Friday, July 28th, saw me heading from the house at a little before 0600 heading out to a club stretch of the Warks Avon (KF-WA/WG), and with the traffic fairly light, I arrived at the selected swim for the day around 0715, having had a short peruse at other possibles, which was actually Liz’s swim from our previous visit.
Before starting to sort out tackle, etc I catapulted out some loose feed in the form of dead maggot, maize, hemp and wheat into the central line of the river and also fed the same just offshore slightly downstream to act as a ‘change’ swim…
I then settled the ‘station’ – nets, mats, scales, camera, seating etc all arranged – before setting up the tackle for the day – a 12’ Ron Thompson Feeder rod with a light quiver tip, 8lb main line with a size 6 hook on 6” of 8lb braid connected via a quick change link and a 15g cage feeder stopped about 24” above the hook. The feeder was loaded over the day with a breadcrumb/Vitalin/chicken mash/flour mix with added wheat and hemp.
And so I made the first cast of the day with the hook baited with bread into midstream – and the ‘stuff’ started almost immediately!
The line had been out for 5 minutes without a touch and so I retrieved it in order to re-fill the feeder and re-cast – but as the feeder neared the bankside a big swirl broke the water’s surface as a pike swirled at it…. anyway, feeder refilled was re-cast out and another 5 minutes later was retrieved to re-fill and again another swirl came at it but this time the pike grabbed hold of it and for about 10-15 seconds I was battling with the pike before he let go… however, after this it seemed that it had gone into a sulk as it was some time later before it deemed to make a re-appearance…
Following the pike attacks I started to get a few nudges and then hooked into what felt a reasonable fish but unfortunately I had a hook pull ….
After this I had a quiet spell with only minor nudges, etc although I kept re-casting the feeder every 5-10 minutes to keep the feed going on which also being supplemented by catapulted particles… and at around 1000 I swapped the bread on size 6 hook over to worm/maggot on a size 10. First cast with the new hook/bait brought a good bite that pulled the tip over but a strike did not contact..
Around 1020 I tried the ‘inside line’ with my worm/maggot and first cast brought a perch of 3-4oz to hand.. I re-cast to the same area and then decided to pour a cup of coffee and did so and as I turned back to the rod the tip pulled over but I struck to nothing… so before refilling the feeder I decided to have a few sips of the freshly poured coffee before it cooled too much and to that end I just placed the rod in the rest with the feeder and mangled worm dangling down into the water just below the rod tip … had a couple of sips from my cup … and the rod top bent straight over and down and started bouncing… I struck and felt a very good fish on the end which I managed to raise enough in the water to get a slight glimpse of … and it was long and slim, definitely not a bream, and my immediate thought was a barbel … saw a slight glimpse again a second time and still looked like a barbel … and then the line went slack … the hook gone and the braid cut through … yep, I reckon it was that pike again (or a relative of it)…
THEN … about an hour later I almost have a heart attack! The place where I was fishing is very quiet – very rare to see anyone – other than on the passing boats – in the area at all, and I’d not been wearing my hearing aids either as it was a gusty day and all I would have heard was the rushing wind in my ears (ie imagine the sound if lying under an express train as it passes overhead – then triple the volume) and I rarely wear them anyway – birds are generally too noisy for me with their incessant cheeping and birdsong… so there I’m sat waiting for my rod tip to do something when someone about 2’ away says ‘Alright!?’ in my ear! I bet I shot 3’ in the air! It turns out to be two guys getting material inclusion in a future ‘Angler’s Mail’ article on the stretch… anyway, they took my photo ‘fishing’ and said article would appear some time but could be 12 months or more… OK .. and then they disappeared … not sure if they’d the right place actually – as the stretch is a member’s only one and the club has a waiting list of at least 3 years plus we no longer do day tickets for there as the club secretary has told me … and he hadn’t been informed of an impending press visit either. I have a slight suspicion that there may have been a mix-up with a stretch of similar name that is run by a large association that has an open membership.
Anyway, soon after the visitation, I land a fish of the desired species for the day – a bream – not a large one, around a pound and a half although not actually weighed…
Fish photo’ed and returned, the hook was re-baited and re-cast and, before the feeder had chance to reach bottom, the rod slammed round, and another bream was hooked, landed, weighed in at 4lb 2oz, photo’ed and returned.
And then followed another small 3oz perch … and then at around 1300 … another bream … and a new PB bream at that weighing in at 5lb 12oz – exactly 8oz better than my previous best of 5lb 4oz caught 39 YEARS ago!
… a few knocks and taps follow until at around 1455 I land a chub of 2lb 1oz.
So, with time approaching 1500 and the need to get home early’ish as I need to sort out tackle and bait, shower, perform pet sitting duties for friends and to collect Liz from work, I tackle down and head home … and what should have been normally a 45 minute river-to-front-door trip took an HOUR AND THREE QUARTERS JUST FOR THE M5 PORTION averaging around 10mph! Definitely NOT the best part of the day!