As the end of the river season approached I was eager to make the most of any time I could get by flowing water. After some rain coloured the Hampshire Avon I looked at the temperatures to see if they were favourable for some big roach fishing. Metcheck said that overnight temperatures would be 5 degrees, rising to 11 during the day, with 75% cloud cover. Perfect! Unfortunately these readings were 48 hours before my day off work and I didn’t look to double check if they had changed. As I arrived in the Avon valley, following a 4 hour drive, the digital read out in the car gave an outside temperature of -1.5, with bright clear skies to follow. I was gutted. I knew the river would fish hard and when I reached the banks the frosts had also knocked the colour out. I knew I’d be going through the motions for roach, with a chance in the last 30 minutes of the day.
That’s just how things panned out. A 4lb chub fell to my trotted maggots, then a roach of 12oz or so on last knockings. Some other anglers caught a few chub, with one guy landing a 1.10 roach from a peg I’d fished earlier, but didn’t fancy!
As much as I love the Avon I wasn’t going to fish it again in winter under the same conditions. 4 hours driving followed by 8 hours fishing for just that 30 minute window when I have a chance. Also, due to the floods, the same 12 pegs were getting hammered every day because the rest of the river was impossible to reach or fish. I decided I’d be better fishing for something else.
My next day off work, and my last in the river season, saw me faced with the same conditions, though the temperature was now reaching 14 degrees in the day. I decided that this weather would be warming the local rivers nicely and I’d spend an evening after barbel on the River Trent. I fancied that they’d be starting to feed hard so went through all my left over pellets, groundbaits and boilies. I placed these in my crusher and made my own mix of coarsely ground pellets, mixed with a tiny bit of groundbait and crushed boilies. After a generous helping of monster crab spray and a little water, I had a mix that would pull fish in from miles downstream, or so I hoped.
The evening started quiet, but then both rod tops started knocking all the time. Some fish started rolling in my swim and I’m sure that they looked like good roach. I almost tied a smaller hook and bait on, but thought if there were any over 2lbs present, they’d be able to eat my 15mm hair rigged boilie. I balled some of the bait into the steady flow and more fish seemed to arrive in the swim. Finally I started to hook a few. A couple of chub that both weighed around 5lbs 8oz were followed by a few bream.
Eventually the 2lb test curve rod bent round into the species that it was designed for and battle commenced. Soon I was looking at a cracking barbel that weighed 12lbs 8oz. They certainly seemed to be piling on the weight now following the floods.
Things went a little quiet after that until just before home time when I hooked into a beast. This fish took 30 yards of line with ease and I had to follow it down stream. After 10 seconds where it found a snag I managed to free it and started making some line back. Then the hook link snapped with very little pressure on it. I presume the snag must have damaged the line making it very weak. I packed up with a cloud hanging over me. Was it a big barbel or carp? I had to return to try and find out.
The next evening I arrived straight after work. It was slightly warmer than the previous day and there were a few anglers just up stream of me. I adopted the same ground bait feeder rigs with a 15mm boilie on the hair. I just cast the one rod out then poured a coffee. Before I had time to finish it the rod started bouncing in the rest and I was playing a good fish. With the weight on the line it had to be a barbel despite it plodding around. The barbel only went on one run when it saw the net and was soon landed. I knew it was a good fish and the needle on the Reuben’s had to be studied carefully before I gave it the weight of 13lbs on the dot.
After landing 4 fish in a handful of evenings from the same pegs that were between 12lbs 2oz and 13lbs 2oz, I wondered if any were repeat captures. I couldn’t tell by looking at my camera so I decided to check at home. (All 4 barbel were later checked and are different fish, so there’s a decent head of doubles in that area) Soon after I landed another chub over 5lbs and recognised it as a fish I caught the day before. With my eyes getting sleepy I decided to bring a halt to my river season until June the 16th.