Catch Fish with
For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over several years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).
Where have all the large fish gone?
Spinning on the Dorset River Stour has its good days and its bad days - just like any other river. It tends to be pretty consistent and the catch usually includes trout, chub, perch and pike. Using the small lures that I favour for perch and chub the pike are generally jacks of a few pounds and even these smallish fish necessitate the use of a wire trace to avoid bite-offs. However, as a rule the other species come in a range of sizes with chub of five pounds plus being fairly common and perch and trout of a pound or two not unusual. All in all it's good fun with a fair proportion of the fish pulling the string pretty hard. Recently it's been a bit different and my last trip illustrates the problem perfectly.
I suppose I should say something about the conditions. There has not been any substantial rainfall for quite a long time, the discharge of the river is very low and the water is gin clear. Since it is now Autumn there's the usual quota of dead leaves drifting down and these tend to interfere with effective spinning although it is still easily fishable. On my visit it was a pretty warm, sunny afternoon. I tend to fish the same few stretches which I now know pretty well and the lures used are either Mepps or jointed Rapalas. Due to the very shallow water on my recent visit I was using a J7 black and silver Rapala which fishes down to perhaps half-a-metre, is a pretty reliable lure for all the common species and has caught me plenty of good fish over the years. I started in a deep, wide pool which is usually a banker for a few perch and jacks - this time nothing! Moving on downstream I had a tiny trout from the shallow tail of a pool, encouraging but not even big enough to warrant taking a picture.
The next spot was again wide and shallow with a gravelly bed and some overhanging bushes on the far bank. Usually this is guaranteed to produce a few small perch and one or two good chub. I had a bite first cast and it proved to be a chub of well under a pound. I missed the next two bites but in the shallow water I could see that they were only small fish then I hooked another chub a bit bigger than the first one but still only a baby. This was followed by a couple of tiny trout. No sign in the deeper water downstream and then a very dark coloured trout that should have approached a pound or so but was pretty thin. This one took almost at my feet as I paddled out to reach round a tree branch sticking out from the bank. Without dwelling on the details, from the remainder of the stretch I had three more small chub and a couple of even smaller trout. Just enough to keep me interested but not very exciting. The fish were all in decent condition but it was really disappointing not to contact anything of reasonable size and I never saw any perch or pike at all. I wonder whether the fish will reappear if we have some rain to raise and colour the water?
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My first chub, small but beautifully marked.
A slightly bigger chub but still a tiddler.
Yet another baby chub.
The very dark coloured trout which took the lure under my rod tip.
...another titchy trout to finish off with.