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12 December (Part 1)

Chris Plumb


River Kennet - Speen Moors

0745 - 1345

Overcast start (drizzling when I left home) becoming bright and breezy. AT 7º-9ºC. River at normal levels.

8 Chub: 4lb 7oz, 3lb10oz, 2lb 15oz, 2lb 11oz & 4 small ones. 7 Roach - most hand sized, 4 Dace, 1 Gudgeon, 1 Bleak & a 2lb Brownie.

Pleasant morning playing hunt the chub, started off with the 3lber from a spot that only usually gives you one chance - and so it proved as resting it for an hour produced nothing more. Fished around half a dozen more swims in all with the rest of the decent chub coming from the penultimate one.


Biggest of the morning.

Chub 4-07.jpg


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Changing swims at the very same Speen Moors this morning, I stumbled across my fishing guru, Chris, extracting his line from the branches of a tree, a most ungodlike position I have often found myself in. All retrieved, he regaled me with details of his catch for the morning thus far, pretty impressive considering I'd not even had a bite. He was kind enough to answer all my questions about tactics and methods and allowed me to watch his next few casts, which resulted in 2 of the smaller fish mentioned. but confirmed what I was doing wasn't that wrong, but there were some subtle tweaks I could make. Not wishing to make more of a nuisance of myself than I already had, I left to employ these these to cash-in at other swims.

Chris, I chose swims with a glassy appearance: swapped my waggler for a loafer float attached at both ends keeping the shirt button shotting pattern: I concentrated trotting in the main flow, with some casts in nearer or further runs: I held the float back at times, I let it chug through at others: I cast downstream, and mended any bow: with a 16 hook on 4lb line, I tried red maggot, white maggot, double red, double white and one of each: I struck at every dip of the float as it tripped along the bottom: I loose fed maybe a dozen maggots very 2 mins or so down the main channel: I changed swims every 20 mins or so where nothing was happening.

Nothing was happening. Not even a bite of which I could be sure wasn't just the line bumping the bottom.

When Chris passed me later (soon after the nuisance 2lb trout) he was kind enough to tell me that 'swim 42' was jumping with fish, but only small ones.  At the stage where I was happy to settle for a few small silvers, I thanked him profusely and ran for it.

Chris, I packed up at 12 after 5 biteless hours. I am impressed and appalled to hear of your latest amazing haul. My fishing hat off to you, I honestly don't know how you do it, and I can't. Surely the chub don't know I don't have a 14ft rod nor centrepin reel? I'm left with one tiny hope that maybe you douse your maggots in hot beefy Bovril or irresistible lime marmalade maybe?

I was close to throwing my gear in the water and taking up some other hobby like golf maybe, but unlike fishing, that's a pointless waste of time and anyway, there's always, always the hope that next time I go fishing...

Keep up the great work and thank you for being a sport


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I feel slightly embarrassed! Was convinced you'd get something from P42 - only reason I stopped fishing there is I reasoned on there not being any biggies in the swim. Keep at it - I've been fishing Speen since I joined NAA in 1982 - so have built up quite a bit of 'water knowledge' over the decades! If it makes you feel any better I just checked by diaries for my first ever visit - 24/7/82 - I fished all day (12 hours from 0500 - 1700) for a solitary gudgeon and 2 trout parr!



ps - my float rod is 15'. 🙂 

I even wrote a review of them a while back....


Edited by Chris Plumb
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Ah, Chris - don't be embarrassed - we've all got our hooks caught in the trees before! Smirk!

Thank you for your supportive words: but knowing you, your solitary gudgeon came in at 3lbs! I am not disheartened, honest,  and do remember when in my first angling life back on the River Mole in the 90's, I did seem to get 'luckier' the more time I'd banked on the banks. I need to start thinking like a fish again rather than just looking like one.

Thanks for the Harrison link - they look beautiful. I was having a look last night at 15 footers and found Cadence rods - who seem to be at least be talking a good game at what I imagine is a more affordable price. .Cadence CR10 15ft Match Fishing Rod | Available in 3 power ratings | eBay

While I'm not trying to be a complete copycat, I know you are right in that centre-pin reels are far better suited to trotting. Trouble is: which ones are any good? I know that quality is the name of the game, but don't know the good makes from the others when it comes to my letter to Santa. There are plenty of vintage reels on Ebay too, but again suspect it is a case of many being better at catching anglers than catching fish. I know you told me the dear history of the one you were using yesterday, but any thoughts you may have on makes or features would be as usual, very gratefully received. 


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Having not bought a major item of tackle in ages (my Harrisons' are now 20 years old) I'm not best placed to advise on tackle choices. I know of a few anglers who have the Drennan Acolyte float rod and like them a lot (and a  lot lighter than a Harrison) but I also know of a couple of friends who have had Acolytes break on them! Also I'm not that au fait with the budget end of the centre pin market! The reel I showed you is a Speedia (Wide Drum) a very functional reel, quite light and an excellent free spinning movement. Made around 50-60 years ago I believe. It does all my heavy lifting these days - might not have the charm or the classical elegance of an aerial type reel (of which I have many!) but it's a reliable work horse. IIRC Paul paid around £65 for it a decade or so ago. They still regularly appear on ebay - alas prices are around double this - which pushes it close to the second hand aerial market! Why not ask a question or two on the main forum here - and see what others suggest as regards both items?

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Hi Both,

I've been following your blog for a while Chris as I'm trying to learn about and access the Kennet. Really enjoy your reports.

On rods, I have two Drennan Acolyte float rods, a 15' and a 17'. Both are wonderful rods and so far I have had no trouble with them despite much tangling with shrubbery.   I have also heard of top section breakages, but for me, so far so good after two years.  They have a wonderful combination of finesse and power. Despite their featherweight and ultra slim profile they seem to have "muscle" and speed in the tip section, which allows you to hit the most delicate bite. The 17' was bought for my particular style locally on the Thames, where I often stret peg. It has enough length to get just over the drop off into the main stream. If they were fly rods they would be up there with Sage and probably cost £700+.

On reels Bayleaf I am a recent convert to the "pin". It certainly takes time and I still haven't perfected the casting, but my advice would be that once you get one leave the fixed spool reel at home and force yourself to persevere.  My own confidence grew when I bought and Aerial style with a line guard, which stops the line blowing around in windy conditions. I've spoken to several in the know and was consistently pointed to the JW Young Purist II as good general purpose trotting reel.  There are usually decent used ones on Ebay, from about £250 upwards but buyer beware. I am certain one I saw was a fake.  I bought my most recent pin from Thomas Turner Fishing Antiques and John Stephenson there was really helpful. I would recommend them without hesitation.

Hope that helps.

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I have a Youngs Purist - but found it a little on the heavy side - especially if I'm on the bank all day - used to suffer with 'tennis aka trotting ' elbow when I used it for long periods!

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Hi Richard - I've just seen your comments several days on. Thank you so much for your detailed and much appreciated recommendations. 

Love the comment about leaving the fixed-spool at home - having blanked again last Saturday thought of leaving the whole kit and caboodle at home next time.! It was an inspiration and an annoyance to bump into Chris on the bank and loiter in the undergrowth behind him. He made it look so easy, and having returned to my own swims and not have a bite all morning, made me realise that I needed to up my game/tackle. Chris' willingness to put up with my banal questions and his blog is a fab resource for someone like me, returning to fishing after 20 or so years and new to the area.

Streuth - a 17-footer. I'd be wildly ungainly with one of those. I'm hoping to trot more or less off the rod tip and thus keep casting to a minimum while I get used to a pin. I tend suffer more birds nests than Bill Oddie at the best of time, so will need to get the hang of it before risking a cast.

I've sought and received much kindly advice. I'm a little scared of buying second hand for the reason you suggested of either potential fake, or just being worn out. I've heard good things about the Okuma Sheffield from different people and read good reviews too, so rightly or wrongly, and I really appreciate your experiences with John Stephenson, I think I will plump for one of these with its line guard, guarantee and warranty. 

Do you have a fishing blog, Richard? You write well. I'm thinking of starting one on this site with my misadventures - I can't be the only one who has been to hospital to have a hook removed, have caught a dead eel and despite loving the sport and regularly suffering sleepless nights before sessions, rarely seems to come up trumps. But oh boy, when I do...

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