Posts Tagged ‘River Float Fishing’

I always look forward to a day on the upper Hampshire Avon. It’s a beautiful, narrow and intimate river in its upper reaches. During the summer months the river is a colourful mix or fauna and flora and thick, flowing ranunculus dominates as it thrives on the gravels in such a vibrant and healthy environment.

During the winter months the weed generally dies back and those magnificent gravel runs become accessible to the winter float enthusiast. With so many mouth-watering swims, runs and features to fish, you really do feel like a kid in a candy store.

The depth varies throughout. There are numerous deep runs, a few deep depressions (cue Marvin from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy!) and the usual mix of shallows and riffles. There are plenty of overhanging trees and bushes to offer sanctuary to the fish. So all in all we have a wonderful fishery for those cold winter days, when the ice sparkles on both grass and leaf.

We had decided to target the river a little earlier than our usual visits. This has coincided with some decent rain of late and much milder temperatures. On arrival, we found the river had risen since Geoff visited here a few weeks ago, whilst visiting his daughter in Somerset. The water was also a little coloured. The weed was still prevalent and this made for some very difficult fishing. Had the water been a little clearer, Kevin and I could have seen the clear runs through the ween. Sadly this was not possible, so it was trial and error. Mainly error on my part, I might add!

The Avon

Kevin got off to a good start. He found a short run over some marginal ranunculus. After a couple of hours he had managed a few trout and grayling to over a pound. Meanwhile I was struggling to find a clear run. I did entice a couple of small trout to take the maggots and then bumped off a couple of fish, but overall was struggling. Added to this a couple of nightmare tangles around the internal workings of two centrepins, resulting in damaged line and thus resulting in a need to re-tackle, didn’t help things.

So it was soon time for lunch and a change of plan. Kevin’s swim had gone quiet and so we both went for a wander. We re-visited a swim that I had tried earlier on in the day. Kevin’s Polaroids helped in spotting fish, mine were left at home somewhere. Throwing in small quantities of maggots soon had some nice fish boiling on the surface. Kevin ran his float through the middle of them time and time again, but the fish just didn’t want to know. Yet they continued to boil on the surface when the free bait was thrown in.

Luckily I had worn my chest waders and so manged to wade in above the fish, which would enable me to hold the float back hard, as it passed through the feeding fish. I was sure this would illicit a few bites. I removed the dropper shot and moved the bulk shot up to the float. Maggots didn’t seem to work, so I tried a piece of corn. This produced a fish straight away. Then I bumped a couple off before managing another trout and then a grayling. The swim seemed to die after that. I tried a few more spots, taking another few fish here and there. Kevin’s catch rate had slowed down a little too.

Typical Avon Brownie

In the end Kevin went down to a 2lb hooklink and an 18 hook with a single maggot. Each trot had to coincide with 3 or 4 maggots being thrown in at the exact spot. Lots of very fast bites ensued, many of which couldn’t be hit. Kevin did manage a couple more fish before the light faded. I had already admitted defeat. I think I ended up with maybe 8 fish and Kevin about 15 I think. A tough day at what is normally a very prolific venue.

We were lucky with the weather, despite the forecast and the dark, foreboding skies on our journey up. We enjoyed the day and the company (well on my part anyway) and look forward to returning once the hard winter frosts have taken care of the weed.

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As a keen trotter of floats, the Verulam Angling Club’s ‘Stick Float Clinic’ was something I considered too good to miss.  The opportunity to spend some time in the company of such luminaries as Keith Speer, Dave Currell and Paul would be exceptional value for money, if it was costing me £20-£30.  The fact that it was a free days tuition to club members, is just phenomenal.

To all the guys who helped arrange the day, including the teas and coffee, a big slap on the back and cheers of well done.  It was a brilliant day, with good company and lots of valuable information. The day started with the usual gathering and social banter in the car park.  Then it was grab a chair and a cuppa and settle in for Keith’s ‘talk’.  Over the next 60-90 minutes Keith shared his amazing knowledge with us.  From tackle used, to bait and tactics.  Several important bits of information for me was 1. Keep the bait going in, little and often.  Never stop feeding.  No matter how tedious, keep the bait trickling in on every cast. 2. Select the right weight of float for the job.  Don’t become too preoccupied with type/style of float, just make sure it takes the right amount of shot for the flow conditions. 3. Keep changing the shotting pattern if nothings happening.

All sounds simple, but its important to have a game plan and stick to it (no pun intended….honest!). Feeding does seem to hold the key to success.  Often loose feed is thrown in quite haphazardly. You must make an effort to loose feed consistently if you want to be successful. There was a lot of useful information in Keith’s talk, which I’m certain will help to improve my catch rates and successes and hopefully enhance the overall enjoyment of float fishing on rivers.

The practical session was great.  Quite a few of the guys had never float fished a lake let alone a river.  But in the expert hands of our tutors, they started to get a feel for what some of us already know is a very rewarding method.  No matter what your target species is, trotting is a great way to not only catch, but to explore the river.  Its perfect for finding depths and features, that you can then return to in the summer months, when targeting barbel for instance.

By the end of the day most people present had tried the method out.  Some hooking and some actually landing ( 😉 ) their first ever float caught barbel.  My best efforts on the float caught me several perch, roach, dace and a few chub.  I lost one barbel on the float but then switched to feeder and finally landed a couple of nice barbel.

All in all a very rewarding and enjoyable day.  My thanks go to Verulam Angling Club, Keith Speer and the other tutors and helpers and to all those that took part.  Well done.

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