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Saturday, 7 February 2015

Slow start to 2015.

After the disasterous trip to Okinawa, it took me a while to work up the motivation to get out again.  Actually it was about 5 weeks, I had been using the weather as an excuse, but really my head just wasn't there.. I firmly believe that fishing is at least 90% mental and if you can't get motivated, you're not going to perform.  Around the third weekend in January I convinced myself I'd have a good day if I went out to the river.  The Monday was the third successively warmer day in a row with non of the nights falling below freezing, if you can get this kind of pattern falling on your winter day off, it's usually a sign you'll have a good day.

So I set of for the river around 9.30 after giving the sun a chance to get up.. What I found when I arrived at the river ten minutes later was not a pretty sight.. the river bank had been totally shorn of all the trees and under growth for a good mile of the best stretch..

This used to be covered in 4ft high grass, mulberry bushes and shrubbery

It's a bit of a double edged sword having a clean bank, the fish are easier to spot and there are no hidden plants and twigs to trip you or give you away as you snap them... BUT, and it's a big but, there's nowhere for you to hide, it makes creeping up to fish siting in a foot or less of clear water incredibly tough.  The tall grasses and knot weed will be back strongly in a few months , but losing the mulberry bushes is a bit of a blow.  However, you can only fish the river in front of you and I walked on up to the weir that marks the end of the fish holding water. The weir pool was, as it often is, a bit dirtier than downstream.  I quickly rigged up a bright blob  under an indicator and let it run through the deep water on the near bank in front of a couple of nice fish, but didn't get a take.
As I didn't wan't to kill the swim I let it rest for a few minutes and just watched.  It's always worth sitting still and watching a feature that you know regularly produces fish... After about 5 or 10 minutes I watched 3 nice fish from around 5-10lb coming up onto a gravel bar in the middle of the stream, they were clearly on the feed as they worked their way across, it was the work of seconds to shallow up the indicator and flick a short cast well upstream of the fish and moments later I was connected to the smallest fish of the three...first fish of 2015!

carp on a soft blob under an indicator

It fought quite well for the time of year and spooked all the other fish in the pool so it was time to leave. I started creeping my way down stream as I came into the clear shallow water I took off the indicator and, after a couple of rejections on the blob, swapped to a little brown tailed hybrid. The hybrid is usually a reliable pattern, but it was steadfastly rejected by a string of fish I was sure would eat it.  It wasn't going to be as easy as the start of the session suggested.

John Montana's Hybrid.  Usually a banker.


I decided to push on downstream below the area that had been cut.  This brought  me to a deeper dirtier section, and out came the blob and indicator again. I could see fish cruising around actively searching in the current including the white koi that is always cutting about this stretch..I've never caught that fish but I always have a go when I see it.  The first cast and three fish charged my fly but the current meant I couldn't hold it in the zone long enough for them to reach it before I was swept away from them.  Another cast  at a different angle with a high rod tip to hold the line of the water had the blob drifting beautifully towards Moby Dick, and for the first time ever it was moving to take the fly...GREAT!  I was anticipating the take, really chuffed to eventually be catch this rogue that's been taunting me for the last few seasons.. and another ordinary fish charged up from below it in the most un-carp like way imaginable.  I don't know if I'd say I was disappointed to catch the little fatty, but I wasn't as pleased as usual!

Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory...the least pleasing fin perfect carp on the planet.


Moving on I the river widens and shallows up and the bottom becomes quite silty, off came the indicator and time for a fly swap.  The light was starting to make things a bit more difficult so I want for something dark that the fish and I would be able to pick out easily against the bottom..Time for Martyn's Midnight Magic.

 Here's a video of how to tie it!


As I worked my way along the bank, I felt much more comfortable with all the brush and trees to creep around. I quickly stuck a little fish right under the rod tip and then another a couple of minutes later.  They weren't big, but  were in great condition and had clearly been feeding well.


I blew a couple of shots  as I carried on, but managed another 3 fish by the time I came to the bridge where I originally joined the river.  I thought about heading further down and taking the long way home, but after catching the last fish I was on 7 from what had felt like a pretty slow day, and I was losing the light.Even though there were no big fish among them, it was a nice start. Time for a nice beer to celebrate getting back in the game!


Fat and fin perfect with a big tail.. that's how I like my carp, just need them to get bigger.