Fishing the Warwickshire Avon at Lucys Mill, Stratford-upon-Avon

Welcomer to Lucys Mill, Stratford upon Avon. One of my all time favourite river venues. 

Two weirs and a great big slack. All kinds of fish to catch and specimens possible. A glorious and special fishery that will both reward the novice and challenge the expert. It is both very simple and extremely technical so there's a great deal to learn should you want to find out what weir pool fishing is all about. Should you like what you discover then you'll never tire of this venue so long as you might live. It is not everyone's cup of tea, though...

Because it isn't easy...! 

However the rewards are there for the taking. Chub are present but I've only ever caught the one which is remarkable considering the thousands of casts I've made there. Likewise tench who crop up from time to time, but not yet on my rod. Carp ditto. Trout have been reported too —  but I don't ever expect to have one grace my net. Barbel sport is epic when it arrives. But it rarely does for most who try. Roach are just as tricky as always but worth the effort because two-pounders have been documented and one-pound fish are quite common. Bream fishing is possible throughout the entire day and night and they are large fish on the whole. Silver bream are there too should you be lucky enough to discover the whereabouts of the small and highly localised shoals. 

I've yet to fish the venue specifically for predators. But there's plenty of perch, zander and pike to target. If you like match angling then the venue also teems with bleak, gudgeon and dace. In addition to the rest of the species list this makes for a varied and exciting stack of fish to go at.

It is a very busy place all year round with thousands of passing tourists in summertime, and a constant stream of dog walkers every day. Keep your bait locked away or the mutts will have it. Boats pass through every few minutes at busy times. Keep an eye out for them or lose your end tackle and even your rods. Never leave a rod to fish for itself under any circumstances. 

The venue is controlled by Leamington AA and the day ticket is available from the bailiff on the bank. This ticket also gives access to Stratford Recreation Ground above the weirs (a very different kettle of fish) and also Stratford Lido upstream and beyond. Should you find yourself without a peg to fish because it is a very popular venue and is often crammed with anglers on the weekend, then at least you do have alternatives nearby.
Silver bream and a river best at 13oz. This species is uncommon in catches made on this river unless a shoal is located. Not exactly rare but very tricky to find. I discovered a shoal at the end of the lower weir run off in turbulent water whilst roach fishing. Amongst them were even rarer silver bream x bronze bream hybrids. I found a shoal (and perhaps the same one) in summertime, and in exactly the same place.

A silver bream and a silver bream x bronze bream hybrid. Not easy to tell them apart but the larger fish just has too many scales to be be true. There's hardly a difference otherwise.

Playing a good sized roach at the lower weir.
A perch, four roach around the one-pound mark and the best at 1lb 6oz. All the roach fell to ledgered bread disc with liquidised bread in a cage feeder. The perch to a bunch of maggots.  All from the upper weir run off. The cloud of feed in turbulent water had the undesirable effect of driving roach and all other small fish into a feeding frenzy which duly attracted predators such as pike, perch and zander, destroying the roach sport. 

Another prime net of redfins from the upper weir. The largest is a recapture of the 1lb 6oz fish  in the previous picture. Bait was ledgered bread disc. I did not use groundbait on this occasion and rarely do I use it now. Roach don't require it. They'll bite if bread appears in front of them. The predatory fish did not turn up, but twice as many roach did. 
A brace of one-pound roach caught whilst bream fishing with bread and maggot cocktail

Another prime summertime roach. This time to sweetcorn.
Sharing a swim with Danny Everitt and arsing about with the camera on a net pole 

After dark barbel fishing with my 'special' winter luncheon meat bait . February 2011. I rarely fish for the species but when I do it is usually at Lucys Mill and during wintertime because I really enjoy being here then and personally I find barbel obliging regardless of the cold water. However, it must be said that barbel fishing is tough here at any time of year. Most who come to try — fail. 

One bite is all you're gonna get, if you get one at all in a week of trying, but when it comes it'll be totally unannounced and incredibly vicious. Never ever leave a rod unattended here. These Lucys Mill fish will have it in if the boats don't! The result is always worth the tense wait, though. 12lb 4oz and my personal best.

Keith Jobling fished beside me that night. Right after the barbel was returned to the water he said, 'Right, Jeff, let's go to the Dirty Duck. That's our bite for the night done and dusted' A man who knows the score only too well!

Playing a barbel from the slack water and across the near bank flow. In the wintertime or after rain this flow hits the bank at your feet hard and makes life tricky when playing large fish in. When the water is up somewhat and the near bank flow fast and wide then holding bottom in the far slack is difficult. When in flood it is hardly possible to fish at all unless in the stretch between the two weirs. Luckily on this occasion it was a mere trickle. I'd never have banked this fish on a three- pound hook-link otherwise. I was fishing for bream! 

The summertime daylight eight-pounder that fell for bread. A lad on holiday had fished the venue all week long for the same but without a barbel to his credit. He was just upstream when I dropped in below and had one out by accident within the hour. Like I said. The barbel here ain't at all easy. 

Another cracking after dark barbel at 11lb 14oz. November 2012. As always the bite was epic. Used a weak rotten bottom paternoster link for the feeder and glad I did because it snagged tight on submerged rubbish mid-fight. I would have lost this fish if I hadn't been able to pull the feeder free so very easily. Weirpools are always full of snags, large and small, and sometimes after a flood, huge! Lucys Mill is no exception to the rule.

Martin fishing beside me that night and for predators was convinced the liners I was receiving were from chub. I assured him that they certainly were not and were from barbel rooting around for the experimental gambit of free finely chopped bait I'd introduce by the feeder load earlier. Chub are not your problem at Lucys Mill.  Getting that single bite is your obstacle because it's the only one you are likely to have. 

It came, in the end. And he believes me now...! 

Bait was, as usual, my freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw winter 'special'. 

My best bream from the venue at 4lb 8oz. Unlike elsewhere on the river they'll feed well here all day long and through the night.  This was the first session I ever put in for bream at Lucys Mill but it would not be my last. 
Five bream of various sizes but averaging three-pounds or so. The bait used was a cocktail of bread and maggot fished with a feeder full of brown crumb, maggot and caster. I was inexperienced at river bream fishing but caught well enough to become very interested in it. 

After dark with no other anglers putting in competing feed, bream will stay in your swim all night should you keep them in place. This four-pounder was part of a catch of 25lb or more. If I'd stayed on longer then I'd probably have made 50 or 60 pounds quite easily. Bait was triple hair-rigged sweetcorn so that at least one grain would always survive the heavy splash down on long casts with large feeders full of brown crumb laced with corn and maggot. Lots of accurate initial priming casts puts feed over a tight area and then both feeders are recast every five minutes till the first bite arrives, then every ten minutes thereafter. That's one recast every five minutes, bite or no bite, and is constant work. Fish tend to come on one rod only till the shoal moves and then it's the other rod. Manage to hold them there and very large catches are possible.
After the flood

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