Posts Tagged ‘Bait Droppers’

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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Day 2 of this weeks Kennet extravaganza saw us rise early (well for me anyway) at around 6am.  After one of Geoff’s fine cups of coffee I felt ready for anything….well more sleep at least. We wanted to try an early session to see if this made a difference to our catch rates.  I opted for the same swim as the day before.  My theory being that I had kept lots of bait going in yesterday evening and that might keep the fish coming back looking for more.

Bait Droppers

Luckily, Kevin wanted to give his swim from the night before a further session.  As he had the landing net, this made my life much easier, so well done Kev.  I opted for exactly the same procedure as the previous day.  Out went 2 1/2 pints of the hemp and caster mixture.  The tub looked like the cauldron out of Macbeth and those immortal lines went through my head ” Double, double boil and trouble.  Fire burn, and caldron bubble.” I let out a witches cackle and sat down to enjoy a nice hot cup of Eye of newt, and toe of frog coffee.  Hmmm, that’s better.

After resting the swim for an hour I swung the bait out and waited.  Almost immediately the rod tip banged round and a right scrappy fight ensued.  This didn’t feel like a barbel and I wasn’t wrong.  It was a small rainbow trout of about 2lbs.  After a further 20 minutes nothing much had happened, so out went 3 more droppers. 15 minutes later, just when I was thinking about re-casting, the rod tip twitched round a bit, well about 4 feet actually and a barbel fought for the sanctuary of the trees.  It didn’t make it and I slipped her back to fight another day.  The barbel looked about 5lbs.

I put out 6 medium-sized droppers and sat back to enjoy a coffee.  I could hear a red kite or a buzzard in the distance, but never saw it.  A kingfisher hurtled past with a flash of electric blue. The local robin popped in for a chat.  Well at least to eat the casters that had ended up on the ground.  The rod tip twitched and then pulled round.  This felt like a very small barbel.  It was.  A fish of about a pound.  Very good to see fish of this size in the Kennet.  It really bodes well for the future of the river.

The Simple Rig

A little while later I had another good bite.  This didn’t look or feel like a barbel bite but it looked like whatever it was had hooked itself.  I was delighted with the result.  A beautiful Kennet dace that weighed 11 1/2 ounces.  Shortly after that I had yet another rainbow trout that demolished the swim!  Then it just seemed to die.  As the day wore on it looked more and more likely that that was my lot.  I had one more decent bite that just suddenly sprang back.  On retrieving the tackle I found 2 large scales on the hook.  Whatever it was, I missed it.

11 1/2oz Dace

As the 11th hour approached, Geoff called on the walkie-talkie to say he had a good fish in the net.  It weighed in at 9lb 12oz and was Geoff’s first Aldermaston fish so far this season.  Well done Geoff, it was long overdue.  Lets hope this signals a turnaround in fortunes for us.  I ended the session  with a total of 5 barbel over the 2 days.  It has at least pushed my overall tally to over 20 fish now from the Kennet.  However, still no doubles.  I’m not obsessed with doubles (well with the exception of Melinda Messenger!) but I do like to catch big fish.  I’m sure they will come.

So ended another Kennet expedition.  Hears hoping that things continue to improve.  In two weeks I’m back to the Trent for 3 days and then the Welsh Grayling challenge in late November for a week.  I can’t wait, as I just love the Upper Wye Valley.

Hwyl am rwan/nawr

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