Up and away from home at 5:30am - even on a Sunday! - loaded down with a large bait tin of sweetcorn, plus the hemp and boilies that I would be pre-baiting with for tomorrow. "Float fish swim 1" is a short walk from the car, a 30 yard glide, though one where the bottom shelves up as you go downstream. I have put in some bait and am tackled up by 6:00. Three roe deer on the opposite bank stand watching me for a few minutes.
Now I am definitely not the world's greatest float fisherman, and rarely fish this way. In the 1970s I once saw ace matchman Ken Giles fishing a match on the Warwickshire Avon where he caught over 50lbs of chub fishing a stick float. It was quite amazing to watch. Or there was the time in the early 1990s when I was fishing the Hale Park stretch of the Hampshire Avon and watched a guy fish a long glide with a centre pin reel. After seeing this I actually bought a centre pin reel and then discovered just how hard it was to fish that way. I don't even own a proper float rod and am using an Avon rod today, my usual Shimano Aero reel with 4 lb line, a 3AAA Avon to a size 14 hook. But this late in the season, it does seem a nice idea to float fish and I did ok the other week.
First casts are critically important in pre-baited swim as you expect fish to be there from the off and already feeding. But this does raise the issue of correct depth and I start with a run down set at about 6 ft. This produces a bite about 10 yards down the swim, and a fish which fights really well but turns out to be a mid-3lber. Was this an impetuous smaller fish, while the bigger ones are down below? I reset the depth by 6 inches and keep adding a little more every second cast till I seem to have located the bottom at about 8 ft.
I then hook a second fish but it falls off when about half way in. This could have finished the swim but I stuck it out for another 45 minutes and got a second fish of 3-15. So an ok start to my short session.
I dropped off my tackle at "float fish swim 2", put in three or four catapults full of corn, and then went for a walk downstream to bait the swims I intend to fish for barbel tomorrow. On the way down I spot something about which anglers have very mixed feeling. An otter is swimming downstream through my first chosen swim. It is nice in some ways that otters are more common but they are killing huge numbers of large barbel, so anglers generally aren't keen to see them in their rivers - still it is the first wild otter I have seen for years.
Back at FFS2 and what a fine float fishing spot it is. Another 30 yard plus glide, but this time of steady depth. The all important first cast produces a bite straight way and this time it is a pretty decent fish of 4-15. I have a second bite two casts later which I missed and then hook and lose a fish at the very far end of the swim. One other curious incident was when I was just starting to wind in and I suddenly seemed to be connected to a fish. However a moiment later it was gone and I wound in to find the hook missing. My guess is that a jack pike took the sweetcorn as I started to wind in, attracted to the surface disturbance. I fish on for another hour but no more bites.
I then spent an hour ledgering in one of the chub raft swims but with no bites. It was very hot by 10:00 and this remains the case for the rest of the day, suggesting a change of plan for next few days. I now plan to fish first thing each day, then come home in the middle of the day, going out again late afternoon.