Thursday, 20 January 2011

Scores on the Doors

At last. After a few trips with absolutely nothing to show, I set off yesterday for a crack at Fladbury weir. The barometer reading in my kitchen had risen to over 1020 mb due to the high pressure sitting exacly overhead and I had to scrape the ice off the car windows at 7am. Not particularly good omens for fishing. During the drive from Banbury, the temperature gradually fell from minus 1 to minus 5 and when I finally parked the fields were glistening with frost. The weak winter sun made everything look fantastic but I knew it was going to be a hard day.

Joe Chatterton had advised me to get there early as it's a popular stretch so I hoped an 8am arrival would be early enough. From the (empty) layby car park it was only a short walk across the frozen field to the footbridge which conects to the island. When I reached the top of the rise I was pleased to see there was no-one else fishing so I had a leisurely walk around an settled for a swim which gave me access to both parts of the weir as well as some slower run-offs.

Although the EA River Level website suggested a much lower level than a week ago when I couldn't even get to the island, I didn't realise until later by talking to a fellow angler, that in front of me is usually a large gravel bank. Anyway, I had taken the usual array of baits and started with some Stilton cheesepaste with a straight lead on the quiver rod cast towards the run off to the mill stream and 3 elipse pellets with a feeder on my Duo-Lite barbel rod.

Although I explored most of the water in front of me I could't entice a bite so, after having been collared by a local who came for a bit of spinning on his way to work and hearing all about his operations - including one to a very private part of his anatomy - I moved to a narrower part of the river just 20 yards or so downstream. BTW, this chap only had about 10 casts before buggering off. Also he proudly announced that this was the only part which was BAA water, if I moved down a bit I could fish without a permit!!! Care in the community, eh?

I dropped, literally, into a really nice-looking swim which had the main flow bombing halfway across with a seductive counter flow under my feet. It seems that some of my exploits on the middle Avon include me either slipping between the boards of platforms or, in this case, sliding down to the river on my arse! I knew that washing my waterproofs the other day was tempting fate.

I continued with the paste casting slightly upstream into the realative slack water but changed over to a humungous piece of meat on the other rod put onto the crease downstream. I started to get sharp pulls on the quiver with the paste but struck each time into thin air. Changing the size of the lump and switching to a hair rig still didn't change the results. Luckily my go-to meat came up trumps. The 3 bites I had were real spool-spinners. I had changed to a 3oz lead due to the speed of the stream and so I imagine this helped in pulling the hook home every time so the fish couldn't get away with it. I finished with 3 chub, all on meat, going 2lbs 14oz, 3lbs 4oz and 3lbs 9oz. Here's a shot of the largest.

So, to sum up, I was more than happy to break my 2011 duck and to be fishing in such a lovely spot added to the pleasure. I look forward to fishing the weir in the summer but imagine I'll have to be getting there before daybreak to ensure a prime spot!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Avon Recce

After 3 recent trips to Manor Farm resulting in big fat zeros - neither my mate nor me could muster even a sniff between us - I decided to do a bit of a recce downstream of Evesham. This coincided with wife plus wife's sister wanting to do some shopping therapy at Evesham Garden Centre. Ideal for a 2 - 3 hour investigation of the river downstream.

After dropping them off I firstly headed to Fladbury, a destination fished in my childhood, too many years ago to mention on a family site such as this! I parked at the car park at Jubilee Bridge and was met with a wonderful, sunny and dry bit of the day. However, I did take the precaution of putting on my boots and salopettes. 10 minutes of (warm) walking brought me up to the little footbridge just before the mill.

According to the EA river levels site, the Avon's running at 1.63m which is above the top of the "normal" range, but all you guys know that from your outings. The river was pushing through hard with loads of crap coming down and the colour was a milky chocolate. Saying that, I could still make out the tops of several platforms although most were under water.

I went on to Wick, a stretch totally unknown to me but I was told that the Barbel Society have a stretch there. After trying to make sense of the BAA's book, I eventually parked up having negotiated a very rough track (not sensible in a Ford Focus!) but came out on Wick A S water, nowhere near the weir. En route I skirted some game bird fenced off areas and eventually found a half-submerged footbridge (an overstatement if there ever was) which took me to the BAA stretch opposite the boatyard.

Here the steeper banks made it impossible to make out too many swims but a few yards upstream brought me to the weir. I must say it looks a nice spot.

The river today was in a pretty bad mood but I'll keep an eye on the EA site and definitely give the Fladbury/Wick stretches a go soon. That spreadsheet is calling!