Every year, as the autumn draws in, instead of feeling like time is running out for specimen carp, Gaz’s attention has already switched over to the rivers with one species in mind.
Not through a compromise, or to ‘make do’ until the spring brings the carp lakes back to life, but because I genuinely love sitting behind an isotope beside a river, tucked in the sedges out of the wind on the dark winter evenings and in fact it is something that really excites me and I now actively look forward to.
Growing up in Cheshire, we had the Dane to work with, not a bad river, but hardly in the same annals as the Dorset Stour and Hampshire Avon in terms of chub heritage. Living on the north east side of Bournemouth as I do now, some of the most famous stretches of the Stour are almost within walking distance, it is Chevin heaven and something I’ve been keen to make the most of since I moved here a few years ago. Each year, usually with the remains of the Christmas Stilton’s and Gorgonzolas, I put a few mixes of paste together and within a few weeks they are festering away nicely and ready for the evenings tucked in the sedges.
I try to fish as simply as possible, just 6lb mono straight through to a size 4 or 5 Super Specialist Barbel hook, with just a couple of Float stops and a makeshift link ledger constructed from a loop of line and an SSG or two, dependent on flow, as a weight. It is the perfect way to roam for the chub after dark, barely any kit, just a packet of hooks, a few shot, and a ball of cheese paste in your pockets.
Half an hour here, half an hour there, every new swim the expectation heightens and a bite on the first cast is often a possibility if you know where to look. The direct contact with the slowly tripping, balanced shot is key, feedback is continual and bites range from delicate to savage, either way it is a heart-stopping way to fish. While part of me is undoubtedly drawn to the traditional simplicity of the method, there’s more to it that that… Without doubt it singles out the bigger fish and in the four or five winters I have angled like this on the Stour, I think just a handful of fish under four pound have ever fallen to the method, with ‘fives’ and ‘sixes’ being the stamp.
I’m still searching for my elusive ‘seven’, 6lb 15oz and 6lb 14oz being the best, along with a number of other very high sixes have kept me coming back, winter after winter, to tuck myself away in the sedges once again focussed on that dancing firefly on the end of the tip. This lovely clean 6lb 10oz is my best so far this year, but with the favourite months yet to come I am still hopeful a few of the larger fish have escaped the otters for another year and will still be hanging somewhere in the ever-changing currents or hiding amongst the tangles of roots somewhere down the Stour.