They’re big, they’re angry and they’re bloody wild those Welsh Ladies. Well who can blame them? They hardly get fished for in the areas of Wales that we fish and we turn up and disturb their peace. Most of the rivers barely see another angler. That’s the beauty of travelling to Powys to fish for these stunning grayling. We arrived on our first day to find the hills shrouded in mist and low cloud. We could have just as easily been in the Himalayas. Later that day the sun eventually broke through the gloom and the hills and surrounding countryside were lit up in a blaze of colour. We have found in the past that late February can be a tricky time to fish for grayling. They tend to shoal up and become a little more delicate and finicky. Large areas appear to be devoid of fish, even places that have proved very productive previously.
One option is to fish a little more delicately with lighter mainlines, hook lengths and floats, the other is to keep moving and find the fish. Eventually on that first day I located some grayling. I lost a couple of nice fish and then eventually landed a small one of about a pound. I did have a bonus chub though of around 3lbs. My angling companions; Geoff, Kevin and Dan were also struggling. That afternoon we only managed just a few fish, including one other small grayling. So it had been a tough start but not unexpected. Both Geoff and Kevin at least got to try out their new purchases. They had both acquired a TFG Classic Centrepin after me raving about them for ages and were keen to put them through their paces. They were delighted with the reels and I’m not surprised. With a glut of cheap and poorly made centrepins flooding the market recently, this reel puts them to shame. But there again it’s not a cheap pin, it’s a great quality pin at an exceptionally low price.
On day two we headed to a Wye tributary, the Ithon to do some trotting. We had several miles to explore. The Ithon is more of a lowland river, but a beautiful river to practice coarse fishing. It winds it way through woodland and meadows where the riverbed is a mixture of gravel and silt. There are still lots of lovely gravel runs, glides and deep pools to go at, despite the abundance of silt and mud. It’s a truly wild and unkempt river. Thick foliage and trees choke the banks and make access difficult in places.
This river showed no signs of human interference or for that matter any signs of being fished. I’m not surprised though really, it was a tricky place to wade or to fish from the banks. Still we found some cracking little spots and were confident of a few fish. We were wrong on that count. We never had a bite, despite covering a couple of miles of river and even resorting to driving further downstream for a look. However we did see 5 otters together in one spot and 2 more a little way downstream. So maybe this spooked the fish and they were hidden up under the snags. So the following day we headed to a private stretch of the Irfon.
We arrived in the morning and it was a bitterly cold day but at times bright and cheery. This was a delightful stretch, once again very wild, remote and unkempt. The riverbed here was mainly bedrock but with quite a few gravel runs. Wading was difficult but manageable with care. A word of warning when wading on bedrock, don’t be complacent. It’s very dangerous to get over confident. The rock is slippery as hell and very uneven. It’s easy to get a foot stuck and then slip.
We worked our way upstream, frog leaping each other as we did so. By early afternoon we were biteless. We stopped for lunch and discussed the situation. We had fished so many cracking swims but failed to so much as illicit a bite. We decided that despite the beauty of the beat we should move to the town section of the Wye, where we knew fish holed up in the winter. The move paid off. Geoff and Kevin fished the main area, whilst Dan and I tried down near the town bridge. I managed several nice upper 1lb+ grayling and Geoff and Kevin really got stuck in. They ended up with 17 or 18 grayling apiece, nothing huge but certainly to the 1lb 12oz range. However it was incredibly cold with a vicious easterly wind and we could take no more. The warmth of the fire back at the cottage beckoned and a warm meal was needed to keep the chill at bay.
The next two days saw us return to the town section. Dan and I fished the main swims this time Kevin and Geoff explored the Irfon and the Wye. To be honest they both struggled. They did manage a few fish each. Dan and I both did well. By using a bait dropper we managed to keep the fish interested and in close. By running a float along a near bank crease, which then travelled out to mid-river, we kept bites coming all day long. Double red maggot seemed to be the bait. I think Dan and I were both using relatively heavy floats to deal with the wind and hold the line that we wanted to fish. Mine was a 10BB Avon, shotted down low. As usual the bulk of the shot was located around 12-18inches from the hook with a small dropper shot 4-6 inches from the hook. I prefer to use Kamasan B983s for this sort of fishing. They provide an excellent hold and even with the barb crushed (makes unhooking fish easier whilst wading) I seem to land a high percentage of fish.
We ended the day with me on about 23/23 grayling and Dan on 17 or 18 both taking fish to just shy of 2lbs. Dan also had a lovely bonus chub of 4lbs too. The next day saw our final fling on the Wye with a rather unusual and interesting finale. Kevin dropped into a perfect swim. The river straightened after a bend and then the shallow water dropped into a deep run, where a crease created a lovely smooth glide. First run through and Kevin stuck into a very nice fish. It fought well and evaded capture for a while before I finally slipped the net under a fine grayling. It had big thick set shoulders and a lovely bright dorsal fin and weighed 2lb 3oz. There was a small v shaped scar just below its dorsal fin where a cormorant or some other predator had grabbed it at some point and a single scar on the other side.
After sorting his camera out and re-baiting the hook, Kevin dropped the float in to the same spot again. His reel tangled whilst his float sat almost motionless in the swim. The float then seemed to drag under and I informed Kevin that his float had disappeared. He lifted the rod tip to dislodge the float from what appeared to be the riverbed, when he found another good grayling attached! Incredibly, despite the lack of a strike, the fish stayed on. It fought for a while but soon gave up and I could see it was another ’2′. As the fish slipped into the waiting landing net I saw a familiar scar! Er it was the same fish again.
The scar matched and so did the weight. Well who would have believed it, the same fish in two casts. That was nothing, believe me. The next trot through got the exact same result and the same fish. So that was three times on the bounce. I had a go in the swim whilst Kevin watched and incredibly managed to capture the same fish again, on the first trot through the swim. Four casts and four times it appeared. This seemed remarkable. The fish was returned again and as with the previous 3 occasions rested for a short while before gliding off silently into the bright waters of the Wye.
The water temperature has been kept unseasonably low due to numerous night time frosts and combine that with a very chilly wind at times and you can understand not only my reluctance to fish but the very reason why the fish themselves are so reluctant to feed at times.
After some pretty dire conditions of late, I haven’t really felt like doing any coarse fishing. I don’t mind the rain per-Se but with these miserable temperatures of late, I have never felt so less inclined to fish. Work has also kept me off the banks for a while too. I mean, how very dare you.
Of course it doesn’t help when you fish with three mates that are all retarded er I mean retired (well, I think that’s what I mean ).
Still at long last we have experienced a slight rise in those overnight temperatures. We haven’t had a frost for at least a week and with the gauge not dropping below 6-8 most nights and daytime temps remaining around 13 or so, it was beginning to look a little more promising. We opted not to fish on the Tuesday evening as the forecast was again for some very heavy rain with a significant drop in temperatures again. However Wednesday’s forecast was pretty good, so we hoped that this blip wouldn’t spoil the fishing on Wednesday.
Geoff, Kevin and I set off, probably with limited expectations but I was certainly looking forward to being on the banks again after my enforced hiatus from my so far unsuccessful attempt at a big crucian. We headed to Godalming town centre for some lunch. Godalming is a lovely town, with several good cafe’s to boast of and a couple that offer very good value for money. So after a very healthy lunch (cottage pie and er chips…uhum!) we wandered along the river for an hour before heading off to Marsh Farm.
On arrival the lakes were showing the signs that spring was well and truly underway and that despite the weather’s best efforts to convince us otherwise, Summer was just around the corner. The trees were in full bud, the reeds were tall and green and the bankside flora was showing signs of healthy, vibrant growth. Perhaps this was not quite as much as it would normally be at this time of the year for obvious reasons but it was at least a sign that things were improving.
Very unusually there was no wind when we arrived. So I opted for a swim in amongst some thick reed beds where close in the depth is around 3 feet. With so much cover for the fish, I just felt it had to produce. Geoff wandered off to my right and Kevin stayed in a very good area to my left. The sun was out, albeit just at intervals due to the cloud cover and it actually felt very pleasant. We all felt it was the best conditions we had experienced so far this Spring.
Geoff was in almost immediately; a tench. I missed a couple of bites on paste and after missing a couple more opted to go back to worm bait. Kevin was steadily catching some small roach. This sort of action continued for some time. My switch to worm elicited instant results, when after a really good fight I netted a beautiful looking tench weighing 6lb 5oz.
Then the wind sprung up and the action slowed a little. Eventually the wind dropped and the action continued throughout the night. Geoff seemed to be catching tench steadily whilst Kevin and I were somewhat slower in the action. Then Geoff reported his first crucian. shortly followed by Kevin. They ended up with 2 or 3 each, mostly over 2lbs and one dead on 3 for Kevin. Despite catching 6 nice tench I felt a bit excluded from the action. I was getting lots of interest on the float. Lots of tiny dibs and dips, with the float moving slightly from side to side. A sure indication that crucians were in the swim and mouthing the bait in only the frustratingly delicate way that crucians can. I had plumbed the swim several times to check depth and so ended up whittling down the bait size. I ended up with just about a quarter of a dendrobaena worm on. I moved the float in towards the bank slightly, after seeing a few good crucians roll close in. After probably 20 minutes of tiny movements on the float, there was a sufficient ‘bite’ to strike at. This time I connected with something heavy. The fight was dogged, with the odd dive, whilst the fish plodded around in a circle. Eventually it broke surface and the magnificent buttery gold flank glistened in the torch light. It looked like a really nice fish and after a couple of heart stopping dives, I eventually netted her.
I was looking at a perfect specimen crucian. She was immaculate, just so stunning. They are truly a beautiful fish to behold. I popped her in the weigh sling and recorded a weight of 3lb 9oz. I was over the moon. It’s the biggest crucian I have had for sometime and a just reward for all of those dismal sessions in the wet and cold weather of the last couple of months.
Well Geoff ended up with 12 tench (again, I think he had about 12 the last time we were here), including several 5s and 2 or 3 crucians, Kevin I think had 7 tench and 3 crucians to 3lb and I brought up the rear with 6 tench and the 1 crucian. Still with the 6lb tench and the 3lb 9oz crucian, I felt I’d had the moral victory, they may of coarse disagree! We left at this point as the weather had got somewhat chilly and it was nearly midnight. Enough is enough.
Another week has passed and I found myself coarse fishing on the banks of the Marsh Farm lakes in search of crucian carp and tench. The weather has been just phenomenal lately, with temperatures rising to 20+ degrees. Sadly the nights are still rather chilly, with the odd frost keeping the water temperatures down a little.
This week I was joined by Geoff and Dan on Tuesday and Kevin and Geoff on Wednesday. Tuesday was a total failure for me. I lost a good tench and missed one bite. Geoff and Dan fared much better. Dan was first off the mark with a nice crucian of 1lb 12oz and he followed that up with another of 2lb 8oz and a couple of tench to 5lb 9oz, so he was pretty chuffed with that. Geoff found a few crucians, taking four to nearly 3lbs and a tench. When we left a frost had just begun to form and the ice was beginning to march relentlessly over everything at ground level.
The following day saw another scorching day and a slightly milder night. I decided to fish two rods, one on a feeder and the other a float as normal. Using an open end feeder I fed a nice black groundbait, with chopped worm and prawn and fished a large king prawn on a bait band. This rod ended up accounting for 3 tench to close to 4 pounds and one that I lost at the net, plus a few missed bites. I was quite pleased as it was a new rod. A Fox Duo-Lite Specialist fishing rod with a 3/4lbAvontop. It has a lovely through action and is just perfect for tench fishing. I’m really pleased with it. On the float rod I persevered with a small piece of prawn but was getting very little attention. Eventually I gave up with the prawns. I was getting some very delicate bites, barely discernible. I was certain they were crucians and so changed to worm. First cast and at last a decent bite. It was a nice crucian of 2lb 12oz.
A little while later the float slid silently away and this time something much bigger was on the other end. The fight was powerful and dogged but eventually I coaxed the fish into the waiting net. I could see it was quite a big tench. On hoisting it out of the water I could now see it was a heavily laden with spawn female. She was not shedding any spawn at all and so I weighed and photographed her. Had she of been shedding spawn, she would have gone straight back without any fussing. I was keen to get a weight and photo as it is the biggest tench I have caught on the float. I was over the moon and she was in lovely condition, just a touch on the plump side. As the saying goes “Who’s been eating all the pies? You fat bas…. ” uhum anyway back to the action. Well actually there wasn’t anymore really. I missed half a dozen bites I guess and left around 11.30pm.
Both Geoff and Kevin caught a few roach and rudd but sadly didn’t find any tench or crucians. Still with their track record, it won’t be long before they get stuck in to a few.
A couple of times a year, and far too infrequently, I get to fish with great mate John Kemp. It’s something I always look forward to. I think we both have the same outlook on fishing, which is basically enjoy the surroundings, the friendship as well as the fishing.
Anyway, we had another trip planned to the upper Thames in pursuit of large chub. It’s a spot I particularly like and still holds some stonking chub. A couple of years ago John caught his Thames monster here, a magnificent chub of 7lb 2oz. So we know it still holds the potential to throw up a real whacker.
The forecast was pretty grim and yet we seemed to miss the worst of the weather, which is exactly what happened last time. The only thing this time was the wind. It must have been gale force at times. Nevertheless we fished on in brave fashion. As always we started in the big weir. John tends to fish a small cage feeder with liquidized bread and flake on the hook and I use a large piece of crust anchored a few inches off bottom. If the swim allows, I will throw in a few balls of liquidized bread as an attractant.
My fishing tackle set-up is very simple. I fish 6lb line straight through to a size 6 hook. I slide on 2 Drennan Grippa Stops and then loop over a piece of line and attach the appropriate amount of shot that’s required to just hold bottom. I use the size 2 or 3 ssgs. I vary the distance from the hook but generally its 4 or 5 inches. If its really cold then it will be just a couple of inches from the hook. I then use a big piece of crust. The crust helps to balance the setup, so that it’s easy to move the bait with a twitch, in fact often the bait will move of its own accord. Once you have cast out, keep a nice bow in the line so that if the bait does move, it will travel downstream in a straight line and act far more naturally.
After a couple of casts to get the weight right, I flicked the crust out into the weir pool and put the rod on a rest. It was a tight swim but a good angle to attack the pool. The bait bumped a couple of times and then that tell tale knock on the tip indicated a chub. One more knock…..yes then the tip pulled right round. This is a typical chub bite on crust. The strike was good and the fish on the other end felt heavy as it plodded upstream. For a minute I thought maybe this was not a chub but then it headed for the snags on the inside and I thought, yes it’s a chub. It finally broke surface and I could see it was a decent fish. Once in the net I realised it was even bigger than I thought. I called JK and he came down to assist.
I though it looked a good five but inside I was thinking it was bigger. Well it turned out to be a good fish and weighed in at 6lb 1oz and is my first 6lb Thames chub. I jumped up and down a few times and shook John firmly by the hand. This was one of the highlights of my season. I haven’t caught a 6lb chub for some years. I used to fish for them almost exclusively and now rarely, so I was absolutely chuffed to bits and so was John.
John wandered upstream and I followed a couple of bite-less hours later. We opted to move upstream where there were lots of enticing marginal swims with deep water and loads of cover. We slowly worked our way back down towards the weir. During this process I managed 2 more chub, which both weighed 4lb 13oz, despite being caught a few hundred yards apart. John also tempted a couple of fish, including a good 4lb+ fish before we ended up back in the weir.
We finished here about 7pm. John took another nice chub that was in the region of 4.8lb and I sadly couldn’t tempt another fish. Still what a great day. Beautiful scenery, I saw a wild deer, plenty of bird-life and great company and all the chub were fat and healthy and in mint condition. Oh, and we never saw another angler as usual. Lovely chubbly
As I sit here eating my porridge, I am just about thawed out from the sub zero conditions of my last Coarse fishing trip to Wales. We had temperatures down to -10. I believe the term is brass monkeys?
The heavy snow that fell in Kent Saturday night was a bit of a shocker. I was driving back from a day on the Itchen and was caught in the ensuing blizzard. Most of the trip back was in heavy snow and it was becoming apparent the snow was laying quite quickly. By the time I arrived at Reigate, the motorway was covered. Luckily on reaching the Sevenoaks area, I had managed to get ahead of the snow and arrived home safely.
With a trip planned to Wales for 5 days on the Monday, things were looking a little tricky. On awakening Sunday morning, I found we had had maybe 4-6 inches of the white stuff. Lots of phone calls ensued. It seemed my roads were pretty good. The gritters and ploughs were out in force and the roads from about Swindon onwards looked clear. By the end of the day on Sunday, we had decided to go for it.
We headed over the Severn Bridge and cut across the Brecon Beacons. The Black Mountains were covered in snow but the roads were good and eventually we arrived at our destination. We managed to find a cafe in a small village and stuffed our faces with the local health food. You know the sort of stuff; eggs, bacon, sausages etc etc. Low cholesterol and fat free.
We arrived at the river and hoped it would be in good sorts. It was actually quite coloured and up about a foot from our last visit. Despite this it still looked fishable but it was bitterly cold, however at least snow free. We decided to give it a go and explore the section as best we could. I headed up stream with Dan, whilst Geoff and Kevin opted to go downstream.
It was a tough start. I started out fishing a deep pool. I lost a fish almost first cast and then despite numerous moves, I couldn’t muster a bite. I decided to leave Dan to it and move downstream. Bit by bit I worked my way down to the other two guys and ended up fishing in between them. Kevin had found a few fish and was doing reasonably well, considering the conditions. The area was just off of a bend and was smooth water with a reasonable depth. I think in really cold conditions you will struggle to find grayling in very deep water, they seem to prefer the shallower parts. This area was about 3 foot deep.
I watched as Kevin landed a few fish but sadly lost several big fish. We couldn’t be certain what they were but he felt confident that they were big grayling. I fished the inside line and trickled in a constant supply of maggots. After a couple of runs through the float buried and I hooked into what felt like a bit of a zoo creature. It quite literally towed me all over the river. It was heavy and very powerful. I decided it must be a decent chub and this stretch does produce some clonkers. The fish broke surface and I caught a quick glimpse of it and it looked like a grayling but I couldn’t be sure. After another spell, again the fish broke surface and I saw that long, sail like dorsal rise out of the water.
It was indeed a big grayling and is why we come to this region. Eventually, after a touch of jelly legs syndrome, I managed to net the fish. It looked huge and as I called for the guys, I was convinced it would be close to 3lbs. I was a little ambitious and on the scales it went 2lb 11oz and 3/4. It was weighed in a small plastic bag and so I settled for 2lb 11oz. It equaled my PB and was a magnificent specimen. I was over the moon. It’s been a long time since I landed a grayling of these proportions and was worth the wait.
We carried on fishing. Kevin ended up with a good tally of fish but sadly lost several very big fish, one close to the net. He estimated the fish to be over 2 1/2 pounds and having seen mine, it’s likely to have been so.
The three of us ended up catching a few but not many, whilst Kevin made double figures I think. It was a tough start. Still we headed off to the cottage for a nice cuppa and some food. Our hosts Jane and Richard were there to welcome us and we booked in for a breakfast with them on the Wednesday morning. They are wonderful hosts and make our stay here all the more special.
Bread crust is a deadly bait, in particular for winter chub, when all of those small fish are less active, so less likely to pick the crust to pieces!
If used in smaller pieces it can be a very effective roach bait too. And don’t think that barbel won’t take a large piece of crust anchored just off the bottom, because they most certainly will.
Still, a few tips when preparing crust for use:
- Never use a supermarket loaf, they are rubbish. Buy a sandwich loaf from a high street bakers. The type that have a uniform crust all round. It really does make a big difference. A good bakers loaf will have a great texture to the crust and it will stay on the hook for ages.
- Pop the loaf in a polythene bag (you can add a few drops of flavour to the bag at this point. Then blow the bag up and shake the flavour all around the inside prior to putting your uncut loaf inside) and pop it in the freezer until required.
- You can cut the crusts off of the loaf and tear up into chub size pieces and then freeze them if you prefer.
- Once on the bank you should be able to bend a piece of crust in half and stick a great big hook through it. Fold it crust side up and push the hook right through the crease.
- Use a swan shot (either an SSG, 2xSSG or even 3xSSG) as your anchor weight. This will keep the crust on the bottom. You can vary the depth from an inch to 6 inches. You may well find the colder it is the nearer the bottom you need the crust.
- For additional weight you can then use a small ledger weight or you may find that just a couple of shot will be sufficient
- Make sure that with a tug of the line, the weight allows the crust to move easily. That way you can bounce the crust around in a swim.
- Don’t be afraid to use a 4 or even a 2 hook with this method.
I spend at least one night a week, during the spring, summer and some of the autumn, out camping. This means I can fish for 2 days but only necessitates one trip there and back. It makes more economic sense to do it that way. Up till now I have used a cheap sleeping bag from my carp fishing days. I guess it did the job OK. It was quite cheaply made to be fair and most of the bedchair attachments had broken and when the temperature dropped it was next to useless.
So I decided to invest in a new bag. Something that would keep me warm in the colder months but hopefully not cook me on a summer’s evening. I ordered the new Dave Lane Hardcore bag. I thought that with his name endorsing it, it must be good. I’m pleased to say that I wasn’t disappointed.
It is made from a breathable material, so even in the height of the summer you shouldn’t sweat your socks off. Well no more than you would normally on a hot summer’s night. It’s very spacious, which I like and has an intriguing design that enables you to expand the bag either side. You can unzip a folded section of the bag to add to its width by several inches on each side. The bag is surprisingly lightweight too. It seems unusually thin considering its ability to keep you warm in sub zero conditions. I have used the bag quite a bit recently and I felt very snug, despite the bitterly cold conditions.
The bag itself seems well made and I like the robust bedchair tags used for tying the bag onto the bedchair. The zips are heavy duty and nothing about the bag gives the impression of being made on the cheap. I don’t actually fish whilst using a bag, so I can’t comment on its ease of escape whilst a bite alarm screams at you in the middle of the night. What I can tell you is that its very comfortable, light and well made.
I would certainly recommend it.
Here is the manufacturers speil:
When temperatures turn freezer-like it’s time for the Hardcore Sleeping bag.
When travelling fast and light it’s time for the Hardcore Sleeping bag.
When you need a bag that breathes on warm summer nights it’s time for the Hardcore Sleeping bag.
When you need the best it’s time for the Hardcore sleeping bag!
This remarkable sleeping bag has been developed and tested to destruction by the UK’s best carp angler Dave Lane. Whether session fishing in the depths of winter, or quick overnighters in the summer, this is the only bag Dave Lane will ever use.
Pushing the boundaries of sleeping bag technology the Hardcore Sleeping bag is the first and only genuine all season sleeping bag, Hardcore is rated to expedition level for winter fishing, yet due to it’s intelligent breathable outer it will allow you to remain perspiration free during hot, summer nights.
• The highest warmth to weight ratio
• Premium quality filing – instant and sustained heat throughout the coldest nights
• Breathable – no more unpleasant sweating during warm nights
• Unique expander panel – adjust your sleeping bag for your individual body shape
• Soft, luxurious lining
• Genuine all year round comfort
• Crash Zips – so easy to exit
• Bedchair attachment straps
• Tested and approved by Dave Lane
See the Fishtec website for more information: TF Gear Dave Lane Hardcore Sleeping Bag
There are numerous centre pins on the market, from £30 to £300+. What makes them a good buy? Well in my mind, I’d rather spend a bit more and get something better suited for the job and hopefully better made. Having purchased a couple of Marco Cortesi’s one of the things that really stands out is the poor quality of the build and the rigmarole involved in removing the spool. I also own a Young’s Bob James, which is an absolute delight to use but retails at about £300.
I recently purchased a TFG Classic Centrepin from Fishtec. It’s a stunning looking reel. I ordered mine with the optional line guard, which you fit yourself very easily.
The reel itself is a nice size for trotting and I particularly like the wide drum (1″). There is a ratchet on the back and a centre hub/nut which not only makes removing the spool very easy and convenient, it also acts as a tension nut, allowing you to control the spin speed to an extent.
The reel has a cut out back and numerous holes drilled throughout the product to lessen the overall weight. I’ve been using the reel quite extensively lately and am delighted with it. It not only looks the part, it performs superbly as well. It’s very free running, very easy to remove the spool in the event that line gets in behind it, which often happens in wet conditions. The centre hub/nut can be tightened to lessen/increase the drag, which generally features on far more expensive reels.
Overall a lovely reel that been very well designed and made and offered at a great price.
Guide your fishing tackle into the heart of the fishes lair, hold back the float and let your bait flutter enticingly in the current, then hang on for dear life as the largest, wisest fish in the shoal is fooled into taking your carefully selected offering. Fish with the TFGear Classic centre pin and take your fishing to the next level.
- Smoothest friction free performance
- Designed in the UK
- Super lightweight and balanced
- Total control over your bait
- The reel of choice for the discerning centre pin enthusiast
To complement the classic centre pin reel (TFG-CLASSPIN), a line guard (TFG-CLASSPIN-LG) is also available.
Currently on offer for an amazing £49.99 – TFG classic centre pin reel
Geoff and I felt it was about time we explored a little more of the canalised stretch of the Wasing’s River Kennet. It always seems quite tragic when a beautiful, natural, meandering river gets the ‘canalised’ treatment. The river is straightened and most of the bankside undergrowth ripped out, so basically you end up with a canal, obviously. However, to be fair, this section still retains plenty of cover both in and out of the water. It still looks like a river and holds some pretty good fish too, for those that care to explore.
At the lower end of the fishery is the famous Old Mill at Aldermaston and one of the Kennet’s tributaries; the Enbourne. You may or may not know, that it was barbel from the River Enbourne that were taken for stocking into the Severn, all those years a go. So at this end of the section you have the option of nipping onto the Enbourne if things are a little slow on the main river.
We found a couple of lovely swims, with lots of overhanging cover. I was armed with worms and it was my intention to target the perch after an hour or two of trotting but as I’d forgotten my horse……sorry! This area is so deep (around 10′) fishing the float was going to be difficult. So I opted for a light link ledger set-up and dropped a big juicy lob worm out amongst some trees that had fallen into the river. I didn’t want to get too close, for obvious reasons. After about an hour and a half and I’d had no bites and two lots of lost fishing tackle. On re-tackling I had looped the line twice round one of the eyes and hadn’t noticed. Well, until I tried to cast out that is. My best two or three casts were a bit like a little girls (sorry girls) and then after a couple of checks I realised how stupid I’d been.
So I was now in the mood for a change of scenery, so headed off to the triburay. It’s a lovely little winding river. The bottom is gravel and there are loads of little deep runs. The river itself is not overly deep but there are plenty of pools and runs to offer a likely spot for a few fish to be holed up in. It’s pretty overgrown here and despite my best efforts at trotting, it really didn’t suit it. Once the winter sets in, most of the undergrowth will die back and more areas will become open to trotting. So it was to be a day for the quiver tip.
I decided to wander up and down the river to try and locate a few fish and hopefully a few perch. I dropped into a lovely deep pool. There were numerous overhanging trees and a crease that crossed the pool. I flicked out a big lob worm and awaited the results. I didn’t take long. The tip rattled a couple of times and then plunged over. A nice, jagged fight suggested perch. Indeed, that’s what it turned out to be. Throughout the day in numerous spots, including one quite unlikely area, I caught about 8-10 really fit, magnificently coloured perch. Serveral were over a pound and the biggest went 2lb 6oz. They were all stunning fish and very rewarding to catch.
I was a little surprised that no chub had showed up. Some of the swims looked very chubby. I kept switching baits, from worm to bread flake in an effort to tempt a chevin. Eventually a small one showed its face, a fish of about 2lbs. As the light faded I felt one more cast with a worm would do the trick before we packed away our fishing equipment. Geoff had joined me at this stage and as we chatted the tip ripped round and a heavy fish was on the other end. I suppose I was secretly hoping for a big perch but I certainly wasn’t disappointed when we scooped out a lovely big chub. It looked well over 4 so I weighed it and it was in fact 4lb 15oz. It was an immaculate fish, a real stunner. It was a great end to a rather chilly but enjoyable day.
As the evenings draw mercilessly in and the frosts creep over the land, it’s time to hang up the barbel fishing rods for a while and head to one of the countries great chalk streams, the Hampshire Avon. It’s a river shrouded in history and endless tales of mythical giants are regaled in the local hostelries.
It is a magical river and one that I’m proud to say I fish on a regular basis. I still feel I don’t fish it enough and I’m sure the day will eventually come, when I end up joining Christchurch Angling Club but only when I can do it justice and that time is not now.
Still, today Geoff and I headed down through the Wallops to Britford. The river here lies in the shadows of Salisbury Cathedral, which gives it an almost hallowed feel and rightly so. For those that know of theAvonin this region, they will be aware of the treasures that it contains. Visit the river in the height of the summer, when the waters are gin clear and you’ll soon see why this river is so famous. With a little patience, discretion and some Polaroids you’ll soon be spotting huge roach and dace. The old river also contains a healthy stock of grayling up to specimen sizes and with the odd decent chub, a few barbel and plenty of trout thrown in for good measure, it makes this quite a mixing pot.
As we arrived at the river, the late autumn mists hung in the fields. The sky was clearing after a night of rain and there was still a dampness in the air. Still, the sun was beginning to break through, so the day held some hope of decent weather. We took a wander down to the river, expecting it to be up a little and with a touch of colour. We were surprised to find the old river still gin clear and very low. There was still thick, flowing ranunculus evident throughout the river system, which would make for some tricky float fishing conditions.
So on went the waders and I headed off in search of a few grayling and dace. I found numerous deep runs in between the weed. I had set-up my trusty Drennan float rod and coupled that with my Young’s pin. The line was a little on the heavy side for this sort of fishing, but I had not brought another reel with lighter line on. Ideally I would like to have used around a 2lb 6oz mainline. So I had to make do. I spent the morning wading along the river and fishing all the likely runs. The fishing was tricky due to the density and abundance of weed but nevertheless I started catching from the word go.
Two red maggots seemed to do the trick, on a very light float set-up. First up were a couple of nice grayling and shortly followed by some reasonable dace. Nothing big mind you-grayling to about 10oz and dace to 5 or 6oz. By now they were coming thick and fast. Each new spot produced a few bites, before the inevitable presence of the minnows became known. Once they come every cast, I will move.
It is wonderful wading out into the river. You find all the deep runs and gullies. Even slight depressions are easily found and a mental note made for future reference. It amazes me how close you can catch fish to where you are wading. The fish rarely take any notice. After a while and several moves, I had taken about half a dozen grayling, and couple of dozen dace to about 8oz, 2 enormous gudgeon and countless minnows. I decided after lunch to fish for another hour and then have the last 2 or 3 hours on the main river, above the sluices.
Geoff was sticking it out for the roach but as they often do, they were not playing ball. Surprise, surprise! I wandered upstream and found a nice swim, with a reasonable depth and not too much weed. The swim produced plenty of dace over the next hour or so, including the best of the day, a fish of about 9oz. As the light was beginning to fade, I decided to head downstream and try for some roach. Again wading out into a likely spot by some alders, the first trot through produced a bite. This time something much bigger was banging away on the end. I guessed it was either a British record roach or possibly a chub. After a nice scrap the fish turned out to indeed be a very nice chub of 4lb+. I always think if they look like a ’5′ they are probably a ’4′ and this is invariably the case.
As the sun started to sink below the horizon, I was getting a fish a cast. Another grayling was added to the pot and lots of nice dace. Still, eventually it was time to call it a day and pack down my sparsely selected fishing tackle. I guess I ended up with around 30-40 dace, 7 grayling and that nice chub. Oh and fifty hundred minnows…..well that’s how it came out anyway.