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?

2017-06-17 River Brue Rod Rest 7284

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.

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Plan B – The River Chew

In a perfect world, everything would go to plan and we’d always catch loads of big fish etc etc. Today’s fishing trip was a good example of how things don’t need to be perfect or to even go to plan in order to be classed as an enjoyable day out.

Jason & I had planned to pike fish the River Avon near Keynesham, Bristol, but a match on that stretch of water put pay to that idea. I’d travelled up to Bristol to meet Jason with only my pike fishing tackle in the car which as it turned out, proved to be a bit of a school boy error. Not being able to fish the Avon we scratched our heads and came up with a plan B. Fish the River Chew! Hopefully we’d pick up some grayling and chub. Thankfully Jason was able to lend me a rod and the requisite gear plus provide maggots and worms to make plan B viable.

We met at day break, and proceeded to try various swims along our chosen stretch of water. It was a cold start with no wind at all, although the temperature did begin to rise as the morning wore on.

My first trot downstream resulted in a nice (but out of season) brown trout on single maggot under a waggler, set pretty shallow. Jason also swiftly had another, before things went quiet and we moved on. Things didn’t get any easier and after this we moved frequently to scratch out a few gudgeon and numerous minnows. Jason did bring in a couple of small chub, but the chub just didn’t seem to be feeding in any numbers today. We had hoped for a grayling or two as well on the upper sections of the Chew but these also eluded us. Whilst it turned out to be a day of small fish, at least it was a lovely morning weather wise. What was particularly educational was getting to explore the river without the mass of summer undergrowth hampering access to the bankside. This allowed us to explore and fish swims that just weren’t accessible during the height of summer. It also helped give me at least, a slightly better understanding and knowledge of the river which should all help for next time I return.

 

Kia Ora Lakes and the Squirmy Worm

The weather today has been amazing for October! Amazing full stop in fact. Hot and sunny and not a breath of wind. Isobel and myself headed to Kia Ora lakes near Cullompton this afternoon for a chilled out session.

We set up on the smaller of the two lakes to fish for the ‘Silver fish’ and proceeded to pull out a steady stream of quality roach, rudd, skimmers and small tench along with a few hybrids and gudgeon. All were on a short pole and double maggot. Isobel really got into the swing of things and amazed me not only with her patience (not a quality 9 year olds usually have), but her enthusiasm for pole fishing. I would have to admit that she definitely takes after me when it comes to striking bites though… not exactly lightening reflexes shall we say. In fact she made me look positively on the ball… Still – loads of fun and she enjoyed herself.

The ‘Gold’ lake containing the carp was just a couple of yards away from where we were fishing, so I popped over there to stalk a few carp with the fly rod, whilst Izzy was making a dent in the food supplies.

Floating baits aren’t permitted at Kia Ora and as I didn’t want to fall foul of the bailiff should he visit, I fished a sinking fly – my squirmy worm fly.

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There wasn’t that many carp to be seen, but I did spot and get to cast to a few that were sunbathing or just cruising around. I probably managed to cast to half a dozen, and hooked 3 of those. It was really satisfying to cast to a stationary sunbathing carp and land a fly a foot in front of his nose then watch him suddenly swim purposefully forward to take the slowly sinking ‘worm’. All close range stuff and pretty arm wrenching.

I had 3 carp in total, the biggest 8lb and the others around 6lb.

Izzy did’ take that long to demolish the sandwiches and before I knew it I was called back to catch more of the ever obliging roach and rudd. Will have to bring more food next time to buy myself a little more time to myself…

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!

2016-07-31 River Chew 1st Grayling blog

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

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…

Start of the Season on the River Brue

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.

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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.

2015-06-20 Jason Perch

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.

2015-06-20 Brue Flights Hole

2015-06-20 Brue Roach

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!

2015-06-20 Brue Gudgeon