Monday, 29 June 2015

Weekend Away

A trip to the Herefordshire and Worcestershire countryside was the offering this week. Once again the planning required for such a short trip seemed to take over the preceding week. I'm not even a serious angler, so heaven knows how much time the really keen guys must take to get prepared.

Three of us headed out to execute a simple plan involving fishing, food and beer. First stop was our usual haunt on the Wye. We've used this stretch for a few years now and it's an absolute gem. There are more prolific areas I'm sure, but the access takes some beating. The pegs have also been improved massively and many now have steps and comfortable areas to fish from. No ropes needed here!

Conditions weren't ideal - bright and with low, clear water. That's always the gamble when you need to pre book hotels. You have to take what's thrown at you. Our first visit here was the polar opposite - 10ft+ of floodwater hammering through and it was a struggle to hold bottom in the margins with 5oz of lead.

Only light leads needed this time though and I concentrated on a mid river line. I was surprised to bag a chub of just over a pound on pellet first cast. Things didn't take off though and a switch to maggot resulted in some chublets and a solitary dog bleak.

Back on the pellet I connected with a barbel, but the battle was short lived as I suffered a hook pull. No more barbel encounters in that swim, but I had a nice battle with a brownie of around 2lb that was quickly returned.

I played the bites game with maggots and eventually got a bonus chub of 2lb 14oz. Not quite the monster I hoped for, but the best of the season for me so far.

The bailiff was badgering us to move up to the banker peg that he rotates around his customers. We agreed to give it a couple of hours to end the day. Operating two at a time we all winkled some fish out. I had another brownie and a couple of barbel - 4lb 5oz and 6lb 9oz.

4lb 5oz 
6lb 9oz
Charlie had one out of 5lb+. Brian had to settle for a chub.

We headed off to pastures new for food and beer. The change of location was down to problems booking our normal room at a sensible rate. It wasn't too bad though. Excellent food at the nearby pub and they didn't kick us out until gone midnight.

Next day the plan was to tackle the Teme. With BAA tickets already purchased we headed for one of their waters. With wet, slippery conditions we needed to drop lucky. Sadly we didn't.

Venue one required some serious mountaineering skills. Venue two was too unsociable with just two obvious pegs available - the next closest being a lengthy walk. Venue three required some major gardening skills. Clearly not much traffic seen on the bank here.

With a lot of time wasted we gave up on the Teme and headed for venue four - via a cafe in Stourport while the rain cleared. Fuelled up, we eventually settled on a stretch of the Severn slightly upstream.

For me and Brian it was tough going. There were loads of very small fish in the peg and although I caught my share, my landing net remained dry throughout. In all honesty I fished poorly and was probably too tired from the effects of the weekend to do myself any justice.Charlie had better success, with some quality perch in a mixed bag of 20lb+.

Next weekend is looking tricky for me and I might not get out at all. Totally out of character, I'm following up on an interesting stillwater option that will hopefully be the answer to my closed season blues next time around (and for occasional sessions this season).

Monday, 22 June 2015

Opening Week

Well the new season is well under way now and I'm glad to have ended my self imposed 11 week exile. To celebrate it, I booked the week off work and mapped out a four river plan that would take me to all parts of the county.

Now I still had to work around my homely duties which meant playing taxi to my wife each day. I have no quibbles on that score, but it does mean that the really good fishing hours (early / late) are never on the cards all week.

For the 16th that meant heading for a low key water where I would easily find a peg to my liking, rather than battling the masses at a more popular water.

The Stour was the chosen venue. It's a water I haven't fished during my blogger days and the section in question is one I hadn't visited for around 25 years.

Running slow and deep, it was always going to be a tricky one in the bright and warm conditions. A few chublets and a solitary perch saved me from a blank, but it was another underwhelming start to a season. Sometimes though it matters not a jot. I was just happy to be fishing and I wasn't bothered by a soul all day. 

The next day I tackled the Avon and the signs weren't promising. I met up with Charlie who had gone for a 4am start and although he'd had a couple of bream and bits, he wasn't bagging up.

He moved up and joined me and we battled hard for bits throughout the day. I usually like to plunder the margins for easy pickings, but it proved fruitless until I dropped a bait close in late on in desperation.

I bagged myself a nice perch of 1lb 6oz, before a better one gave me the run around 10 minutes later. A fish of 2lb 4oz was the result.

It came as a nice bonus to kick start my blogger's challenge points tally.

Day three took me to the Leam. Another fickle little devil on its day and heading for deep water, I was probably a sucker for punishment. This was only a short session though as I had a long day 4 in prospect and I was already feeling knackered after doing two days. I'm definitely feeling it more as I get older!

It was an odd session where bites were at a premium and I banked just three fish. Peas in a pod they were. All chub, between 14oz and 1lb. What made it weird was that I'd never had a chub from the swim all last year. In fact I can only recall catching two chub from the river during the whole of last season.

The final outing saw me heading up north for a change to the Anker. It's a river I'd fished only once previously and even then it was a brief encounter combined with the Sence.

I knew nothing of the section in question, but reports of the river in general suggested it could hold specimen fish of many species.

For once I was glad to meet someone on the bank and I quizzed him into submission. I think he was glad to get away in the end ... and I still had plenty more questions to ask! Anyway it threw up some valuable information about the potential of the stretch, not forgetting the little gem of a sunken Mini a few swims downstream!

It was another long old slog and I had to ring the changes and scale back a fair bit to get some small roach and perch to play ball. The first roach was noteworthy. Not for its size, but for the pike that came out from under my feet to attack it when I returned it to the water. I think I'll be doing a spot of predator hunting in this area later in the year.

I'd given up hope of catching anything decent and was down to last cast saloon, having tossed all my other bait away. I left my float right in the margins and started packing items away. The float slid away and the rod arched over at last.

A spirited but fairly event free fight ensued and I eventually bagged my prize in the shape of an olive green tench. It weighed bang on 4lb and put a big smile on my face at the end of a tricky week.

In case anyone is wondering about my weighing, I can reassure you that the scales are zeroed for the net before the fish is added. The 1lb chub shown earlier would be pretty impossible otherwise, as the net in question weighs around 1lb 5oz when wet!

I called it a day before doing a recce on another section. All I can say is that I'll be back one day soon to tackle the carp...

They'll have to wait though, as more rivers are planned for this weekend and barbel will be the main target. It's good to be back!

Monday, 1 June 2015

Taking it Easy

I said goodbye to last season with good intentions of some closed season encounters, but it petered out very quickly before March was at an end.

I managed a couple of short failed zander sessions across the Coventry and Oxford canals. Initially I was quite taken with the lack of preparation required for these short, local jaunts. An altogether simpler proposition compared to my usual fishing.

The problem is that I prefer to see as few people as possible when I go fishing. Fellow anglers are fine - in moderation of course - but I don't even see too many of those on my visits to running water. Non-anglers are where lines begin to be drawn and canals have an abundance of them.

I just never feel at ease on the cut. It's borne out of years of seeking solitude wherever possible. Even with a stillwater it's often possible to find a quiet corner away from others, but canals are somewhat restricted in that respect.

I did stumble on an interesting bit of cut though, while out on a random walk recently. It might just be the closest thing I'll get to the solitude I'm after. The closed season is nearly over though, so it will have to wait for another day - next closed season I'd imagine.

So, April and May dissapeared without a line being wet. I will now sit tight and wait for the 16th and the prospect of a few days off work to mark the return of the rivers. Conditions permitting I'll be taking in four rivers in as many days. Two more will follow not long after. Very much a feast after the famine.

I haven't totally abandoned fishing for two months though. I've built and instralled a few pegs for one of my clubs and cleaned up the bankside - a thankless task at this time of year when growth spurts are the norm.

I also discovered while on bank duties that the closed season is arbitrary it seems, depending on which side of the river you sit. Or should that be which side of the EU you sit? A quick photo and a few choice words of advice, saw the offender scampering off.  A report to the EA followed. They were very helpful and are following it up. I hope for a positive outcome.

A new bloggers challenge has also kicked off with 18 takers, encompassing three separate elements ( river/drain, canal, stillwater). With no Stillwaters across the four tickets I hold, coupled with my canal phobia, I might struggle to pull clear of last place! I guess that leaves me with no excuses when it comes to rivers though?!

The 16th can't come quick enough in all honesty. This is now the longest period of angling inactivity I've endured for many years. Great news for the house and garden of course, but not so good for my peace of mind.

I'm looking forward to exploring a completely new river this time that could turn up something special, as well as reacquainting myself with a smaller river I fished a lot back in the 90s. The Avon and Leam will feature as usual.

Talking of the Avon it's promotion time. Alveston Village Association Angling Club are now selling tickets for 2015/16. £20 for adults, £5 juniors. It's around 2 miles upstream of Stratford-Upon-Avon. All usual Avon species are present. It's above the navigable limit, so there's no motor boats on it. No matches take place either, so no need to check out club bookings - it's open for pleasure fishing every day of the season.

Quiet and relatively untapped, in recent years it has thrown up barbel to low double figures, pike over 20lb, perch over 3lb, chub to 6lb, bream to 7lb. Plenty of roach and dace too. Always a possibility of carp too. It's a varied section with around 20 pegs ranging from depths of 3ft to 10ft+, with lots of features.

There's a link to their Facebook page on this site if you're interested. Or, just add a message to this post and I'll help you out (I'm on the committee).