The last few weeks haven’t produced much opportunity to fish due to work commitments. So I’ve had to do the work thing and the family thing, visiting numerous family members (which is certainly no hardship) and basically be Mr Grumps due to the lack of fishing.
I did manage an afternoon and evening trip a couple of weeks backs on the Kennet, which produced just the one bite and resulted in a small barbel of about 5lbs. After that I did a short evening session on the Lea and despite the river looking very good and the swim also giving me those vibes that make you think you’re definitely going to catch, I only managed one bite which turned out to be a chub of about 4-41/2lbs, a small one for the Lea.
Again this week I found my usual two day session truncated and only managed to get out on the Wednesday. I had planned a trip with Kevin and we decided on route to try Rainsford Farm on the Kennet. As we pulled into the car park we realised we had a problem. There were already 8 or 9 cars present. We decided however to at least go for a recce and see where people were fishing. The river looked stunning it’s summer finery. Rich colours adorned the banks, as thick foliage offered an abundance of cover to wary fish. The river was relatively clear and through the flowing ranunculus we could see lovely, enticing gravel runs. This was the first time we had seen this section in it’s summer regalia and we were very impressed.
However having walked the banks and discovered around a dozen people fishing, we felt a move elsewhere would be better and so we headed off to the Reading and District Angling Association’s controlled section of the Benyons. We arrived around 2.30-3.00pm and so I decided to fore-go the meat rolling and find a couple of swims to feeder fish. Kevin found a nice spot quite quickly but I carried on downstream for some distance. Oh for a pack horse in these circumstances, especially with this hot, sticky weather at the moment. The sweat was pouring from my brow and stinging my eyes as I headed off to an area I had seen previously. Luckily Kevin had offered to help, otherwise I might still be there in a heap on the banks.
I found a lovely swim on a bend. The river flowed in from my right and under an overhanging tree and cut a deep marginal gulley right through in front of me and as the bend straightened out it ran under numerous overhanging trees down to my left. There was a good flow and depth and I felt very confident.
I decided initially to cast downstream and let the bait swing in under the tress. I used a light feeder and hoped that this would present the bait where and how I wanted it, or more importantly how the fish wanted it. As I pushed in the rod rests I started to feel stinging on my legs. I brushed the feeling aside but the stings were getting worse. “Bloody stinging nettles” I thought. As I looked at the swim I started to realise two things. Firstly there were no stinging nettles and secondly my legs felt like they were on fire. It then dawned on my what it probably was and yes there they were-red ants. I was covered in them and the ground was swarming with the little red blighters. I had to whip my trousers off to get rid of them (fortunately no women were present, otherwise they may have swooned beyond the point of recovery) and move right back out of the way. Eventually they calmed down and by moving across I manged to avoid them for the remainder of the day. My legs were a constant reminder for some time that red ants are not to be messed with!
The downstream rod never produced so much as a twitch, so throughout the remainder of the day I tried numerous positions in the swim. At one point I dispensed with the feeder and put on some swan shot and flicked the bait upstream of a huge overhanging tree opposite me. The bait swung right under it and I thought this would give me a good chance of a fish. However it was not to be and despite trying several other things, I seemed unable to tempt so much as a rattle on the rod top, let alone anything resembling a barbel bite.
As usual I found myself captivated by the scenery and wildlife. I heard and then spotted a beautiful Red Kite soaring overhead and an array of other bird life. Then a scrambling sound in the tall grass to my right drew my attention and out popped a stoat. It stopped to look at me and with total disinterest carried on with it’s foraging. A few minutes later more sounds of a similar nature pulled my attention to the left and I spotted two stoats running up the path about 4 feet from me. They were squabbling in the way stoats do and springing into the air as they squealed and screeched at each other before disappearing into the thick tall grass of the adjacent meadow, never to be seen again. Well by me at least.
Several times throughout the afternoon I was treated to the spectacle of swans plowing through my swim at breakneck speed, as they seemingly chased each other up and down the river. I was amazed at just how fast they would swim upstream, let alone downstream. Then a mother and 5 cygnets passed by. I was convinced in the end they had been watching the BBc’s coverage of the Olympics with Claire Balding (I know how she feels!) and were all fired up for some canoing or kayaking of their own. Still we have all gone Olympic mad, so why not I say?
As the evening arrived the familiar sound of a hot air balloon being fired up could be heard somewhere behind me. Eventually the culprit appeared larger than life and steadily rose silently into the sky. Just the occasional burst from the burners could be heard as the balloon soared high into the evening sky. With barely a breath of wind it made slow progress through the still evening sky but eventually disappeared from my viewpoint.
Earlier on Kevin had contacted me with that delighted sound in his voice that indicated some action and indeed it was. He had just caught his first Kennet fish of the season, a lovely 8lb+ barbel in near mint condition. He was overjoyed and I was delighted for him. I wish I had been a bit closer to Kevin, so I could have seen the fish. Nothing else happened and we had to depart by 9.30pm and head for home.