Posts Tagged ‘Float Fishing’

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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We settled in for our farewell breakfast on the last morning.  I looked a little bit like a bloated pig,  infact quite a lot like a bloated pig.  We bid farewell to Richard and Jane and headed off to the Wye for our final day’s fishing.  Despite some overnight rain, the river looked in good sorts.  However overnight we had winds up to almost gale force and it was nothing to do with the beans from dinner.  The wind on Friday was very, very breezy and this would make float fishing difficult.

Danny Collins in Action

Still we wanted to make the most of our final day.  Having seen that magnificent grayling come out on that first day, we all had high hopes that this stretch could hold some very big grayling.  So we all made our way down to the river full of excitement and expectation.  I dropped into a lovely slow glide.  Fishing a small red worm, I trotted down the run, heading to some sunken bushes.  The swim was about 4 feet deep and ran over gravel.  As the float approached the trees, the tip disappeared.  The strike met with a solid resistance and then a couple of thumps.  This felt like a very good fish.  I struggles to budge the fish but eventually it started to move.  A couple of quick thumps indicated to me this was a big grayling.  I nervously applied a little pressure to start to guide the fish upstream.  Again a couple of head shakes and this time the hook hold failed.  I was gutted.  That was a good fish.


The problem with grayling is their delicacy at biting sometimes.  They also gyrate whilst being played and this results in a lot of lost fish.  I’ve tried both barbed and barbless and I’m not convinced there is a great deal of difference between them.  Still after losing two more good fish I opted to swap the barbless for a barbed.  This helped and I landed a couple of much smaller grayling.  The wind had picked up and we also ended up with a couple of very heavy showers.  Still we persevered.  I think Kev had the best day taking about 15 or 16 grayling and again he took the biggest fish, which weighed in at 2lb 2oz I think.  The rest of all caught a few with some nice size fish, but nothing exceptional.

A decent grayling

It was finally time to set off for home.  It’s about a 5 hour trip so would involve a stop or two.  Dan opted for the first part of the trip down to Ross.  Of course it’s all country lanes at this point of the trip.  Dan was doing his impression of Sterling Moss.  After 3 near death experiences I was grateful to take over, despite my nerves being shot to pieces! Mind you we had a good laugh, although I think hysteria had set in.

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Grayling fishing is a real passion of mine.  I thoroughly enjoy those crisp, winter mornings when the ice sparkles in the sunlight.  We haven’t had much ice of late and that’s possibly not a bad thing, especially considering what happened around this time last November.  The weather of late has been pretty mild.

Four of us had booked a cottage just outside of Builth Wells and we were treated to yet another superb property of the very highest standard.  The owners; Richard and Jane, were wonderful.  We joined them for breakfast at the farmhouse on 2 mornings.  Oh boy, what a breakfast.  A full Welsh cooked breakfast on both occasions.  Two rashers of delicious bacon, 2 Welsh sausages, 2 beautifully fried eggs, fried bread, mushrooms and tomatoes, plus toast, cereal and some excellent Welsh tea. God knows what my cholesterol is like now!  I have to say it was possibly the best cooked breakfast I’ve ever had.

The Wye

Anyway enough of the food already.  On to the fishing.  We were splitting the week between two rivers-the Wye and one of its tributaries.  Both rivers can be fairly prolific and both can produce big fish, given the right conditions.  Sadly on the Sunday night prior to our arrival the skies had opened.  Still, on arrival we found the Wye in good sorts.  It was quite a wide stretch, with a mixture of the usual shallows, deep glides and runs.  It looked good for wading, which we all enjoy.

The weather forecast was for some heavy rain, but at that point we seemed to be OK.  This is quite a long stretch and it was time to explore.  The fishing is simple trotting tactics.  Between the four of us I’m certain our set-ups were pretty much the same.  Rods were 14′, centrepin reels, mainlines of about 3-4lbs, floats in an assortment of styles but all around similar weights.  Baits were to be maggots, worm and corn.

The local toboggan run

We each found a swim to our liking and the fishing began in earnest.  I find this sort of fishing so exciting.  You really don’t know what to expect.  On these particular stretches there is always a chance of a really big grayling and that’s what we all hoped to come into contact with over the next 5 days.  I waded out about mid river and fished a fast run about 3/4 of the way across.  Sadly I only had 1 bite and that resulted in losing what felt like a very good fish.  At this point Kevin wandered upstream to tell me he had just caught his first grayling.  It was a magnificent fish of 2lb 10oz! Wow, what a start.  A new PB for Kevin and a tantalizing glimpse at what this part of the Wye has to offer.  What other unknown monsters swam in these waters?  Sadly at this point the rain started.  It got worse and worse and rained pretty much for the rest of the day.  We were all soaked through and so packed up a little earlier than expected.

Kevin's 2lb 10oz Grayling

I think we all caught some nice fish.  Geoff caught the most, with around 16 or 17 I think.  The rest of us mere mortals managed considerably less but they were all a good average size.  Most of the fish seemed to be in the 1lb-1.8lb bracket.  So it was off to the cottage for a spruce up followed by a very healthy fish and chip supper.

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Geoff, Kevin and I decided to take a break from blanking er I mean barbel fishing and spend a day trotting for whatever came along.  We were hoping for some decent grayling but would be happy with a few decent dace or chub.  So it was that we headed to Barton Court on the upper Kennet near Hungerford.

This is a day ticket venue and was once renowned for the quality of its fishing.  It regularly produced very big dace, roach and grayling.  Today it’s a mere shadow of its former self.  The big roach seem to have vanished and the big dace are less in numbers.  Grayling still show and it’s rumoured there are still a few big fish in there.  Quite where, is another matter.

Barton Court

It a stunning venue though.  A mixture of the old river and numerous off-shoots and carriers.  There is a lot of water to fish.  Some areas are fast runs, others deeper and slower.  Numerous small weirs and pools offer enticing opportunities for a stick float fished with maggots.  There was little weed to speak of, which is handy when trotting.  Sadly though the river is desperately low.  In fact one of the locals said they had lived in the area for nearly 20 years and this was the lowest she had ever seen it. Quite worrying. It did at least have a touch of colour, although that doesn’t suit grayling generally.

Still we set about trying to catch a few fish.  I set-up my Drennan Matchpro, 3.2lb mainline, 2.6lb hooklink and 16 hook.  The float was a small 5bb stick float.  It was just right for the conditions: windy and with a pacey flow.  I could easily swap hook sizes depending on bait choice.  To start with I opted for the old favourite, a couple of red maggots.  I had wandered down to a particularly well-known spot by the arched bridge.  There was a nice deep run on the right hand side, which then swept towards and under the beautiful stone bridge.  Almost immediately I hooked into a decent fish.  Sadly it came adrift.  A few more trots through and the float buried.  A nice dace of about 7oz.  This was followed by several small dace and a grayling of around 7-8oz.  Then the minnows appeared.  After about half an hour of catching them, I decided it was time to move.

Upper Kennet

I wandered along the bank admiring the sights and sounds of the countryside.  I watched a couple of Red Kites for a few minutes and then a buzzard, before finding a nice deep run on a bend.  First trot through gave me a decent grayling of about a pound.  Then several nice perch and a few dace, shortly followed by another grayling.  Then, yet again, the minnows moved in.  By now it was almost lunchtime.  At this point I heard a wonderful choo, choo sound coming from the direction of the rail line.  I then heard the chuff-chuff of a steam engine.  Suddenly, a magnificent steam engine burst into sight, with white puffs of smoke billowing out of the funnel.  It was the Orient Express, with numerous luxurious Pullman Coaches behind.  What a grand sight, so terribly nostalgic (said of course, with my best Noel Coward voice!)

By now it was lunchtime.  Some hot soup and sandwiches filled a hole and a coffee to finish.  By God, this fishing lark ain’t too bad really.  Geoff and Kev had done reasonably well and it wasn’t long before we were off again.  This time I decided to head off below the stone bridge.  The river widens a little here.  It’s a bit weedier and generally fairly shallow.  We managed to find a couple of nice spots and I managed a few roach.  Kevin found a lovely pool right at the end of the fishery boundary.  Each cast produced a bite.  Pretty much all dace, with one or two half decent ones. Kevin also had the fish of the day.  A big dace going 12oz+, but we all caught a few decent dace throughout the day.

We kept moving and trying different spots.  The pools provided us with a few decent brownies up to about 3.8lbs.  The grayling were a little scarce.  I think we ended up with about a dozen between us.  Overall we caught a lot of fish.  I think Kevin said all in all he had about 70.  Not a bad days fishing.  As the sun started to sink down below the horizon, we heard that evocative choo, choo again.  A few seconds later the steam engine puffed into view and flew past at an incredible speed. Pretty much made the day for me.

We finished the day with loads of nice fish.  A really mixed bag of dace, roach, grayling, perch and gudgeon.  A wonderful day in beautiful surroundings where the wildlife is abundant and very distracting and that’s how it should be.

Ah, so that's how you do it.

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