Saturday, 12 January 2019

Pike elation tinged with some sadness..

Roving trip to Somerset Frome strictly fluff chuckers only this time with Red and I targeting initially the Chub and then the Pike. The Chub elusive as I tested some bread, maggot and traditional flies in the clear water. Not as easy as a dry fly session in the summer when the naturals are providing some encouragement. I felt a tub of liquidised bread would have gone well with my foam flies but it is not really cricket and I might just as well have moulded a piece of cheesy dough to the hook. Anyway no success in the absence of some nice smelly bait prompted a quick change to the predatory gear and a trace. As we explored the Frome we came across a dying fish pretty lifeless on one of the shallow runs. On closer inspection it was a Barbel of about 4lb pretty much intact save a number of puncture marks around the head and eyes. Such a shame the first Barbel in my hand on the Frome a dead or dying one. I held it in the flow to try and get some life into its limp body but to no avail. I concluded it had only recently been the target of bird attack - Heron, Goosander or Cormorant. 

A bit later on another large fish lay in a shallow run this time without a head, it was a small Pike. The culprit here was either another Pike or mammal (Otter or Mink). Back to the fishing and it was proving hard despite the river looking in good form with great clarity to work the fly. My first bit of action came as a good 1.5lb+ Perch chased the lure in to the bank. It stopped, I imparted two quick jerks, it swallowed the lure completely, I struck hit resistance but the hook pulled. A lesson learnt  - if you hit a snag and pull the hook free check the bend. I had been fishing with a hook had that had opened and it cost me a good fish. Incidentally this Perch was in exactly the same pool as a fine Perch I had netted back in the summer. My last stop saw a change in fly to a 8cm Brown and White Bass fly from eBay. I worked it down the edge of some sunken willows and suddenly struck resistance. A slow dogged fight saw a nice Pike in the net with a heavy stomach, probably my biggest so far on the fly at just under double figures I would estimate.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Bristol Frome stick float roving...

Quick stick float session on Bristol Frome with some maggots and bread resulted in numerous out of season wild Brownies, a nice Dace and some Minnows. The river with a tinge of colour and the air temp just above freezing. Red maggot seemed to do trick. Best of the day was a clonking Brownie that would have made my fly fishing season. Quick photo then returned for me to catch on fly in the Spring. Over 18 inches in length, a glorious wild fish with a predatory jaw stacked with sharp teeth.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Dabbling with fishing the Bristol Channel at Littleton-on-Severn

James and I have embarked on some shore sea fishing on the Bristol Channel just 20 minutes away. Something I have always wanted to try but I have previously avoided as a dark art. The thought of lots of new rigs and tackle to understand, the challenge of getting fresh bait and the timing of visits to make the most of the tide has to be honest put me off. However a bit of research and minor investment in some entry level kit has opened the door. The guys in Veals of Bristol were of great help.

We have now conducted 4 trips and I am glad to say none have resulted in a blank. Our visits back in October were relatively balmy days at Littleton-on-Severn (Whale Wharf to be exact). Ideal tides seem to be between 11.5m and 13.5m arriving to fish 2hrs before and leaving 2 hrs post high. It is silt with very few snags the only issue is traversing the salt marsh mud below a metre high grass verge to get distance on the cast. First visits saw mixed results of a schoolie Bass on float fished ragworm that was intended for the Mullet in the small wharf, some tiny Whiting on flapper rigs baited with ragworm and a nice Conger of about 5lb on squid.


As the Winter has moved on we have caught a number of Codling most returnable but the odd one large enough to take home for tea which has been great. The bigger fish seem to fall to the bigger baits and generally taken the defrosted squid. Smaller fish are constantly tapping on the ragworm but are unable to shift the 5oz leads. The larger Cod and Conger produced slack line bites indicated by the rod straightening on the rest.  

Still new to this discipline it is nice to build knowledge and understanding. Points of note have been: that casting distance has not really had a significant influence over success; carp rods have landed the biggest Cod and the Conger however clearly they do constrain casting distance with large leads; sea reels are required to ensure rapid retrieve to avoid snagging; its best to leave small taps as the fish will either hook themselves or move on; gripper leads are a must to combat the tide; and finally a good strong rod tripod is an excellent investment. Both James and I are looking forward to more sessions and fishing through the seasons on the Bristol Channel.

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Frustrating River Chew followed by Bristol Avon Perch

James and I spent many hours on lower River Chew searching for fish in the sedate flow on the float. James loved every minute using his whip he bagged up on Minnows to maggot on a size 16 hook. I am afraid the Minnows did not quite have me so captivated and I was frustrated not to see some variety - maybe the odd out of season trout or chub to break up the predictability but it wasn't to be. We moved to the Bristol Avon and I was happy to finish the day with a nice Perch on the fly, a red fur number that has served me well in the past. Heck of a lot of water coming down but clear enough to work a lure.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Another Chubtastic session on Somerset Frome

A misty morning across the Bristol Avon catchment and the rivers were in fine condition after copious amounts of rain and a short spell of settled, fairly dry weather. The levels were within normal but high with the colour just dropping. Not quite enough clarity to make the fly the obvious choice so if I needed an excuse to run the stick float through some of my favourite runs this was the time. James, my youngest, had brought his Christmas whip which was only really feasible in the back eddies of some of the biggest pools. To my surprise whilst I blanked for the first 20 minutes in the main flow James caught a lovely miniature Roach and Dace close to the bank. First swim then went quiet. After testing a few other swims trotting the stick we finally settled on a long straight run ending in a bend. It was approximately 6' even depth with steady flow.  It was not long before we got re-acquainted with one of the resident big Chub. After a head banging struggle and a couple of burrowing runs to the bank it was in the keepnet (James' Christmas present number two!). For the next couple of hours James and I literally bagged up netting at least a dozen good sized Chub between 2-4lb.

Usual tackle of 6lb fluro attached to size 6 hook and a generous cheese paste blob. In most circumstances a positive hook up would result for leaving the float to dive away for few seconds. An immediate strike would often return the bait in a moulded shape crushed by the larynx of the Chub but without fish. I left in disbelief of how this stretch of river can sustain such a density of large fish. My thoughts turned to new year planning and what great fun a focussed a session on the fly in the summer would be. It was also good to see a couple of other anglers on the bank during the Christmas break.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

In praise of Chub on the Somerset Frome

Well I had checked the river levels in the morning and although high the rivers were falling. So I headed off to the lower Somerset Frome with Pike fly rod and back up float gear for Chub in hand. On arriving I could see the river was up and coloured unfishable from a fly or lure perspective. I reached for the stick float and put my faith in the Chub. The day was bright after a period of prolonged heavy rain. I set off for miles trying every back eddy on the stick float feeding each swim with liquidized bread. The current was racing through and I was conscious I needed to get my cheese paste to penetrate the depths. It was tough to start and I only had size 6 hooks so it was go big or go home. Lots of bites from smaller fish, I guessed they were Dace or possibly Roach, but I was not connecting. I had avoided the weir pools thinking the fast flowing water would not be the best in such conditions. This was a bad move as in the last hour I fished the tail of one of the biggest weir pools. The expanse of water was actually dissipating the flow and the float was running nicely at about 5' deep on the edge of the crease to the main channel. Within a few minutes first Chub of about 3lb was on the bank after a lunging fight with the fish breaking water several times. I caught four Chub all within the 2.5lb-3lb bracket on a generous lump of cheese paste and would have continued if I hadn't run out of bait. The Chub were in fine condition and I have to say this stretch of Avon Tributaries Somerset Frome is a cracking fishery.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Somerset Levels Piking

Blustery day on the levels with heavy showers and the odd sunny interval. The drains thankfully staying within their banks but only just. Trio today of  Red, my youngest James and I. Tough day at the office though with very little action. One small pike fell to the fly, a red rabbit fur fly with weighted fish head. The fish hit once but I did not connect and then took it second time as I covered the same area. James and Red were using lures and spinners but not a tug. We covered some ground but it just wasn't happening.