Sunday 28 June 2020

The Tiny River Alne - Tiddlers and Tonitrophobia

Now serious adult anglers do not trouble themselves too much with the lesser species of the tiny rivers and streams, leaving them to the care of small boys with nets and jamjars.

These are waterways completely forgotten about, 'there are no fish in there' well, fish that would put a worthy bend in the rod, nobody would fish there.

Then there are the oddities like Sam and I....

"Sam what fish shall we try and catch ?"

"Well we have maggots haven't we"

"Yeah a pint or so"

"Well a Stone Loach or a Stickleback Daddy, I've still not caught one them have I ?"

"Nope, then again I've not caught a Stone Loach on rod and line either" "Thats sorted then, let's pop to the Alne, the little bit of rain we've had might have topped it up nicely too." "Sorted"

Now sticklebacks like the shrews on land, they are tiny but ferocious, I saw one once with a decent size roach which it bullied cruelly. The stickleback would get just above and well behind the roach and, keeping in its blindspot, and dart forward to take a bite at its dorsal fin.

Now the three-spined stickle stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus, the best protected and the most adventurous and aggressive of the family. They are a widespread group of fishes, found all across the northern parts of the globe, in fresh or salt water, all small but well armed.

Many fish have a spiny, protective first dorsal fin, the sticklebacks have converted this to a row of separate spines, strong and as sharp as thorns.

The pelvic fins too, are no longer used for steering but have become sharp spines, and the first ray of the small anal fin is also spiny. This makes a stickleback a prickly mouthful for any predator, and in the three-spined variety the sides of the body are further protected by a row of overlapping boney plates.

In many ways it's a mercy that sticklebacks do not grow very large I suppose because like the bullhead, the 'Millers Thumb' they are fearsome looking things when the scale-up button is pressed.

Now Sam is still scared of thunder and lightning which has been quite prevalent of late, so a 4lb bullhead, a 3lb stickleback, yeah, it's good they are tiny. Otherwise we wouldn't target them.

Now we are a dab hand at bullheads in-fact Sam still holds the record of the biggest caught on rod and line by the Newey family. But there are other species that we've still to catch and I'm sure they are here on this diminutive waterway 5 mins drive away.

Thus far we've caught brown trout, bullhead, minnow, gudgeon, roach, perch, dace and chub, I'm sure these other species are here, clean gravely bottoms, deeper bends, yeap, they are all here. So simple tactics, an inaugural outing for my new tiny river and stream set-up and Sam would be manning his float rod.

We'd concentrate on the upper stretch of the river for this short morning session as it varies so much in such a small area, plenty to go out for sure.

I didn't get to fish it much last season because it was in almost constant flood. Rivers such as the Alne can rise and fall very fast but when the water table is already busting at the seams, then any rain whatsover it's over the banks again.

When we got bankside I thought the river would have more water on, sadly not though, thing is with small rivers like this, any deeper areas will hold fish. So rove around find any likely spots and fishing maggots bites come rather quickly.

A trout was the first fish to come which must have more or less taken the bait on the drop, not a huge fish, we've caught bigger fish here but they give a really good fight on light tackle.

Dace and minnows, and lots of them were the order of the day, but another trout at the end of the short session we got what we came for, dips on the float and a bend in the quiver.

You also don't get to see two kingfishers on a branch together that often, we did though.


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