July 24, 2011

Chub, chub, more chub and some idiots

I think I may have to wash all my kit a it seems to have become tainted with a chub attractor.

We've had a spate, 5' of water has flushed through the river and it should be red hot for some barbel action. Its also that time of year when the fish should be moving to their summer spots, leaving the post spawning areas and spreading out. Trouble is, nobody has told the barbel.

I've fished a few different spots over the last few days and have only had chub. barbel are being caught by other anglers but I'm trying places where they should be as well as a few spots where I've never caught one. Avoiding the often fished and downright hammered sections means catching less but I don't mind, a barbel from a new swim is always welcome and counts high on my 'achievement' list.


My club ticket for Hereford and District AA should arrive this week and the challenge of the Lugg awaits. Target? Barbel - obviously and I'd like a good 'un. I'd like a big chub too, 6lbs is a possibility from what I've seen and of course, there's that perch that Conrad saw - he put it at over 3ibs. Can't wait.


I lost my glasses yesterday. Somewhere between the car and my swim, across 400yards of long grass, they fell from my pocket - bugger!

Today, I decided to at least have a cursory search for them and, after twenty yards of field - there they were, slightly bent but otherwise okay. Finding stuff you think lost for ever is great, I hate the emptiness you feel when the search is in vain.

That done, I had a check around the fishery and found a car parked inside an area fenced off by the farmer. He closes half of this big field for a few weeks each summer for hay making and it is closed off with an electric fence. To stop the anglers that cross the fence (on foot) from getting a shock, we have put some lengths of insulating foam over it. These herberts said "That fence has been there for a year" (Obviously they last came in early summer 2010). Then one of them said, "The farmer closes this half of the field because there's nowhere for the cows to get a drink." I pointed out the cattle drink not 15 yards from them!
Then they said, "We thought that the rubber on the wire (insulation material) was there for us to drive over." I asked him if he had noticed there were no other tyre marks in the field?

I don't know of these guys were stupid or just too plain lazy to walk the 150 yards to the swim they were fishing but I have asked Mike (the guy that owns the fishery) if I can have a cattle prod as some people really, really do need a jolt now and again.

July 18, 2011


I don't intend including every trip on here but I'll give last evening a mention.

It was windy! Now I hate fishing in a wind. I'd rather sit it out under a brolly in a downpour than contend with a blustery breeze. I am certain that our ancestors stayed in the cave on such days as an unsteady wind destroys our hunting senses - hearing and scent especially.

But we don't use scent when fishing do we?

No, but its a general feeling of being stifled by the buffeting breeze that effects me. Its only air on the move, what has air got to do that requires it to be in such a hurry?

I began, as I have been intending to do all season, at a spot unfishable from the bank. I waded to a shallow gravel bar in mid-stream and threw a few freebies toward the bank into a deep glide. I followed up with a rolling rig, plasticine for a weight and a hair rigged boilie as bait. Due to the windy conditions I lost contact with the weight and the rod felt heavy each time it was hit by a gust.

I increased the amount of weight and tried again but again lost contact. I decided to try something different and tightened to reel in only to find myself playing a nice chub. Oh well, who needs skill when you have luck on your side.

I kept at it, changing the weight to a lead, rolling, static, nothing felt right - so I moved.

I found a spot - an old faithful - and settled down at water level to negate as much wind as possible. Out went the same combination of feed and bait and very soon the first fish was on. Well, it wasn't quite like that. I actually decided to reposition by bait and again, reeled in only this time I felt the fish 'take' as the bait moved. I was convinced it was a perch as they sometimes snap at a moving boilie but no, there was chub number two.

The next three were far more conventional bites and the last was well over 4 pounds in weight. But, despite only fishing for couple of hours, I'd had enough. I could have continued catching chub after chub with an outside chance of a barbel but the wind had rattled me so I left, content with my rewards for a short session and glad to be out of the wind.

July 16, 2011

The Lugg

The Lugg is a small tributary of the Wye. It is a pretty little river with countless features that look 'fishy', unfortunately, very few are inhabited.

I fished the Lugg on my second season over here. At that time I was learning the Wye (a mighty task) and flitting back and forth to the Teme and occasionally the Severn for some easy fishing, so the Lugg was a side dish, a distraction. Had it produced a few more fish I would have spent more time there but....

For a river where fish location can, at times, be quite easy, the fish were extremely difficult to tempt. I once found a shoal of chub just hanging in mid-water below an overhanging bush. I was on a high bank, out of sight and my approach was (for me) quite silent. I flicked a pellet upstream and a modest fish intercepted it. I threw two more above them, they fell, slowly, toward the fish which all parted and let them sink beyond them. Within seconds the fish had drifted away.

How was I to catch fish that were this spooky?

I did, no fish are impossible but these were all a challenge. I had a few barbel, none big. The river record is just over ten pounds although I have spoken to those that claim larger and I tend to believe some of them. I had a good catch of chub one evening but was distracted for a while as I watched two hot air balloons lock together and appear quite stuck (mating?) for some twenty minutes before drifting apart. I scanned the local papers that week - no mention - one of life's mysteries.

It was also on the Lugg where I spent much of the day prepping a swim for the the evening 'hot period'. I crept into position as the light fell, carefully placed my bait and sat back. I had a couple of 'liners', they were in my swim..... just a matter of time when - Spaloooosh!

That is the sound that a cow makes as it (Bambi on ice style), loses its footing and falls flat on its side into the river - directly opposite my position. As the tidal wave subsided I packed my gear away and watched as the hapless beast swam - spluttering - to the cattle drink and out of its unexpected bath, all this watched by an audience of silent, chewing cattle. What was going through those bovine brains?

Anyway, after a long leave of absence, I returned to the Lugg yesterday and joined wandering barbel fanatics Conrad, Richard, Steve and Hobby as they experienced the delights of the river in their quest to catch barbel from as many rivers as possible.

As I waited for them to arrive from their travels from the frozen north (I'm sure there was snow on their cars), I had a wander and saw a fish flash over a gravel run, that'll do for me.

The lads all went their merry ways and I set about introducing some feed. Despite my best efforts and keeping low amongst the thistles - ow! I only had a modest chub enter the baited area...... then leave immediately.

I gave up with that swim but put a few visible baits on a spot before I left.

I tried a few more swims without a sign of a fish, stopped for a chat with Rich and Conrad then wandered back downstream to go and find the others. On my way I looked in on the swims I'd been fishing for any signs of feeding fish, there were none until I reached the first spot - the baits had gone.

I put more in and and waited. I saw a puff of silt drift beyond a feeding fish, then - a flash! This continued for a while but still no bites until three swans started feeding in the shallows upstream. This had the effect of sending a 'smoke trail' of coloured water through my swim and, as it passed, my rod bent forwards.

I was taken somewhat by surprise by the size of the fish. I had seen and expected just small barbel, maybe a five or six pounder, this fish was at least two pounds bigger and looked huge in such a tight swim. It fought well but I soon had it over the net, in it went but then - splash! Out it went and the fight started again. Annoyed at myself, I played it back to the net and said to myself, 'you won't do that again'...... it did. This time however, the lead caught in the mesh and the fish snapped me and escaped....... Bugger!

I haven't lost a fish like this for ages, I was not happy, I had that fish all but landed and, either through bad luck or, much more likely bad angling, it was gone.

I quickly recovered my composure, packed my gear and continued downstream to catch up with the others. Hobby - the Ninja Barbeller - had caught but then he always does. He'd also found some more fish and decent chub in another swim.

I'm looking at the Lugg in a different way now. I used to see it as 'not worth the effort' but nowadays I value fish that require a bit of brain power above all others. I shall return.

July 14, 2011

Where else but France

I'll come to the fishing later but that was only a minor part of the trip.

I love France, always have and see no way that my opinion will change any time soon. Despite the, so called, animosity between our two nations I have always found French people to be friendly and obliging and, I think, they seem to like us. Yes, I know that they are useless at fighting and let us down badly during the last war, I know that they help to make Euro laws but then ignore them and their football team are a bunch of cheats but that aside, I love 'em.

I driven around most of France and I always enjoy the countryside, the open spaces and the wonderful architecture be it a beautiful chateau looming out of the wooded landscape or a medieval town so unchanged that it requires minimal imagination to wonder how life was lived there hundreds of years ago. This time we passed hundreds of fields full of sunflowers, like triffids at the electric fence each facing the same way, slaves to the light.

And where else can you be driving along, looking for a particular feature on a river, when you happen across the most wonderful collection of sculpture you could imagine? We did.

Just outside of Saintes in the Charente Maritime we saw a sculpted boat alongside the road. I slowed to look at it and beyond it we saw some standing statues and a number carved into the limestone rock face. There was a car park and that was us for the next hour. It transpires (from talking to one of two woman learning their sculpting techniques in an otherwise empty place), that the sculpting had been going on here for over a decade and that famous artists from around the world are invited to spend three months or so a year to indulge in the special qualities of the stone face. The results are incredible and it must be one of France's greatest secrets as even people living in the area seem oblivious to the place.

Here are a few pictures of some of the works. The scale is difficult to take in but most of the pieces were at least life size and the baby in the womb was about 10' across.

Pretty awesome eh?

You could never do this in the UK. For one thing, it was open and unsecured. At home, I am ashamed to say, the pieces would have been damaged and daubed in graffiti. What is more, it was a work in progress and we walked through a small quarry, under overhanging rocks, through tunnels and around a wobbly wooden scaffold that the artist stands on. What? I hear you scream, without a hard had, fluorescent jacket, torch, and a safety rope? Yup! And neither of us got crushed, fell or died. At home this place would have the 'what if' health and safety loonies running around in a frenzy. Another massive plus about the French - a modicum of common sense.

So our holiday was a success. We camped for the first time in years and, apart from forgetting the air bed! everything went smoothly. It was hot and we were so relaxed, any thought of serious fishing seemed too much like hard work.

But I did a bit. Not in the Loire as I couldn't find it! The drought has hit central France hard and this mighty river is, in parts a trickle......


So we headed south and stayed between Royan and Rochefort where we camped next to a 4 acre lake. I fed the area outside of the tent. It looked very good with about 6 - 8' of water overhanging trees and some fallen ones in the margin.

Next morning I baited again and, when we returned later, I had a cast. Alas my first effort failed as a fish took me straight into a snag despite me hitting the run very early. This had taken about twenty minutes from casting in so, I figured the chance of another take was high and, as I started to sort the end gear again, I lobbed some pieces of bread just out from my position. Two minutes later a fish started to take them. I don't need a second invitation in these circumstances and bit off my rig and tied on a size 6 hook with a big lump of bread on it.

Thirty seconds after lowering the bait it was taken. The fish, a common, gave a really good account of itself and was in mint condition. It went 19.03 - job done. I packed up and opened a bottle of red.

Next day I sneaked down and lobbed some more bread out. It didn't take long and a couple of fish started to suck down the pieces. One was a half decent mirror but, when I lowered my bait, it was slurped down within 5 to 10 seconds but and very athletic thirteen pound common.

I again rested the swim, topped it (and another) up with a few more boilies and relaxed for the evening.

On the next day I decided to go for broke and try for a decent fish. Don't get me wrong, I was more than happy with two off the top but I wanted to see if there was anything else to be had. I'd only seen a few single or low doubles cruising elsewhere on the water. I set up two rods and cast them between the two fallen trees. I hunched over the rods, hot and uncomfortable, waiting..... ready to hit the first sign of a bite. Bites came alright, lot of them and, when I eventually hit one, it was from a diminutive Poisson Chat. To those of you unfamiliar with poisson chat, they are small catfish perhaps better described as three large spines joined by some meat and fins. They are veracious feeders and the bane of all French carp anglers.

I moved back to the front of our pitch and cast a rod under the overhanging trees baited with a (allegedly) chat proof Rosehip boilie. A bite came some half hour later and I had a right old tussle with a powerful fish. It was a mirror (the one I saw before?) and went 22.13. Although it is small by French standards, I was happy with that.

After this capture the lake went quiet. No more fish would rise to bread and the fish that had rolled near the snags stopped doing so. I tried again on a couple of evenings but the lake floor was paved with poisson chat that could reduce 20mm rosehip boilies to the size of a sugar cube in about ten minutes. I think my feeding had drawn them in and driven the carp out.
Not to worry, I was so relaxed I just happily watched the water and listened to the myriad of bird song.

We spent our last couple of days in Honfleur and, as I shut the car boot having packed everything away, it started to rain. Very timely. Our last night was spent in a luxurious chateau before the long drive home.

Sitting overlooking a little port whilst eating moules mariniere and frites, sipping on a cold draft beer and people watching. All just memories now but I'll be back again in September. It will be cooler and my fishing head will well and truly be on.