Even having a leisurely drive and walk I was still there far too early!
There were a couple of guys fishing with bait for the barbel close to where I parked but the rest of the beat was my own. I didn't want to be fishing in the pitch black and sat back to wait for a bit more daylight. I was happily watching the bats when a splash in the water caught my attention and I was amazed to see an otter swim past. I know they are now common in some areas but I've never seen one on this river.
It was very dull and overcast and it seemed to take an age before it was light enough to fish comfortably. I had a fish slash at the lure very early on and a few minutes later was very briefly attached to a fish that managed to shake the hooks. I was half way down the pool when, at around 4.30am I had my first chub of the river season, small but nonetheless special.
I had been worried about the recent rain putting too much water into the river but I was wishing we had had a bit more, the river was choked with filamentous weed that was clogging the hooks on my crank baits on almost every cast. The fishing was slow and it was about half an hour later when I had the second fish, a little bit bigger so things were moving in the right direction.
I had carefully fished the entire pool with only a couple of small fish to show for my efforts and decided to move. As I walked passed the water I had fished the martins were feeding on an early hatch and a few chub started slashing at the emerging insects. The whole head of the pool was alive with fish. I thought it has to be worth fishing through it again. A few casts later I had an arm wrenching take and after a few hairy moments when it dived for the reeds just below me I was rewarded with a new Personal Best of 5lb 4oz.
I rarely go fishing without a pork pie (or two) in my bag so decided this was a good time for a celebratory breakfast - 'the food of Kings'.
Just a little further up stream I had another good fish at a shade over 5lb.
The return shot gives you some idea how solidly built these fish are - they are like breeze blocks!
I was getting lots of action with fish hitting and missing my lures, some sticking on briefly before letting go and some making it to the net. I had a good number of two and three pound fish which were good sport in the fast water before I had another nice fish at just over 4lb.
It was disappointing to see clear evidence that people had been fishing all along the bank - there were worn swims, the usual bait tins, beer cans and bottles strewn everywhere and piles of dried out weed that looked several days old. I think it's a real shame that the sense of excitement I felt about fishing for relatively undisturbed fish was tarnished by selfish anglers unable to abide by the legal close season
By 10 o'clock I had fished all the water on this part of the river and decided on a move upstream to a section on another club card. This is a bit of a drive and a long walk and I hoped it would be quiet but when I got there two roving 'stick float trotters' had waded through all the prime pools and not surprisingly the fish had been spooked and were proving very uncooperative. By now the weather was improving and the sky brightening which probably didn't help. I did manage to winkle one out from a piece of undisturbed water.
By early afternoon I had been out for nearly twelve hours and need a quick break so returned home to fill my flask with fresh coffee. I wanted to return to the scene of my big trout capture as in a couple of spots I had moved big fish. I didn't really see if they were trout or chub but had noted their address for a future visit! This small river is desperately low at the moment and like all the local rivers needs a good flush through. I did manage a nice chub from one of the spots and a few nice little brownies but didn't see the big fish I had been looking for.
A fantastic start to my season and I'm looking forward to beating my new personal best. I found out last night that there are fish pushing 8lb being caught in the river - I'd like to see one of those on the line.