Posts Tagged ‘coarse fishing blog’

Ah those tranquil early summer evenings. The sound of the swallows, the pitter patter from the occasional rain shower, the lush vegetation and the buzzing of honey bees. All these things go to make up a wonderful time of the year. Well except for the sound of carbon fibre snapping and obscenities drifting on the wind, across the choppy waters. Still more of that to follow!

I was joined by Geoff this week and we headed off to a club water in search hopefully of some big tench and crucians. This would be our first session on this particular lake this season. The crowds have disappeared, mainly due to the crucians spawning recently. This obviously drops the weights of the big crucians and many anglers loose interest. That’s fine by me, more swims to access.

As we arrived the heavens opened. It was like a cyclone had blown in; torrential rain and howling winds. The temperature dropped 4 or 5 degrees too. Luckily after 10 or 15 minutes it passed and we headed to the lake. The banks looked lush and vibrant with new growth. The lily pads were in full bloom too and looked very fishy indeed.

Sadly the wind was howling across the lake from right to left and it looked like float fishing would be made very difficult. Still I settled into a swim with the pads to my left and plumbed the swim to find around 4ft of water. The depth was slightly deeper close in and then shallowed up around 2-3 rod lengths out.

The plan was to float fish the pads and put a method feeder out around 25 yards. Baits were to be luncheon meat and sweetcorn, both with a few squirts of the sausage sizzle overspray, on the float rod and the Lone Angler sausage sizzle 10mm squabs on the feeder rod. I mixed up some groundbait consisting of a 50:50 mix of the Lone Angler mix and a green off the shelf mix. This created a nice light, fluffy groundbait and looked ideal for crucians. I also mixed in some corn, luncheon meat and some finely chopped prawns. After tackling up the two rods I was ready to fish.

Sausage Sizzle Squabs

Sausage Sizzle Squabs

I used a light 1lb test curve Avon rod for feeder fishing, incorporating a 35g method feeder, 4 inch hooklength with a size 14 Pallatrax the Hook. This is a nice and simple set-up. I banded a 10mm sausage sizzle squab and buried it into the method feeder mix and out she went. Second cast and whoops…..the top section snapped clean off around half way up. “Oh bother” I says, “what a nuisance”. Well words to that effect anyway. So the feeder plans were cancelled and I would have to concentrate on the float.

Geoff's PB: 7lb 3oz

Geoff’s PB: 7lb 3oz

So out went the float and it had barely settled when it buried beneath what looked like North Sea waves. A hard fighting tench was on and after a very dogged fight I finally netted a pristine fish of exactly 6lbs. Well not a bad start after the disaster of a few minutes before. The wind by now was blowing around hurricane strength, making float fishing interesting to say the least. I changed the set-up on the float rod to take into account the conditions when the float rod snapped around 8 inches from the tip! Yet again a few choice words wafted on the wind to all parts of the lake. This was beginning to get a bit tiresome.

6lb Tench

6lb Tench

So rod number 3 was set up. How long would this last? Fortunately no mishaps with this one, thank God. However my swim was rather quiet. The odd fish rolled and a couple of very nice rudd were tempted, otherwise pretty dead. Eventually the wind eased off and conditions improved for a while. Sadly it was short lived and the wind gained force again and blew directly into our faces. Geoff had found a quiet area protected by the pads and managed to present a float in much calmer water. The depth here was around a further 12-16inches deeper than where I was positioned. It seemed to make a difference and he had a couple of decent tench on the float including a 7lb 3oz beauty. He also had a couple of 3 pounders on the feeder. Later on a shoal of very small tench moved in and he caught around 5 tench barely topping the 1lb mark. In the meantime my float buried at last and a nice crucian resulted. She weighed 2lb 14oz. Not a monster but a lovely looking fish in fine condition. Not long after this Geoff also tempted a crucian of almost identical proportions, maybe even the same fish!

2lb 14oz

2lb 14oz

Eventually the rain and wind drove us off the water. Enough was enough. I know when I’m beaten. Hopefully conditions will improve next week and we can tempt a few more of the bigger specimens found here.

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After a little bit of late summer crucian carp fishing at Marsh Farm I was looking forward to a new challenge.  I had been invited by a good ABF pal to fish his local stretch of river in Berkshire.  Its a beautiful, small, intimate river.  Quite narrow and rather pacey.  At each turn there was loads of overhanging trees and bushes and lots of thick reeds and vegetation.  The water was thick with cabbages and ranunculus which swayed in the fast water.  Underneath this exuberance of growth was a great deal of lovely clean gravel, which the barbel love to feed on.

We took a good walk along the stretch and each swim looked better than the previous one.  It was absolutely mouth watering and I couldn’t wait to get started.  We both opted for a swim for the duration of the session.  Mine had overhanging tress opposite, a thick raft to my left and a deep marginal run down to more overhanging trees to my right.  It just screamed barbel!

I set up a brolly as the weather was still quite unsettled.  The river was up a little with some good colour after the recent heavy rains.  It really looked spot on.  Tackle would be quite simple.  A running rig incorporating an Andy Witham cage feeder.  This would be packed with mixed pellet and plugged with groundbait.  I didn’t intend putting out a great deal of bait and would probably only recast every hour to an hour and a quarter.  I fished two rods.  One baited with elips pellet and the other boilie.  Around both baits I wrapped some of the Sonubaits barbel and carp hemp and spicy sausage paste.  This had been recommended to me and I have to say my initial impression was that it looked and smelled very good. Hooklength was around 3 feet and as always I like to use Sufix Camfusion in 10lb breaking strain to a size 10 hook.  I also incorporated 2 flying backleads to the downstream rod, just to make sure that the line was pinned down as much as possible.  I also tried not to tighten up too much to the rig.  Hopefully all of this was less likely to spook any foraging barbel.

To me the downstream rod would be my top pick to produce a bite and this is the rod I pinned my hopes to.  I very rarely fish two rods and I only did today due to the low density of barbel in this stretch.  Mind you if it did wrap round it was likely to be a decent fish at least.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable day where there was no real pressure to start fishing.  I chatted with Paul throughout the afternoon, enjoying a cuppa and a natter.  Several times I wandered back to the car and soaked up the scenery and atmosphere of this beautiful spot.  It just looked so good and my confidence was high.  Paul was great company and he’s such a good bloke that it was just a pleasure to be out enjoying a fishing session with him on his local water.

Eventually the light started to fade and out went the baits.  It didn’t take long either.  After 30 minutes the downstream rod arched round viciously and on picking up the rod, a big barbel pulled back.  This felt really good and the fish just hugged the gravel bottom in the fast flow.  I eased the fish upstream but every now and then it would surge back downstream.  After a few minutes the fish turned on the surface and both Paul and I knew it was a decent fish.  After several heart thumping minutes Paul slipped the net under this magnificent fish and after resting it hauled her out for unhooking.

A magnificent bronze flanked fish lay in the folds of the net, glistening in the torch light.  We quickly unhooked her and weighed the fish.  It went 13lb 11oz and was a new PB by 7oz.  A few quick photos and she was put back safely.  After being rested for a while she swam away strongly and I felt ecstatic. What a tremendous result from a stretch I had never fished before and within spitting distance of another spot that had once produced a previous PB of 13lb 1oz a few years before.  I could have happily packed up and gone home grinning from ear to ear but we had agreed to fish until midnight.

13lb 11oz

13lb 11oz

I hoped that Paul would also soon be onto a good fish but it wasn’t to be unfortunately.  However at around 11pm with my eyelids feeling like lead, my baitrunner screamed as a fish tore line from the spool.  This fish also stayed deep and went on several short runs.  It turned on the surface a few times before I eventually slipped it into the net.  I called for Paul and we weighed this second magnificent bronze beast.  It was absolutely mint condition and weighed in at 11lb 5oz.  I was so over the moon I decided to pack up and was going to sit with Paul.  However I don’t think Paul could cope with my inane grin any longer and so also opted to call it a day.

11lb 5oz

11lb 5oz

It’s been a fairly slow season barbel wise for me, so this was a real highlight of my year and one I will never forget. My thanks to Paul for his great company and advice.

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A return to the Midlands was in order and so Kevin, Geoff and I made arrangements to camp in our usual place and fish the Trent.  Both Geoff and I had already paid a visit to the Trent a while back but this would be Kev’s first visit of the season, so we hoped it would be a little easier than the last one.

The forecast was for some pretty heavy rain on the Wednesday but Tuesday sounded dry and the weather was at least warm.  By the time we set up the tents and arrived at the river it was almost 7pm.  I wandered upstream quite some distance and decided on a two pronged attack.  I would fish one round around half way and the other, more powerful rod, would be cast as far across and into the main flow as possible.  The closer rod was set-up with pretty much standard Trent tactics in mind: a large open end feeder packed with pellets and plugged with groundbait.  I used 14lb mainline and a 10lb Sufix coated hooklink, which was about 3 feet long.  The second rod was pretty much the same but because of the distance I was hoping to fish I dispensed with the feeder and used a shorter hook length.

Constant casting with the feeder rod every few minutes started to build up the swim, whilst the other rod would be left to its own devices.  If one rod started to produce good results, then I planned to mirror that with the second rod.  As it turned out the feeder rod at the half way mark produced the only action and eventually I brought in the distance rod and set that up with a feeder and fished the same area.

The fishing was fairly slow for me really.  I ended the night with just 5 barbel but one was a decent one at 9lb 15oz.  Geoff was finding it similarly slow going, whilst Kevin had not had a fish.  However that soon changed after midnight.  Suddenly Kev was getting a bite a chuck.  So we fished through until 2.30am when we just couldn’t fish any longer.  Kev ended up with 9 barbel to around 9lbs.

So not a bad start I suppose but not brilliant for the Trent.  The river was much lower and clearer now and after the high levels that it had for most of the last 2 or 3 months, was fishing understandably slower.  So the next morning we headed to the farm shop for breakfast (full English with chips…..yummy) and then we headed to the river again around late lunchtime.  Kev headed for the same swim as the night before and I headed to the upper limits of the fishery.  It was a bloody long walk but the area looked very good.  Here the main flow was about halfway and the river a little narrower.  Geoff ended up about halfway between me and Kevin.

Again I opted to fish two rods about halfway out into the main flow.  Both rods were cast every 5 or 6 minutes throughout the afternoon to keep plenty of bait going in and hopefully pull those large shoals of barbel in.  Two fish came to my rods during the afternoon, whilst the others struggled for a bite.  Kevin opted to fish a lighter set-up and hopefully get amongst the roach.  It worked and he caught numerous decent roach but lost one at the net that he thought might just go 2.  I also managed a nice roach which looked around the 1lb mark.

Throughout the afternoon and early evening we were subjected to some very heavy rains and a thunderstorm.  Luckily I had managed to set the brolly up just prior to the heavens opening.  Eventually the banks started to get a little treacherous and on one occasion I did a sort of Harold Lloyd impression and went arse over tit.  No harm done, just a bruised backside for my troubles.  Eventually the rain eased off and the remainder of the night was dry.

During the two days we were there, numerous narrow boats and big cruisers plowed up and down the river.  They are always respectful and remain about halfway out, thus avoiding angler’s lines.  However one decided to come through less than a quarter of the way across and by the time I saw it, it was almost too late.  Due to the trees to my right (upstream) I often couldn’t see the boats until they were almost on top of me.  Generally of course you could hear them coming but because of the heavy rain, my hearing was diminished.  So I managed to sink the line on the first rod in lightening quick time but as I grabbed the second rod, the narrow boat went straight through the line and started to take line.  I didn’t fancy my chances at landing this one, so had to pull for a break.  There was much arm waving and head shaking but I did manage to resist the temptation of hurling abuse at the man and his wife at the wheel.  She watched as I jumped up and down and shaking my fists like Basil Fawlty and must have got the message, because by the time they reached Geoff they had steered the boat across to the other side.

As the light faded so things began to hot up.  I started to get steady action throughout the night and despite loosing a couple of fish and missing a couple of wraparounds I ended up with a dozen barbel.  They were mostly small to medium sized barbel but a couple may have gone 7-8lbs.  Geoff also found a few fish taking 7 but unfortunately Kevin couldn’t replicate the action from the previous night and only managed one fish.  Sadly I think he lost a couple too.  By the end of the night I was getting knocks and twitches as soon as I cast out.  Unfortunately we were running out of time.  We had decided to pack up earlier than the previous night, as we were heading home early the next morning.

So ended another Midlands sortie and no doubt there’ll be a few more before the end of the season.  What I’d like to do is come up in the autumn and fish for those lovely roach…….



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I headed to the old Lea today with me old mate Jules, to have a bash at the ‘Green’.  The Lea is hosting some of the Olympic events from Friday onwards and I might add that the roads are already chaotic.

With the temperatures soaring to 30c I was in no rush to get to the river and after a late night in London watching Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths in Neil Simon’s play the Sunshine Boys, which was such a rare treat to see two such superb actors in full flow, I certainly wasn’t going to be going early.  We arrived around 3pm in the sweltering heat.  We wandered along the river, checking out a few swims and found a couple that we both fancied for the evening.

So to start we decided to both have a go at rolling.  I struggled.  The water was unusually coloured and it was difficult to see where the weed was, especially without polarised sunglasses.  So after about 90 minutes and sweating buckets in the blistering heat, I decided to move into my chosen swim a little earlier than expected.

I had picked a swim where shallow water dropped down into a much deeper section.  The swim was only around 3-31/2 feet deep with loads of far bank cover.  Directly above me was a shallow, weedy section.  On a warm evening like this I could envisage the babel heading up to this area to feed…..well hopefully.

So after slowly moving the remainder of the gear into the swim I popped down to Jules’ swim  for a cuppa and a lay down in the shade and waited for the temperatures to abate.  At around 7.30pm I went back to my swim and tackled up.  I opted for an Andrew Witham feeder from cagefeeders.com and plugged some small mixed pellets with a little groundbait.  I fished a couple of large elips pellets on the hair.  I recast every 30 minutes onto the edge of the trees and into an area of smooth water.  As dusk approached I started to get a few knocks and taps and then had a persistent tap, tap, tap.  I decided to strike and it turned out to be a reasonable roach but it fell off near the net.

Darkness soon enveloped us and still nothing had happened.  Just as the light was fading I saw a flash of iridescent blue as a Kingfisher hurtled past.  I think it was in training for the Olympics!  Time was passing quickly and we had decided to call it a day at 10.45pm.  About 10.30 the rod top kicked a bit and then arched violently round.  I was quite taken aback but soon grabbed the rod, which was resting on my chair.  The fish pulled back a little too hard to be anything other than a barbel.  I called down to Jules that I was in.  He came up to net the fish….well hopefully.  At this stage I couldn’t quite decide how big it was but then it turned on the surface and we saw the size of her and she looked a good double.  The fight lasted longer than I thought it would but we soon had her in the net.

On lifting the fish out we both thought it was a mid double.  She was long and looked quite plump.  The scales read 12lb 10oz and although not a PB (although it is from the Lea) was my Olympic gold.  She was stunning.  Long, fin perfect and an absolute stunner.  I took a couple of quick snaps and got her back in the river.  After a few minutes she was fighting strongly in the net to get away and she powered off upstream on her release.

12lb 10oz

12lb 10oz

It makes those blank here all worthwhile when you get a result like that.  Wonderful.

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After some pretty dire conditions of late, I haven’t really felt like fishing.  I don’t mind the rain per se but with these miserable temperatures of late, I have never felt so less inclined to fish.  Work has also kept me off the banks for a while too.  I mean, how very dare you.  Of course it doesn’t help when you fish with three mates that are all retarded er I mean retired (well, I think that’s what I mean 🙂 ).  The water temperature has been kept unseasonably low due to numerous nighttime frosts and combine that with a very chilly wind at times and you can understand not only my reluctance to fish but the very reason why the fish themselves are so reluctant to feed at times.

Still at long last we have experienced a slight rise in those overnight temperatures.  We haven’t had a frost for at least a week and with the gauge not dropping below 6-8 most nights and daytime temps remaining around 13 or so, it was beginning to look a little more promising.  We opted not to fish on the Tuesday evening as the forecast was again for some very heavy rain with a significant drop in temperatures again.  However Wednesday’s forecast was pretty good, so we hoped that this blip wouldn’t spoil the fishing on Wednesday.

Geoff, Kevin and I set off, probably with limited expectations but I was certainly looking forward to being on the banks again after  my enforced hiatus from my so far unsuccessful attempt at a big crucian.  We headed to Godalming town centre for some lunch.  Godalming is a lovely town, with several good cafe’s to boast of and a couple that offer very good value for money.  So after a very healthy lunch (cottage pie and er chips…uhum!) we wandered along the river for an hour before heading off to Marsh Farm.

On arrival the lakes were showing the signs that spring was well and truly underway and that despite the weather’s best efforts to convince us otherwise, Summer was just around the corner.  The trees were in full bud, the reeds were tall and green and the bankside flora was showing signs of healthy, vibrant growth.  Perhaps this was not quite as much as it would normally be at this time of the year for obvious reasons but it was at least a sign that things were improving.

Showing signs of Summer at last.

Showing signs of Summer at last.

Very unusually there was no wind when we arrived.  So I opted for a swim in amongst some thick reed beds where close in the depth is around 3 feet.  With so much cover for the fish, I just felt it had to produce.  Geoff wandered off to my right and Kevin stayed in a very good area to my left.  The sun was out, albeit just at intervals due to the cloud cover and it actually felt very pleasant.  We all felt it was the best conditions we had experienced so far this Spring.

Geoff was in almost immediately; a tench.  I missed a couple of bites on paste and after missing a couple more opted to go back to worm bait.  Kevin was steadily catching some small roach.  This sort of action continued for some time.  My switch to worm elicited instant results, when after a really good fight I netted a beautiful looking tench weighing 6lb 5oz.

6lb 5oz

6lb 5oz

Then the wind sprung up and the action slowed a little.  Eventually the wind dropped and the action continued throughout the night.  Geoff seemed to be catching tench steadily whilst Kevin and I were somewhat slower in the action.  Then Geoff reported his first crucian. shortly followed by Kevin.  They ended up with 2 or 3 each, mostly over 2lbs and one dead on 3 for Kevin.  Despite catching 6 nice tench I felt a bit excluded from the action.  I was getting lots of interest on the float.  Lots of tiny dibs and dips, with the float moving slightly from side to side.  A sure indication that crucians were in the swim and mouthing the bait in only the frustratingly delicate way that crucians can.  I had plumbed the swim several times to check depth and so ended up whittling down the bait size.  I ended up with just about a quarter of a dendrobaena worm on.  I moved the float in towards the bank slightly, after seeing a few good crucians roll close in.  After probably 20 minutes of tiny movements on the float, there was a sufficient ‘bite’ to strike at.  This time I connected with something heavy.  The fight was dogged, with the odd dive, whilst the fish plodded around in a circle.  Eventually it broke surface and the magnificent buttery gold flank glistened in the torch light.  It looked like a really nice fish and after a couple of heart stopping dives, I eventually netted her.

I was looking at a perfect specimen crucian.  She was immaculate,  just so stunning.  They are truly a beautiful fish to behold.  I popped her in the weigh sling and recorded a weight of 3lb 9oz.  I was over the moon.  It’s the biggest crucian I have had for sometime and a just reward for all of those dismal sessions in the wet and cold weather of the last couple of months.

Well Geoff ended up with 12 tench (again, I think he had about 12 the last time we were here), including several 5s and 2 or 3 crucians, Kevin I think had 7 tench and 3 crucians to 3lb and I brought up the rear with 6 tench and the 1 crucian.  Still with the 6lb tench and the 3lb 9oz crucian, I felt I’d had the moral victory, they may of coarse disagree! We left at this point as the weather had got somewhat chilly and it was nearly midnight.  Enough is enough.

3lb 9oz

3lb 9oz

Now I know that Kevin’s brother Steve is a regular reader of my blog and for that I thank him and just wanted to say ‘hello’.  Steve enjoys his fishing with his brother up on the Wye once a year and due to family commitments doesn’t get to fish as much as he once did and that’s a small price to pay for having a wonderful family.  So I hope you enjoy the blog and when you do get to go again Steve, I hope you bag a few of those stunning Wye barbel.

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Well, what happened to all of that lovely, unseasonably good weather we were having?  The winter has certainly bitten back with a vengeance.

Over the last few weeks we have still been attacking Marsh Farm.  Plenty of tench showing, despite the cold weather.  Most of the tench range from about 3-5.8 pounds, so a very good average.  A fair few crucians coming out as well.  Numerous fish in the 2-2.15 bracket.  Sadly no 3s as of yet but it’s still a little early.  The crucians are being even more tricky than usual, probably due to the low night time temperatures keeping the water temperature down.  They are just such finicky biters sometimes, they can drive you to distraction.

I have persevered with the worms but also tried king prawn.  I just cut slivers off and fish it on a 14 hook.  Thinking of trying some float fished paste.  Big lumps on a fine wire 6 or 8 hook, fished in conjunction with a very small waggler and no weights.  I’ll just use the weight of the paste to cock the float.  Bites should show very easily and the float will offer very little resistance, if any.

We’ll see how well it works soon.



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Well now the season has drawn to a close, it seems I have been struck by some sort of close season malady.  Still, eventually I’ll recover, well hopefully.

In a strange way I quite look forward to the close season, although it doesn’t last very long to be honest.  However I do enjoy the glorious 16th June, when we get to revisit all of that bubbling, flowing water and exuberant growth that has been given a reprieve whilst we have been away.

In the meantime, my buddies and I try our hands at cruising, no crucian carp fishing, with hopefully a few decent tench thrown in for good measure.  We head to the beautiful county of Surrey and fish Marsh Farm near Godalming.  Not only is the fishing excellent, the on-site shop, Apollo Tackle run by Steve, is about the best I have ever been in and its just a great association between the fishery and the shop.  The service is exemplary and the abuse free!  Can’t be bad.

There are numerous lakes here and if you are a member you have access to several private lakes too, although not all at this site.  The main complex consists of three lakes.  One is geared toward juniors and is known as Hill Pond, then there is a match lake called Richardsons and lastly the specimen lake known as Harris.  Although these are man made and therefore you might think of them as commercials, they are a sort of hybrid complex.  Not quite natural but by no means out and out commercial.

Summer at Marsh Farm

Summer at Marsh Farm

All of the fish contained within these waters are stocked from Godalming Angling’s own waters.  They haven’t been bought in from elsewhere and the fish are totally natural, English stock.  The main species being tench, roach, rudd and crucian carp.  No ordinary crucians here though, they grow to exceptional sizes.  Two pounders are commonplace and three’s are caught regularly.  It’s quite exceptional and they are all genuine crucians, with no cross breeding.  They are quite simply stunning fish.  A beautiful buttery gold, plump and rounded as crucians should be.

Although a little early in the year to start fishing for these magnificent creatures, we nevertheless commenced our close season campaign for a big crucian.  The ultimate goal is a 4 pounder but to be honest each fish, whether 1lb or 3lb, are so stunning, its a real pleasure to just catch them.

The nights on the weekend were pretty cold, with quite a sharp frost on Sunday and Monday morning, which would make the fishing pretty tough.  So it was to prove.  The first session on Tuesday evening was very difficult.  Between Geoff and I we only managed a few roach, with the lion’s share going to Geoff.  On Wednesday we were joined by Danny and Kevin.  The day was a little warmer and the evening stayed milder for longer too.  This was at least a little encouraging.

The highlight of the two days for me was the incredible sight of four planets in the evening sky.  The amazing sight of the large, bright planet Venus and below it Jupiter.  Also visible was the red planet Mars and also Saturn (I think).  Sadly from our vantage point we couldn’t see Mercury, which is also currently visible with the naked eye.  A stunning display and quite extraordinary.

The Planets

The Planets

The lakes are also a cacophony of bird noise at the moment.  With Spring on the horizon the wildfowl are in full mating ritual and are very territorial at the moment.  What with the Geese (Canada, Greylag and Egyptian), ducks of the Mallard and those rather alien sounding Tufted variety, Coots, Moorhens, Grebes and Herons it was quite a  racket.  Still, that’s Mother Nature for you.

As for the fishing, well we didn’t do quite so badly.  Dan I think was first in with a crucian of a couple of pounds and later followed that up with a bigger crucian plus a decent roach, I managed a couple of crucians at 2lb 9oz and 2lb 11oz plus a lovely tench of about 4lbs.  Sadly I lost 3 crucians (they often come off) including what looked like a possible 3 at the net.  Kevin had a couple of nice tench, with one over 5lbs and a near 2lb crucian and Geoff just the one crucian.

A typical MF Crucian

A typical MF Crucian

All in all not a bad start, considering the night time temperatures, which is keeping the water temperature down and the fish a little less active than they will be once it warms up a little.

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After such a long trip on Tuesday, I wanted to fish a bit closer to home.  So Geoff, Kevin and I decided to pay a visit to Longshaw Farm, near Herne.  We have fished it many, many times in the past.  It is reputed to hold some very big roach.  We can certainly vouch for it holding large shoals of roach, as we have caught quite literally hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of roach from here.  You tend to get quite a few around the 8oz – 1lb mark, with a few pound plus fish thrown in for good measure.

Today, the water had a rather unusual green tinge to it.  The water was also very cold.  We settled in to a few likely looking spots and started fishing.  After about an hour of struggling I decided to move to a slightly deeper spot.  I also changed from a 16 hook to 3lb hooklink to an 18 to 2lb.  This seemed to help.  I fished a single maggot and a small insert waggler.  I kept a trickle of bait going in but that didn’t seem to help.  So after that I would put in some hemp and maggots every few casts.

I started picking up fish almost immediately, albeit fairly small ones in the 2-3oz bracket.  By the end of the day I had managed about 70 roach with a few nettable ones to maybe 12oz.  I also had a couple of bream to about 3lb 8oz.  Meanwhile Kevin was having a similar sort of day.  His biggest roach was probably a pound with a few other reasonable fish.  Geoff on the other hand seemed to find the carp.  I think he ended up with 5 to about 7lbs and he had the biggest roach of the day at 1lb 5oz.  Sadly though there was a casualty of war, as during a fight with a carp of around 4lbs, the top section of his rod snapped clean off!  I’m sure when he talk to the manufacturer they will get it replaced asap.

All in all not a bad day.  Certainly not ones of Longshaw’s better ones though.  We normally get a lot more fish with a better average size.  No doubt we’ll be back at some point for another bash at those big roach.

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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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I fished a gin clear river recently for barbel.  I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who do this week in week out and so will already know what observations and opinions I am about to express.

Firstly I am often surprised how much feeding fish will tolerate from an angler before finally giving up and spooking out of the swim.  Providing an angler is sensible in his concealment (or not as the case maybe), feeding barbel will continue to do so despite the obvious presence of an angler.  Slow, deliberate movements don’t seem to cause too much alarm.  I would still put a great deal of importance on stealth of course, but not to the extremes that some may think.

What I think is far more important is how the bait and tackle is presented in the fishes environment.  Let me quantify that.  I have seen on several occasions barbel moving into the baited area and then suddenly spooking off.  Now its fairly obvious to me that this was due to the mainline being either visible or coming into contact with a fish.  When one spooks, it does tend to spook the others.  The fish then tend to retreat, but will often return to the swim to continue foraging for the food that they know is present. However the more spooky those fish become the less confidently they seem to feed.

How can we overcome this problem? My set-up has evolved over many years of fishing for barbel.  It works for me although not 100% of the time.  I doubt anything works 100% of the time and there will be many occasions where you have to think about what you are doing and alter it to suit on any given day.  Keep ringing the changes as they say.  However I like to use a long, coated hooklink.  I particularly like the ones made by Suffix.  The one I use, is a fast sinking one and lays on the riverbed very nicely.  I also like it because it is available in lower breaking strains, which is unusual for this type of line.  I don’t like the idea of using 15lb hooklink with say a 10lb mainline. Anyway, above this 3 foot hooklink I will use a backlead.  Sometimes a standard flying backlead sometimes though, depending on the river and flow, a standard in-line lead of an ounce.  This is an important addition to the set-up.  Why?  Because it pins your mainline down on the deck so the barbel can’t see it as easily and more importantly can’t swim into it.  Nothing seems to spook barbel more than touching a tight mainline, that is often not actually visible to them, in the case of a flourocarbon mainline.

They are occasions when adding a further backlead would be beneficial, I think.  Sliding one off of the rod tip, so it pins the line down from the rod tip.  What you have to remember though is what the riverbed is like.  If there is quite a bit of weed, this becomes a bit pointless.  But its worth playing with the set-up to see what works.   I also like to keep the rod tip as low as possible.  What I won’t use is leadcore.  I don’t like the idea of large lengths of leadcore being possibly tethered to a fish.  The thought of leaving a long hooklink attached to a fish is bad enough, but heavy leadcore leaders as well is just too much for me, so I won’t contemplate using them.

Anyway the end result of this is less spooking of fish.  Perhaps not entirely but a significant improvement.  But of course this is geared towards people fishing a static bait with either a lead weight or a swimfeeder.  We all know that there is more than one way to skin a cat.  Float tactics, rolling meat, free-lining etc.etc all work well on their day too.  That’s what makes fishing so enjoyable.

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