Archive for November 4th, 2011

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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