish off, and so cast shorter, to the clean, closer part of the river. The first bite  had been some time coming, but finally a vicious bite.  On the strike a fair trout jumped, and soon a fish of a little under two pounds was drawn over the rim of the net.  The rain had stopped, but a goodly amount of water had been dumped in a short time.   Soon the rest of the river turned grey, as other motorway run-off slipways upstream, had added their own disgusting load into the river.   I knew it was time to go.    

The trip to river three nearly didn't happen.  I had planned an afternoon and evening session, but as I reached for my rods in the utility room, a crack of thunder preceded a huge short downpour.   Not knowing how long the rain would last I left the rods where they were, and settled down to read.  As I did so I heard a drip, then a lot more drips.  The ceiling over my bay window was leaking water...a lot of water. The rain soon stooped and I rushed to get the ladder and climbed up to find the two inch recess atop the flat roof was full of water.   The drain had become blocked, and the easiest overflow path was into my lounge.   Not difficult to resolve, but annoying when I had decided it was time to head for the hills and the river.  I arrived on the bank later than I expected. A young dipper, already free from the influence of parents, was messing about in the shallows nearby.  It did not yet have the white chest. All the characteristic actions of the species, but minus the uniform.
It was already 4 o'clock before my float made its first trot down.   Again grayling were my target.   A target  set and not achieved.  I could not get past the trout.  Around 16 or 18 of them, all between 6 and 12 ounces.   Apart from one.   I trotted the float down near the far bank , an upstream wind helping the light rod and centrepin keep the bait near the far bank, and as the float drifted under an overhanging tree, it bobbed and disappeared. A trout, looking all of 12 ounces immediately jumped, and then gave a truly virtuoso fight.   Down river, up the river, never showing itself at all.   I didn't quite understand how it had so much power and stamina.   Eventually it surface and splashed, and I could see I had underestimated its size.  But it was still no more than a pound and a few ounces, and the fight was more akin to  that of a four pound fish.  It didn't feel to be foul hooked either.   Once it had splashed it was to keep doing so, no matter how much I kept the rod tip down.  It ran back to where I had hooked it and splashed on the surface, quite heavily, for a good 25 seconds.  As I netted it a short time later, I had concluded that any more fish from the swim would be less likely than winning the lottery without having entered.     The fish though, had the misfortune to have been hooked in the adipose fin.   As a result the scrap was somewhat orgasmic,  it did not feel as if it had been foulhooked, and did not seem to get tired at all, always wanting more.   Even in the net, after an unduly long scrap it was still full of energy.   My very next cast though hooked another fish, also a trout ,in exactly the same spot.   The splashing had had no effect on the other fish at all, but seeing the float in the encroaching darkness was now getting too difficult, and I went home.  

Yesterday, trip four , river four.   Another small stream, one new to me.  I had walked the bank once, but without a rod to hand.   Most of these small stream are shallow when the flow is low, and, using polaroid sunglasses it is often possible to become absolutely certain, that there are absolutely NO fish present.  Odd though it seems, the fish have the ability to completely disappear at times.  Subsequent fishing will often completely dispell that, and swims that seem vacated of fish, become alive with them once a bait is stealthily introduced.

A pool below a rapid seemed as good a place as any in which to start, and a large lump of bread accompanied a single swan shot leger, was tossed in just to the edge of the fast water.  After a while I decided to recast, and as I started to reel in I thought I had a little knock.  My reactions were too slow, I was already winding in.   So I cast back to the same spot.  and a short while later the rod end rapped a couple of times, and a hard fighting fish shot up into the rapids above me.   It proved to be a chub, a little over three pounds.  Blank saved.    Next cast a little further downstream.  Whilst I waited, a dipper, an adult this time, did an upstream flypast,   followed a few minutes later by the return trip.   The bite, when it came was a small trout, maybe a half pound or so, but one that liked bread.    Time to move on, and things did not continue so well:  one swift, missed bite trotting maggots down a shallow run.  A couple of kingfishers flashing their way past.   I moved on, finding a deeper swim below a dangerously overhanging big willow.  The bread remained untouched, and I could just about see it on the bottom in the clear water, three or four feet down.    Any fish would have been invisible: havont not the colour contrast to highlight its presence.   The rod was resting immobile between my fishing stool and a willow branch.  There was a lot of hogweed nearby, some of the smaller plants being within a foot of my feet, and I confess that, after all the recent hoo-hah in the press about the dangers of hogweed, its presence made me quite nervous.

A sudden voice behind me, belonging to the guy who looks after the stretch of river, startled me, and
Sandpiper, White Wing Stripe Visible.
caused me to turn around.  Looking back, a couple of sentences later, the rod tip was curving downstream, it was bent but static.   Something had happened as I spoke my greeting.  I think it was a fish, the rod had been unmoving for far too long, but if a fish, it was already in the tree roots, and eventually I pulled for a break.   No more fish, but it was pleasing to see a sandpiper flying up and down a couple of times, to and from a bank of gravel, displaying a distinctive white zigzag across its wings, as I walked back to the car and the end of the session.    As all sandpipers seem to do, it flew fast and low, with very stiff looking wings.

Finally, did everyone see that match report in the Angling Times this week?  New match record.   Over half a ton on carp in a 5 hour match won the prize.   Half a ton of carp, averaging 8 pounds.  doing the maths, that is one 8 pound carp every two minutes, allowing the odd moment for rebaiting and casting in.  The fishery owner claims his fish are well looked after, but a carp every two minutes sounds like skull dragging to me.   Anyone wish to take bets on the lips of those fish still being irresistably kissable?
A quote from the article: "sometimes 75% of the stock is caught in a match"  So are we saying the fish are all caught every two or three days? Again and again?   Yet they are still hungry, despite hoards of anglers "feeding every 30 seconds...or else they move next door"  which was one quote I read.    It all defies realistic description.

 I am wary of being too critical though: when all has been said and done, waters like these keep the match anglers well away from the places I want to fish.

It has taken me a while to publish this and for that I apologize.  In the meantime a few more small river trips have materialized, and the catches of grayling have been improving, and the trout have been ever present.   More, maybe, in the next sermon.

A final, final bit:  one other blogger recently reviewed some tackle on sale at Aldi.   He particularly liked the cheap, small one man shelter.  Another item, unreviewed, was a case of floats.   My wife has just gone to the Ear East for a couple of months, and although she disapproved of my fishing whilst she is here ("The smells! The smells!"), it would seem that she is encouraging me to fish whilst she is away.   So she bought me the tube of floats.  Do I sense a suspicious woman? I shall not make comment on the floats themselves, but, included were some hooks to nylon and a circular, 8 segment box of lead shot.  7 different sizes.  Wonderful.  Look at the photograph.     Each segment contains exactly ONE shot, no more, no less.  I find that rather amusing, taking economy to its very  limits.