Archive for April, 2016

It’s been quite a while since I last wet a line.  The end of the traditional river season was a bit of a damp squib, although I did manage a number of good sessions on the Itchen.  Since then I haven’t been that inspired by the weather conditions to venture out.  However after a 6 week hiatus I was keen to have a dabble at something, before I completely forgot how to fish!

Geoff and I decided to give it a go, even though the forecast was yet again nothing special and a cold wind was predicted.  We didn’t get to Bury Hill Fisheries until around lunchtime and after a chat with Dave Roberts in the shop, we headed over to Milton Lake.  It looked fairly busy at the fishery today, with anglers well spread out across the main lake, Bonds and Milton.  It was nice to see the trees and bushes showing signs of spring.  We can’t be too far away from a noticeable improvement in the temperatures.

We headed to the far bank and set up in a couple of adjacent swims.  After a bit of plumbing we assessed the swim depth and mixed up some groudbait.  Mine consisted of Ocean Pride groundbait mix, a dollop of glug and some micro pellets.  It was a simple as that.  Tackle was a 14ft float rod, 3lb mainline and a size 16 hook to nylon.  I used a small waggler but big enough to cope with the by now, windy conditions.  As I started to fish the wind seemed to pick up even more and I soon found myself fishing into a strong wind which was affecting the float.  Despite fishing over-depth the float was being blown into the nearside bank.  As I was targeting the crucians, I didn’t really want to sacrifice the delicate presentation by having to compensate too much for the wind.

I decided to go for a wander and soon found a nice swim tucked in next to a huge reed bed containing reeds around 6 feet tall.  This area was also out of the wind, being protected by the island opposite me.  It looked perfect.  Plumbing soon revealed the swim was around 3 feet deep, even close into the reed bed.  I started out just off the reeds and put in a couple of small balls of groundbait and a few loose maggots.  I tricked the maggots in over the next 45 minutes but couldn’t muster a bite.  I then shallowed up and tried the waggler at half depth, firing just a few maggots out constantly over the float.  I thought this might entice a few roach to take but even that failed.  By now it was gone 3pm and I hadn’t had so much as a twitch.

I decided to try tight up to the reeds, just to see if maybe they were feeding in among the stems.  It seemed they were; and at last the float slid away in a confident bite. A good thumping fight ensued and it wasn’t long before a beautiful bronze flank gleamed in the spring sunshine, as a crucian broke the surface.  At last!  I soon poked the float in right next to the reeds again and put out 2 small balls of groundbait. Again an instant result.  The float kept sliding away for the remainder of the day.  Sometimes it went quiet for a while but the fish soon returned.  I was catching crucians regularly between around 1lb to probably just shy of 2lbs.  They all looked glorious with that lovely buttery gold colouration and orange fins.  They were not all genuine crucians; a few F1’s or brown goldfish were mixed in.  The true crucians are normally easy to spot; if they are a lovely golden colour then they are likely to be genuine.  If they look brown, silver or grey then they are generally something else.

A few good tench also put in an appearance.  I ended up with 5 or 6 with a couple of good fish around the 4lb mark.  They put up a spirited fight on the light tackle and added a bit of variety to the proceedings.  By the end of the day I’d caught 24 crucians and the tench.  Geoff had started off well, taking a couple of early fish but then faded as the wind increased.  Eventually he moved in next to me and managed to winkle out a few more crucians.  I think he ended on 15 crucians a couple of tench and a nice 1lb 5oz roach.

On those occasions where the sun came out and the wind abated, it was surprisingly warm.  It does lift the spirits when you feel the warmth of the sun on your face again.  I have to say I’m really looking forward to some warmer weather now.  Obviously when it gets above about 25/26c I’ll be moaning its too hot of course!!


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With the close season almost at the half way point it’s worth looking at a few ideas to help with some spring fishing and to prepare for the new season ahead.

Spring Fishing:

Spice up your ground baits with some extra zing.  Add some flavouring to give that extra boost.

Liquid Flavouring

Liquid Flavouring

Soak hook baits to give them that extra edge too; whether its luncheon meat, pellets or even maggots, an extra glug of flavour can make all of the difference.

Hook Bait Glug

Hook Bait Glug

Make sure your line is in good condition and replace it if you’re unsure of its age.  Don’t loose a big fish because of complacency or laziness.

If you haven’t used your float or tench rods since last spring, clean them and check for damage prior to use.

Ensure your hooks are sharp and that hooks to nylon have been checked for poor tying or signs of damage.  You may prefer to tie your own hooklinks like I do, so that you have total control over their quality and reliability, particularly if you’re targeting big tench, bream or crucians.



Most of all enjoy your time on the bank.  It’s about escapism and pleasure.


The Season ahead:

If allowed, get down to your chosen stretch of river for a recce.  If your selected river flows clear, then in good conditions try and spot the barbel and chub.

Find out where they spawn and you’ll see exactly what numbers and sizes of fish are in your stretch.

Watch the behavior of fish.  Look for feeding patterns and patrol routes.  Look for where the fish tend to frequent on a regular basis and identify why they like these areas so much.

Even in rivers that do not flow clear, you can still look for potential holding or feeding areas.  Early season cast a lead around to try and locate features and depths.  Look for deep holes or gullies, gravel beds and runs or anything out of the ordinary like hidden boulders or snags.  A day spent doing this can make all of the difference to your catch results.

Look beyond the well trodden paths and try and locate remote areas that have the potential to produce fish.  Once off the beaten track, you’ll often have the place to yourself and the fish will be far less spooky.

Pre-baiting can help introduce a new bait or get the fish used to finding a readily available food source in particular areas, potentially giving you an edge come the new season.







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