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A Barbel at last!



River Kennet, Newbury, Sunday 11th October 2015


Following on from what was a very successful social event at Rutland (but somewhat lacking in terms of my Zander return) I wanted to get back into familiar territory so with bleary eyes after a long Saturday morning journey back from Oakham I dragged myself off to the tackle shop for maggots and lobworms. The plan was to fully explore the Newbury town centre stretch on Sunday.


I’d tried some of it the weekend before with some success, a chub of 3½ pounds from a most unlikely looking section devoid of any features and with concrete banks. The rest of the available water looked pretty similar but I keep hearing reports of it producing decent chub so for once I tried to ignore my surroundings and just fish the water for what it was. Lesson number 1, it’s very hard to ignore Newbury town centre on a sunny Sunday when everybody’s out walking the town and having lunch, my own fault for not arriving early enough. Despite the distraction I carried on fishing where I could which sadly didn’t include a chub hot spot I was intent on targeting, the swan feeders were out in their hoards and whilst there would be a break every now and then as soon as anyone approached the bank the swans assumed they’d be fed and would descend on the location with a vengeance. I made a mental note to return at an unsocial time of day and moved on.


In truth the walk was pleasant enough but uneventful. The sporadic angling didn’t help, I could never spend enough time in one spot building up a swim before explaining to inquisitive passers by what I was doing. Some were anglers so the conversation would become protracted, some were not anglers so the conversation would be different but still protracted. Eventually I arrived at the end of the section at a point where NAA have the fishing rights to a small side stream, I knew of a good perch swim so spent an hour or so there drowning lobworms and mostly swinging small fish to hand, only a couple needed the landing net. At the head of the stream is a weir pool, I love fishing these but at first glance the banks weren’t angler friendly being quite high on one side and tree covered on the other. I had time to spare so figuring the tree side would give me the best chance of exploiting the varying currents I squeezed myself into a spot which just allowed me to cast, landing anything with the net would be tricky but with some ingenuity do-able.


This is when the day got very interesting indeed. I haven’t caught a barbel for the past couple of seasons so nearly fell in the water when the first cast produced this miniature example;




Ok so it won’t break any records but I wasn’t expecting that, this venue looks very ‘barbelly’ but to my knowledge has yet to produce them. Neither was I expecting the small bream which followed, then the roach, dace, perch and brown trout all from the same swim! None were big and thankfully landing net contortions were only required on a couple of occasions but six different species from a fairly innocuous looking weirpool was a real surprise. The initial frantic action tailed off quite quickly though, only the perch carried on feeding (on maggots, lobworms were ignored) but they kept me entertained for longer than I was intending to stay. Chub didn’t show at all and if there was one species I’d have banked on chub would’ve been it


Lesson number 2, don’t overlook a swim just because it’s difficult to get to;




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Thank you Paul. It was one of those sessions which takes you by surprise and makes you want to go back. Might try a static bait next time just to see if crays or larger barbel are present.

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This has to be one of the most inaccessible NAA stretches on the ticket. From the car park end, I could hear the weir, but couldn't get through the undergrowth. Due a working party I think. Lower down it looks good for coarse fishing. I was flyfishing, taking several big dace and a pound wild brown trout. Was expecting a few grayling, from the Lambourn confluence, but might have been too early, being June.

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