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Archive for July 9th, 2012


After spending a few days on the Wye, it was time to head back to the Kennet for a couple of days.  I started off with Geoff on a Newbury controlled stretch.  It was a deep, heavily overgrown area.  The top end was a little shallower but gradually deepened as it went downstream, ending up with 10-12 feet of water.  The average seemed to be 6-8 feet.  Despite finding some nice swims and managing to take a nice upper 4lb chub, very little else happened.  Personally I think that it’s a stretch that will come into it’s own from Autumn onwards, as the barbel look for deeper water.  Geoff only managed a bream and so we packed up around midnight.  We’ll definitely be back but not for a couple of months.

The following day I headed to a Reading section of the Kennet for the first time.  I was due to meet Micky Holtom, owner of the Barbel Angler website, to hand over the Association of Barbel Fisher’s ‘Beast’ centrepin reel.  Whilst there, Micky suggested we did a bit of rolling.  I haven’t done this method for a couple of seasons and even when I did,  it was with little aplomb, however I fancied giving it a go again.  Without a doubt it’s a tricky method to get right and therefore plenty of practice is required to get a feel for fishing this method.  Basically you fish a large lump of luncheon meat on a big hook (size 2) and if extra weight is required you can add a lump of plasticine 6-8 inches from the hook bait.  You can add a little weight to the hook too.  One way to do this was shown to me by rolling meat supremo Jez Brown.  You mold a little extra heavy tungsten putty around the shank of the hook and then encapsulate it in some industrial type shrink tube.  It works extremely well and I wished I had carried on with this method a couple of years a go, I might have been reasonable at it by now!

The Kennet

The Kennet

One of the other reasons for giving up on it was the reel I was using.  I opted for a fixed spool whereas the more accomplished meat rollers invariably use a Ray Walton rolling pin.  This is a centrepin that can be turned so that the drum faces up the rod and then switched back to it’s normal position after casting.  This means casting is easy and more importantly allowing line off the reel is efficient.  You need to create a bow in the line so that the meat will trundle downstream along the bottom of the river, in a straight line.  The use of braid allows you to quite literally feel the meat bouncing along the gravel.  You then need to keep feeding line off of the pin to allow the bait to continue downstream in a free manner.  When you feel a pluck, whack it.  Often bites are quite delicate and I can clearly remember Jez saying that you often sense a bite rather than feel it.  I can only concur with those sentiments, it’s hard to describe what you are striking at sometimes but you know its a fish.

Anyway Micky lost a fish early on and then wandered downstream after showing me a hot peg to feeder fish.  He soon phoned me to report that he had caught a couple of small barbel and a chub.  I decided to wander downstream and join him for a while.  He kindly allowed me to have another go.  I found the main difficulty was getting the bow in the line right, so that I could feel the bait trundling along the gravel.  I often felt nothing and therefore wasn’t in control.  Still with a little guidance I eventually had a few knocks and one good one which I whacked.  The fish was on but sadly not for long.  Still it was a fish on, so I was doing something right.  With more practice and the right equipment, I’m sure I’ll improve quite quickly and I’m really looking forward to another bash at this method.

I returned to my swim for the remainder of the afternoon and evening.  I was fishing a deep run under a tree.  I started with a block end feeder filled with pellet.  This is designed to just offer a scent trail rather than dump bait on the bottom.  It’s a method that I have used many times and it has been very successful in the past.  The idea is that the barbel pick up the scent trail and it triggers a feeding response, however the only bait there is the hookbait, so they don’t have a lot of choice in what they can eat.  It’s not a method which everyone is convinced by and often people look at you like you’ve just been let out of the looney bin but it has worked extremely well for me on occasions, so there!

The Kennet

The Kennet

Anyway it wasn’t too long before the rod top slammed round and a feisty little barbel was scooped out.  It was only about 4lbs but was my first Kennet fish of the season.  Sometime later and the rod tip whacked round again.  This time it was a slightly better fish of around 6lb+.  During a quiet moment in between bites I glanced up for some reason (maybe a shadow caught my eye) and a beautiful barn owl swooped silently by, just above my head, with a mouse clutched firmly in its talons.  What a stunning sight and just before that I watched a Kestrel swooping and hovering in the field opposite looking for a similar meal to the owl. I decided to call it a day about 9.45pm and headed home to Kent.

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