Andrew Pilgrim


Don’t you get bored fishing the same water, using the same method to catch the same fish?…. No?…. Then maybe you should stick to Carp fishing. For the rest of us a change in species, venue or method is often just the thing to keep things interesting and exciting. So this week I decided to fish my ‘Secret Stream’.

We all have a ‘Secret Stream’, Yes even you! You just might not know it yet, but let me explain.
Essex has some great rivers offering some delightful fishing, we all know them. The Lea, The Chelmer, The Stour, The Colne, The Blackwater. Maybe you might have heard of some of the smaller rivers such as The Wid, The Can, The Pant and The Roding.
But what about Brookhouse Brook, Cripsey Brook and Roxwell Brook or Holland Brook and Layer Brook no? Well there are many more The Rivers Box, Brain, Ter and Mar Dyke, Sandon Brook, Bourne Brook, The River Roach, Prittle Brook, Ingrebourne the list goes on and on.

Miles upon miles of little waterways dissecting the Essex countryside some in a picturesque way and some in a rugged urban style but here is the thing, most of them hold fish, and not just the odd Stickleback but real fish worth fishing for. Roach, Rudd, Dace, Chub and Trout are plentiful across our county’s rivers and here’s the thing, almost nobody is fishing for them !!

Maybe you have never considered fishing tiny rivers or streams? Well you should because they offer something different and can be tremendous fun and fantastically satisfying.

I have been advised by my legal team (Sheena) to point out that not all the waters listed above are open to fishing and of those that are some may be ‘Private fishing’. Something to bare in mind should that sort of thing bother you.

Here’s a quick guide on how to approach fishing a small watercourse.
Firstly Tackle. Get rummaging in you collection and find the shortest lightest rod you can find. Maybe you have a small ‘kiddie’ rod tucked away that you have had since childhood or a lightweight telescopic spinning rod and reel you bought for a tenner on holiday in the Med, anything of that ilk will do just fine. Likewise if you are a well-equipped modern day all round angler go get your super light Dropshotting or Feeder rod and you are sorted. I particularly like using my Drennan Acolyte 9ft Ultra Feeder rod as its not too wieldy for crawling through the undergrowth to reach that perfect swim. Reel line of 3lb or so will do just fine and a small landing net. Next you need a small shoulder bag and a very basic collection of terminal tackle. Three or four floats some shot, Hooks in sizes 12-16 and some SSG shot for ledgering. Got all that?…. good you are ready to go.
The methods to employ on the little ‘Secret Streams’ are just the same as you would on their big brothers.Try trotting a waggler down or a small stick float in the faster flowing stretches and simple link ledgering with just enough weight to enable you flick out a bait underhand style, one or two Swan shot will be just fine. Talking of bait, keep it simple. Natural baits will always do well,

I favour worm but bread and maggots will catch too. Don’t feed too heavily as each swim may contain only a couple of fish.
A couple of other bits of advice. Wear strong trousers and waterproof footwear. Many of the best swims are off the beaten track and at this time of year the dense remnants of shrubs and other plants need wading through and the ground can be muddy.
Ok you have the tackle and bait and are at the ‘Secret Stream’ where do you start? Upstream is the answer and work your way downstream. Any fish can be easily spooked and I have seen many anglers walking upstream past a likely looking spot and then proceed to set up and cast back down to try and catch the fish they have just spooked. Keep away from the water as much as possible and cast downstream to likely spots as you work your way down the river. Talking of keeping away from the river please bare in mind at this time of year on a bright day the low sun can cast a shadow a very long way, If this hits the water the local inhabitants will know you are coming a mile off.

Beware, long Autumn/Winter shadows can ruin your chances of catching.

If you have no interest after 15 minutes or so move downstream to the next fishy looking swim. You are looking for bends where the water has created a deeper hole.

A very Chubby looking bend.

Or longer glides where you can trot a float.

Sit well back from the water where possible.

Many of these little rivers are littered with tiny weirs below which lie havens for many fish.

If you get your approach right bites will generally be very positive so pay attention. Once you have caught fish move on, it’s rare to get more than a couple of fish from one swim due to the disturbance catching them causes.

Here follows a brief summery of a recent trip to my ‘Secret stream’. I met up with my fishing buddy for the day, Chris, and we donned our wellies, picked up our meagre tackle and set off exploring. The first section we chose was very overgrown, although a muddy footpath followed the course of the little river the 20 meters from it to the bank was overgrown with brambles and the remnants of a summer nettle field. Over the day we walked a good mile or so. We both caught fish, 6 species between us, Roach to 4oz, a Rudd, Dace to 7oz, Minnow, Chub to 8oz and hard fighting Brown Trout to over 1lb.

Here is a selection from this trip down our ‘Secret Stream’.

My beloved Sheena has just returned from Waitrose with some nice Cod for tea so I will quickly finish off by saying one more thing. Remember when you were a small child, maybe scooping a small net into a canal, pond or rock pool? Remember the feeling when there was something in your net? That feeling all came flooding back as Chris and I wandered along our little stream, like a couple of schoolboys, trying to catch anything we could and loving every moment. You should try it.

Where is this magical ‘Secret Stream’? I know where mine is, Go find yours, find your inner child and have some fun.

“What’s that you say Sheena?…. How do I like my fish?….POACHED!”

3 replies on “HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR FISH?”

Excellent article, I have always fished rivers where a good run and jump would see you reach the far bank. I fish the River Brain and I always hear two things from passers by, “I never knew there were any fish in here” and ” you are the first fisherman I have seen here in years”, but these waters, often overlooked are teeming with fish and you will catch them if you have good watercraft. There are long sections too shallow to fish but find those slightly deeper areas and they only need to be 18 inches or so and you will find those pockets of fish.

I so love that Type of fishing and yes that inner Child in us comes to mind them little Bends in the stream always comes up with Surprise with a pound a hafe Chub

Ah the good old Brain! Very local to me and on my list to try soon plus the Ter when it fines down a bit… Had some nice sessions on unfished stretches of the Pant and Chelmer this year.
Those fish you catch from these unfished waters are all very special, all for the price of an OS map!

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