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Window Of Opportunity - Justin Grapes

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Window Of Opportunity - Justin Grapes

With the Christmas break upon us, I was hoping - along with everyone else! - to get out on the river for a few sessions after the Wensum chub. My first planned session was the Thursday before Christmas and on arriving at the river, it looked spot on for a bite or two, so I got my gear sorted out of the back of the van, and made my way to a spot which I thought they would be in. The river was still carrying a bit of extra water so I started off by using 3 ssg on the paternoster rig and a fifty pence sized piece of cheese paste. I tried a short cast in the middle of the river to start with, and would work further down the swim if I got no indication. I started to get a few rattles, but I didn’t think they were chub bites; more like roach, and low and behold, on striking one of the rattles, I hooked a roach. The next cast the same thing happened, so I reeled in, and put a smaller hook on and a small piece of lobworm which I had with me, as I thought I’d see what size roach were about. But to my surprise I had nothing at all so went back over to the cheese paste and had a bite straight away; after a quick fight a small 3lb + fish was landed. On the next cast I put the bait down to the back of the swim and sat back and waited. After a few minutes I had a twitch on the tip and the bait moved in the flow. When it had settled, the tip started to dance, and then pulled around. I struck into what felt like a powerful fish, as it held in the current, then swam upstream, which is always a good sign of a big fish. After what felt like ages, a rather big looking chub went into the net. As I stood up I lifted the net and realised there was a lot of weight there so had a better look at the fish, and it looked like a 6lb+ fish, so in excitement I rested the fish in the flow, readied the scales and sling, and got the camera ready for some self takes. I got the fish out of the water and immediately saw the big frame and the length of the chub so I was interested to see what this fish weighed. As I put the fish on the scales it shot around to over 6lb and was bouncing between 6.8 and 6.7 but then settled on 6.7. I was over the moon with this fish , especially with the start of my winter campaign being very slow. After a few quick shots on the SLR I returned my prize to the river and gave her a few minutes to recover properly, after which she swam away strongly. I was too excited after that, so after one more swim I went home to see how the pictures came out, and then spent the rest of the evening fine tuning them.

 

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My next session was on Christmas Eve, and as all the shopping had been sorted out early for a change I had the afternoon to have a go on a different stretch for a few hours with fishing buddy Darryn. We arrived at the stretch about 1pm so had a few hours of light left, and maybe I could stretch it out an hour or so into darkness. So we layered up in the thermals, got the gear out of the van, and walked to where we had decided to start. I chose a swim on a bend, and Darryn went a hundred yards further downstream; we would keep leap frogging each other down the stretch. Well it didn’t take very long for the first bite and a positive bend in the rod resulted in a short, stocky chub which looked worth weighing and went heavier than I estimated at 4.14 . A great start to the session and it was obvious the chub were after a bit of grub. Nothing else happened in that swim after about 20minutes so I moved to the exit of the bend and cast down the edge into some steady-flowing water, and sat back in hope of a bite. Again after a few short minutes the rod tip started to dance then pull around, and I was into another chub, but this one felt smaller and was in the net quickly. At around 2lb it was small, but would be good for the future.

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I moved straight away after that as it caused a lot of disturbance, so I walked downstream to see how Darryn was doing. He hadn’t had any action so far but we still had a lot of the good swims to go. I set up in my next swim, and this one had a bush on the opposite bank so I cast the bait upstream of the bush and sat back to see whether this swim would produce the goods. The first cast caught the current and bounced out of position so I gave it a few minutes just in case then re cast it to the bush again. Within a couple of minutes it looked

like I had a twitch on the rod tip so I got ready to pounce. Once again I had a twitch, then again, so I struck and I was in. As soon as I struck into the fish it felt like a good fish as it was holding hard in the current and I was struggling to make much line on it. She came up level with me and broke the surface for the first time and she did look like a good chub. After what felt like ages she went into the net, and on having a quick look the chub looked a really healthy, young, but, best of all, bigger chub from this stretch. As I pick the fish out to un hook and weigh I noticed that Darryn had just landed a chub as well. As he was only a few metres away we met in the middle, weighed, and had a quick picture together. I was well chuffed with this fish as it was the biggest from this stretch and at 5lb13oz it was not too far short of the magic weight. After returning the chub safely we called it a night and returned home happy with our efforts.

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My next trip over Christmas wasn’t on the rivers as they were in heavy flood and were going to be like that for a while with all the rain over Christmas, so I got the pike gear out and went to Bawburgh Lakes with Darryn for a social. On arrival at the lakes it was obvious we weren’t going to be fishing many of the swims as the river was tipping its flood water over the banks into the lakes, and it looked like it was still rising. After trying a few swims with no joy we opted for one of the smaller lakes which wasn’t affected by flood water yet. We set up in a corner in two swims next to each other and put the baits out. I put out one with half a mackerel on covered in smelt bait wand and on the other I put a lamprey. Not much happened for a while, then Darryn had to reel in and go check on a couple of people walking around. Meanwhile while he was gone I saw what looked to be a pike roll on the surface so I quickly reeled in the lamprey rod and injected the bait with air to pop it up as there was a bit of weed in the area that the fish rolled. I cast the bait out and waited. Darryn came back and re cast and as we were talking he noticed my rod tip twitching, and as I got the rod, the braid pinged out of my back biter, so I picked up the rod and gave it a couple of seconds then struck into the fish . After a short fight my prize was in the net. On lifting her onto the mat the pike had a big head but a skinny body . It looked a low double and after un hooking and a quick picture she was released . Nothing else happened on the fishing front, but we were joined by good friend Glenn, so we talked fishing, drank coffee, and had a sneaky cigar. As we packed up we could hear the water starting to pour into the lake we was fishing and as we got to it, it was higher than we thought; had we had left it any longer we might have got wet feet!

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The next day the lakes were all one, and a dirty chocolate brown colour, so that was the end of my Christmas fishing. On my first day back at work I couldn’t wait to get to lunch time and have a go for the perch again. Lunch time came, and armed with my Advanta drop shot rod and Daiwa reel I made my way to where I thought the perch would be holding up . As I got closer to the water I could see that the river was carrying a lot of colour from all that flood water coming from the Wensum and upper Yare. I was using a Zman TRD in orange pumpkin on a 6g jig head and with the colour being around a foot of visibility it was going to be a very slow twitch across the bottom to give the perch any hope of seeing it. Lunch break was nearly over when I had a good hit from something, and it felt heavy, so I was expecting a jack pike to surface but it did feel like a perch in the fight and after a nervous for seconds a big perch popped out of the murky depths. Things all of a sudden became more panicked and I hurried to get this fish in the net; after what felt like an eternity the big perch was in. Fishing buddy and work mate Gareth was opposite me so I called him over to check the fish out and get a picture of what looked to be a 3lb+ perch. She weighed in at 3lb3oz in the end and after a quick few pictures I released her to grow bigger. The rest of the week saw a few nice perch and the odd jack pike but nothing to rival this big perch.

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My next evening session was to a now slowly dropping Wensum, and after over a week of flooding we were sure that at the right time the fish would be hungry and we would be in for some action. So we walked to the river with high hopes, and Darryn started off well with a couple of nice chub in one swim and another two in different swims. Meanwhile I couldn’t catch a cold with not even a sniff , but hey-ho, such is fishing.

The next session, at the weekend, we had seen the forecast and it looked spot on for a bit of trotting for a change. So with my 15’ float rod and fixed spool we made our way to the river in hope of one or two bites on the float . I had made up enough bread crumb out of one whole loaf to last a day and another loaf in the ruck sack for bait. We picked a likely looking area to start with and began to trot through the swim and adjust the depth each cast . After a slice of bread I moved down to the next bush and started again. And on the third trot through the float went under and the rod bent double. It was a great feeling to be in on the trotting gear again and such a good fight on light tackle . After a cracking fight I finally landed what looked to be a modest sized chub and at 4lb 9oz it was a great start. The next few hours was great fun for me as I landing another 6 chub of which 3 were 4lb+ fish. Poor old Darryn had an injury to his leg and by half time he hobbled back to the van and went for an early bath leaving me to finish the stretch. I did offer him a piggy back but we thought better of it as we would both have ended up in A&E! The next couple of evening sessions were a write-off, with the river coming up again and fishing being difficult. As I am writing this we are forecast some more rain but with midweek temperatures set to hit low teens and even a nine at night I am focused on the midweek sessions for the chance of some more Wensum chub.

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Until the next blog enjoy your fishing and tightlines.

 
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