Autumn is probably the most popular season of the year for coarse anglers– whether it’s on the ponds and lakes or fishing from the banks of our two famous rivers, the Arun and Rother.
September is when the waters receive their first covering of leaves and debris from trees shedding their summer foliage. And with the leaves come numerous insects, bugs and various other forms of food that await the fish as the wind stirs and deposits their next meal.
Nature’s free meals are welcome by fish anxious to build their body strength for the winter ahead.
A wise angler takes time to look around and think carefully where best to fish, rather than heading to what is either a familiar swim or what in many cases is the easiest place to sit down.
Comfort sometimes outweighs where best to fish and a closer look could provide the answer, especially in the early autumn.
I’m just as guilty of looking for the familiar over the more sensible and obvious places where fish will hold station, and that is usually closer to the bank under the overhanging branches and shrubs. They leave the middle summer stretches and move to the free food zone... who wouldn’t?
Chub, dace, roach and perch are freeloaders - they all enjoy worm and insects, so maggot and worm are worth trying either on float trotting close to the bank or a light feeder on the bottom.
On warm sunny days when the air is still, go back to summer methods – the fish move back into the middle of the river so, again, corn and bread are ideal, never forgetting that maggot will catch fish almost anywhere, they must be the most popular bait ever.
September should also bring heavier showers of rain and with them come oxygen, good for fishing. The fish are stirred from their summer slumbers and feed especially after rain.
Once it stops you see more rising fish than ever. They search for food brought down by the rain, and tell-tale rings of bubbles rising from still waters mean the tench, carp and bream are searching the bottom for food.
Catching new anglers as well as fish is something all clubs spend a great deal of time and effort on these days.
Getting people, especially youngsters, to tear themselves away from mobiles, computers and other gadgets that we once lived without is something all interest groups have to take seriously if they’re to survive.
With this in mind, we went to a very hot and sunny Hotham Park country show in Bognor, a two-day event where we joined forces with Bognor Regis Amateur Angling Society, West Kent and Sussex Sea Fishing Club, the Southern Inshore Fishing Conservation Authority, plus Steve Batten, a club member and fly fishing tuition expert.
All the anglers were under one tent, and all angling for potential new members. There was a lot of friendly banter and members of the public were invited at no cost to put their name and contact details.
If their number came up at the end of the day they had an opportunity to choose sea, coarse or fly-fishing. There was some competitive action with people trying to cast a ball into some large tubs – the ladies outshone the men.
Let’s hope we encouraged some of those who visited the stand and showed interest to join whichever club ticked their box.
As I write the weather is still hot and sunny. I love rivers, and fishing the Rother from my club’s various venues, be it Coultershaw or Shopham Bridge, both near Petworth, or our long stretch at Fittleworth, is an ideal way to catch your breath, take stock and realise how lucky we are to live in such a wonderful part of the country.
See www. sussexangling.co.uk to find out more.
Petworth & Bognor Angling Club
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