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Andrew Pilgrim

What’s in your Bag?

Before Xmas my trusty old bag finally died (who said Sheena?… How dare you!!!). No it was my roving/stalking bag. We had shared many good years bankside in all weathers and to be honest both of us were looking worse for wear and it was touch and go as to which one of us would expire first. Luckily for me it was my old bag. So a replacement was required and much researching was done. The replacement had to fit the following criteria.

1/ Waterproof and rugged

2/ Big enough to accommodate all the essential tackle but not too big as to get filled with pointless stuff that gets carried around for years, just in case, without ever being used.

I settled on the Diawa Wilderness Game Bag No4. (£29.99 from Uttings of Norwich) http://www.uttings.co.uk

Now I am well aware that a blog review of a bag will probably be as dull as dishwater so what I thought I’d do is show you the bag and what I use it to carry, so here goes.

Diawa Wilderness No4 Game Bag.

The bag has a couple of useful side pockets.

In these I have my scales and spare batteries and the other side holds my small yet powerful power pack. both in plastic bags for protection from the elements.

The front of the bag has two further small pockets each with a magnetic flap. These contain the following; one side has my metal tin “Ashtray” (why do people insist on flicking their tab ends in the water?) my spare torches, and most importantly some sustenance should I get peckish.

The other side holds my selection of hooks, spools of Flourocarbon hooklink and some split shot.

Behind these pockets is a long shallow pocket that quite nicely takes my tackle box.

The main compartment is plenty big enough for the remaining essentials such as bait boxes, a flask, rag, and my unhooking mat sits nicely on top. This largest compartment also has a good quality detachable waterproof lining.

At the rear of the bag is one further slim pocket with a zipper. This holds my poncho which is vital should I get caught in an unexpected downpour.

I also carry other items that I have found invaluable.

A bungee cord with clips. This is a fantastic addition ro a river stalkers kit and has many uses. for example – yesterday I fished a swim where there was a long branch crossing at about 9ft high preventing me from lifting my rods up. I hooked this with my landing net and secured it to the trunk using this bungee. in 30 seconds I had made a comfortable swim out of an unfishable one. You will find many uses for a bungee.

Also in my bag is a small tripod that holds my phone. This in conjunction with the “Whistle camera app” enables you to capture better pictures. This tripod performs another vital role as a torch holder. As regular readers of my blogs will have spotted, when Chub fishing, I like to fish into dark, thus making the most of the “Golden Hour”, that wonderful time when dusk turns to dark and the fish bite. My quiver tips are painted white and the tripod holds a small and not very bright torch which is just powerful enough to light up the tips without illuminating the opposite bank and fields for miles as the super powerful ones seem to do. The other bonus of this fantastically crap little torch from Halfords, is the battery life is 20+ hours unlike the 1/2 hours you get from the powerful ones.

Here is a bit of advice – if you use this torch set up always position the torch low and downstream of you with the beam pointing upstream so it is not visible to the fish you are trying to catch. While we are on the subject of light I also carry this handy little lantern which I hang on a bankstick near my left shoulder. This provides enough light for baiting up etc. Note the tape blocking off light to one side again so as not to be visible for the fish.

One other thing I would like to recommend are these tubs.

These are called Lock N Lock and are only a few quid from places such as the Range,. They come in various sizes and are fantastic for holding most of your favourite Chub delicacies.

A smorgasbord fit for any Chub.

The other great thing about these boxes is when you get home from a session they can easily just be put in the freezer ready for the next trip.

So, there we have it my roving bag, and all it contains. So far I am impressed with the quality and and usability. Maybe I will review it again in 10 years to report on its durability, but for now its ‘So far so good’

What do you have in your bag? any tips on vital bits of kit I may be missing?

Why not leave me a comment using the box at the bottom of this page.

Happy Chub hunting.

Categories
Andrew Pilgrim

Frustrating Isn’t it?

Frustrating isn’t it, when you are denied your one pleasure in life, when, in your mind, you have been perfecting a new technique or method and you are dying to try it out, when your tackle is starting to look forlorn and underused and you start to wonder if you may ever use it again?

 I’ve been feeling like this for the last few weeks now and I mentioned this to my beloved Sheena who immediately changed the subject and suggested that I go fishing instead to clear (clean?) my mind, so I did.

Just before lockdown I paid a visit to the River Ter in Essex as part of my quest to fish lots of the forgotten small rivers and streams that Essex has to offer. You can read my blog on this subject here.. https://essexanglers.co.uk/my-secret-stream/

The pretty little River was carrying a bit of extra water and was well coloured, despite that my fishing partner for the day James and we covered about half a mile of water and we both managed to winkle out some tiny Brown Trout.

Now whilst these are not going to impress anyone with their size they make up for it with their enthusiasm, (Sheena has just said she’s going to start calling me her little Trout!) Anyway they put up a spirited little fight on my little 9ft Drennan Acolyte Ultra rod and despite it being a bitter cold day it was a very enjoyable one.

Now, as you know, with this latest lockdown malarkey we are restricted to staying local which is not too bad for me as the Suffolk Stour is but a few miles down the road and I therefore that’s where I headed.

First up was the Mill Pool at Dedham.

Dedham Mill has featured before in my blogs and I will say again what a stunningly beautiful place it is. Although I am yet to encounter any of its larger inhabitants I’m quite confident that it’s just a question of time as I’m sure it holds some great fish. In fact a bit of research throws up talk of big Bream to 8lb+ and other large specimens of other species too, so I shall persevere.

I am finding that most times I visit the river is carrying extra water and is quite challenging. All my recent trips were no different and bites were few and far between. Roach on bread flake and small Chub up to 1lb or so on worm with little interest on my killer paste.

An interesting note is that I usually like to fish into dark 12-6pm ish and when fishing the end of the pool where it shallows and narrows both times I have had a run of bites and fish between 4-4.30pm just as the light is going, and then nothing. There is obviously a shoal of chub leaving the pool or heading into the pool for the night. Further investigation is required.

Also, I was sat at Dedham thinking that I was somewhat crazy fishing in such raging conditions when, in the swim to my left, I noticed two old women adorned in bright swimming gear enter the water and proceed to swim franticly upstream and into my swim, luckily the flow was such that they never quite made it as every time they stopped for a rest the flow took them back to where they had started from. You can just make them out in this picture, I was fishing off the end of the bush!

I managed one further trip due to the river levels and the cold, which was to another local stretch of the Stour at Langham.

I was fully intending spending an afternoon on Cheese paste but when I got there the river looked perfect for running a stick float through. The float rod was already set up in my rod bag and soon I was blissfully trotting away. I have to say that for me nothing comes close to trotting a stick float, and after an hour or so I could feel all my worries and woes drifting away as I slowly got into a rhythm, feed 6 maggots, gentle Wallis cast, 6 more maggots, trot a while mend the line and trot further… and repeat.

My state of meditation was, however, rudely interrupted when right at the tail of the swim, 30 yards downstream the float vanished and I struck into the bottom which was solid, 2 seconds later the bottom gave a couple of shakes of its head, turned and shot off downstream. I love it when Chub do that, The next 10 minutes were spent with the Speedia Centerpin going forwards then backwards as I slowly worked the fish upstream in the flow, all the time being fully aware the I was only connected via a size 16 hook. Once netted and pictured the fat lad was returned and I was soon back trotting.

The daylight ebbed and I spent the last two hours ledgering Cheese paste and worm with no interest at all.

As I write this I note that the levels are dropping so I shall be back out Chub hunting in the next day or two with hopefully something nice to report next week.

Tight lines Y’all and stay safe.

Categories
Andrew Pilgrim

Advanced River Fishing Techniques Pt2

This week I would like to write about how to tackle fishing in a flooded river. If you haven’t read Part1 it can be found here. https://essexanglers.co.uk/advanced-river-fishing-techniques-pt1/

Please do read it, off you go, the rest of us will wait.

All read and digested? good stuff , then I shall continue.

Now we all understand what’s happening to the flow under the surface of any given river lets bear that in mind and think about how to approach a river in flood.

The Suffolk Stour last week.

So how would we approach a river like this?….. CAREFULLY is the answer, the banks are slippy, the water is running fast. I have a small readership and I cant afford to loose any of my loyal followers.

When you arrive at a flooded river you may be tempted to take one look and get back in their car to head for the nearest carp puddle for some easy fishing. But flooded rivers can offer some great days fishing, and they are pretty easy to master provided you follow the following easy steps.

1/ TRAVEL LIGHT Take only what you think you will need. Rod, Net, Rest and bag of basic tackle is all you need. A feeder rod is perfect, 4lb main line for general fishing, 6lb if you may encounter a Chub or two, Hooks in sizes 16-8, some big shot and a few weights.

2/ TAKE A WALK. Don’t just plonk yourself down in the most comfortable swim you come across. Take a walk and identify where the fish will be. Remember that the fish haven’t gone anywhere they will just maybe not be where they usually are. You need to find where they have chosen to hold up out of the torrent.

3/ IDENTIFY LIKELY LOOKING AREAS. This is the key to successful river fishing at this time. That you are looking for are the following. Slack water on the inside of bends, ‘Cow drinks’ that offer some slack water, junctions where a slower river joins and structure on the bank, trees walls etc, that will divert the flow creating slower flowing water behind them. Can you see the theme here? that’s right we want to find some water which has less flow than the main river. Here are some pictures of the Suffolk Stour and the Colne taken last week. They were both pulling hard with weed, leaves and the odd branch flying past Now lets have some fun….The river is flowing right to left where would you cast?

Well how did you do?

Lets have a look.

I this picture we can see the flow coming round a bend and hitting the near bank just upstream. However the tree provides just enough deviation to the flow to create a small thin area of slacker water right along the near bank, very close only a foot or so from the submerged bank. In addition we can see a larger area of calmer water across on the far bank. If you fish across to somewhere like this get your rod tip as high as possible, ‘beachcaster’ style to keep as much line out of the fast flowing water as possible.

You can just make out the submerged bank downstream of my position, A big lobworm gently placed along here produced 3 good bites off Chub. Across and downstream is another area which produced one bite. It was a cold day and my beloved Sheena decided to give it a miss which was a shame as her Drennan Acolyte Feeder 11ft Plus would have been perfect for this style of fishing.

The River Colne, Colchester.

What a fantastic fishy looking hole just behind the tree and a huge area across that surely has fish holed up in it.

So we can see that all rivers have holding areas you just have to find them.Unless the river has burst it’s bank I would consider any river in flood as ‘fishable’. Don’t waste too much time in one spot, give it 15-30 mins. No bites then move to the next spot, remember the fish just need finding and as they have been swimming against a flow, using up energy they still need to eat.

Rigs are best kept as simple as possible. Without a doubt ledgering would be my choice with a very simple rig such as this.

If you need to use a heavier weight please never tie it directly to your line. A good Chub will find any available snag and a ‘fixed lead’ can become caught tethering the fish. You should always use a rig such as below where the lead is held in place by a single shot which can slide off should it become snagged leaving you connected to the fish.

One last thing we need to discuss, BAIT!

Most of your usual baits will catch fish but there are a few things to consider that will greatly improve your catch rate. Natural baits such as Worms and Slugs will get washed into rivers in times of flood and the Chub, Perch and Roach are on the lookout for these. Nip the end off your worm to increase its scent trail.

Smelly baits come into their own in heavily coloured water. Cheese, Luncheon Meat and stinky Cheese paste can be killer baits. Tailor the size of baits and hooks to your target species but remember if you are hoping for Big Chub use Big Baits on Big Hooks. I’ve caught 4-5lb Chub on a No4 and a lump of Red Leicester the size of a match box. For you youngsters that’s maybe 27 cubic grams or something, I don’t know, maybe ask your teacher!

KEY POINTS. Stay safe-Travel light- Identify fish holding areas-Keep on the move- Simple rigs and baits- and lastly concentrate on the margin, by which I mean as close to the usual bank as possible.

So there you have it, a simple guide to fishing flooded rivers. Personally I find this the most challenging and yet the most rewarding way to pass a few hours. In fact I think I shall be popping down the Suffolk Stour tomorrow, can’t wait.