Archive for November, 2011

We settled in for our farewell breakfast on the last morning.  I looked a little bit like a bloated pig,  infact quite a lot like a bloated pig.  We bid farewell to Richard and Jane and headed off to the Wye for our final day’s fishing.  Despite some overnight rain, the river looked in good sorts.  However overnight we had winds up to almost gale force and it was nothing to do with the beans from dinner.  The wind on Friday was very, very breezy and this would make float fishing difficult.

Danny Collins in Action

Still we wanted to make the most of our final day.  Having seen that magnificent grayling come out on that first day, we all had high hopes that this stretch could hold some very big grayling.  So we all made our way down to the river full of excitement and expectation.  I dropped into a lovely slow glide.  Fishing a small red worm, I trotted down the run, heading to some sunken bushes.  The swim was about 4 feet deep and ran over gravel.  As the float approached the trees, the tip disappeared.  The strike met with a solid resistance and then a couple of thumps.  This felt like a very good fish.  I struggles to budge the fish but eventually it started to move.  A couple of quick thumps indicated to me this was a big grayling.  I nervously applied a little pressure to start to guide the fish upstream.  Again a couple of head shakes and this time the hook hold failed.  I was gutted.  That was a good fish.


The problem with grayling is their delicacy at biting sometimes.  They also gyrate whilst being played and this results in a lot of lost fish.  I’ve tried both barbed and barbless and I’m not convinced there is a great deal of difference between them.  Still after losing two more good fish I opted to swap the barbless for a barbed.  This helped and I landed a couple of much smaller grayling.  The wind had picked up and we also ended up with a couple of very heavy showers.  Still we persevered.  I think Kev had the best day taking about 15 or 16 grayling and again he took the biggest fish, which weighed in at 2lb 2oz I think.  The rest of all caught a few with some nice size fish, but nothing exceptional.

A decent grayling

It was finally time to set off for home.  It’s about a 5 hour trip so would involve a stop or two.  Dan opted for the first part of the trip down to Ross.  Of course it’s all country lanes at this point of the trip.  Dan was doing his impression of Sterling Moss.  After 3 near death experiences I was grateful to take over, despite my nerves being shot to pieces! Mind you we had a good laugh, although I think hysteria had set in.

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The rain of the previous day was bound to have an effect on either water clarity or levels, if not both.  Luckily the river didn’t rise but it was very coloured.  We were at least heading to a stretch that we were familiar with.  Over the next three days we would be fishing a stretch of approximately 2½ miles in length.  This is a tributary of the Wye and is home to some very good grayling fishing.

Geoff's '2'

Due to the wet conditions, access to either the middle or lower car parks would be virtually impossible.  So we parked at the very top of the fishery.  This would involve a considerable walk to some of the spots that we hoped to fish but at least we might walk off a few of those breakfast calories. Over the following few days we walked pretty much the entire fishery a couple of times a day, or at least that’s what it felt like.

We need a bigger float

This section sits in a beautiful valley, surrounded by hills.  It really is God’s own country.  With Red Kites, Buzzards, Ravens and dippers, there was plenty to keep the ornithologists amongst us quite engrossed.  The weather had improved although it got very breezy as the week went on, which made for quite a challenge.  The idea was for the four of us to explore and hopefully find a few hot pegs, as well as fishing some that we had already discovered in the past.

We found ourselves leapfrogging each other up and down the river. Wading on the first day was made a little tricky due to the colour but we all took care and encountered no problems.  Over the next couple of days the colour dropped out and by Thursday, viability was much improved.


We all did reasonably well, taking lots of good quality grayling on all three days.  We found some very good, productive spots and visited some old favourites, with all providing a few decent fish.  I would say the vast majority of the grayling caught were between 1lb and about 1lb 12oz, with a lot around the 1lb 8oz mark, so a very good average size.  The sort of quality you would once of expected of the upper Kennet, Hampshire Avon, Test and Itchen.

I think most days we each got into double figure catches but again the gold medal goes to the Grayling King: Geoff.  His best day was 28 grayling to 2lb 1oz, so congratulations and you’re not coming on the next trip Geoff.  Dan, Kevin and I all caught well but couldn’t quite emulate Geoff but did end up with 16 or 17 on at least one day.

It's not always size that matters.....

Oh and we also managed to get the cars stuck in the mud on the middle car park track.  It’s probably about 1/2 mile long and quite narrow and slippery, with a few sheer drops.  I got stuck about half way but miraculously managed to reverse my way back up the slopes and out of trouble.  Kevin was stuck right at the bottom but a little bit of brute force on Geoff’s part got him moving again.  Never get complacent or blasé about winter tracks, even when they are mainly gravel!

So we ended our three days here having enjoyed some pretty hectic sport at times, despite the poor conditions.  Luckily swapping baits and playing around with the set-up and holding back quite hard on the float, all helped to make the most of the difficult conditions.  We thoroughly enjoyed the venue, as always.  There is such a mixture of features to fish.  Lots of riffles, islands, gravel runs and glides, deep pools and slacks that you are kept busy just exploring.  The scenery and wildlife further enhances what is a truly memorable experience.

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Grayling fishing is a real passion of mine.  I thoroughly enjoy those crisp, winter mornings when the ice sparkles in the sunlight.  We haven’t had much ice of late and that’s possibly not a bad thing, especially considering what happened around this time last November.  The weather of late has been pretty mild.

Four of us had booked a cottage just outside of Builth Wells and we were treated to yet another superb property of the very highest standard.  The owners; Richard and Jane, were wonderful.  We joined them for breakfast at the farmhouse on 2 mornings.  Oh boy, what a breakfast.  A full Welsh cooked breakfast on both occasions.  Two rashers of delicious bacon, 2 Welsh sausages, 2 beautifully fried eggs, fried bread, mushrooms and tomatoes, plus toast, cereal and some excellent Welsh tea. God knows what my cholesterol is like now!  I have to say it was possibly the best cooked breakfast I’ve ever had.

The Wye

Anyway enough of the food already.  On to the fishing.  We were splitting the week between two rivers-the Wye and one of its tributaries.  Both rivers can be fairly prolific and both can produce big fish, given the right conditions.  Sadly on the Sunday night prior to our arrival the skies had opened.  Still, on arrival we found the Wye in good sorts.  It was quite a wide stretch, with a mixture of the usual shallows, deep glides and runs.  It looked good for wading, which we all enjoy.

The weather forecast was for some heavy rain, but at that point we seemed to be OK.  This is quite a long stretch and it was time to explore.  The fishing is simple trotting tactics.  Between the four of us I’m certain our set-ups were pretty much the same.  Rods were 14′, centrepin reels, mainlines of about 3-4lbs, floats in an assortment of styles but all around similar weights.  Baits were to be maggots, worm and corn.

The local toboggan run

We each found a swim to our liking and the fishing began in earnest.  I find this sort of fishing so exciting.  You really don’t know what to expect.  On these particular stretches there is always a chance of a really big grayling and that’s what we all hoped to come into contact with over the next 5 days.  I waded out about mid river and fished a fast run about 3/4 of the way across.  Sadly I only had 1 bite and that resulted in losing what felt like a very good fish.  At this point Kevin wandered upstream to tell me he had just caught his first grayling.  It was a magnificent fish of 2lb 10oz! Wow, what a start.  A new PB for Kevin and a tantalizing glimpse at what this part of the Wye has to offer.  What other unknown monsters swam in these waters?  Sadly at this point the rain started.  It got worse and worse and rained pretty much for the rest of the day.  We were all soaked through and so packed up a little earlier than expected.

Kevin's 2lb 10oz Grayling

I think we all caught some nice fish.  Geoff caught the most, with around 16 or 17 I think.  The rest of us mere mortals managed considerably less but they were all a good average size.  Most of the fish seemed to be in the 1lb-1.8lb bracket.  So it was off to the cottage for a spruce up followed by a very healthy fish and chip supper.

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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.

The Kennet

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 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.  Indded, 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.

2lb 6oz Perch

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.  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.

4lb 15oz Chub

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I always look forward to a day on the upper Hampshire Avon. It’s a beautiful, narrow and intimate river in its upper reaches. During the summer months the river is a colourful mix or fauna and flora and thick, flowing ranunculus dominates as it thrives on the gravels in such a vibrant and healthy environment.

During the winter months the weed generally dies back and those magnificent gravel runs become accessible to the winter float enthusiast. With so many mouth-watering swims, runs and features to fish, you really do feel like a kid in a candy store.

The depth varies throughout. There are numerous deep runs, a few deep depressions (cue Marvin from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy!) and the usual mix of shallows and riffles. There are plenty of overhanging trees and bushes to offer sanctuary to the fish. So all in all we have a wonderful fishery for those cold winter days, when the ice sparkles on both grass and leaf.

We had decided to target the river a little earlier than our usual visits. This has coincided with some decent rain of late and much milder temperatures. On arrival, we found the river had risen since Geoff visited here a few weeks ago, whilst visiting his daughter in Somerset. The water was also a little coloured. The weed was still prevalent and this made for some very difficult fishing. Had the water been a little clearer, Kevin and I could have seen the clear runs through the ween. Sadly this was not possible, so it was trial and error. Mainly error on my part, I might add!

The Avon

Kevin got off to a good start. He found a short run over some marginal ranunculus. After a couple of hours he had managed a few trout and grayling to over a pound. Meanwhile I was struggling to find a clear run. I did entice a couple of small trout to take the maggots and then bumped off a couple of fish, but overall was struggling. Added to this a couple of nightmare tangles around the internal workings of two centrepins, resulting in damaged line and thus resulting in a need to re-tackle, didn’t help things.

So it was soon time for lunch and a change of plan. Kevin’s swim had gone quiet and so we both went for a wander. We re-visited a swim that I had tried earlier on in the day. Kevin’s Polaroids helped in spotting fish, mine were left at home somewhere. Throwing in small quantities of maggots soon had some nice fish boiling on the surface. Kevin ran his float through the middle of them time and time again, but the fish just didn’t want to know. Yet they continued to boil on the surface when the free bait was thrown in.

Luckily I had worn my chest waders and so manged to wade in above the fish, which would enable me to hold the float back hard, as it passed through the feeding fish. I was sure this would illicit a few bites. I removed the dropper shot and moved the bulk shot up to the float. Maggots didn’t seem to work, so I tried a piece of corn. This produced a fish straight away. Then I bumped a couple off before managing another trout and then a grayling. The swim seemed to die after that. I tried a few more spots, taking another few fish here and there. Kevin’s catch rate had slowed down a little too.

Typical Avon Brownie

In the end Kevin went down to a 2lb hooklink and an 18 hook with a single maggot. Each trot had to coincide with 3 or 4 maggots being thrown in at the exact spot. Lots of very fast bites ensued, many of which couldn’t be hit. Kevin did manage a couple more fish before the light faded. I had already admitted defeat. I think I ended up with maybe 8 fish and Kevin about 15 I think. A tough day at what is normally a very prolific venue.

We were lucky with the weather, despite the forecast and the dark, foreboding skies on our journey up. We enjoyed the day and the company (well on my part anyway) and look forward to returning once the hard winter frosts have taken care of the weed.

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Fishtec Catch Club

The Fishtec catch club offers you an opportunity to share your catches with our online community and to browse other members catches from around the UK. The catch club is a great way of showing what you caught, where and how.

Fishermen like to show off their catches it could just be one of your favourite pictures, a personal best or a potential record breaking fish. Here you can upload a maximum of 3 pictures and a youtube video per submission.

Fill in the relevant information provided on the data entry form giving details of the catch, what method, fishing tackle, bait or fly used with a description of what charter, pond or hill loch of where the fish was fooled. Your images and description will then be visible to all on the Catch Club page.

**NB Maximum photo size upload – 2.4MB

Click below to add your entry!

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We left Bedfordshire having decided against a return to the Ivel for several reasons and headed instead for a small stream in Hertfordshire.  Firstly the weather forecast today was looking a bit grim, to say the least.  Secondly it was closer to home and lastly the weed wouldn’t be a problem here.

So we arrived early morning, hoping to beat the rain.  Geoff headed upstream and Kevin and I settled for exploring the downstream section.  The river looked a tad up on recent levels.  The rainfall in the south has been woefully little this year and the rivers are desperately low.  The water was clear and we could see the leaves beginning to build up on the bottom, which always makes for tricky fishing.

We checked out numerous swims but only spotted a handful that looked deep enough to produce.  I opted to float fish for a while in a reasonable, deepish run.  There was a little weed here but not enough to be a major hindrance.  All I could muster were small gudgeon, roach and minnows.  Pretty much an identical copy of yesterday on the Ivel.  So I had picked out an alternative, deeper looking swim to ledger a bait into.  I intended to use lob worms, bread crust and flake.  I was really looking to catch anything, be it chub, barbel or roach.  Just as I was about to move, an older chap moved into the swim in question with his tackle barrow. Bloody typical I thought.  I called him a few colourful names (under my breath of course!) but nothing too harsh you understand and moved on elsewhere. It seemed to be the way things were going for me over these two days.

I found a deep, pacey swim with some overhanging trees and a nice thick reed bed on the opposite bank.  I started off ledgering a big lob worm.  After a  bite-less hour I found myself dozing off.  So I held the rod and flicked the bait runner on.  Yes, you’ve guessed it….the rod tip whacked round, I struck and I hadn’t re-engaged the bait runner.  Result: missed bite!  I might add that was the only decent bite I had all day.  Despite attempts at several swims with an array of different baits, it was not to be my day.

Fortunately Kevin eventually found a swim that produced some decent action.  He ended up with 8-10 nice chub but sadly lost 3 barbel.  Geoff had struggled for most of the day but had managed a couple of barbel, a good chub and a few roach and bits.   By about 2.30pm Kevin and I had just about had enough and so called it a day.  Geoff’s fishing had just picked up, so he was a little disappointed to call it a day so early.  However, I didn’t want him catching too much and crowing all the way home!!

Next week I’m hoping to head off to the Hampshire Avon in search of grayling with Kevin.  Geoff’s having a week off getting his old boiler fixed and no, I don’t mean his missus!  So here’s hoping for a more fruitful days fishing.

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This week I had a two-day jaunt to Bedfordshire planned with Geoff and Kevin.  After a lean October, in terms of fishing time, it was nice to get the opportunity to spend a couple of days out on the banks.  The plan was to fish the Ivel on the first day and then decide where to go on the second day, depending on river conditions, the weather and catches.

The Ivel

We arrived early morning and wandered the banks.  Never having seen this river before, we were uncertain of quite what to expect.  Our first encounter was met with a very shallow, fast flowing river.  We walked a long way and never really found any depth.  So we opted for a recce elsewhere.  This next area looked far more promising.  There seemed to be plenty of depth, mixed with some shallow runs and riffles.

It is not a particularly wide river, quite intimate in fact.  A delightful river, with lots of bankside cover.  The river bottom appeared to be largely gravel and there was a really nice flow.  The down side was the amount of weed still present.  Had we have been planning a spot of barbel fishing, the weed would have been a bonus.  However we were hoping to do some trotting and this looked like it might be a little tricky, given the amount of weed.

Still nevertheless we opted for the float, just to see what we could do.  The wind had really got up by now and this was also proving to be a challenge.  After a couple of hours of persevering, Geoff and I surrendered to the conditions and decided we had to move.  The area we had fished had been heavily weeded and was open to the elements.  The wind howling downstream, really hadn’t helped matters.

We wandered upstream and Geoff soon found an area more to his liking.  I decided to go further and found a couple of potential runs.  Luckily I had donned my breathable chest waders and so could access swims that would have been otherwise impossible.  The first run was off of a bend that then straightened a few yards down stream.  I was wading to a depth of about 2ft 8in+ and I was confident there would be a few fish in residence.  I was using a 6bb float, mainly due to the strength of the wind.  The slightly bulkier float would offer a little more stability in these conditions.  Bait was double red maggot.  I also had some bread and worms as a change bait.  Mainline was 4lb Reflo and a 3.2lb Reflo hooklink.

The River Ivel

Flicking out a few maggots each trot through, I watched the float glide its way downstream. The red top suddenly dipped and the strike met with a totally solid resistance.  Sadly not a fish.  Even here were very thick stems of dying weed.  Some areas seemed clear though.  So after a few investigative casts, I found a line that appeared to be weed free.  I kept the bait going in every cast but all I was managing to catch were minnows, very small dace and gudgeon.  After a couple of hours nothing bigger had materialised.  The water was a little chilly and my legs were starting to go numb.  The swim was well sheltered from above by a canopy of trees and this kept the temperature down.  Despite the swim appearing to be a fabulous run, I opted to move upstream.

Here I had discovered another mouth-watering run.  The river was narrowed by an old tree stump and then opened out again.  There was a lovely run right down to some over hanging willows.  Again I had to wade out into about 2 feet of water to access this swim.  Again I felt confident.  Again only minnows and gudgeon showed themselves.  Eventually I managed to entice a nice roach but this was soon grabbed by a pike, which came off.  Luckily the roach survived and looked to be about 4-6oz.

Geoff didn’t appear to be fairing any better than I but Kevin had found a super little swim and was catching almost every cast.  He had caught lots of really nice perch to over 2lbs and then hooked into a zoo creature, which he soon guessed was a barbel.  After a hair-raising fight, he managed to get it into the net, where upon it promptly jumped back out! Still his luck was in and he netted it again and managed to keep it in this time.  It was a beautiful, pristine fish that weighed 6lb 12oz and was the icing on the cake for Kevin.  He’d had a tremendous days fishing.

6lb 12oz Ivel Barbel

Geoff eventually managed a reasonable chub of about 3lbs but I couldn’t muster anything over a couple of ounces. We fished on for about 45 minutes into darkness but the fish weren’t playing ball, so we called it a day.  Still it was a lovely river and we all agreed well worth a few more visits over the winter months.  So in good old Arnie fashion I promised myself “I’ll be back”.

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