Opening day fishing the River Lea 2017

There’s something very special about the 16th June. For me, it goes back to my childhood when everything closed from March until June – lakes and rivers. You literally stopped fishing for 3 months and so the 16th June was a very special date – when we could get back out there and go fishing again! Great to be back fishing the River Lea again.

These days most lakes stay open throughout the year, however the river still adhere to the traditional close season. Over the last few years my love affair with the river has grown stronger than ever. Winter of 2016 had been fantastic and the river had been very kind to me on the run up to the end of the season in March 2017. I’d caught some fantastic perch and I really had a great time on the river. So the closed season hit me really hard when it came. When 16th June 2017 came round I was bursting to get back on the river!

I decided in advance that I was going to try for perch in the morning and then chub / carp in the evening. I still had work that day so my fishing was going to be done before and after work.

I arrived early at my perch spot with my dropshot set up. Within an hour I’d had a couple of great perch!

perch river lea

Above: Cracking first fish of the season! A perch of 2lb 6oz.

fishing the River Lea

Above: A very plump looking perch on my little Ultra-Light set up.

fishing River Lea

Above: The second perch, just a few ounces lighter.

After I had bagged those early perch (before 7am) I did start to wonder if I could complete the treble – a perch, a chub and a carp. I had seen some chub in the river on my way to the perch spot which looked very catchable. On my way back to the car I looked at these chub spots and was surprised to see what I thought was a few barbel amongst them – I’d not seen them in this part of the river before. The water was quite coloured so I couldn’t be sure that they were barbel. I baited with a few pellets and then lowered in my luncheon meat hook bait. Within a few minutes the rod tip swung round and I was into a very fast fish. As it went in the net I was over the moon – it was indeed a barbel!

first river lea barbel

Above: A very hollow but welcome barbel. A first for me and so I was really pleased.

So the treble was most definitely on! Not quite how I planned it, but what the hell! All I needed to do now was stalk a carp off the main river after work. It was a warm day and so I was quite confident. 5.30pm came and I literally flew out the door. I’m lucky as I have an office that is right on the River Lea in Ware. I know the stretch well and have had some stunning carp from there in the past.

I walked up and down the stretch, travelling very light. This is key. The fish are quite nomadic and they can be anywhere, so decent walking boots and polaroid glasses are essential. I got up toward a lock area and sure enough there were a few fish. I stood well back and threw in a few bits of bread and a few mixers. It wasn’t long before one of the fish started taking these quite close to the bank. I always watch the fish closely, understanding it’s movement and anticipating it’s path. I placed my floating crust just where I felt it needed to be. Sure enough a nice common took the bread within seconds of it being in the water!

These river fish have immense power and after one hell of a battle a lovely bronze river common was in the bottom of the net.

carp river lea

Above: Not huge but these natural river carp don’t need to be. The carp in our rivers are very special fish and have bags of character.

So the treble was complete – what an opening day! Not bad considering I went and did a full days work in the middle of it! I must book it off next year, although even then I’m not sure I’ll manage an opening day like this one.

Tight lines everyone! Have a great river season.

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