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Early Spring Gold


March 15th…..A sad day for any river angler, as the 15th signals the end of the river season and the start of the closed season on flowing water.  I enjoy the break and I’m sure it does the rivers and foliage good.  That’s not to say I entirely agree with it but that’s another story.

So with the 3 month break now firmly in place, the weather has turned into glorious sunshine with warm days and nights.  With thermometers peaking at around 17 or 18c, it really is a sign that winter is over and that summer is just around the corner.  Let’s hope that’s not too premature and winter doesn’t make an untimely comeback!

As the weather was so delightful and work had stopped me from getting back onto a river in the last couple of weeks, I wanted to get bankside somewhere.  I decided to head to Bury Hill and my thinking was that with such mild conditions of late, both during the day and at night, the crucians might be active.  I enjoy a few sessions at Milton Lake, although I prefer it when the bankside vegetation has emerged a bit more and the reeds and lily pads are mature.  I would think another month of this weather and most lakes will look completely different.  The trees, hedgerows and water plants will be in full bloom and growing like mad.  It transforms that rather grey, drab look of winter into a spectacular mix of colours that makes spring and summer in England so special.

I was armed with several baits at my disposal.  Maggots, casters, luncheon meat (small cubes) and hooker pellets would be my choice of hook baits and I had some of my trusty Lone Angler Ocean Pride groundbait to get the fish rooting about in the silt.  I tend to add in a good mix of my hookbaits to the groundbait and keep a steady trickle going in all day, particularly in these warmer conditions.  Tackle was pretty standard stuff; 14ft float rod, fixed spool reel loaded with 4lb line, a small insert waggler and a 16 hook to 3.6lb hooklink.  I could use all of my baits on that one size of hook and the tackle was sturdy enough to deal with just about any size fish that came along, even the odd rogue carp, if one materialised.   As always, it is essential to plumb the depth and make sure, as near as possible, that the bait is just resting on the bottom.  Crucian’s are the trickiest of biters, at times frustrating and infuriating and can lead to serious bouts of tourettes!!

Today was no exception!  Some bites were barely discernible. The merest twitch or dip.  They were so cautious and so tentative you could easily pass it off as a fish brushing against the line.  However a few strikes met with resistance, as a crucian put up a very spirited fight.  Often though they signaled either a missed bite or a bumped off fish.  I lost around 10 crucians and missed probably 30 bites.  I started off with maggots and they produced an almost instant bite.  The result was a beautiful golden crucian of around 1.25lbs.  After that I couldn’t buy a bite on maggots.  I switched to caster; nothing.  I switched to small cubes of luncheon meat…nothing.  Small green hooker pellets….nothing.  Small 6mm white hooker pellets…..bite!  It was these small white hookers that they seemed to want and I managed to tempt 11 more crucians before it went dead, around 3pm.

It’s strange how they just seem to want one bait and will ignore all else that’s presented to them.  I decided to try the 6mm green ones after a long hiatus and this produced the odd fish, a few bumped off and a number of missed bites.  I had hoped that as the day wore on and the light faded, the roach or even crucians, might switch on.  Sadly they didn’t.  I ended up with 15 crucians or brown goldfish.  Yes all that glitters is not gold.  A number of my crucians appeared to be hybrids or brown goldfish.  There were no big fish, so it really didn’t matter what they were and it was fun to catch them.  Had they have been 3lb or even 4lb+ then that would have been a different matter all together.  There are many a big ‘crucian’ that turn out to be something very different.

Still, I had a pretty good day in glorious sunshine and even got a touch of sunburn!  Not bad for March.  I’m sure I’ll be back again soon and hopefully I’ll track down some of those elusive big roach that reside in Milton.

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Hampshire’s Finest


The title is certainly not a description of me or any other angler, but the fast flowing rivers that make Hampshire such an iconic destination for any river angling enthusiast.

Day 1 saw me treading those hallowed banks of perhaps Hampshire’s most famous of rivers; the Avon.  The Avon cuts it’s way through Wiltshire and Hampshire before entering the sea at Christchurch, which is now part of Dorset.  At times the river meanders it’s way through open fields, with barely a tree in sight and in other parts it cuts through heavily tree lined banks where thick foliage offers the angler some much needed cover.  Much of the Avon where I fish is lined with dense reeds or rushes.  They stand tall and shield the angler from the quarry.  They also offer plenty of cover for the fish, with deep undercuts to provide sanctuary to chub and barbel.

The Avon

The Avon

Today I was primarily after chub.  This area holds chub to over 7lbs, although they are a rare beast indeed.  Of course the Avon is also famed for it’s roach, however some much needed reconnaissance is required before I target these most beautiful of fish.  A great deal of my time will be spent fish spotting throughout the spring and summer months.  The river will be gin clear by then and the ability to see the fish will allow me to start to log where roach are and where they might be come the winter months.  Hemp and tares will be used during those warm days, so hopefully a roach or two will succumb to my float tactics during the summer.  Hopefully come next Autumn I will have built up a much better picture of fish holding areas and give me a much increased chance of some big roach.

However today, as I said, I was after some chub.  Tactics were very simple.  A 12 foot Avon quiver tip rod (3oz glass tip), fixed spool with 6lb mainline, size 6 hook and a cage feeder.  The only bait used was breadflake, which is simply a deadly bait for chub.  Of course it’s also a deadly bait for roach too and I’ve even caught a few barbel on bread, so anything could turn up.  The hooklength was around 3 feet.  I use liquidised bread in the feeder and a pinch a flake on the hook.  It makes for a cheap days bait at around £3.00, which makes a pleasant change.  Maggots in Kent are now around £3.50 a pint and casters £3.90, so a few pints is the best part of a tenner these days.

My plan was to fish a swim for an hour and move on.  The only downside was the forecast.  Originally it had been really good for today, however the day previously it had changed to 2-3 hours of heavy rain.  This meant I was taking my umbrella and a few extra items of clothing.  I find fishing in heavy rain rather tiresome and I therefore fish less effectively.  Today I was fortunate to be fishing with good mate Jez Brown and he even treated me to breakfast, what a good chap he is!  So the plan was to leap frog swims downstream looking for good chub swims.

The Hampshire Avon

The Hampshire Avon

Jez was into a fish almost instantly, a nice fish of a few pounds.  Soon after I was netting a nice chub too.  I had found a lovely swim just below some sunken bushes, with tall rushes lining the bank.  A few yards downstream were a number of partially sunken trees and it just screamed chub.  The depth was good at around 4ft.  Soon after the first, the tip tapped for a second time and arched round. The result was a slightly better chub nudging 4lbs.  They were in immaculate condition and fought quite hard.  Sadly the rain had started by now and was pretty heavy.  I headed back to the car to put my thermal waders on to keep warmer and drier.  We lost around 2 hours fishing.

Avon Chub

Avon Chub

I worked my way downstream, although nowhere near as far as I’d hoped.  I simply had too much gear to carry for traveling any great distance.  Despite this I did fish around 4 or 5 swims.  They all looked superb and I ended the day with 5 chub to around 4lbs and a couple of trout.  I missed two absolutely unmissable bites too! Jez had headed off early and so I packed up around 5.30.  I would have liked to have stayed a bit longer but I was off to the Itchen the following morning and had the long drive back to Kent to contend with in the meantime.

The following day saw me on the lower Itchen Fishery with Peter Bentley, a fly fishing friend who came with me last year to trot the Itchen for grayling.  That was his first foray into float fishing and grayling fishing and he managed to catch a few fish.  This time I thought the LIF gave us a bit more water to tackle and hopefully a few more fish.  We didn’t arrive at the river until almost 11.30am and we were looking to pack up around 4.30, so we had around 5 hours to get stuck in.

We were soon tackled up and ready to rock and roll.  The tackle today were 2 14ft float rods, centrepins loaded with 3lb line and either a 2g Avon float or chubber.  Bait was sweetcorn and maggots.  I always look for some smooth water, regardless of depth.  We were soon running floats through swims and the fish were biting.  Peter was in first and landed a spirited little grayling.  Others followed.  We stopped around 2.30 for coffee and a sandwich before exploring a bit more water downstream.

The Lower Itchen Fishery

The Lower Itchen Fishery

Most swims produced a few fish and I think between us we ended up with probably 20 grayling and a dozen trout.  As always, almost as many were lost as we caught, but that’s often the way with grayling.  On our way out of the fishery I bumped into Danny who had caught a nice barbel from the bottom end.  It wasn’t a monster but more than welcome.

 

Dorset Dazzlers


I’m not sure if the ‘dazzlers’ are the Dorset grayling or Geoff, Kevin and myself, although I think I know the answer!

A three day trip to the Dorset Frome had been planned and the forecast a day or two before indicated pretty favorable weather conditions, however it turned out to be tougher than expected. So the three Musketeers headed off in search of those legendary Frome monsters.  As usual we stayed with John Aplin at the Dairy House.  He looks after us really well and having the annexe gives us plenty of room.  There’s even a tackle shed where you can store your wet gear if needs be.

The sitting room has a lovely open fire

The sitting room has a lovely open fire

The first day of our adventure saw light winds and a reasonably overcast day.  The temperature was mild and conditions seemed ideal.  The river is still a little low and could probably do with a good flush through.  That should clear some of the remaining weed and push the levels up a little for the winter.

I opted to fish several swims, rotating them frequently throughout the day.  First up was a nice bend ending with a shallow riffle.  The depth was around 3 feet and all gravel.  There appeared to be very little weed here.  A few trots through determined the depth and I opted for a 2g wire stemmed Avon.  They have a nice bulbous tip which can still be seen clearly at 20-30 yards. I decided to fish the shot in groups of 2 spaced out up the line with a No 6 dropper shot 6-8 inches from the hook.  The hook was a size 14 Kamasan B983 and is a great grayling hook.  Bait was a mixture of bronze and red maggots with sweetcorn as a backup.

After a few trots through the float buried and a nice pound grayling came to the net.  A few more followed but nothing big.  I went for a recce upstream and soon found a swim I really fancied trying.  I would have to wade to be able to fish it due to the towering waterside reeds here.  I managed to slip into the water and was wading in around 2 1/2 feet.  I was trotting down the reeds in maybe 3 feet of water.  The float soon buried and a really good fight ensued.  The fish was twisting and turning and the gun metal grey flank indicated it was a grayling.  After a couple more sightings of the fish during the fight I could see it was a reasonable fish.  After a few heart stopping moments I eventually landed my prize. It was a lovely 2lb 2oz fish.  Another smaller fish followed and then after a short rest I landed another fine grayling of 2lb 4oz.  The swim died after that and by now the wind had really picked up and made fishing here very difficult.

2lb 2oz

2lb 2oz

Due to the strengthening wind I chose to fish below the road bridge.  Again wading provided me with the best opportunity to fish this swim and I was soon into another grayling.  The fish here were not big, averaging 10-12oz but there were plenty of them.  There was also a good head of dace too and some right little crackers; probably a few were around the 6-7oz mark.  I ended the day with two dozen grayling and maybe 8-10 dace plus a few trout.  All in all a pretty good day.  Geoff had managed 15 grayling and Kevin 12 but nothing particularly big.

2lb-grayling

2lb-grayling

Day two saw 40mph winds and some spells of heavy rain.  We managed a handful of fish between us but it was a testing day and I was glad when it was over.  We enjoyed a great meal and a pint of ‘Proper Job’ at the Wise Man in West Stafford that night, which helped improve our moods!

Some of the locals

Some of the locals

The last day was also rather testing with high winds and the occasional blustery shower.  Not too many fish found the net today however I did manage to find and tame another 2lb grayling and also had a right old tussle with a salmon which looked around 5-6lb.  I think I had 3-4 grayling, a few trout and the salmon.  We packed up early with Kevin being the top rod today with 8 grayling.

It was a tough few days in Dorset but it did produce some lovely fish and I’m sure we’ll be back soon chasing those legendary monster grayling.

The best brace of the trip - courtesy of John Aplin!

The best brace of the trip – courtesy of John Aplin!

Chalk Stream Redfins


I might be wrong but roach seem to be making a bit of a comeback, despite the odds.  In particular there are quite a few rivers that seem to be producing good numbers of red-fins including the odd clonker over the last season or two.  Good news for us river anglers.

It's quality roach like this that keeps me coming back for more!

It’s quality roach like this that keeps me coming back for more!

I headed to Hampshire for a spot of chalk stream roaching.  There is a good mixture of water here; from deep pools to shallow, gravel runs, and long glides to tackle.  We started off in a deep pool that shallowed up and ran off onto fast flowing gravels of just a few inches deep.  A large piece of breadflake and a feeder packed with crumb was the tactics of choice.  We picked the edge of the crease.  Casting needed to be precise, a little off the mark and the roach didn’t want to know.  We both managed a couple of nice pound plus roach, quite a few grayling and the odd trout.

We decided to move and I fancied a go on the float.  Light tackle was set-up and a spot chosen.  The area just below an island offered up a nice long crease to fish.  The depth was good; probably 5ft of mainly gravel with the odd spot of weed.  A few trots down sorted the depth and just holding back the float slightly allowed the bait to trickle down the run.  The swim looked perfect but it does hold a few pike and once a few small roach and dace started to come to the net the pike moved in.  Despite this the biggest dace was probably around 10oz and finally the float buried and that tell tale jagging indicated a better roach.  After an exciting fight, with a big pike following the roach almost to my feet (I was wading to just below the waist), I finally netted my best roach of the day.  At 1lb 7oz it wasn’t headline news but was a belter of a fish.  It certainly made my day.

By now it was 2pm and so we decided to head back up to the mill pool.  Again targeting a particular area with flake and breadcrumb.  More grayling, dace and trout followed but eventually a nice roach fell to my fishing companion’s rod.  It was 1lb 10oz and made a nice accompaniment to his earlier fish of 1lb 9oz and  several more 1lb+ roach followed that one.  I managed to tempt a nice fish of approximately 1lb 4oz.  By now the light had faded and it was almost 5.30pm.  My quiver tip bent right round and on striking a large roach broke the surface.  This was followed by raised and rather excited voices.  Things like “please don’t come off” and “don’t go to hard on it”, “Oh God please don’t come off”, “watch out for the weed”, “walk back, walk back” and “come on, come on, get it in the net”!!  We both sounded like a couple of excitable school children catching their first ever fish from a local pond.

Eventually the fish was coaxed into the net and hoisted out to the wonderment of our eyes.  It looked simply huge.  It had a massive frame and we slipped it into a carrier bag to weigh.  The scales were zeroed and it was that time.  We both looked at this magnificent, pristine roach and both thought it looked 2lb 8oz – 2lb 12oz.  Well it didn’t quite live up to those ambitious estimations, however at 2lb 4oz it was a new PB and an absolute minter.

2lb-4oz

2lb-4oz

My hands were still shaking during the photographing of this magnificent specimen and the smile will last for a very long time.  We slipped her back and with a powerful kick of her tail she disappeared back into the dark pool.  We carried on for a while but only big sea trout seemed to be present.  We had managed to tempt lots of roach with around 10-12 over a pound.  Not a bad days fishing really! 🙂

 

 

 

Notts Bound


At last the opportunity arose to get up to Nottingham and return to the mighty River Trent.  It’s been a long time since we cast into the murky depths of this amazing Midlands river. Geoff and I headed to our first of two destinations on a Worksop stretch.  This area is a little narrower and in places, fairly well tree lined.  Last time around and in my absence, Kevin managed to entice a stunning 12lb+ fish from this stretch.  Not bad considering Kevin’s health prevents him from fishing very much.  In fact this was possibly his first trip of the season.

Kevin's 12lb Worksop Barbel

Kevin’s 12lb Worksop Barbel

The level close in is deep, and I mean deep; probably 12 feet just off of the rod top.  The downside is that in places it’s strewn with rocks, so a bit of a tackle graveyard.  There are some clear spots though and it’s nice to be able to fish close in for a change.  On this occasion I wanted to head downstream to an area that I’d looked at before.  Although slightly more open, it just looked fishy!  I was hoping that the level would be more in the region of 6-8 feet and with a gravel bottom.  In fact it pretty much matched what I was hoping for.

Geoff set-up his stool just downstream of me and by now it was probably 5.30pm.  We hoped to fish through till about 1am or so.  During the evening I started to see quite a few fish topping, including some sizeable fish.  Both Geoff and I also started to pick up a few bream, which this area is known for.  I think Geoff weighed his biggest bream in at over 6lbs, not a bad fish.  We both had around 6-8 bream apiece throughout the session.

Luckily the upstream rod hooped over and at last a barbel surged off into the depths.  This felt a decent fish and after a protracted fight I eventually landed what looked like a scraper double.  I was delighted with the scales’ result at 10lb 2oz.  Geoff offered to take a photo and whilst I was resting the fish in the landing net the other rod whacked round and that resulted in a 9lb 2oz barbel.  Not a bad brace really.

Geoff had by now caught a barbel as well and I followed those two up with fish of 8lb 14oz and 9lb 8oz.  Overall I was pretty chuffed with the results in an area I hoped would be productive.  I’m sure we’ll be back here soon.

The next day saw us head to a far more famous stretch of the Trent; Gunthorpe Weir.  We went for a recce first and then lugged the tackle up to the weir itself.  I fished pretty much opposite the wall of the lock, just downstream of the weir.  The flow was good and favoured our bank and the depth appeared to be around 6/7 feet with a clear gravel bottom.

The set-up was probably typical Trent stuff; 2 x 1.75lb Torrix barbel rods, 12lb mainline, 3-4ft Suffix Camfusion coated braid hooklinks and size 12 hooks.  I fished double 8mm caviar pellets on both rods.  I also used 3oz cage feeders packed with Ocean Pride groundbait with added 6mm and 8mm caviar pellets mixed in.  I also put in a glug of liquid anchovy extract for good measure.  As always I cast every few minutes to start with, gradually extending the period in between casting.  The Trent is a big, powerful river and in my opinion you need to get a good carpet of bait out to pull the barbel in.  I keep casting every few minutes for at least an hour to an hour and a half, before extending the casts to maybe every 15 minutes.  This seems to work well and gets the barbel grubbing around in the swim.

The Mix

The Mix

We arrived at Gunthorpe at around midday.  From 3pm onwards a procession of anglers arrived on the opposite bank, all armed with carp porters and an abundance of tackle.  By 6pm I would think 15 anglers had set-up with bivvies and rod pods.  By nightfall it was like Blackpool illuminations on the opposite bank with bite alarms screeching out occasionally followed by cries of “barbel! That’s a barbel!”  and the frantic sprint from the bivvy 30 yards away to the rods.  Sometimes it took people so long to get to the rods, the fish had gone by the time they picked the rod up!  Yes it’s barbel fishing but not as we know it.  Down here in the south, fishing the much smaller and more intimate rivers, it’s not a style of fishing I’m used to.  However on the Trent it’s the way things are done and I’m honestly not knocking it, just having a bit of a jest.  I’m just not used to that style of approach.  Each to their own of course.

Throughout the afternoon and early evening I was getting lots of taps and pulls, some that were obviously hooked fish.  I ended up with around 6-8 nice roach and a similar amount of small skimmer bream.  As the evening wore on it looked less and less likely a barbel would put in an appearance, despite one of the regulars assuring us that after dark the fishing comes alive.  Of course that’s always the kiss of death and I’m sure it can be incredible fishing on its day.  Sadly today wasn’t that day.  I did manage one barbel of around 6-7lbs and Geoff tempted 2.  By 11.30 all was quiet.  I was knackered and so we opted to call it a day.  I’m sure we’ll be back for another go though before winter sets in.

 

 

Wading for barbel


A return to the Wye is always something to look forward to.   Generally the fishing is good and certainly the views are worth the trip, even if the fishing is a bit lackluster.  There are always good opportunities to spot plenty of wildlife, particularly bird-life, so pack your copy of the RSPB Handbook of British Birds and you’ll be crossing off all sorts of species from the list.  We often spot plenty of deer too and there are always a few rabbits or hares to add to the mix.  The strange thing is I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fox in the Wye Valley but there must be a few I’m guessing.

A Buzzard

A Buzzard

This particular trip was made with Danny and Pete.  We were heading to Hereford for a couple of days, hoping to find the river in good sorts.  It’s been very dry over recent weeks and the river was actually quite low and clear.  At least that gives me an opportunity to get into the water and explore some swims. The breathable chest waders means I don’t sweat my whatsits off in these hot, dry summer days.  You can buy some reasonable breathable chest waders now pretty cheaply and they are definitely worth the money.  Avoid the neoprene waders in the summer at all cost.  They are hard work and you’ll be soaked through with sweat.

Dan's Anti Cow Cover

Dan’s Anti Cow Cover

The two guys found their chosen spots and I headed off to a lower section where I could get the waders on and get out into the river.  I waded out with some 6mm and 8mm caviar pellets.  The idea was to put some loose feed out and watch and see what happens.  I managed to reach a large slab of bedrock about mid river.  The water was gin clear, there was barely a ripple on the water and the sun was out making fish spotting very easy.  Obviously a pair of polarized sunglasses are essential to cut out the surface glare of the water and see clearly through to the the riverbed.

Once out in the river I spotted a deeper cut in the bedrock in front of me.  I noticed some chub up on the shallow bedrock just downstream.  I fed out a couple of small handfuls of mixed caviar pellets and soon the chub were darting about chasing the loosefeed.   I kept tricking in the pellets and soon a couple of barbel appeared, heads down, tails up feeding on the bait.  After 15 minutes there was a healthy mixture of barbel and chub in front of me, probably no more than 8-10 feet away.  Visibility was perfect and I could see unhindered the fish reacting to the introduced pellets.

I waded back to shore and grabbed a rod with a light feeder and a couple of 8mm pellets glued onto the hair.  I swung the feeder out onto the adjacent lump of bedrock and threw out some more pellets.  The barbel were soon hoovering up the bait and I could see my feeder in among the feeding fish.  Suddenly the rod top wrapped round in a frenzied take from a barbel.  As I guided the fish to the waiting net, I could see the orange fins and the powerful tail kick, as the barbel surged off into the fast flowing river.  After a few minutes I managed to net the fish and slipped the barbless hook out very quickly returning the fish to the flow.  It powered off and disappeared among the bedrock.

A Wye barbel fights hard

A Wye barbel fights hard

This was quite exciting fishing.  There were plenty of chub darting around too, often taking the freebies as they hit the water surface.  A couple of big chub followed that first barbel but then things went quiet.  Around 5 or 6 yards away I could see the barbel flashing.  I cast out a bit further and kept getting sharp knocks on the rod top but nothing really hittable.  I swapped the feeder for a lead but that made no difference, the sharp bites kept coming.   I tried a couple of the triple ssg shots and bounced a bait down among the rocks and that produced a couple more chub but the barbel were being very cautious.

I decided to have a break and wondered up to see how Dan and Pete were getting on.  It seemed things were pretty slow with them too.  After a cuppa and a bite to eat, I left them to it again.  I decided to wade out on top of the bedrock to around 3/4 of the way across.  I now discovered a deep depression in the bedrock, which looked about 3 feet deep.  I could see a number of chub and barbel stationed here and they seemed completely at ease with my presence.  Again I fed some pellets and they were soon hoovering up the free offerings.

I waded back, grabbed the rod and was soon in position again this time armed and dangerous!  I swung out a feeder into this new spot and the rod top whacked over very quickly.  I managed to tempt 3 barbel from here and a couple more nice chub.  Then the barbel moved out.  I tried a few other spots but lost 2 barbel to hook-pulls and then the fishing completely died. The barbel seemed to be a bit wary or maybe they were just not feeding hard.  I wouldn’t say they really spooked from the swim, even with a hook bait in place, so perhaps they just weren’t on it today.  Nevertheless it had been a very interesting and educational day, watching the fish up close and how little they seemed afraid of my presence in the water.

A typical Wye barbel

Hopefully I’ll be returning to the Wye soon but a more pressing engagement awaits; the mighty river Trent.


Day 4 of our Wye odyssey saw us back on a Wye and Usk beat and one that has produced big numbers of fish for us in the past.  I headed to the cribs with fellow Lone Angler team mate Marcus Joy.  Marcus was due to go home around lunchtime and I foolishly told him he’d have a few before he left, such was my confidence in the swim we were going to fish.  Sadly no one told the fish!  The swim is a beautiful gravel bend, which slowly shallows towards the far bank, with a deep run off of the crib.  It looks perfect and screams barbel.

The Wye

The Wye

I stuck to my usual tactics I had used for the week; a long coated braid hook link, 2 x 8mm pellets and a small hook.  The feeder was packed with groundbait and lots of pellets and out it went.  Marcus fished downstream and I fished upstream.  We both kept trying different lines until we managed to connect with a barbel.  By the time Marcus left around 2.30pm he’d had 2 and I had managed to bank 4 plus a couple of nice chub.  Geoff then joined my on the crib for the remainder of the day.

A 4lb+ Wye Chub

A 4lb+ Wye Chub

The fishing improved, particularly once i changed my hook to a size 14 barbless and used 2 x 6mm caviar pellets.  I was now getting much more action.  Geoff fished upstream and I fished downstream.   Later on in the day Geoff noticed that every time his feeder dislodged and moved it elicited a bite.  So I started to touch leger again and lift the rod tip occasionally to move the feeder.  At one point I can honestly say as I lifted the rod, I felt the bait pop out of a barbels mouth, only for it to pounce on the bait once it moved.  It certainly made for some exciting fishing. By the end of the day I had managed 14 barbel to just under 8lbs and quite a few chub to 4lb 4oz.  Geoff finished on 12 for the day, although 4 of those were from further upstream.

A decent Wye Barbel

A decent Wye Barbel

I now felt that the 6mm pellets would out fish larger baits, so on the last day that would be my tactics.  We headed back to Hereford for our final session. Today was one of those red letter days you so often read about and think “why not me?”.  It was a bonanza catch of barbel and chub and right from the word go.  Geoff and I started out sharing a swim.  I fished upstream and Geoff down.  My first cast produced almost instant results with a nice chub and then a baby barbel.  I love seeing these small barbel; they reaffirm how healthy the Wye is for fish stocks.  Soon I’d had 6 barbel including a stunning 9lb 2oz fish and chub to 4lb 11oz.  At this point Geoff and I swapped places.  He was now fishing upstream and me down.  It made no difference to my catch rate and soon I was up to 13 barbel, whilst Geoff had taken 2.  I think the small hookbaits were really paying off but I also believe the fish had become preoccupied on the caviar pellets.

9lb 2oz

9lb 2oz

Geoff even cast back downstream in an effort to prove the point.  No bites were forthcoming and yet my first cast back into position produced an instant bite.  The power of the caviar strikes again.  Geoff opted to move and ended the day on a creditable eight barbel but included a stunning fish of 10lb 3oz.  It was one of the nicest barbel I’ve seen and Geoff was over the moon.  Meanwhile my action continued unabated.  Every cast was met with whacks on the rod top.  By now the swim was simply crawling with fish.  Sadly as the day wore on and the fish just kept coming I ran out of groundbait and swapped to a straight lead.  This certainly slowed up the results.  However by the end of the day I’d managed to land a total of 31 barbel and probably 25-30 chub!  I would say half of the barbel were 7lb plus and I had half a dozen chub over 4lbs.  Unfortunately my biggest chub, which looked well over 5lbs, flipped back into the water whilst I was getting ready to weigh it!  Still never mind.  It was a day to remember and only the second time I’ve managed more than 30 barbel in a day.  The fish were stunning as was the setting.  It’s what makes the Wye the theatre of dreams.

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