Tony Miles Pre-holiday Fishing SessionPallatrax Angling
Just one day’s fishing this week as Fran and I were preparing for a much needed holiday in Tenerife, flying out on Friday 2nd October. Decided to stay local to home and made my way to a stretch of the Warks Avon where I had success in 2014 with nine barbel in just seven days, all of them over 9lbs with seven doubles to my current Avon best of 13lb 15ozs.
So far this season, the stretch has not been so prolific, in fact only one fish of 11lb 4ozs had resulted in four days fishing, accompanied by several very average bream and chub. The last of those trips in late August had given me a possible clue as to the barbel’s vanishing act in that I’d sighted a large dog otter just as dusk was closing in. I’d therefore given the stretch a rest, hoping that the otter would move on, and moved down river for a couple of sessions, resulting in a nice fish of 12lbs 4ozs on the first trip. After four weeks away, I arrived back at my favourite stretch in late morning, planning to fish until the early hours.
A classic swim here is where a depression exists behind a clump of rushes in midriver, with cabbages both sides, making a lovely secluded area. At around midday I baited this with thirty 14mm Meat Beast squabs and then rested the swim for about an hour while I enjoyed a sandwich and several cups of tea. Then I set up the gear, using one of my TFG 1.75lb barbel rods loaded with 12lb Gamma. The hooklink was 10” of 12lb Pallatrax green braid sporting a size 6 The Hook. A squab was placed on a short hair and then coated in a generous amount of Meat Beast paste. I would think the finished bait would be around 22mm. This was then dunked in the matching dip and hooked into a PVA mesh bag containing broken squabs and bite of paste. I also treated the Stonze weight to a good glug of the dip to further enhance the flavour leak off downstream.
There was an almost instant response when a hard fighting chub of 4lb 11ozs whacked the rod round. The Avon is not renowned for the quality of its chub, not being in the same league as the Ouse, but it was still a good fish for the river, especially in summer. After that early success, I was plagued by constant bumps and plucks from small fish going ballistic over the paste wrap, until about an hour before dark when another savage pull resulted in a second 4lb plus chub.
As darkness fell, all the small fish activity ceased, the wind dropped to nothing and soon a bright moon was casting eerie shadows along the Avon valley. It had been dark a good two hours when there was a sudden spate of rapid vibrations on the quivertip, followed by a spectacular lunge which would surely have cost me the rod if I hadn’t been holding it. The barbel fought like a tiger and for ten minutes I thought it had done me. Fifteen yards below where I sat it had stuck fast and nothing I tried had the slightest effect. Keeping patient, I sat there with the rod well bent but resisting the temptation to heave on the fish which would surely have resulted in a hook pull or break. After what seemed an eternity, I felt a frantic kick, the rod eased back a fraction and then I crammed on the pressure. The barbel had freed itself from a substantial lily root and from then on the battle was plain sailing. With two minutes it was in the net. It took the scales to 11lb 3oz’s and I was pleased to see that it was pristine and undamaged, having seen the otter in the swim on my previous visit.
Although I fished on until 2.00am I was not to get another bite. The upper reaches of the Avon are not that prolific in barbel and others as well as I have found that it’s rare to get two in a session. I do, however, believe that there could be one or two exceptional fish there and that is why I shall continue fishing it