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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


A Great Session On The Kennet

With storms raging in the North of England, the rivers bank high I decided to go and fish the Wasing syndicate fishery water on the River Kennet in Berkshire. Mike Osborne of Carlisle was up for it. As Mike didnít have any power at home, he might as well be out on the river bank. It was about 9 o'clock on Tuesday morning when we pulled into the car park at Brimpton Berkshire. The river looked good with more flow than normal, while Mike put the kettle on for a brew, I checked the water temperature it was 48 degrees F. Despite the strong south westerly wind and heavy rain showers, I thought conditions looked good for barbel. Mike chose to fish the weir pool and the platform swims, I was going downstream trying all the likely looking spots.

Tea finished, we agreed to meet up for a brew and sandwich about 12-30pm, Mike then disappeared upstream. I started off fishing the Bridge Pool with crust and lob worms baits, after about thirty minutes without a bite or sign of a fish, I gave up and moved off downstream. Just below the green footbridge I rolled chunks of crust down in front of some trailing willows, quickly catching two small chub. I doubt if between them, they would have weighed more than three pounds. With no more bite for about twenty minutes. I moved off downstream. I chose to fish a swim where a big tree trunk was trapped in the water, lying tight alongside the right hand bank as I looked downstream. Baiting with three lob worms on a size 4 hook I allowed this to roll downstream. Fifth cast I hooked a small barbel which probably went 4 - 5lbs. Two casts later I had its twin. I then baited with three handfuls of boilies and made up a new rig using the Stonze system and hair rigging a boily. I fish hard for the couple of hours without a fish or the sign of a bite. I moved on. The next swim I had another small chub. It was time for lunch I quickly made my way back upstream. I decided on a few chucks in the Bridge Pool. Three casts later without a fish, Mike appeared. He had fished the Weir pool with out success, except for one good pull.

Over lunch we chatted about our respective fishing session, neither of us could explain why the fishing should be so poor. We had high water temperature and extra water in the river, making us think the fish would feed. The only reason I could think for my lack of success, was I had changed from my normal style of fishing. I had been listening to all the talk of pellets, rigs etc. The propaganda had worked, against me. I decided I would change in the hope I might catch a big barbel. The afternoon session was again spent fishing boilies in a baited swim without a sign of a fish.. We met up at the about 4 o'clock for dinner, as we sat waiting for the big saucepan of beef stew to hot up, we discussed our fishing. I hadnít had a fish, Mike had caught a couple of three pound plus chub. We agreed to fish on until about 8-30 pm. Dinner finished we had a fresh brew then moved off to our chosen swims. At 7-30pm with no signs of a bite I moved into my second choice swim which I had baited in the morning.. As I walked upstream I met a local angler who had been on the river for several hours without a bite. Things were certainly tough. In my last fishing spot of the day, I had one rattle on the rod tip which didnít convert into a proper take. At 9 o'clock we headed off for our B&B

A Great Chub Fishing Session

Wednesday Morning dawned bright and sunny, though a cold westerly wind was blowing quite strongly. Back on the Wasing water the water temperature was down to 46 degrees F a drop of 4 degrees F over night. I said to Mike "Yesterday was tough, what's it going to be like today with a temperature drop". Thankfully there was still some colour in the water. Today I was going back to roving, using bread, lob worms, cheese paste and meat baits. Mike chose to fish a swim that had been baited with a lot of mashed bread the day before. While I chose to fish a new swim. The swim certainly looked good. On many occasions in the past, I looked at this fishing area which screamed chub. But I never got the feeling it was right and passed it by. Not today. Looked at the swim, I thought it looks good and decided to fish. Baiting with a bug chunk of crust, I made a long cast to a spot where the roots of an ivy clad oak tree plunged into the water. It was as good a chub spot one could wish for. As the crust rolled along the bottom I felt a light pluck and tightened into a good fish. It felt a good one. As I got it close to the net, it broke me off. I was gutted that was a big five pounder. I thought my chances were gone of any more fish. Chucking in a handful of mash, I made another long cast. Within seconds fish number two was hooked after a very spirited scrap I netted a good chub. On the scales it weighed 5-4-0. I walked back to Mike top give him the good news. Saying "Can I put this in your landing net I might get another five" Back in my swim I introduced another handful of mashed bread. Next cast I had a 5-3-0 on legered crust. With exceptionally good light for photographs, I walked down to Mike with this second five pounder. Mike then shot some pictures of me holding a brace of five pounders which hopefully will make a front cover picture for Anglers Mail.

Back in my swim I made 3 casts without a bite, then switched to flake catching three good chub in succession averaging 41/2lbs. I then lost a good fish in a snag at my feet. For fifteen minutes I didnít have a bite, but continued feeding mashed bread and chopped lob worms all the time. I decided to fish lob worms as bait. I removed one of the 2 LG. shot and moved the single shot some fifteen inches up the line. Baiting with 2 lobs, I had another 2 five pound chub 5-6-0 and 5-9-0. Then 3 more fish all 4lb plus on worm, plus a perch of about a pound. I then walked down to Mike and gave him some lob worms. He quickly had two trout. He lost a chub through a bite off, then another good fish which got tangled up with some other line and rubbish causing a break.

A Brace Of Barbel

I had a quite spell for about twenty minutes. Time for a change, I decided on free lining a bantam egg size bit of very smelly cheese paste. Two barbel about five pounds apiece quickly followed. Then I had another quiet spell. Time to try worms again. Baiting with 3 lob worms on a size 4 hook, I quickly had two bites which resulted in super brace of chub weighing 5-2-0 and 5-4-0. This gave me a total of six five pound plus chub in a session. It was one of those Red Letter Days we dream of. I was bubbling, the adrenaline was flowing. Could I get a big six or better still that magic seven I thought. I was certainly going through a purple patch. I hooked and lost a good fish which I thought was probably a barbel. I then had two more chub about 4lbs apiece. For an hour, I didn't have a bite.

It Was A Fish Less Afternoon Session

When I arrived back at the car to cook lunch, Mike was already making a fresh brew. As we sat around waiting for lunch to cook, we discussed our respective fishing sessions. Lunch finished, I went back in the same swim, no bites. Changing over to a float rig, I trotted lob worms, crust and flake. Still nothing. I tried other swims, still no more bites, or any signs that a fish was interested in my baits. For my last session in the dark, I chose the first swim, where I had all the action in the morning session. I didnít get a bite. Why should the fish suddenly stop feeding? I didnít have any answers. Mike chose to fish a new swim, he had three good bites missing the first two, then hooked a powerful fish on the third, which dashed across the river and busted him off in the roots of an alder tree and other rubbish which had collected which he thought was a good barbel. Closing the gate in the car park, two anglers fishing upstream stopped for a chat. They hadnít had a bite between them. The River Kennet can certainly be a heartbreaking river but for me today it gave up some of its jewels It was now time for our long journey home. Apart from the usual bunch of idiot drivers who hug the middle lane we had a good journey home. Pictures 1/ What rig would you use? 2/ A brace of five pounders. 3/ Mike Osborne with some modern baits

Martin James Fishing