Artful Angler

Rob Kavanagh's fishing blog

ROB KAVANAGH

The inside line on fishing

Slow Start to 2011

Now that the extension to the house is finished we turned our attention to the garden taking advantage of whatever good weather came our way. Unfortunately this left little time to get out on the riverbank, and on those few occasions I did I returned home with little to show for my efforts other than a few scenic photographs.

The Frome chub just weren't playing ball but I did manage a small one from the Little Avon at Stone. I headed there on an overcast and blustery day towards the end of February with the intention of test-driving a few homemade grayling floats, hoping to catch one or two of those beautiful fish and maybe a few dace on trotted maggot or caster. Setting up in the first swim - a small pool just downstream from the road bridge - I fed small pinches of hemp and caster before selecting a couple of red maggots than had not yet turned and mounted them on a fine wire size 18 hook. Dropping the rig under the rod tip along the crease it travelled just a couple of yards before shooting under. The culprit was a chub of about a pound and a quarter and was soon netted after a splashy and plunging fight. Hopeful that it may have company I gave the swim about half and hour to no effect before moving on downstream.

No bites were forthcoming from the three or four spots I tried until I arrived at the big deep pool about halfway down the stretch. Being more open here, the blustery wind made a mockery of decent float control and I resigned myself to ledgering a bait into the snaggy depths. Rummaging in my bag I failed to find the spare spool of 4lb line I had intended to bring with me, realizing I'd left it on the kitchen worktop whilst I made a cuppa before leaving the house. Curses!

The one advantage of all my recent activity in the garden was the procurement of a decent supply of lobworms, and it was one such beastie that I impaled on a size 10 before casting a simple running paternoster rig out into the pool. Two cigarettes and a cup of coffee later the quivertip rapped twice before the top of the rod followed it and a good fish was hooked, scything across the pool into the faster water before plunging back the way it came. The line sang out in the wind and at only 2.5lb breaking strain I was afraid to give the culprit too much stick in the heavy flow. This gave it the opportunity to dive for the snags, boring deep until it found what it was after, transmitting a grating sensation up the line before a distinctive bump and I knew it had got where it wanted. Firmly snagged I knew the fish had shed the hook and after a bit of pulling I managed to retrieve my tackle, the hook firmly embedded in a waterlogged twig a couple of feet long.

Oh well, you cunning chub, maybe I'll land you next time...... And I'm sure I would've had I not been so forgetful!


Before the season ended I was keen to get down to the Bristol Avon at Lacock for a last chance at a nice barbel. My success here has been very limited when after the bewhiskered ones so I took some chubbing gear too that I could use for roach and perch if the conditions seemed appropriate. I began towards the top end of the Abbey Fields stretch feeder fishing maggots on a simple running paternoster rig. Lots of bites came my way, initially from minnows before the odd dinky dace started to show. Happy just to be getting bites on such a cold and windy day I persevered until a series of chub started coming my way. No pictures taken sadly as the batteries died in the camera as I was attempting to photograph the best of these fish - a burly, brassy chub of 3lb 13oz. "No matter", I thought as I reached for the spares freshly recharged the day before, resting the chub in the landing net out of the main flow as I did so. Sadly these batteries also failed to bring the camera to life although I knew they were fully charged..... Answers on a postcard please....!

Somewhat dismayed I continued fishing but lost the next two fish to a savage set of willow snags downstream. With plenty of river left to fish I moved on, giving a couple of swims a biteless half and hour or so before settling into the weirpool opposite Lacock Abbey, but only managed to lose a good chub to a nearside bramble after successfully steering it away from the obvious snag in front of me. It's just as well my hair is too short to get a grip on because I'd have been tearing it out at this point as the day seemed to go from bad to worse......

Upping sticks I moved off to the stretch downstream of the bridge as dusk fell, fishing a lovely swim off a bend in which I'd hooked a good barbel in the past. I hunkered down as best I could out of the howling gale and soon the garlic flavoured meat on the hair was attracting the attention of small chub before the rod hooped over as I was pouring a coffee. Unfortunately the powerful fish found sanctuary in a snag - from the way the flow boiled in that area I suspect a sunken weed-bed - and was lost. Curses!

I fished on into dark for an hour but remained biteless. The cold wind was chilling me to the marrow and with the flask empty it was time to head home. I'd had a good day despite my various frustrations with lost monsters and the mind numbing wind and I vowed to return next season....Unfinished business methinks!

Rob, 18/04/2011

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