Posts Tagged ‘Coarse Fishing’

This week I had a two-day jaunt to Bedfordshire planned with Geoff and Kevin.  After a lean October, in terms of fishing time, it was nice to get the opportunity to spend a couple of days out on the banks.  The plan was to fish the Ivel on the first day and then decide where to go on the second day, depending on river conditions, the weather and catches.

The Ivel

We arrived early morning and wandered the banks.  Never having seen this river before, we were uncertain of quite what to expect.  Our first encounter was met with a very shallow, fast flowing river.  We walked a long way and never really found any depth.  So we opted for a recce elsewhere.  This next area looked far more promising.  There seemed to be plenty of depth, mixed with some shallow runs and riffles.

It is not a particularly wide river, quite intimate in fact.  A delightful river, with lots of bankside cover.  The river bottom appeared to be largely gravel and there was a really nice flow.  The down side was the amount of weed still present.  Had we have been planning a spot of barbel fishing, the weed would have been a bonus.  However we were hoping to do some trotting and this looked like it might be a little tricky, given the amount of weed.

Still nevertheless we opted for the float, just to see what we could do.  The wind had really got up by now and this was also proving to be a challenge.  After a couple of hours of persevering, Geoff and I surrendered to the conditions and decided we had to move.  The area we had fished had been heavily weeded and was open to the elements.  The wind howling downstream, really hadn’t helped matters.

We wandered upstream and Geoff soon found an area more to his liking.  I decided to go further and found a couple of potential runs.  Luckily I had donned my breathable chest waders and so could access swims that would have been otherwise impossible.  The first run was off of a bend that then straightened a few yards down stream.  I was wading to a depth of about 2ft 8in+ and I was confident there would be a few fish in residence.  I was using a 6bb float, mainly due to the strength of the wind.  The slightly bulkier float would offer a little more stability in these conditions.  Bait was double red maggot.  I also had some bread and worms as a change bait.  Mainline was 4lb Reflo and a 3.2lb Reflo hooklink.

The River Ivel

Flicking out a few maggots each trot through, I watched the float glide its way downstream. The red top suddenly dipped and the strike met with a totally solid resistance.  Sadly not a fish.  Even here were very thick stems of dying weed.  Some areas seemed clear though.  So after a few investigative casts, I found a line that appeared to be weed free.  I kept the bait going in every cast but all I was managing to catch were minnows, very small dace and gudgeon.  After a couple of hours nothing bigger had materialised.  The water was a little chilly and my legs were starting to go numb.  The swim was well sheltered from above by a canopy of trees and this kept the temperature down.  Despite the swim appearing to be a fabulous run, I opted to move upstream.

Here I had discovered another mouth-watering run.  The river was narrowed by an old tree stump and then opened out again.  There was a lovely run right down to some over hanging willows.  Again I had to wade out into about 2 feet of water to access this swim.  Again I felt confident.  Again only minnows and gudgeon showed themselves.  Eventually I managed to entice a nice roach but this was soon grabbed by a pike, which came off.  Luckily the roach survived and looked to be about 4-6oz.

Geoff didn’t appear to be fairing any better than I but Kevin had found a super little swim and was catching almost every cast.  He had caught lots of really nice perch to over 2lbs and then hooked into a zoo creature, which he soon guessed was a barbel.  After a hair-raising fight, he managed to get it into the net, where upon it promptly jumped back out! Still his luck was in and he netted it again and managed to keep it in this time.  It was a beautiful, pristine fish that weighed 6lb 12oz and was the icing on the cake for Kevin.  He’d had a tremendous days fishing.

6lb 12oz Ivel Barbel

Geoff eventually managed a reasonable chub of about 3lbs but I couldn’t muster anything over a couple of ounces. We fished on for about 45 minutes into darkness but the fish weren’t playing ball, so we called it a day.  Still it was a lovely river and we all agreed well worth a few more visits over the winter months.  So in good old Arnie fashion I promised myself “I’ll be back”.

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Autumnal hints are clearly showing themselves. Leaves are turning brown already, as we approach late September. This week it was only Geoff and I that headed towards Aldermaston in search of those Autumnal giants that frequent the gravel runs here. We have always found this time of the year very rewarding for big barbel. We hoped that this would be the week they showed themselves at last to 2 very determined Kenneteers.

The Kennet at Aldermaston

We set up camp as ever and wandered off for a look. I fancied a swim at the lower end of the stretch (aka near to the car!!). There was lots of cover, a nice flow and a deep hole in this swim. I baited up with hemp and caster and left the swim alone for an hour. Geoff had decided to fish much further upstream. This week we had decided we should give it until much later before calling it a night. We talked about packing up around 2am, if we could stay awake and the temperature wasn’t too chilly. Brave talk for a couple of wimps.

At about 7pm I had what looked like a persistent chub bite. On striking I discovered one of those Popeye chub on the other end. After a really good fight I netted the culprit, a barbel of around 6lbs. I re-baited the swim and decided to have a wander. As I left the swim, I noticed about half a dozen Roe Deer in the field. I took a few photos, but the deer were a bit too far away. I slowly and carefully inched forward, trying to get closer. The deer were alert and soon noticed me. They stretched their necks high and their ears twitched at my approach. I stopped and then slowly moved forward again, taking a few more shots. Suddenly they were off. That lovely, high prancing movement that Roe Deer do, reminiscent of gazelle on the Masai Mara. I then popped back to the car, only to see two more hinds in the field adjacent to the small car park. Again I tried stalking them and managed to get much closer due to the cover afforded me by the trees and bushes. Sadly though, it was by now getting dark. So the pictures were of no use. Still, lovely to see.

Kennet Barbel

I returned to my swim and carried on with the usual routine of bait dropping hemp and caster every 20-25 minutes. Finally at about 11.20pm the rod tip whacked round and another feisty barbel was subdued. Again a smallish fish, especially for Aldermaston. It looked around the 6-6 ½ lb mark. I called Geoff. He hadn’t had a touch, but we both felt we should carry on and see whether the later finish would produce. At 1.15am we both decided it hadn’t! We headed back to camp for a well-earned cup of tea. This week I had forgotten something else of course. The milk, eejit that I am. Luckily Geoff had a small bottle of some soya milk muck that sufficed under the circumstances! 😉

The following day we kicked off by going to the small village stores and purchasing a few provisions, including some milk obviously. They do some great chunky sausage rolls here. Heated up, they make a great breakfast. A decent cup of take away coffee finished off our transactions and we headed back to the river.

Wadda you looking at?

We packed away the tents, made a flask of fresh coffee. I then loaded up with fishing tackle, like some sort of over-burdened pack-horse and headed upstream looking for a likely swim. On finding one, I baited up and read Coarse Angling Today for 45 minutes. I then wandered up to see Geoff, whom it turned out hadn’t gone where he said he was going, so I found an empty swim. Still, the walk did me good….!!

It turned out to be a reasonable day for me. I didn’t exactly empty the river, but did manage 3 more barbel to about 6 ½lbs. They were all in immaculate condition. I also missed a wraparound bite! I spotted a few more deer in the field and again managed to get reasonably close and take a few shots. Geoff managed a trout and a 4lb+ chub. He’s finding it tough at the moment and I know it hurts when other’s seem to be catching and you’re not. I’m certain he will turn it around soon though.

Hemp and Caster caught Barbel

Perhaps one of the highlights for me was watching a Crow and a Kite doing an impersonation of a World War II dog fight. They twisted and turned almost in harmony, as the Crow badgered the much larger and more impressive Kite. They soared and rolled, dived and turned. Occasionally, when the angle was just right, the Kite would suddenly swoop at the crow and they would disappear. We were certain the Kite had engulfed the crow with its mighty talons, but they would just as suddenly reappear and the aerobatics would continue. It was wonderful to watch.

Anyway, next week we are on the Trent for 3 days. So here’s hoping for some decent fishing weather and a few wraparounds to go with it.

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