I arrived back in Coventry last night from two days fishing in the company of an angling friend, John Found, who lives in the Kennet Valley region. He retired to the area with fishing in mind, and it paid off in spades with the diversity of chances within comparatively close range of his home. The Rivers Kennet, Loddon, St Pats Stream and Thames are all within close striking range, and gravel pits galore seem to be just waiting for his arrival to plunder the specimen fish that are there. At least that’s my view of his situation, but perhaps after this trip I need to reappraise that idea.
The weather had been forecast to improve by several degrees and it seemed an ideal opportunity to go down and try out a venue that John had recently been exploring for perch. The half dozen trips already made had been split equally, first walking the banks and plumbing depths, whilst the remaining three sessions had produced a few perch to 2lb-12oz. Talking to anglers already fishing there, normally for carp, suggested the perch fishing could be very good with specimens to 4lb plus amongst numerous 2lb plus back-up fish. Arrangements were made that we would meet in the car park at 8:00am, I did the 90 miles from my house, whilst John complained that this would be amongst the more distant of his venues at nearly 10 miles, I’m not jealous – much!
As we surveyed the lake it looked perfect, the temperature rise had happened and we basked in double figure numbers on the Celsius scale, water clarity was just tinged with colour and a slight breeze rippled the surface inviting us to get fishing without delay.
I was to fish a leger style approach with lobworm on the hook and dedrabenas along with red maggots to attract the intended large perch targets. John settled on float fishing tactics with a similar feed pattern, we could not fail! That last sentence says it all and you already know what’s coming – other than a few small 4oz bits we were both were blown out of the water with the dreams shattered. To add insult to injury even the single carp angler present on the bank caught two carp with a best of 25lb, so the fish were feeding. I had fished four different swims, and John did similar, but it was all to no avail, a blank is blank and new plans were now needed. We had intended that both days would be spent on this water, but now there were having second thoughts and we finally decided on a chub session on the Kennet.
We went to a well-tried section of river where previous trips had given up chub to over 6lb, with the weather holding nicely we were of course hopeful of success. The only fly in the ointment was that the British Waterways had to spend some money and had decided that this section of river looked too nice. It must be a condition of employment within the various agencies, that you cannot have any love of nature or its appearance. They had gone through the section and rip out any bush or tree that might suggest it would, or could, hang over the water giving cover and shelter to wildlife. Where previously the chub swims were self evident with such cover giving protection from the passing boat traffic, now we had to wonder if the fish had stayed in the area or moved to those sections left alone.
This time we were to use identical tactics, maggot feeders with a little hemp as an attractor for the chub. Short hook links of 2.5lb strain and size 20 hooks and a single maggot should have been irresistible to these fish, but in my case it did not work and they resisted very successfully. Meanwhile John did manage to convince a couple of chub that they should attack his feeder and hookbait taking a best of just under 5lb. A barbel of similar size had the heart rate going for a little while in the thought it might just have been one of the bigger chub, but the truth soon became obvious.
That was my two day break done with not a single worthwhile fish landed, I’ll return in the new year and hopefully we will both have better luck – perhaps a quick trip down to the Avon or Stour could bring that big chub or even one of the large roach that seem to be making a comeback around various different rivers.