Sunday, 17 July 2016

Pleasure Fishing The River Tone

A couple of years had passed since Brian Gay had taken me fishing on the river Tone in Taunton, that time we fished the wide sluggish town stretch and Brian said I should go back and fish the fast water. Finally two years later I got the chance to fish again with Brian but on the fast water, and we arranged to meet up at 8am by the river near Wickes.

Brian was going to take maggots and hemp, but I decided to take 3 pints of casters and 2 of hemp as I thought it might help avoid minnows. A couple of float rods and a lead rod were all I took today and a variety of line and hooks depending upon what Brian advised we should catch. I met up with Brian and he talked me through the catches that have come from the stretch and we walked along the river and Brian picked out a couple of pegs which he favoured. He kindly gave me the choice of peg so plumbed for the upstream of the two pegs which looked suited to a stick float, whereas Brian's peg would be better attacked with a waggler.

This bit of river is narrow, with my 13ft Normark Titan 2000 reaching the middle! It was also shallow about 3ft at its deepest in my swim, with polaroids on you could see the bottom everywhere. I will admit I was a little concerned that the river was to clear for a good bag fish. I took this picture as I was setting up, as you can see there are houses opposite, and also behind, but I had no trouble from bank walkers and guess the fish are used to it.

Above me there was a willow tree with branches in the water and I could see a few chub swimming right close to it. I did think of getting in just opposite it but the peg went from inches deep to 3ft and with lots of weed inside I thought it would be tricky, hopefully they'll come to the feed.

To begin with I set up just one stick float, a 3 no4 version which took 5 no6 a no8 and a little swivel to join the mainline to the hook length. To start I began heavy with 0.148 to 15 B711  using double caster on the hook. I fed a few hand fulls of hemp and caster to begin and then fed every run through. Not unexpectedly my first fish were small bleak and bites were slow, a try with maggot on the hook brought only minnows. After about 20 mins I hooked a better fish that looked like a pound chub, sadly I'll never know as a bloody pike took it and bit me off. That slowed things down and I struggled for bites, time to fine down, so on with 0.12 to 18 B611. This had an immediate effect and I had three dace in three chucks, unfortunately the third was taken by the pike, another hook required.

After a couple of hours I was really struggling with barely a pound in the net, I wandered down to see Brian who catching small fish but had seen a decent chub, not long after I got back to my peg he landed it. It was a good fish as you can see, over 3 1/2lb.

I lost another fish to the pike but was going nowhere fast, then all of a sudden I hooked a better fish but within 5 seconds I pulled out of it, things were not going to plan! I had to do something and decided to start throwing some hemp and caster way upstream to the tree above. I flicked the float upstream as far as I could and then tried to control it as it came back towards me. It looked awful as the flow was very fast swirling back, and very shallow and stead in the middle. I had to wind in as the float came back towards to me, it was so weird lol. Then I had a bite, a roach of about 6oz which I dropped off, doh. Looking closer now at the water I could see the odd chub, plus a hybrid kept swimming around all day up and down. After a dozen runs the float buried and chub on, not for long as it snapped the line trying to get under the tree. Talked about miffed...

Back on the 0.148 this time to a 17 B711 with double caster. I fed some good hand fulls upstream and went back down stream for a while, nothing doing here though other than a gudgeon and a bleak. Time to go back upstream and straight away a 12oz chub was landed. They don't have go though in a little river, and soon after I hooked a much better chub and pulled really hard to keep it out of the tree. After the initial mental surge the fish calmed down and came to the net easy. I spent the next hour here and had a couple more chub but also pulled out of one. Inevitably it slowed but the chub were still there, so I rested it but still fed it. Try downstream again was fruitless so I whacked a lot of bait in here to see if it would do anything. Not long after the water coloured up a bit, there must have been either kids or dogs in the river somewhere. It helped as I had another 3 chub fishing upstream. As the water cleared again I noticed some decent eels on the bottom, picking off the odd caster that was getting to them.

The upstream fishing was now not working, I couldn't any bites, I got up the bank to look and could see that there were a few fish still there, but they were in a spot I couldn't present the bait. I decided to set up a straight lead with the same line but to a 15 B711, I put 3 casters on flicked it up to where I thought the fish were. Within a minute I had a drop back and a 12oz chub was in the net. I then missed a bite before getting hooked up again with a 1 1/2lb fish. This went quiet so I dropped the lead by the base of the tree where I could see a decent chub now and again. Eventually I had a small rattle of a bite and when I struck I saw a flash and could see that I hooked the hybrid, alas it came off soon after. No more bites on the lead.

I was now feeling a bit tired, standing up my back was aching and the hit sun was taking its toll. Trying fishing the stick below me again I had bites all of a sudden from dace and small chublets. Once they petered out it all became tough, and I started feeding maggots and casters in close to watch the eels feeding and they didn't dissapoint.  I tried the stickfloat above me again and I hooked the biggest chub I had seen in the peg on and off all day, this one really pulled hard and as a result I pulled the hook out, bugger that was the last chance.

I saw the eels feeding again and so I dropped the lead in with 3 maggots on and just watched them on the bottom. I could see the eels very close to my bait, and as one seemed to be going for it the other big eel suddenly bit the other eels tail! It didn't just nip it, it clung on, and the other eel struggled to get loose, after about 10 to 15 seconds it got free. It was mad both eels were 12oz to 1lb and no way could one eat the other! Eventually I saw one of the eels take my bait and giving it a few seconds I struck and I had him. That was it time to pack up.

Brian came along with his camera to take a catch shot, and said the river had fished tough today by normal standards. We guessed I had 15lb to 20lb in this net, and it just goes to show the weight you can get on this river in the summer even when it is sunny and clear. Being able to see some of the fish in the peg is incredible, and being such a small river makes it a challenge that is real fun.

Brian had managed to add another decent chub and lots of small chublets, in fact he had lots of small fish in a good double figures bag.

Well that is my third visit to this delightful river, and it has not disappointed me once, I think I ought to try to get down there again winter time if possible.

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