The other week I saw Brian Gay and Shawn Kitteridge had a good day fishing on the river Tone, and evening matches on the town free stretch have been throwing up decent weights (up to 25lb) of chub. I told Brian I would love to get back down there and lucky for me he and I both had a free day so it was a date. It was actually 3 years since I fished the Tone, and last time was on the fast water, the town is slower but I prefer this area.
Plan was a few early ciders Friday and up at 6am Saturday. I was up at 6am but was lead astray the night before by Glenn Bailey and Martin Reyat, and I was wobbling a bit when I walked home. Brian was down on the river bank early, and I was expecting to be there at about 8am and was only a few minutes after that when I pulled in to Wood Street car park. It's a nice easy walk to the river where I met Brian, he was waiting at peg 9 which had won the last two matches and he asked if I wanted to fish it. I said he should fish that peg and I would go above him, a fairly tight peg but on a slow flowing river no issue and I didn't expect the float to travel to far downstream I hoped!
Picture of Brian contemplating the day ahead. His peg was in the shade early on, not so later and it was going to be a test for us fishing in the forecasted 30C heat.
The swims here have been cleared for the matches and that's made the task of setting up easier, and also gives a lot more choices of where to fish on the stretch. My peg had no big trees or cover (trees opposite are set back, but there is some weed across that runs all the way down into Brian's peg and certainly could give the chub some cover.
Setting up was a doddle, one waggler that took 2AAA, might have been a bit heavy but I needed that weight to control the float as there was no flow in close and with a bit of wind at times a lighter float would have pulled off line. I put 2 no8 down the line and used a 0.12 Power Accu to a 18 N40. Simple and started with the rig at about 4 feet deep. On the bait tray I had 2 1/2 pints of bronze maggots, 1 pint of hemp and 1 pint of caster. I would feed all of this about 2/3 across.
I started off by feeding 4 pouches of everything and then settled into feeding 30 maggots, then half a pouch of mixed hemp and caster. It didn't take long to get bites, but the first three fish were huge bleak! Then a couple of chublets that were swung out and a few small roach. I was fishing with a single maggot on the hook and as bites were regular stuck with it for a long time. I had a lovely hybrid of about 8oz and then after about 20 mins I had a chub of 1 1/2lb game on. Bites slowed from the small fish and I soon new why as I hooked 3 chub in three casts although one of them came off. No more bagging though as they seemed to go, and then Brian had a quick few chub, so perhaps they dropped down. However, they were soon back and I took odd chub from 8oz to 2lb, feeding first and then casting was important it seemed.
I guess it was about 2 hours in that I noticed a few chub just below the surface and as my bites from chub were slow I shallowed up (Brian was already fishing shallow). The chub though were not playing ball and trying to get one of them to take the hook bait was not proving easy lol. I tried going a bit deeper to catch on the drop, this worked for a chub but then I got bit off, so that was not the right way to go. I upped the feed and tried casting around the peg, and it was a case of keep trying and changing things to get a couple of chub. At one stage I put a caster on the hook and had four chub, but then that stopped working. Brian came up for a little watch as he was having similar issues, I didn't realise he took a couple of shots of me, my best side many would say lol. Got one on.
As the day got hotter the fish came right up and I was trying as little as a foot deep to 5 feet deep. Going deep was good for roach, I had them up to 12oz, and I had a couple of chub deep. The best bit of skill getting a chub though was when I was feeding and looked up to see the float under at the end of the keepnet, perhaps I fished to far out! I had a couple of bites when the float landed but not many, and 2 feet was probably best. With 2 hours to go all of my maggots died in the heat, I could still feed them though and I upped the feed and tried to force a reaction. I caught on single and double dead maggot (a first for me on a river on the waggler lol) and had a few on a caster and maggot combo. I found later on it was best to cast far over, sink the line as the wind was a pain, feed and draw the float back into the feed. I had more chub, a decent hybrid, big roach and a trout. I packed up not long after 2:30pm having fished for about 5 1/2 hours. I was a hot, sweaty, a bit dehydrated, and a tad sun burnt despite two lots of lotion applied, but I was grinning from ear to ear after what had been one of my best sessions on a waggler.
We had no scales so had to estimate our catches Brian reckoned he had 20lb, but I thought maybe 25lb.
I struggled to get my net up the bank and Brian had to help me to the top, there was easy 40lb, maybe nearly 50lb. We used Brian's very large landing net and weight mat to get the pictures and all the fish went back in and swam off.
Well what can I say, a hell of a days fishing. The river Tone is simply a wonderful river and one I wish was that little bit nearer, I really mustn't wait another 3 years to fish it. Now I am just preparing for the Superleague on the Huntspill, I did say last week I had not been picked to fish, but one of the team dropped out and I was asked to fish. Weather is changing and it looks like being windy, I would love to get an end peg, not had one down for, well not sure I can remember drawing one there, must be the only place I haven't lol!