After my last trip to the Hampshire Avon I couldn’t wait to get back. This time though the day turned into a disaster. A quick call to Stu, the river keeper, gave me all the info I needed, but I went against his advice and chose a swim where I’ve never fished before. Apparently, a few good roach had been caught from a large slack in this swim and because it was hardly fished, I thought it warranted a try. After 90 minutes spent legering a piece of bread for no signs of anything, and the main river looking perfect for trotting, I tried to head back to the swim I should have started in, but as you can guess, it was taken by another angler. Instead, I settled into a likely looking glide that I’d not fished before.
After 30 minutes or so of trotting maggots I was catching a few plump dace, plus the ever annoying minnows. There was no sign of any big roach though. Stu stopped for a chat while he was on his rounds and it turned out I’d been fishing the wrong slack in my first peg! If that wasn’t enough a tricky wind then sprung up making it difficult to control my float. I also knew that it would have been fine if I’d chosen the original swim, as it was sheltered. When the angler in the said swim caught a big roach, it did little to lift the gloom from my head, but the final straw was about to be broken.
I stopped trotting to have a bite to eat. Whilst I was doing this I legered a piece of flake in my swim, hoping a big redfin would be also be tempted for a bite to eat. Instead I managed to kick my 3 pints of maggots into the mud and grass! I quickly salvaged what I could, but I didn’t have enough left for a proper days trotting and feeding. I made a quick decision. I threw all my tackle in the car and headed for Sway lakes. I wondered how it had been fishing in the cold weather so I thought I’d find out for myself. I guessed the fish would be lethargic in the cold so I should have enough bait left for a bit of waggler fishing. To try and encourage any roach to my maggots I applied a few drops of geranium oil, a roach attractor supreme!
I arrived in the Sway car park with a couple of hours to spare before darkness would set in and I had the whole place to myself. I had a walk around and never saw signs of anything fishy whatsoever. I elected to fish an area that would be sheltered out of the strong winds that were forecast. I just hoped the fish would be there too. Just as the light was fading and I was thinking of calling it a day I was in. You never know whether it’s a good perch or roach when fishing on maggots, but I would soon see as the lack of carp activity had made the water very clear. In the gloom I could see a bar of silver twisting and wallowing under the surface. I just gently teased it to the net where it slid in without any problems at all. As it was too dark to be able to fish on, I left the fish safely in the landing net while I quickly tidied away my gear for the night. All I left out of my bag was the scales and camera. On lifting the fish out of the water I was sure it was going to make the 2lb mark, but you can never be quite sure. After carefully zeroing the scales my prize was slipped into a plastic carrier bag and gently eased into the air. Satisfyingly, the needle crept to the 2lb 2oz mark and the days troubles were forgotten. After a couple of quick photos I retreated to my car for a coffee and pot noodle. I’d give the lake another go in the morning.
The stormy weather that had been forecast had arrived by first light. There were waves rolling down the length of the lake making float fishing very tough so I elected to fish a feeder instead. I was surprised when my first cast saw my tip start bouncing about with the culprit being a 12oz perch. More perch followed with most being around the 1.8 to 2lbs mark, though I didn’t weigh any of them. I did catch the odd smaller one of around 12oz.
I did manage another roach of around a pound, and judging by the tail on it, it could end up being another of the lakes giants. With big black clouds starting to roll in I decided I’d seen enough for my fact finding trip, I didn’t fancy a soaking too. I think I’ll wait until winter loosens it’s grip before heading back down for the big roach. They’ll be in peak condition as the river season finishes.