Advertisements
Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for December, 2014


The latest CAT magazine is out and Rob Swindells has done an excellent article on the Wasing Estate.  I have also contributed in the ‘In the Hot Seat’ section of this issue.

 

Coarse Angling Today

Coarse Angling Today

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

It’s Christmas!


Well it’s that time of the year again.  To all of my followers I’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas.  Enjoy the holidays and I hope you get time to fish.  Most important of all stay in good health and enjoy time with your loved ones.

Best wishes or should that be fishes! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »


Day 1:

I rarely get the opportunity to fish the Test these days but an invite by good mate and Lone Angler’s team manager Jez Brown was very welcome indeed.

I have fished the Test at Timsbury a couple of times but not for quite a few years.  I did try Jez’s beat out last season and managed a few nice fish but lost a couple of big roach, so I was looking for a second chance.

The forecast mentioned something about a weather bomb.  That’s a term I’ve never encountered before and the only thing I’ve heard close to that is Sex Bomb, but hey that’s enough about me!  Anyway it seemed strong winds and driving rain was the general ingredients in this meteorological bomb.  Luckily the area we were in seemed to be sheltered enough by hills and trees to deflect this winter storm of almost biblical proportions (allegedly).

Still this meant we could feeder fish and trot without any interference from Mother Nature.  A simple feeder rig consisting of around a 2’6″ hooklink of 4lb line and a 12 hook, a small cage feeder and breadflake hook bait did the trick.  I used a soft glass tip on a 12ft Avon style rod.    Initially we fished up in the mill pool where there is plenty of deep water to hold a few roach.  The levels looked pretty normal with a tinge of colour.  Everything looked more or less spot on.

The feeders were loaded with crumb with a nice piece of flake on the hook and out it went.  It was a little slow at first but once we got some bait going in on a regular basis, things started to improve.  I missed a few bites as I was a bit too quick to hit them.  Soon a few grayling, dace and trout put in an appearance and then a run of nice roach to over a pound.    Jez trotted a few maggots down and grayling after grayling came to the net.  They ranged in size from just a few ounces to close to 1.8lbs.

After lunch we headed off downstream but that failed to produce much and so we returned to the mill pool.  I managed a few more roach to breadflake with the best going 1lb 6oz which made 4 over the pound mark.  Jez tempted a couple as well, of a similar stamp and we both had a few decent dace to maybe 10oz or so.  As always the trout were active, they are such voracious feeders.  Sadly those really big roach failed to show but hey there’s always next time.

A decent Test Roach

A decent Test Roach

Day 2.

I headed off to another chalk stream this time in search of big grayling.  Geoff and Kevin had fished it the previous day whilst I was on the Test and had struggled, although Geoff had taken a nice fish at just a tad under 2lbs.

The area we headed to was far more open to the elements and the wind was blowing a hooley.  Dark brooding skies suggested rain could come at any moment, almost without warning.  However lady luck was with us and although we had a very squally shower it only lasted around 10 minutes or so and then remained dry for the remainder of our visit.

The key for me was to find a swim where the wind was blowing (howling more like) down stream.  After a long walk I managed to locate a swim that looked fishable at least.  The wind was seriously strong and would make presentation very, very difficult.  I decided on a heavy float with a strung out shotting pattern.  I normally fish bulk shot but felt the presentation would improve with this alternative approach.

Hook bait was double maggot with a regular trickle thrown in with every cast.  The float buried almost immediately as it sailed down a lovely long glide close to the near side bank.  The fish felt heavy and I was confident it was a decent grayling.  I wasn’t disappointed.  At 2lb 5oz it was a lovely big, solid grayling.  Another small one followed almost straight away and a short time later another very good fish fought for freedom.  Luckily I seemed to be keeping most of the fish on the hook this time and a 2lb 9oz fish was the result.

2lb 9oz

2lb 9oz

The other two lads seemed to be struggling with I think one fish apiece and neither particularly big fish either.  Around lunchtime I decided to move.  I hadn’t had a bite for sometime and fancied trying elsewhere.  Kevin jumped into the swim to see if he could tempt something.  Later on he reported he’d just landed a 2lb 7oz fish, so maybe I should have stayed put.

2lb 5oz

2lb 5oz

I wandered upstream trying out spots on the way.  I spotted a couple of unusual old birds!!  Two Antipodean visitors; a pair of black swans.  I managed to get a few shots with the camera before spotting them again later in flight.  They have the most beautiful white wing feathers which are an incredible contrast to the rest of the bird.  Anyway I digress, the odd grayling and trout were tempted but all in all it was difficult.  By 3pm the skies were growing very dark with rain clouds and so we opted for an early finish.  I ended up with 7 grayling and 3 trout. which put me just ahead of Kevin.  Geoff had a tough day and then broke his centrepin!  Not the best day for him.

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

These are no Galahs. Fair dinkum Bruce!

There is plenty of time left this season to get back here and hopefully bag a few more of these stunning fish before March.

2lb 7oz

2lb 7oz

Read Full Post »


As those wonderful long summer evenings relentlessly draw in, winter arrives all too quickly.  However it’s not all doom and gloom.  With those dark, cold mornings when breath vaporizes in an instant, comes the grayling season.  Despite hating the cold I feel a certain tingling sensation at the thought of chasing those ladies of the stream.  Not sexual healing as Marvin would put it but rather a therapeutic endeavour that sends the pulse racing at the thought of a large grayling gracing the net.

A sign of things to come?

A sign of things to come?

The colours of a grayling’s fins and dorsal are quite exquisite, with hints of blue, magenta, red and other exotic hues.  They truly are a magnificent fish.  They are famed of course for the impressive sail like dorsal which they use to good effect in the fast flowing chalk streams of which they call home.

A decent grayling

A decent grayling

A big grayling can test the very best tackle in the pacey flows and often results in heart in the mouth action.  Sadly all too often, as you draw the fish to the net, a final head thrash will throw the hook and a monster grayling will sink back into it’s watery home.

I have traveled the length and breadth  of the country (well almost) in search of these jewels amongst freshwater fish.  The Shire’s have produced well, as have the valleys and mountain streams of Wales.  Now we have returned to the southern chalk streams in search of that elusive 3lb grayling.  In one or two rivers the grayling have prospered on the quality and biodiversity of their surroundings.   A chance of a 3lber is a real possibility and so over the coming winter months, Geoff, Kevin and I (aided and abetted on occasions by Danny) will be targeting these most magnificent of fish in some of the South’s most scenic and unspoilt countryside.

Our first opening gambit saw us tackle the river over a two day period.  First up was a stretch that has produced some seriously big grayling and has a reputation as being one of the prime beats on the river.  The levels have returned to normal after a great deal of rain over recent weeks, however the colour hasn’t quite dropped out and probably doesn’t over the winter months.  This is a fast, generally shallow river with lots of twists and turns.  This creates an abundance of fishable glides both deep and shallow and all over pristine gravel.  It’s simply mouthwatering.  Depths range from 18 inches to around 4 feet, with the odd 6 or 7 foot hole or short run.  Personally I don’t like the deeper areas and have rarely succeeded in these swims.  For me 2-4ft produce the best results.

We traveled light (well light for us) with a single rod, centrepin, net and an array of floats and odds and sods.  I still use my rucksack that I use for my barbel fishing, only because it can accommodate my flask, float tubes, towel, food and a camera.    I have just purchased a new trotting tool in the shape of a 15ft Matchpro Ultralight.  I have also just treated myself to a new Young’s Purist II but sadly that has yet to be put through its paces.  However the rod performed admirably and I’m delighted with it.

On the first day I chopped and changed baits and depths to try and tempt some fish.  However the fishing, for me at least, was slow.  I covered most of the upper two beats, giving each swim an hour or so to produce.  Bites were few and far between and perhaps the first of the heavy frosts had chilled the grayling’s appetite somewhat.   So I kept swapping baits with red worms, maggots and corn all getting a workout and altering the depth and speed of the float.  Anything was worth a try, just to entice a bite or two.

2 pints of maggots, sweetcorn, worms, spare hooks, shot and still room for more in the Lone Angler Bait Pouch.

2 pints of maggots, sweetcorn, worms, spare hooks, shot and still room for more in the Lone Angler Bait Pouch.

Eventually a few fish put in an appearance and I ended the day with 6 grayling to 1lb 4oz and 5 trout.  Like me Geoff also found it hard going, whilst Kevin had more success taking 12 grayling and I think 8 trout.  I’m not sure what the secret of his success was down to but he certainly finished well ahead of the field.  I don’t think any particularly big fished were landed but I lost around 12 fish with 3 being notably big.  However their identity remained anonymous as I never actually saw the culprits.  Sadly one fish in particular felt like a very big grayling indeed.

Later that night we were treated to a superb meal in the local pub and washed down with perhaps the finest real ale produced in England; Timothy Taylor Landlord!  Wow what a pint of ale that is, my absolute favorite.   Early the next morning we left the cottage and headed off to our final destination.  This section was around a mile long and again abounded with twists and turns and long gravel glides galore.

I achieved early success taking a couple of nice grayling and several big trout including a really big brownie of around 4lbs.  I enjoy searching a river and so spent the day swim jumping and trying to cover as much water as possible.  This helps to map the stretch and slowly build up a picture of the beat and gain some essential knowledge of depths and likely swims.  Grayling do tend to move around a lot, so a swim may produce well in the morning but nothing later on, or vice versa!  In fact a brilliant swim one day can be useless another.  I find it best to keep exploring and fish several swims in a day.  I think it’s worth persevering in a swim if you think it looks like it’s got potential, so give it an hour or so before moving on.

I kept a trickle of maggots going in on every cast and today maggots seemed to produce the most bites.  Worms and sweetcorn caught just a couple of fish.  By the end of the day I had landed 9 grayling to 1lb 7oz and 6 trout.  I lost around 4 or 5 grayling that I saw and a few that I didn’t.  Geoff was also struggling a bit but towards the end of the session he came up trumps with a new PB; a grayling of 2lb 5oz.  Meanwhile Kevin was yet again top rod, taking 13 grayling and a number of trout.  More significantly he manged fish of 1.12, 1.14, 1.14, 1.15 and a beauty of 2.4, five stunning fish.  He just seemed to have the knack over the last couple of days and put Geoff and I to shame.

Geoff's new PB 2lb 5oz

Geoff’s new PB 2lb 5oz

So our time here had come to an end.  It certainly showed promise and we are looking forward to many more trips here over the remainder of the season.

Kevin's 2lb 4oz Grayling

Kevin’s 2lb 4oz Grayling

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: