Sunday, 4 November 2007

Fishing Report: 3rd November 07 - River Stour, Suffolk

Fishing pal Stuart had said he was a bit bored of doing the same old kind of session and wanted to try something a little bit different so we had arranged a session after some Flounders on the Suffolk Stour. The plan was to meet early and then head to a spot that used to provide some fantastic sport with big, pre-spawning Flounders, digging bait nearby to add to the basic rations of Ragworm purchased just in case the digging was poor. It was a bit of an adventure in many ways. Stuart had never dug for Ragworm before, it was about a two-mile walk from the car and, if that wasn't enough, the general opinion seems to be that the Flounder in the river have gone, apparently all trawled up by local commercial boats to use as pot bait.

Stopping off to dig on our way we found there were plenty of Ragworm around and it didn't take Stuart long to get into the swing of things with his new fork. We managed a couple of pounds between us in about an hour and moved on earlier than expected, finally starting fishing at our venue at about midday. The weather was far from ideal for Flattie bashing. The fish generally feed in close and like a bit of colour in the water but there was very little in the way of a breeze and as the water started pushing over the mud we could see it was gin-clear, which wasn't going to do us any favours whatsoever!

Although confidence was lacking we set to it, piling on big Ragworm baits on three-hook paternosters and fishing them at various ranges to see if we could contact the fish, but despite sticking to it the Flounders were either not there or, because of the clear water, were not interested in our baits. While Flounder were not putting in an appearance the local Bass population were quite obviously feeding high up in the clear water and at least three or four times during the afternoon there were huge flocks of seagulls working the surface on one part or another of the river, picking off the bait fish that a shoal of Bass had pushed to the surface. With the settled, warm weather and the clear water it actually seemed more like summer than a lot of the summer itself and I commented to Stuart that we would perhaps have been better off bringing the Bass spinning gear.

We persevered on through the afternoon, catching only the odd crab here and there and in the meantime just enjoying the peace and quiet and watching the spectacle of the huge flocks of birds that have gathered on the river for the winter. Finally just as it got dark Stuart managed to get a fish to save our honour (well his honour anyway); only a tiny Schoolie, but a welcome sight all the same. After fishing about an hour of darkness with no further action we decided enough was enough as we both had other places to be and we headed back on the long journey back to the car.

So where were the Flounder? I've heard so many rumours that the River Stour Flounder population have all gone I could perhaps be forgiven for believing it. I'm still not convinced though. These are pre-spawning fish and, just the same as on my home patch on the Colne, it will take a certain combination of triggers to preempt them into gathering in the tight shoals that they form at this time of the year. The food is there for them, so that isn't the reason for their non-attendance. But the weather is still warm (as is the water), there is still a lot of the summer weed about and the prevailing winds of late have allowed the colour to drop out of the water; all these factors, in my experience will delay the Flounder's urge to head downriver and spawn. My hope is that some strong winds and a bit of a cold snap will see them gathering up over the next few weeks, ready and waiting for my return.