Monthly Archives: August 2013

Double success for Ron

My old friend Ron had paid for a day out on the Avon in aid of BS RandC Funds, and I was pleased to finally get it organised after a delay from last year, due to the awful river conditions we experienced twelve months ago. This year is quite the reverse, with low water and ever-clearing water making it much better for spotting of barbel and chub. We settled in a swim where fish could be seen easily, and fed them up until they were going potty for hemp and casters.

Ron was delighted with a barbel of about seven pounds on his first cast, and we relaxed and chatted about our days spent teaching and how things have changed for both teachers and kids over the years. We are both now retired from the profession, fishing instead of form-filling, and have much to reminisce about! Ron was so pleased with his barbel, he said I should take the next fish. On these guiding days, I do not fish, but try and ensure the guest has the sport, but for fun I relented and expected to get a ubiquitous chub next cast; the swim was full of them.

The rod walloped round and I was soon playing a very good barbel, and at 12.12 it was a significant specimen. I apologized to Ron profusely, as it should have been his fish, but he just smiled and congratulated me, a sign of a true angler and a real gent.

I made sure he was compensated though, and he took another barbel, several chub, and then a lovely first double on his pin and new rod, a beautiful stocky fish of 11.13. A wonderful day’s fishing, in excellent company, and some great […]

By |August 20th, 2013|Pete's River Diary|Comments Off on Double success for Ron|

Dead rabbit omen

After a busy few days with site meetings with the WCSRT, EA, landowners, local clubs etc regarding our BS habitat works on the Avon and Stour, it was good to have a day free to go fishing! As I wandered expectantly towards the river, I passed beneath a tall oak tree, a large and ancient specimen that is probably a few hundred years old. Something fell from the tree, and landed a few feet in front of me, with that soft, sickening thud that can only be made as a dead body hits the ground. It was a large rabbit, with no head, and a few entrails on show. My first thought was that it was lost prey from either a leopard, or a buzzard, both of which will stash a kill up a tree for a while. I quickly discounted the leopard, not common in the Avon valley, although there are tales of large black cats that could be escaped mountain lion. It was likely that one of the buzzards that I often saw perching in the oak had accidentally dropped a meal from a feeding branch above my head; I imagined it cursing to itself about a lost lunch, but took the dead rabbit as a bad omen, and fished with not much confidence.

The rabbit turned out to be lucky, though, and I had a couple of clean sprightly barbel of seven and eight pounds within a couple of hours, who had moved in on the bed of hemp I had introduced a day or so before when I last fished the swim. A quiet spell followed, then, as dusk approached, the slow purr of the centrepin suggested a better fish had […]

By |August 15th, 2013|Pete's River Diary|Comments Off on Dead rabbit omen|

Kennet fish-in

The first of the two Kennet fish-ins organised on the Lower Benyons by John Found was a quite successful affair, with a good few barbel caught and a good time was had by all. Some members had not fished it before, and it was actually only my second visit to the stretch.

It is full of classic barbel swims, but not every swim contains fish all the time, I was told. Some fish it by roving, but the river is big enough to set out to feed up a likely-looking swim and attract them out of the woodwork. Plenty of deep holes and weedy shallows, and lots of overhanging trees and woody debris in the water, and a good spawning site at the top end below the weir, where fast gravelly shallows and plenty of ranunculus can be found.

I had two tiny barbel, one of about six ounces, and another of about a pound, a sign that the barbel are breeding well in recent years. There are some huge fish there as well, with fourteen and fifteen pounders present. They are not immortal, despite what some anglers think, and will eventually die, but good to see small fish ready to replace them.

The eleven pounder I had was a stocky, healthy young fish though, and has a few years in it yet.

By |August 11th, 2013|Pete's River Diary|Comments Off on Kennet fish-in|

Avon barbel feeding at last

It is usually clear enough to find your Avon barbel by spotting, but the water remains stubbornly murky, enabling spotting to be feasible in only the shallower swims, whereas in normal years we can see them in eight feet of water.

The weed is growing slowly, and I guess it takes the nutrient out of the water that is causing the bloom of algae/diatoms that is staining the normally crystal-clear summer Avon.

Found a shoal of barbel in some shallow, weedy water, and a whole bunch of greedy chub, but it took a second session in the swim before they responded to the bait and came onto the feed properly. High water temperatures may not have helped, but eventually they got their heads down and I had a bag of five barbel, all six and seven pounders, and seven chub, two of them over six. All fought well, and were fin-perfect, and there were a couple of big barbel lurking about that will have to wait until next time.

If you take time to look at your fish, you will see all the colour variations and slight abnormalities that are quite normal. The chub had very bright, orangey-yellow fins, it seemed, and some of the barbel had one or two orange spots on the belly that are apparently caused by a tiny skin parasite. All fish will carry a range of parasites, both internally and externally, and these are quite harmless unless weakness and disease or environmental conditions favour a boom in parasite numbers.

By |August 3rd, 2013|Pete's River Diary|Comments Off on Avon barbel feeding at last|

Barbel Society, Research and Conservation projects

In the last five years, the Barbel Society has funded, or part-funded, the following projects, supporting both habitat work of real conservation value, and positive research into barbel and barbel fishery management;

Stocking of the River Dane; following pollution of the river, the BS made a grant to a local club to help establish barbel populations.

Stocking of the River Aire; the BS made a grant to a small club to help improve barbel populations on the river.

Stour Barbel Project; in partnership with local clubs and the EA, the Society raised over five thousand pounds towards habitat improvement works on the river, involving the reintroduction of gravels, and construction of fry bays.

Work on a weir at Throop was recently completed, with the help of 2K from the Barbel Society, and further works are planned.

The EA and the BS placed 9000 small barbel into the middle reaches of the river in the last three years as part of the project.

A further 1000 barbel were stocked into the Stour in 0ctober 2012, and plans for further fry bay construction are in hand for completion in 2013.

Arborfield Weir Project; the Society provided several thousand pounds worth of gravel and materials to support this EA led Award winning project on the River Loddon.

Bransford Project; The Society worked in partnership with the EA and consultants to skylight a stretch of the Teme near Worcester, bringing life-giving light to the river, as well as providing improved bank stability. Unstable willows were pollarded and coppiced, and woody debris placed in the river, along with planting of fresh willow pollards to retain bank collapse.

Funds from the BS were also utilised by the Severn Rivers Trust for other habitat works on the Teme. A second […]

By |August 1st, 2013|News|Comments Off on Barbel Society, Research and Conservation projects|