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Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Last (sort of) day of the season

I knew I wouldn't be able to make it out on the real last day of the season so arranged with dad a short Sunday afternoon session on the Avon.

We thought it would be very busy as the weather was beautifully spring like and we weren't dissappointed. We had to park about a quarter of a mile down the road where normally seeing another angler is unusual.

I was after barbel having had a couple of fish to a bit under 13 from this stretch this winter and dad was after his first 6lb chub on the float.

I was amazed to find one of my favourite swims free and suggested that dad fish there. It is a bit of a nemisis swim for him as he has been badly beaten-up by the chub here before. After making sure he was comfortable I set off downstream to try a couple of spots I thought there might be a slight chance of a Spring barb.

The Avon in winter looks like one giant barbel swim, and choosing the right one needs a lot of time on the bank or a good dose of luck. Unfortunately I don't know this stretch that well, not having fished it in the summer, so would be reliant on luck... I chose a swim at the end of a long glide where bank erosion meant that the main current pushed out into the middle causing a steady piece of water about 30 feet long. It looked good - but so did the bit on the next bend, and the bit after that....

I decided on cheese paste and pellets in PVA - how could they resist. Well if they were there they did and only a half- hearted pluck, that could well have been weed followed in the next hour.

I'd been keeping an eye on dad during this time as he was about 300 yards up the bank. It was obvious that he'd not had a fish as you need to walk downstream to net them there so I wandered up to see if I could offer any advice. He seemed to be trotting the swim well and assured me that he'd been trickling the red maggots in steadily. I was very suprised he'd not caught so had a look at his rig. Dad is used to fishing on waters where the best presentation is to have the bait right down on the deck, so his shotting pattern reflected this. I took off a couple of one of his AAs and replaced it with a BB and a number 1 and spread the shot so that the last couple of feet only had the micro swivel (to stop line spin) on. He was using 3.6lb line and a 20hook already so no need to change that.

He then set about trotting again, and on his first proper trott through the float dipped and then slowly went under. "Fish" I exclaimed but dad was convinced as he thought he'd hooked a snag. But then the snag moved and dad was off on a dance downstream. Unfortunately, after about 20 seconds the hook pulled out. Bugger.

Never mind at least they are there. Next trot down and in a similar spot the float again disappears and dad is more ready for it. This time he's bending into it from an early stage and I think he's got the better of it. He then makes the mistake of letting the fish get its head by slightly slacking off the pressure, the fish senses this and then is off on an unstoppable run into the snags. Chub 2 Dad 0.

We decide that dad didn't pull hard enough so we experiment with me holding the line and dad pulling back. It's amazing how much pressure you can apply with 3.6lb line and in fact we couldn't break under "normal" strain.

After the commotion of the lost fish there was a brief hiatus in the bites before again the float buried and dad was in. This time he gave no prisoners and soon the fish was diverted from the snags and in mid-river. He played the fish downstream and into the net. At 5lb 8oz it was a good fish and gave dad confidence in the tactics.

I left dad at this point to carry on my pursuit for a barbel and it was only about 45minutes later that the mobile rang. "I've got him! 6lb 1oz!". I went back upstream to take the photos. What a lovely fish, fin and scale perfect, short and fat - a perfect end to the season.

Dad caught one more and needless to say I blanked for barbel.

Roll on next season!


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