River Kennet, Speen Moors, Thursday 16th June 2011
It makes a nice change for the opening day not to end in an anti-climax particularly at a venue which has provided me with so many blank days in the two years that I’ve been a member of NAA. Speen was chosen because of its location and the fact that it was very unlikely to be busy, my plan was to fish six specific swims in rotation all of which had been recce’d the week before, if they didn’t produce I could either wander off to other parts of the venue or go home and sulk (probably the latter). I saw one other angler all day, he had obviously ignored the weather forecast too.
Early morning was so overcast that a late arrival didn’t matter, the car temperature gauge read 14 degrees (at 4:30am!) so combined with low light the conditions were ideal for perch. Not ideal for my pocket camera though, as you’ll see.
First swim was a ‘banker’ perch hidey hole, it was also near the car park so if the rain arrived earlier than forecast I could beat a rapid retreat;
A lob lowered to the bush produced a blank avoiding chublet and as the first fish of the new season he got a photo;
I didn’t realise it at the time but there was some significance in this fish. I can count the number of chub I’ve caught from Speen on the fingers of one hand, even small ones have been a rare occurrence. Today though the chublets were widespread, four of the six swims that I fished produced them. I’m not sure what generation fish of this size would be but I’m hoping they may have survived a couple of seasons and are coming through. Further lobs tempted the perch out, the only one to need the landing net got a pic;
Time to commit and move on to the second swim which was a bit of a walk away. This was where my PB perch of 2-12 was caught and given the conditions I was optimistic that they’d be there and feeding, they haven’t been on all visits since. It’s a good spot for a bite to eat as once the float drifts up to the vegetation I can just put the rod down and leave it;
It took a while for the float to do anything and even then the plucks and nips suggested that crays may have moved in. One definite bite produced a perch no bigger than the above picture so I stayed with it for a bit longer and had breakfast. The second decent bite was a huge crayfish so after despatching it with a size 10 welly I thought it best to move on.
The third swim was a delightful little weirpool that I’d dismissed as being too shallow on all of my previous visits. Only when I had a good look last week did I realise that the water did have some depth to it and might be a fish holding spot, the camera’s limitations then started to show themselves;
The forecast rain arrived at this point, it was quite heavy so I decided to pitch up at the pool and take advantage of the tree cover. It was still a pretty miserable experience but the thought of fishing a ‘virgin’ swim was quite appealing. A few trots round searching the pool tempted two perch, the second being the largest of the day;
Swim four was the main event and where I’d planned to spend most time. It was the larger of the two weirpools which I’d fished before but not from the water, paddling to the tail opened up both sides where the flow reversed and went back to the weir.
The theory worked and I spent a couple of hours here trotting for a good variety of fish; perch, chublets, roach, gudgeon and the odd brownie. This swim produced the largest chub I’d caught so far at about 1 ½ lbs. No pictures because I was in the water, landing and releasing the fish was enough to do without risking dropping the already damp camera. Some of the roach were about 6 inches long which was nice to see. I cannot believe that Speen Moors doesn’t hold good sized roach somewhere, the small ones are abundant during the summer months and then they disappear, some must get through to maturity. I suspect finding them would be a lifelong quest though.
On to the penultimate swim known to me as the ‘Blank Hole’ others reckon it’s good for chub but I’ve never caught one;
Fishing from the far bank would’ve eliminated the tree problem but I found a spot where I could lean against a tree and sort of hang out to get a good look at the float trotting a close line to the bank. It was the usual story of perch taking the bait first, this time double red maggot. A couple of chublets did make an appearance, had they been larger maybe I could’ve re-named the swim but I’m not convinced just yet.
A small diversion from the route back to the car took me to the final swim, a sidestream quite close to the noisy A34 so I wasn’t planning to stay long. During my earlier recce I’d spotted this chap and on the basis that I’d seen fish I thought it was worth at least some time;
Tactics were to drop the float in the slack water behind the bush to see if anything was lurking, then I’d ease the float back into the current and trot down. It worked to a degree, the slack water was devoid of fish but in the current was a shoal of chublets eager to snaffle my hookbait. Three or four of them were landed when something a lot bigger took me by surprise, I knew it was a chub but the enthusiastic fight made guessing the size impossible (I’ve made that mistake before). It really was strong and only after five minutes did it start to tire providing me with a glimpse of the ‘smaller than I thought’ fish. 3lb exactly;
I was pretty tired by then, it was going to be a 12 hour session and it seemed like the last chub was a reward for braving the elements and catching loads of small fish earlier in the day. I took the hint and walked back to the car, just as I’d finished packing away the heavens opened. If ever a decision was perfectly timed and executed that was it.
A home delivered curry, a couple of glasses of Merlot ensured an early night and reflection on what had been a brilliant general coarse fishing day.