River Kennet, Monday 9th February 2015
A day spent on a stretch of the Kennet which sees a little less pressure than other venues on my club books. It has everything from fast raging pools to quiet sidestreams which would barely pull the line off the most free running of centrepins, the perfect location for testing the rod’s capabilities.
The morning was spent trotting in the slower water, the overcast conditions were encouraging but that wasn’t to last, early afternoon the sun came out and added a different (but equally pleasing) perspective to the angling. While the sun was hidden though I managed to winkle out a couple of small roach, a spottie with more energy that his size warranted and a scrawny little perch;
The rod worked well, it’s heavy at 14 ounces and adding a centrepin does nothing to help but the action is fast enough to pick up line at distance, being only eleven foot long was also a definite advantage today. I can’t use braid with it though so bought some 5½ lb Silstar Match Team mono at the recommendation of the tackle shop proprietor. Good line this, it floats well and all of my knots were crinkle free first time which is something I haven’t managed with Daiwa Sensor, knot strength seemed good too. What I don’t like about mono is the invisibility, I’m sure this is a good thing but I’m used to seeing braid when trotting and the mono was a bit unnerving, it was, however, responsible for the comical moment of the day (see below).
Trotting action had slowed by lunchtime, it was fairly bright by then so I thought a switch to ledgered breadflake might be a good idea. The chosen swim was at the upper limit of the venue and the chub were queuing up to be fed, a trout got in first but then shed the hook saving me having to land it. After that it was a bite every cast and three chub graced the net, none bigger than the one pictured later but good sport. The fourth was the bruiser of the bunch and had obviously waited until his smaller brethren had scouted ahead, when he took the bait it was straight off into tree roots. I saw the fish in the clear water and it was a lot fatter than the others but I wasn’t sure how much pressure I could apply with the unfamiliar rod and line, I was too cautious and he snagged me.
So, time to explore the last section of the fishery. This was by far the most turbulent and my 1oz lead would’ve been swept away in most of it but with careful casting the numerous back eddys and slacks could be targeted. I probably spent too much time perched on my creel admiring the honey coloured blank and translucent whippings of the rod than is healthy but I couldn’t help it, the sun was out, the river was full and it was a glorious afternoon…no better place in the world to be. When my gaze was drawn back to the rod tip it was usually settling and I’d missed the bite.
The return of my concentration coincided with the return of my host who’d been off to buy deadbaits slightly less rancid than the ones in his bag. The tip knocked, I hooked the fish and nearly fell off my creel, thereafter a couple of individuals who have accumulated about 120 years on this planet both failed to spot where the fish was swimming. Although the line was a different brand neither of us could see it (see above), the rod in my hands gave a vague idea but it was only when the lead surfaced that we realised the chub was right under our noses. After all that commotion it proved to be a small fish but I don’t think I’ve photographed any in better condition than this;
The afternoon passed without further interruption from chub, a couple of decent spotties and a rainbow of all things tested the Merlin and it came through as it should’ve done i.e. it’s still straight! The day started as a first outing for the rod but it ended as one of the most enjoyable angling occasions I’ve ever had, really.
A huge thank you to my host and companion for the day.