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Diary 2006/07

 

Second Half of Season Fizzles Out (Nov 06 - Mar 07)

Venues: Royalty, Thames, Kennet

 

The second half of the season was a complete blank for me. In November Andy and I went back to the Royalty to try and repeat last year's success, but caught nothing. And that was the story for the rest of the season - a few trips to the Thames and Kennet resulted in no fish at all coming to the net. I offer no excuses other than crap angling. :-(


28th October 2006, 15:00-22:00
Venue: River Thames, Sonning

Weather: Mild, dry

River Conditions: A few inches up, good flow and still quite coloured

 

Back in the swim where I caught the barbel a few weeks ago, I fancied my chances of a repeat given the conditions. Although the river was still pushing, the volume of rubbish was well down on last week, making the fishing much more enjoyable. Unfortunately, the barbel were not playing ball and it was left to the bream to provide any action. I had 2 of them, weighing 4.09 and 4.06, both on pellets.


21st October 2006, 15:00-22:00
Venue: River Thames, Sonning

Weather: Mild, occasional heavy downpour

River Conditions: About a foot or so up, flowing strongly and heavily coloured.

 

Following a week of heavy showers, I was not surprised to see that the river was up and coloured. What I was not so prepared for was the sheer volume of weed being washed down in the flow. I never realised the Thames had so much weed in it. I've never really encountered that much in many years of fishing it previously. Any attempt to fish in the main flow was made very difficult by the weed collecting on the line and pulling the lead out of position.

 

I was forced to move swims after a while to one where a nearside tree forced the current away from the bank and created a nice looking crease. Casting to the crease, the line was protected from rubbish by the tree, so fishing became a reasonable prospect again. After dark, I started to get a few knocks. I caught a dace and then had a bream - not my favourite species by any means, but as this one turned out to be a new PB of 4.13, I was almost prepared to forgive it for snaffling my pellets.

 

That was the last of the action for the day, which was disappointing as given the conditions I really fancied my chances of another barbel.

 

One final comment on the session - I almost ended it suffering from shell-shock! From the time it got dark at around 18:30 until 22:00, there was a constant barrage of fireworks going off. There was literally bangs going off all round with no more than a few seconds gap between them for all that time.


14th October 2006, 15:00-22:30
Venue: River Thames, Sonning

Weather: Quite warm, dry

River Conditions: Low and clear, not much flow.

 

Blanked again, but this time I did have a couple of bites on the pellets just after darkness fell. Both were quite positive "bouncy" bites, but I failed to connect with either of them. I suspect bream were the culprits.


7th October 2006, 15:00-22:30
Venue: River Thames, Sonning

Weather: Quite warm, clear skies. A full moon after dark.

River Conditions: Low and clear, not much flow.

 

After the Lord Mayor's show - a total blank this time in my second trip for my Thames campaign. Same tactics as before, but not even a hint of a bite.


30th September 2006, 15:00-22:00
Venue: River Thames, Sonning

Weather: Quite warm, some heavy, thundery showers.

River Conditions: Low and clear, but a bit of flow.

 

I had decided this season to have a go at improving my Thames P.B. which stood at only 6.06 - a very poor weight considering I caught my very first barbel from the river over 30 years ago, and it is my local river. Andy has been fishing a section for a couple of seasons, with some good returns, including some doubles. He took me for a walk along the river a couple of weeks ago, giving me a guided tour of the swims. On the day, the river was still suffering from the lack of summer rain, with no noticeable flow.

 

So this trip was the first one of what is going to be an autumn/winter campaign for that elusive Thames biggie. Well actually - not all that elusive as it turned out! When I arrived, I was pleased to see that the recent rains had put a bit of flow on the river, but not so pleased to see that my first choice swim was already occupied. There was still plenty of choice though, and I settled into another swim that I fancied.

 

Two rods were put out, one with pellets and the other with a new boily that I was trying for the first time. As expected, sport was somewhat slow, as I didn't have a bite, not even a knock from small stuff. I had planned to fish until about 10.00 pm, and as my watch approached that time, I was just reaching for the pellet rod to wind in and pack it away, when the boily rod suddenly whacked over.

 

Grabbing for that rod instead, I was into a good fish that immediately ripped several yards of line off the reel. This had me worried, as it was getting downstream of a large overhanging tree. Fortunately I turned it, and slowly brought it back towards me. A few minutes later, it was in the net. I could see it was comfortably going to beat my previous Thames best, but it wasn't until I lifted the net out of  the water that I realised that this was a very big fish, as it was a very deep-bodied fish. The scales revealed a weight of 12.05 - a cracking way to start the campaign, and a fish that is going to be difficult to top. Oddly, although I've caught a few 13 and 14 pounders, this is the first 12 pounder that I've ever netted.

 

Thames 12.05


12th August 2006, 15:00-22:00
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham (middle section)
Weather: Warm, some light showers.

River Conditions: Low and clear.

 

I don't normally fish this section of the venue, but as my normal areas were busier than usual, I decided to give it a go for a change. Unfortunately, it proved a bad move, as I didn't manage a single bite. Tried 3 different swims, and switched from pellets to boilies, both of which have worked well on the rest of the venue, but to no avail.


5th August 2006, 16:00-24:00
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham (bottom section)
Weather: Very warm, sunny spells.

River Conditions: Low and clear.

 

6 barbel to 9.12 and 2 chub. More details to follow...


20th July 2006, 16:00-23:00
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham (bottom section)
Weather: Warm, sunny.

River Conditions: Low and clear.

 

4 small barbel and 2 chub. More details to follow...


17th July 2006, 16:00-23:00
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham (bottom section)
Weather: Warm, sunny.

River Conditions: Low and clear.

 

A session of two halves really. I started near the top of the venue, and had two chub and a small barbel to pellets, but then the swim died. Later in the evening I decided to try a swim that I hadn't yet fished this season. I also changed to boilies when I moved. The move turned out to be a good idea, as I literally had a bite a cast for the next three hours. These bites resulted in six more barbel and a chub coming to the net. I also lost another barbel to a hook pull. The best barbel weighed 9.03.


13th July 2006, 16:00-23:00
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham (top section)
Weather: Warm, sunny.

River Conditions: Low and clear.

 

3 small barbel and a chub.


6th July 2006, 16:00-23:30
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham (bottom section)
Weather: Warm, overcast to start, but clearing later.

River Conditions: Low and clear.

 

Started by having a wander about dropping baits into a few swims. The third swim I tried produced two small barbel from under an overhanging tree in the first two casts. Both fell to pellets. I continued to wander about for a while, but with no more joy, so I settled into a nice swim for the evening. This produced an early barbel to pellets, but no more fish until I switched baits to my home-made boilies, which resulted in two more moderate barbel and a nice chub of around 4 lbs.


29th June 2006, 15:45-23:00
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham (bottom section)
Weather: Very warm, sunny.

River Conditions: Low and clear.

 

Only one other angler around, and he'd had a 10.08 barbel earlier in the day. Started in my usual favourite spot, but casting my pellet bait to a different area of the swim than usual. I was soon into my first barbel of the day, a fish of 5.15. There was no more action for over an hour, until I went for the "sandwich trick". Sure enough, as I was stuffing a ham sandwich in my face, the rod keeled over, and my second barbel, of around 4 lbs, was soon in the net.

 

That seemed to be the end of the action in that spot, so I went for a roam around, dropping a bait into several swims. Eventually I got a response from a small barbel of about 3 lbs, which was very lively, tearing around the swim at great speed. I continued to roam the bank, but with no more luck, so I returned to my starting spot, but this time casting to the area I usually fish in, and switched baits to my home-made boilies. I soon had a response, but somehow failed to connect with the bite. That error was corrected soon after as I had my 4th and then  5th barbel of the day, both around 4lbs.


27th June 2006, 11:30-19:15
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham (bottom section)
Weather: Warm, sunny spells.

River Conditions: Low and clear.

 

Arrived to find I had the whole section to myself, so having dumped my gear in one swim, I then went to explore an island that has developed rapidly on some shallows in the previous couple of seasons. It is now very overgrown, so I had to hack my way through the nettles to get over to the far side of it. The water is quite shallow, but I think it will get deeper over time as the winter floods scour out the gravels. If it does that, then it could get interesting from a barbel point of view.

 

Having done my bit of exploration, I then settled in where I dropped my gear earlier. I was soon into some action as a chub of around 4 lbs snaffled up the pellet bait, but after that it went very dead. Following around two hours of inaction, I decided I would have a wander around, lowering a bait into any likely looking hiding places under the rod top. In about the fifth spot I tried it in, I had a couple of taps, but then rod was suddenly almost ripped out of my hand as a fish tore away with the bait. A spectacular fight followed, with the fish tearing around all over the swim. One run stripped about 15 yards of line off the reel. It's a long time since I've had a fish do that to me. Eventually I netted it, and it turned out to be a very nice barbel of exactly 9 lbs.

 

I tried a few more spots using this method, but with no success, so I returned to my original swim, and switched baits to a home-made boily. This soon resulted in another barbel coming to the net. This one weighed in at 7.09.

 

Earlier in the day, I had seen a grass snake basking on the bank. Once it saw me, it soon disappeared into the undergrowth, but it was back again later when I walked past the swim.


22nd June 2006, 15:45-23:15
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham (bottom section)
Weather: Warm, sunny.

River Conditions: Low and clear.

 

Today I went onto the lower section of the venue for the first time this season, and was surprised to find my favourite swim empty, as it's very popular. I'm not one to forego opportunities like that, so I settled into it. About ten minutes into the first cast, the rod tip hammered round and I was into a good fish. After a decent fight, I netted a barbel of 9.02. Two pellets accounted for its downfall. An hour later, I had a strange slow-motion pull, and hooked another fish. However it was immediately obvious why the bite was strange, because the line was in a snag. Unfortunately I couldn't get the fish out of the snag and eventually the line broke.

 

In the early evening, as there had been no more action, I decided to give some home-made boilies a try. It took a while for them to produce a response, but then I had a good bite that I somehow failed to connect with. Shortly after, I hit into another good barbel, this one going 8.05. Half an hour later, I hit another fish, but this one managed to slip the hook after a few seconds, which was annoying. The pleasing bit was getting a few bites on my home-made concoction.


19th June 2006, 15:30-22:00
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham (top section)
Weather: Warm, overcast, light rain at times.

River Conditions: Low and clear.

 

After a very hot and humid weekend, today was a lot cooler and overcast. I started in one of my favourite swims, and had a thumping bite after around 10 minutes, which resulted in my first barbel on the season coming to the net. This one weighed 5.10. A further hour in the swim produced no more action, so I moved to another of my banker swims. In a repeat of the first swim, I was into a 5-pound barbel after 10 minutes. On the next cast, I somehow managed to miss a wrap-round bite, which was frustrating. The swim went dead after this, so another move was made, again to a usually reliable swim, but all it produced was a small chub. Two more swim moves and another small chub later, I was in a swim that I don't often fish. I was glad I did today, as I had a 7.03 barbel first cast, and a 4.14 chub second cast. Despite catching a few fish today, the fish still seem a bit "off". In the first 2 swims I fish, as a rule if I catch one early, I would expect to take multiple numbers from them, but that didn't happen today.


16th June 2006, 15:30-21:30
Venue: River Kennet, Thatcham (top section)
Weather: Very warm, sunny.

River Conditions: Low and clear.
 

I should have known better really - I never do any good on the opening day of the river season, and this outing was no exception. However, as I'm out of work at the moment, I thought I'd take the opportunity to get the season going with a trip to the Kennet. I usually do quite well on my first outings of the season to this venue, so I was hopeful that I would break my opening-day hoodoo. My optimism was totally misplaced, as I couldn't get a bite of any description in any of my favourite swims, a couple of which I would normally consider "banker" swims at this time of year. Not even the crayfish seemed interested. The river seemed in a totally unresponsive mood, so I called it a day earlier than I usually would. In the week before the season started, I'd walked along the stretch and seen fish spawning, so I wonder if they haven't yet sorted themselves out after this.