August 9 2019
When we had our last competition at Wickens Pool (18 July) we were all struck by how wonderful it was to have such a venue surrounded by such beautifully mown and trimmed grass. It really is a pleasure to be able to drop something and immediately be able to find it again and to be able to see clearly where the edge of the bank finishes. However Ian brought to everyone attention that he and Shirley had found some considerable lengths of discarded nylon around the Pool and around the strimmer.
It goes without saying that you shouldn't discard nylon but accidents can happen so please keep your eyes out for discarded nylon and if you do spot any please collect it up.
Our thanks once more to Shirly and Ian for all the work they do around the pool - it really adds so much to the enjoyment.
August 8 2019 Newbridge on Wye
Mixed weather recently with not enough rain to affect the river but a storm is forecast for tonight. River low and clear but no fly life until about 5.00 pm. The puzzle of the fish making a welcome return to the run-ins to the pools may have been solved. I started the morning at the head of the Aber Pool, where a fortight previously Gordon had caught a stack of fish, then worked my way up Grimwood's and never had a touch anywhere. Then I moved up to the bridge and had four grayling in ten minutes before stopping to have some lunch.Dave Evason fished Hoival for two hours without a bite then moved up to Cornwall and hooked three grayling in three casts. I went down to Hoival after talking to Dave and didn't have a touch either. There just did not seem to be any fish there where a fortnight previously I had caught plenty.
So what can have caused this sudden dearth of fish. Well Dave reported that when he arrived at Hoival in the morning four cormorants flew off.! I'm convinced that predation by otters, goosander and/or cormorants simply drives the fish out of the shallower water into the depest part of the pool. Why should the run-in to Cornwall have escaped so far I do not know but the Bridge Pool always suffers least because of the traffic and pedestrians disturbing the predators.
I have been impressed by the success of the nymph fishing to which I have only recently become proficient. I have spent some of the last two trips helping Roger to get to grips with it and nothing really makes you stiudy something more deeply than attempting to teach someone else how to do it. There are many styles of nymph fishing but the one which I'm using at the moment may be termed "Mono rig - European style" which substitutes the fly line with 20 lb Maxima (the "Mono"filament in the title). This allows the line to be lifted off the water so that the leader may drift downstream without the weight of a fly line dragging it back to the angler. Casting is a cross between lobbing the very heavy nyphs as used in Czech Nymph style and fly casting with a heavy fly line. The mono has enough mass combined with the weight of the nymphs (weighted but much less than Czech nymphs) to allow the rig to be cast but with a modified action. They are flicked back and paused to let the nymphs straighten out before flicking them forward. If the forward drive is started too soon you get a horrible jangley feeling.
As with all these things once you get the timing it doesn't take much effort but it is a struggle to begin with - particularly if you are casting across your body because some idiot insists that you fish from the right hand side of the river looking upstream trying to see the indicator in the bright reflection of the setting sun with said idiotic shouting "Yes.Yes" into your ear at every miniscule dip of the indicator. But it was great fun and we hooked ten fish or more between us in the last hour with Roger hooking the best fish of the day, a near 2 pound brownie, which leapt clear of the water before racing nearly to the far side of the river before unhooking itself.
July 25 2019 Newbridge on Wye
River low and clear with what we recognise as the normal summer flow from the dams. The cool water was a welcome relief from the very hot day. Very little rising because the aquatic insects were sensibly having a siesta but the fish were feeding sub-surface very well. Gordon Davidson showed us what coarse fishing tactics could do by catching plenty of grayling and trout on sweetcorn and worms. He came as a guest of Roger Onions on out last visit, which was our Fly-only contest, and managed to catch one nice grayling despite fly fishing not being his forte. We welcome him as a new member of the Society.
The river never ceases to throw up puzzles. For several years now the grayling do not seem to have moved up into the heads of the pools on low water. The run-in to Cornwall where Dave MacCowan always used to fish and where I have caught fish for decades seems to have held less and less fish this last 5 or 6 years. The same applies to Upper Hoival, where Dave Evason aften fishes, would see the fish congregate right at the top but have seen less of late. Yet on the Fly-only contest I caught several fish in those places and Gordon said the run-in to Cornwall was heaving with fish on this contest and he showed how many there were in the run-in to the Aber Pool. A welcome recovery indeed!
Wickens Pool 18 July 2019 3.00 pm - 8.00 pm
Water warm and conditions overcast and a little cooler than recently meant that the carp were not right at the surface but not feeding avidly on the bottom; this rendered feeders a little less effective than usual. I had some success on my local pool with large roach and rudd recently by heavily feeding with maggots and fishing double maggot on a slow sinking rig, so I thought I would give it a go at Wickens. I soon had the pirahna swirls of feeding fish but after an hour it became obvious that there were too many tiny roach present so I tried expander pellets to try to sort out something bigger but the little roach still won.
Roach can make surprisingly big swirls but I was sure that some of the swirls were made by carp so I threw in some floating expander pellets - immediately my fat friends were revealed gently slurping. The rig was was a Drennan size16 Wide Gape Pellet hook to 6" 3.8lb Supplex to a yard of 4.75 Power line to the reel line. Two BB shot locked the float about 30 inches from the hook with a No 11 Stotz mid way. Some of the bites were nice and steady and some were of the rocket variety with the odd small roach thrown in to make me appreciate the carp even more. I was using 6mm pellets on the hook and feeding with a mixture of 6mm and 4mm pellets
Many brands of expander pellet will float if they are allowed to soak in water without being pumped but be aware that Sonyu Bait's expanders are designed to sink without being pumped (also be aware that they take about two hours to fully soften).
Another interesting day at the office!
July 4 2019 Newbridge on Wye Fly-only Competition
River dead low and unusually warm with only the legal minimum compensation flow from the dams. This in itself is an unusual situation as normally by the time the water level at Newbridge falls to dead low so has the rest of the river triggering an increased flow from the dams. (The release is triggered by the height of the water over a weir near Mommouth). At the moment the water entering the river in the lower catchment from rainstorms on the tributaries is maintaining the flow above the trigger height.
We welcomed Gordon Davidson, a guest of Roger Onions, and then Tony Whitney and Darren Bore decided to tackle the water upstream of the bridge while the rest of us went downstream. Roger and Gordon dropped off just below the Ithon, Richard stopped at Cornwall and I went to the near the bottom of the beat at the head of Upper Hoival. The conditions cried out for dry-fly so I put one on the tail of the Klink and Dink set-up I already had on the 3 weight and set to work. Soon hooked a nice grayling which got off and then they would only rise at the indicator fly but refused to hook themselves. An hour of frenzied fly changing with nothing hooked called for lunch and a change of tactics.
Tony and Darren were at the mouth of the Ithon and told me that Roger hadn't changed his stance for about 5 minutes - his rod was bent over and Gordon correctly diagnosed a chub of about three pounds. The scales proved his guess to be spot on. Tony said that he had had a very firm pull just above the bridge but only the odd little nip elsewhere.
I called in on Richard, on my way back to Upper Hoival, and although he had seen quite a few chub they were very wary and had soon disappeared and the grayling were proving unco-operative.
The grayling approved of the weighted nymphs that I had changed to and I ended the day having weighed twelve with only two under a foot which were not weighed. Congratulations to Gordon for catching a nice grayling of about a pound on a difficult day for the dry fly.
A very interesting day which illustrated the effect the temperature has on the fish. The trout hate warm water and will only feed if there is a lot of food about such as a fall of ants. The rest of the time they sulk until there is a drop in temperature in the evening or at night. The grayling will feed but are a little more lethargic and not quite so willing to rise to the surface. When they are caught they take noticably longer to recover - not just the playing dead act where they float upside down but when they swim down to the bottom and rest behind a stone. We are so used to catching them when the water is cooled by water from the dam that it was particularly noticeable on Thursday.
June 29 2019 (Saturday) Tenbury competition
Extremely hot day (31 degrees C). I had been there bank clearing the upper field on Thursday and was surprised at how coloured it was - due to a heavy storm a few days previously. In view of the colour of the water and the extreme temperature forecast I left the maggots in the fridge and took luncheon meat and sweetcorn. When I arrived at the swim I had earmarked after clearing it on Thursday I was disappointed to see how much it had cleared and how shallow the swim. I eventually I settled on a swim in the bottom field having walked up and down like the Grand Old Duke of York. You can imagine my joy when we came to weigh-up to find that Peter who had arrived at lunch time had settled into the swim which I had originally chosen and caught more than anyone else. C'est la vie as they say in Worcester.
June 22 2019 Newmill Bridge/ Wicken's Pool
The Teme was fishable but the banks were horrible. Four feet of oxtail soup had flattened and coated six feet of vegetation into a horrible barrier above the waterline so we did an about turn and went to Wicken's.
The pool was nicely topped up but the water had not warmed up to the temperature that carp really appreciate. In the afternoon I put some expander pellets in water and kept throwing them in but not one carp came to the surface. I ended up fishing with a whip to catch quite a few small fish on maggots.
Ian caught 4 carp in the afternoon on a method feeder and Shirly had one on the same method. He would probably have had two but I was talking to him when he had his first bite of the day. Everybody loves me!
Peter had arrived after lunch and had his river tackle with him and a tin of luncheon meat. He had three roach which put my sardines in the shade and a small carp. He seems to like to give himself a handicap/challenge and it he fishes all day invariable ends up with a bigger weight than me. Very exasperating! I shudder to think what he would do if he really tried.
June 20 2019 Newbridge on Wye
Cancelled. Several days of heavy rain filled the Elan Valley dams so they started to overflow a week before the contest day and helped to maintain too much height in the river for effective fishing. Fortunately all the rain we had did not produce a really damaging flood perhaps because a couple of months of dry weather had made the ground like blotting paper. ("What's blotting paper mummy?" "I don't know. Ask your Grandpa?").
I'm hoping that conditions will be good for the Fly-only competition on the 4th of July. Certainly the river bed should be very clear for nymph fishing and last year's nine inch fish, which seemed to dominate catches, should be over 12 inches and worth weighing. They are very fast growing fish and tend to have seasons where one age group predominates.
An interesting comment came my way the other day in relation to the balance of nature. Apparently otters are turning their attention to Goosanders (as well as other wildfowl).
May 11 Wicken's Pool Competition
I was looking forward to hauling them out but couldn't quite get the fish to co-operate. The cold-night bright-sun day combination continues to frustrate. The carp started to cruise in the top layer and Ian caught some on floaters before the ducks decided to help the carp. Connor seemed to have found the carp's dormitory and caught one almost immediately and at interval throughout the day but couldn't match Ian's late dash.
Fate plays some amusing games at times and no doubt smiled when I was picked to read the scales at the weigh-in as the only person in the assembled company to have suffered brain damage to their visual cortex. As neither Dave Evason nor Tony Quarterman had the foresight to slip me a couple of bob they both ended up with 5lbs 11ounces and no drams - honestly!
I had a lucky carp to lift my score above Dave Hemming and Shirley packed up early when that lucky couple of carp in the last 20 minutes was the result to aim for. Richard stuck to it and got one in the last few minutes to lift himself above Dave and myself
When the wind dropped I turned my hearing aids up to full power and I'm sure I could hear Peter Mountford whispering "Wolves. Wolves." Not in fear and panic but deep, deep sorrow. Something to do with another sport - namely football.
April 27 Wicken's Pool Competition.
Storm Anna crashed the party with near-gale force winds all day. This tempered my distress at having to miss the competition as the wind at the first competition caused me to throw all my toys out of the pram and go home.
Richard of course remains unruffled so his report to me reads :-
"Weather: very strong winds all day. Mostly dry. Cloudy with quickly changing bright intervals.
Fishing: I Wilson caught four carp and R. Stowe three. Other contestants had mixed catches with some good roach and the odd carp."
That doesn't sound too bad does it but I'll bet it was toy-throwing-go-home-early-windy-day. I was grandparenting which involves much unaccustomed exercise digging, weeding, barrowing bales of bark, hedge cutting, etc. and taking the resultant ton-bags full of debris to the tip. On Saturday, having taken two ton-bags to the tip, my next task was to cut up a bush which the snow had broken down and then dig it up. My son arrived to help and when we had done the one side we moved down the terrace to access the other side. I commented that it was less windy there and when we had almost filled the ton-bag a mighty gust blew it down the path spinning over and over hurling out cut off bits of branch as it went. As a lesson in how to throw things out of the pram I couldn't have had a better example.
The next competition is also at Wicken's on the 11th May and I'm really looking forward to hauling them out.
April 21 Easter Sunday at Wickens Pool
Pleasure fishing. A hot sun offset by a cool east breeze. I wanted to try attracting the fish with micro pellets and fishing with small cubes of meat. Some of the micro pellets dried out in the sun and a 4lb carp and a cream coloured Koi carp arrived to suck them down.
I spent the rest of the session sliding the float up and down to surface fish and then back again to fish on the bottom. How daft can you get - I should have set another rod up. I put some expander pellets in water without pumping them so that they would float. (Don't try this with Sonubaits expanders as they are designed not to need pumping and sink!). When they had soaked a bit I threw some in and the Koi can along and ate one pellet and indicated that he preferred the micro pellets by ignoring the other floaters. The 4 pounder did just the same so take the bag of Bait Tech expanders back to the battle wagon and return with a bag of 6mm Ringers and 6mm Angling Bait expanders. The Koi had wandered off by the time I had soaked the floaters but the 4 pounder soon returned and accepted the Ringers, so I gave him some Anglers Bait ones and he gobbled those down as well.
Slide the floar down to about a foot above the hook, hook on a pellet and swing it out. There were three pellets in a line and he took the first one, then the next and then mine ......... I waited for the float to go down .............and I waited for the float to go down.......... and then three pellets floated to the surface. Oooooooooohhh rrrrrrright. So that is why people strike as soon as they think a carp has taken the floater !
The 4 pounder disappeared and the wind got up and I took the float off and put on a light ledger and cast out and the 4 pounder appeared under my feet gobbling the pellets that had all blown into my bank. Wind in the ledger, take off the meat, hook on a pellet and dabbled it on the water under my feet. This is exactly as Izaak Walton describes it with the ledger weight holding the line in place. Mr 4 pounder thought it was a great idea and gobbled my pellet and this time I didn't wait. He weighed 4-03-00 and was the best of my fish for the day.
I have caught stacks of fish on Bait Tech expander pellets before so why they were ignored I don't know, but I will certainly experiment again to see what I can find out.
An interesting days fishing.
April 13 Wicken's Competition
Frost first thing, bright sun and a cold east wind following a warm spell - not good. Peter Mountford picked it right and fished the deepest part of the pool by the outlet feeding maggots sparingly, Dave Hemming plugged away in the downwind corner and Connor and myself both had a lucky large fish to boost our catches - mine was a carp and Connor had a nice perch of 1-10-00.
For several hours mid-session I don't think that anyone had a bite and Richard and Shirley suffered that fate for the whole day. I did my best to upset Peter by talking to him. While he was distracted he had the first bite he had seen for two hours - the float twitched and he waited - the float twitched again and again he waited - I kept talking - Peter put the rod down and the float promptly buried itself ! Of course when he picked the rod up there was nothing there. I laughed and laughed. Peter reckoned it was a carp from the way it fiddled around and a few minutes later caught it - without my "assistance". Why does everyone hate me?
It is amazing how completely the fish shut down when they are not in the mood to feed. I ledgered a single maggot a short distance out where I had fed a few maggots and didn't get a twitch. I think if we had been "pleasure" fishing we would have fished the last hour and a half and hoped that the wind died down.
Next time it will all be different.
March 16 Wicken's Pool Competition.
Happy New Year. A mild overcast day with heavy rain forecast for 5 o'clock greeted us and promised feeding fish aplenty. The only drawback was the breeze that also greeted us To celebrate the approach of the Spring equinox the Meteorological Office had covered the map of the country with a Yellow storm warning and the breeze that greeted us would not have been out of place in the roaring forties. I would certainly have reefed the top gallants if I had known what they were and how to do it!
I don't like fishing in the wind. I remember as a child trying to dig some worms with some willling helpers in the shape of half a dozen Ayesbury ducks. If I was quick enough to get to the worm first we had a tug o'war and when I took the top off the tub they were in it like a flash. This wind was like that. If you put anything down it blew away. If you took the top off anything half the contents would be blown every which way. I didn't know until last Saturday that unopened tins of sweetcorn float. My chair blew over and so did my box.
As we were not a group of Members of Parliament we could make a decision. As it was blowing a gale and the forecast was heavy rain moving in at 5 o'clock we decided to finish at 4.30. At 2.00 pm I decided if it blew one more piece of my gear into the lake I was going home, so at 2.04 pm I retrieved my net bag and one wet net from the lake, emptied 2 small fish from the other net and went home.
My congratulations to those who carried on but I had become Mr Grumpy and couldn't settle down to fish.
Next time it will all be different.!!