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Posts Tagged ‘River fishing in Hampshire and Wiltshire’


I might be wrong but roach seem to be making a bit of a comeback, despite the odds.  In particular there are quite a few rivers that seem to be producing good numbers of red-fins including the odd clonker over the last season or two.  Good news for us river anglers.

It's quality roach like this that keeps me coming back for more!

It’s quality roach like this that keeps me coming back for more!

I headed to Hampshire for a spot of chalk stream roaching.  There is a good mixture of water here; from deep pools to shallow, gravel runs, and long glides to tackle.  We started off in a deep pool that shallowed up and ran off onto fast flowing gravels of just a few inches deep.  A large piece of breadflake and a feeder packed with crumb was the tactics of choice.  We picked the edge of the crease.  Casting needed to be precise, a little off the mark and the roach didn’t want to know.  We both managed a couple of nice pound plus roach, quite a few grayling and the odd trout.

We decided to move and I fancied a go on the float.  Light tackle was set-up and a spot chosen.  The area just below an island offered up a nice long crease to fish.  The depth was good; probably 5ft of mainly gravel with the odd spot of weed.  A few trots down sorted the depth and just holding back the float slightly allowed the bait to trickle down the run.  The swim looked perfect but it does hold a few pike and once a few small roach and dace started to come to the net the pike moved in.  Despite this the biggest dace was probably around 10oz and finally the float buried and that tell tale jagging indicated a better roach.  After an exciting fight, with a big pike following the roach almost to my feet (I was wading to just below the waist), I finally netted my best roach of the day.  At 1lb 7oz it wasn’t headline news but was a belter of a fish.  It certainly made my day.

By now it was 2pm and so we decided to head back up to the mill pool.  Again targeting a particular area with flake and breadcrumb.  More grayling, dace and trout followed but eventually a nice roach fell to my fishing companion’s rod.  It was 1lb 10oz and made a nice accompaniment to his earlier fish of 1lb 9oz and  several more 1lb+ roach followed that one.  I managed to tempt a nice fish of approximately 1lb 4oz.  By now the light had faded and it was almost 5.30pm.  My quiver tip bent right round and on striking a large roach broke the surface.  This was followed by raised and rather excited voices.  Things like “please don’t come off” and “don’t go to hard on it”, “Oh God please don’t come off”, “watch out for the weed”, “walk back, walk back” and “come on, come on, get it in the net”!!  We both sounded like a couple of excitable school children catching their first ever fish from a local pond.

Eventually the fish was coaxed into the net and hoisted out to the wonderment of our eyes.  It looked simply huge.  It had a massive frame and we slipped it into a carrier bag to weigh.  The scales were zeroed and it was that time.  We both looked at this magnificent, pristine roach and both thought it looked 2lb 8oz – 2lb 12oz.  Well it didn’t quite live up to those ambitious estimations, however at 2lb 4oz it was a new PB and an absolute minter.

2lb-4oz

2lb-4oz

My hands were still shaking during the photographing of this magnificent specimen and the smile will last for a very long time.  We slipped her back and with a powerful kick of her tail she disappeared back into the dark pool.  We carried on for a while but only big sea trout seemed to be present.  We had managed to tempt lots of roach with around 10-12 over a pound.  Not a bad days fishing really! 🙂

 

 

 

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Temperatures have plummeted with hard frosts and as I write this, heavy snowfall covers most of the country.  I guess this is what winters should be like.  However we are often spoiled and  end up with relatively mild winters and become a little soft when mother nature bites back.

Often at the outset of these chilly conditions few fish are keen to feed.  Once they have acclimatised, chub, roach and dace will feed quite happily.  However after that initial hard, biting frost there is only one fish that will provide the float angler with plenty of sport and that is the beautiful grayling.  No matter how cold it gets, the grayling will still feed quite voraciously at times.  So the winter float angler is very fortunate that not only is the grayling so accommodating but also that it fights fantastically well and is one of our most stunning of quarries.

At this time of the year we like to head to Hampshire and Wiltshire to fish the numerous chalk streams that abound in this region for these magnificent fish.  Today we were heading to the upper Avon.  Although a relatively short stretch, it does hold a really good head of decent sized grayling and some nice dace too.  After a good breakfast in the local cafe, we headed to the river.  It was quite high and has been since those late spring floods but worse of all it was much more coloured than we had anticipated.  Levels are never really a problem where grayling are concerned but a heavy colour in the water can be the kiss of death.  Still we were here now so had to make the most of it.

The Avon

The Avon

I opted for the carrier stream to start with.  As I tackled up a buzzard drifted by overhead and circled the meadow.  What a magnificent sight these huge majestic birds are and they offer such a nice distraction from the fishing sometimes.  Once tackled up I got as close to the waters edge as possible.  The river was quite high and the banks were partially submerged in places.  At some points the river had broken its banks and there was a heavy flow to contend with too.  Despite that there appeared to be some nice smooth glides available and there was bound to be a few grayling in situ.

I fished a heavier stick float than usual to contend with the flow, with sufficient shot to get the bait down.  This would also enable me to hold the float back and allow the bait to remain deep in the water.  First trot through and the float buried but the fish came off.  Then I hooked into a reasonable fish.  It turned out to be a trout of about 2lbs.  Often in coloured water trout are aggressive feeders and at least put a bend in the rod.  A couple more trout followed and then a very small grayling.  Nothing more was forthcoming and so I decided to have a wander.

The Avon

The Avon

The sun broke through the clouds and suddenly the grey gloom of recent weeks was lifted and the sun’s rays transformed the countryside into a bright and glittering vista.  It was so heart lifting and warming to see it again after what seems like an eternity of greyness.   I opted to fish near the main road bridge and the flow here was smoother and there was a nice deep glide to fish.  Soon a fish was gyrating in the coloured waters and it was obvious it was a grayling.  A flash of silver and the sight of the sail like dorsal fin confirmed my beliefs.  Sadly it then came off.  Typical I thought.  Still at least they were there and feeding.  I missed a few very sharp bites, which I suspect were dace before eventually banking a couple of nice grayling pushing the pound mark.  A few more trout also put in an appearance.  The fishing was slow though compared to normal and both Geoff and Kevin were also struggling to find the fish.

I kept moving and picking up the odd trout and a few more grayling.  I ended the day with 9 trout and 5 grayling.  Initially I had thought it was four but forgot about the first and rather small one that came from the carrier.  Both Geoff and Kevin had 5 grayling but very few trout.  Geoff had the best fish of the day at 1lb 6oz.  All in all not bad given the tricky water conditions but not a patch on this stretches normal results.  Once again good to be out even though Geoff nor I were in the best of health.  For me it was just the beginning of a nasty spell of the flu.

 

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