With the river levels high last week I gave it a miss, but I was itching to get back this week. The Avon was bang on - 5 inches up and dropping, but still with a nice bit of colour to it. The weather was glorious for once and this time I was on an afternoon/evening jaunt with Brian.
I settled on peg 4 and had to do a bit of gardening work to make a comfortable access point for my rods. It's a nice peg with a bit of slack water about 7-8ft deep close in, with the main flow being about a third of the way over. With lily pads close in and bushes either side, it makes for a feature packed swim with plenty of cover.
I kicked off with 2 straight lead set ups close in on different lines, feeding golf ball sized balls of groundbait over the top, with the occasional bait bait dropper full of maggots. The groundbait was a right old concoction containing a 50/50 mix of explosive feeder and my own blitzed up bread mix which was enfused with honey and molasses. Caster, hemp, pellets, chopped tutti frutti mega corn and normal sweetcorn were also added. How could anything refuse that?!
Well, the answer is that they couldn't refuse it. I won't pretend it was all down to the groundbait - it could just be any combination of conditions, luck, or maybe even a smidgeon of skill or good tactics. Either way, the fish fed pretty solidly throughout. Roach were first to show, but only small - 5oz at best - but I'm always happy to catch them. Gudgeon, Dace and Bleak also got in on the act.
I then lost a couple of fish - both to hook pulls, albeit one was foulhooked and left me with a single large scale on the hook. It felt heavy and Carp-like. The Perch started to show soon after and the best one was my first which went 1lb exactly.
I had one other better stamp Perch of about 14oz.
The next fish of note was a bit of an odd one. It fought like crazy but I still thought it was a Bream as I netted it. The more I looked at it, I thought it was a hybrid of some kind. Whatever it is, it was a nice enough fish at 2lb 13oz.
The inevitable Eels then turned up - two of them back to back - one from each side of the swim. That's six I've seen this year in four visits (4 for me, 2 for Brian). All have been in the 12oz to 1lb range. I've heard reports from other bloggers saying they are catching them too this year. Maybe the reported decline (which I've seen quoted at 95-98%) is a little exaggerated?
Next up was an unplanned predator encounter. I have a knack of getting attached to them when small fish I've hooked are snaffled, but on this occasion the Pike decided to make its presence all too obvious. There was an almighty splash just in front of my right hand swim that made me jump out of my skin. Brian was even stirred on the next peg and we both thought something huge was down there.
A few minutes later and another splash was made in the same spot, so I decided it was time to take action. An overly active Pike in the swim wasn't condusive to what I was doing! Brian had some Sprats on him and I borrowed his ever ready telescopic Piking set up. It took just one cast to find the culprit - a Jack of of 4-5lb.
The Pike was swiftly transported 100 yards away and released in peg 10 and I set about building the swim again. By now I had given up on one of the lead rods and replaced it with a light homemade stick float set up on my long 17ft rod with a centre pin reel. Although ideally rigged for trotting I just wanted to change the presentation and stick to the area I'd baited throughout. The long rod enabled me to leave the rod on the rest to simply hold the float in position just a couple of foot from from rod tip.
I was rewarded with a sail away bite that saw line screaming off the centre pin. Only having a 3lb bottom and being in a snaggy swim, I feared the worst when the fish headed towards an overhanging tree. Luckily it turned out to mid river and I spent a few minutes patiently playing it before Brian did the honours with the net. It was a Common Carp of exactly 6lb and gave a great fight on light gear. That's only my third river Carp, all of which have come from this stretch and have been within 6oz of each other.
I finished proceedings with a definite Bream of about 2lbs.
In total I managed 9 species on the day - Roach, Perch, Dace, Bleak, Gudgeon, Eel, Bream, Pike and Carp - not forgetting a possible hybrid. I don't think I've done that many in a session before and I missed out on an easy one - Chub! My total weight was certainly over 20lbs.
It's nice to see the river in such good nick. There were loads of fry in the margins and fish were topping throughout the session. Long may it continue.