Bloggers Challenge – Aiming for Europe

While Leicester continue to confound expectations in the Premier League, I don’t think it’s any surprise to see James Dennison running away with the Bloggers Challenge 15/16. A very good angler indeed.

I think Russell and George have second and third place tied up respectively, but beyond that I think there are Champions League and Europa League places up for grabs!

I’m quite pleased with my current seventh place position. And I’ll try and squeeze in two or three more short trips before the 1st May in an effort to find a few more points.

My one shot at real glory came a few weeks back on the Wye. A tricky day came to life as dusk arrived and I hooked a succession of good fish on worms. A surprise 1lbs 8oz roach / bream hybrid had me convinced I’d hooked a special roach in the gloom (and earned me an invaluable ten challenge points) and was accompanied by a number of good perch to 2lbs exactly.

Tintern gulls
Tintern gulls
A decent roach/bream hybrid and the only river example recorded in the bloggers challenge.
A decent roach/bream hybrid and the only river example recorded in the bloggers challenge.
A nice perch of two pounds - how I wish I'd landed the fish I hooked a few minutes later!
A nice perch of two pounds – how I wish I’d landed the fish I hooked a few minutes later!

But the last fish I hooked was, I’m 99% sure, a very special perch indeed. I never got a glimpse of it, but having had the two pounder just previously on the same gear, this fish felt easily twice as heavy, with my 6lbs line and medium feeder rod at times feeling seriously under-gunned. I finally steered it away from the nasty snags downstream, got it to the relative safety of the near bank and out of the flow, only for it to do me on a totally innocuous looking twig right under my feet.

I went back for a couple of hours at dusk a week later – but the river had dropped and was cold and lifeless.

I finished the river season in traditional fashion – at the wonderful Britford fishery with my friend, Mike. Mike’s getting hitched this summer, so we had a mini stag-do of sorts, fishing followed by beers in Salisbury.

It wasn’t easy, but a couple of swims on the old river produced the goods. I was hoping for a decent grayling for the challenge points, but also as I’d not had one in a few years. I think third trot down I had a lovely fish around a pound, followed by one a shade bigger at 1lbs 1oz.

A stunning Hampshire Avon grayling, beautiful fish.
A stunning Hampshire Avon grayling, beautiful fish.
An Avon perch
An Avon perch

We had dace, trout, perch and minnows – all great fun on the float. After a good few beers in town and an overnight stay, we awoke to the most horrid weather. Very wet, very windy and bitingly cold. ‘Orrible. We put it off for as long as we could, but eventually trudged down at 1pm. The river was rising rapidly and to be honest we toyed with the idea of heading straight home. Still, at least it hadn’t burst its banks – yet. We headed to the sluice to hide in there for a bit, have a coffee and see if things might improve.

We decided to flick out big baits from the sluice and see if a suicidal trout or chub might oblige. None did, so Mike went wondering and I set up a maggot feeder and began casting from the sluice again. Half an hour later I had, during the briefest of lulls in the wind, a subtle pluck. Next cast and I was in. I just presumed it’d be a small chub or trout, so when a big roach rolled on the surface I eased right off!

It was a stunner of 1lbs 9oz and a best of the season for me. Neither of us had another bite, but it’d been a good couple of days in great company.

1lb 9oz Avon roach
1lb 9oz Avon roach
Mike hiding from the elements
Mike hiding from the elements
Mike braving the elements!
Mike braving the elements!
Couldn't resist getting a few night shots of Bath on the way home.
Couldn’t resist getting a few night shots of Bath on the way home.
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Ending the season on the Avon

As I write this piece in late March, temperatures are now in the high teens and the rather gruesome winter we’ve just endured already seems like a long time ago. The carp and tench are really waking up and as soon as I get some free time, I’ll be heading out for a day to try and land a few, hopefully using a little float in the margins.
I would dearly love to make contact with one of the big crucian carp that reside in a local pool. I witnessed a chap land one of two and three quarter pounds last spring and he had already landed some other big crucians that day. My best ‘cru’ is about a pound, a fish from Somerley lakes in Hampshire.
I’ve also yet to land a 20 pound ‘king’ carp – my best is a common of 19lbs 2ozs that I hooked one April morning eight or nine years ago now. The same pool that the big crucians hide in has some big carp, and I’ve had them to just over 15 pounds there. I would really like my first ’20’ to be a dark coloured, clear-water fish – even better if it was from a river. But finding such a fish could be both time consuming and tricky. The lower Lea around Enfield may be worth a shot and the Suffolk Stour has produced some great looking fish over the years, so when the river season kicks off again perhaps I’ll spend some time looking for a big river carp.
Finishing the river season at Britford on the Hampshire Avon is becoming a bit of an annual treat. Bight sunshine and a difficult side wind made things difficult, but in the morning I managed a lovely trout, a little grayling and some small dace to trotted maggots. I settled into a favourite swim at dusk, link ledgering bread by some overhanging trees. As the sun went down a couple of taps were followed by a more substantial pull and a lumpy chub gave a powerful account of itself in the flow. He weighed four pounds and twelve ounces and was a great way to end what has been a good season.

Avon trout
A lovely trout from the Avon.

A Hampshire Avon chub
The Britford chub that fell to link ledgered bread at dusk.