New Year River Success – Steve Cowley

Well the new fishing year has started and let’s hope it a good one for all too. I have had a couple of trips on my local River Ouse, both of which proved to be tough going, but rewarding none the less. The river has had a good old flush through as I type, something that has been long over due. For the first trip out, I decided on a members only stretch on Four Mill Wash, which is controlled by Ely Beet Sports and Social club. It is probably one of the shallowest stretches locally, with a max depth of only 10/11ft deep, which is relatively shallow compared to my usual haunts. The river had just come off a good run and with some movement and slight colour in the water, I was hoping a few skimmers or bream may fancy a feed.

On arrival, there was still some movement on the water, so decided on a one rod approach and keep everything tight and simple. Rod was a Cadence 13ft #3 feeder rod, coupled with a 2oz tip, this may have seemed a bit beefed up for the conditions as they were, but the day previous 2-2.5oz feeders were required to hold bottom further along, so should the pace pick up I was covered. The rod itself has a soft action through the top section, before powering up so hopefully should any skimmers fancy a feed, I wouldn’t bump any off. 5lb mainline, a 28″ 0.12 hooklength and a size 18 SW hook completed the set up, with the feeder being an opening gambit of a medium 28grm Nisa open ender.

My chosen mix for the session was a 50/50 mix of Bait-Tech Omen and Kult Sweet Fishmeal. I have used this mix for bream/skimmers before and hopefully chose right today. I wasn’t expecting to get bites straight away, so only time would tell if I had made the right choice. I introduced six big feeder full at the start, all containing groundbait alone, before switching over to the smaller feeder where I started to introduce a small amount of chopped worm each cast. My first bite, which I missed, came after 90 mins to a double dead red maggot. The very next cast I had my first skimmer, of around a pound which started to give me some confidence. The next skimmer duly arrived around 15 minutes later, which at least showed a few were in the area. Over the next four hours, I managed to slip the net under another nine skimmers, chopping and changing between dead maggot and small segments of worm… a great start to the year.

For my next session, I chose a section controlled by Littleport Angling Club. This has been a prolific stretch through the season, not an easy stretch at times by any means, but if you are willing to work at it, the results can be very good. Meeting a mate on the bank, we had a quick scan of a few pegs where Chris decided to sit on peg 24 and I decided on 26. This would also be a good contrast, as Chris had decided to go down the fishmeal approach, where I decided on a more natural mix. My chosen mix was a 50/50 of Bait-Tech Pro Natural Bream & Pro Natural Dark, both these groundbaits compliment each other very well and when mixed together give you a nice sweet smelling dark and fluffy mix. The rod I chose this session, was a Cadence 12ft #2 feeder, with a 1oz tip. The river was moving a small amount and with an over the shoulder wind, a rod up and bow approach with a 20grm feeder seemed perfect.  With the weather being a tad chilly to say the least, I decided on 4lb mainline, a 28″ 0.10 hook length and size 18 super match hook, more than capable should a few skimmers want to open their mouths.

I started off by introducing 3 big feeder fulls, just shy of 3/4 way across. I left this for five minutes whilst having a warm up brew, before slipping on double dead red maggot, a pinch of chop in the feeder and away we went. A couple of minutes in the water, a small rap and drop back on the tip resulted in a firm strike with something tugging the other way. After a five minute tussle, a beautiful winter tench graced the surface and slipped into the net. I didn’t expect to get any bites for at least an hour, so this was somewhat of a surprise and my first tench I’ve caught from this stretch. So you can imagine my surprise when tench number two graced my net 45mins later, both falling to dead red maggot. Over the next two hours, I hardly had any indications other than a couple of small roach and a gudgeon, again a species I have never caught from the Ouse since I moved here. I decided a change was in order, I slipped on a bigger feeder and had three quick casts introducing a bit more worm into the swim, just to see if I could again get an instant reaction. 30 minutes after this top up, a decent skimmer duly arrived which was followed the very next cast by tench number three which would prove to be my last fish of the session. Chris had caught two nice tench and another angler to our right had caught five bream, so was nice to see a few winter specimens grace the bank. Hopefully this will prove to be a great start to the new year and a few more my grace my net, before the season is out!

Tight Lines

Steve Cowley

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