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Archive for September 6th, 2012


The last few weeks have been rather busy, so fishing has been limited.  In fact this season I have fished far less than normal.  Hopefully next season I’ll get the night tickets sorted out and start to put a bit more time in for the barbel.

I have managed a couple of sessions on the Kennet near Thatcham.  It’s a beautiful, overgrown stretch in places, with a really good, varied mix of shallow gravel runs, deep glides and pools and plenty of ranunculus.  The whole stretch has loads of bankside cover, lots of overhanging trees and bushes offering a safe haven to the barbel population.  Sadly a bit too safe of late, as most anglers seem to be struggling.  There has been the odd purple patch, but by and large the fishing has been tough going apparently.

During the first session I had set-up in a swim to fish a deeper run under some near side trees.  Further out there was plenty of weed fluttering and swaying in the flow but closer in and under the shade of the overhanging branches it was nice clean gravel.  This spot produced a most savage bite around mid afternoon and a really feisty barbel eventually found the folds of the landing net.  It was no monster but at around 6lbs had obviously been on Popeye’s spinach diet!

The remainder of the day had remained quiet and so eventually I decided to wander down into the jungle of woods and brambles and see if I could spot some fish in the shallow gravels lower downstream.  This area is a wild and overgrown area and rarely fished.  I soon managed to get a few barbel feeding on some pellets.  Eventually I had half a dozen barbel feeding quite confidently.  Most were only about 4 or 5lbs but one was a little larger and may have gone 8.   Of course I should have grabbed my gear and had a go for them but to be honest I was quite content to remain hidden by the flora and just watch the barbel’s behavior unmolested by a hookbait.

I returned to my rods some time later and remained fish-less until leaving time.  The bailiff popped down and it seemed that after visiting numerous stretches to check tickets, mine was the only fish caught so far that day.  That is rather solemn news when you think about, in what was once such a prolific river where numerous fish could be caught in even the brightest of conditions during the day.  Geoff sadly had no luck and so we finally called it a day.

The following week we had hoped to go to the Hampshire Avon for some summer roach fishing.  However the weather forecast wasn’t good with heavy rains and high winds the order of the day, which really doesn’t suit delicate float fishing.  Instead we headed back to the Kennet.  This time I decided to fish down in the jungles and see if I could catch one of those feeding barbel from last week.

So armed with just the bare essentials I set-up a rod and net and started to watch the river closely with some polarised glasses.  After about an hour or so I managed to get a few fish feeding.  So I finished setting up the rod and continued to feed the growing number of barbel that were now foraging just out in front of me.  It was then I felt the first few spits of rain.  The clouds looked dark and menacing but I decided to persevere.  I waited for the barbel to vacate the swim and then dropped a baited hook out and thew in a few more freebies.  Then the heavens opened.  The rain became very heavy very quickly and the river’s surface was soon pounded to a maelstrom of impenetrable white water.  I could no longer see what was happening or where to cast and water was cascading off of my hat and running down the inside of my waterproof coat.  Luckily I had put my Goretex trousers on and so at least my lower half was dry.

I rushed back to where I had stashed the remainder of the gear and quickly setup my brolly and then shot back to my swim and got the rest of my tackle under cover.  However by now I was soaked through to the skin on the upper half of my body.  The rain continued unabated for several hours.  It eventually eased off mid afternoon but by now the damage was done.  The temperature had dropped quite considerably and both Geoff and I were soaked through.  I had setup camp in a very nice looking swim though, with a lot of far bank cover and completely out of the blue, the rod top knocked violently and then dragged round.  Initially I thought I was on to a half decent chub and then the fish woke up and it was now obvious what the culprit was.  After a nice fight I weighed the barbel and it was just a tad under 7 1/2lbs.  It was the only action of the day and by 7pm I’d had enough and managed to persuade Geoff to call it a day and head to Max’s cafe for a well earned hot meal- 4 rashers of bacon, 2 fried eggs, chips and beans.  Lovely jubbly.

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