John BaileyJust because we’ve got to put our bait rods away until June 16th, that doesn’t mean to say that we can’t spend some time along our riverbanks.

There are two really profitable things that we could be doing at this time of the year. First up, if you’ve got any access to trout fishing, then it really pays to give it a go. Some of my happiest memories from childhood are fishing small streams around Easter time for tiny little browns. Some waters, of course, stick to the fly only rule and that’s fine but there are still smaller places, here and there, where the humble worm will winkle out a trout or two. If they’re wild bred browns, though, please, please put them back. I’m well aware not many of us have money enough to pay for a syndicate on the River Itchen but it pays to keep your eyes and ears open to see if there are any trouting opportunities near you.

For the majority of us, though, it will be walking our usual coarse fish beats, seeing what’s happening at this time of the year. And that’s often a lot. The great thing is, if the water is low and clear and the day is bright, you will see a lot of barbel, chub and roach moving into the shallows, onto the gravels preparing for spawning. This generally takes place around about the middle of May or perhaps towards the end of that month and the fish will now be in evidence if you get the chance to go and look. The exciting thing is that you might well get surprises. What I’m always seeing is far more fish than I think my stretches of river normally hold! Whilst I might think chub and barbel are thin on the ground, very often that’s not the case, so that’s really exciting.

The size of fish might also surprise you, too. For example, I’ve seen some far bigger chub than either I or my mates have caught in the last year or two. Just the other day, I saw a fish that had to be nearer eight pounds than seven.

Of course, you’ve got to be incredibly wary and approach them like they are the spookiest creatures on the planet. Which they often are. It doesn’t matter how long you take to get into position, the end view can often justify all the creeping and crawling and being stung by the young, vicious nettles of the new year.

Good fish spotting and, if you’ve got the chance, some really good trouting, too!