Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Avon Carp — Unsensible Craft & Daft Insensibles

Peering over the footbridge into the shallowing streamy waters at the very end of the millrace just before they plunge over the sill, we witnessed an astonishing sight. A shoal of perhaps 500 roach enjoying the swift currents there and basking in the late morning sunshine. Each and every one exactly the same size, hardly an inch of difference between the largest and smallest, the space they occupied no greater than the footprint of your average semi-detached living room.

Imagine the numbers filling the full two mile stretch, gallon by billion gallon, when those we saw inhabited just five yards cubed.

Such are the stocks of this amazing fishery...

Therein lies a problem. The stocks might be vast but the biomass comprises mostly of fish of the stamp we saw from the footbridge and that is relatively small ones. The fishery can feasibly support a great many large fish if it can support so many small ones but only if the small ones are reduced in number significantly. There is isn't food enough for both. 

But hang on...

Isn't this Nirvana? The very Shangri La? The 'Good Old Days?' The cornucopia of coarse fishing abundance that is supposed, because of so many various problems, to have ceased to exist in this green and pleasant land?

Cambodia, or what? 

As Andy remarks, "... it's a magical place, Jeff" And he's damned right.

It is magical!

For a while...

Andy Johnson, on his third sortie here, is after fish such as worm caught perch in all their radiant clear-water splendour. I'm after carp and only carp.

Five years on, I return to fish exactly those swims I fished on my first three trips to the Warwickshire Avon. On each  I caught them.

I simply couldn't fail to. Not that I wanted to. I was after chub!

After so many years fishing the lakes of Essex they were the very last species I wanted to catch. I was on a mission to catch river fish — not more of what I'd already had too much of down South. So I bought a bag of halibut pellets, mounted one on the hook, cast out, sat back and an hour later, 'whack,' the rod hooped around and I'm connected to what (in my head!) cannot be anything but a huge chub. 

I never considered, even for a moment, that it wouldn't be and even when the fish came up in the water and I saw its scaly bronze flanks I was still convinced.

It was so disappointing to see only a bloody nine-pound common carp laying in the net when it should have been a record breaker!

Next session I had another but larger. Session after that a third and the largest of all at fifteen pounds. That's when I left the place for pastures new, went and found a place where chub could be caught and lots of them.

Today I really wanted carp not chub and was so certain that the same approach and bait would see them fall that for the first hour I was hunched over the rod expectantly sure that at any moment one would. After two hours I was ready for a move, after three I made one.

It made no difference. The carp were not there either.

Then an endless flotilla of unsensible homebrew craft ploughed slowly and painfully upstream to the pub a half-mile distant.

The boats were a drag...

One after the other, I couldn't keep a rod in the water for more than five minutes, and when they'd had their fill of chilly lager they returned half-insensible when Andy couldn't keep his out. For some unfathomable reason, when they could have drifted idly back downstream on the current the daft buggers chose to race!  His expensive barbel rod was ripped into the water (biggest bite of the day!) he stripped and went in after it, but luckily didn't lose it...

The blessings of fishing under the deep shade of the ancient  yews at the stump

Seven or eight hours later the tip of that damned 'carp' rod of mine had not twitched once fished in any swim where I'd either caught or seen carp moving before, and so, after a long afternoon roasting our brains and burning our eyes out under the piercingly bright sun of the hottest day of the past few summers, we retired.


  1. it was a great day out with you jeff in a magical place where dreams may cum true if we spent the time hard enuff

    1. Well it's one of those places that rewards hard work in all kinds of ways, Andy. It was great to see you loved up with it! When you see it winter you won't believe how different it is, but the summer experience will give you a real insight into the place by getting to know its bones.