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Diary 2005/06


Final Outing

Date: 8th March 2006, 15:30-22:00
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham.
Weather: Mild, rain at times.

River Conditions: Up about 6 inches, but surprisingly clear.


With two days of rain and mild weather breaking the long cold spell we'd had, I was confident of some barbel action. I decided that I would fish my favourite method, roving the fishery with lumps of meat as bait. On arrival, I was surprised to find that the river was not as high or as coloured as I thought it would be. I fished all my usual swims, but had only one sign of a bite, when a fish tentatively plucked at the meat, but I couldn't persuade it to take properly. A very disappointing end to the season.

Something Different

Date: 30th December 2005, 09:00-16:00
Venue: Rivers Test & Dever, Hampshire.
Weather: Light to moderate rain all day, temperatures getting reasonably mild.

River Conditions: Low and clear.

Today was my annual trip for a spot of grayling fishing on the Rivers Test & Dever. The forecast for the day fortunately turned out to be incorrect, as they had forecast snow to start with, and I was concerned that we wouldn't be able to get there. Andy was with me, as was my uncle, Alan. We spent the day trotting both rivers. Andy had success with the specimen fish, landing 3 terrific grayling over 2 lbs, with the best going 2.09, plus several other smaller fish. Alan had success with a lot of fish up to 1.14. For some reason, I couldn't help but catch trout all day long, usually with the first trot down each new swim, which is generally guaranteed to spoil the grayling fishing in the swim. I think I finished with over 20 trout, most weighing in the 2-3 lbs range. I did manage to catch a few grayling, but it was the lowest return I've had from these rivers. The best one weighed 1.10.

Another "Double"

Date: 27th October 2005, 09:00-18:45
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham.
Weather: Very mild, dry, mainly clear skies.

River Conditions: Low.

Another decent day's fishing today. After catching a 6lb barbel from one of my favourite swims, after dark I moved into one that I have been trying on and off during the season without success. First cast I had a barbel of 7.14, followed shortly after by a small chub. This was then followed by another very nice barbel of 9.06, which equalled the biggest one I've had from that section of river. It was an easily recognisable fish due to its having three deformed, scab-like scales near its tail. It also had a very fat belly, probably due to it having been pigging out during the recent good conditions. After catching a second chub, I had to wait a while for another bite. When it came, it was another good barbel - or to be more precise, it was the same 9 pounder I'd caught earlier! This is the first time I've knowingly caught the same barbel twice in a session, although I did catch a chub twice in an hour a few seasons ago. All the fish were caught on pellet.

Royalty Dream

Date: 24th October 2005, 09:00-18:45
Venue: River Hampshire Avon, Royalty Fishery.
Weather: Mild, but very windy and wet.

River Conditions: Low, a hint of colour, some weed coming down.

Went with Andy and his son Scott, both of them making their first-ever trips to this historic fishery. There weren't many anglers around when we arrived, and we had all the fishery from the Railway up to Watersmeet to ourselves. Leaving Andy and Scott at the Railway, I went into the Pipes swim. I made up two rods, one with pellet and one with boily. Just before midday the pellet round whacked round, and I hooked into a large fish. I didn't realise just how large it was until I got it onto the unhooking mat. The scales showed that the barbel weighed 13 pounds exactly - the second-biggest one I'd ever caught. It was also the first-ever Royalty barbel for me, even though I've fished it several times before, so I was very pleased with this.


An hour later, the boily rod leapt into action, as another very large fish was hooked. To my amazement, this one was even bigger, pulling the scales round to 14.09 - a new personal best barbel and my first one over 14 pounds. By now my day was complete - or so I thought! After a trip to back to Davis Tackle to let them download the photos of the two fish, I went back to the swim for a last cast or two before the fishery closed.


Just as I was contemplating calling it a day, the pellet rod bent round. Once again a very heavy fish was on. This one caused me more than a few anxious moments, as it first got snagged up in some weed, then when it came free, there was a large weed-clump wrapped around the lead. This weed made the netting very awkward, but after a few aborted attempts the fish was safely in the net. By now Andy and Scott had moved up to a swim about 100 yards below me. Leaving the fish in the net, I went to tell them I'd had another one, only to find Andy playing a large barbel himself. We now had a very hectic few minutes as we alternately rested, weighed and photographed the two fish. Andy's tipped the scales at 12.03, and mine bumped them round to a fantastic 14.11.


The following morning, I emailed Davis Tackle to inform them of the third barbel I'd caught, and they emailed me back to say they had checked their records, and found that I'd had the best brace and best triple catch of barbel ever recorded from the Royalty. A truly memorable day - one that I will never forget. Click here to see Davis Tackle's official report (scroll down to November 2nd).


A big thank-you to Andy for helping out with the weighing and photographing of these fish - he deserved his reward of the 12 pounder. Hopefully one day young Scott will also experience the magic of a Royalty barbel.


Click on the thumbnails to see larger pics.

13.00 14.09 14.11 Andy's 12.03


I've now added a more detailed version of the story here

Blank Day

Date: 15th October 2005, 16:00-21:30
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham.
Weather: Mild and mainly overcast.

River Conditions: Very low.

A poor session, with nothing wanting to feed, despite trying three different swims and both pellets and boilies, except one small chub caught on pellet.

September Break

Date: 26th September 2005, 16:00-23:00
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham.
Weather: Mild and mainly overcast.

River Conditions: Very low, a bit clearer than it has been.

Had the pick of all the swims today, so I settled into my favourite spot, and it didn't let me down. I was soon into a small barbel first cast, but had to wait until the light began to fade for the serious action to start. A 4lb chub was followed up by a barbel of 6.07 and two smaller barbel in the space of 4 consecutive casts. Later on, I took another small barbel and another chub. All the fish fell to pellet, except the last chub, which was on a boily.


Date: 29th September 2005, 16:00-22:30
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham.
Weather: Cooler, overcast turning to drizzle late on.

River Conditions: Very low.

Things were a bit slow today, but at least the two fish I had were of a reasonable standard. The first fish was a barbel of 7.15 on a pellet, and late on I had chub of 4.12 to a boily.

Baby Barbel

Date: 28th August 2005, 16:30-24:00
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham.
Weather: Warm and sunny, clear and mild after dark.

River Conditions: Very low.

The barbel didn't seem to want to know today, with only one very small barbel of about a pound falling to a pellet bait. After that, only the chub were interested, with four of them - all between 2-3lbs - taking a liking to my boilies. There is a consistent pattern on this venue of the barbel seeming to virtually disappear from about late September onwards, so I'm hoping that pattern is not repeating itself, but with an earlier start.

Losing My Grip

Date: 20th August 2005, 16:30-24:00
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham.
Weather: Warm and sunny at first, cooling in the evening.

River Conditions: Very low.

I was surprised by two things when I arrived at the river today - firstly that I had the whole place to myself, and secondly that yesterday's rain had had no impact on the river at all. I started the session with my usual pellet attack, and was into a fish after about half an hour, but the hooked pulled out. I changed the rig as I always do when this happens, only for it to happen again an hour later. I rarely suffer hook-pulls so to get two in a session was annoying. Next cast I hooked a third barbel, only for this one to find its way into some rubbish, and break the line. By now I almost felt like using foul language! My mood was lightened a few minutes later when I actually succeeded in landing a six-pounder. Things went quiet for a time, so I changed to a boily bait, and this soon brought a response in the shape of a small barbel. A little while later, I again pulled out of a barbel, which was incredible - three hook pulls is more than I would expect in one season, never mind in one session. I did manage to land another two barbel before the session was over, the bigger one being another six-pounder. Normally I would have gone home quite happy with four barbel from a session, but having lost four others in the way I did, I was somewhat disappointed.

Dusky Turn On

Date: 6th August 2005, 15:30-23:30
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham.
Weather: Warm and overcast at first, clearing and cooling in the evening.

River Conditions: Very low.

The early part of today's session was very quiet, with only a bit of crayfish activity. However, as the sun sank low to the horizon, the fish started to show. Firstly, two barbel fell to pellets, then as it got dark, I switched to a boily, and had three more barbel in quick succession. The biggest of the five fish was 6.05.

Old Favourite Still Produces

Date: 30th July 2005, 16:00-23:30
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham.
Weather: Cool, overcast, rain at first.

River Conditions: Very low.

Started the session in a swim I hadn't fished for over two years, one that had been very productive for me in the past. It lived up to the memories, as I extracted two barbel in the first two casts, the second one being a decent fish of 7.02. Both fell to pellets, and were caught very close to the near bank. They both gave very slight preliminary bites several seconds before pulling the tip round. I had to wait a couple of hours before I had another small barbel, also to pellet. After dark I switched swims, and just as I was thinking of packing up, I had a bite which only pulled the tip round slowly. I hit it and it was a small barbel. This one fell to a boily.

Teme Break

Date: 21st July 2005, 09:30-18:00
Venue: River Teme, Bransford.
Weather: Warm, sunny.

River Conditions: Very low, but carrying a bit more colour than expected.

The first day of a three day visit to the Teme proved to be the start of a hard time. The swim I had wanted to fish had been changed drastically since I was last here, due to a fallen tree affecting the direction of the flow. This forced a re-think and I ended up in a swim about halfway down the fishery. Although I netted a nice barbel of 7.15 on the second cast, bites were not forthcoming. The only other fish I had was a chub of about 3.08. The afternoon was brightened by a goldcrest appearing on a branch only about 3 feet from me. It's the first time for many years I'd seen one of these tiny little birds.


Date: 22nd July 2005, 09:30-18:30
Venue: River Teme, Bransford.
Weather: Warm, overcast.

River Conditions: Very low, Still carrying a bit of colour.

For the second day, I decided to have a go in a swim where I'd been smashed up by a big fish last year. Tackling up with this in mind (12lb all the way), I still managed to suffer the same fate, when my only bite of the day resulted in the hook-length parting. Oddly this swim is the only one on the river that has given me this problem. I wonder if there is a rock that the line is fraying against.

Date: 23rd July 2005, 09:30-18:30
Venue: River Teme, Bransford.
Weather: Warm, overcast but brightening up late on.

River Conditions: Very low, Still carrying a bit of colour.

A very frustrating final day of this trip. It began promisingly with a chub first cast, but then went quiet. About mid morning, I noticed what I at first thought was a leaf coming downstream near to the back, until I realised that it was moving much faster than the current. I then saw a second "leaf" behind the first one, and then began to make out the shape of a rather large barbel - the "leaves" being fins. It swam past me, then circled around twice just downstream before swimming off. I dropped some loose pellets in the edge, just in case it came back. It returned a couple of hours later and inspected the offerings, but didn't seem to pick any up before leaving again. Shortly after this the rod tip heaved over, but I failed to connect. I was using a boily, and when I retrieved it, the hair and stop had been pulled into the boily. I can only assume the fish had managed to pick up the bait but not the hook, even though I was using a short hair. Later in the afternoon the barbel returned in front of me, this time bringing a (smaller) mate with it, and this time they both stirred up the silt picking up the bait. This happened a couple more times, so when they next left, I lowered a hookbait into the swim, together with some more loose feed. A few minutes later the first barbel was back, but didn't hang around. It came back twice more, but refused to feed.

Bait Switch Pays Off

Date: 18th July 2005, 16:00-23:30
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham.
Weather: Cool, Overcast at first, clearing after some rain.

River Conditions: Very low.

For a change I took some boilies with me today as a change if the pellets didn't work. This turned out to be a good idea, as the first half of the session proved fruitless on the pellet. Switching to the boilies in the evening, I first had a very small but perfectly formed barbel of around 1.00, followed by two other modest-sized barbel. During the afternoon, I suffered an unexpected soaking as a result of a lengthy shower. The forecast had said that there wouldn't be any rain, so I didn't bother taking the waterproofs - I should have known better than to listen to the weathermen!

Quick Day

Date: 16th July 2005, 16:30-23:30
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham.
Weather: Warm, sunny.
River Conditions: Very low.

Fished a different section of the water today - a bit that I hadn't been on for a couple of years. The session started in bright fashion, with a chub of around 4lbs and two barbel of similar size coming to the net in the first four casts. After that, it went dead until the light started to fade, when there was another rush of fish with four barbel in successive casts, the best going 6.00. Pellet accounted for all the fish. During the afternoon, I had an excellent view of a buzzard soaring above the field opposite. I love watching buzzards and the way they use the air currents to move with little apparent effort around the skies.

Slow Day

Date: 9th July 2005, 15:30-22:30
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham.
Weather: Warm, sunny.
River Conditions: Very low.

A somewhat disappointing session today, with only a single small barbel to show for it. The session was brightened by once again seeing a deer, this one grazing on the foliage on the far bank. It stayed around for about 15 minutes. After losing that fish last week in my "hunch" swim, I gave it another go for the last hour of the session, but this time nothing showed interest.

More Fish, But Again Nothing Big

Date: 2nd July 2005, 15:30-23:00
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham.
Weather: Cool, overcast.
River Conditions: Very low.

A slower start today, as it took a couple of hours and a change of swim to produce my first barbel of the day. This was followed by another from the same swim, and two more from another spot. All the fish were in the 4 to 5 pound range. Around dusk, I was lucky to see a couple of deer wading in the shallows on the far bank about 30 yards downstream of me. I managed to capture one on film, but the image is somewhat blurred. After dark I moved to a swim that I had introduced a few bait samples into earlier in the day, and also on my previous visits to the stretch. It's a swim that I've never seen anyone else fish, but looked to me as though it could produce. My first cast soon resulted in a tip-wrenching bite, which I briefly connected with. Unfortunately the hook pulled out, which was very annoying. At least it showed my hunch about the swim was correct.

Plenty of Little 'Uns

Date: 25th June 2005, 16:00-23:30
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham.
Weather: Mild, overcast.
River Conditions: Low, but carrying a bit more colour following recent rains.

For the third time in 3 outings, I caught a barbel with my first cast of the day. I then went biteless until I switched swims about 2 hours later, and had 4 more from that swim over the next couple of hours. A third swim that has been productive for me in previous years, produced no barbel for the 3rd session on the trot. After dark, I tried a swim that I'd never fished before - a fast, shallow swim near the top of the fishery, and had a small barbel straight away, but nothing else. None of the barbel I had today went much over 5lbs, and the smallest was only about 2.08. Still, a barbel's a barbel, and I'm never one to complain about catching a few, even small ones like these.

Getting Better

Date: 20th June 2005, 08:00-16:00
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham.
Weather: Hot, sunny.
River Conditions: Very low.

Two days later, I was back on the same stretch, and once again was into a good barbel early on. This one pipped Saturday's fish by 3 ounces, at 8.13. The second cast also produced another barbel, this one going around 5 lbs. A change of swim saw me catching a nice chub of 4.06, but this was the only action from between around 11.00 and 15.00, when another change of swim resulted in a further 2 barbel being netted, the bigger one going 7.12. Pellets were again the successful bait.

First Outing

Date: 18th June 2005, 15:30-23:00
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham.
Weather: Hot, sunny.
River Conditions: Very low.

My first outing of the season was to the Kennet for an afternoon/evening session. It being the first Saturday of the season, I fully expected there to be several cars in the car park when I arrived, so I was astonished to find it empty. Within ten minutes of putting a bait into the water I was into a decent fish, following one of the most ferocious bites I've ever had. After a good fight, with the fish trying hard to get under an overhanging tree, I managed to net a fine barbel of 8.10. This promising start turned out to be a bit of a false dawn, as only 3 moderate chub came to the net in the rest of the session. All the fish were caught on pellet.