The Road To Recovery

The Road To Recovery

Martyn White | Thursday, 2 September 2021

Last week we had a few nice days of high pressure and no rain meaning the rivers could clear up, so on Monday I went to a river I'd not fished for a good 2 years. It used to be my favourite but a huge amount of construction work on the banks and a new bridge being built really disrupted things and I was interested to see how it was recovering.

It was a bit of a mixed day and it certainly didn't start in an encouraging manner. The first sectionI was hoping to fishwas completely different from how it was before, straightened into a long riffle over a flat concrete bottom. "flood defenses" and not at all a municipality burning up budget surplus to prevent futurre funding cuts I'm sure... Anyway I was disappointing because there used to be some nice pools with little foot high falls between them each usually reliable for a smallie or a shot at a carp. As I walked downstream I saw what seemed like millions of pale chub, but nothing else. Nothing. I probably walked a mile and a half before seeing a carp. It's a crystal clear river, if they're there, you see them. It didn't get that much better really, and over about 5 miles of river I only got 4 shots at carp, it used to be more like 40.

I picked up a reasonable smallmouth, but again didn't see many. Just more 4-5" chub everywhere I looked. The lack of smallmouth is probably connected to the explosion of bait. This river definitely used to have one of the better populations of smallmouth in the area, and a high average size with fish over 22" being fairly normal. Otters and other predators are extinct in Japan, so without the dreaded black bass there's not much else to keep the chub and carp in check. They'll keep booming until more bass start to move in from other parts of the river system. It was nice to see a few around and I hope they have had a good recruitment year, there will certainly be plenty of baitfish for them to eat! The highlight was catching a nice predatory barbel on a 5" BTD. I don't encounter them enough to really have them dialled in, but I get a few and I always enjoy them. 

So I had mixed feelings about it at the end of the day, it's not back yet and I doubt the upper stretch ever will be. Luckily further down stream the new shoots of recovery are there and the pool at the new bridge looks like it'll end up being a reliable spot for a bass or 2 each trip, just not yet. I'm glad I went to check it out, but I'll leave it another year or maybe 2 before I go back.

I made a wee video, but I need a bit more practice on that front.