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Posts Tagged ‘fishing with bread’


The title is certainly not a description of me or any other angler, but the fast flowing rivers that make Hampshire such an iconic destination for any river angling enthusiast.

Day 1 saw me treading those hallowed banks of perhaps Hampshire’s most famous of rivers; the Avon.  The Avon cuts it’s way through Wiltshire and Hampshire before entering the sea at Christchurch, which is now part of Dorset.  At times the river meanders it’s way through open fields, with barely a tree in sight and in other parts it cuts through heavily tree lined banks where thick foliage offers the angler some much needed cover.  Much of the Avon where I fish is lined with dense reeds or rushes.  They stand tall and shield the angler from the quarry.  They also offer plenty of cover for the fish, with deep undercuts to provide sanctuary to chub and barbel.

The Avon

The Avon

Today I was primarily after chub.  This area holds chub to over 7lbs, although they are a rare beast indeed.  Of course the Avon is also famed for it’s roach, however some much needed reconnaissance is required before I target these most beautiful of fish.  A great deal of my time will be spent fish spotting throughout the spring and summer months.  The river will be gin clear by then and the ability to see the fish will allow me to start to log where roach are and where they might be come the winter months.  Hemp and tares will be used during those warm days, so hopefully a roach or two will succumb to my float tactics during the summer.  Hopefully come next Autumn I will have built up a much better picture of fish holding areas and give me a much increased chance of some big roach.

However today, as I said, I was after some chub.  Tactics were very simple.  A 12 foot Avon quiver tip rod (3oz glass tip), fixed spool with 6lb mainline, size 6 hook and a cage feeder.  The only bait used was breadflake, which is simply a deadly bait for chub.  Of course it’s also a deadly bait for roach too and I’ve even caught a few barbel on bread, so anything could turn up.  The hooklength was around 3 feet.  I use liquidised bread in the feeder and a pinch a flake on the hook.  It makes for a cheap days bait at around £3.00, which makes a pleasant change.  Maggots in Kent are now around £3.50 a pint and casters £3.90, so a few pints is the best part of a tenner these days.

My plan was to fish a swim for an hour and move on.  The only downside was the forecast.  Originally it had been really good for today, however the day previously it had changed to 2-3 hours of heavy rain.  This meant I was taking my umbrella and a few extra items of clothing.  I find fishing in heavy rain rather tiresome and I therefore fish less effectively.  Today I was fortunate to be fishing with good mate Jez Brown and he even treated me to breakfast, what a good chap he is!  So the plan was to leap frog swims downstream looking for good chub swims.

The Hampshire Avon

The Hampshire Avon

Jez was into a fish almost instantly, a nice fish of a few pounds.  Soon after I was netting a nice chub too.  I had found a lovely swim just below some sunken bushes, with tall rushes lining the bank.  A few yards downstream were a number of partially sunken trees and it just screamed chub.  The depth was good at around 4ft.  Soon after the first, the tip tapped for a second time and arched round. The result was a slightly better chub nudging 4lbs.  They were in immaculate condition and fought quite hard.  Sadly the rain had started by now and was pretty heavy.  I headed back to the car to put my thermal waders on to keep warmer and drier.  We lost around 2 hours fishing.

Avon Chub

Avon Chub

I worked my way downstream, although nowhere near as far as I’d hoped.  I simply had too much gear to carry for traveling any great distance.  Despite this I did fish around 4 or 5 swims.  They all looked superb and I ended the day with 5 chub to around 4lbs and a couple of trout.  I missed two absolutely unmissable bites too! Jez had headed off early and so I packed up around 5.30.  I would have liked to have stayed a bit longer but I was off to the Itchen the following morning and had the long drive back to Kent to contend with in the meantime.

The following day saw me on the lower Itchen Fishery with Peter Bentley, a fly fishing friend who came with me last year to trot the Itchen for grayling.  That was his first foray into float fishing and grayling fishing and he managed to catch a few fish.  This time I thought the LIF gave us a bit more water to tackle and hopefully a few more fish.  We didn’t arrive at the river until almost 11.30am and we were looking to pack up around 4.30, so we had around 5 hours to get stuck in.

We were soon tackled up and ready to rock and roll.  The tackle today were 2 14ft float rods, centrepins loaded with 3lb line and either a 2g Avon float or chubber.  Bait was sweetcorn and maggots.  I always look for some smooth water, regardless of depth.  We were soon running floats through swims and the fish were biting.  Peter was in first and landed a spirited little grayling.  Others followed.  We stopped around 2.30 for coffee and a sandwich before exploring a bit more water downstream.

The Lower Itchen Fishery

The Lower Itchen Fishery

Most swims produced a few fish and I think between us we ended up with probably 20 grayling and a dozen trout.  As always, almost as many were lost as we caught, but that’s often the way with grayling.  On our way out of the fishery I bumped into Danny who had caught a nice barbel from the bottom end.  It wasn’t a monster but more than welcome.

 

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It’s been a while since I wet a line with my good buddy John Kemp, too long in fact. At last we managed to put this right and agreed to a session on the Sussex Ouse, a river I’ve not fished before.  I have to say I was looking forward to the challenge of a new venue and I always enjoy new surroundings too.  The Ouse runs through some stunning countryside in Sussex, places like Sheffield Park where people flock to in the autumn for the stunning colours of the trees.  A veritable cornucopia of hues to marvel at and bewitch the eyes and minds of all those who visit.

Sheffield Park

Sheffield Park

We stopped at a few well known spots for a look see.  I have to say I was impressed.  We ended up at a fairly narrow and heavily wooded section that looked barely fished in all honesty.  The river here winds its way through the Sussex countryside, with steep banks and endless features to fish to.  It is a fairly small and very intimate river, with a good mixture of shallows and deeper runs.  There appeared to be a very healthy amount of gravel on the river bed too, which looked ideal for summer barbel to flourish in.

The Sussex Ouse

The Sussex Ouse

John and I were here for the chub today.  The weather conditions have been fairly steady over the last week, with a slight increase in air temperatures and very little rain to speak of.  All in all it was ideal chub fishing conditions.  The river had a good tinge of winter colour and looked spot on for a fish or two, well hopefully!  I was armed with a 12′ quiver tip rod, a reel loaded with 6lb line, some 2 and 3 x swan shots for the link leger and some 4 and 6 Pallatrax ‘The Hooks’.  This was a day of simple fishing tactics.  I thread 4 grippa stops up the line and then bend over a piece of mono between them and put on 1, 2 or three of the swan shots, whatever I need to just hold bottom.  A big hook is used to fish either lob worms or even better a big piece of crust.

Always, always try and buy your crust from a high street bakers.  I promise you they are far superior to the supermarket ones.  I don’t know why this is the case but it is.  The supermarket ones generally have very brittle crust and don’t freeze particularly well and rarely stay on the hook for long.  A baker’s loaf has much more pliable crust that you can bend in half without the crust splitting and breaking apart and it will stay on the hook for ages.  Unfortunately my local baker’s has closed down and I was forced to buy a loaf from Waitrose and it was awful.  Luckily John had some decent stuff so I pinched some of that, thanks John.

The right sort of crusty loaf

The right sort of crusty loaf

We headed to the upper section of the beat, with the intention of leap frogging swims back down to the bridge.  There was a lot of water to target and most of the swims looked likely to produce a bite.  My first choice was near an outflow from a waterworks.  From here I opted to fish for maybe 20 minutes per swim and head downstream.  The first swim failed to produce and so I moved down into the next favored spot.  Here a tree had come down right across the river and the depth looked good right along this section.  I threw out 3 balls of liquidized bread and cast out a big piece of crust flavoured with Sausage Sizzle.  This was anchored about 4-5 inches from the hook.

A few tiny pings on the quiver indicated interest from some unseen watery inhabitant and then the tip pulled round slowly into a full arc.  I struck and felt something solid and heavy on the other end.  A nice chub I thought.  But no, this was no chub as it tore off downstream and right under the tree.  I managed to coax it back and again it headed  off under the tree.  This toing and froing continued and I still hadn’t seen the culprit.  Over the first 30 seconds of this fight the fish had gone from chub to barbel to carp.  Eventually the unseen leviathan boiled on the surface and it was indeed a big carp and it looked like a ’20’.  This fish hadn’t given up yet and it went on a series of runs again, albeit much shorter and far less powerful than the initial ones.  I shouted for John, who luckily had moved downstream nearer me and soon came running to see what all of the commotion was about.

Whoops!

Whoops!

The fish was now wallowing on the surface and John just about squeezed it into my chub net!  As he lifted there was a horrible cracking sound and my Drennan net handle snapped in half.  We still managed to lift my prize out and there lay this big, fat and beautiful mirror carp.  It did look big and I lifted it with one hand and it felt a twenty to me.  We weighed and photographed the fish and it was 20lb 4oz.  I was over the moon.  You often loose fish like this on light set-ups but it is a testament to the old adage of using balanced tackle.  I have often said that you can exert an awful lot of pressure on big fish with light gear providing it’s balanced.  A quiver tip rod and 6lb line can easily subdue big fish, the only thing that often causes a loss is a hook pull, particularly if using very small hooks or the fish becoming snagged.  If I had been barbel fishing here, I would be using much heavier tackle due to the amount of snags.

20lb 4oz

20lb 4oz

We continued to fish and move slowly downstream but with no bites forthcoming.  I watched a Buzzard being mobbed by several crows.  You see so many buzzards now and I even saw three whirling overhead of one another whilst playing golf at Knole Park the other day.  They are the first ones I’ve seen here.  I knew they would eventually move in.  I saw my first and only other Kent sighting quite a few years ago in Stone Street, so it was good to see that they have populated the area now.  Of course you often hear them long before you see them, that forlorn cry as the circle high up on the thermals.  After talking to another angler lower downstream who had also failed to get a bite, we decided it was time to head off to another venue.

The Eden

The Eden

This time we headed to Kent to fish the Eden.  The Eden is a diminutive and intimate river that eventually joins the River Medway.  It’s largely gravel bottomed but rarely deeper than 2-3 feet.  There is plenty of bankside cover with steep banks down to the river.  Fortunately there are plenty of ledges to fish from.  Again we leap frogged downstream, fishing lots and lots of superb looking swims.  I was still struggling to get a bite, whilst John had lost a chub of around 3lbs and managed to net a slightly smaller one.  With only 15 or so minutes to go I moved into my last swim, having just lost a nice fish further upstream.  Out went a big piece of crust into a nice long glide under some overhanging branches.  The tip suddenly pulled round and a good chub fought on the other end.  I could see from the size of the chub’s mouth that it was a good fish and on landing, it proved to be a very healthy, bulky fish and weighed in at 4lb 7oz.  A fitting end to what had been a rather exciting day in the company of my very good mate JK.  Thanks for another great day out John.

4lb 7oz

4lb 7oz

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A couple of times a year, and far too infrequently, I get to fish with great mate John Kemp.  It’s something I always look forward to.  I think we both have the same outlook on fishing, which is basically enjoy the surroundings, the friendship as well as the fishing.

Anyway, we had another trip planned to the upper Thames.  It’s a spot I particularly like and still holds some stonking chub.  A couple of years ago John caught his Thames monster here, a magnificent chub of 7lb 2oz.  So we know it still holds the potential to throw up a real whacker.

Upper Thames

Upper Thames

The forecast was pretty grim and yet we seemed to miss the worst of the weather, which is exactly what happened last time.  The only thing this time was the wind.  It must have been gale force at times.  Nevertheless we fished on in brave fashion.  As always we started in the big weir.  John tends to fish a small cage feeder with liquidized bread and flake on the hook and I use a large piece of crust anchored a few inches off bottom.  If the swim allows, I will throw in a few balls of liquidized bread as an attractant.

My set-up is very simple.  I fish 6lb line straight through to a size 6 hook.  I slide on 2 Drennan Grippa Stops and then loop over a piece of line and attach the appropriate amount of shot that’s required to just hold bottom.  I use the size 2 or 3 ssgs.  I vary the distance from the hook but generally its 4 or 5 inches.  If its really cold then it will be just a couple of inches from the hook.  I then use a big piece of crust.  The crust helps to balance the setup, so that it’s easy to move the bait with a twitch, in fact often the bait will move of its own accord.  Once you have cast out, keep a nice bow in the line so that if the bait does move, it will travel downstream in a straight line and act far more naturally.

After a couple of casts to get the weight right, I flicked the crust out into the weir pool and put the rod on a rest.  It was a tight swim but a good angle to attack the pool.  The bait bumped a couple of times and then that tell tale knock on the tip indicated a chub.  One more knock…..yes then the tip pulled right round.  This is a typical chub bite on crust.  The strike was good and the fish on the other end felt heavy as it plodded upstream.  For a minute I thought maybe this was not a chub but then it headed for the snags on the inside and I thought, yes it’s a chub.  It finally broke surface and I could see it was a decent fish.  Once in the net I realised it was even bigger than I thought.  I called JK and he came down to assist.

I though it looked a good five but inside I was thinking it was bigger.  Well it turned out to be a good fish and weighed in at 6lb 1oz and is my first 6lb Thames chub.  I jumped up and down a few times and shook John firmly by the hand.  This was one of the highlights of my season.  I haven’t caught a 6lb chub for some years.  I used to fish for them almost exclusively and now rarely, so I was absolutely chuffed to bits and so was John.

6lb 1oz Thames Chub

6lb 1oz Thames Chub

John wandered upstream and I followed a couple of bite-less hours later.  We opted to move upstream where there were lots of enticing marginal swims with deep water and loads of cover.  We slowly worked our way back down towards the weir.  During this process I managed 2 more chub, which both weighed 4lb 13oz, despite being caught a few hundred yards apart.  John also tempted a couple of fish, including a good 4lb+ fish before we ended up back in the weir.

We finished here about 7pm.  John took another nice chub that was in the region of 4.8lb and I sadly couldn’t tempt another fish.  Still what a great day.  Beautiful scenery, I saw a wild deer, plenty of bird-life and great company and all the chub were fat and healthy and in mint condition.  Oh, and we never saw another angler as usual. Lovely chubbly 🙂

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