A day afloat with big Steve.

Its not always about the fishing its often for me anyway about catching up with old mates and sharing a bit of banter. When amazing fishing is thrown in well that’s just a big fat bonus. I had tried to arrange a day out with Steve Cullen for ages but family and work made it difficult to get a day we were both free. A number of days had already been seen off and it was only by good fortune an amazing wife and an outstanding boss that I managed to escape for the day to go to Draycote. The fishery needs no introduction; it is one of the best fisheries in England. In stark contrast to Rutland the other day Draycote was very busy lots of boats were either out or going out and the banks boasted many anglers.

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We had started our day at the Willoughby café where Steve treated me to a big fry up is there a better way to start a day fishing? I don’t think so! We were all kitted up and ready to get on the water by 1000hrs. I was admiring Steve’s waterproof jacket its part of Wychwoods new clothing brand and very smart it is too, but more about that later. Steve took the engine this being his home patch and all and we headed across to Toft. I had started with a fast sinker and a booby and Steve had opted for the DI5 and a team of lures. The drift was set quite far of the bank and I thought we might have been a little to far out but my very first cast saw me bend into the first fish of the day, the fight was brief though as the fish spat the barbless hook. It took but a few moments before I was into another fish the fight was deceiving as the fish although reasonable size 2lb-ish it had fought really hard. This was most probably aided by the crystal clear water. Steve was also soon playing a fish and the first couple of drifts which were becoming ever shorter due to numerous anchored boats produced a dozen fish between us. My fast sinker had got into a right state and the tangle seemed unsurmountable so I took it of and threw it into the box to be dealt with later. After putting another sinker on it did not seem to make much odds to the catch rate. We soon grew weary of trying to weave around the anchored boats so decided to join the happy throng.

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I am not a fan of anchoring up I don’t see the point once you have caught the fish in front of you that’s that. At least in a drifting boat you can cover fresh water and increase your chances surely? Once we had anchored up we both switched to floaters with teams of buzzers. The one thing you can do at anchor is fish really slowly or even static. I was giving Steve a wee lesson in static buzzer fishing….read I cast my line out put my rod down got my tangled sinker out to start un knitting it, twice in as many minutes….superb. We both watched as the wily trout started wising up and the takes became ever so subtle. Slight line movements which could easily be seen in the clear water especially with Steve’s white floater. I had gone back to the sinker and sport picked up again, we spent a couple of hours catching fish and shooting the breeze. Anchoring up was not as boring as I had anticipated, greatly helped by the huge head of fish in Draycote.

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We decided on a wee change of scene and headed over to Rainbow Corner, there was already a couple of boats there with anchors out the back. So it looked like there were a few fish about. We were both back on the sinkers and the lures it seemed a bit barren at first but we soon found a few. After a few drifts we decided to go back across to Toft as there seemed to be a bigger concentration of fish there. The boats had not thinned out so we found a little spot and dropped the anchor. It was not the huge fishing bonanza as earlier in the day. Steve threw down the gauntlet for 50p for the next fish and the boat got a little quieter not that we are competitive mind….lol. Steve was getting all the action with lots of takes just coming short. I on the other hand could not buy a take, just after Steve had missed another offer I got a thunderous take and then nothing. This went on for five or ten minutes. This might not seem long but we had been smashing it all day and it seemed like an age. We lifted the anchor and moved down a little. Again Steve was getting all the action and I was scrapping round my pockets for the 50p. I was thinking that it was only a matter of time when my own rod buckled over and I was playing a fit rainbow. The fight was hard but brief, what a great way to finish up the day.

I couldn’t say how many fish we had hooked but I can’t recall catching so many fish in one day in a long time. If you need to get a fishing fix you could do worse than visit Draycote. The staff are really friendly and helpful. Quick with advice on areas and methods, the boats were clean and in good nick. The only quibble and I am sure it’s the same everywhere is we seemed to have a really poor engine. It repeatedly failed to start on nearly every attempt to do so. Of course I was on the pointy end and it may just have been operator error by the captain ;-)

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As we were packing up I asked Steve to have a look at his waterproof jacket. I am in the market for a new jacket for the rivers as my trusty Loomis after five years of pretty harsh punishment has given up the ghost. In a previous employment I used to repair Gortex equipment for the Army so I know a good deal about construction of waterproof garments. The Wychwood jacket is not made from Gortex but a similar high end waterproof material. What was impressive about the jacket was the close attention to detail. The cuffs had a rubber seal at the wrist to stop water moving up your arm when returning fish. The labels were sewn on neatly and with care always a sign of a well made garment. The seams were all well sealed with thick waterproof tape. The jacket Steve was wearing had been in use for nearly a year and the taped seams showed little sign of wear. Its certainly a contender for my next river jacket. But of more pressing need is a new pair of waders!