Coarse Fishing the River Brue

I met up with Jason for an afternoons fishing on the River Brue near Glastonbury. The wind was pretty strong – certainly strong enough to dissuade me from even getting the fly rod out of the car. We both decided to tackle the river with float rods and a combination of maggots and lobworms for bait. The water was slightly coloured and with a bit of chop on the surface not exactly my ideal conditions. We set up on a corner of the river with the wind behind us where we had a bit of shelter and started loose feeding maggots. We both started catching a steady stream of silver fish – mainly chub and roach although I seemed to have found my very own shoal of minnows.

After an hour or two we moved further along the river, with the intention of targeting some of the big perch we know inhabit parts of the Brue. Fishing was slow and steady in the main, although after a while I had built up a swim of tiny but ravenous little chublets. I got lucky in the closing stages to land a lovely perch, but other than that the session was not as productive as we were hoping or expecting.. Still – this remains one of my favourite rivers.

With a couple of weeks holiday coming, it will be a while now till I get the chance to fish the Brue again. It’ll be interesting to see how it fishes in the autumn and on into the winter.

 

 

 

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The frustration of fishing for mullet

Following my recent success with catching mullet on the fly rod I was bringing to feel a certain confidence that, as it turned out wasn’t justified as my two most recent trips proved. For the first, I took advantage of the calm and warm conditions to chase the mullet again with my fly rod. I ended up walking along the river Exe and fishing every dozen yards or so for the mullet that were plentiful along the whole stretch of water. All to no success it has to be said. Nothing I tried made the mullet show even the slightest interest. After an couple of fruitless hours in the heat I made my way dejectedly back to the car and on the way got chatting to a group of coarse anglers. They were all float fishing – generally trotting baits down the far bankside. It turned out that they had been fishing this stretch for a couple of days now with some success; generally chub, dace & roach, although they had caught several mullet. This piece of information coupled with my complete failure spurred me to try coarse fishing tactics for the next trip. A light float rod with a pint of maggots and half pint of pinkies seemed a sensible approach. Again, the weather was fantastic and the mullet were visible & feeding everywhere. Bites on the other hand were far from plentiful. A couple of dace and chub fell to the float fished maggot but other than that I remained fishless. The mullet could be seen feeding in the clear shallow water, and were clearly ignoring maggots and pinkies. Loose feed remained on the bottom with the mullet seemingly feeding on the weed / algae around the maggots. It only took a couple of hours of frustration to lead me to conclude that today wasn’t going to be the day I nailed the mullet on maggot. For a second time in the space of a couple of days I found myself heading home, mulletless….

River Brue – Summer Roving

I met up with Jason at the river Brue; after yesterday’s solo fishing I was looking forward to having a fishing companion. Much like the previous day, the weather was quite spectacular. The wind had died to a slight breeze and with cloudless skies and blazing sun, temperatures were scorching hot. We started off fly fishing; searching out shoals of chub visible amongst the lilies & reeds. We caught a steady stream of chub, mainly on bead headed flies but some fell to dry fly. Nothing big graced the net but we did see some very large bream basking near the surface obviously enjoying the sunshine too. The larger chub were all very skittish and would inevitably melt away before we could get within casting distance despite our best efforts at stealth and the help of the verdant bankside vegetation.

A few hours of stalking chub in the sunshine was enough for us, and we moved along to the West Lydford stretch of the river Brue to try some more sedentary fishing. The glorious weather had brought people out bridge jumping & swimming, so we put as much distance between us and them as possible. We settled into a couple of swims and tried float fished maggot and bread baits but after an hour or two had little to show for our efforts. Some good chub were visible on the surface lurking under the far bank vegetation so with a lack of action on the float rod, I switched to fly fishing with a large wasp dry fly. Almost the first cast one of the larger chub idled over to the fly and slurped it down – somehow in my eagerness or possibly surprise I mis-timed the strike and pulled the fly out of it’s mouth..! Cursing my stupidity I recast only for one of the smaller fish to intercept the fly, which after playing and landing meant that every other fish in the vicinity had become instantly more wary. No more fish followed after that.

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With evening approaching we jumped in the cars and headed to another section of the river hoping for some of the large perch we had encountered there several times previously. We arrived to find a section of the bank and a large tree had fallen into the river right at one of our favourite and most productive spots, but set up anyway on the basis that the tree would only provide the fish a nice bit of cover. I found I’d left my rod rest in the car and could face the trudge back to the car in the heat, so had to improvise with a conveniently shaped and proportioned stick. Who says you need to spend a fortune on fishing tackle?

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Jason built up a swim opposite the new feature and had a steady procession of bites and fish; numerous chub, roach and gudgeon – & even a cheeky little brown trout not to mention a decent sized eel. In the meantime I float fished maggots at various spots and really struggled to get bites, eventually concluding with a small chub, roach and a solitary gudgeon. The days exploits were nicely finished off with a fantastic Chub that Jason tempted on a ledgered lobworm from beside the new submerged tree feature.

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For me the evening ended with a half chewed gudgeon that was savaged by something with teeth on pretty much the last cast. Whilst not the spectacular end to the day I might of wished for, we could at least face the drive home with memories of a varied and fun days fishing.

Start of the Coarse Fishing Season 2017

The magical 16th of June arrived bringing excellent weather with it for once – the fishing gods must be smiling on me I thought. Seemed only fair to have a day off work to make the most of this unusually auspicious start to the coarse fishing season.

This year I decided to invest in an annual license for the Glaston Manor waters and had purchased my license from Thyers tackle shop in Highbridge before hand which meant I didn’t need to chase around trying to get a day ticket and could instead just crack on and go fishing from the off. I dropped the kids off at school and hit the road taking care to set my alarm to ensure I didn’t get carried away fishing and forget to pick up the kids.

Arriving at the River Brue I discovered that despite the cloudless skies and tropical temperatures, there was a pretty serious wind to contend with. Having only brought a couple of fly rods with me, I would just have to do my best in the windy conditions. The aim of the day was to travel super light and work my way along the river sight fishing for chub as I went. As it was the fishing wasn’t easy and there wasn’t masses of chub visible with those that were generally on the small size and easily spooked. Each sighting of fish would invariably give me 1 or 2 casts before they would make themselves scarce leaving me to continue my wanderings.

I caught a good few chub in the course of the afternoon, struggled with the wind and suffered in the heat, and generally despite the adversities thoroughly enjoyed myself. I guess thats what comes from being able to fish the eagerly awaiting start of the season whilst others are working..

The fishing was difficult but that just made the capture of each fish all the more special. I found that the most successful fly today was a scruffy gold bead headed fly which would invariably be grabbed as soon as it hit the water. If an immediate response wasn’t received it generally meant no fish. A couple of chub were tempted on the dry fly, with a wasp pattern being their downfall. I only used the wasp pattern because it was big and bright and easy to see rather than for any other reason. The chub didn’t seem to mind no matter how small they were.

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Whilst not spectacularly successful in terms of numbers of fish caught or their size, the day was hugely enjoyable and also proved a good opportunity to scout the river in anticipation of the following days planned trip.

A Chub in Pike’s Clothing.

We realised this morning that I hadn’t been out fishing for a while, which is most unfortunate – so decided to do something about that during a spare couple of hours. What else is Sunday afternoons for in any case? Rhianna and I headed off down to the River Culm with a fly rod in the hope that there might be a couple of pike feeding despite the cold.

A favourite fly always instills confidence, so it was only natural to start and then persevere with mine – all 6 inches of him. After a very cold hour and a half, including a short session of the obligatory “letting the daughter” have a go, I did eventually tempt a small pike of around 3 or 4 lb to rush the fly. It missed, and couldn’t be lured back.

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Not long after this wake up call, I managed to lose the fly in an underwater obstruction whilst trying to search some deeper parts of the river, which necessitated a new wire trace and change of fly. We worked our way back towards the car in the failing light and with no sign of further action was beginning to feel I was just going through the motions, when I was mildly surprised to find myself attached to something that started fighting back on one of the retrieves.

A small jack pike was my first thoughts, although after the first few spirited runs I glimpsed a flash of fish and realised it wasn’t pike at all, but a nice chub. The fish gave a good account of itself to start with although it was more than a little out-gunned on the pike tackle and quickly came to the net after it’s first burst for freedom. A few pictures for posterity and we decided to call it a day. Mission accomplished! we caught a fish, even if it wasn’t quite what we were after.

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Autumn Perch from the River Brue

Our fishing on the River Brue, to date has always taken place during the summer months, where we can rover around fishing various stretches of the river and often stalking chub in the clear waters. This latest trip was to be a bit of a departure from the norm, slightly later in the year than usual with autumn seeming to have well and truly settled in. The leaves are falling, the temperature has dropped, and the weed growth begun dying back. On top of it all the river itself wasn’t quite as clear as usual, but slightly coloured. The weather forecast wasn’t ideal either, with heavy rain showers forecast – but we decided to brave it anyway with waterproofs and fishing umbrellas on hand just in case we needed them.

We didn’t have a particularly encouraging start with the fish just not seeming to be feeding and struggled to get a bite for an unnervingly long time until a move of location and a bit of patience, paid off. We both began catching small chub and roach after building up a swim with a steady flow of bait.

The promised rain eventually came, and we spent the next hour under umbrellas. At this point I thanked my lucky stars that I’d had the foresight to come prepared..

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I mainly fished single red maggot on the float rod and started to consistently pull in chub of around 8oz or so. A switch to the ledger rod however brought instant results with a cracking perch of around 2lb, followed by another slightly smaller one which I promptly lost in a raft of reeds under the rod whilst I was being a bit blasé about things and chatting to Jason rather than concentrating on netting the fish.. That’ll serve me right!

After that I missed a few more perch before landing another, whilst Jason also had  lovely perch on ledgered worm. The fading light brought an end to proceedings and the end a what turned into a good days fishing.

The Benefit of a Local Fishing Guide

The local knowledge of a water is invaluable in most cases and can make all the difference between success or failure. In effect having someone guide you acts as a bit of a short cut with you avoiding the need to explore a water and build up a knowledge of swims, times, best tactics, tackle and bait etc.

Last year I had a couple of successful trips to the River Chew, near Bristol. My fishing buddy, Jason had been catching quite a variety of species including barbel, trout and grayling. I joined him for a couple of sessions on the Chew and managed to catch my first ever barbel. Nothing big, but a new species at that time all the same. Whilst I did manage to catch barbel last year, the grayling was another species that has always eluded me, and at the start of this year was one of my main goals.

This weekend’s trip highlighted the benefit of having someone familiar with the water you’re fishing, showing you around. Jason had been exploring the upper reaches of the River Chew with some success this year and discovered a few locations where he was confident in catching grayling. Needless to say, the prospect was too tempting to resist, and we met up with the principle goal being to find a grayling or two.

We were going to be float fishing with maggots for the fish today, travelling light and hopping between various swims. The dense undergrowth and tree cover that greeted us proved that the minimalist approach was definitely the right way to go. Grayling on a fly rod would have to wait. The River Chew is a delightfully wild and overgrown river in places and you can very quickly forget you’re only a short distance from Bristol. The river varies in depth from shallow fast runs where you can stand in wellies to deeper sections which might be too much even for chest waders.

The first swim was fished by standing in the stream and trotting a float down with the flow. I fished with double maggot on a size 16 hook set only just over a foot deep. It was quite difficult fishing with the bankside vegetation closing in over the river. There were numerous bites straight from the off and frustratingly it took me a while to get my eye in, with me missing lots of bites and bumping off a good few fish too, before the first, a trout, came to the net. A couple more trout and several small chub followed whilst Jason patiently and very gentlemanly watched on, giving me free rein. A solid resistance on the line signalled a better fish and my first ever grayling gave it’s all in the current to try to get away. It was such a relief when the net slid under the fish I have to say!

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It was to be the only grayling we saw that day, but was well worth it. The fact that it came from a swim that I probably wouldn’t have fished in a million years on my own just reinforced the value of having someone showing you where to fish.

We fished a couple of other lovely swims in the section of river, and had more trout, chub, roach and some monster gudgeon! I’ve always liked gudgeon – they always bring a smile to my face but to catch them at this size was another highlight of my day. Not very often you see them quite so fat – I had to check twice to make sure they weren’t small barbel.

With time running out, we headed downstream to the ‘Mill Stream’ section of the river where we hoped to find a few barbel where we’d had them in the past. We did try several swims with Jason consistently catching trout – and some of them were a good size too. I on the other had struggled to catch, and the barbel eluded both of us. Small chub and minnows made up the numbers on this section.

Not looking forward to the long drive home, I threw in the towel, said my goodbyes and drove home happy. I was absolutely delighted to catch my first grayling, and had a thoroughly enjoyable days fishing. It’s so much fun to travel light with just one rod exploring a new river never knowing quite what you’re going to hook next. Really must return again soon.  Just need to find the time now.

River Brue – Big Perch in Murky Waters.

Why do I bother paying any attention to the weather forecasters?! Looking at the forecast leading up to this weekend and it all pointed to a cracking start to the coarse fishing season – warm, overcast, dry and little wind. In fact there was supposedly no rain in the Somerset region for a good few days leading up to our planned trip to the River Brue. Perfect for stalking chub on the clear, lily lined waters of the river Brue, or so I thought…. One look over the bridge told a different story… the water was high, flowing fast and the colour of hot chocolate. All this water hadn’t come from nowhere – damn those weather forecasters!

I thought sadly of my boot full of fly fishing tackle and was very glad that some sixth sense had told me to pack a float rod, reel and bit of coarse tackle. Guess some little hidden corner of my mind had remembered all the times the weather didn’t quite live up to expectations and prepared for the worst, just in case. In stark contrast, Jason had come prepared properly with full compliment of coarse fishing gear and bait which as it turned out was the right choice.

We started off at a churning, foam flecked weir pool and realised that to have any chance of catching fish would mean ledgering. I’m not a fan of ledgering when coarse fishing and much prefer a float – I spend enough time watching a rod tip when sea fishing so don’t really choose to did it when tackling fresh water. First cast and Jason was into a lovely perch that took his ledgered lob worm. Not a bad fish for the first one of the years open season, in fact first fish on the first cast.

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Having planned on fly fishing, I’d stupidly brought very little in the way of bait other than a few small and pathetic worms from my compost heap. Jason being the gent he is shared his maggots which got me off the mark with my first fish of the season – a minnow. A steady trail of minnows followed, along with the odd small chub and gudgeon. Jason followed his first perch by loosing another, only to catch it a short while later to afford the opportunity t remove the baited hook he’d lost in it on his first attempt. The next rod bender turned out to be a foul hooked eel – oh the shame! Whilst the next turned out to be a surprise brown trout of around 2lb.. unexpected to say the least!

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I managed to salvage my reputation by landing two nice perch and loosing one, but couldn’t quite compete with the trout.

When the bites dried up, we tried a few other spots at various places along the river with only limited success from the river’s smaller inhabitants. I eventually decided to give the fly rod a go, when I saw evidence of the occasional fish rising. Given the murky water, and knowing that there are some big old chub lurking in the river Brue, I decided for the biggest and most visible dry fly I had – a ‘Chernobyl Ant’. Not sure what kind of creature if any it was supposed to represent but I felt it would at least make an attention grabbing plop when it landed in the water and would be pretty visible. Hopefully a hungry chub would mistake it for some kind of hapless terrestrial and devour it without looking too closely. As it turned out, I did get two fish have a go at the fly. Sadly I didn’t connect with either, but oh what could of been!

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Such a frustrating day! good but frustrating. We did have a few feisty perch between us, along with the bonus trout, but I can’t help but wish conditions had been better and that we could of stalked the big chub of the Brue in clear water. If nothing else, the session wetted my appetite to return again soon!

Fly Fishing River Chew – September 2015

26 Sept  – arrived at the River Chew (Mill Ground), near Keynsham for a quick couple of hours fishing before dark. Met up with Jason, who had arrived shortly before myself. He’d been having loads of action on dry fly before I arrived. This combined with warm and still weather, without a breath of wind and plenty of sign of fish feeding on the surface – all boded well.

I fished dry flies mainly using my #4 rod. Small black or dark brown flies seemed most productive. I only landed 4 small chub / dace on the dry fly and missed a few other takes.

I did try briefly for a barbel with a heavy weighted bead head fly in the swim I’d caught the barbel in before but with no luck. I have to admit, that I didn’t really give it much of a go after the barbel and the slightly coloured water didn’t help either. Maybe something to dedicate more time too, another day…

Fly Fishing River Chew

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been hearing some good reports from my mate Jason, on his recent exploratory sessions on the River Chew at Keynsham near Bristol. He’d caught a good variety of species, including, chub, roach, gudgeon, brown trout, grayling and barbel amongst others. Neither of us had previously caught grayling or barbel before so this was definitely one venue I needed to visit!

Annual licenses for substantial sections of the River Chew are available from Keynsham Angling Association for a modest sum of £20 which is a bargain in anybody’s book, especially when considering the variety of species present in what is a wonderfully picturesque and unspoilt little river. Even more surprising to me considering it’s proximity to such a large urban centre as Bristol.

River Chew Somerset

I met Jason up at Keynsham early afternoon with a view to fishing the “Mill Ground” section of the Chew. The weather was pretty hot and muggy with rain showers forecast for later in the evening, but when we met it was gloriously sunny, which whilst lovely conditions to fish in, weren’t necessarily perfect for tempting trout in.

We started off both fly fishing and explored the length of the Mill Ground stretch, Considering what a lovely section of river it is I was amazed to see only one other angler tucked away in a secluded swim float fishing in amongst the trees. It is a great section of water that is perfectly fishable without the need to wade and open enough to make fly fishing a relatively simple matter with an unimpeded back cast in most places.

A few fish were rising and I had quite a bit of interest (and missed a lot of takes) in one or two swims from what I think were small chub or dace. We had a couple of small fish on the dry fly between us and a thoroughly chilled out few hours, but results weren’t exactly mind blowing. Not really surprising considering the sultry weather.

Fly Fishing River Chew

In the end, after fishing our way down the river and with the afternoon wearing on, we decided to switch to coarse gear. Walking back up to the car to swap rods, a light smattering of rain confirmed the decision as the right one. Coarse gear on hand, we set up in a swim that Jason had caught barbel from previously. A heavy rain shower saw us sheltering under our umbrellas and we started off legering. Bites were instant and resulted in a non-stop stream of minnows and the occasional gudgeon all on double maggot. It wasn’t long at all until a rattly bite pulled down decisively and I connected with a very spirited little barbel. Barbel have been one of my long time targets and to say I was delighted would be an understatement. 2 more barbel and countless minnows followed before we switched swims once the weather perked up again.

River Chew Barbel

The new swim was more open, with some really fishy over hanging trees and some inviting looking reeds on the opposite side. With the improvement in weather, we both switched to float rods. Jason trotted is float in under some overhanging trees on the near bank whilst I targeted the far bank reeds. I had 3 more small barbel either on double maggot or worm and maggot, along with numerous chub and a coupe of small roach. Jason on the other hand seemed to have found a great spot for the trout, and proceeded to pull out 4 or 5 nice brown trout, most of which fell to worm and maggot trotted in under the overhanging trees. The trout really put up a phenomenal scrap for their size!

River Chew - Brown Trout

The onset of dusk put pay to our fun but the walk back to the car was accompanied with that warm glow that follows a successful days fishing! The River Chew certainly lived up to all I could have hoped for, led to the capture of a new species and has so much potential for future exploration. My next target will be the Grayling, and visiting some of the other stretches of water further upstream. oh… and actually catching a barbel on the fly! just need to find a few free weekends…