Last Sunday saw me heading to Grantham with Madeleine for a gathering with her family, with lunch at her dad's house being the order of the day. These gatherings are always pleasant enough, but this one had other benefits.
A few years back her dad moved into his current house. It's a typical newish build 2 bed mid terrace. Nothing remarkable, but it boasts a small stretch of the upper reaches of the River Witham running at the back of it. When I say at the back, I mean quite literally. The boundary of the house runs right up to the river, albeit it's currently fenced off slightly short of the river and left wild.
Previous visits have always been out of season, but I had discovered that it did contain a few fish. On a previous visit her dad had demonstrated their willingness to feed by tossing in a big chunk of bread, which was instantly gobbled up about 10 yards below his house. I was intrigued and we felt that they were probably Chub.
This time around we were in season and I'd been given the go ahead to take the travel rod (which I'll discuss later). After a nice plate of veg and a barbecued Steak, followed by dessert, I was ready for action.
It's only about 6 inches deep directly behind the house, but there was a bit of hole just as the river swept round a bend under a willow. The fish were sat just in the hole. I dropped a few bits of bread in and the fish were taking them confidently, so I was equally confident too.
I wasn't sure how best to tackle it so I started out with a controller float to aid with casting. First trot down and the float was struggling to run through above the weed and I had to recast. The second trot through was more successful and I hit the deeper pool. The response was instant and I hauled the fish upstream through the weed.
It wasn't a Chub though. It was a Brown Trout of about 12oz, which came as a bit of a surprise. I talked Madeleine into having a go and she managed to hook a fish fairly quickly. Unfortunately, we had to run the float a bit further through and she found herself playing a fish and a willow! The fish shed the hook and willow trashed the float, leaving just a swivel on the line.
I ditched the swivel and carried on without a float. Cast followed cast and I was struggling to get a bite now. I was near to packing up. The fish had clearly been spooked and had seemingly backed right off. Madeleine's sister, Nadine, did a bit of a recce for me by walking about 20 yards downstream (technically onto a neighbour's land!) and peering through a small hole in the willows. She assured me that fish were still there.
The next trot through I took a gamble and went a bit further downstream and round the bend with it, to the point that I couldn't see the bait. I knew I was on dodgy ground if I hooked anything, but I was getting desperate. Nadine spotted my bread appear in the swim above the fish and gave me a running commentary of how far off the mark I was. "Your 3 feet short" came the call. I released a bit more line and a cry of "he's got it" was met with a simultaneous jerking around of my rod tip. It's nice to have good ghillie!
I too was then playing a fish, weed and willow at the same time. With a bit of patience and some extreme luck I managed to get the fish out of the snags and it was again another small Brownie of about 12oz. I called it a day at that point, figuring that the swim would be pretty much knackered now.
It was an unexpected bonus session and it just goes to show that a small stream in an urban area can throw up the odd surprise. Better still when you can take advantage from the back garden! In case anyone is wondering, I was sporting and no Trout ended up on the BBQ! They went back to fight another day and will no doubt end up being eaten by some Eastern European sort!
I mentioned my travel rod earlier and it's a cracking little tool. It's the Rovex travel version of the John Wilson Avon Barbel Quiver rod. I actually have the normal 2 piece version of the rod, which also comes with 2ft extension to take it from 11ft to 13ft. To be honest, the extension on that rod makes it a bit unbalanced and I only use it if I need the extra length when legering. At 11ft, it has been a great all round rod though.
The travel version is 11ft and doesn't have the extension. It comes in 5 sections - 4 main sections and then an option of a float top or one of 3 quiver tips. It packs away very compactly and the extra joints don't seem to compromise the rod at all. Definitely one of my better buys.