|a cracking 2lb roach and now a rarity|
Emotions run high when the river season ends, a mixture of regret and relief. There is nothing better in life than trotting a float down a lively river in the hope that it will cease floating and it’s sad when that pleasure is denied us. At the same time it is a relief when we don’t have to agonise over when the river will be just right for roach or whether there are still any roach to catch.
|1lb15 and a half of H.Avon roach - I need new scales.|
Being a roach fanatic isn’t easy these days and the last two winters have been a struggle for me, the first for years when I have failed to catch a Hampshire Avon two pounder. I came close before Christmas, a cracker of 1/15 and a half encouraging me to think that it was the start of a good winters fishing but alas, it turned out that it was the largest I caught from any river this past season.
I didn’t even catch lots of roach and the suggestion from my ‘friends’ that it was because I’m rubbish might have an element of truth in it. However, I suspect it was because at almost every swim I tried a cormorant surfaced just downstream, though I won’t bang on about them in this story, just celebrate the pleasure of being by the waterside.
|John Slader with lovely Test trout|
My last angling adventure post ended with me being mullered by mullet, tho’ Trev and I did catch a few more before they left the estuary for the deeper water in the English Channel. Variety being the spice of life – and fishing – a stint of fluff flinging on the Test, courtesy of S&TA stalwart and fishing pal John Slader fitted the bill perfectly. It is great sport, trying to land the right fly in the right spot to fool a fish that has seen it all before. Judging by my inept attempts, ‘spotty herberts’ certainly prove a lot easier to catch than big roach.
|easier to catch than roach|
|Minister Richard Benyon with S&TA's Paul Knight|
One of the days was set aside to help MP’s catch trout … along with bending their ears about what is ailing our rivers, eloquently expressed by S&TA Director and all round good guy, Paul Knight. It is an invaluable opportunity to show anglers concerns for the environment , especially when Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon is able to attend. The river might look splendid on the surface but below it is a different story, much to the surprise of non-angling MP’s. It makes for a cracking day and even the beginners catch fish … much to their delight.
|MP Jon Crudass with a good 'un|
|the River Test at Dave's - a little bit of heaven|
|the legendary Dave Steuart showing us the way|
The next highlight was a trip to Dave Steuart’s beat on the River Test at Romsey with angling mate and Man.U fanatic Gerry Higham. It was a cracking day of roach and grayling in the sunshine as well as reminiscing with Dave over mugs of tea. What a host of stories Dave has … he is an important part of angling’s history and needs to be archived!
|Gerry Higham with a lovely Test roach|
|Autumn glory on the H.Avon|
Autumn for me and many of you no doubt is barbel and chub time and I managed one memorable day when I caught three chub and four barbel, the best only 7+ but a cracking days sport. On another day I thought I’d hooked something larger as a lump gave me a good scrap. It was 12lbs. but a carp, tho’ a beautiful, Billy Bunter of a common.
|a really beautiful common|
Roach fishing commenced and over several scattered ‘last knocking’ evenings, I had several to 1/12 plus a few chub and big bream, but the largest roach as mentioned earlier fell an agonising half ounce short of the magical mark. It was nearly Christmas so I asked for a new set of scales, ones that always make some anglers roach over two pounds!
|Polar bear on melting ice in the midnight sun|
|will this winter never end?|
There was a time when I could happily sit for days in crippling cold temperatures in the high Arctic, waiting for a polar bear to appear, but the years of mileage are making me more sensible and less inclined to sit for hours waiting for a blank to unfold. I feel the cold now too. This winter – that seems reluctant to go away – has felt cold to my old bones and with the rivers running so fast with snow melt too and few fish or blanks the norm, I have few successes to report.
|outside the office window it's not much of a day for roach|
|a winters day at Sway and some cracking sport|
|getting lucky - first cast and 2/3 of perfect roach|
Lakes seemed more sensible when I did venture out and I’ve already mentioned the 2/3 roach on my first cast into Sway Lakes this year. I had another day out there and caught a perch of 2/3 and roach of 1/13 but as my wife Sue said, “you only catch when you go to a pond and what’s the point of that”. Harsh!
|2lb+ of Sway perch|
|a proper river bream and on the float too|
A last throw of the dice on the Avon produced just two roach to 10ozs and a couple of fighting fit bream – I really like fast water bream – also a host of happy memories shared with Trev and Jim.
|Trev doing what he loves best|
Trev caught three roach and Jim blanked, though he did get a bite and was so surprised he swears his heart stopped.
|Jim still ticking|
Just to prove that at least some of his family aren’t plonkers, Jim’s sons often show him how it should be done, though to be fair, I guess he did teach them everything they know, or so he claims. But isn’t it great to see youngsters catching fish. Sadly, the pics wouldn't scan properly but Charlie caught roach and grayling to 1/8 and Ben a really fat pike of 13lbs.
|celebrating seasons end - I wonder why there's camera shake|
I decided the final day of the season was just too cold and bright to catch any roach so I dug the garden instead. It almost makes up for missing the last day of the season … but not quite.