11 December 2012

Saying goodbye to Mr Toad

The glorious textures of unpredictably and diversity that elevate the river fishing experience so far above its stillwater equivalent can, to be honest, become a bit of a mixed blessing from time to time.

Certainly of late it's been those very themes of unpredictability and diversity that have been driving me mad, and although part of the fault lies with the river, the bulk is sadly mine.

For the rivers' part, the main problem lies in its changing moods. So having spent the whole of last winter getting to grips with a sulky, sullen, plodding River Leam, this year has seen me struggling with unaccustomed flow, swamped swims and, on all too many weekends of late, a completely unfishable river.

For my part, the fault lies in my short attention span and desire to do (and to know) everything at once. It's what J calls my "Mr Toad mode" (a comment to which she often appends a cheery "toot toot"). So after one session trotting a float, I'll decide it's time for a session on the feeder. Next up is the pole, before I head back to the float, this time seeing how a waggler behaves. One week I'll be convinced the answer is worm; the next it'll be all about bread.

The net result, of course, is that no two sessions are ever even remotely the same. Exciting and varied on the one hand; but difficult to build any real depth of expertise on the other. Meaning that as in so many of my hobbies and interests, I end up building a broad but shallow level of expertise.

In short, I find myself able to do a lot of things, but to do none of them notably well :-(

So invariably comes the time when a line must be drawn in the sand (well, the damp mud). "Here it must stop," I mutter determinedly, and I vow to stick to one plan until I consider myself at least reasonably adept.

This is that moment, and this is the plan.

Based on (a) an oft expressed view that the Leam could still contain big roach and (b) Jeff Hatt's oft expressed view that bread is the only bait for big roach, it is my intention to stick to legering bread in the Leam until the end of the season in March. I may experiment a little of course: perhaps bread in a feeder, perhaps loose-fed mash; sometimes the hook bait as flake, sometimes as large punch; I might nail it to the bottom or let it waft mid water; if I can hold bottom with a link-leger I will, or if it's hammering through a bit I might fish a small bomb. But fundamentally it'll be the same tactic on the same river throughout the winter and into very early spring.

A modest but encouraging start...
Since I arrived at the plan last month, the weather, my work and my family commitments have combined to leave only one opportunity to put it into action - a two-hour session on three swims upstream of the Radford Road car park which produced plenty of taps and nudges before finally yielding one pristine 8oz roach.

Modest results perhaps, but I consider them promising. And I am certainly looking forward to the next few months, during which time I hope to develop a modicum of ability in at least one of angling's diverse disciplines; as well as to prove, or disprove, to my own satisfaction the validity of assertion (a) above.

It should be stressed, by the way, that I take (b) as gospel. However my own experiments go, you'll hear no dispute from me on that one. I think it's fair to say that Jeff's roach record speaks for itself in that respect. As authors are so fond of remarking, any success I may have in the months ahead will owe a great deal to the advice and information I have received from Jeff and the  great many other bloggers out there who so freely and generously share their knowledge and experience week-in and week-out. Any failures will be mine and mine alone.

Toot toot.