Monday 6 August 2018

The Tiny River Ise – Flake Faith Pt2.

There is nothing quite like a bit of fine dining from time to time, Cheal’s in Henley is a restaurant the Wife and I have dined at on a number of occasions now. It seems to be getting better and better if that's possible and we had to get back there as soon as we could.

On presenting of the bill we could have popped over the road and dined on ridiculously good salted caramel fried chicken wings (so good) and Onglet steaks at the Butchers Social, and probably could have returned another couple of times, for similar outlay. But it’s the occasion (Wife's Birthday) the ambience, the service, oh and obviously the food, which my God is wonderful.

Pretentious, well probably, but heck, does it taste good !!!!

That blob of reduced sauce what ever it was (they did say) that accompanied the gravy was so tasty they should try and bottle it, how can something so small taste to good....

To the heathens out there no you wouldn't need a bag of chips on the way home to fill your stomach, the ambitious food here is a testament to that, anyway like we do, you could always ask for some more sourdough bread which by the way comes with salted butter and whipped pork fat topped with crispy bacon bits, and lets not forget the canapes and amuse-bouche which come part of the meal, sounding better is it ?

You won't go hungry let put it that way, despite it looking that way to many !!!!

I admire the skill and technique Matt Cheal and his team can muster up, you see as a food lover and someone who enjoys cooking when I’ve a plate of such quality put in front of me the cost goes out the window, we are only here for a visit after all, I get pleasure out of it. More often than not we tend to eat out more or less every Friday lunchtime when the kids are at school for the quality time relationships need, however getting the kids looked after for an evening is seemingly getting rarer these days, so might as well make the most of it and go all out when we get the opportunity.

Now talking about rare, what happened to these big river roach that used to frequent the waterways ?

More or less a year to the day we were back on the diminutive River Ise in Kettering which was renowned for them in years gone by. Sadly it was only for a short weekend break this time but last time we fished it Sam and I managed to winkle out some nice roach and chub from this neglected and seemingly forgotten bit of river which sadly appeared to be a bit of a dumping ground.

You only have to look at the pictures from last time to know it’s my sort of river and if only some of the residents and holiday home owners were likeminded, they could turn it in to a nice little stretch of river.Certainly judging by the stamp of roach I manage to catch which were hiding under some shady cover, there are some nice fish to had, and considering we only fished a tiny section of it,

I’m sure there are some nice surprises....

I’d try and get out myself to one of the other stretches away from the familiar for a dawn session which is a hop over a bridge and in to some open land where apparently some big Roach have come out in the past but for a few short sessions of an hour here and there we’d fish the area we could see from our accommodation.

Tactics well, I think we had it nailed on last time, a light link ledger set-up with some flake on the size 12 hook. Some of the available swims wouldn’t suit anything longer than 8ft so for this trip the Browning F1 wand with the 1oz tip was the rod of choice and what a great little rod it is, the last outing was to the similarly tiny river, the Alne.

The problem with this sort of river it needs time to be explored and I haven’t the luxury of that so I’d be fishing blind more or less, which is never a good thing especially in the summer where rivers are low and the water clear. Witnessing the presence of roach has never been more important, for sadly, in many stretches of the rivers we fish, they are nowhere as prolific as they once were. A great proportion of apparently mouth-watering, idyllic roach swims turn out to hold absolutely nothing.

When the rivers are running on the clear side, like it was last time I was here, there was no point flogging away during daylight as it was obvious the roach because I could see them, and they were not really interested in feeding, but come dusk though and a couple of times in to darkness they responded during these days positively to ledgered breadflake.

And while this piece is really about tactics, rather than technique, it is worth mentioning that here we are talking a big bait, one that only a large roach can suck in. Nothing less than a thumbnail-sized piece of fresh white bread, covering a size 8 to 12 hook and a 3lb to 4lb hooklength would suffice. There were snags and lots of them, and once of the problems was although cagey the Chub would home in to a bait much faster than the roach could and they needed to be bullied out of the swim, rather than let them dictate the fight to you.

The oldest working water-chute ride in the world !!!!
Now one thing I noticed when we entered Wixsteed Park was where were all the Roach ? the small boating lake had some huge shoals, but this time it was hard enough to spot one. Hmmmmm very worrying, as was the algae bloom on the lake. When we got to the lodge a quick scout of the river we spotted a group of Chub around 6 or 7 strong with two looking like they might even go 5lb, encouraging but then the river seemed devoid of fish life apart from that, a few some small perch and the under the tree where I caught some decent Roach last time, zilch.

The Chub once they know you are there are difficult to catch, they were spooky as hell as expected and with the river being so clear you can understand why.

A quick natter to one of the lodge owners there had been two otters being spotted over the past few months as from their vantage point they could spot them easily enough, especially as being so used to humans like are.

So the weekend well, we'd fished a few short morning and evening sessions opposite the lodges and also up from the bridge at the park in a nature reserve and boy the fishing was tough, we we proper the stealthy for the first bite and it was 3lb chub one of the smaller ones from the group but it gave a decent scrap all the same, then they were nowhere to be seen the rest of the break.

I can imagine fishing well in to dark may have brought some different results but I didn't really have that luxury. Worms were attacked by little pesky perch, the bread by tiny fry.

Maybe sweetcorn might have been worth a dabble. It didn't help that I snapped by one and only quiver tip on the first session so the bite indication was either visual or by thumb and finger, but we ploughed on.

Eventually some roach were found above the bridge, but nothing really of size and I could see the bread it was that clear and a few chub were milling around but happily ignored the bait such their caution. The biting insects at sundown increased significantly so it wasn't exactly pleasant so we didn't fish 'that' much such the tough going as were the bites which were mounting up big time.

The river in the sections I fished were weedy with literally no flow but I'd say the fish numbers were down from when I fished it last. Maybe winter is the time to fish it as I'm sure there are some specimens to be had, the Chub especially I'm sure there are clonkers. Fish in to dark is the way to approach it, maybe I'll get another chance, but the Ise, in decline, from what I've been told and what I've experienced, that's highly likely, shame as it's a lovely river, if you can call it that.


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