Monday, 31 October 2011

Autumnal Avon

Another couple of weeks have rolled by and things are gradually turning more Autumnal. Having said that, the temperature reading from my car was 15C at 6pm tonight, which is still well above the seasonal average.

At least we had a bit of welcome rain last week and although it wasn't the deluge I'd been hoping for, I did see a bit of upwards movement on the Warwick based Environment Agency gauge I use as my reference point. At its peak around Thursday morning there was around 5-6 inches of extra water which was better than nothing.

I headed down to the Avon at Alveston on Saturday, by which time the extra water had all but passed through. The river looked in good nick and I decided to take the easy access option of the road section. It was a gorgeous morning with a touch of mist.

Having suffered some poor sessions on the river this year, I didn't expect a lot. Bites were plentiful as it happened, but it was mostly from Dace. There were certainly no clonkers amongst them - maybe 3oz at best - but I was just happy to find plenty of willing fish. The bread rig failed to produce the Chub I was hoping for and in the end I enjoyed trotting maggots through the swim on the centre pin set up. I'm still relatively new to the pin, so I'm enjoying practising becoming less clumsy!

The best fish of the session was Perch that was probably a shade under a pound.

I briefly flashed some lures through the swim towards the end of the session - just in case a bonus Pike was lurking beneath my feet at the edge of the weed. Nothing doing though.

I feel there's a Chub session on the cards next time out, as I've largely neglected them so far this season.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Strange Afternoon at the Reservoir

Family duties meant that the morning was somewhat fragmented, but with glorious weather forecast again, I decided that a Saturday afternoon out was well worth worth it.

I'd actually pinched a few hours of work on the Friday afternoon for a spot of Piking, but I failed miserably across the Alveston and Wasperton sections of the Avon. The only tug on a wobbled deadbait came from a Perch with eyes bigger than it's mouth!

In the end I sat it out with a Lamprey section and for a short while I confess to nodding off, bathed in the warm afternoon sunshine. I haven't been down Waspo for a while and I've honestly forgotten how pleasant it can be. I really must get down there again soon.

I very nearly returned the next day, but in the end I opted for one last crack at the Snitterfield Roach and Crucians. 20 minutes in and it was very quiet until I finally hooked a fish on my light set up - single maggot on a 20 hook (although I think it's more like a 18) to 2lb bottom, with 4lb line on my centre pin that had been freshly spooled up the night before.

The fish was no Roach or Crucian though and it roared off into the distance. I vaguely got some control of the fish at times, but even a bit of wandering to adjacent pegs didn't really help. I was largely powerless and after a 10-15 minute struggle, I was snagged up and the fish was gone.

That gave me a bit of confidence though and so I turfed in some groundbait, laden with pellet, caster and hemp just beyond the marginal plants. A short while later I saw some movement and a bright coloured fish was stirring up the baited area, before it eventually got spooked. That gave me the nudge to rig up a sleeper rod with a small lead. I baited it with bread flake and dropped it over the groundbait.

The float swim performed poorly and I struggled to get bites. Out of the blue, the sleeper rod woke up in spectacular fashion and in a split second it was wrenched out of the rod rest. I grabbed it as the tip hit the water and fortunately I had put the clutch on a loose setting, which helped to cushion the initial run.

This time I was on a beefier set up (6lb main line, 4lb bottom to a 12 hook) and it was just a case of taking it steady in the seemingly snag free swim. During the fight I could see it was the bright coloured fish that had been in the swim earlier. I eventually banked the fish, but I struggled with my net, which is now going to need a minor repair! It really wasn't designed for fish of this size - 12lb exactly.

Apart from that, I struggled to make anything else happen. I hooked a Bream towards the end of the session on the light float rig. It looked around 3lb, but the hook pulled clear and I suspect it was foul hooked, as it fought like a demon (for a Bream) and the only time I had it under control it was coming towards me side on.

So, I failed in my Roach and Crucian quest, but it was an interesting, if slightly strange session.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Return to the Wye

I seem to have slipped into the habit of infrequent blogging. A lack of fish remains the driving force behind it and I really haven't been able to summon up the enthusiasm to describe more dross filled fishing experiences.

Since the last blog I've had a couple of cracks at College Pool to see if I could sneak out one of the bigger Carp or Bream. The first session descended into farce and nearly ended up very costly.

I'd had two set ups on the go - one with maggot and the other with pellet/bread/corn. The maggot rod yielded nothing but Perch after Perch until I eventually connected with something solid that tore off across the pool towards Wellesbourne at high speed. I couldn't stop it on the rig I was using and to cut the story short, the fish won the battle and snagged me up.

Later on in the session I had just recast the other rod baited with corn, when I turned back to the maggot rod to check it out. Just as I'd picked up the rod, I saw the corn rod fly off the rod rest and was on it's way down the bank and heading towards the waiting abyss. I had to perform a save that Gordon Banks would have been proud of, diving off my box and just managing to grasp the very end of the rod butt at the second attempt. If I'd been a second later, the rod was water bound.

The fish was on and although the clutch was set, it either failed to engage properly or the spool must have got caught up on the bankside. The end result was that the fish smashed me up before I could get my hands on the reel to engage the anti reverse. I called it a day and went home with another spanking from this pool.

I returned a week later around midday to find crazily hot October conditions. I removed the maggot approach, as the small Perch were a pain in the arse the previous week. I alternated bread, pellet, corn and boilie across two rods. Apart from bumping off a suspected Bream, nothing else was doing. When everyone else had gone home, I went on a walkabout to see if I could pluck a Carp off the surface. I was a little more successful with that approach and I had a couple of Mirror Carp out - one around 6lb and the other going 7lb 8oz.

The next week saw me off to the River Wye for a highly anticipated trip with Brian and Charlie. I'd booked up 2 different stretches - one on the upper river and the other down in the middle reaches.

Day 1 saw us above Hay-On-Wye and the plan was to seek out a Grayling, along with Dace and Chub. There was extra water on the river but it was pefectly fishable and the scenery was stunning.

Bites from the Dace came fairly quickly and I had a succesion of them around the 4oz size. The best I managed was a 5oz fish, which gave me a few extra points for the blogger's challenge.

The surprise of the day came in the form of a Bream, which seemed to take a liking for the fast, shallow water. At 6lb 1oz it gave me an extra bonus point too!

I also had a small Brown Trout of about 12oz, although Charlie had a much better sample that was nearer to 2lb.

With no Grayling to be had, we moved up to the faster water towards the end of the session and donned the waders for a bit of trotting.

That didn't work either and I then ended up sitting out the end of the session in the fastest section of all, which was equallly unproductive, but still pleasant on the eye.

Day 2 saw us above Hereford and in the middle of Barbel territory. With no Barbel on my challenge scorecard, I really needed to change that statistic. Otherwise, I'd have to tough it out back on the Avon, or venture further afield to territory I'm not familiar with.

The first swims we settled on did not produce and Charlie ventured up to the next field quite quickly. I stuck it out for a while longer, while Brian opted to sleep on it! Eventually we both made the move up to the next field and settled on an area I was more confident with.

Plenty of Dace were available to a maggot approach, so I hit on the idea of trying to catch a few in the hope of catching a clonker. All the time I was piling in my groundbait/pellet/hemp mix through the feeder, so I was getting a good bed of bait down for a Barbel attack later on. As it turned out, the Dace were of a fairly small stamp with nothing over 3oz. I then reverted back to the pellet approach and sat it out.

It turned into a tough old session and Brian eventually broke the pellet deadlock late in the day with a complete change of approach. He ignored the line he'd been feeding (just on the edge of a crease) for a gung ho chuck towards mid river, with a feeder full of groundbait and a PVA bag of pellets attached to the business end of the rig, With all the baggage on the line, the rod seemed to be creaking as he punched it out.

I have to admit to dismissing the approach, as my only venture into that area of the river earlier in the session resulted in me snagging the bottom and having to replace the hooklength. Bugger me, the next I knew he was into a fish! It wasn't exactly going mad though and we suspected Chub, which turned out to be right. It weighed in at 2lb 11oz.

That changed my way of thinking and I opted for a mid river chuck it and chance it approach. I had to keep one eye behind me though, as the cows (and bull!) were moving in and my rod bag that I'd left on the top of the bank needed rescuing.

Cows and bulls don't really bother me. Apart from having them eat my groundbait in the past, they've never caused me much harm. However, on this occasion I was a little edgy, as one of them was perched a little precariously directly behind me on a steep sloping bank and about 8 foot above my head. With a bull fairly close by I was half expecting the beast to go about his business and send an unsuspecting cow crashing down upon me. With some creative use of the landing net, I persuaded them to move to pastures new.

With an hour to go, I finally hooked into a fish and although I was hoping it was monster Chub, it became apparent that it was a Barbel. The fight was pretty uneventful and I netted a fish of 6lb 12oz. It took a long time to recover - far longer than any I'd caught previously. I honestly feared the worst for it at one point, but with a lot of patience it eventually kicked off into the current.

Charlie took the honours though with his only Barbel, which weighed in at 8lb 8oz.

In case anyone is wondering why a keepnet is shown in the background - it was only used to hold the fish briefly prior to weighing and photographing.

The trip didn't yield everything we'd hoped to catch and I'm beginning to learn that simply turning up to the Wye is no guarantee to catching lots of big fish. I'm learning more with every visit though. I'm also taking some comfort from some of the other reports I've read from the weekend, which suggest we weren't the only ones struggling. Extra water and debris pushing through the river seems to have caused others a few problems too.

As ever, it was a great experience and I'm sure I'll be heading back again next year. It's a magical place to explore whether you catch fish or not. The wildlife alone is a joy and the final memory is of us packing the gear into the van, while listening to an owl hooting away in the tree directly above us. It's a far cry from listening to sparrows squabbling over seed in my back garden!