River Witham

River Witham
River Witham near Barkston, Lincolnshire

Thursday, 28 July 2011

A lesson learned - check that tippet!

Some views of the River Witham at Barkston

 Ventured out last night, can't believe its been a week since I last fished the fly.  Arrived at Barkston to lovely peace & quiet, not a soul around, just a few rising fish and the occasional late mayfly to welcome me.
 Noticed again the huge amount of balsam on the banks, this really needs a determined effort to tackle.  The early warm weather and low water really seems to have brought on the vegetation, making casting even more challenging.  Trying to combine accuracy and delicacy often defeats me!
 However I did manage to catch nearly as many as I put down.
 Difficult to see the subtle rises on this one, little sips generally, suggesting spinners, and emergers?
 A cheerful and pretty little grayling.
 Jungle casting skills required!

 A few small mayflies were dipping on the water, but the fish seemed to ignore them, perhaps because they don't expect them?
 Eventually my perseverance paid off when this clonker (for this stream) took my klinkhammer in a flat calm pool amongst the reeds, as dusk crept in.
 15" of very solid fish who had me all over the pool, before slipping over rim of my net.
After that lovely fish a lesson was to be learned.  I didn't check my tippet after retreiving the fly and in my enthusiasm to cast to a rising fish I hung up in a hawthorn tree.  Managing to free the fly with some judicious waggling of the rod tip, I again omitted to check the tippet  for damage.  Another cast to a very subtle rise and my string was well and truly pulled, but only briefly as my tippet parted, leaving me wondering what I'd lost, apart from my fly that is.  Another klink tied on produced a couple more brownies in the 12" range before I headed home in the gloaming.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

A little bit of float gazing

Woke up at 5.00am this morning, so decided to grab a flask and my float tackle and head down to the ford thro' the Witham, just down the road.  Picked a spot on a small clear pool at the tail-end of a riffle, and chucked in some groundbait.
Tackled up and popped some luncheon meat on the hook, and whilst chucking in some more groundbait  2 or 3 chub turned up, but ignored my offering.

It had started sunny but soon clouded over and a strongish breeze set in, although it wasn't too cold.  A number of visitors stopped by including, a pair of white ducks, a mallard family and a pair of swans!

Time flies by when you're so absorbed, but the fish seemed to be few and far between, eventually however what looked like a largish chub showed up, snaffled my luncheon meat, and my blank was saved.  Landing it was a different story, I was repeatedly increasing drag as it bored into the weed,  but then my net wouldn't unfold or set-up, one of those times when you need 3 or 4 hands! I did eventually get it in the net and boy it was a chubby chub, I didn't have any scales with me but measuring the net when I got home (22") and my hands for its girth (12.5") and using a table, from the Chub Study Group, I estimated it around 4lb, a PB for me although I have caught very few chub.

I had another hour to no avail and headed home for lunch.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Having not been out over the weekend due to weather and other commitments I felt the need to go out to fish last night despite the rain squalls. A chap beat me to my chosen beat, but he seemed unprepared for the weather!

However I was down by the river by 6.30pm, in my waders, under the tailgate and sheltering from a downpour!  Noticeably cooler, there was still evidence of fly life but no fish rising, or least that I could distinguish from the rain drops. When the rain stopped I was able to tempt 4 trout and 2 grayling with my olive-bodied klinkhammer as I worked my way upstream. The larger of the 2 grayling, despite being very pretty, refused to pose for the obligatory photo by leaping to freedom.

The other highlight of the evening was the appearance, as the light went, of a very large dragonfly, which I took for a bat initially until I could see its double wings. It was zipping around the bankside vegetation and back and forth over the river catching flies, midges, in midair. It can just be made out in the following pictures but what you won’t be able to see is that was at least 4” long! So large I could hear its wings fluttering. By this time, around 10.15pm, there was no sign of further rises so it was time to go home

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Saturday, 16 July 2011

Fishing the evening rise

Looked like it was going to be a great evening except for the gusty warm wind that had sprung up. After a quick tea I headed out to Barkston and was togged up and in the river (we have to wade as the banks are above your head!) by 6.45pm. Tied on a home-tied olive bodied klink with a pink post #16, with 6x tippet, and waded very carefully seeking the first rising fish, which I promptly put down with a miss-timed cast into the wind! Persevering, I began to get a rhythm going trying to cast once the wind dropped, and was soon into a small brownie of about 10", which was followed by a much larger fish that tore off into the weeds, wrapping the leader around and breaking me off. Drat it!
Into the flybox to select a grey/olive klink with a white post, which was secured with a new length of tippet, on which I picked up a couple more fish of around 12". It was now around 8.45 and the light was fading as I approached the deep, unwadeable pool on a sharp right bend under a tree, a fish moved in the shadows, not exactly a rise more of a swirl. Waiting it swirled again making quite a surface disturbance, could this be the reputed monster of the deep? A tricky sideways cast along the surface of the water to avoid the tree cover was required but could I achieve the accuracy coupled with enough free drift? I waited for a lull, and the fish to swirl again, and launched my cast whilst holding my breath... swirl and I carefully tightened rather than striking, and it was on. Major acrobatics followed by several runs before I could get its head above the water and weed, and into the net, I hope you agree what a gorgeously pretty fish. Just a couple of quick photos and measured against my rod before reviving and returning it.

It measured an unbelievable 15.5", no wonder I struggled to get it in my small net.

Elated I climbed out to skirt around the pool and re-entered to see several rising fish ahead. Casting variably I put several fish down before hooking another lunker which made an almighty leap over a weed and branch jam to snap me off again. Double drat!
A couple more fish came to hand after that including one in gloom which I felt take rather than saw, but by now it was dark and being 10:15pm I hiked back to the car tired and happy, and ready for a cup of coffee. Note to self, need to do more evening fishing while I can.
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