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Posts Tagged ‘Reading and District Angling Association’


The fishing seems to be particularly tough for us at the moment.  We are struggling on the river in Berkshire and I have yet to secure my first barbel on my local small river too.  There is some comfort in chatting with anglers bankside who are also reporting similar results to ourselves.  At least we know its not just us.  However I think we need to adopt a different style of fishing to try and beat the current doldrums.  I guess what I mean is perhaps a more roving style, targeting more swims and  using different baits in an attempt to make things work in our favour, rather than hoping that eventually things will improve anyway.  I have used a roving approach on the Medway and Kennet in the past and it worked extremely well.  If you know the stretch really well you can continue to rove throughout darkness too, although there is always the option of then sitting it out in one swim after dark and hoping the fish are present.

My latest trip with Geoff was a continuation of current form.  The Thames tributary we are fishing this season is proving very difficult.  However others are also struggling as I said, so we have to take some consolation from that fact.   We fished until midnight on Tuesday but staying in just one swim apiece.  Either the fish were not home or we didn’t fish the right baits/tactics because neither Geoff or myself had so much as a knock.  Throughout the evening and night I never head a single fish turn on the surface, which always disheartens me to be honest.  I like to hear movement because it signals life and activity.  You at least know that fish are on the move.

At one point a stamping noise behind me awoke me from my thoughts and when I looked round a roe deer was running away from me in the direction of the trees.  I could see its white tail bouncing up and down as it hurried off to find cover.  That was about it for me that night sadly.  Tiredness finally won the day, and at around 11.45 I packed up very much disillusioned again.  So a re-think needed for future trips.

The next day we decided that a change of scenery was in order and so we agreed after breakfast to head to the Kennet.  We popped into Tadley Angling so Geoff could pick up a night permit for Reading and District Angling Association and whilst there I bought some block-end feeders and some hemp.  Tadley is a well stocked and well run shop and the owners are very friendly and helpful.  It’s well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

There was only one car in the R&DAA car park and we decided to have a recce first.  We then loaded up with gear and headed off downstream to explore.  We walked some distance downstream, spotting lots of decent looking spots to fish on the way.   The level looked good and the river had a decent pace to it with a good tinge of colour.  In fact it looked perfect.   I decided to bait up a couple of swims with hemp and then fish a block-end feeder with hemp in and fish elips and paste on a 4′ tail.  By the time I cast out it was probably 3.30pm.  I had decided to fish this swim for a couple of hours and move if nothing happened.  I could always return later.  At about 5pm the rod top slammed round and my heart jumped into my mouth.  A three foot twitch never fails to get the adrenaline flowing and the pulse racing.  I pulled into what was obviously a barbel and it used the strong flow to full effect.

I could tell it wasn’t a big fish from the fight but a very welcome sight that fish made when I managed to slip it into the waiting net.  I hoisted it out and admired the colours and sleek, muscular form.  I would have taken a quick snap of the fish on the unhooking mat, however senile dementia has well and truly set in because the battery for the camera is still sat on the table at home after being charged up last week.  Doh!  Anyway the fish was slipped back and I opted to move into the other baited swim.  Geoff was also on the move, opting to fish further downstream from his original position.

A large tractor turned up in the field behind me and started to move hay bales from a huge stack onto a trailer.  The farmer had assistance from another guy in a car and two small dogs.  I could hear their excited yapping as they were let loose in the field.   They were tearing around the stack of hay bales, I guess looking for rats maybe.  At times they were almost in a frenzy of excitement and it at least proved a distraction from the fishing.  As darkness fell I wished the dogs were with me as the rats started to appear.   Several large rodents scampered through the undergrowth and out into the open, searching for food.  They could obviously smell my bait as despite my best efforts to scare them off they would soon return even more brazen.   I think those dogs would have made short work of disposing of the rats.

However despite another move on my part no further action ensued and Geoff had remained fish-less also, so we decided to call it a day around 10.15pm.  We both fancied a coffee at the services before the long drive home.

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After the recent spell of chilly weather, with the odd sharp frost, the weather this week took a change for the better with a warm front moving across the country.  With that warm front came some fairly significant rain and much higher temperatures, particularly overnight.  So after a couple of days of these improvements to the conditions, I thought it was worth a bash at a bit of barbel fishing on the Kennet.

We headed to a new stretch for Geoff and I (well actually I think Geoff has fished here once before).  On arrival conditions looked pretty good.  The river had a nice pace and colour to it and it was a beautiful mild day.  It started overcast but by early afternoon the skies cleared and the sun came out.  Although a stunning day, the cloud cover was keeping the warmth in and when it diminished, the temperature dropped quite sharply.

We set up in our chosen swims.  I fished a nice deep bend with a slack area on the inside.  I cast a lead around to check the depth and the structure of the riverbed.  It was deep (about 7 feet) and a good, clean gravel bottom.  There were quite a few leaves around, which is quite understandable for this time of the year but fortunately they didn’t cause me too much of a problem here.

Having had a very late night the night before, I was in no mood for moving around a lot today.  I’d had about 3 hours sleep and far too many G&Ts, whiskies and wine for my own good.  I’d been entertained at the rather swanky RAC club in Pall Mall, where we had lunch with wine, snooker, drinks, snooker, drinks, more drinks, food with drinks, snooker with more drinks, oh and some drinks to wash it all down!!  It’s a magnificent place and the sore head this morning was worth it….I think.  I got to play with a lovely young lady (snooker that is…filthy minds you lot) who is ranked 4th in the World.  She had a magnificent action oh and her snooker wasn’t bad either!  She was my partner in a fourball match and needless to say we won, which was primarily down to my considerable talents of course!

The RAC Club

The RAC Club

Anyway, I digress.  So I decided to fish two rods, as I was certain that the fishing wasn’t going to be hectic.  However the first rod was snagged solid when I pulled into what appeared to be a bite.  It wasn’t the usual savage three foot twitch but then at this time of the year they do tend to be a little more sedate.  Anyways, I decided to reel in the 2nd rod and use that downstream but cast a little further and to keep the rod just a bit higher.  Hopefully this would keep the line out of the unseen snag.  After tangling with the snag for a second time (I managed to retrieve everything this time though) I found the right area where I wasn’t affected by it.

I was fishing a fishy boilie with a real thick paste wrap ( no offence intended paste 🙂 ) and I cast this downstream and away from the danger area.  I called Geoff to see how he was getting on when the rod banged a bit and then slowly pulled round a bit and then a bit more.  Oops sorry Geoff I think that’s a bite…..wallop it was off.  Phone slung, rod grabbed, fish on.  After a really good, hard fight I finally netted my prize, a lovely fat Kennet barbel.  It weighed in at 9lb 13oz, so what a great start to the day and made the late night/early start worth it.

9lb 13oz

9lb 13oz

Geoff popped down and did his Lord Snowden impression and all was right with the World.  That afternoon the skies cleared and the sun came out.  Although the fishing was slow, with neither myself or Geoff having any more bites, I was able to concentrate on the wildlife.  A troop of long tailed tits kept me occupied for a while.  Later on from about 2pm onwards I watched a couple of bats feeding in the bright conditions.  That’s the first time I’ve seen this during the day and they remained out feeding all afternoon.  At one point I was nearly flattened by a Kingfisher.  It hurtled towards me from the far bank.  I’m certain it had intended to use my fishing rod as a perch to fish from but on seeing me flew straight past the rod and looked like an exocet missile heading straight for my face.  At the last minute it gained hight and just cleared my head.  It was a funny sort of day really because on several occasions throughout the afternoon a large flock of geese would fly overhead and each time they passed by there was a slight delay prior to being carpet bombed by their rather sloppy droppings.  Ah I love the smell of Napalm in the morning!

Anyway darkness was approaching and nothing had happened.  I began to pack away my bits and bobs when I looked round and the rod top pulled right round.  Fish on.  I initially thought it was a good chub, as it just didn’t fight.  However it was a Geoff special, you know one of those chub he hooks from time to time that morph into a barbel as they get near the net.  It was a lovely plump fish that was about 7-7 1/2 pounds and a nice end to what had been a lovely day.

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The last few weeks haven’t produced much opportunity to fish due to work commitments.  So I’ve had to do the work thing and the family thing, visiting numerous family members (which is certainly no hardship) and basically be Mr Grumps due to the lack of fishing.

I did manage an afternoon and evening trip a couple of weeks backs on the Kennet, which produced just the one bite and resulted in a small barbel of about 5lbs.  After that I did a short evening session on the Lea and despite the river looking very good and the swim also giving me those vibes that make you think you’re definitely going to catch, I only managed one bite which turned out to be a chub of about 4-41/2lbs, a small one for the Lea.

Again this week I found my usual two day session truncated and only managed to get out on the Wednesday.  I had planned a trip with Kevin and we decided on route to try Rainsford Farm on the Kennet.  As we pulled into the car park we realised we had a problem.  There were already 8 or 9 cars present.  We decided however to at least go for a recce and see where people were fishing.  The river looked stunning it’s summer finery.  Rich colours adorned the banks, as thick foliage offered an abundance of cover to wary fish.  The river was relatively clear and through the flowing ranunculus  we could see lovely, enticing gravel runs.  This was the first time we had seen this section in it’s summer regalia and we were very impressed.

However having walked the banks and discovered around a dozen people fishing, we felt a move elsewhere would be better and so we headed off to the Reading and District Angling Association’s controlled section of the Benyons.  We arrived around 2.30-3.00pm and so I decided to fore-go the meat rolling and find a couple of swims to feeder fish. Kevin found a nice spot quite quickly but I carried on downstream for some distance.  Oh for a pack horse in these circumstances, especially with this hot, sticky weather at the moment.  The sweat was pouring from my brow and stinging my eyes as I headed off to an area I had seen previously.  Luckily Kevin had offered to help, otherwise I might still be there in a heap on the banks.

I found a lovely swim on a bend.  The river flowed in from my right and under an overhanging tree and cut a deep marginal gulley right through in front of me and as the bend straightened out it ran under numerous overhanging trees down to my left.  There was a good flow and depth and I felt very confident.

The Kennet

The Kennet

I decided initially to cast downstream and let the bait swing in under the tress.  I used a light feeder and hoped that this would present the bait where and how I wanted it, or more importantly how the fish wanted it.  As I pushed in the rod rests I started to feel stinging on my legs.  I brushed the feeling aside but the stings were getting worse. “Bloody stinging nettles” I thought.  As I looked at the swim I started to realise two things.  Firstly there were no stinging nettles and secondly my legs felt like they were on fire.  It then dawned on my what it probably was and yes there they were-red ants.  I was covered in them and the ground was swarming with the little red blighters.  I had to whip my trousers off to get rid of them (fortunately no women were present, otherwise they may have swooned beyond the point of recovery) and move right back out of the way.  Eventually they calmed down and by moving across I manged to avoid them for the remainder of the day.  My legs were a constant reminder for some time that red ants are not to be messed with!

The downstream rod never produced so much as a twitch, so throughout the remainder of the day I tried numerous positions in the swim.  At one point I dispensed with the feeder and put on some swan shot and flicked the bait upstream of a huge overhanging tree opposite me.  The bait swung right under it and I thought this would give me a good chance of a fish.  However it was not to be and despite trying several other things, I seemed unable to tempt so much as a rattle on the rod top, let alone anything resembling a barbel bite.

As usual I found myself captivated by the scenery and wildlife.  I heard and then spotted a beautiful Red Kite soaring overhead and an array of other bird life.  Then a scrambling sound in the tall grass to my right drew my attention and out popped a stoat.  It stopped to look at me and with total disinterest carried on with it’s foraging.  A few minutes later more sounds of a similar nature pulled my attention to the left and I spotted two stoats running up the path about 4 feet from me.  They were squabbling in the way stoats do and springing into the air as they squealed and screeched at each other before disappearing into the thick tall grass of the adjacent meadow, never to be seen again.  Well by me at least.

Coxless Fours?

Coxless Fours?

Several times throughout the afternoon I was treated to the spectacle of swans plowing through my swim at breakneck speed, as they seemingly chased each other up and down the river.  I was amazed at just how fast they would swim upstream, let alone downstream.  Then a mother and 5 cygnets passed by.  I was convinced in the end they had been watching the BBc’s coverage of the Olympics with Claire Balding (I know how she feels!) and were all fired up for some canoing or kayaking of their own.  Still we have all gone Olympic mad, so why not I say?

As the evening arrived the familiar sound of a hot air balloon being fired up could be heard somewhere behind me.  Eventually the culprit appeared larger than life and steadily rose silently into the sky.  Just the occasional burst from the burners could be heard as the balloon soared high into the evening sky.  With barely a breath of wind it made slow progress through the still evening sky but eventually disappeared from my viewpoint.

Up, up and away

Up, up and away

Earlier on Kevin had contacted me with that delighted sound in his voice that indicated some action and indeed it was.  He had just caught his first Kennet fish of the season, a lovely 8lb+ barbel in near mint condition.  He was overjoyed and I was delighted for him. I wish I had been a bit closer to Kevin, so I could have seen the fish.  Nothing else happened and we had to depart by 9.30pm and head for home.

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