End of Season hauling – Steve Cowley

Well another river season has drawn to a close and luckily I managed to get a couple of trips onto the bank, before the final bell sounded…all be it with mixed results. First trip out, I ventured to a peg that had given me good fortune right from the very first day, way back on the 16th of June. The river itself, was just recovering from the recent snow melt and I wasn’t fully confident of much, but knew that by keeping everything tight and simple, there was always the outside chance as the session progressed. That being said, two feeder rods were to be the order of the day, both being an identical set up except for the actual rod length.

Rods were 12ft and 13ft Cadence #2 feeder rods, both fitted with 1.5oz tips, 4lb mainline, 012 hooklength and size 18 hook. The river itself had nice colour and movement to it, so it was rod up, big bow time and watch for the drop back bites. My groundbait choice for the day was my go to mix of late, Bait-Tech Pro Natural Bream and Pro Natural Dark, mixed 50/50 ratio. These two groundbaits compliment each other perfectly and once blended together produce a perfect fluffy mix, suitable for all conditions. You can mix it slightly on the dry side so the mix explodes out of the feeder, or have I have today, slightly wetter due to the flow being more than the norm. On the hookbait front it was a simple case of the humble maggot and worms. Dead maggot was to be the opening gambit, where all I do is just rub each maggot on my leg lightly, this produces the perfect dead hookbait as and when required, which I keep in the edge of my groundbait tub ready to go.

Starting off the session, I kicked off by putting in three bigger sized feeder full of groundbait before actually adding the hooklength and starting to fish. Pouring the coffee out and settling down, I had decided to have thirty minutes by only leaving the feeder in for five minutes which would get a decent bed of groundbait in the swim, where I would then lengthen each cast to ten minutes, or that was the plan. Second cast the tip dropped back and skimmer number one was soon gracing the net. This wasn’t what I had expected and took me quite by surprise, none the less very well received to say the least. Safely in the net, I had a few more casts which produced no more signs, which is how I had expected the session to progress. Once I started to lengthen the time of each cast, I was getting odd nudges and movements on the tip and before long I was managing to get the odd fish.

The river had now started to drop a little and the pace increase a little. This prompted me to set up a slightly beefier set up, being my Cadence #3 feeder with a 2oz tip, 5lb mainline, 012 hooklength and size 16 hook, I also increased the feeder size to 45grm. Getting the weight on feeder to just hold the bottom is vital when fishing with a bow in the line for drop back bites. The actual feeder just wants to grip slightly so any movement from a fish, dislodged the feeder which in turn causes the drop back….one of my favourite ways to fish the tip. During the session, I have probably used 5 or 6 different feeder weights with the constant change in flow. Sometimes I could be using just a 28grm feeder, half an hour later 38grm, then 35grm. These constant changes managed to keep me in touch with a few fish and altering between two or three dead maggots seemed to be the best way forward. As the session drew to a close, I had managed a nice net of skimmers and a couple of small bream. The peg hadn’t disappointed again and has been a very good area to remember.
The next two sessions, were very tough going but none the less enjoyable. The second trip saw me joined by mate on the bank, in an area that produced some skimmers and bream at the same time at the end of last season. I targeting the swim exactly the same way as previously, which was maybe a mistake as even though there was fish in the area, a more softly softly approach may have been better. The skimmers were very finicky, the odd bite now and then which were very tough to hit. Half a dozen skimmers and a handful of roach were all that we managed, but undeterred there was one day left to go. My last session was along a stretch controlled by Littleport AC, with a south easterly wind forecast, this would give me virtually a back wind. The wind decided to be more southerly, which was a tad chilly with it, so it was brolly up and get huddled down behind it. The river had slightly more pace to it and a little less colour, but I had chosen an area that can be productive so the trap was set.  I had replaced the 2oz with a 3oz tip on my #3 rod and this was the only rod set up. One rod clipped up, same area each cast and fingers crossed.

Groundbait for the day I had also changed, where I had decided on the new for 2018, Pro Natural Fine Lake Dark. This mix is the same stable as the Pro Natural range, without the bigger particles. This I had mixed as a 70/30 ratio with the Pro Natural Bream. I started off by getting small indications and before long the odd roach were swung to hand. The session progressed and it proved to be another tough one, with bites at a premium, but I ended with one bream, five skimmers and some roach…along with a big surprise. After a couple of hours, I have had a very positive nod on the tip, which I connected to something that didn’t feel like the customary nod of a skimmer. So when I saw a flash of silver and a red fin, I couldn’t believe a huge Rudd graced the surface and safely into the net. I immediately knew this was a personal best and when I weighed it at the end, I couldn’t believe it when the scales finally settled at a dead 2lb. To say I was over joyed would be a massive under statement. This is one fish I never expected to catch, least of all a specimen of that size. The season started for me, with a nice net of bream and has ended with a personal best, so if that isn’t an amazing way to end then I don’t know what is, roll on the glorious 16th so we can do it all again……ooooooosssssshhhhhhh.

Tight Lines
Steve Cowley

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