This back-end of the traditional coarse fishing season has been, like so many others, a time of luck and opportunity.
One seeks to glean what one can from our rivers but dear old Jack Frost and John Snow(?) tend to intervene more often than not. Indeed when these two characters are not at large it's probably raining heavily anyway.
The albatross shot on the way back from Wiltshire a month or so ago hangs like a necklace of increasing pungency.
The Bloggers Challenge has proven a tremendous boost to the season. The careful planning of the pursuit of each species across all three platforms has been incredibly engaging and not a trip has gone by that wasn't influenced by the competition, the format of which I find completely enthralling.
I confess I had been targeting the overall leader board this time but of course in the knowledge that James would be way out in front by now; and such has been the case.
As a canal angler who has not spent any significant portion of his life fishing stillwaters (until the past three years or so) and whose regular river experience was in the distant past some thirty years back this has been an entertaining challenge and never has research been so thoroughly undertaken.
Despite this however the points-scoring fish caught to date were all duped within thirty minutes of home apart from the Hants Avon chub.
Some of the fishing has been incredible, the run of five Warks Avon barbel, smallest 9.12, for instance and the all round capacity to achieve that is Napton Reservoir.
In fact, if it were analysed, a good proportion of the fish will have come from the excellent waters of Leamington A A where much of the period has been spent.
For most participants though the challenge has been more of precisely that since Christmas. River pike had been a main target to get up above the measly 6lber extracted from the side of the keepnet in Summer 2017 but a mixture of lack of experience, the species seemingly going off the feed in general and plain bad luck conspired such that this would fail but, with a decent plan in place for the March 15th to May 1st period, the numerous hours spent in their pursuit would not, fingers crossed, prove too detrimental overall.
Chief mover over the past few days though has been Brian Roberts (no, not my local villager and former Cov City full back but of Pike Blog) with a quick burst of very impressive fish...2oz gudgeon, 8.4 bream, 1.9 roach, etc., etc.
Bloggers Challenge top 5's:
James Denison 1089
George Burton 871
Brian Roberts 795
Russell Hilton 680
Danny Everitt 601
James Denison 583
Brian Roberts 449
Mick Newey 376
Sean Dowling 316
George Burton 295
Brian Roberts 301
James Denison 296
George Burton 283
Danny Everitt 255
Russell Hilton 150
George Burton 293
Russell Hilton 246
James Denison 209
Ben Hennessy 133
Danny Everitt 128
So thoughts have turned to next season ('always will think this way, close season or not) and I've started enquiring and negotiating access to as much of the River Leam as possible. Currently at least another four more meadows have been added to the LAA stretches, our private meadow and the Godiva length, which may well come into play again.
I'm enchanted by the challenge of the river. A bit like a child with a pond net. It doesn't have to be the biggest, longest, most overfed capture but, given it is less than 10 minutes away at its closest, is hugely varied and contains a natural range & balance of species, a concerted effort for them is a great prospect.
Each water has its ceiling on sizes. A 5.11 Hants Avon Chub might equate to a 3.6 Leam fish and therefore, despite what the national angling press might seek to sensationalise, the fact is they are as worthy as each other in their relative ways.
A quick recce on two of the new lengths highlighted the obvious - that it will be difficult to find fishable holes in summer - but autumn and winter fishing with water on should prove fruitful.
|Points scoring dace from new stretch of Leam on first visit|
An updated list of River Leam p.b's will probably follow by way of targets and interest moving forward.
Currently main Leam p.b's are:
These from very limited opportunities given the length of the river that is theoretically fishable.
Certainly pike go to double figures, perch to 2.8 min., roach to 1.14, chub must go over 4lbs somewhere and the dace potential has not been met by the waters I have fished but I suspect fish over 8ozs are present in suitable places.
Since the Hants Avon trip the only noteworthy catch has been a nice bream of 4.5 from the Warks Avon, on a bread feeder sleeper rod while deadbaiting with hideously oversized mackerel parts, so with the final river weekend upon us, rod licences renewed, temperatures suddenly soaring into double figures but heavy rain causing local rivers to burst the season is highly likely to end on a river fishing wash-out and leave us wishing it had occurred either a touch sooner, or much later.
To repeat then; "A time of luck and opportunity"; enough time and too little opportunity, for this angler at least...but there's life in us yet!