Apart from tackle and bait, which included some excellent lob worms, I loaded up with food, cooker and sleeping bag. If the fishing was good I wanted to spend as much time at the waterside as possible. Disaster struck a few yards from home - the front offside tire was punctured. Changing over to one of those silly spare wheels, which can only be described as a doughnut and about as useful, I headed off to the garage where I was given the news the punctured tire was scrap. The mechanic then checked the other front tire, then gave me the news that both tires need replacing. The bill was £102-93 Where would we be without our plastic cards!
In the gale force wind and heavy rain I set off, hoping the rain and wind might ease a bit during the long drive. After some hundred miles the rain ceased but the wind was still a hooligan as I arrived in Lincoln. It had been a horrid journey on the motorway. Why do so many motorist drive at 70mph plus when the road conditions demand driving at 40 mph? To make driving more hazardous most of these idiots didn't have their lights on. A few miles along the Lincoln to Horncastle road, I stopped off for some food and drink which I thought was very good value for money.
It was around 2-0pm when I arrived at the river just upstream of Horncastle to find the river windswept but at what looked like normal level. I quickly climbed into my chest high waders and waterproof jacket, then tackled up with a 12 foot Avon action rod, centre pin reel, 6 lb line and a 2Xswan-shot cork-on-quill float with a size 6 hook. My bait bucket contained two large loafs of bread, some lob worms, cheese and meat paste. Time for a quick brew before heading off downriver to seek what I feel is the perfect winter quarry, the chub. My first swim was some two hundred yards below a small weir pool where a tree hung over the water, some of its branches trailed in the water and rubbish had collected, creating a small raft. I chose a spot ten yards upstream, sitting down on the low bank covered in dead reeds ripped from the river. I set the float at about two feet then baited with a large bit of flake. Casting out I then guided the float downstream. After about twenty feet the float dipped; the answering strike connected with a nice fish, which put up a good scrap all the way back to the net. It was a good one which was quickly weighed and turned the scales to 4-10-0.
Three times I guided the float downstream, introducing an egg sized lump of mashed bread with each cast. At the end of the third cast I held the float back, causing the bait to rise at the edge of the raft. Seconds later the float had disappeared, pulled under with a violent savage jerk - another good fish was hooked! Cramming on a lot of pressure I soon had the fish twisting turning and wallowing all the way to the net, another good one that weighed 4-12-0. After four more casts and no sign of a bite it was time to move on.
Today it had been a good swim, most days it's usually just one fish from each spot. When fishing these shallow narrow rivers I find it's best to move on after having caught a fish, returning later in the day, these chub can be very spooky.
Moving on downstream I came across small area of water which had created the perfect crease. It's a spot that usually means a bite. Again, sitting down low I cast out, then trotted the bait downstream to the crease and held back the float - it quickly disappeared. The strike connecting with another good fish, after a brief struggle it was netted then weighed turning the needle to 3-12-0. I decided on another cast to the same spot, in fact I fished the swim for some fifteen minutes but no sign of a bite, it was time to move on.
Back to the car. After loading my tackle in the back, I made a brew then drove a few miles to a very small weir pool. After an hour or so without a bite I packed in then moved off to another area of the Bain. This time I chose a swim on a long straight stretch, I had to slither down to the bottom of a steep bank, as far as I could see up and downstream there wasn't a tree or bush in sight.
The wind was a real hooligan blowing upstream creating some good size waves. Every now and again they would be crested by white foam. It was more like fishing the ocean. I introduced two handfuls of mashed bread, then plumbed the depth - it was about two and a half feet. I set the float at two. Baiting with a lobworm I cast out then guided the float down the stream some twenty yards. With no sign of a bite I retrieved the line. Four or five more casts, still no bites. I decided to lay on. Setting the float at about four feet I bunched the shot about fifteen or so inches from the hook, baited with a piece of flake and cast out towards the far bank.
After the tackle had settled I chucked in a handful of mashed bread. Several times the float was swamped by a huge wave, often disappearing though it wasn't time to get excited. Also, it was the first time I have seen white horses rolling up the river Bain, several times the rod was blown from the rest or the tip was bent facing upstream, so violent was the wind.
After about twenty minutes the float disappeared. I couldn't decide if it was a bite or if a big wave had swamped it, then the rod tip pulled round. I struck, finding I had hooked a good fish - or it had hooked itself? This fish really did put up a good scrap all the way to the net. Often when you hook a fish in these shallow rivers they will roll on the surface. I didn't see this fish until I pulled it over the waiting net. It was a good one, probably a good five. The scales told a different story, it was certainly a good fish but not as heavy as I thought. It weighed 4-15-0 certainly a great fish on a gale-swept tiny river. Next cast with a lob worm accounted for a nice roach which weighed 14 ounces, certainly a welcome sight. With so many cormorants on the river it's surprising this roach had survived.
In the fading light with darkness approaching, the float was becoming difficult to see. I rebaited with a big bit of flake and this time I cast further downstream, allowing the tackle to settle in mid-stream. Within minutes the float had gone; a good fish was hooked and landed, it weighed 4-3-0. The chub then decided to feed with a vengeance as I quickly hooked and landed three more good ones all over the 4lbs mark; 4-6-0, 4-14-0, and 4-12-0. Then the bites ceased as suddenly as they started. It was really difficult to see the bobbing bouncing float in the torch beam so I discarded the float. For an hour or more while I was being battered by the wind and rain, I thought should I call it a day, but, ever the optimist, I thought perhaps they will come on again in a minute.
Time for a bait change. I decided on two big lob worms which really did wriggle as I tried to get them on the hook. I then had to push the hook through a tiny square bit of rubber to keep the worms in place. Having done all this, I cast out towards the far bank and sat holding the rod. The wind was so strong it was impossible to keep the rod in the rest. Suddenly I had a violent thump on the rod and found myself hooked into a hard fighting fish. With the rod being knocked about by the wind I was getting worried about the hook pulling loose but I didn't want to bully the fish more than was necessary. Slowly I gained line, bringing the fish closer to the net, then I had it wallowing under the rod tip. It was certainly a good one I thought, as I pulled it over the net. Parting the wet mesh I could see in the torch beam a splendid fish, fin and scale perfect. The scales gave a reading of 5-3-0. My 22nd chub of 5lbs plus this season from five different rivers.
Rebaiting with another couple of lob worms, I cast out towards the far bank and sat holding a wind battered rod which sometimes resembled a figure S. Suddenly the rod tip, which had been pointed upstream, suddenly pointed downstream. I felt a good fish which had hooked itself which I quickly bullied to the net. The fish was quickly netted and pulled the scales down to 4-12-0. I was cold, wet and wind blown. All I wanted now was to get back to the car for a mug of tea, so I called it a day.
Picking up my rod, sponge seat and bait bucket in one hand, the landing net and rod rest in the other, I attempted to climb the bank. It was impossible. It was a climbing job on all fours, I chucked the landing net, rod rest and bait bucket up the bank, and slowly crawled and slithered up the bank, pushing the rod in front. At the top the wind really was fearsome, nearly bowling me over. It was certainly a long hard struggle back to the car, often I had to sit down for a long rest and get my breath back. After about an hour I eventually arrived back at the car, a journey which normally would take ten minutes. I was shattered. I tried to light the stove but found it impossible the wind was far too strong. Chucking all the gear in the car I headed off to a local cafe. It might have been a rough wet day but what a cracking fishing session. Ten chub, best at 5-3-0 and a nice roach.
Next day I was back on the river, conditions were still rough. I fished hard all day from just after dawn until darkness for only one bite, which accounted for a nice chub of 4-10-0. I fished an hour into the darkness, no bites, then headed back to the car for a mug of tea and bacon sandwich. I had a long drive home. Reaching the M180, the rain sheeted down, driving was horrendous. As the service station came into sight I pulled in for a rest from the extremely poor driving conditions, hoping the rain would cease. It did; the driving was so much more pleasant two hours later. I passed over the river Aire. Stopping to have a look, I could see the river was bank high, no doubt it would be over the banks tomorrow.
Mr Martin James