It's all too easy to get out of the fishing habit when you have an enforced lay-off. Faced with the choice between home improvements and fishing I narrowed the decision down to roach or barbel.... The river would be well up and coloured, possibly warm enough to get the barbel feeding in earnest, but I've done that before and I wanted to try for some roach. Rain seemed to have passed over for the day and the sun was reflecting dazzlingly off the wet roads as I headed for the hills.
Although a Sunday saw plenty of anglers out and about I managed to get the swim I fancied. Not too surprising as it's a bit awkward to get at. Cosy when in it though. I'd made up some fresh power gum rigs on Saturday night and soon had them tied to the end of my lines. Then it was time to add a feeder and have a few practice casts. Damn. I had no 30g feeders only 50g ones. A little bit much for my Chimera Avons. Beggars can't be choosers so out they went. Not as far as I'd have liked but it would have to do. On with two short hooklinks and time to get started. The first few casts were only left out for a few minutes in order to get a bit of bait out. Each feeder was two-thirds filled with maggots and then topped up with hemp, one rod baited with a single red maggot and the other with one red and one white.
Why some people moan about hemp stinking I don't know. I like the smell of it. Roach seem to like it too as it wasn't long before the bobbins started moving. Mostly the right hand one showing the roach seemed to have a preference for the double maggot bait. I was failing to connect with the bobbins on a drop so I set them at the top to show drop-backs. This they did yet I still failed to connect. It wasn't too long before a roach hooked itself though. And not being one to look a gift roach in the mouth I popped it in a bucket while I set up the pike rod that I had forgotten to remove from the quiver from my last session. A rod that just happened to be rigged up with a paternoster and a snap tackle. What a coincidence!
Bites were coming steadily to the feeder rods, either within a minute of casting out or just as I was getting ready to recast. The fish weren't getting hooked too often, but it was enough action to maintain my interest. After a couple of hours the bites started coming closer together. A small roach-bream hybrid was landed followed by a couple more roach. Not monsters but only just small enough to swing to hand. Having made a late start it was getting on by now.
A dusk feeding spree was being anticipated. That's when big roach are supposed to come on the feed. It didn't happen. In fact after three o'clock the bites all but ceased. I fished on until half past four without a bite in the last three quarters of an hour. All the while the livebait had also remained untouched and was released when I packed up. I'd expected to tempt a jack if nothing bigger.
Maybe a short session but enjoyable and interesting. Having a sparrowhawk fly past the swim a rod length out was the avian highlight. Watching it get mobbed by seagulls came a close second. I'm already planning another, longer, roach session and have ideas for improving the hook up ratio. Some of the bites set the rod bouncing or were storming drop-backs. How could a roach fail to get hooked against a 50g feeder when the bobbin was moving so far? Unbelievable!
It was dark by the time I got back to the car, a smell in the air that I knew but couldn't place. Behind my car there was a van parked up with its interior light on containing two young men sat smoking. As I got closer the aroma grew stronger. That was when I remembered what it was. Another form of hemp... It's an odd world.