With the sun out and Phill Colins “easy lover” blasting over the car stereo plus getting some funny looks as I made my way through Marlborough it was just over an hour’s drive to Sutton Benger and the Bristol Avon for the Saturday open. I was keen to get on this when I found out they were running one as I am back there next weekend for the start of Wessex Winter league with Pewsey. Having never fished the stretch before it was sort of a throw away match with me looking to try and gauge how best to attack the venue and sort out the better stamp of fish.
Having arrived I found out that we would be fishing the lower stretch from the weir down (meant nothing to me at the time but noticed the further downstream you went the less flow was around) I wanted to be as close to the weir as possible where there was plenty of flow and an area that screamed fish. Watching the locals get their kit out of the cars I noticed the lads had plenty of worms for bait (brought a kilo myself) and had already been told you need plenty of worm and maggots for the stretch, but lay off the groundbait or you will just get bitted out with small fish.
Having a quick chat with the other 2 Pewsey lads that had also booked on it wasn’t long before the draw, the golden peg was drawn and the locals said that if the right angler was on it then that would fall (well that wasn’t going to be me then) as I drew peg 16 at the weir, result ! just where I wanted to be. Whilst the peg looked uncomfortable setting up wise it had a few options to go at to find the fish with some good slack water close in and running water further out towards the far bank.
Plan was set 3 rigs up to hit the swim with the waggler as backup. I wanted to start short for as long as possible before having to move out, I noticed within the swim there was a load of weed and cabbage heads just off to my left and were clearly visible (nice perch holding area with the odd specimen lump hopefully lurking around) the next 2 lines would be concentrated in the faster moving water towards the far bank where there was a clear run off from the weir. The waggler was set up and would also be used on the far bank swim should the fish not want a pole over their heads. My rigs were as follows
Elastic number 8, Browning Cenex 0.12mm mainline, Sensas Jean Francoius 1gram float, 0.10mm 8inch hooklength finished off with a size 16 B520 hook. Rig to be fished 3inch laid on bottom to keep the bait still.
11 Meter swim far bank 8ft deep Rig 1
Elastic number 8, Browning Cenex 0.10mm mainline, Sensas Jean Francoius 2.5gram float, 0.10mm 8inch hooklength finished off with a size 18 B520 hook. Bulk of weight 12 inches from hook. Heavy float in aid to get the bait down and hold back against the faster flowing water within the swim.
11 Meter swim far bank 8ft deep Rig 2
Elastic number 8, Browning Cenex 0.10mm mainline, Dino Roach Royal 1 gram float, 0.10mm 8inch hooklength finished off with a size 18 B520 hook. Bulk of weight 12 inches from hook. Bait just touching bottom main purpose of the rig to trot it through and see if the fish preferred it running at them.
Mainly for the far bank and set at half depth with the option going deeper should the fish be sitting towards the bottom. Kit used Champion choice 13ft match light rod matched to a Xitan MF 930 reel.
With the all in soon called it was straight out with a bait dropper full of chopped worm and caster on my 5 meter line. Leaving it to settle it was a pouch of bronze maggot and a pouch of hemp on my far bank swim before chucking the waggler over it and letting it slowly trot downstream. This brought a run of small fish but not what I was looking for. A shift to my 5 meter swim and it became apparent that the perch had moved in over my bait as a steady run of perch came in quick succession before the line died down. A quick re-feed through a bait dropper and again brought a run of quality perch to the net. Now in a rhythm of catching short whilst still feeding my far bank swim I hooked a nice perch, after a quick fight with it trying to head for cover and any snag within range I had its head up. I was just about to land it when smash a pike had gone for the perch getting the perch and cutting my hook length at the same time (perch must have been 1 ½ lb and the pike was a hell of a lot bigger).
New hooklength on and back out saw the line still producing but not as quickly as it had been doing. A run of yet more perch and a few more hooklegnths lost due to the know resident pike who was having his lunch on me the swim was now starting to slow to the point of the line taking too long to produce a fish and was becoming unproductive with regards to putting a weight together. With the far bank swim being fed for the last 2-3 hours I was hoping the fish would be lining up.
Shipping out and starting at the start of the run produced some good quality roach which were sure to build my weight but it wasn’t long before the pike had realised this and was still hungry for more. I was finding that some of the fish best responded to me slowing the bait down before inching it through and slowing it down towards the backend of the trot with the better stamp at the end of the swim. The only battle now was trying to get them in quickly enough before the pike had his tea as he had set up camp at the end of the swim as well. I adjusted all my rigs so I could break down and swing to hand on either my top 4 or 5 so I could get the fish in quicker but still the pike persisted and were quicker than me at times. With swim now starting to slow down I made the decision to rest it
Hopefully the perch were still there and the pike had moved off and this proved right with a big perch first put in to about a 1 ½ lb. Another steady run of perch and I was in again feeding far bank and quickly getting the fish out of the water on my 5 meter line. Once again it was evident that the pike had followed me back onto my 5 meter line and after a few more hooklengths and lost fish (one being my fault as the elastic streamed out of my pole with a bigger perch heading straight into the snags on the right of my swim) the swim again died. Back out on my far bank line for the last hour saw me frantically shipping in and out putting together another 2lb not knowing what everyone had as I was blinded from the rest further down the bank.
With the all out called and a quick minute to reflect on the last 5 hours I felt I had spent too much time on my 5 meter line trying to make it work when clearly it had died and maybe lost a couple pounds across. Add that to the 2 lost perch reaching for a combined weight of 3 ½ - 4lb due to pike and one taking me into a snag I had lost a few pounds, still 85 fish and I reckoned I had 7lb. With no time to lose it was get the kit away and off downstream to do the weighing in. With the last 2 anglers on the stretch already passing me it looked like it had fished hard for some (still less to weigh in)
Going up the bank there were weights from 5lb-7lb and had a feeling it was going to be tight. With the scales coming round and my turn to weigh in, lifting my net I knew then I had more than 7lb and this was confirmed with 8lb14oz going onto the scales. A small smile on the face as I knew I had won the match but at the same time disappointed I hadn’t put double figures onto the scales. Still no need to beat myself up too much I had never seen the stretch before and it was good to come away with a result.
Next weekend sees me back down where I think another simple approach will be required but at the same time fishing within a team means putting fish in the net and scoring points so depending on where I draw could mean same tactics or slightly refined one as to not let the team down.