Windy Fishing at the River Brue

Met up with Jason to fish the River Brue, but I arrived late due to the summer holiday traffic. Met Jason at the Cowbridge stretch of the river, where he’d been fishing for a little while by the time I eventually arrived. A pretty lively wind was blowing straight down the river making conditions not exactly idyllic. Jason had been catching roach and rudd for a while and drawn the attentions of one of the resident pike which was trying periodically to snatch fish as he brought them in. Fortune was smiling on him, as he managed to hook and land the marauding pike on his coarse gear before I’d even managed to wet a line. Nice angling! not that I was jealous, honestly….

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With this success recorded for posterity we decided to move on in search of some shelter from the wind. Given the rather exposed nature of the Somerset levels, we didn’t really manage to find much in the way of shelter from the wind so just had to persevere. One of our favoured spots was showing quite clearly the affects of our long hot summer with the weir running dry and actually leaving dry steps from which to fish.

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We both float fished maggot and had a steady stream of fish (chub, roach, gudgeon, perch and minnows) – although nothing big. Still – all good fun.

It was really strange because despite looking insanely fishy, the weir just didn’t produce the quality of fish it has done in the past for us. Maybe it was the low water levels, lack of flow or just “one of those days”.

As dusk approached the wind did finally drop to give us some nice fishing conditions and at this point I had a small chub decide to take a minnow – showing its not just the pike and perch that the little fish need to look out for!

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Summer time on the River Brue

What a summer! It’s been so hot for so long! Today’s trip was no different – very very hot and sunny although a bit breezy at times.

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I mainly concentrated on fly fishing although without massive amounts of enthusiasm. I think the heat installed a general malaise in me that sapped my willingness to perservere after the first few casts at each new place.

I did catch a couple of small chub on fly. Although it wasn’t until I switched to float fishing with maggot that I started to catch a little more regularly with gudgeon, perch and minnows.

Jason coarse fishing throughout and had a good variety of fish including: chub, rudd, roach, perch, gudgeon, minnow and hybrid.

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We started off at West Lydford in the hope of making use of the shade of the trees we knew were along that stretch, before ending up at the Cowbridge stretch. I had fun stalking large chub that could be seen on the surface basking in the sunshine, and managed to tempt one of the biggest to take a daddy-long legs fly, only for me to miss the take! If only!

 

Start of the Fishing Season on the River Brue

It’s that time of the year again – the start of another coarse fishing season. As has become a bit of a tradition for Jason and myself we headed up to the river Brue on the Somerset Levels near Glastonbury. I love the fishing in this part of the world and as usual had really high hopes for the start of the season. I’d really been hoping for some still and sunny conditions so that I could stalk some chub with the fly rod.

The weather unfortunately wasn’t quite as good as we’d have hoped for and we had to make the best of the conditions. The weather was cloudy and breezy with a short spell of heavy rain.

Caught a couple of gudgeon, numerous minnows, chub and roach. All on float fished maggots.

Jason had a nice chub amongst his steady procession of chub and roach. Probably the highlight of the trip, not for size, but due to it being a first was that Jason caught a Ruffe. Quite a pretty little fish and very similar in appearance to a baby perch. Now there’s something for me to aim for in the future!

Whilst we had fun, the fishing was undeniably difficult all day – possibly not helped by the long spell of dry weather we’ve had and the amazingly low water levels. Don’t think I’ve ever seen the water level as low on the Brue as it was. It also didn’t help that despite the hot weather of late, the temperature did drop in the evening and it actually got a little cold – first time we’ve felt that sensation for a while!

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.

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.

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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