A Red Letter Day!

John had some holiday and we had fixed to take a couple of day`s away, not sure as to where we would go, we would decide on the day. The morning came and over a hearty breakfast we hatched our plans, we would look first at a new stretch of the river Teme and maybe fish it, and then head to an area where this time last year, there were some fish. The new stretch looked very promising for a future trip but not enough for today, as there was a place we thought would hold more for us! The weather was dry but overcast with the threat of steady and persistent drizzle, we parked up in a lane with a fair walk to our chosen swims. Along our way as we chatted with much excitement as to what the coming day`s might hold and general fishing stuff, John was in full flow of conversation when he took his next step and started to go down a ditch. Unperturbed he carried on talking, not realising that the ditch was only going to get deeper, and he fell into a roll onto his back and sank away into the ditch. I am afraid we were too busy nursing our laughter for a while before we could get it together enough to start thinking about pulling him out!
As we caught our first glimpse of the river here, the conditions were completely different from the conditions we found at the area lower down. The river was red in colour and had a bit of extra flow on, there must have been a blast of heavy rain further up the valley, so our idea of spotting was out of the question. But for every negative (hopefully) there is a positive! For my first cast, a small feeder with pellet to get some bait into the swim, not 10 minutes after a positive bite and a chub of 4lbs. A good start we thought, and second cast a wrench on the rod tip which was enough to wake me from any thoughts, barbel on! After an impressive scrap diving for cover the above fish of 7lb was netted and a mad afternoon of bites was to follow. The swim I was fishing was a deepish pool and John fished the swim above where he could usually watch them, he had changed tactics from float to lead and had one within five minutes, but then the swim went quiet.
After sitting with me, when holding the rod, we watched the 5th barbel take, John decided to move further downstream for bites. I proceeded to get steady bites during the rain including a bream of 1lb or so, and 3 chub all over 3lb, the biggest barbel so far was a very impressive 9lb 14oz. When the barbel tally had reached 9, John having had a skirmish with the cows, dropped in below me and as I waited with him to see if he would get a bite, within 2 minutes the rod went! As John was into his third my rod went, and the fish swam directly for the inside cover below me which was very dangerous looking. I followed the fish out onto a limb and tried to keep the line from rubbing against the submerged branches, I was in a situation and cried out to John for his help! He had to deal with his fish and then come and see my pickle, with disbelief at the lengths I go to, John skillfully netted the “monster” that had caused all this trouble. It was 9lb 9oz and I thought it was much bigger during the whole fight, still it was a stunning fish and the 10th of the afternoon for lucky me. I had another and John a few more too, making it 16 barbel between us (4 over 9lb), an incredible afternoon`s sport for the middle Teme, which has been suffering (barbel numbers wise) year on year.
It was worth our noting that many of the barbel had parts of their fins missing, they looked ominously like bites!
After that session and before it had got dark, we headed back to the car and out for some food to celebrate a wonderful afternoon in a remote location with lots of ooos and aahs.
The next day after a couple of hours late fishing on the Warks Avon and 1 keen barbel to my rod, (I must have stepped in something), we opted for an afternoon on the Severn to get some bait down and hopefully draw some barbel. Well to cut this story short, the barbel did not come, this lovely Roach of 1lb9oz did and several Bream also did! For those who do not know what a bream looks like here is one of the slimy fellows, at nearly 5lbs, a small one for the Severn. It was a great couple of day`s, and I thank John for his great company (as ever) and we all know it`s not just about catching fish, but when you get day`s like that, you won`t forget them!!

OLYMPIC FEVER

Well that`s it, I have 3 children and now all budding Olympians, you name it and they are gonna do it, we have swimmers, cyclists and rowers to name the most popular, before we even hit the track and field!! Not to mention my calling constantly to play Tennis…
Anyway to the latest escapades around the rivers, yes on Wednesday night I was out to catch a couple of barbel and sleep then in the car to have a day on Thursday looking around a different river close by. So starting just before dark on the Avon I had interest almost from the off, unfortunately for a barbel angler it was bream and not just the odd one! After a couple though, the bite came from a barbel of 9lbs and great fun in the darkness which had just set in, as it was, the plan would be to stay and fish until 2ish depending slightly on the action or lack of it. (Spot the Rods). The rods were poised for action and they were certainly getting some, after 4 bream and the one nice barbel, a second fighter put in an appearance it was just under 6lb and had what looks to be hook scars on the side of its face. The fish seemed none the worse for this wear, and was ready to fight another day when it swam off with a kick of tail to say goodnight! To my surprise more bream came, even from other swims, but before sleep one more prize fighter did show. Tonight though was not the night for the potentially big fish in this area, though it was as much fun as I would have expected before the start. Sleep came easy at near 3am in the car after almost falling asleep watching the rods, a pleasing night with a feeling of anticipation for the next day…Waking up at 9 or so I was pleased to have slept so well in my dry spare clothes, and set about drying the wet ones over breakfast! Off later today to the next spot where I had not visited yet this season, to see if any fish were there anymore, the sun was shining and just some threatening clouds drifting by to worry about. The drive was not a long one and I managed what is becoming a regular stop at the farm shop on the way, for free range family provisions. The stretch this time was a less popular one for the middle Teme since what seems like a devastating decline in numbers of fish due to whatever reason, everyone has their ideas, but the amount of bank side prints suggests something of its own.. Regardless of this I love the fishery as it holds peace and tranquility, total wildness, and swallows ducking and diving during the heat of the afternoon over the river, after the – just hatched – flies!! Luckily for all, there are some fish left, and I was lucky enough to hook a couple too. The first one was just as the rain slowed from an almighty thunderstorm, it was the first cast and had been in the water for 20 minutes or more and I was thinking another cast would be needed when the rod did what it does so well……WHACK! A lovely afternoon was spent trying, walking, and trying again with some success, 2 nice barbel, 2 chub, and one hook pull on a determined barbel setting off for the inside snags!! The thunderstorms were spectacular, and watching the flies hatch two foot under the surface and flying to freedom above the water, only to then be taken by the fast swooping swallows in all their elegance. All too soon, it was time to get back.

A Day To Remember.

And so again it was the turn of the Teme for a visit, for a big fish? Maybe! The sun was high and the hopes were too, this time I might be able to spot some fish for the first time this season, or not. It was early afternoon and the warm part of the day when often the fish will feed, the river looked great, the banks not so because they were carrying a lot of debris and flotsam from all the extra water over the past weeks. Still the river was not yet clear enough to even see shadows, which was a shame but that’s the way it goes. The fish were still willing to bite and I had a few nice ones which included a chub that had to be weighed as it`s frame was huge, it went 4lb 9oz. Before long, it was time to decide on the swim to watch it get dark in. The kingfishers were active, the birds singing, and all was well with the river. The hour was spent without much activity until 9pm, when the rod arched to that “alarm bells” point and we were in business….Even after a great tussle earlier in the day from an 8lb fish, this fish was putting up the fight of the season so far, and after some runs to inside cover and a rub or two against the submerged branches, the fish was not giving up!
As the flow fought with us both the fish came close enough to be netted, and as it did I missed it, and almost saw the last dive but the hook hold was good, though the line was frayed from the rubbing. The fish was very long and big framed and weighed 11lb, just two ounces short of my best from the Teme caught a few years ago! I was beaming for the whole journey home and still am now, it`s amazing how these day`s can surprise us. Now which river did I say next?

Teme Tigers! (Boats and Planes)

At last Summer has arrived! Well south of the Midlands at least. We had the Bristol “Harbour Festival” here this weekend, and with the children broken up from school, Saturday was a family day out to see the boats, bands and various entertainment available all free of charge, one of a couple of great weekends our city sets up for all. The “Balloon fiesta” being another one we are looking forward to. Monday saw us all in Weston Super Mare for an Air Show which was the Best I have seen yet, the Red Arrows were the star attraction and lived upto their billing, but the other displays were wonderful too.
The weather scorchio, and so Tuesday afternoon had come upon us, and a trip out had been arranged for a good look at the Teme with my mate. We actually took polaroids with us incase we could see some fish, No Chance, the river still had a foot or so of water on and was running with colour too. This may not have been a bad thing for the fishing, but certainly was for finding the groups of fish. As we tried several likely swims and had not a bite between us, doubt was creeping in. Then a lucky choice of swim, saw lots of tip action with plucks and line bites, time to stay put for a while in this swim.

A slight change of tactics and minor adjustments and the rod was towed over in my hand, the evening was very warm and set to turn a fish or two more up, the swim did not disappoint. The next bite came whilst the rod was resting on a branch close to the surface and as I was tying a new rig, from laying motionless to the drag kicking in, was split second timing. The line was grating on the branch and I was quick to retrieve it before the weak spot was found by the energised fish. After a few more casts I walked elsewhere and tried a couple more swims for nowt, so returned on dark to try the holding swim.
Only 15 minutes later and another fish of 6lb or so was on, a little rest for the swim and in the darkness – the fourth and last fish of a very nice evening session graced the net at 7lb 4oz it was a good sport!
Lets now hope the rivers can enjoy summer, and we get to have our lines tugged some more. Good Luck.

Friday busy on the Kennet

After the success of Monday`s trip, it was time to follow up and try for one of those “Big Girls”. With the car loaded – much later in the day than I had hoped due to all those other incidentals that crop up – I set off along the M4. Upon arrival there were 4 other cars in the car park, not too bad I guess for a sunny afternoon, the swim I wanted to try first was taken and then the second choice too, so finding another good looking spot the gear was set up and lines in. The river looked great but was much clearer today than Monday even, so the fish may be a little more suspicious, after 3 hours or so of motionless rods it seemed they were. This was not a worry though, because often the fishing can be very quiet before the fish find the food and switch on.
The smell`s were much more summery now, as we find when the sun beats down on all the vegitation and creates an atmosphere of warmth. I was now going to be banking on the golden hour for a bite, and as the hour approached and a nice chub graced the net, I felt compelled (maybe wrongly, but thats fishing) to move. As the sun was setting, I set off for a swim I always look at and think has a fish or two down under. The midges and mozzies were out in force so headtorch use was kept to a minimum, and a meat loaded hook was lowered down the inside line. Hardly had the line been settled and I was baiting the other when, the rod was dragged over in typical barbel style. Hitting the bite I found a very spirited fight from a lovely perfectly proportioned barbel of barely 1lb, well I had a good feeling about the swim, but did not expect that!!
Darkness had fallen and it was time to go, I will save the “Big Girl” for next time….

First trip to the Kennet.

Well it was about time to go East and so we did, my friend Mark and I were set for a nice day on a new river for the season for me, and the first time ever for him! The weather was set to get dryer after heavy drizzle into the afternoon, we visited the local tackle shop to collect the appropriate permits, and made the most of a nearby cafe – setting ourselves up for the day ahead. It was great to be there to see his face and reaction to a new river, we were both excited to get started, but first things first we checked out the stretch with a walk. It really has some lovely features and holds some nice fish too, even the constant rain could not dampen our enthusiasm as we settled for a couple of likely looking area`s.
A couple of hours later and we had some bites, a chub had grabbed in one swim and then a nice barbel of 5lb in the next! Then as the rain was easing slightly the call came from Mark. “Is it time for tea yet mate?” “Yes”, I said. “Well come and see this fish first”, he had had his first kennet barbel before tea break! So back we went very happy with the day so far, cooked up some food and had a guess at what might happen when we got back on the river for the evening session. The drizzle was still in the air and we waited under our brolly`s for bites, they did not come, so we wandered around a bit before finding some fish that might oblige. After half hour or so the first bite came, and then into the evening a couple more but the fish seemed to prefer my line and we finished with 4 more! We left very pleased with our start to the river Kennet.

Singing in the RAIN again!!

I have owed my son a day out after barbel for a while now, so this was it, we had said adieu to the girls (my wife and two daughters) who incidentally are now owed a day out aswell, and made our way to the river. The rain was relenting slightly after pouring all of last night, the journey was a good hour long and Joseph had been very excited for the first half an hour but had got impatient and restless for the next, “are we gonna fish today dad?” Well we were hoping to fish, but when we arrived at the river it was in the fields and only fishable from a road bridge where you would normally watch the shadows of fish below. The river was angry and racing and hit the pillars of the bridge swirling as it was redirected. So it was from here we would have a go and see if the fish were sheltering from the torrent, we were told by another angler that a 12lb barbel had been caught here a couple of days earlier. With the lines in, it was with anticipation that we watched, it was a busy bridge with other anglers wanting to fish and dog walkers passing by regularly. The day was cloudy and really rather cold and after a couple of hours, the anticipation left and so did we, heading for another river and some nice duck & hen eggs from the farm shop en-route. Upon arrival all was dry and calm, speaking to a couple of other anglers things did not bode well, the river was rising, but I think the fish are fed up now in more ways than one! Anyhow, filled with the usual optimism that goes with arriving, we headed for a likely swim and launched our assault. It was only half an hour or so and Joe wanted to know when we were having tea, “lets have a cast here first and give it at least 20 minutes” I said, and 22 minutes later we were into a fish that gave a strange bite as it picked the bait up and swam towards us, it was the fish of the day at 6lb 12oz. We made our way back to the car then for tea and some food, the wind was picking up and some dark ominous clouds were coming our way…. going back to our swim Joseph carried the brolly which I might have otherwise left in the car. After half an hour the blackest sky had blown over our heads and was set to dump its load, we had the line in and and took cover as the rain came down in sheets splashing on the river in unison. At one point, just before,the drops were forming and splashing up like a paint logo! When this downpour finished the rod arched over and we had a chub of 4lb 8oz, a lovely finish as we were just about ready to head home before darkness set in. Walking back to the car the fields had sheets of surface water, it really was time to go.

Red Rivers Rising

Well it was great to get out before first light yesterday, but my run of misfortune continues. This was some bad parking….

Unperturbed, I left the car here until it was going to be a reasonable time to go and call on the farmer for his services. Well to be honest, I was in a bit of a flap and worried to boot, still there was nothing I could do but hope that with all this rain, the ground would be as soft coming back out as it was going into this ditch!
Anyhow I arrived at my preferred swim and got my things together for trying to catch one, about 2minutes into the cast with a small open end feeder and pellet and paste, a fish was on and pulling hard. This fish pulled well beyond his weight and had me on the run around

From here on the bites came quite regularly, but they seemed to be chub only, so after 4 of them I decided that if barbel were willing to bite they would have got in by now before the chub, so a move was needed. I moved not too far away and had a pull after just 10 minutes, it took me by surprise and when it went the drag did not kick in and so the hook pulled! When will I learn? Anyhow, next cast and even less of a wait whack and this lovely 9lb 10oz fish was on. Another chub and it was 7 fish and 7 o`clock and time to find someone to help pull my car from a muddy ditch!! I was very fortunate and found a very nice man and his son who were able to tow the car (slowly) up the bank and onto level land, which of course was set to get softer as the morning went on. After much merryment bacon and tea (and being told how lucky I was not to have damaged the ditch), it was back to the fishing, and the river had not yet coloured up, so a change of tack was in order. A move of swim and scaling down of tackle produced a result which was satisfying, a barbel of 5lb and a couple of hours with bites including a dace and roach.
The rain had been constant for a while now and it was lunchtime, time for a different river. The roads all across the midlands were chaos with closures and floods but when I eventually got to the next river I knew the conditions were fine for barbel. With rain now hard and constant and the banks like ice rinks, and the river rising before me, I dropped a line. The bite did not come instantly, but when it did it nearly took the rod too! Playing this fish in the pouring rain had seen me soaked through quickly, a decision to catch a few and then head home was made. My pictures were taken with the camera under the brolly and only essentials staying dry. So, trying a couple of swims, I landed 7 barbel to 8lb by 7 o`clock, and it was time to leave the river to rise some more while I went back to the car to dry off and change. Believe it or not, my last cast saw me catch……………an eel! It is crazy to think that this time last year we were able to watch barbel onto the hook and this year all our river pictures are of swollen rivers.

Just Got to get out soon….

It has been a week now since going out and I was hoping to have ended June with a fish or two to report, but circumstances are conspiring against even getting out now for an early July fish!! I have unfortunately just lost my second grandmother in as many weeks, I know I have been lucky to have them for so long but still its a blow, and I am very busy with organising and things.
I hope to be letting you all in on some fishing stuff soon.
Tight Lines All.

The Longest Day

Wednesday 27th June
Four rivers, lots of walking, eels, broken tackle and those were the good things! (Yea right)
After 2 separate big diversions because of road closures, and more miles than I would have wanted, I ventured out and tried to catch the river before first light. I thought that the best way to start this day would be on the Warwickshire Avon. I spent 4 hours biteless, dropping into several swims. I did manage to find a bank stick and a baiting needle belonging to my friend who was there the night before. I then headed back to the car for some well needed sleep and a rethink on where to go later this morning.
I decided I would travel across to the Teme, but on the way passing the river Arrow I could not resist a try. The first cast produced an eel, the second cast another eel, and then the third cast after 10 minutes or so, a big pull and a scrapping fish, which before I could see it – had shed the hook!! I am sure this was a small/medium sized barbel. There was debris on the hookpoint and this must have stopped the hook from holding properly (bad luck or bad angling)? Onwards and upwards!
I arrived at the Teme about noon(ish) with the sun shining and warming all below. The river looked great for bites and I tried all my known holding areas. And low and behold 2 chub and this lovely sea trout later, still no barbel. Upon returning the sea trout to the murky depths, my landing net wanted to follow and fell off the end of the handle! (Something else to fix)! Others on the stretch were struggling too. But at teatime, I did manage to witness someone’s 11½lb, beautiful big framed barbel. After helping weighing etc, I headed back to the car for tea, to regroup and to plan the last few hours of the evening. Very tired, I made the decision to try yet another river, instead of staying for the evening on the Teme.
So, to the Lower Severn and homeward bound. I dropped into a few swims, which produced success for me last season. And as the sun set, the rod pulled over hard and I thought that my persistence had paid, only to find the distinctive fight of yet another eel was upon me. So after untangling the line and one more cast (just one more cast) it was 10.30pm and time to get home to bed. In this final part of the evening, I lost a feeder, a rig and noticed a big crack in my new head-torch – as if anything else needed to go wrong!
In this beautiful game of ours, there are good days and bad days, and for many different reasons (not just the fishing) the good outweigh the bad. This one is one that I shall certainly remember for various reasons and learn from.