Posts Tagged ‘Hampshire Avon’

Andy Frances kindly gave the green light to me arranging a grayling fish-in for the guys on BFW.  A good, central location was needed and so Britford on the Hampshire Avon at Salisbury was selected.  We just had to hope the weather was kind to us and that the river conditions would suit our target species.

Luckily the weather was good and river conditions were excellent.  Sadly on the day a very cold, strong wind made things a little tricky but certainly didn’t deter those that attended.

The idea was for me to arrive at Britford around 7am and prepare the teas and coffees for the attendees.  Of course these things always have to have some degree of disaster and so it was, through bad planning on my part, that we didn’t arrive until 8am!!  Still a few remained for a cuppa, whilst the others headed off to start their campaign.

We had a reasonable attendance, with around 15 of us.  The cream of the crop you might say.  Then again you might not!  It was good to see some familiar faces and meet a few new ones.  That’s the great thing with these sort of days.  You can put names to faces and create a much more friendly atmosphere on the forums.

Stuart Wilson was on hand to take our money, oh and give help and advice to those that wanted it.  He’s an absolute star and couldn’t have been more helpful and I’ve got a bottle of malt whisky to give him the next time we meet, well if I haven’t ‘enjoyed’ it by then.

So we all headed off to target the grayling or roach or chub or dace, whichever you wanted or ended up with.  Reports kept coming throughout the day from different sources.  It was proving to be tough, probably due to the cold, strong wind making float presentation difficult.

Before I’d even left the carp park young Mt Tucker (chubby to his friends, although I can’t think why) was into a pike on the dead bait gear.  It turned out to be a feisty jack of about 6lbs.  I headed off upstream to feeder fish the carrier, hoping for a few roach.  Sadly I gave up as the tip was just bouncing around all over the place and it was almost impossible to detect a bite.  So I headed off to the main river and started to catch pretty much straight away.  Wading does make a big difference here as you can target the runs that are difficult to fish from the bank.  So I ended up with 10 grayling to maybe 12/13 oz, 25-30 dace to maybe 8 or 9 ounces and a chub of around 2.8lbs.

On returning to the carp park we all gathered to share the successes and stories of the day.  Ian T ended the day with 4 pike to 11½lbs and Crooky a couple of jacks and some grayling and bits on the float.  It sounded like pretty much everyone had a good day with the likes of Medway Kev taking 13 trout to 4lbs (ish).  Perhaps the days top rod award should go to Graham Elliott who we all know is a barbel angling God and proved his angling skills by taking 5 good chub and a roach of  1½lbs.  Sadly though he lost a very big roach, which fell off the hook whilst heading to the net, as they have a habit of doing unfortunately.  He estimated it to be about 2½lbs.  I think it was Steve Sorrell that had over 90 dace including some very good fish too.

So we headed off to the Bull Inn at Downton for a pint (courtesy of Mark Nicholls, what a gent) and a bite to eat.  The usual fishing banter ensued, perhaps a little lighthearted mickey taking but above all a nice end to what was a really enjoyable day.

So a big thanks to all those that took part and in particular to Andy Frances of Barbel Fishing World.  Oh and to Keith Speer for proving he is human after all 🙂

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As the evenings draw mercilessly in and the frosts creep over the land, it’s time to hang up the barbel rods for a while and head to one of the countries great chalk streams, the Hampshire Avon.  It’s a river shrouded in history and endless tales of mythical giants are regaled in the local hostelries.

It is a magical river and one that I’m proud to say I fish on a regular basis.  I still feel I don’t fish it enough and I’m sure the day will eventually come, when I end up joining Christchurch Angling Club but only when I can do it justice and that time is not now.

Britford Dawn

Still, today Geoff and I headed down through the Wallops to Britford.  The river here lies in the shadows of Salisbury Cathedral, which gives it an almost hallowed feel and rightly so.  For those that know of the Avon in this region, they will be aware of the treasures that it contains.  Visit the river in the height of the summer, when the waters are gin clear and you’ll soon see why this river is so famous.  With a little patience, discretion and some Polaroids you’ll soon be spotting huge roach and dace.  The old river also contains a healthy stock of grayling up to specimen sizes and with the odd decent chub, a few barbel and plenty of trout thrown in for good measure, it makes this quite a mixing pot.

The Cathedral

As we arrived at the river, the late autumn mists hung in the fields.  The sky was clearing after a night of rain and there was still a dampness in the air.  Still, the sun was beginning to break through, so the day held some hope of decent weather.  We took a wander down to the river, expecting it to be up a little and with a touch of colour.  We were surprised to find the old river still gin clear and very low.  There was still thick, flowing ranunculus evident throughout the river system, which would make for some tricky float fishing conditions.

So on went the waders and I headed off in search of a few grayling and dace.  I found numerous deep runs in between the weed.  I had set-up my trusty Drennan float rod and coupled that with my Young’s pin.  The line was a little on the heavy side for this sort of fishing, but I had not brought another reel with lighter line on.  Ideally I would like to have used around a 2lb 6oz mainline.  So I had to make do.  I spent the morning wading along the river and fishing all the likely runs.  The fishing was tricky due to the density and abundance of weed but nevertheless I started catching from the word go.

Two red maggots seemed to do the trick, on a very light float set-up.  First up were a couple of nice grayling and shortly followed by some reasonable dace.  Nothing big mind you.  Grayling to about 10oz and dace to 5 or 6oz.  By now they were coming thick and fast.  Each new spot produced a few bites, before the inevitable presence of the minnows became known. Once they come every cast, I will move.

It is wonderful wading out into the river.  You find all the deep runs and gullies.  Even slight depressions are easily found and a mental note made for future reference.  It amazes me how close you can catch fish to where you are wading.  The fish rarely take any notice.  After a while and several moves, I had taken about half a dozen grayling, and couple of dozen dace to about 8oz, 2 enormous gudgeon and countless minnows.  I decided after lunch to fish for another hour and then have the last 2 or 3 hours on the main river, above the sluices.


Geoff was sticking it out for the roach but as they often do, they were not playing ball.  Surprise, surprise!  I wandered upstream and found a nice swim, with a reasonable depth and not too much weed.  The swim produced plenty of dace over the next hour or so, including the best of the day, a fish of about 9oz.  As the light was beginning to fade, I decided to head downstream and try for some roach.  Again wading out into a likely spot by some alders, the first trot through produced a bite.  This time something much bigger was banging away on the end.  I guessed it was either a British record roach or possibly a chub.  After a nice scrap the fish turned out to indeed be a very nice chub of 4lb+.  I always think if they look like a ‘5’ they are probably a ‘4’ and this is invariably the case.

As the sun started to sink below the horizon, I was getting a fish a cast.  Another grayling and lots of nice dace.  Still, eventually it was time to call it a day.  I guess I ended up with around 30-40 dace, 7 grayling and that nice chub.  Oh and fifty hundred minnows…..well that’s how it came out anyway.

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