The Caged Lion

The Caged Lion

After two weeks of at times agonising sciatica, and popping pain killers like Smarties, Fran said I was like a caged lion! With the worst spasms under control, I decided on a one day trip to the Ouse after a big chub. I didn’t want to risk walking far and decided to head for a stretch or river where I could safely park within fifty yards of the access field gate. The stretches both upstream and downstream have given Alan and me very big chub in recent seasons but the stretch I had in mind had been neglected. The reason for that is simple. It looks quite uninspiring! Unlike most of the middle to upper Ouse, it is dead straight, of uniform flow bank to bank, no bankside vegetation; in fact it has little to commend it. We’d often said though that one of these days we must try it as it might just be the place to find a surprise monster.

I had two other reasons why I decided on my first session there. First, there has been an upsurge in big perch captures on the Ouse in recent seasons and as I did know that the stretch held a good head of small silver fish, I felt that I could be in with a good chance of a specimen stripey. The second reason was more mundane. The stretch has a perfectly flat bank, unusual for this part of the Ouse, and I would be able to fish from a comfortable folding picnic chair rather than putting my back through the rigours of my low anglers seat. Obviously, that would be anything but “ultra cult” for a well known specimen hunter, but for a geriatric old septuagenarian with a bad back, bloody ideal!!

The plan was, then, to fish for perch through the daylight hours and switch to a few hours after dark chubbing and on my arrival I slowly made my way to an area where there were gaps in the marginal dead rushes and prebaited two swims about thirty yards apart for the after dark chubbing. As I knew I’d only be chubbing for perhaps five hours maximum I wanted to keep the baiting modest. So I elected to introduce a dozen 14mm balls of Meat Beast paste into each, at about two rod lengths out.

For my perch fishing, I fished about fifty yards above the two chub “bankers”. I had intended to float fish, either laying on or stret pegging if the current was too brisk, but the strong downstream wind led me to decide on a quivertip approach. This is not as efficient for perch as float fishing but using the float would have been trying under the conditions and I didn’t want to be continually having to get to my feet, given the delicate state of my back.

My first three casts with lobworms resulted in almost immediate strong pulls, but each strike met with fresh air and I retrieved bare hooks. Instinctively I suspected roach and the next cast had only an inch of lob tail on the size 8 hook. This time the bite was not missed, but instead of the expected roach, a 12oz chub was soon being unhooked and returned. That was quickly followed by another of about a pound and then one of perhaps 1lb 8ozs, before the perch moved in. By now it was literally a bite a chuck, but nothing of note materialised. I was however, thoroughly enjoying the day and by dusk, I’d had about a dozen perch to perhaps a pound, the three chub and two lovely roach of around 12ozs apiece. I’d also missed as many bites as I’d successfully struck, so it had been action all the way.

It was almost completely dark when I made my first cast into one of the chub swims, presenting a ball of paste wrapped around a 12mm cork ball. The bite was instantaneous. Trouble was, I missed it completely! The second bite came ten minutes later, and this time I did connect. It was a chub all right, but far from a specimen. I didn’t weigh it, but I would think around 3lbs.

The first cast into the second prepared swim gave me a specimen fish at last. It was hardly a monster by today’s standards, but I was more than pleased when my digital scales recorded 5lb 10ozs. When it had been safely returned after a quick photo, my watch confirmed 9.30pm. I had been contemplating perhaps fishing until 11.00pm but my back ached, a good frost was forming and I realised I’d had enough. I phoned Fran to tell her I’d be home earlier than planned and when she told me that there’d be a big bowl of hot beef stew waiting for me that settled the issue!!

5lb 10oz

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