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Archive for September 1st, 2011


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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