Shotgun on the Upper Avon

Shotgun on the Upper Avon

After a fair amount of rain and with incredibly mild temperatures continuing, my destination once again was the Upper Avon in search of the very elusive barbel population. I had decided on two afternoon to late evening sessions as previous trips had shown the daylight hours to be extremely slow apart from the odd bream.

On the first afternoon, I selected two swims around 30 yards apart, both of which are depressions on the inside of a midriver crease situated on a sweeping left hand bend. As I only began fishing about an hour before dusk, I had decided to stay put in one swim each evening rather than moving from swim to swim. The swim earmarked for the second evening was baited with 30 Meat Beast squabs, and would not be fished for 24 hours. I put no freebies in the swim to be fished the first evening, contenting myself with a PVA bag with broken squabs attached to the hooklink on each cast, each bag treated with a dollop of Meat Beast glug, as was the Stonze weight. Other than that, small pieces of paste were flicked in periodically.

During the evening, although I fished until 11.00pm, there was no sign of barbel, the only action being three crashing takes that initially fooled me before revealing that the culprits were bream. They weren’t even big bream, all being around 5lbs and the evening was an anticlimax.

There was one interesting event though. It had been dark perhaps an hour, with a stiff breeze rustling the long grass. That’s why I didn’t hear footsteps behind me. The first I realised I had company was when I reached down for my flask and found myself instead stroking a labrador’s head. Then a 12 bore shotgun materialised the other side of me, followed by the farmer. Gave me quite a start! He’s a great guy, like most farmers very friendly and approachable so long as you obey the country code. I’d heard shooting in the distance some time before and it transpired that he was taking out as many Canada geese as possible which were making an almighty mess in his fields. He had shot four, he said, and offered me a brace, which I politely declined. He also told me that he had discovered two days previously a dead dog otter on the lane leading down to his farm, apparently having been run over. Can’t pretend I was sad about that news! Perhaps it was the same animal that had ruined my fishing several weeks previously.

The second night was actually my first total blank on the Avon, not even a bream, although I again fished hard until around 10.30pm. I had intended to fish much later but made the decision to pack up earlier than planned as a thunderstorm was approaching. The weather forecast had said it would remain dry until the following day and I’d left my heavy umbrella in the van. As I made my way over the fields to the car park, the first heavy drops of rain fell, accompanied by a terrific clap of thunder and the crackle of lightening. As I started the engine, the heavens opened. Once again, I’d managed to avoid a soaking by the skin of my teeth. Upper Avon barbel are nomadic and difficult to pin down, that’s why I find them so fascinating

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