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Archive for September 8th, 2011


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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