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Carp Coarse Guest Lure River

A Little Piece of Essex Found in Switzerland

If you are a regular reader of the blogs on Essex Anglers, you may recall the many blogs my son Joe has written over the past 18 months or so. Unfortunately, both of us have now “partially” moved away from Essex although we have both moved to completely different locations. Joe went off to University and now resides in Lancaster and I relocated to Switzerland almost a year ago for work.

First of all it needs to be said that if you’re not familiar with the geography of Switzerland, the country is landlocked, surrounded by Italy, France, Germany and Austria. For a predominantly sea fisherman like myself, that provides a very unique challenge as the sea is many, many hours away.

But I wanted to fish. Therefore, my choices were to either reduce my fishing exploits considerably or adapt to what many people reading this blog see as their only form of fishing – freshwater. So that’s what I did. It’s not that I’ve never dabbled with freshwater fishing. Before coming to Switzerland I would regularly go with my son Joe, who prefers freshwater fishing to sea fishing. But unbelievably, I’d never actually been freshwater fishing by myself.

I arrived in Switzerland in late November 2020 in the middle of a country-wide lockdown. The weather was dry but bitterly cold, hovering just above freezing most days. I was temporarily living in Zurich, about a 2-minute walk from Zurichsee / Lake Zurich (more on this lake soon) but due to the cold weather, I never actually saw a single person fishing at the lake.

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A map of Lake Zurich and the surrounding area.

A few months later, I relocated to a small village about 30 minutes from Zurich and was now about a 15 minute bus ride from lake Zurich. The weather was still cold in February and 45cm of snow soon fell and stayed around for weeks. Fishing was still some way off. During this time, I started to investigate the local area for fishing locations, tips etc and found the available information on the Internet to be absolutely woeful. No one talks about their fishing here and no one tells anyone else where to fish or what to use.

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Snow! Snow! Snow!

The one thing I did discover from my searches was the biggest challenge of fishing in Switzerland is that it’s heavily regulated and each canton (like a county) has their own unique rules and laws on fishing. In the canton of Zurich, they do allow a person to fish without a licence. But the fishing is limited to a single rod and only natural baits such as corn, maggots, worms or bread allowed. In addition, all rivers are rented by fishing clubs who will refuse anyone outside the club from fishing them. (It’s a shame because the rivers are absolutely teeming with life. I’ve seen stretches of river with stacks of 5lb+ Chub in a small 50-meter stretch!)

Fishing without a licence is possible, but its limited. You are unable to use lures, plastic worms, spinners or even pellets/boilies. There’s also a very strict law that every canton will follow – there’s virtually no catch and release. What you catch, you take! This law is alien to us but is in place to ensure that a fish doesn’t go through the same stress twice in its life (they are very big on animal welfare).

Even considering all of the regulations, I decided that I would go through the process of applying for a fishing licence. In the UK, we can apply and pay for a licence online and in a few minutes, fish completely legal. Well, this is Switzerland and nothing is ever simple here. You can’t actually apply for a fishing licence until you have completed an exam that goes through all parts of fishing, water management etc. The exam is called a SaNa and this must be completed and takes an entire day to complete – no exceptions. Once you have the SaNa, you can then apply for a licence. All of this costs money, quite a lot actually.

So, a few hundred quid in and now that I have my licence, I was able to fish without too many restrictions. All I needed now was some gear. Considering most things in Switzerland are super expensive, tackle is not and is either on-par with the UK or in some cases about 10-15% cheaper. The only downside I’ve found is that Switzerland absolutely love all forms of lure fishing and so the tackle shops cater for this in a huge way and general carp or float fishing tackle is contained to a small corner at the far end of the shop. Very different to the average tackle shop in the UK which is the complete opposite.

After buying what I needed to try my luck at lure fishing, I set off to Lake Zurich in the hope of a Perch or two. I was told by the tackle shop where to fish and what to use and what to expect. Apparently, Perch above 40cm come out of the lake fairly regularly with the odd 50cm fish each year! To most UK fishermen that target Perch, this is the stuff of dreams so I was hopeful lady luck would sprinkle some pixie dust on me. Those hopes were very quickly dashed. I think I blanked on 4 trips before I finally caught my first Perch which was about 10cm, not 40.

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My first fish from Switzerland. (If you don’t count the frozen fish from the supermarket)

But by now the weather was improving and the lake was warming up. I’d spoken to a few locals who told me that most people only fish from May-Oct when the water is at its warmest. When it’s cold, the good fish go deep, very deep. Lake Zurich has an average depth of about 80 meters and is about 120 meters at its deepest. Casting out just 40 or 50 meters into the lake is like shore fishing in the UK. The lead hits the water and then continues to take line for sometimes upwards of 15 seconds. Not what I was expecting in a freshwater lake.

I persevered with artificial worms using both Carolina and Texas rigs for several more weeks with some very limited success, catching plenty of small perch but nothing to ever get excited about. I’d never fished this way before but was confident that eventually I’d have the success I was hoping for as this was a method I was seeing used by virtually every local that lure fished.

The following week I was trying to catch some pesky Perch under a jetty freelining with a worm when a South African came up and asked how I was getting on. “Shocking” probably wasn’t the answer he was expecting but I’m British and we say it how it is. We soon got talking about all things fishy in our own countries and 30 minutes later, he had returned with 2 rods and we started fishing together.

My luck had been pretty poor until that day but over the course of the day I finished with 2 pretty good-sized Roach and a few very exotic looking fish called Pumpkinseeds. These are an invasive species and there is a law in place that dictates all Pumpkinseeds caught must be dispatched and not returned to the lake. Seems a shame but these fish are causing havoc with the native fish and out competing them for food, so something needs to be done.

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A pumpkinseed

Paul, my new South African fishing buddy is passionate about carp and other large specimen fish. Back home he lives 6 hours from the coast so the only fishing he has really done is in lakes and rivers. It was interesting to see the differences of tackle he uses to catch carp. One interesting looking piece was a hair rig set up, but with 2 completely separate hooks baited separately which was designed to improve the chances of catching (like he was sea fishing). Can you imagine what people would say if he were using a 2-hook rig on a lake in the UK? Paul and I fished together every weekend for a few weeks more, having moderate success although he did catch a large Bream from the lake by himself.

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Paul, my South African friend, with his huge bream.

Mid-summer came and with it, so did my wife and Joe my son for their summer holiday. They spent 10 days with me and I think we limited the fishing to about 3 days, which is quite good for us. Joe had reached out to someone on Instagram before he came over to enquire about fishing venues. By chance, the young lad (Aaron) had roots to Essex. His dad was born and raised in Burnham but had lived in Switzerland for 25 years (he still had a bit of the accent). What’s the chances eh? Well, this proved to be a good connection.

Aaron is an avid fisherman (as well as being a Swiss international Rugby player) with a preference to carp fishing. Unfortunately, as I have discovered carp fishing is very limited in Switzerland. He has a number of venues to fish, but unlike Essex that has dozens and dozens of venues, the local area to Zurich has very few. He took us to one lake in the middle of a wood which appeared more like a British lake. The lake was created by a river that had been dammed about a hundred years before and by all accounts, the ancient riverbed in the middle of the lake was where most of the big fish hung out. Being about 3 acres in size, casting into the fishy ancient river bed was possible.

The fishing tactics were simple and recognisable. We were either using method feeders or hair rigs with PVA bags. As we all had licences, boilies were permitted and handfuls of these were thrown out with a baiting stick to get the fish feeding. A few fish were coming in here and there but nothing too large.

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First fish of the day for Joe.

Only Aaron myself and Joe were fishing this lake and after about 3 hours, Aaron and Joe had both caught a few fish and started ribbing me that I was still blanking. I told them I was waiting for the biggest fish of the day, not the most. Little did I know what was about to happen. Just before lunchtime I caught two fish in quick succession. A small carp and a little tench. Joe had lost a fish on his feeder too.

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Tinca Tinca

We decided that it was time for lunch. The sun was hot and we had a belly full of meat from the BBQ (permanent community BBQs are regular sight in Switzerland).

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The Grill. These can be found all over Switzerland on hiking trails and around lakes.

All of a sudden, my alarm screeched and the line took off. I lifted my rod into the fish and was happy that it was definitely on and hadn’t spat the bait out. I was only using a light method feeder rod so the fish felt big, very big. I was worried about the light rod so a loosened the drag off a little and the fish took off. It was zigzagging all over the lake, taking line all the time. I was only using 10lb line so needed to manage this fish accordingly. Eventually, it stopped dead but was not coming in. Was it in some weed or maybe behind a fallen tree? I couldn’t tell, but it was still on and just sitting there somewhere deciding what to do next.

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I don’t think my rod could bend much further!

After a further few minutes, the fish suddenly started moving again. He was still taking line but was now moving which gave me some confidence that I would win this particular battle. After about 2 minutes he finally started to swim towards me and I was able to retrieve the line he had taken. Eventually, he came into the net and I could see it was a very solid looking common.

Strangely, it wasn’t as big as it had felt on the line and weighed in just shy of 10lb. (I honestly thought it was double that) But make no mistake here, this wasn’t some fat, lazy lake carp we get in the UK that’s been caught a dozen times. This was a wild carp. Living in an ancient, river fed lake that is rarely fished. It’s quite likely that this fish has never been caught before in its life as most fish including carp are taken and eaten. It may have been a small 10lb fish, but on very light gear it fought like a stallion and was an absolute joy to land.

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You can see why it fought so hard with a tail that size!

Now, according to the law of land, this beauty should be dispatched and taken home! Imagine my shock when it suddenly jumped out of my hands and landed straight back in the lake. What are the chances of that eh?

The day ended with a few more small carp and tench. As I had predicted earlier, I may not have caught the most, but I did catch the biggest.

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Bailey Payne Coarse River

Dusk Time River Roach

This is probably my last after work session for the rest of this year with the nights getting quite dark when I finish now sadly! This session was a month or so ago of time of publish for reference.

Headed out back to my favoured spot on the river chelmer, to continue my mission to catch another big Roach!

Typical tactics, cage feeder, long hook length and bread were in order! Again, the method I swear by for big roach, and quality roach. And from reading Mark Everards Redfin Daires, a lot of his fantastic roach were also caught on bread!

This however, was my first blip of the year. Sorry for spoilers. With a few bites coming, I was back into the habit of missing them all! Proving to be incredibly frustrating.

Even more frustrating, was watching lovely size Roach prime all evening (well for the hour or two I was there!). Priming essentially is when the roach roll or surface, this is typically so they can let out/take in air into their swim bladder, so adjust the depth they are at.

Maybe I should’ve read this better and adjusted how I fish, maybe going into the margin, or, maybe they were just shallow and a float would’ve caught them, I didn’t have any float gear on me so trying the margins would’ve been a good bet! But I didn’t.

I preserved with my methods, hoping they would switch on, I guess I hoped they would change depth to the bottom!

As the darkness set in, and recording got harder, and seeing my rod tip, I had a few twitches, which then developed!

BLANK SAVER! Relief…at least I had caught.

dusktime roach

This just shows, I have had a good run, but fishing is always different on a river, and I have to adjust, and maybe take in the signs I saw while fishing!

Hope you guys enjoyed this, let me know what you would’ve done! If you did, check out the video of the session here, and if you enjoy that, please subscribe to see more!

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Bailey Payne Coarse River

Tiny Essex River Throws up Quality Roach

Well, I am almost like a broken record, bigging up the small essex river that is the River Crouch. I took a mate down there one evening to try and get him a few river fish, as it’s all very new to him, with my recent run on the Crouch, I was quite confident I would get him a fish or two.

My usual tactics on this bit of river for both us, with the sheer amount of roach and dace, bread is kind on this river. A light link ledger, long hook length, and a nice bit of bread flake! Simplicity at it’s best!

I started quickly with a nice tidy roach on the first few casts, which is a nice catch, I could now focus a bit more on getting Harry to get a few fish!

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Although, I did miss a few bites I arguably should be hitting with the size of them! It wasn’t much longer before Harry got his first, a lovely Rudd, which we didn’t manage a photo! (It is in the video further down!)

He was chuffed with this, however for him, it was going to get a lot better, with a fish which frankly, surprised me a little bit!

He had a much bigger bite and hooked into a good fish, on landing and inspection, it turned out again to be a fantastic Roach..okay okay, it’s not a record or close. However for this tiny little river, a roach of this size, is a very big fish!

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These small river really do have some surprises…so, get out and fish them!

Hope you guys enjoyed this quick blog! If you do, check out the video on this session below, and if you enjoy that, please subscribe!

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Bailey Payne Coarse River

River Fishing for City Roach

Well, back to the blogs, this is a session from a little while ago. I took my dad out for a session promising some good Roach after my success so far this season fishing for Roach on the Rivers. And with a possible 2lber on the cards, it’s difficult to turn this down!

The normal platforms I fish on where taken and even the few places to sit in the usual area were packed. The busiest I had ever seen it. We walked a bit further into the city and found a bit of flat bricked area we could sit on right next to the river. It seemed the main area had been de-weeded recently, and where had sat hadn’t had this treatment, on initial thought, we thought if we can fish through the weed, the fish could’ve backed away here to safety.

We both used my usual roach fishing setup, a cage feeder, down to a 15inch hook length with a size 12 or 14, and a nice flake of bread! A good roach can’t turn down a bit of bread, its always reliable to get a few bites!

The day started a bit slow, with a bit of bait needing to go in, however it wasn’t long before we started getting a few bites. With my dad netting the first. Only a small start, but the bigger ones can always move in.

For this session we were using a keepnet, just to ensure we didn’t spook the shoal of roach.

We both then started getting bites often, it took a little while for me to land my first one, as the weed was a bit worse in front of me, and I had to get the right strike action to get the fish away from the weed and up, this proved a bit tricky. And it did feel like I lost a few nice Roach figuring this out.

But, it wasn’t long before we did start landing some good Roach starting to get closer to that special pound mark! Although we didn’t break it in this session, we got very close with a bit of a warrior of a Roach!

Overall, for a morning roach fishing, we managed quite a few good roach between us!

Well, hoped you enjoyed this little article! If you would like to watch the video of this session it’s below, would appreciate if you checked it out and let me know what you think! And of course, subscribe if you enjoy!

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Cameron Harris Coarse

How To Catch Live baits

So, its October, predator season is upon us! however still to early to fish dead baits, could try lures but only if your happy doing 20k steps! so what the next best thing? LIVEBAITS! Livebaits work so well because once you start catching them you can be sure that there will be pike in the area as pike will follow baitfish for obvious reasons. And there is nothing more irresistible to a pike than a dying injured roach! So in this blog ill show you how i go around catching my own livebaits

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Most rivers, dykes and streams i fish are clear the water is slow and the margins are stacked this makes finding the baitfish easy because they will be obsessed with hiding in cover away from any predators for this reason the swims first 5 yards of water and margins to either side are a spectacular place to try. On this session i was using a fly rod but this raw method can be done with a normal float rod. I took 2 loafs of bread and squeezed them around a tiny size 18 hook. It was really cool as i got to watch the roach slamming the bread as soon as it hit the water, i got robbed a few times and could see the bread being smashed around like a volleyball!

I took a carp net with me to store the catch and ended up catching about 5 or 6 from one swim perfect live bait size. I don’t know if t was the fly rod that made the fight fun but these little fish gave a hell of a scrap for their size.

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And thats all really simple raw method for clear water, hook and bread love it!

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Cameron Harris Coarse Lure River

Big Chub CANNOT Resist This Lure!

This was the last day of my two days off and I decided to pop back down to the new mark id found on my river where the sea trout was. I wasn’t expecting another trout but in the back of my mind, I was hoping violently hoping for it to happen. id armed myself with the Salmo minnow 5cm again in “minnow” pattern to match the baitfish and I was super impressed with it on the day before and again it absolutely crushed everything that came in its way.

10 mins in and on the same corner that I had pinned the sea trout the day before another gleaming bar of sliver crushed the minnow putting up a super hard scrap and diving into weeds to try and get off the hook, ill be honest it did scare me a few times! Eventually, I just about managed to get her into the net and it was a lovely soldier of an adult chub maybe 4lb in weight brilliant!

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The rest of the fishing was quiet even some of the shoals had moved on I swiftly got to the “chub corner” section of the river where I surprisingly couldn’t hook Into anything no one was home! As I continued down the river and reached the shallow and fast water my mind instantly thought of trout so I retrieved the lure quickly so it was smashing its way along the bottom and I managed to pick up another trout! I learnt from yesterday where I hooked into about 5 brown trout and lost them all was that the rod tip had to be kept low to avoid the trout coming to the surface and shaking the hook.

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I had been getting quite wound up for the rest of the day after getting into a few snags and close calls so I packed up and decided to call it a day.

unfortunately, the footage corrupted and I lost all of my video files so I cant make a youtube video but be sure to check out my channel anyway there are some good things coming soon.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgmuzhLOS9xjStBt9NcUb8A

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Carp Coarse Jack and Terry

Miniature Surprise!

Welcome to another JT Carpers blog, this week we go over a short session myself and Jack had whilst away with our families for the bank holiday weekend last month. 

So, as I was already on holiday with my family at Waldegraves Holiday Park on Mersea Island, Jack and his family joined us for the weekend, obviously with a few lakes on site, a small slot for fishing was bargained for and we were in our element. 

So, on the Monday myself and Jack went up to the lakes at sunrise with the plan being that our wonderful partners would then bring food and children later in the day so we could all have a little family picnic whilst trying to entertain the kids with some fishing. 

Our main target for the day was to use a whip to fish for the silver fish in the lake to try and keep the action as thick and fast as possible to keep the children’s attention on the fishing. With a few hours spare before they arrived, we decided to get some rods out for the carp whilst setting up the poles for later, clearly not for our own benefit of course. 

With constant and real fun action on the whips we landed ourselves some lovely fish from Roach, Perch, a small cool looking Carp and finally the best of all, a brand-new P.B for myself in this absolute unit of a Gudgeon! 

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With this being my first ever Gudgeon I was actually very happy, obviously I love catching carp and fishing for them specifically but I just love fishing all round so a new species is always cool. 

With the day continuing and us losing 3 carp on our carp rods (Honestly no idea what happened, these carp seem to be tricky!) we then hooked into a carp on the whip which unfortunately snapped the hook link straight away and really gave us some food for thought. 

After another carp taking the whip for a bend and snapping off, we decided to ditch the whips and float fish for the carp instead on our other rods. 

A short while later as we were packing up Jack was in on his newly configured float rod, a £1 rod he picked up some years ago was put to the test and luckily prevailed! We were introduced to this awesome little mirror carp and our only carp of the day. 

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So, that was the last fish of the day and Super Jack saved our blushes with the children once again by rescuing us with an awesome little carp, with plenty or laughs and memories made this is exactly what fishing is about! 

So once again, 

As always, 

Tight Lines & Wet Nets,            

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JTCarpers               

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jtcarpers 

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Carp Coarse Jack and Terry

I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream for…

Welcome back once again, we thank you for your time 😊 

This blog is just a short one on a recent session I had on a lake near myself in Lincolnshire called North View Fishing Lakes. This complex is your typical complex with 3 lakes, 1 Match Lake, 1 Carp Pleasure Lake and 1 Specimen Carp Lake. 

Having never visited here before I decided to give the pleasure lake a little go for a few hours whilst my children were at a summer club and they would come and join me with my wife for the last few hours. 

When arriving to the complex it was quite busy, luckily there was a peg free tucked away in a corner of the lake, perfect for me as I was going to be fishing the margins mainly and seeing if I could sneak out a fish or two. 

As I said in our previous blog, with quite a bit of success on the method feeder I decided this would be a great way to fish on a pressured pleasure lake, so with one rod fishing a method feeder I decided to fish the other rod using a rig I had seen some time ago in a video featuring the great Frank Warwick. Using a long shank hook from DSD Tackle I used the rig described by Frank as seen below, I’ve had success on this rig before so knew it would be perfect. 

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So, after an hour or so of fishing, my bottom bait rig was away, after a short scrap I was blessed with this lovely mirror carp, happy days! 

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A couple hours after that cracking little mirror my method feeder was away, after a spritely little fight I was introduced to this awesome little Ghost Carp, the pictures don’t do it much justice but it was a proper white, cracking little carp. 

Then within 2 minutes of the method feeder being back out on the same spot it was away again, once again producing this absolutely stunning little fully scaled mirror carp (This picture does the carp a lot of justice, it looks a lot bigger than it was.) 

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Shortly after that fish was returned my 2 minions arrived with my wife, hoping for a fish whilst they were here was my next target, suddenly the sound of an alarm burst into life, unfortunately for myself and my wallet it was of an ice cream truck turning up to the lake, of course the kids were over the moon with this. 

Slightly poorer but still ever the optimist we stuck to our guns, we moved the bottom bait rod to be closer into the margin and fed loose Smokey Jack boilies and corn over the top, within 5 minutes of moving the rod it was away! The fish was putting up a cracking little scrap and so I handed the rod over to my wife so she could get amongst the action, a short but awkward (My wife uses a walking stick so trying to stand and play the fish was a bit awkward for her) battle later it was in! 

My wife had just landed the biggest fish of the day, as she likes to remind me, however with her not wanting to take a picture with it, myself and the minions jumped on the chance for a little picture. 

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And there we have it, a few hours on the bank but lifelong memories made, perfect! 

Thank you again for tuning in. 

As always,           

Tight Lines & Wet Nets,           

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JTCarpers              

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jtcarpers 

Categories
Bailey Payne Coarse River

River Chelmer – A Successful evening Roaching

Today’s session is a quick after work trip down to the River Chelmer. Hoping to target some of the lovely Roach which reside in this stretch of River. I have personally caught them up to 2lbs, and heard of some 3’s.

The approach for my River Roach fishing is to keep things as simple as possible. For bait…Bread, blitzed bread to feed, breadflake on the hook.

In terms of tackle, a nice light quiver rod, in this case the 8ft Specalist Quiver, it has a lovely and soft 1oz tip, perfect for detecting the delicate bites from these Roach, Light line, 6lb in this case, down to a free running plastic cage feeder with less holes, its a deep river so I want my feed closer to the bottom. Then a quick change bead into a long (16inch) hook length with a size 16 hook.

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A city fishing scene

The session started quick, with rip round bites coming, but I could never connect to any of the bites, became frustrating, however knowing there were some fish feeding filled me with confidence that I would catch.

I plugged away, and made sure I kept holding the rod to react to the quick bites, and it paid off, hitting into the first Roach of the day, proving to be a nice one! The next few bites came quickly and the next two fish were also tidy Roach.

Sadly after the great triple start, the fish did soon slow down. And did get a bit smaller. However for a quick session after work for an hour. I was very happy with the fish I had caught. A few good size Roach, and for a first river roach session of the season, it made it even better, surely it can only get better!

Hope you guys enjoyed this quick after work blog! If you did, check out the video on it! Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see the videos sooner!

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Bob Dellar Coarse Lure River

Avoiding The Football


I’m afraid I’m a tad indifferent when it comes to football. I only ever take a mild interest if Spurs, the team favoured through family tradition, or the national side start to perform well and show signs of actually winning something significant. Such was the case with England’s recent Euros performance but I have to admit as the final drew close I had a desire to escape the build up and hype as the doubts, anxiety and inevitability of failure came to the fore. So I decided to go fishing, and although failure is often inevitable with this pursuit also, at least I’d be outside enjoying the natural world.

The local river Stour in Sudbury was my chosen venue, and on arrival it became apparent that large swathes of the river were unfishable, either because of overgrown swims or copious weed growth. I should have known really. This year, probably due to the wet, warm summer, grasses, nettles, bankside reeds and all manner of vegetation has grown with wild abandon, completely transforming spacious, comfortable pegs into impassable jungles that would make even Indiana Jones hang up his machete. Nonetheless, there were enough accessible swims to make a cast or two worthwhile, so I thought I’d have a go with the lure rod as I love the roving nature of this type of fishing and the opportunity it affords to reconnoiter stretches of the river I’ve yet to explore. Also, I’d recently seen a photo of a 3lb perch caught from the Stour in Sudbury which had whetted my appetite, as had a dead perch of well over 2lb I’d discovered on a canoe trip last summer. But I’d have to contend with the pike, which the river is famous for.

My dog Indy was my fishing buddy for the day and true to form he did his usual impression of a rhino and bulldozed his way through the undergrowth totally oblivious to the stingers and brambles that were tearing holes in me and constantly snaring my landing net. 

I had a few casts to no avail, constantly thwarted by the weed and cabbages, so I changed from a jig to a Cheb rig, with a view to fish a creature bait using the “weedless” approach where you hook the bait in such a way as to conceal the hook to reduce snagging up. As I was rearranging my tackle (?!) I noticed that Indy had disappeared. 

I needn’t have worried. Tucked around the corner in the next swim were a couple of Polish anglers who had taken a shine to the dog and were feeding him bits of their lunch. 

“Nice dog”, the older one said as I walked up to them. “He’s always nice to people that feed him” I said. “Nice dog”, he repeated, nodding his head.

They were both smoking fags that smelled mighty pungent, not ghanja, more likely cheapies brought over from Poland made from weightlifters jockstraps sprinkled with festering grass cuttings or something. I bade them farewell and left before my nose fell off. After a few more fruitless casts, I found myself at a familiar spot, an old railway bridge  spanning the river, with arches casting deep shade and wide brick pillars descending into the depths; perfect ambush points for perch and pike. In addition, below a straggly willow is a back eddy above a very deep hole that on a winter’s evening the previous year delivered a nice brace of sizeable chub and a perch of half a pound or so, all on legered lobworm. I’m sure I’d have caught more had I not been scared half to death by the dog, who suddenly started growling low and deep and staring fixedly into the blackness beneath the bridge. It was all far too “Blair Witch” for my liking so I buggered off sharpish, dragging the dog with me who carried on growling all the way back to the car!

This time, however, it was broad daylight and the sun was out, perfectly illuminating the space beneath the bridge along with all the beer cans, plastic bottles, fag packets and general detritus common to river banks nowadays; bloody horrible but not a knife wielding maniac.

Annoyingly, the bridge swims produced nothing so I flicked the creature bait into the hole beneath the willow and was rewarded with the smallest pike I’ve ever seen, a micropredator not much bigger than the lure. And that was it, not a sniff for the next twenty minutes so a move was in order.

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The micro pike from the deep hole

I headed for a stretch of the river that’s maybe three or four foot deeper than the general course where apparently dredging work was carried out in the sixties. I figured they’d be less weed in deeper water. First cast proved that theory was flawed when I reeled in a big chunk of lily rhizome but it was definitely less snaggy than the shallower area where I’d started, and there was also more fish action as I caught two jacks of about 4lb in quick succession, one of whom nearly tore the rod out of my hand with a thwack of a take. I was beginning to enjoy myself, and light levels were dropping as the evening rolled in so I begun to work the deep margin cover for perch.

But then what can only be described as rowing rush-hour began. One man sculls, two man sculls, four man sculls, they all kept coming in what seemed an endless regatta of men and woman in boats; puffing, blowing, shouting, splashing, laughing, swearing and even some waving at me and the dog. It was practically impossible to fish. During a brief lull in the paddling I chanced a quick cast and, unbelievably, hooked another jack! I just managed to land it before it was keelhauled by a single rower totally oblivious to me and the tussle going on beneath his boat. As I unhooked it, a passing two man scull shouted “show us the fish mate!”, which of course I did. And that was that, the boat traffic seemed to fade away and with it my enthusiasm to fish on. So my football avoidance session hadn’t exactly been Premier League but I had some sport from those lively jacks and had spent a couple of hours walking a river that was a pleasure to behold, watching ethereal dragonflies skim and dart and kingfishers hunt for fry from riverside perches. Which was, of course, way, way better than watching football.

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None the worse for wear despite the keelhauling!