Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Avon Barbel & Chub - Musical Swims

The evening of a Friday night & Saturday morning kind of barbel and chub session, saw Martin and myself wending our merry way down the A46 to Bidford. I have an agenda where were going, but on arrival decide to pitch in a swim I have not yet fished, because it's empty, for the first time in my experience.

Martin goes wading whilst I cast into what has to be the most problematic piece of water possible where the chance of landing a barbel is concerned. A large pool of slack water that must be cast across to reach the faster run along the far bank, thick beds of reed to either side, which extend twenty yards or more out from the bank, and in the middle of the pool, heavy duty cabbages beneath the surface. I think the chance of landing a fish is remote because all the angles are wrong for a fish that will head upstream or downstream when hooked, but is unlikely to come straight in. And even if lucky, there's still the cabbages to contend with...

I get bites, but not from barbel. Just as soon as the feeder lands, the rod top twangs as unseen and unknown fish raid the larder, none of which are large enough, or brave enough to take the bait in daylight hours. Martin fares similarly, and has only a small pike who takes the moving bait to show for the first hours.

A gang of four anglers turn up and pitch all together in the same swim to my left. Swims are that hard to secure here!

Around dusk another large swim becomes free, so we claim it before the occupant, who has kindly alerted us to his imminent departure, has packed down, and go 'two-ups' in it, fishing a rod apiece. Two of the gang of four immediately jump in my newly vacated spot before I have moved my own gear along. This place is a game of musical swims...

Before I settle down though, I take a rod and net downstream to the first swim I ever fished on this stretch for the chance of hooking a fish as large and powerful as the one I lost that day. I decide to give it one chuck, see what happens, if anything, and return.

After just a few minutes in the swim, the sausage bait is taken, the rod top twitches and pulls down hard, and a fish is hooked. I think it might well be a good sized eel when I see a long twisting flank, but after a short battle, in comes a very lean chub.

Not quite what I was hoping for, not quite the unstoppable force I was prepared for, but a blank avoided all the same. I give it another go, get another bite that fails to find a hold, then when I can no longer see well enough to fish on, go back to the big swim.

Martin gets the first fish from the new swim, a small barbel of perhaps three or four pounds. It's very dark very quickly indeed, but as night has fallen, the water has come alive. The two anglers who jumped swim are into a fish just after Martin's is banked, but unsurprisingly, it's soon lost in the weedy snags. A little later, Martin has a second barbel, and a better fish of eight-pounds or so...

When I finally get a barbel bite, it's so violent that the rod is almost pulled in before the reel gives line. I go to snatch it up but slip on the muddy bank created by my own feet whilst netting Martin's fish, and almost plunge headlong into the water. Like a true sportsman though, I get the rod in my hand whilst prone! The fish initially feels monstrously strong, but that soon subsides as it clears the fast current and comes into the bank where it's revealed as nothing more troublesome than a chub scraping four-pounds. 

With an hour (and a bit!) of darkness used up, and by the rules of our tickets, now time to go home, a BAA bailiff arrives and reminds us of that fact. With the way the fish were coming I think we might have been a little naughty and bent the rules a little in our favour, had he not turned up, but rules are rules, and made to bend a little out of shape, but in end, obeyed, and for the good of all ...

That doesn't stop the other fellas and Martin both hooking fish whilst he is around, though — they lose a second barbel in the impossible swim, whilst Martin lands another 4lb chub. 

Tomorrow we'd be trying something new at another place — a trip that we'd prepared for the whole week long. In retrospect, we would have been better off there tonight, and it would have been a very ineteresting session indeed if the same action around dusk had occured, but we'd forgotten to bring the essential things that would have made such a session thinkable, let alone possible. 

Without them, believe me, it would have been a costly disaster, but with them in our armoury, it could well have been a blinder...


  1. A 4lb chub though jeff isnt something to be sniffed at, plus you've got time to find something bigger. Tight lines!

  2. No, that chub was a very welcome fish after nothing but eels to my rod over the last few sessions, but you should have seen the bite, James. We were both convinced I'd hooked a torpedo !

  3. lol. Good read 2 chub and a barbel good fishing!