Friday, 7 July 2017

Urban fishing

Our chosen swim - and yes this is in the middle of a very built-up area
You can't get much more urban than South East London. Even here there are several small rivers with fish in them. Back in 2009 one of these rivers was stocked with fish as part of a restocking plan by the Environment Agency. Sadly, not long after, an illegal dumping of a poisonous substance wiped out all the fish, and probably a lot more life, in the river.

The river in question is very small. In fact it is so small I am not sure it should be called a 'river' at all. It is also not very long at just under 3 miles it has to be down there with the shortest of rivers. The River Pool is a section of a lot of small rivers that join up on their way to discharge into the River Thames at Deptford Creek as the River Ravensbourne. For the past few years I have been looking at these rivers with the idea of fishing them and today I did just that.

Sue was in charge of feeding the swim - so long as it was bread
I am still not sure that I should be fishing in these rivers but the only criteria I can go by is there is nothing saying I can't. Last week, we took a walk along the river to see if there were any likely swims where we could fish without being too conspicuous.We found a perfect spot were we could fish in fairly deep (relative term) water in the shade of a tree. This morning we fished it.

The plan was to go as light as we could. Just a hand full of tackle. A 3m whip and light line. We also had bread and maggots for hook bait and feed. We arrived at the swim and started to set up. Sue had bought a very small three-legged stool from Poundland the other day. On the flat it is far too low. I am sure they are intended for kids, but as the bank slopes away it gives a little more room for your feet. Sue sat on it for the whole time we were there and said it was more comfortable than she thought it would be, can't grumble at that for a pound. Sue sat and fed the swim with small peppercorn sized pieces of bread rolled between her fingers to make them sink.

I set about rigging the whip. After the usual struggle to get the rig off the winder without getting all tangled up with the second rig wound onto the same winder (Grrr!) I managed to attach it to the flick-tip and I was ready to fish. As Sue had been feeding bread (she is not keen on handling Maggots) I punched a piece of bread and hooked that onto my size 16 hook. The rig consisted of 0.1 line straight through to the hook with a small float-bead acting as the float. a single No.8 shot was crimped to the line about six inches above the hook.

That tree was great to lean on and disguise my outline.
Do you like my hat?

I flicked the rig out along the bank to land just about where Sue had been feeding. Within seconds the bead had disappeared and the tip was taking on a bend. Blimey! First ever river cast and I am into a fish. It was no small roach either. It was a good sized chublet, I would say it was about 8 inches in length and was very frisky. It was much too heavy to swing to hand so I brought it to the bank and hand-landed it. The only trouble was we did not have the camera to hand. Although that grubby mark on my shirt proves I had been trying to cuddle it!  We had only been there five minutes and in the water for about 30 seconds. I think all the commotion of hand-lining the chublet out of the water scared off all his mates as we did not see any more. I will take a landing net next time. I had no idea I was going to catch anything bigger then a couple of inches long, otherwise I would have gone back home and got a landing net once I had realised I had left it at home, on the way here. Instead I decided it would not be necessary - how wrong can you be!

My first river roach
I know we could have moved swims but this was only going to be a quick couple of hours, if that. Besides we could see lots of other fish milling about and it was possible they would return if we were quiet enough. It was not long before we were into another fish. This time a roach, on single white maggot, nothing to write home about but it was another fish.

This little perch found one of my red maggots
I decided to change to red maggot and as soon as I did, I caught a perch. I am really pleased there are perch in here, I think they are one of my favourite fish. Having said that, now I have caught a chub, well a chublet, Mr. Stripy may have some competition for that accolade.

By lunchtime we were back at home after having a brilliant couple of hours on the bank a short walk from my front door here in one of the most built up areas of South East London. My first trip to a river and I caught fish. I can't wait until tomorrow morning, when we will be attempting to catch some fish in the Great Stour as it meanders its way through Canterbury. I will be taking a float-rod with me and I fancy just just free-lining some bread to see if the chub are about. If not I will have a go at trotting a maggot or two and see what happens. 

Having never fished a river before, it looks like I will be hitting two in two days! How I spent the first 58 years of my life not fishing is a real puzzle to me. I never had the slightest interest in it as a kid - I wish I had - or maybe not. I might have got bored with it and taken up something else. Either way I can't get enough of it now, and there is always something new to discover.

And finally...

While fishing I caught a strange looking mini-fish that turned out to be a stickleback - my personal best - It is a shame the picture was not also one of my best!

My (fuzzy) PB stickleback!