- Venue: Dorset Stour, Throop Beat Three (River Way Rec’)
- Swim: One down from the ‘Bench Swim’
- Time: 09:00 to 09:30
- Weather: Calm, sunny but after a period of heavy rain
I will leave the reasons until later in this post, but a few weeks had slipped by since my last fishing trip. With invigilating work meaning I had only had one gap in the week to fit in a return to the bank, I decided to ‘force’ myself to go. I think I can safely say my choice of venue was the first of several mistakes! At the north end of the Christchurch conurbation the River Stour is easily reached from the River Way Rec, is relatively scenic and a cobble weir effectively marks the boundary between the Tidal Stretch and what is now classified as the bottom end of Beat Three of the famous Throop Fishery. Historically when the stretch above the cobble weir was controlled by Christchurch it was considered part of the Lower Stour, but now Ringwood control the Stour from Throop’s top boundary down to the Harbour, this stretch has has been merged in with Throop. I guess this makes sense, but I still struggle to think of this as part of Throop. However, whatever it is called doesn’t change the fact that it is within easy range of home and has potential. In my ‘blogging era’ I have only fished here twice. These were two consecutive sessions back in 2016 and the fact that the titles I used for the posts were ‘The Wrong Tactics – Week One’ and ‘The Wrong Tactics – Week Two’ gives a clue as to how well I fared. As with all the running PBs I clocked up before I joined Strava, it is, of course, irrelevant that back before I started this blog I had a couple of reasonable sessions here. If it isn’t evidenced on the internet it never happened!
The first clue that something was awry was that as I unpacked my kit off of the car, I noticed my scoop net had small holes in it. I was a bit surprised that it had rotted in the few weeks since I last fished, but thought little of it. I headed across the park to the river and was aware of a sticky gunge on my legs. Drat I thought, the pot of liquid molasses I had left in my fishing rucksack must be leaking. It is only a short walk to the river, but by the time I settled on a swim I was spattered with molasses. Getting my kit out of the rucksack, the realisation dawned on me that it wasn’t a case of the tub leaking, but that there were also holes in my rucksack and the plastic tub of molasses had been chewed through. Generally I avoid leaving any bait in the garage for the very reason that I don’t want to attract rodents, but I had slipped up this time and something undesirable had chomped my landing net, through my rucksack and the tub of liquid molasses! Apart from my irritation at dropping my guard and inviting a rodent into the garage (we live opposite woods, so it is always a risk) all my gear was liberally covered in a sticky residue and by the time I sorted this out so was I! I guess at least I now knew how our 15 year old cat had enjoyed a hunting renaissance in his dotage and recorded three days of consecutive mouse kills! Still at least it provided me with the title for this post, but I doubt this is quite what Mick and the boys meant when they released ‘Sticky Fingers’ back in 1971.
Influenced by Mark Wintle’s You Tube videos (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfRVD4iRcNmoD8wPwookwAA ) my intention had been to trot with a waggler so I was looking for a sedately paced flow. I thought I would find such a swim above the weir, but following a weekend of heavy rain the river was pushing through. I realised the waggler wasn’t going to be a viable option so rigged up with one of my home made Thames Floats:
- Tackle: The fibre glass Milbro match rod, 4lb line to a size 12 hook
- Method: Trotting with an SB Thames Float
- Bait: Bread flake
- Ground bait: Realistically I didn’t get that far!
Now fellow Word Press blogger https://theanglingrev.com/ is fond of saying that if your bait is in the water you have a chance. However, I think trotting this stretch disproved that, as a millisecond after casting the float was disappearing down to the harbour and no amount of holding back was going to significantly change that. ‘Wrong Tactics – Week Three’ would have been an equally appropriate title for this post! Maybe a massive chubber or loafer would have given me a shout, but none of the floats I had with me was up to the job so it was time for a rethink. Opposite me was a far bank slack with a small lily pad. Now, if I was a fish I would be lurking there out of the main flow, so there was nothing for it but to rig up the short ledger rod and try and cast across to the slack:
- Tackle: The 10’ ledger rod, 6lb to a 4lb link with a size 12
- Method: Ledgering with a cage feeder
- Bait: Bread flake
- Ground bait: Once again I didn’t quite reach that stage.
To be honest I didn’t really want to ledger, which is tied in with the reasons behind my absence from the bank over the last few weeks. There are some secondary reasons, (other interests intervening, losing out in the family car share and the weather being grim on the occasions I did think of heading out fishing) but the primary reasons is I have been going through one of my down periods. It is important to appreciate that we are all different, but fishing is far from therapeutic for me when I am down mainly because the slow periods on the bank allow me time to brood. Perhaps if I was a more proficient angler this wouldn’t be the case, but whilst I am waiting for a bite I start to dwell on things, which isn’t helpful. I had therefore hoped that trotting might be a sufficiently active method to keep my mind active, but ledgering was asking for trouble! The good news is that there are other activities that do work for me in my down periods, mainly running and cycling. Cycling in particular has been helpful in recent weeks and I wish I had Nigel Rainton’s (https://sussex-trout-fishing.com/author/sussextroutfishing/) ability to describe scenery, as a couple of views across the New Forest have lifted my mood whilst out on the ‘treader’. You’ll just have to take my word for it that pausing on Sway’s plateau or Burley’s Castle Hill to look over the Forest on sunny evenings has worked for me. Family and good friends help too and I am fortunate on both counts.
However, back to the fishing and eventually something had to go right in this session and my first cast across plopped into the far bank slack just short of the far bank reeds. I am not a big fan of clipping up, but noting the tackle snaffling potential of the far bank reeds decided today was the exception to the rule. I reeled in and headed back to the car to get some groundbait (my plan had just been to loose feed whist trotting). Once back in my swim I cast out with the intention of leaving the baited hook out whist I mixed up some ground bait. The reel line sailed past the slack and smacked into the reeds beyond. Somehow on a day when everything that could go wrong did go wrong I hadn’t even clipped up properly. Of course, I lost the feeder and hook and yes I could have rigged up again, but I just knew it wasn’t my day so packed up, headed home to de-gunge my gear of molasses and have a much needed shower.
Lessons learnt; there are two fairly obvious learning to take from this. The first is not to leave anything even vaguely consumable in the garage. At this point I expect https://wheatnotcasters.blog/ and https://stevetheangler.com/ are having a quiet chuckle as my rodent phobia means I have resisted their advice to stockpile bulk buys of various baits. Given the mess my small tub of molasses made, I pity Steve if his 5 litre jar ever gets chomped through! Secondly, I really do need to thoroughly research my target river spots and take account of recent weather. I think the heavy rain had the effect of raising the water level to the point where the cobble weir wasn’t really forming an effective break between the tidal and non-tidal section. So, couple the run off from the recent rain with an outgoing tide and it was never a waggler day. Ironically though I was back invigilating at Waterloo Road the following day and on my lunchtime walk the free stretch at Kinson was ideal for trotting with a waggler!
Next steps; do I dismiss this as a bad day or is it time to put my eclectic selection of gear on Gum Tree and see how much it fetches?