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So Sir Edmund Hilary thought climbing Everest was tough, did he?!  He had Sherpa Tensing to ably assist with lugging all of that gear.  Well he should have tried fishing the Wye at Aramstone, then he would have known difficulty, Human endurance and pain.  We arrived at our destination and descended down (and I mean down) into the Wye valley.  After the tricky decent and a walk along the river, it was apparent that we had ventured onto the wrong stretch.  So, back up the mountain to the car and eventually we found the right parking spot.  This time fully loaded with tackle and resembling a mountain ass (er, no comments please)  I again began the steep, slippery descent.  On finally arriving at ground zero, I was met by a rather angry and coloured looking  river.  So the walking began in earnest.  I traipsed from one end of the stretch to the other.  Then the heavy rain started again.  Things were looking really good!

Me arriving at Aramstone

Me arriving at Aramstone

After a long walk to the top end of the fishery I found several good looking swims, one of which looked particularly enticing.  With the river being up and coloured, this swim stood out amongst the others.  It had a overhanging bush to my right and after about 10 yards downstream, another bush to the left.  In between was an area of quieter water, with a crease running along the entire swim created by both the bush and the faster water slightly further out.  After chucking a lead around I discovered the bottom was gravel and clear, with the exception of the odd spot of weed but I felt that wouldn’t cause too much of a problem.

Due to the high colouration I wanted to get a good sent trail in the swim and try and pull the fish in and keep them there.  So large open cage feeders (cagefeeders.com) were the order of the day packed with mixed pellet and plugged both ends with the Hinders Barbel Bomb groundbait.  Initially I decided to use a couple of the large elips pellets but often in these coloured conditions I’ll use a longer hair and glue on 4 or even 6 large elips.  I was using a 3 oz feeder and casting it just onto the edge of the faster flow.  For the first hour or two I was casting fairly randomly along the crease, just to spread some bait throughout the swim.  Later I concentrated the cast into one spot and kept plenty of feed going in.

Aramstone

Aramstone

This certainly worked as the first bite came very quickly followed by several more.  The action continued right up until I stopped about 7pmish.  There would always be a short lull in between bites and often when the barbel went quiet, the chub would move in.  I ended the day on 13 barbel and 6 or 7 chub.  The barbel were mainly in the 6-7lb bracket and the chub fairly small.   They were all typical 3 foot twitches, which I love.

As part of the day I felt I needed to put the ‘beast‘ through it’s paces, especially after failing to catch a barbel with it towards the end of last season.  So this seemed like the ideal opportunity to give it a whirl.  It didn’t take long to hear that ear aching clicking that it gives off when giving line.  After a good fight, a feisty Wye barbel succumbed to the pressure and weighed in at 6lb 12oz and was about the smallest fish of the day.

The 'Beast' does battle

The ‘Beast’ does battle

It seemed silly to not make the most of this opportunity, so I stepped aside and invited Kevin and Geoff into the swim to also secure a barbel on the ‘beast’.  Geoff was soon in and he managed an even smaller fish of 5lb 6oz but sadly, as time was running out fast (we had promised Danny some food from somewhere), Kevin only managed a chub.  Still a 50% success rate.

6lb 12oz

6lb 12oz

Now all that was left to do was lug all of the gear about 1/2 mile along the bank and then climb Everest once again…… defibrillator anyone!

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The three musketeers arrived at the Kennet Tuesday afternoon full of anticipation.  We have found it tough going so far this season.  In 8 sessions I have only managed 5 barbel and lost 4.  Geoff and Kevin have taken 5 between them.  So not the best of starts.  I have tried altering my approach slightly this season and so far my results have been slightly better than the other two guys, but its only a very small difference.

The Kennet

Tuesday night saw me fishing 2 areas.  I opted for a open-end cage feeder (Andy Witham’s feeders) stuffed with barbel bomb and small pellets, all mixed in together.  I then used 2 of the medium sized elips pellets superglued to a hair on a size 12 hook.  Usual hooklink: 3 feet of Suffix camfusion.  I also incorporated a flying backlead a further 2 feet up the line from the feeder.  Its been difficult to use backleads this season on some parts of our Kennet, due to the amount of weed in the river this year.  There is more weed than I have seen over the past 5 years.  I suspect it was due to low river levels and the unseasonably high temperatures through April and May, which were obviously perfect for weed growth.  Its good to see it in the river in such abundance but we’re just not used to seeing on this part of the Kennet.

The only barbel during this part of the session came to me about 7.30pm, in a nice deep run over a thick ranunculus weed bed.  A spirited fight resulted in a barbel of around 5lbs.  I was just putting a few bits into my rucksack, as I was just preparing to move, when I turned around on my chair to check the rod and see the butt right up in the air and almost heading off into the river!  Luckily I fish with the rod often resting on my chair, but if not very, very close to me.  I managed to get my hand on the rod before it disappeared.  Never take your eye off the rod for a second.  I would normally put the bait runner on if I am going to be distracted for a few moments.  Anyway disaster averted.

A move proved futile as no further action came, nether did Kev or Geoff have any success.  Another tough day.

The following day saw us move beats. We headed to the Warren and Dalston sections.  I had decided to knock the barbel fishing on the head for today and concentrate on the quality dace and roach fishing to be had on these sections.  I set up a light quiver tip rod with 5lbs mainline and a small blockend feeder.  I used a 2 1/2 foot hooklink with a 16 hook and tied a small bait band to the hair rig.  I was using single small elips pellets as a bait, which I know these roach and dace love.  I filled the feeder with some large pellets (these are for flavour leakage) and some small micro pellets.

Action was steady.  A few nice dace took the bait but no sign of any roach.  I moved to a lovely shallow gravel run, with a deeper glide on the inside of a crease.  A few knocks resulted and then the tip pulled round.  The strike met with solid resistance followed by the steady pull of a decent fish.  This was either the biggest dace ever recorded or a barbel.  After a lovely fight on the lighter tackle a barbel going 7lb 6oz was returned to the river.  A little while later another barbel took the pellet and this time it went 7lb 7oz.  Like peas in a pod.  Maybe the smaller baits and lighter set-up made the difference with the barbel.  Both Geoff and Kev sadly blanked barbel wise although Kevin lost a fish in a snag.  Food for thought.

A very big dace!

I have certainly been toying with the idea of returning next time armed with hemp and casters.  Certainly the larger baits, perhaps in particular pellets, don’t appear to be working.  It’s time to re-think and change tactics again.

The roach sadly failed to materialise.  Another time perhaps.

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I have recently received some absolutely superb feeders from Andrew Witham.

I have used them a few times recently and they are first class.  Probably the best, well made feeders I have yet come across.   They are exceptionally robust and I like the coating the feeder has on it.  Its a sort of gravel/sand coating similar to the type found on some ledger weights.

Andy Witham's Feeders

The ones I really liked were the large diameter ones that are perfect for the bigger rivers.  I used mine up on the Wye and they worked a treat.  They also do smaller diameter ones which I’ve been using on the Kennet and in the Lea Valley.  The weights vary from 1 1/4 oz up to 4oz, but Andrew does them in even bigger sizes on his website, up to an incredible 10oz I believe. 😮

Take a look at his site:  www.cagefeeders.com

Prices are very competitive and his service, help and advice is excellent.

Thanks Andrew.

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