Canterbury Tales Part Two
Thu 27 November 14
When All The Leaves Have Fallen
Every year it still surprises me just how quickly late summer becomes early winter. Autumn is and always will be my favourite time to fish but alas this magical and colourful season is over as quickly as it begins. From the total and colourful joys of late September when you still have 12 hours of daylight and mild evenings to enjoy the total splendour that Mother Nature brings at this magical time of year. Then just 6 weeks or so later, when all the leaves have fallen, we have to endure the dark side of our climate and come to terms with less than 9 hours of light a day, plummeting temperatures and anything else that our obscene climate decides to throw into the mix at this time of the year. This is the story of my Autumn & Early winter angling experiences whilst fishing my old friend the Kentish Stour in and around Canterbury.
The end of summer saw the river levels much lower than normal and gin clear, not ideal conditions but every year, directly after the weed cutting the flow picks up and it’s this time of the year that night fishing becomes a more sensible option. Whilst the level is very low and the fish switch off, seeking sanctuary under any remaining cover they can find, leaving me with two tactical options. I can either stalk my quarry, which means I will be basically fishing for 1 bite in any given swim during daylight hours, which has produced some excellent results for me over the years. With my second option being to fish under the cover of darkness, as this is when the fish are far less cautious and head out into open water away from there daytime cover in search of food. But the deal clincher will always be the amount of time I have at my disposal.
Old and New Acquaintances
In late September on a standard session, I arrived at the river before dusk and then fishing into darkness. Rig wise I free-lined pellets close to any cover that showed any sign of chub and barbel being in attendance during daylight and I cover a fare bit of water trying to induce a bite from these most elusive of creatures. I often fine tune my chosen basic rig by adding a split shot or two just to ensure my presentation is spot on and by keeping my terminal gear to the basics required, this ensures that the fish aren’t spooked by the introduction of the rig into the swim. This tactic proved to be the winning ticket when on the last day of September I picked up an immaculate young and very fat chub. This pristine fish was a delight to catch as it proves that this waterway that I call my angling home, still has enough quality fish coming through to continue to keep on offering my obsession satisfaction for years to come
My first night session of autumn was a pleasant affair indeed, with very mild conditions for the time of year I couldn’t have picked a better night. Thing couldn’t have started better with a good chub of over 5lb and a couple of barbel that were in the 7 to 8lb bracket taken I was more than happy with my result. During early October, I ventured out to fish a few evenings, spending just a just 2-3 hours after dark and continued to catch a few barbel. The best of these sessions was in mid October which resulted in 3 barbel sliding over the rim of my landing net, an 8lber, followed by me being re-united with the Hunchback at 13-06 and last but not least an 11 pounder straight after. All these fish fell to a basic free running ledger rig with a Teme Seven Lamprey Pellet presented over crease-line that is punctuated with a series of depressions along the riverbed and this underwater feature has proven to be noted fish holding area especially on clear water night sessions.
Listen to your Predatory Instincts
There has been one species of fish that for some totally unknown reason I have seemed to forget or ignore and that is the pike. When I have had a dabble I have had limited success and caught a few but with a PB of a humble 14lb I thought it high time to have a proper try and see if I could something a little bit bigger. So in early November I headed off on my first serious pike trip for years. Having seen a few decent pike over the past few years I had a decent idea of where they could be hanging out, so after a trip to Sainsbury’s for some sardines, it was now time to catch my self good un!! The weather was chilly but settled, and after the recent rain there was an expected tinge of colour to the water. I chose to ledger a sardine in slack water out of the main flow with out any reward, a change of fortune was needed. So with the sun dropping fast on the horizon, I decided on one more re-cast, this time casting upstream to another patch of slackish water.
Nothing had happened as dusk moved in but then the rod twitched and a few seconds later it twitched again! Then my line started to tighten so I decided it was time to hit into what I was expecting to be a small jack pike. As I played the fish it swam straight towards me with no really fight but as I directed her towards my waiting net she decided to have none of it. A furious splash on the surface instantly told me that this was no jack pike and the beast bolted downstream using the flow to its full advantage trying to put as much distance between me and the fish as possible. Over the next few minutes this very angry creature made many good runs before I finally got it to submit and slide over the net. There she was a definite new personal best but how big? It was time to take care of the most important business and find out.
So after carefully removing the two well hooked trebles from the beast mouth, I placed her in the sling and watched the scales bounce and settle, Job Done!! A new PB pike of 20lb 4oz (chuffed to bits) Now I was going to just do the usual picture on the unhooking mat thing (as I’m crap at self takes) but eventually thought better of it and decided she was worth a proper picture. So my good friend and companion for the day Stuart came down and did the honours with the camera. Since then the weather has been very unsettled and wet to say the least. However the Stour has not burst its banks like so many other rivers have up and down the country. Fortunately, I’ve manage to get out a few times and the barbell have been most supportive, but please remember if your local river is in full flood be very careful. No fish is worth endangering your life over, always remember, the fish will be there the next time you go fishing so make sure you’re around to be there with em!!
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