Monday, 9 August 2010

Holiday on the Wark's Avon, Day 2 - Expect the Unexpected

Quite unintentionally we'd pitched the tent with the opening directly in line with the rising sun. I woke with the first sunbeams burning my eyes out and unwillingly dragged myself out of bed to go fish, and as I'd had only just finished a weird dream of bream, I would go fish for them.

I'd also had fitful dreams about the challenge itself. In the dream, the strictures of the challenge (that I had a red hand in dreaming up n the first place) were taking me far, far away from the untroubled waters that I fish ordinarily, and turning me into the angling equivalent of a box ticking subaltern who'd fish in any filthy hole in order to secure praise from an ungrateful captain. Of course, it was only a dream, and an hour into trying for the bream it seemed a foolish one, as here I was fishing my beloved untroubled waters, and happily chasing fishy rainbows once again.

I set up at the point of the island and vowed to sit there as long as it took to catch enough bream for the easy, but now long outstanding, challenge point.

I didn't have long to wait before the double grains of sweetcorn were duly picked up by an example of my target species and in came a pristine one pounder. Twenty minutes later he was joined in the net by another half a pound heavier still, and I thought I was on a winning ticket. Then the bites stopped.

Another hour passed without a knock.

A boat turned out of the cut and upstream at right angles into the main river channel on full throttle, the holiday maker at the helm having failed to understand the first principles of riparian hydrodynamics. Living by a canal I see a lot of hilarious manœuvres committed by the inexperienced, but on a river they have flow to contend with also, which even at the most sedate pace currently pertaining seems quite enough to throw them right off balance. Last year I saw the same stunt, a hair raising broadside move straight out into flowing water attempted with the river in flood. The lucky boaters only avoided a certain trip through the pontoon and down to the weir, a possible capsizing and potential death by drowning for the whole family on board, when the owner of the fishery ran pell mell down the bank and ordered them to commit to a full throttle reverse just as the prow hit the fast water. An ignominous retreat...

Anyway's, the thrust of the propellor sent a huge cloud of silt downstream and through my swim. I was interested to see what this temporary influx of colour would do to the fishing...

Almost as soon as it had cleared away I had a rattling bite that connected with a non bream - a barbel for sure and a good one too judged on the merits of its fighting abilities. It was still leading a merry dance in and out the treacherous weedbeds directly out front, five minutes later, but the fish eventually tired and came to the surface. A golden flash confirmed that I had indeed caught a medium sized barbel, the net slid easily under and it was hoist bankside.

Imagine my amazement when I unfolded the mesh to find not a lean mean gravel machine, but the very last fish I would have ever expected to see...

A male tench...!

And it was only a three and a quarter pounder!

Strewth, these male tench really are the bare knuckle merchants of the fish world - nothing fights as hard and for as long as a male tench. How they can convince you that they are barbel or carp twice the size or more, when all the laws of tackle power versus fish weight physics would seem to indicate that you'd have the leverage to pull such a fish straight out of the water against all the power it could ever muster, I'll never know, but you can't.

It's one of angling's greatest mysteries.

Fits and starts
It had become abundantly clear that I was not going to get a bream point as they seemed to have vanished. That I was ever in line for a tench point was simply unimaginable but I fished on for the next two hours just trying my damndest. Imagine getting a tench point, from a river...

I sat there pondering the points I was failing to secure so far. The chub had made a brief appearance, I could not find even a single bleak even though I had dropped a float into every likely looking swim after them, Barbel had not shown to even the hardcore barblers thrashing their meat down in the weirpool, the bream had appeared and vanished and now a tench had made an unlikely entrance. What had started out as a clear mission of intent on four fronts was now all fits and starts.

Enjoyably so, though...

In the evening I decided that I'd better use up the deadbaits that were about to turn high back at base. I lobbed out a six ounce rudd on a double treble and a one ounce roach on a single treble hook, after a zander or pike. I sat there and enjoyed watching a fella with a pole on the opposite bank hauling silver fish by the dozen.

I fancied they were all bleak....


  1. For what it's worth Jeff:

    Feed maggots (or even bread mash?) sparingly for bleak and be prepared to wait a little while for them to move in.

    If you don't have a pole use the lightest float possible to get a rod length or two out. They'll hook themselves on a light bottom and small hook if they're there.

    Your surroundings look beautiful in the photos. Beats a dirty grind point any ways up.

    Cheers, Keith .J

  2. Nice spot Jeff. 2 of my pictures (immediately above the barbel) were taken there 2 winters ago. The one showing my old green Rover was about 7 am when I arrived and the other is early afternoon. 2 completely different lots of weather!

  3. Keith, my problem is all location. They must be there somewhere because Kev had some last year. Blighters...

    David, Nice bass and that's Lucy's MIll with the beached narrowboat, isn't it? Serves em right, the bloody pests! I was there yesterday and the boats were causing havoc...