Sunday, 29 July 2012

I was back on the Avon this week and I returned to the same peg that threw up a varied haul of fish a week ago. For the first time this season I was faced with a river at normal level and running clear.

As with last week I kept things pretty simple, concentrating most of the feed on a inside line about 7ft deep. I mostly stuck to a single rod approach - using the long float rod and holding the float back about 6 inches over depth. I deployed a sleeper rod with a straight lead from time to time, but it didn't yield any success on the bigger baits.

I had a positive start on my first cast with a Perch of 1lb 1oz taking a liking to my 3 maggot hookbait. It didn't lead to a frenzy though and bites were noticeably harder to entice this week in the bright and clear conditions.

I persevered though and stuck to the plan of building up a bed of feed on the inside. Once again I was using the same creative mix of goodies that worked well the previous week. Eventually I connected with a better fish but it tore off at a hell of rate and caught me out slightly as I was busy changing the channel on my radio when the bite came - typical!

It darted straight into the lily pads but I managed to coax it out. Control was only maintained momentarily, as the fish then decided to resume psychotic mode again and was back into more snags. I moved it again and got a brief glimpse of a darker looking fish before things went totally wrong and the fish slipped off into the depths. It was certainly a Carp or Tench. On what was proving a trickier day, I thought my chance of landing something half respectable had gone.

I pressed on and continued to catch some fish on maggots and caster - mostly Dace and small Perch. Things then went altogether more solid as I hooked into another spirited fish that led me a merry dance around the river, but thankfully it kept out of snags. It turned out to be foul hooked, which explained the tough fight. A Tench of 4lb 5oz - my first from the river for nearly 2 years.

My final act was to put a welcome Bream on the bank - 4lb 9oz.

A tougher day, but I still slipped into double figures for the overall bag of fish. Brian had a frustrating day which wasn't helped by a couple of Pike taking the mickey. Both slipped his hook when he turned his attentions to catching them.

A change of scenery is on the cards next week, as we're heading back to the Wye. I'm crossing my fingers for better conditions this time.

Monday, 23 July 2012

A Bit of Variety

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.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Call That a Flood?

I had a bit of deja vu moment when I opened up my Angling Times today and reached pages 20 & 21. There I was faced with a familiar looking scene - one in fact that I'd had the pleasure of staring at for almost 12 hours on Saturday past. The peg in the feature is the exact same one that I occupied and was featured in my previous post on here:

How bizarre!

The AT article was essentially a pellet loop knot / floodwater feature. I looked at the position of the angler in the AT picture and it's safe to say that if he'd fished in that spot last Saturday, he'd have been bordering on fully submerged! He had it bloody easy!


Sunday, 8 July 2012

Wet Weekend

This weekend saw me and Brian off on an Anglo Welsh adventure. The weather forecast was pretty poor and so all plans for camping were hasilty changed to nearby budget hotel accommodation.

Friday was a sea fishing day courtesy of Brian hitting the big 50 last year. One of his gifts was a sea fishing experience for two, courtesy of his daughters. Neither of us are sea fisherman, so it was largely a venture into the unknown for us. I had done a small bit of fishing from my uncle's boat down in the Solent over 20 years ago, but that was about it.

We were joined on our vessel by 8 other hopefuls, along with the owner/skipper and his accomplice. The starting point was Penarth marina just south of Cardiff and we headed out for an hour or so along the Bristol channel towards Barry. The ever increasing smoke coming from the engine compartment was slightly concerning, but the skipper seemed to brush it off and we arrived on schedule.

Now, there were 10 people fishing, of which only 1 was female. You can probably guess who caught the first fish! Yes, it was the girl who had the first action, but I'm taking some credit for spotting the bite and pointing her in the right direction. It turned out to be a 7lb 7oz Conger Eel.

The fishing wasn't overly hectic and I managed just a single Thornback Ray for all my hours of staring at rod tips.

Brian matched my Ray with one of his own, but went on to take the lead in our little challenge when he boated a Conger Eel of about 4lb. That earned him a couple of pints from me for bagging the most species and the biggest fish - as per our side bet agreed at the start of play.

He also hooked into a Dogfish later on but it slipped the hook as it hit the surface. A few others had Dogfish and Thornback Rays, but the pick of the bunch by far was a Blonde Ray of 19lb 2oz that also gave birth while on the boat! 

The journey back was interesting to say the least. The skipper had decided to move us back towards the marina where it was more sheltered from the bad weather that was now moving in. The smoke from the engine started again and seemed to be a little worse if anything. The engine began spluttering and then gave up the ghost as we battled against the wind and the tide. 

We then had a period of drifting aimlessly out into the Bristol Channel heading into much rougher waters than we'd previously been in. The skipper and his mate were back in action and the smoking engine compartment was opened up for repairs. Everyone on the boat went silent while they scratched their heads and gave us very little by way of encouraging signs. After 15 minutes of bobbing up and down at ever increasing rates, watching more and more water washing over the deck while it was pissing down with rain, the engine thankfully fired up again. It was a lack of oil according to the skipper. We were all just glad to be moving back in the right direction again.

After a good 15 minutes we finally got past the bhoy where we'd previously broken down and now we were making progress again. The skipper never looked confident though and he had to throttle back again to save another total stall. After a few more minutes of slow progress he decided to anchor us up and do some more fishing. The main reason was that we'd now missed the slot for re-entering the harbour via the impressive lock system - largely caused by the big spring tide leaving the water too low for accessing the lock.

The enforced wait allowed for some more convenient engine repairs and this time the skipper cracked it. Apparently he'd changed some washer recently and forgot to fill up the water level. The engine had overheated. This time we got back to shore in one go.

Sea fishing definitely isn't my thing, but I wouldn't rule out doing it again. On this occasion there were too many in the boat to make it comfortable and the boat itself had seen better days. With a better boat, a couple of less bodies on board, a few more people in your own party, some better weather and it would probably be OK!

Saturday saw us tackling the River Wye a few miles upstream from Ross On Wye. We'd pre-booked it a few months ago to tie in with the sea fishing trip. Although it's always a case of hoping for the best in terms of the weather, we couldn't have got it much worse. The deluge of rain the previous day had left the river very swollen, still rising and the colour of drinking chocolate.

We found a couple of pegs close to the parking area that had a bit of slack water close in. There were only 2 other viable pegs further upstream so it made the choice very simple. We bedded in for the day and just decided to hope for the best. The 1 rod maximum rule on our ticket didn't help on this occasion - 2 rods doubling the rod hours is far more preferable when the going is likely to be tough. The side bet was once again most species and biggest fish. In all honesty we expected a no score draw.

All manner of debris was piling through during the whole session. It's amazing just how much rubbish gets into the river. It was just a procession of crap running downstream throughout, the pick of which was a TV!

The fishing was tough going, but I eventually hooked into something Barbel-like that led me a merry dance for a minute or so before it slipped the hook. That gave us a bit of encouragement and we continued to slog it out. I was eventually rewarded with another bite just after I'd abandoned the feeder for 4oz of straight lead - the increase being necessary to hold bottom in the ever increasing flow. I banked the fish - a Barbel of 6lb 7oz.

We contined to battle the river and it was clearly the river calling the tune. It was rising throughout and came up 3ft during the session. It was only in the last hour that it finally stopped rising. By that time we'd both been pushed back up the bank on 3 occasions and were about 12ft back from where we'd started the session!

I managed one more Barbel which went 5lb 2oz.

It was still an enjoyable session though in peaceful, stunning surroundings - even if the river was a bit on the ugly side on this visit. We'll hopefully head back in the Autumn for another crack at it. Someone owes me a couple of pints on the first night of that visit!

Doing a bit of research, I've unearthed a photo taken 2 years ago from the opposite bank to where we fished - about 150 yards dowstream. In terms of the session I've just written about, I fished directly behind the pillar on the left. I can clearly see a Salmon croy poking out from the bank that I didn't know was there! It might explain some of the snags I encountered!

The photo below was from Saturday's session showing the same 2 pillars. I can now appreciate how much higher the water level was on this occasion. It must have been 9-10ft up.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Slippery Customers

The Avon at Alveston was once again the destination this week and Brian was making his seasonal bow too. The river was about 6 inches up but dropping nicely and it looked bang on.

There were loads of fish to be had, although nothing of any size graced my net. I had lots of small Roach, Perch, Chub, Dace and Bleak. The bites never really stopped and it made for a pleasant day. I was trying to wade through the fish, while getting some feed down in the hope of bigger samples turning up later to my sleeper rod.

I only had one momentary encounter 15 minutes from the end when a suspected Bream grabbed the bait and for a second or two I was attached to a larger ponderous fish - but it slipped the hook! The only fish that gave a bit of a tug during the session was a solitary 1lb Eel with a taste for bread flake.

Brian had fewer fish, but he too encountered some slippery friends - two more Eels of the same stamp.

He managed the best fish of the session - a Bream which came as I was stood behind him. He was fishing bread on a float rig and got a huge lift bite from a fish of 2lb 10oz.

Sorry about Brian's hands in the photo - the fish just wouldn't stay still and this was the best shot!

I was a bit regretful to be packing up when we did, as I'd got a good bed of bait down and prospects looked good (especially having lost a better fish not long before packing up). For whatever reason I haven't fished there into the evening hours in summer and it's something I should really try to do. Another day perhaps...

It was good to see so many fish showing though. The river is in a very healthy state if this section is anything to go by.