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.

 

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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.

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…