The river Brue near Glastonbury has always been one of my favourite rivers and in recent years, location of my annual start of the fishing season pilgrimage. I was born in Glastonbury and my first ever memories of river fishing, or fishing at all, were of catching feisty little perch and gudgeon from the Brue. The Brue varies along it’s length (or at least the section controlled by Glaston Manor Angling) from very shallow and weedy areas to deep and mysterious lily-pad lined places all of which just scream “chub”. In fact it is chub that usually figure in my mind when I imagine the float dipping below the surface or a fly being devoured.
My fishing buddy, Jason and myself usually start the traditional coarse fishing season with a trip to the Brue where we travel light and rove around trying various spots anywhere between Street and Lydford. Favourite spots include Wallyers Bridge, Flights Hole & West Lydford which whilst maybe not the most productive stretches as I’m sure any local would tell you, still manage to tick all the boxes from our point of view of being picturesque, peaceful venues with very fishy looking sections of water that usually turn up fish or at least have the promise of doing so.
This year we’ve purchased annual licenses so will be looking to visit this venue far more often, rather than the usual once yearly trip. I’m looking forward to getting more familiar with my favourite spots but also foresee it being a good excuse to try some of the other waters on the license such as the North or South Drain or the river Sheppey.
This particular trip saw myself focusing on trying to get some new species on my #4 fly rod whilst Jason adopted the float rod and bait approach.
The first stop near Wallyers Bridge saw Jason straight into a steady stream of small chub, roach, dace and gudgeon whilst I struggled with the fly rod. My only defence for my failure to catch being the blustery wind hampering my usual amateurish efforts with the fly. The wind combined with the weedy swim and rather bushy bankside vegetation didn’t help, but not to be deterred we decided to explore further downstream which lead to us discovering deeper water and some great looking sections that without the wind would certainly have seen us diverting more time too. We stopped at one deep and reasonably clear bend where once again Jason proved that float fished maggot is far more effective than my fly fished offerings by again catching numerous chub and roach. Through my polarised glasses I could see several fairly hefty bream cruising around which boded well. They hung around the section we were fishing but weren’t fooled by anything that we presented.
Moving on I stopped at a section that had a lot of chub basking in the sunshine – some of which would easily have broken my personal best to date by quite a long way (not difficult as it’s only about 2.5lb). The banks here were steep and very overgrown making a stealthy approach to the water without spooking the fish near on impossible. As I couldn’t get as close to the water as I’d have liked and considering the lack of interest the fish had shown in my flies up until this point I decided to try a flicker spinner. These tiny spinners I was told in the tackle shop are intended to be cast with a fly rod. It may have the traditionalist fly fishers shaking their heads in disappointment but having fished for quite a while with no joy, I decided it was time to swallow my pride and try anything. The spinner surprisingly cast quite well on my #4 rod and when the spinner hit the water it immediately resulted in mayhem as dozens of fish launched themselves at the spinner. Miraculously nothing succeed in taking it. The largest of chub made themselves scarce at this point and my second cast again resulting in numerous chub launching themselves at the lure. I connected with one of the shoal that put up a very spirited fight that I seemed destined to lose from my awkward vantage point. It shot into the nearside lily pads which were never the less still out of reach of the landing net, so I had to carefully slide down the bank nearer to the water to net the fish. It probably weighed just over a pound but was exceedingly welcome after the efforts put in so far without success. I forgot to photograph the fish and anyway, felt like I’d cheated somehow having used the spinner rather than a fly. Never mind, a fish is a fish.
After this disturbance, the fish had all disappeared, so given that our trip was all about exploring and fishing as many different places as possible, we moved on to West Lydford. The stretch at West Lydford is quite wide and deep by the Brue’s standards although on arrival it looked particularly coloured. We fished various swims, without a great deal of success other than Jason winkled out a few fish again. Again I saw shoals of chub, some of which were a very decent size, but still they proved impossible to catch. To rub salt in the wound, I had several takes on the dry fly from fish none of which frustratingly I connected with.
With time running out, we moved on to try over near Baltonsborough, where we’ve had good fishing in the past. I was disappointed with the water clarity again. The wind here added to my woes with quite a ripple on the water in places making fish spotting impossible. This was a far cry from the previous years trip where I was able to sight cast to shoals of chub making for a fantastic days fun. We decided to persevere and it wasn’t long before Jason landed a lovely perch tempted on float fished maggot. this was followed in quick succession by 2 more cracking perch on worm as well as one that snapped him up.
I managed to hook a roach of about 7″ on a gold bead headed hare’s ear nymph. Just as I was about to lift it out of the water, a large perch attacked it right under my feet. Heart in mouth moments for me and the roach I suspect.
After this I switched to a 3″ long mini pike fly and it wasn’t long before the perch followed and engulfed the fly right under my rod tip. I struck, certain that I was about to experience a pretty lively fight only to see the perch lazily turn and swim off! Somehow the hook didn’t get a hold. Absolutely gutted!!! Try as I might, nothing after this brought the perch back up.
With the light fading, a switch back to the gold head nymph produced a lovely little gudgeon which was my first ever gudgeon on a fly. Finishing the day with the perch activity and the gudgeon seemed particularly apt considering my early childhood memories on this river with these fish. Can’t wait to return and won’t be leaving it until next year to do so this time!