Despite the sub-zero temperatures, Wayne Swinscoe has continued his great run of form on the River Avon. Here’s his latest report from an excellent day’s fishing.
As I drove to Evesham for my latest match on the Avon I began to doubt my sanity. Arriving at the draw everything was white over. I had a quick look at the river and was pleasantly surprised, however. A nice colour and, unusually, a lot fish rising and yet it was -3ºC. Strange?
The match itself was spread over three sections; Bidford, Common Road and Hampton Ferry. I drew Hampton Ferry peg 75 and felt it was a good draw for roach with conditions like this.
It was going to be a bread job on the pole for me. I also set up a feeder rod as a bit of an insurance policy, just in case I had to fish for bream. I fed that line 3/4 over with chopped worm and casters. I also set up a 3g bolo for fishing bronze maggots down the middle.
In all my time fishing Evesham I’ve never drawn this peg before. After plumbing around the peg for a while it was quite noticeable that it shallowed up pretty quick. Starting at 11 feet the bottom was flat for a yard or so before rising about a foot over the next couple of yards and still rising after that! Not ideal for fishing bread really but I still fancied it.
The first bread rig I set up was a 2g G-Tip 2, with an olivette about 16 inches from the hook and three No8 droppers spread evenly, with the nearest one four inches from a Kamasan B511 size 18 hook to an 0.08mm bottom. The thickish bristle was dotted to a pimple and set to start at dead depth.
The second bread rig was the same float pattern but a smaller 1.5g, an Olivette and three No10 droppers evenly spread to the same hook and bottom combo. This was set to fish six to eight inches off bottom, so I could cover the shallower part of the peg. Again, this was dotted right down.
Why pimple the float down? In conditions like this bites will be really varied. Some will virtually just stop the float. Being pimpled down means you get some sort of visible reaction on the bristle.
When it’s like this you normally only get one chance to get things right. I spent a good 15 minutes getting my bread feed correct. I always mix my punch crumb the night before over a two hour period to let it absorb the right amount of water. At my peg I add the finishing touches, a little bit more water and gravel for extra weight.
With 11 feet of moving water you have to get it dead right. The right amount of gravel and the right texture so when you feed it does what you want and goes where you want. Always add wet gravel to the crumb, too. This is so that it absorbs a bit of moisture.
After a bit of tinkering I’d got it right. My plan was to cup in two good sized balls at the start; one just to the right and slightly downstream, so I could fish the flat bottom, the other further downstream on the same line but just on to the shallower part of the peg. Always try to make your feed balls as round as possible so when you cup them in they don’t wander off line.
After feeding the feeder line with a few feeders full of bait and then flicking a few maggots down the middle it was bread time! Drennan Brass Head Punches in 3mm, 4mm and 5mm sizes were the order of day. Trial and error will sort out what the fish want, but I always start on the biggest punch just in case there’s bream or bonus fish lurking!
First drop on the 11m bread line the float traveled about 18 inches and dragged under as if I’d caught the bottom. A steady lift, roach on! A chunky roach came to hand and for the next 20 minutes I caught small roach steady before they started to drop down the peg. I swapped to the shallower rig and lowered it in further downstream. The result was the same chunky roach.
My next thoughts were, how long before I feed again? Over the next 90 minutes I kept swapping rigs and alternating punch sizes but eventually it was time to feed again as the roach had gone slightly smaller and less numerous. I cupped in another good sized ball on the deeper line then had a quick look on my bolo line. I’d been priming here with bronze maggots but after four runs down and no bites I was soon back on the bread.
As I lowered the rig back in the float slowly disappeared and I was back in action. I was now catching slightly better stamp fish right on top of the feed. Every time I fed the roach came back.
After three hours I sacked the bolo line having not had a bite on maggot. As we moved into the last half an hour the light began to fade and I started to get some better roach up to 4oz. During the match rumours of a few bream weights on the other sections were filtering though so I knew I was only fishing for my section. As the scales arrived my 140 roach weighed 11lb 9oz and easily the best weight on the Hampton Ferry section.
I’d had a great winter day’s angling and it got even better back at the headquarters where I found out I’d actually come second overall, some 26lb behind the winner who caught bream! As I drove home with a nice brown envelope tucked in the back pocket I realised I’m not as mental as I thought I was… maybe!