Archive for September, 2011

After a hectic few days fishing on the Trent, this week saw me return to my favorite river; The Kennet.  This session certainly wouldn’t be quite as arm aching as the Trent, that’s for certain.  However, I was hoping that the autumnal conditions may just have perked things up a little.

However the forecast was for some very unseasonably hot and clear weather.  With the water levels so low at the moment, the thought of clear, bright skies didn’t exactly fill me with confidence.  The good news was that the night time temperatures were at least up in the mid teens.  So we may at least nick a fish or two during the hours of darkness.

We headed to Aldermaston, as this would offer us the best chance of a big fish.  It was hot when we arrived and after setting up camp we headed off to look for some suitable swims.  I opted for a bit of cover, so headed for the jungle.  Geoff and Kevin headed off further upstream.  First job was to get some hemp out and this week I had opted for a few pints of maggots, rather than casters.  So the bait dropper was at the ready and 2½ pints of hemp and maggots were deposited in the swim.  After that, it was time to set-up the rest of the tackle, enjoy a cuppa and read the paper.


At this point I noticed a few cows in the field opposite.  One huge beast decided to do a Baloo the Bear impression and started to itch a scratch on a tree.  It rubbed itself up and down and from side to side, whilst the tree creaked in response.  This was shortly followed by a further animal making a rather high pitched noise reminiscent of an elephant!  In fact it was almost quite musical. It sounded rather like a trumpet. A jazz trumpet in fact.  So now we had Louis Prima aka King Louis playing  along side Baloo.  This was turning into a bovine version of the jungle book. Amusing, to say the least.

Mad Cow's Disease

Still back to the fishing.  As darkness fell a rather eerie mist started to float in the fields opposite, drawing ever nearer.  It then seemed to disperse, only to return later, even thicker and heavier than before.  It had a dense, damp feel to it.  When I used to fish the Medway, it became known as the mist of doom.  It rarely fished well once it had descended.  I hoped it wouldn’t prove to be the same here tonight.

As the night wore on I had to wonder why the baiting technique had failed.  Sometimes you just don’t know who has fished a swim before you and how.  I had bumped into a regular fellow Wasing member in the car park.  He was telling me about a guy fishing in the area I was heading for, a few days before.  He filled the swim in with boilies. The problem with baiting heavily with boilies is their inability to break down.  I’m sure eventually they get washed away.  However in the meantime the fish feed on them and as they are high in protein, they fill the fish up rather quickly.  Now the Kennet is not a big carp lake, where a carp can munch it’s way through kilos of bait.  Barbel are not there in sufficient numbers, nor do they have the enormous appetite of a group of large carp.  So this type of baiting technique can be the kiss of death.

Whilst musing on this, the rod tip banged round and a jagged bite kept the tip moving.  I pulled into the fish.  The response was a powerful lunge, so I knew I had a barbel on the other end.  After a good fight, the fish lost the battle.  A lovely looking Kennet barbel went back to fight another day.  I re-baited the swim and popped off for a chat with Kevin.  Sadly he hadn’t had so much as a twitch.  Mind you the rats keep you occupied here.  When they are scurrying about in the undergrowth at night, you are convinced they are the size of rabbits!  I wished good luck to Kev and headed back to my swim for a re-cast.  What with this fog and now the rats, it was turning into some sort of twisted James Herbert horror story.   Mind you, thoughts of a young Jamie lee Curtis soon took my mind of being eaten alive by giant ghost rats.

At around midnight the tip slammed round and a much harder fight than before ensued.  This felt like a decent barbel.  It wasn’t fighting quite like a double, but felt good.  The result was a lovely fit fish of 8lb 2oz.  That was the last fish of the evening.  I packed up around 1.30am.  It was time for the traditional late night cuppa and hopefully a  few z’s.

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It was time to set the Sat Nav to ‘oop north’ and head up the A1M to Nottingham.  Robin Hood had his merry men.  I was stuck with, er I mean in the company of me old (very) mates Geoff and Kev.  And I’m only pulling their legs. Well it’s a bit like pulling the leg on a Christmas Turkey but without the stuffing.  Anyways, I digress.  They are great company and I’m lucky that they put up with me to be honest.

We had decided to fish the mighty river Trent for a few days.  I fished it earlier on in the season with Geoff and we had a reasonable result.  Now we were in to late September and with the river low and clear, we weren’t sure quite what to expect. Still we were looking forward to it, it’s a great river and the rewards can be quite astonishing sometimes.

We arrived late afternoon and after sorting out the caravan, made our way to the river.  It was early evening when we finally got bankside and so had to select a few swims fairly quickly.  My tactics were to use large open end feeders (Andy Witham’s) which are perfect for the Trent.  They would allow me to deposit quite large amounts of bait into the swim.  Using a 3 foot hook length and a size 12 hook, I fished 2 medium elips on the hair.  The feeder was stuffed with groundbait and pellets.  I then set up a second rod.  This was a light quiver and this time I used a single medium-sized elips, on a hair rigged band.  It was at this point that Geoff proudly showed us his home made feeders.  They were made from a golf club tube.  They certainly looked the part.  He was extolling the virtues of these wonderfully pliable feeders when he gave us the squeeze test on the tube of the feeder.  One gentle squeeze and the feeder exploded like cemtex, pieces flying everywhere.  After several minutes of choking laughter, we decided it was best to keep buying them for the time being!

The evening proved slow for me.  Both Geoff and Kevin kept in constant contact via the walkie talkies.  They were doing reasonably well, catching fairly regularly.  I on the other hand, was struggling.  The first bite turned out to be on the quiver and a hard fighting barbel put up a great struggle on the light tackle.  Still, eventually I managed to get it in.  It turned out to be a nice fit barbel of about 6lbs.  Later I took a further 3 fish and 2 chub on the main rod.  Meanwhile Geoff was bagging up.   It was like fishing with Bob Nudd or Bill Nuddy as Dan would say!  He ended up with 10 fish including a stunning Trent barbel weighing in at 10lb 11oz.  Kevin managed 8 fish to well over 8lbs.

So the following afternoon, after a rather large lunch, we waddled down to the river again.  Fortunately the chair held out and the fishing commenced.  It was a very windy day, to say the least.  Still we stuck it out until about 11.30pm.  This time I managed to just pip the others, taking 6 barbel.  Geoff ended with 4 and Kevin just the one.  So it was an early night. Back to the caravan for a cuppa and a bowl of cereal.  Oh yes, we know how to live the big time!

Day 3 saw us arrive after yet another gut busting lunch.  I felt like the Cholesterol Kid.  Still a walk up river would burn off at least 3 calories, so all was not lost.  I like to maintain an athletic physique.  Well it’s hidden under several layers of fat obviously.  I selected a swim (I could walk no further) and first cast produced a very fit 6lb+ barbel.  Then I never had a another bite over the next 3 hours.  Geoff had headed to an area that I wanted to fish the night before with Kevin.  However age and unfitness got the better of us and we decided not to bother.  What a mistake.

Geoff had 7 barbel, whilst Kevin and I struggled.  I couldn’t get a bite, so decided to move to the swim I had fancied the previous evening, only to find Geoff ensconced in one just above it.  I checked to see if he minded me fishing below him.  He didn’t….well initially.  First cast and I was in.  Second cast and I was in.  Whilst reloading the feeder, the other rod went.  Then after re-casting both rods, they both went.  After sorting that mess out, one of the rods whacked over yet again.  That was six fish in what seemed like 5 minutes.  It wasn’t, obviously, but it sure did feel like it.

Shortly after I had another barbel and whilst playing it Geoff lost a big fish.  He was already cursing and mumbling and chuntering away as I kept hooking fish.  At this point it was getting dark and I felt compelled to move before Geoff re-enacted the Texas Chain Saw Massacre with his pen knife on me.  However there were no decent, accessible swims close by.  I offered to swap places with Geoff but he declined.  The fishing continued but luckily Geoff got in on the action too.  By now I had dispensed with the cage feeders and opted for a 70g blockend.  I filled this with a mixture of pellets, but mainly large ones.  The idea being that the scent would draw the fish in, rather than groundbait.  The problem with groundbait is it gets dispersed very easily, after being washed away out of your swim.  By using the blockend you are guaranteed a scent trail just a short distance from your hook bait.  It can be very effective.

It was at this time Kevin called to say he had a nice double in the net.  I popped down to do the old Lord Snowdon and the fish was a beaut at 10lb 6oz.  Well done Kevin.  I returned to my swim and by the end of the night I ended up with 18 barbel to about 8lbs and around 7/8 good-sized chub.  Geoff finished with 14 and Kevin 11.  All in all, not a bad nights fishing.  We headed back to the caravan feeling pretty satisfied.  Geoff felt a bit deprived as I had pinched a few of his fish.  Sorry mate.

We headed home on the Friday already looking forward to our next adventures in Robin Hood country.

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As a keen trotter of floats, the Verulam Angling Club’s ‘Stick Float Clinic’ was something I considered too good to miss.  The opportunity to spend some time in the company of such luminaries as Keith Speer, Dave Currell and Paul would be exceptional value for money, if it was costing me £20-£30.  The fact that it was a free days tuition to club members, is just phenomenal.

To all the guys who helped arrange the day, including the teas and coffee, a big slap on the back and cheers of well done.  It was a brilliant day, with good company and lots of valuable information. The day started with the usual gathering and social banter in the car park.  Then it was grab a chair and a cuppa and settle in for Keith’s ‘talk’.  Over the next 60-90 minutes Keith shared his amazing knowledge with us.  From tackle used, to bait and tactics.  Several important bits of information for me was 1. Keep the bait going in, little and often.  Never stop feeding.  No matter how tedious, keep the bait trickling in on every cast. 2. Select the right weight of float for the job.  Don’t become too preoccupied with type/style of float, just make sure it takes the right amount of shot for the flow conditions. 3. Keep changing the shotting pattern if nothings happening.

All sounds simple, but its important to have a game plan and stick to it (no pun intended….honest!). Feeding does seem to hold the key to success.  Often loose feed is thrown in quite haphazardly. You must make an effort to loose feed consistently if you want to be successful. There was a lot of useful information in Keith’s talk, which I’m certain will help to improve my catch rates and successes and hopefully enhance the overall enjoyment of float fishing on rivers.

The practical session was great.  Quite a few of the guys had never float fished a lake let alone a river.  But in the expert hands of our tutors, they started to get a feel for what some of us already know is a very rewarding method.  No matter what your target species is, trotting is a great way to not only catch, but to explore the river.  Its perfect for finding depths and features, that you can then return to in the summer months, when targeting barbel for instance.

By the end of the day most people present had tried the method out.  Some hooking and some actually landing ( 😉 ) their first ever float caught barbel.  My best efforts on the float caught me several perch, roach, dace and a few chub.  I lost one barbel on the float but then switched to feeder and finally landed a couple of nice barbel.

All in all a very rewarding and enjoyable day.  My thanks go to Verulam Angling Club, Keith Speer and the other tutors and helpers and to all those that took part.  Well done.

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Autumnal hints are clearly showing themselves. Leaves are turning brown already, as we approach late September. This week it was only Geoff and I that headed towards Aldermaston in search of those Autumnal giants that frequent the gravel runs here. We have always found this time of the year very rewarding for big barbel. We hoped that this would be the week they showed themselves at last to 2 very determined Kenneteers.

The Kennet at Aldermaston

We set up camp as ever and wandered off for a look. I fancied a swim at the lower end of the stretch (aka near to the car!!). There was lots of cover, a nice flow and a deep hole in this swim. I baited up with hemp and caster and left the swim alone for an hour. Geoff had decided to fish much further upstream. This week we had decided we should give it until much later before calling it a night. We talked about packing up around 2am, if we could stay awake and the temperature wasn’t too chilly. Brave talk for a couple of wimps.

At about 7pm I had what looked like a persistent chub bite. On striking I discovered one of those Popeye chub on the other end. After a really good fight I netted the culprit, a barbel of around 6lbs. I re-baited the swim and decided to have a wander. As I left the swim, I noticed about half a dozen Roe Deer in the field. I took a few photos, but the deer were a bit too far away. I slowly and carefully inched forward, trying to get closer. The deer were alert and soon noticed me. They stretched their necks high and their ears twitched at my approach. I stopped and then slowly moved forward again, taking a few more shots. Suddenly they were off. That lovely, high prancing movement that Roe Deer do, reminiscent of gazelle on the Masai Mara. I then popped back to the car, only to see two more hinds in the field adjacent to the small car park. Again I tried stalking them and managed to get much closer due to the cover afforded me by the trees and bushes. Sadly though, it was by now getting dark. So the pictures were of no use. Still, lovely to see.

Kennet Barbel

I returned to my swim and carried on with the usual routine of bait dropping hemp and caster every 20-25 minutes. Finally at about 11.20pm the rod tip whacked round and another feisty barbel was subdued. Again a smallish fish, especially for Aldermaston. It looked around the 6-6 ½ lb mark. I called Geoff. He hadn’t had a touch, but we both felt we should carry on and see whether the later finish would produce. At 1.15am we both decided it hadn’t! We headed back to camp for a well-earned cup of tea. This week I had forgotten something else of course. The milk, eejit that I am. Luckily Geoff had a small bottle of some soya milk muck that sufficed under the circumstances! 😉

The following day we kicked off by going to the small village stores and purchasing a few provisions, including some milk obviously. They do some great chunky sausage rolls here. Heated up, they make a great breakfast. A decent cup of take away coffee finished off our transactions and we headed back to the river.

Wadda you looking at?

We packed away the tents, made a flask of fresh coffee. I then loaded up with fishing tackle, like some sort of over-burdened pack-horse and headed upstream looking for a likely swim. On finding one, I baited up and read Coarse Angling Today for 45 minutes. I then wandered up to see Geoff, whom it turned out hadn’t gone where he said he was going, so I found an empty swim. Still, the walk did me good….!!

It turned out to be a reasonable day for me. I didn’t exactly empty the river, but did manage 3 more barbel to about 6 ½lbs. They were all in immaculate condition. I also missed a wraparound bite! I spotted a few more deer in the field and again managed to get reasonably close and take a few shots. Geoff managed a trout and a 4lb+ chub. He’s finding it tough at the moment and I know it hurts when other’s seem to be catching and you’re not. I’m certain he will turn it around soon though.

Hemp and Caster caught Barbel

Perhaps one of the highlights for me was watching a Crow and a Kite doing an impersonation of a World War II dog fight. They twisted and turned almost in harmony, as the Crow badgered the much larger and more impressive Kite. They soared and rolled, dived and turned. Occasionally, when the angle was just right, the Kite would suddenly swoop at the crow and they would disappear. We were certain the Kite had engulfed the crow with its mighty talons, but they would just as suddenly reappear and the aerobatics would continue. It was wonderful to watch.

Anyway, next week we are on the Trent for 3 days. So here’s hoping for some decent fishing weather and a few wraparounds to go with it.

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Day 2 of this weeks Kennet extravaganza saw us rise early (well for me anyway) at around 6am.  After one of Geoff’s fine cups of coffee I felt ready for anything….well more sleep at least. We wanted to try an early session to see if this made a difference to our catch rates.  I opted for the same swim as the day before.  My theory being that I had kept lots of bait going in yesterday evening and that might keep the fish coming back looking for more.

Bait Droppers

Luckily, Kevin wanted to give his swim from the night before a further session.  As he had the landing net, this made my life much easier, so well done Kev.  I opted for exactly the same procedure as the previous day.  Out went 2 1/2 pints of the hemp and caster mixture.  The tub looked like the cauldron out of Macbeth and those immortal lines went through my head ” Double, double boil and trouble.  Fire burn, and caldron bubble.” I let out a witches cackle and sat down to enjoy a nice hot cup of Eye of newt, and toe of frog coffee.  Hmmm, that’s better.

After resting the swim for an hour I swung the bait out and waited.  Almost immediately the rod tip banged round and a right scrappy fight ensued.  This didn’t feel like a barbel and I wasn’t wrong.  It was a small rainbow trout of about 2lbs.  After a further 20 minutes nothing much had happened, so out went 3 more droppers. 15 minutes later, just when I was thinking about re-casting, the rod tip twitched round a bit, well about 4 feet actually and a barbel fought for the sanctuary of the trees.  It didn’t make it and I slipped her back to fight another day.  The barbel looked about 5lbs.

I put out 6 medium-sized droppers and sat back to enjoy a coffee.  I could hear a red kite or a buzzard in the distance, but never saw it.  A kingfisher hurtled past with a flash of electric blue. The local robin popped in for a chat.  Well at least to eat the casters that had ended up on the ground.  The rod tip twitched and then pulled round.  This felt like a very small barbel.  It was.  A fish of about a pound.  Very good to see fish of this size in the Kennet.  It really bodes well for the future of the river.

The Simple Rig

A little while later I had another good bite.  This didn’t look or feel like a barbel bite but it looked like whatever it was had hooked itself.  I was delighted with the result.  A beautiful Kennet dace that weighed 11 1/2 ounces.  Shortly after that I had yet another rainbow trout that demolished the swim!  Then it just seemed to die.  As the day wore on it looked more and more likely that that was my lot.  I had one more decent bite that just suddenly sprang back.  On retrieving the tackle I found 2 large scales on the hook.  Whatever it was, I missed it.

11 1/2oz Dace

As the 11th hour approached, Geoff called on the walkie-talkie to say he had a good fish in the net.  It weighed in at 9lb 12oz and was Geoff’s first Aldermaston fish so far this season.  Well done Geoff, it was long overdue.  Lets hope this signals a turnaround in fortunes for us.  I ended the session  with a total of 5 barbel over the 2 days.  It has at least pushed my overall tally to over 20 fish now from the Kennet.  However, still no doubles.  I’m not obsessed with doubles (well with the exception of Melinda Messenger!) but I do like to catch big fish.  I’m sure they will come.

So ended another Kennet expedition.  Hears hoping that things continue to improve.  In two weeks I’m back to the Trent for 3 days and then the Welsh Grayling challenge in late November for a week.  I can’t wait, as I just love the Upper Wye Valley.

Hwyl am rwan/nawr

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After our sojourn to the great Ouse last week, we decided it was time to stick to the job in hand and try to catch a few fish from the Kennet.   I have always liked September on the rivers.  It’s a month which has historically produced some of my best fish.  I’m sure that statement would be borne out by most angler’s experiences.  The barbel are starting to pack on a bit of weight during the Autumn months in readiness for the onset of winter.  I tend to get more doubles at this time of the year than any other, with the exception perhaps of late February and March.

The Kennet

So with this in mind Kevin, Geoff and myself felt that Aldermaston was the place to concentrate our efforts on.  This would give us the opportunity to fish a few hours into darkness on the first night and an early start the following day.  We are getting conflicting information regarding the best periods to fish.  Some advocate night-time, up to 1 or 2 in the morning.  Others are saying their catches are coming early morning up to 9 or 10. So we decided to try both, although we would probably only fish until maybe 11.30 or 12 on the Tuesday night. I do need my beauty sleep, as anyone who knows me will testify, often telling me that it’s quite obvious I’m not getting enough!

I had decided to go all out on the hemp and caster route.  Armed with about 12 pints of hemp and 6 pints of casters for the loose feed and then using 4 casters superglued onto a longish hair.  I hoped that by having a long hair, I’d hook less dace and roach and therefore create less disturbance in the swim.  It’s not a cheap excercise, as casters are £3.25 a pint, but it might prove worthwhile.  We arrived in the lower car park and found it empty.  After setting up camp we headed off to find a few suitable swims.

The largest loaded bait dropper

My intention was to stay put and bait the swim up throughout the duration of the session.  Kevin and Geoff found a couple of swims, but would consider moving if they felt it was appropriate.  I found the swim that I fancied and after bouncing a lead around, just to double-check the depth and weed situation, I used the largest bait dropper to deposit about 2 1/2 pints of hemp and caster into the swim.  I then intended to leave the swim to rest for an hour.  I tied up a new hooklink for my main rod and went about setting up the chair and oh yes the landing net.  Now where is my landing net handle…oh not in the quiver…..must have already taken it out…..er no….not in the car either……ah, think I left it at home.  What a total wazzock!  I had already realised that I had forgotten my fleece top as well.  Things were looking a bit dicey.  It was going to be one of ‘those’ sessions.  Luckily Kevin was just a few yards upstream of me, so offered to stay there during the duration of the session, despite my comments about him and Geoff missing the Junction on the motorway last week!  I just hoped that I wouldn’t disturb him too much.  Well, chance would be a fine thing!

So after much cursing and coffee drinking, I finally swung the bait out into the swim.  My intention was to bait dropper 3 loads every 20 minutes using the medium sized dropper and re-bait and re-cast every 40 minutes.  In the event of a fish, I would bait dropper 6 loads and rest the swim for 30 minutes.  This is very much a Steve Pope method of fishing hemp and caster.  If it’s good enough for him, it is certainly good enough for me.

6lb Kennet Barbel

15 minutes into the first cast and the tip whacked round.  A strong fish fought like a tiger on the other end.  I knew it wasn’t a big fish, but what a great fight.  The barbel was around 6 pounds and went back very strongly.  I did the 6 dropper thing and enjoyed a coffee.  Out went the bait again after 30 minutes.  A little while after, the rod tip went round again and this was a small but strong fish.  It felt too strong for a roach or chub, so it had to be a small barbel.  It was.  A perfectly formed and pristine fish of about a pound in weight.  Very encouraging for the future.  At about 10.30 the rod tip whacked round again and this time a really nice fish of close on 8lbs resulted.  Both Geoff and Kevin had not had a bite.  Maybe there is something to this hemp and caster lark after all.

A near '8'

At 11.30 we called it a day.  It was still warm and I could have fished on for another hour or so, but we wanted an earlyish start.  So we headed back to camp for a cup of freshly brewed tea and the usual late night chin wag, then off to bed ready for day 2.

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This week Geoff, Kevin and I decided it was time we took the trip to Bedford and fished the famous Great Ouse.  The Ouse is a river once famed for its huge barbel, chub and perch.  There have been many times when I have seen this great river in action on programmes like Go Fishing with John Wilson and a number of shows with Matt Hayes and Mick Brown.  On each occasion, I was very impressed with how the river looked.  It looked like a ‘proper’ river and I had always hoped to fish it one day.

The Great Ouse

Sadly I probably left it about 5 or 6 years too late.  It seems from reports that the Great Ouse is merely a shadow of its former self.  Well that’s in terms of the fishing.  The river itself is truly stunning.  Even better than I had expected.    It is a fairly narrow river.  The water flows over clean gravel and is full of thick, flowing streamer weed and cabbages.  The water’s edge is lined with dense bulrushes and reedbeds, and these even appear mid river sometimes.  There are countless overhanging trees and bushes to offer tantalising fishing spots.  Overall it is probably the nicest, healthiest looking river I think I have ever seen.  If the fishing was even half as good, we were in for a real treat.

The river here is a fair trek for us, coming from the heart of Kent.  We had one of those adventurous trips up.  Kevin is the main driver and due to Geoff’s excessive height, he always gets to sit up front, riding shotgun as they say.  I, of course, am relegated to sitting in the back.  Often I end up dozing off as I can’t hear a word of what the other 2 are saying (well that’s my excuse anyway!).  So it was that whilst the two in front nattered about all things fishy, they missed the junction on the M1.  So a 20 mile detour ensued.  Then we came off the motorway too early but was at least treated to a tour of Luton Airport.  Of course we all did the customary Lorraine Chase impression, screaming “Luton Airport” as we went past!

Eventually we arrived at our destination and took a recce.  We were just blown away by this stunning river.  It screamed barbel at every turn.  We knew of its current reputation as being void of barbel, but desperately hoped it was all a bit exaggerated. How could this place not be teaming with barbel and chub?  We couldn’t wait to get started and see that rod top whack round from a Ouse giant.  Oh dear, if only it was that simples.

We saw and heard the odd small fish as we settled into the evenings fishing.   I saw several kingfishers zoom past and Kevin was treated to a rare sight, as a Kingfishers took dragonflies from the surface of the river with a sploosh each time. Both he and Geoff were also lucky to watch a barn owl quarter the meadow behind them.  I was hidden in the trees so missed the spectacle.

I had baited up a deep pool.  The river flowed in from under a small bridge and the flow was fairly strong.  It left a tantalising run available with a big tree on the right hand side.  The bottom felt like gravel and there appeared to be just the odd spot of weed growth.  I baited the swim up with about 10 droppers of hemp and then proceeded to set-up the rod.  I opted for a small feeder loaded with hemp and fished two small Hinders Elips pellets on the hair. Having left the swim for around 30 minutes, I swung the bait out and into the run.

Almost immediately I started to get very fast, sharp knocks.  I decided this was probably roach or dace.  I do like to get this type of indication. I feel any activity is a good thing and it often draws in bigger fish that have become interested  in what is going on by this small fish activity.  Just before darkness fell I put out another 4 bait droppers of hemp.  We had decided to fish untill about midnight.  At around 10pm no action had ensued, but Kevin saw what he believed to be an otter swimming past.  This didn’t exactly fill us with confidence.  Whilst chatting with Geoff on the walkie-talkie, my rod tip wrenched round and as my hand got to the rod, it sprang back.  It looked like being a full on barbel bite, but we’ll never know.  Nothing else really happened so at 11pm we decided to call it a day.

The following morning we decided to look at one of our other club stretches , still on the Ouse.  This looked superb.  Quite a long and straight section but with lots of cracking swims.  So we decided it was worth a go.  However we had the same problem as the day before.  We were getting lots of sharp pulls, sometimes quite big, but nothing developed.  I moved swims after a few hours and decided to give this last swim a go untill darkness.  This time Geoff called to say he had just seen an otter as well.  This didn’t bode well.  They must spook the fish and unsettle them.

Again I think we all had some pretty good tugs, but nothing really hittable. We packed up at around 8.15pm.  Slightly dejected by the lack of action.  I think we expected too much, but a chub would have been nice if nothing else.  I’m certain that I will at least give the Great Ouse another few goes.  The problem is that it’s quite a long journey for us.  If we were closer we could target these stretches on a regular basis and I’m sure find a few barbel eventually.

One things for certain though, it will remain one of the nicest, most beautiful and intimate rivers I have ever fished or ever likely to.

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