Archive for December, 2011

My old buddy Jules was keen to try out his new float rod with some trotting tactics, something he had not done before.  So I arranged to take him to the Hampshire Avon to hopefully help him catch his first ever grayling.  Of course, as you would expect, Geoff and Kev didn’t want to miss out on a days grayling fishing on the Avon either, so they joined us for the day.

On arrival the river looked a little coloured and up since our last visit.  Overall conditions looked good. So after a full English at the local cafe, we headed to the river.  It was even colder than yesterday and again looked like it was going to be a windy day.  We grabbed the tackle from the car and headed off upstream to find a few likely looking runs.

I helped Jules set-up his tackle and guided him through the basics of using a centrepin.  He took to it reasonably well and more importantly enjoyed the experience.  After a while, I left him to it, confident that he would soon catch.  I opted to fish a run just above him.  I waded out and ran the float through a nice 4′ deep run.  The double maggot hook bait was soon snaffled up by a fish.  It turned out to be a feisty trout and a couple more followed that one.  Then the float shot under and this time a really nice grayling was the culprit.  It looked about 1lb 8oz+ but I didn’t weigh it as I was wading out in the river.  I followed that up with another nice grayling of about 1lb 2oz and then another trout.

Julian hadn’t had much luck so I stayed with him for a while.  He was doing all the right things but failed to get a bite.  I suggested a move and after a few trots through in this new swim, the float dipped and we had a fish on.  It was a beautiful grayling of about 8oz and Jules’ first ever one.  He was well chuffed.  We carried on fishing for a while.  I managed another grayling but we struggled.  We decided to move downstream.

Julian's First Grayling

Both Geoff and Kev were struggling on the grayling front too. I think Kev had managed one and nothing but a few trout for Geoff.  We left them to it and moved down.  I had a few more grayling and then lost a big fish.  It may have been a big trout, but who knows?  Julian found a couple more grayling a a few trout, so was over the moon with his first experience of trotting, centrepins, the Avon and grayling.

As the day wore on it seemed to get even colder and windier.  Kevin found a small shoal of good quality grayling, taking several over a pound.  Geoff also found a few.  Overall we struggled at what is normally a fairly easy venue.  I can only assume the conditions just weren’t quite right for the fish.  Virtually all the fish came to maggot and I couldn’t but a bite on corn, which is normally good in coloured water.

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With the recent run of mild weather, Geoff and I both felt it was worth taking a break from the usual winter roach/grayling fishing and having a bash at the barbel again.  So on Wednesday we headed to Aldermaston on the Kennet.  It was a bit colder than earlier in the week and the wind was biting.  The river looked good.  It had a touch of colour and looked to be up since our last visit back in about October.

The Kennet

I opted for a mobile approach whilst Geoff decided to stick it out in one swim.  I went for the boilie and paste wrap method and I think Geoff swapped around with baits a little.  He also used two rods to my one (although I did use 2 in one particular swim).  I ended up fishing four swims, all with similar results: bugger all, the same as Geoff but at least he didn’t trudge up and down the river all day, like what I did!

I had one halfhearted bite, which was probably a chub, otherwise the only thing moving the rod tip was the gale force winds!  I suppose the highlight of the day was seeing a couple of Red Kites wheeling overhead and a couple of Roe deer in the adjacent field.  However it got progressively colder as the day wore on.  By early evening it was bloody freezing, so we packed up and headed to the Reading services for some well earned fish and chips.  Well, we had to get something remotely fishy in the end.

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Kevin shared a great tip for cleaning flasks out with me.  I was a bit dubious at first, having tried numerous methods but this really does work. Use a scoop of Vanish Oxi Action powder.  Then fill the flask up with boiling water.  Make sure you do this in the kitchen sink, because it will start to overflow like a volcano spewing lava!  As it starts to work you will notice the old stains in the flask being lifted out after a few minutes.  Your flask will end up looking brand new again on the inside.   Then thoroughly clean the flask to get rid of any excess Vanish.

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It’s been a while since I visited the Itchen. I had planned on a trip to the Kennet but despite the milder weather, I just fancied a shot at a big grayling.

Geoff, Dan and I headed down to Eastleigh for the regular fry up at the bus stop cafe. It’s gone all up market (well for us) and doesn’t open until 7.30am now either. It used to be 6.30am. Anyway, we still managed the healthy option: bacon, eggs, beans, mushrooms and fried bread. Cooked to perfection.

So by about 8.30 we were on the river. It was quite coloured and looked to be up at little. Coloured water always makes grayling fishing a little difficult, but one has to try ones best under the circumstances, what, what. So with a stiff upper lip, I opted to fish the lower end of the fishery where I might tempt a roach or two. I found a suitable run and on one of the first runs through tempted a roach of about 5oz. A few more trots and I opted to move upstream just a bit. The move proved successful. I took two grayling and then hooked something a little bigger. The fish held station against the current but I eventually coaxed it upstream towards me. A few thumps and runs had me thinking it might be a good roach. Eventually it appeared on the surface. As it turned and dived down I saw the lovely silvery flanks of a big roach. The fish was close to netting when it dived under the thick roots beneath me. I couldn’t extract the fish and it came off. I got back the bare hook. Gutted.


Still I followed that fish up with a reasonable chub of about 3¼lb. I then slowly worked my way upstream, heading for the middle reaches of the coarse beats. I met up with Geoff, who had had a few grayling. I dropped into a nice run off of a bend and stayed here for the remainder of the afternoon.

Itchen Chub

I used a bait dropper to get some maggots in and trotted through on a deepish line close in. The bites were immediate. There were obviously quite a few fish stacked up in this swim. Sadly, as always, I bumped quite a few off. Probably about a dozen. Still I ended up with another 19 grayling to about 1lb 2oz. I also caught another roach. I think I ended up with four roach but none of them were very big. It was one of those rare occasions here where I didn’t catch any trout, just a few small salmon par.

Dan on the other hand, had trout galore. I think he ended up with about 15 to around the 3lb mark. He also ended up with 17 or 18 grayling to Geoff’s 19. For once I actually topped Geoff and long may it continue. I think the biggest grayling was 1lb 7oz, so a modest one really for this venue. I’m back here in February with FishingMagic and also with the Barbel Angler Team, plus a trip to Britford with the Barbel Fishing World crowd. Then it’s off to Wales again for 5 days, hopefully for some big fish.

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My trip to the Ivel had to be postponed, due to the severity of the overnight rain on Monday and Tuesday morning. Reports were, that the river had risen and was heavily coloured. It’s too far to go unless conditions are worth it.

So Geoff and I opted for a trip to Hertfordshire. We fished a club water that hopefully wouldn’t be too affected by the rainfall. On arrival we found the place deserted, which is a rarity. It was cold, with a slight frost. Brass monkeys fits the bill! The wind had calmed down and things were looking promising.

My intention was to target the roach and dace. So with this in mind I was armed with a light quiver rod and 3lb mainline and a float rod with 2.6lb mainline and 1lb 9oz hooklink with a fine wire 22 hook. On the float rod I intended to use a single maggot or caster and the quiver rod small pieces of crust and lob worms, cut in half.

By the time we got riverside the temperature seemed to be dropping. The wind gathered some momentum too and it was a cold one. Things felt decidedly chilly. Still we were wrapped up and anticipated a good day, as the river looked spot on. It is still a bit low and could do with another 6-10 inches, so lets hope we get some more rain soon, although preferably not whilst I’m actually fishing. Not that I’m selfish you know 🙂

As the light started to become more evident, so the wind increased. It got colder and colder. My fingers were numb and I had to keep reeling in and walking up and down the bank to keep warm, the big whimp that I am. Still prior to that I had missed a good bite on the half lob worm and then tempted a small chub of about 2lbs. Now the light had improved out came the float rod. After an hour I hadn’t had a twitch and still no one else had turned up. I decided a move was in order. Just as I settled into my new spot, another angler had decided to try his luck. He came to regret it! I think out of the other 3 or 4 anglers that turned up throughout the day, I only heard of 1 small roach being caught.

First trot through the new swim and I hooked into a zoo creature. It was obviously a barbel. It straightened the hook. That’s the beneficial thing about using fine wire hooks with light line. You won’t get snapped up and leave line trailing in a fish. They just straighten the hook and they’re gone. After that I spent several hours trying to induce a bite but couldn’t even muster a tiny dip on the float tip.

More walks, coffee and food were in order, to keep out the cold. It really did feel like the bleak mid-winter had set in. Then of course I couldn’t get that damn hymn out of my head! The wind by now had increased and after a heavy shower the skies at least looked a little less threatening. So out went the feeder rod again. This took up the remainder of the afternoon. Fortunately the fish responded well. Sadly not the roach, I never found one. However the barbel and chub offered more sport. Two barbel, the biggest about 5.8 – 6lbs and 6 or 7 chub to about 3.25lb kept me occupied. Then another spell of heavy rain dampened my spirits just a little too much. I was fed up now, cold and wet. Geoff had managed a few roach and a couple of small chub and we decided enough was enough. Time to head to the services for a nice cuppa and some nourishment.

A nice barbel

All in all, not a bad day considering. I think I’m just beginning to thaw out.

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