Saturday 5 October 2019

Small Brook Fishing Pt.11 – Barrow Pigs and Bitch Boobys

Streams and rivers originate in a variety of ways, though the vast majority begin life as trickles of water emerging from springs or boggy ground. Springs are associated with chalk or limestone rock and their water is generally rich in calcium carbonate and other minerals resulting in an environment in which the aquatic flora and fauna thrive.

Rain-fed streams on the other hand, and those which begin life in areas of acid rock or marsh, generally show a low mineral content, making life a tougher proposition both for the plants and animals present.

In their upper reaches, streams are usually descending a steep gradient and as a consequence are at their fastest and clearest and carrying high levels of dissolved oxygen. Because of the altitude the water is usually cold.

In rain-fed rivers, the water level, rate of flow and temperature fluctuate wildly at different times of the year. In the upper reaches the river bed is usually stony, sometime rock-strewn, and weedless, and the food supply is restricted to small creatures such as insects and worms which are blown or washed in to the water from the riverbank.

So although the high oxygen levels are a good thing for the fish, the environment is uncomfortable, the food supply poor, and the fish do not as a rule grow very large. As the rain-fed river continues on it's downstream journey, tributary streams will begin to join it, so swelling its size.

The countryside through which the river runs will also begin to mellow. Flow begins to slow and as a consequence, the river will start to meander back and forth across ever-widening flood plain.
In this deeper, steadier, less turbulent flow different varieties of weed will gain a hold.

In fairly clear water weedgrowth may border on the luxuriant, a situation exacerbated by agricultural fertilizers, such as nitrates that are leached from the surrounding fields during wet weather, and phosphates from domestic products such as washing powders which find their way into the rivers through inefficient sewage works. Invertebrates, which form the bulk of the fishes food, will be varied and in plentiful supply.

Now high glows caused by winter rains can still make life uncomfortable for fish and other forms of life below the surface, with bottom gravel and silt beds being shifted around unceremoniously. However shelter can always be found somewhere.

With the bigger rivers a little out of sorts after the ridiculous amount of rain we had dumped on us recently a trip to a little waterway was in order and get back to simple fishing. A pint of maggots and a float basically. The fish don't grow that big here but some of the dace come proper winter weill be heading towards the pound mark I'm sure of it.

Nothing that big was caught during this short morning session but in one swim in-particular it was a bite every trot down. As per usual I didn't get a look in with the rod but to be fair I don't mind as Sam loves fishing these sorts of waterways as do I.

A stoneloach remains elusive thus far but we have caught all manner of species here, a stream where most would just walk on by. In-fact I doubt if anyone else fishes it. Why would they ? there is F1 carp to catch isn't there or the Xbox to play. I lost count of the fish caught, lots of bites from minnows as well so the dinky float didn't stop dipping throughout the session.

One swim produced a gudgeon which fell off, then a roach, then a dace and then ended with a small trout. What's not to like about fishing like this, and yet we are seemingly in the minority....?

My mind is still on Barbel, so hopefully I'll get out again soon to try and put the species to bed before targeting a proper'un.


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