“Lets twist again like we did last summer”….yes I can see them now; twisting and jiving every time they’re hooked.  The best rock and roll group in the lake!  Yes, anyway back to reality.

The unseasonably high temperatures of a few weeks ago have given way to a cold wind, freezing temperatures, hail and even sleet.  A glimpse of a cold, biting winter’s last grasp perhaps.  I’ve been targeting roach at Tricklebrook Fishery, a 4 acre lake nestled in the  heart of Kent’s magnificent countryside.  The lake is primarily a carp water but contains a huge head of pristine roach, which average a really good size and run to well over 2lbs.  These fish are plump, feisty and truly spectacular.

A Quiet Corner

A Quiet Corner

The downside I guess is the sheer numbers of roach that inhabit this lake.  I’ve been using a number of baits to try and identify what works best here.  Hemp and caster will catch you dozens upon dozens of immaculate roach in the 4oz-1lb bracket.  Hemp and sweetcorn keeps away the really small Rudd that inhabit this lake and does seem to sort out a better stamp of roach.  Using small balls of the Pallatrax Bloodworm and maggot crush groundbait and flavouring the caters and sweetcorn with some winter almond also gives me some extra confidence and is at least a little different from the norm.

I like to use a fine tipped antenna Drennan float, shotted down so just the tip is showing.  Sometimes if it’s really windy you have to forgo the delicacy of presentation so you can still see the tip, so no point in over doing it.  Although these roach are lightly fished for they can give unbelievably delicate bites sometimes.  Try and go as delicate as conditions allow.  I match this with 2 outfits.  Firstly my Drennan Matchpro Ultralight, 3lb Drennan Supplex mono, 5BB antenna float and a size 18 or 16 Drennan Silverfish Hook to Nylon.  The second outfit is a Maver Reactorlite 13ft match rod, 4lb mainline, 5BB Antenna float and the same hooks-to-nylon.  I set one rod up to fish the margins and the other for fishing the deeper areas.  This means I can swap around without having to keep plumbing and altering the setting of the depth.

When using hemp and casters it can really be quite intense fishing.  You have to keep the hemp going in constantly.  This gets the fish into a feeding frenzy and a good angler could quite easily put together a 50lb bag of quality roach.  I’m not that focused but still manage up to probably 30lbs.  I actually prefer sweetcorn as a hook bait.  It seems to sort out the better fish.  I combine this with groundbait and loose fed hemp.  Just keep the bait going in and the bites are never far away.  I’m far from an expert at this type of fishing and take whatever advice I can get.  Kevin seems more at home with this style and has taken some good catches of roach from Mote Park.

A Few Accessories

A Few Accessories

So far we have caught a number of nice roach over the 1lb mark and up to 1lb 5oz.  The bigger specimens seemed to have eluded us so far.  Kevin had a rather unfortunate incident and I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing it with you.  He landed a very big roach.  I was just up from him and saw it in the landing net and was very surprised when he said it was a roach, due to the size of the fish.  It looked enormous.  His legs turned to jelly and he immediately rested the fish in the net whilst he sorted out the scales.  The net rested on the platform and the lip of the net was raised out of the water by several inches.    As he grabbed a bag and scales we all heard a splosh.  The fish had jumped out of the net and back into the lake.  It was the Harry Houdini of the roach world.  Kevin was gutted.  I think we all suspected the roach was comfortably over 2lbs.  Geoff’s best roach is 2lb 4oz and he thought Kev’s looked bigger.  Sometimes roach do look bigger than they weigh, however I know both Geoff and I were gutted for Kevin, although not as much a Kev was I’m sure.

My biggest surprise was a recent capture.  On hooking this fish I was sure for just a few seconds I’d hooked the roach I’d been after.  It didn’t take too long to realise this fish wasn’t fighting like a roach and soon a back broke surface to reveal the true culprit.  It turned out to be a big chub.  On lifting it out of the water it looked huge.  It was really thick and long but seemed to have no belly at all.  Still it weighed in at 4lb 10oz and is my biggest stillwater chub, so that can’t be bad.

4lb 10oz Chub

4lb 10oz Chub

We’ll persevere with the roach until the weather warms up and we can start to target tench and those magnificent crucians of Marsh Farm near Godalming.  We just need some warm days and nights to get the water temperature up and the crucians foraging for food.

With the 15th March looming it was a chance to have a final fling on the rivers.  It’s been a brutal winter not just for fishing but for all of those poor devils that were flooded out over the last few months.  Still the weather has at last calmed down and a far more settled period of dry and mild conditions have dominated in recent weeks.

Geoff, Kevin and I decided to give the Trent a go for the last hurrah.  Arriving late Tuesday afternoon we headed straight down to the river.  We were expecting it to be relatively clear and perhaps up a little.  We were about right and the river was running maybe a foot or so up on the summer level.  Only one other angler was on the banks and we chatted about recent form.  Apparently the fishing has been poor for most of the season, which didn’t bode well.  Still we were here now so needed to make the most of it.

I decided due to the lateness of arrival to fish just the one rod on this first session.  It was around 6pm by now so we needed to get a move on.  We all fished in the same area.  Simple tactics really; a big cage feeder packed with small pellets and groundbait.  I opted to fish a long hooklink of around 3 feet, a Pallatrax weight clip and tail rubber, 12lb mainline and a size 10 The Hook.  Bait was a Winter Almond Squab with matching paste.  In the summer I would look at casting a loaded feeder every few minutes for around an hour to get some bait out into the swim.  During the winter I tend to cut this down a bit and so recast every 8-10 minutes.

It was already turning cold but there was quite a bit of surface activity, with fish rolling.  Some appeared to be roach but one or two were bigger fish, maybe chub or barbel.  I think all three of us managed to tempt fish of some sort with Kevin and I taking the only barbel at one apiece.  Kevin’s was a decent one at 9lb 4oz, mine was around the 6lb mark.  I think we had a few chub and bream too.

The following day started with a hearty breakfast and then off to the river from around 11am.  We are no early birds when it comes to getting on the river, well not when breakfast is involved! We opted to fish the upper reaches of this section which involves quite a lengthy walk.  It’s made all the more arduous by the amount of completely unnecessary tackle taken.  As I write this I’m just wondering why the Hell I didn’t remove the umbrella from the quiver .  No rain was forecast over the few days and so it was totally pointless taking it.  Doh!

It was a murky start to the day with quite thick fog and a tad chilly too, with an over night frost.  Still we were hopeful.  Due to the recent high levels the banks are wet and slippery with a thick coating of silt in places.  At times I felt like a hippo wallowing in mud, although I didn’t enjoy it as much as a hippo would have! Anyway I spent around 3 or 4 hours in a swim that never produced so much as a twitch and so opted to move upstream.  I then put one rod out with maggots and a large blockend feeder.  As always I like to get the maggots Pallatraxed up a bit and add some Winter Almond overspray the night before.  This allows the maggots to absorb the flavouring and I just add a little extra on and off through the session.   I was now using an 8lb Flurocarbon hooklink of around 3 feet and a size 14 The Hook.  I put on around 4 or 5 maggots of varying colours, although red seemed to generate more interest from the fish.  As with all big rivers the feeder is cast upstream and a big bow of line is let out.  This helps to keep the feeder in place and allows a much lighter weight than if you tried to fish a tight line to the feeder.

By 8pm it was getting very foggy and cold, with a frost forming on the unhooking mat.  I’d managed to tempt a few chub and 3 barbel, however once darkness had set in things seemed to go quiet.  All bar one fish fell to the maggots, with one taking a liking to the Winter Almond squabs. Geoff had also managed a barbel and Kevin two I think.  It was no great hardship calling it a day and heading off for some food.  We hoped to be on the river a little earlier in the morning so an early night was in order.

The following morning saw us arrive around 10am and once the fog cleared it was a glorious day.  The sun came out and the warmth it generated was most welcome, it really was like a late spring day.  Sadly the fish didn’t seem impressed.  We had all opted to fish the lower section, where the flow is concentrated to the near bank due to the large sweeping bend above us.  We fished around a rod length out into a deep channel.  Sadly the fish appeared to be on their annual hols somewhere.  Kevin tried further out and soon had a barbel on.  With that, both Geoff and I tried the same tactics and eventually we were fishing 3/4 of the way across.  This seemed to make all the difference and soon we had all caught a barbel or two, plus a few chub.   Again they seemed to favour the maggots and my flavoured ones produced the goods.  I ended up with 5 nice barbel to over 8lbs and a couple of chub to 4lb 12oz, all on maggots.  Geoff managed one barbel and Kevin two.  I ended the few days with 9 barbel and around the same amount of chub and lost 2 barbel.  Geoff I think had 2 barbel and Kevin 4 or 5 and again both taking a number of good chub and bream.

So a tough season comes to an end.  The three musketeers seemed to have struggled this season.  Still, it was an enjoyable finale and as always I’d like to thank both Geoff and Kevin for their good friendship and patience.  My fishing would be poorer without their company.  Also not forgetting a certain Mr Collins for his good company, stories and entertaining tales.  Yes there is so much more to fishing than just catching fish and long may it continue.

The babbling brooks, streams and rivers that surround us are so mesmerising, so enchanting to anglers that you can find yourself drifting into a reverie just thinking about them.  They are so full of life and shrouded in many a long yarn or stories of magic and myths.  Many of the southern chalk streams are the preserve of the rich and famous, those a tad more fortunate than most.  Of course when you see the idyllic setting of these wondrous rivers , who can blame those that part with the vast sums of money necessary to partake in such a decadent indulgence.  I certainly would if money was no object.

There are a few beats here and there that fortunately can be fished for a fairly modest sum.  There are places on the Itchen, Test, Frome, Kennet and numerous other delightful chalk streams in Southern England that can be fished on a day ticket, coarse fishing syndicate, fishing club or even free fishing in some places.  As always it helps to know the right people and that can make a big difference.

Anyway I digress, I headed to one of Hampshire’s finest accompanied by good mate and Team Pallatrax Manager Jez Brown; the Baron himself.  We were primarily targeting the big roach that can be found in these hallowed waters.  Of course there was also a good chance of some decent grayling, dace and those ever present trout that enjoy the deep pools around the old mill house.

With significant rainfall over the last few months most of the area shows signs of the flooding, with large swaths of land under water.  This is when your dream house overlooking the river can become your worst nightmare.  Fortunately the floods have abated somewhat and the level of this particular chalk stream was perhaps 18-24″ up on its normal level.  It was bombing through of course but the pools looked very fishable and there were a number of very enticing slacks to be found close in amongst the partially submerged marginal trees and bushes.

We headed to our chosen spots and I opted for a cage feeder packed with liquidized bread, 3ft hooklink and a size 10 barbless hook with a decent piece of breadflake on.  We were soon fishing and Jez had some early success with a couple of trout.  However it soon became apparent that the recent good form of this beat had possibly come to an end.  Sadly the bites dried up and neither of us could tempt so much as a twitch.  Jez was experiencing the powers of Nathan ‘Jonah’ Walter first hand.  I seem to posses the uncanny ability to turn even the most productive of swims into a desert this season.

It was time for a change and so I decided to try maggots and changed the cage feeder for a blockend.  This decision paid off immediately, with knocks and decent bites signalling activity.  Soon a number of fish succumbed to the new tactics and I landed some cracking grayling to around a pound and a half, some big trout and a number of nice dace.  Jez decided to run a float through the swim but sadly this produced nothing.  We kept some feed going in and I tried the float after increasing the depth a bit.  This seemed to make all the difference and first trot through produced a fish.  I then returned to the feeder and targeted an area where the pool started to shallow up before running off downstream.


The action started to hot up and each cast produced a fish, with some good grayling.  Jez was also beginning to get a fish a chuck and he took some lovely grayling on the float.  However even this action soon dried up.  Perhaps the heavy frosts of the previous two nights had put the fish down a bit.  It’s been so mild lately that frosts must come as a bit of a shock to the poor old fish!  So it was time for a change, as the afternoon was wearing on.

By mid afternoon the sun was out and it was incredibly warm.  A hint of early spring was in the air and there was no need for any winter thermal clothing for a change.  That constant  gale force south westerly wind that has been so prevalent this winter, had at last abated and we were able to enjoy the warm rays of the sun.  It really was a pleasant day and that was enhanced by being privileged enough to be on one of Hampshire’s finest chalk streams.

Maggots - Pallatrax Style

Maggots – Pallatrax Style

Jez decided it was time he went for a wander, whilst I concentrated on the hot peg.  Well if anyone can freeze hot pegs, it’s me.  Another hour passed by without so much as twitch.  However the move had been the right decision for Jez and he had just landed a pristine 1lb 9oz roach from a marginal slack.  He soon followed that up with a slightly bigger roach.  It was time for me to have a go!  Yes you’ve guessed it; two immediate bites and two fish bumped off!  Bugger…or words to that effect.  With Jez shouting “watch out for the snag” and me shouting “what $%#@ing snag” both fish came adrift.  Still I’ve got used to this type of result this season, if it can go wrong it has, with one cock-up after another.  Still hopefully I’ve had so many cock-ups this season there can’t possibly be any left for next season……!

1lb 9oz

1lb 9oz

So I returned to my original spot whilst Jez worked on his Karma after my disastrous attempt at his swim.  One of the roach I lost was a good fish but these things happen I guess.   As the light faded the rod top started to indicate more action.  I had opted to touch leger for the majority of the day, mainly due to the presence of grayling.  I don’t really like quiver tipping for grayling as they have a habit of swallowing the hook.  If you touch leger and hit the slightest knock the problem is almost eradicated.  Its also a very rewarding way to fish as you feel all of those tiny taps, quivers and trembles on the line.

The rod tip whacked round aggressively and at last the target fish was netted; a beautiful river roach of 1lb 5oz.  By now it was dark and Jez was still downstream.  I wasn’t going to call him up to photograph the fish, if it had been a bit larger I would have.  So I popped her back and carried on.  Almost immediately the tip hammered round again and this time a really chunky grayling was the culprit.  It went 1lb 12oz on the scales and I popped it back as quickly as possible.  A couple of big trout followed and I started to think the action was really hotting up.  Big mistake….it died a death.  Not a touch followed. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Naught.  Well you get the picture.

Jez Brown's Stunning Roach

Jez Brown’s Stunning Roach

I decided with around 15-30 minutes left to go for a wander and find Jez.  He had lost one fish but that was all he’d had since I lost my two fish in his swim.  So after a 10 minute try in a slack, we decided enough was enough.  I was due on the Kennet the following morning, being picked up at 6am.  It was nearly 8pm now and with a 2 hour drive ahead of me it was time to call it a day.  I had thoroughly enjoyed myself, in great company and in a truly magical setting.   Although I hadn’t tempted any of the big roach that call this stretch home, I’d had some cracking sport and some really lovely and pristine conditioned fish.

Hopefully Jez will let me join him again here next season when hopefully the levels are back to normal and maybe we can don the waders and get in and trot a float through some of those glorious gravel runs for some of these enormous roach and grayling.

Winter Roach Fishing

Over the last couple of weeks Geoff and I have been targeting a carp lake in Kent for it’s roachy inhabitants.  Just for a change it’s not far from where I live, so none of this 200 mile round trip nonsense!  I became aware of this lake a couple of years ago and we tried it a couple of times in less than favourable conditions.  At the time we managed to tempt a few roach but nothing special and almost forgot about the place until recently.

A mate of mine has been fishing over the winter for the big perch that inhabit this venue and so Geoff and I decided to return and have another go for these legendary large roach.  We decided to fish more thoroughly and give it a real concerted effort.  We both enjoy float fishing over the feeder method and so that would be our main attack.  Chatting to the bailiff and a couple of the regulars indicated that maggot and sweetcorn fished well, so both of those baits were packed along with a few lob worms and casters.

The weather has been somewhat trying of late to say the least; rain and the flooding of course have kept me off the rivers since around late November but also the constant wind is a bit of a drag (yes, pun intended! :-) ).  There’s barely been a day where it’s not blowing a hooley, with gusts of 30+ almost daily.  Thank God I haven’t resorted to wearing a wig in my dotage, otherwise it would have been fluttering like a kite.  It really does wear you down after a while though.  Still One has to grin and bear it as they say!

Due to the nature of the lake in question there are few places where the wind can be avoided, especially if you’re sitting close to Geoff!  However there are one or two spots protected by the prevailing WSW winds.  Over a two week period we fished the lake 3 times.  Each time we tried a different area in an effort to explore the nature of the lakes bottom (ooh er missus), hoping to identify different depths or features.  Lots of plumbing is a big help and soon starts to build up a picture of what’s in front of you.  Obviously due to the shear amount of rainfall this winter, the level of the lake is up around 18″-2′, however that does bring into play a lot of bankside cover.  A lot of the tress and bushes around this water are partially submerged now and offer a great feature to fish to.  Although the fish do tend to show further out in all fairness.

Tactics were fairly simple; a waggler fixed with float stops and the majority of shot fished around the float with only a couple of No 8 dropper shots down the line.  Careful plumbing indicated the required depth (and it is deep here, at around 6-7ft in the areas we targeted).  A size 16 hook to nylon attached to the 4lb mainline finished off the simple set-up.  The idea was to keep feeding maggots regularly and hopefully get the shoals of roach feeding competitively.

Bites came fairly quickly and pretty steadily all day on all three occasions.   I like to get my baits Pallatrax’d up and so add some of the Winter Almond overspray to both the maggots and sweetcorn and I combine this with using the excellent Bloodworm and Maggot Crush groundbait.   It just gives it that extra edge as far as I’m concerned and as Tesco would say “every little helps”.

Vital ingredients

Vital ingredients

The roach here seem to move around quite a bit.  One spot will produce steady bites and then they just seem to dry up, only for another area further out to start producing. This is probably due to having to put the fish back, they eventually spook the rest of the shoal and so they move on.    It’s worth keeping a few spots baited up and when things start to slow down, move the float to the next area.  This tactic worked well and both of us caught a lot of roach over the first two visits.  The size and quality of the roach here are superb.  We caught lots of fish around the pound mark with numerous fish over that weight to 1lb 5oz, with the majority of fish averaging around 8oz.  The real biggies proved elusive but the quality of the fish are extraordinary; they are in absolutely mint condition.

I tried casters, worm, maggots and sweetcorn.  On two of the visits they completely switched off the maggots and would only take corn but on our latest trip we couldn’t get a touch on corn.  They don’t appear to be too finicky either, with 3 or even 4 maggots producing lots of bites.  That said the float needed to be shotted down to hit some of the delicate bites, otherwise quite a few would be missed.  Fishing just a single maggot on a 18/20 hook produced lots of very small fish, so that’s best avoided.

Roach to 1lb 5oz

Roach to 1lb 5oz

The last trip saw one chap catch well over 150 roach on the hemp and caster approach, so on our next visit we’ll be giving this a try.  It’s a bit more intense in that you must keep the hemp constantly going into the swim, so a shower of hempseed is falling through the water layers all the time.  I’m hoping to get back soon for another go and hopefully find some of the bigger roach that this venue is well known for.

Still its wonderful catching so many roach in such superb condition.


Roach at Bury Hill

More rain has fallen since my latest trip to Bury Hill in Dorking.  In fact we’ve had 65mm in around 72 hours in Sevenoaks!  The rivers must be over the banks again in a lot of areas but the good news is things look like they are going to settle down now, well for a while at least.

Due to the dire forecast, Geoff and I opted to try for some more roach.  Old Bury Hill has a reputation for good quality fish and has produced good numbers over 2lbs.  Our drive through the Kent and Surrey countryside highlighted the effects of the recent storms.  Most of the fields were like lakes and the occasional view of a river showed them to be high, coloured and very turbulent.  It wouldn’t take much to send the river levels up and cascading over the banks and back into fields, roads and houses.

Bonds lake in warmer times

Bonds lake in warmer times

It was a rather grey day and the forecast was predicting heavy winds gusting to around 30mph and heavy rain showers.  We managed to persuade the gentleman in the shop to rustle us up some toast and marmalade and a nice cup of tea, as the cafe was closed.  That was a very nice gesture and was very much appreciated.  As we walked along the banks we realised just how bad things were.  Most of the banks were sodden and there was large amounts of standing water.  In some areas water was actually flowing across the banks.  Thank goodness we had put our boots on.  We also discovered that a small bridge across the stream which runs adjacent to the lakes had been washed away in the floods.

We were soon at our chosen lake and after some plumbing around, both selected swims.  By now the wind had already picked up but the rain seemed to be holding off for the time being at least.  My set-up was very simple.  My Maver Reactolite 13ft float rod, Drennan fixed spool, 4lb mainline and a 3.6lb hooklink and 16 hook.  I like to use a swivel to connect the mainline and hooklink and then mould some tungsten putty around this to set the float.  By doing this and using float stops, I don’t pinch any shot on the line and therefore avoid any line damage whatsoever.   There are downsides to using this method of course, for instance if you want to fish a long drop between hook and shot.  Then you may need to revert back to split shot, bulking it up at the float and fish a very small dropper shot around 1/2 way between float and hook.  This may well be a better method for roach, as they often take on the drop after a prolonged period of feeding maggots.

After around 90 minutes without a bite, I decided to have a look around the lake.  By now the wind had picked up and it was blowing directly into my face.  This was causing a  few problems with presentation and I wasn’t happy with the results.  I found an area slightly sheltered from the strong wind and with a reasonable depth of around 3ft.  Feeding small golf ball size balls of Bloodworm and Maggot Crush and loose feeding maggots flavoured with Winter Almond overspray, I then fished single maggot over the top.  I lost a couple of fish early on and then managed to tempt a couple of pristine roach of around 8oz.  Despite looking good, the swim just didn’t seem to be producing many bites.

Pallatrax Winter Almond

Pallatrax Winter Almond

By now Geoff had also moved and seemed to have found a few fish.  He had taken around 12 nice roach in the 8oz-1lb bracket.  He wandered over to see me and said that bronze maggots were producing more bites.  So I duly pinched a few of his and mixed them in with my flavoured reds and then out went the float again.  The float had barely settled when it disappeared.  After a very spirited fight a beautiful, pristine roach was netted.  I popped it on the scales and it registered 1lb 7oz and proved to be the best roach of the day.   The swim then produced a small bream and little else, so another move was in order.  By now the heavy rain showers had started and some were quite prolonged.  Due to the nature of the swims and the severity of the wind, an umbrella wasn’t really an option.  It was a case of hunkering down in our winter clothing and just trying to keep the rain out.

1lb 7oz

1lb 7oz

I moved across the lake and settled in next to Geoff.  He had found a deep swim of around 5ft of water close in and adjacent to some marginal reeds. He continued to catch steadily for the remainder of the day and ended up with around 20 nice roach to 1lb 1oz.  I seemed to elicit less bites with my set up than Geoff.  Geoff had opted to fish a long tail and an 18 hook.  This I suspect made the difference.  However I was treated to quite a mixed bag; I ended up with a tench of around 3lbs, a couple of bream, a couple of roach to around 10oz and just as the day was drawing to a close the float buried and something took off like a high speed train.  I had obviously hooked one of the resident carp.  It fought long and hard on the light tackle but with steady pressure I coaxed it into the waiting landing net.  I was fairly convinced it would go mid doubles but in fact it was smaller than I had at first thought.  It was a stunning common and weighed 9lb 13oz and was an exciting finish to a rather mucky, wet and windy day.


As Arnie would say in that heavy Austrian accent; “I’ll be back”!

Andrew Poole has arranged a weekend fish-in in July this year to raise money for Cancer Research UK.  It is being supported by lots of people and angling groups but needs your support too.

Please dig deep and donate to this great charity and one day, maybe, we can beat it.  Details can be found here:

Bag A Barbel and Let’s Beat Cancer.


More details can be found on the Facebook Page too:  Facebook Page

Bag A Barbel and Let's Beat Cancer

Bag A Barbel and Let’s Beat Cancer

Floody Hell

Sorry, couldn’t resist that!  Well it has certainly rained a bit recently.  And oh boy when it rains it really rains.  Most of the country seems to be under water, with the vast majority of the UK’s rivers on flood alert.  The news channels are awash (sorry) with pictures and stories on the latest developments as they happen, minute by minute.  Some areas have had devastating water level rises and to all of those poor souls who have had their homes flooded out, my deepest sympathies.  Let’s hope we’ve seen an end to it for the remainder of the winter.

Of course generally winter floods means warm rain and milder weather.  All that basically means feeding barbel.  However when levels rise this much you have to be very careful indeed.  I love to catch barbel but I’m not risking life and limb to do it.  You need to know your stretch like the back of your hand before attempting to fish in these exceptionally high conditions.  The fields are flooded and you need to know every nook and cranny of the beat you are going to fish.  Ditches, holes, uneven ground, crumbling banks, feeder streams etc. etc. can all become death traps if you go wandering off kitted out in your waders oblivious to the dangers.  Unless you are 100% confident, then don’t bother.  Wait for the river to drop to a safer level and then give it a go.

I did manage to venture out after a 3 week hiatus.  This was mainly due to work but also a chest infection which has lasted the best part of 4 weeks and has left me a little run down.  Danny and I met at the world famous (or is that infamous) Max’s Cafe for the full Monty before exploring a couple of sections of the Kennet.  The river had burst it’s banks around the upper Benyons, however the car park side appeared to be OK.  A walk downstream confirmed that it was safely accessible.  Danny and I found a number of good looking spots to try but wanted to look at another stretch first.  So we drove to the second beat and due to the time, decided to fish it.  However once we had walked the beat with the gear, I realised it was a mistake.  There were far less areas that looked fishable to me, whereas we had left a stretch that had a number of excellent opportunities on offer.  We persevered but unfortunately failed to get a bite.  By 4pm the river was rising and spilling out into the adjoining fields.  It was time to head home and after being poorly for so long I felt completely exhausted from all of the walking.

With the kind permission of Micky Holtam

With the kind permission of Micky Holtam

With the kind permission of Micky Holtam

With the kind permission of Micky Holtam

The next day saw Geoff and I heading to an old haunt in search of some roach.  These are a group of small lakes in Herne, Kent.  They are renowned for the quality of the roach fishing.  The wind had sprung up and became very blustery and remained that way all day.  We opted to float fish in an area of around 4ft (which is good for these lakes) and slightly sheltered from the wind.  My swim had a sunken tree in close which I thought offered a nice feature to fish to.  The set up was fairly simple; 13ft Maver Reactorlite, fixed spool reel with 4lb line and a 3.5lb hooklink with a size 14 hook.  The float was a simple Drennan loaded waggler.  I had a number of baits at my disposal including Pallatrax Hidra small snails, maggots, luncheon meat cubes and expander pellets.   Additionally I had sprayed the maggots and Hidra’s with the Winter Almond over spray and also mixed up some of my favourite groundbait which is the excellent Pallatrax Bloodworm and Maggot Crush.

Bloodworm and Maggot Crush

Bloodworm and Maggot Crush

Bait Selection

Bait Selection

After carefully plumbing the swim, I opted to fish close to the sunken tree at around 1 rod length out.  I mixed up the groundbait and put out two small balls and some maggots.  I continued to feed golf ball sized balls of groundbait throughout the day.  Initially I opted to fish on the bottom and alternated between all of the baits at my disposal.  Bites came almost immediately and unfortunately it seemed that small skimmer bream had become quite populous here.  In the past it was rare to catch bream on this particular lake and now they were far more prevalent.  Still it was nice to get the rod bent.

A few decent roach put in an appearance and numerous fish were netted up to 10oz for me.  Geoff managed a couple of better ones at 13oz and 14oz.  In the past we have caught good numbers of 1lb plus roach here but it wasn’t to be today.  The bream were generally small with the odd better fish, possibly up to a couple of pounds.  Both Geoff and I had a couple of surprise captures; we both had two nice chub apiece, with the biggest about 3lbs.  I also lost a big common carp near the net when the hooked pulled.  We saw the fish on numerous occasions before it came adrift and it looked to be well into double figures, so I was a bit gutted to lose that.   Then just to keep up with the Jones’ as they say, Geoff also lost a good carp.

As the day wore on the bream took over.  So I decided to fish up in the water and shallowed up the float.  Alternating between baits I fished at around 18″ deep.  Now when bites came roach were the culprits.  It made a big difference and soon I had notched up a couple of dozen nice roach.   I think by the end of the day I had counted 59 fish for me, give or take one or two.  So all in all a fun day.  Geoff trailed a little with probably high 20s I think.  Perhaps my superior angling came good on the day or it could have been the groundbait and flavoured maggots that made the difference! Or maybe I was lucky, who knows.  Geoff normally excels at this kind of fishing, so it made a pleasant change to dish out a can of whoop ass! :-)


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