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  1. Well, that was a bit rubbish. A fifth consecutive day of temps around 30 degrees with unbroken sunshine has been truly horrible for temperate people like me and fish alike. Thinking that the lakes would be hard with the fish not bothered with feeding (my first mistake?) I headed for Speen Moors with 15ft rod, centrepin, a couple of pints of maggots and bags of enthusiasm. The river looked fab, though reasonably slow paced, and I appreciate todays conditions weren't conducive and it was still scorching and 25 degrees when I packed up at 9:15 when I was already sporting two angry insect bites and felt more would otherwise be endured, and two swans ploughed through my swim. However, it was usual story for me on Parliament draught, though I did catch my first fish in three visits: 2 dace (one a nice 7oz), 2 roach and a large bleak. I still don't know what I'm doing wrong, but the fish hate me, and I don't think I'll ever catch a chub over a pound. I trotted a large loafer, held it back, let it run. I fished high, I let it drag the bottom, I fished midwater. I loose fed each swim (6-10 maggies in mid stream every 1-2 minutes of so) for 15 mins before casting. I scaled down from a size 14 to size 16 microbarbed hook as advised by a much revered local angler. (I've ordered the braid you advise - it can only help). As usual, I bumped off more than I caught, though this time nothing of any size. With the centrepin I believe my line was always tight, I think my strikes were neither too fierce nor too namby-pamby and mainly fishing the centreline, I don't think I jumped around sufficiently to spook or outstayed my welcome (max 30 mins) in each spot. Having run out of swims, I made it cross country to fish the planked footbridge to find it fully occupied by teenagers in reduced amounts of clothing, firing a barbecue and smoking something funny. As unwelcome as they were, they were polite and charming, making room for me to cross and offering to help me over the stile (I must have looked knackered, sweaty and fed up). I decided on nearby Enborne canal. Mercifully, there were no boats (only a trio of those horrid paddle boarders in bikinis). There was fish life everywhere, and on the pin and light tackle, and pretty much using the long rod as a whip, I must have had a million good, positive bites. I missed 999,991 of them - either bumping the fish or missing them altogether. Having read that a way to address missed bites is to shallow up, but even at 6 inches deep, I kept missing. To be fair, 4 of the 8 perch I caught were barely bigger than the maggots, despite the bites being strong enough to keep the float underwater. So I shall try and explain this example of my ineptitude mainly down to my 16 hook just being too big for them. I did eek out a tasty 6oz roach, and perch of 7 and 12ounces, but that was that. Having packed up in the near dark, as I walked back along the canal , I saw what I thought was a little white dig chasing a bigger brown one over Guyers Bridge. They turned onto the bank when the brown dog leapt into the lock crashing into the water maybe 20 foot below canal level. I ran over and saw it was a deer. Four people walked over the bridge and I explained what their white dog had done. They were horrified, the 2 girls quite panicky. There was nothing much we could do. Without lock keys, we couldn't move the lock gates to change the water level, and though one of the guys climbed down the lockside steps into the chamber, the deer, swimming/running up and down the fairly shallow water, was never going to go nowhere near him, and even if it did, how do you grab a panicked deer with one arm and carry it up 20 of so steps? There were two small areas of raised ground above the water on the corners of one end one end that the deer climbed up on a couple of times and tried to jump out, failing the required height by about 10 feet. At least it had a chance of not drowning. With the girls screaming, and the man hanging from the steps, I felt we were causing it more panic without having any chance of getting it out. I thought it's best chance was for us to leave the poor thing, where it could potentially spend the night on the raised 'islands' and take it's chances with the first passing boat on the morning. The girls were phoning the police as I left. Oh well, if I'd had a pretty crap evening, it was much better than those of the dog owners and that deer. Maybe next week I'll stick to the lakes.
  2. When I rediscovered fishing last year after a 20-odd year hiatus, I had a couple of short sessions on this very shallow stretch of water about 250 yards from my front door. There is only one swim, two maybe when the weeds die down for winter, and I'd never seen anyone fish there in the 10 years or so I've lived nearby. Foolishly, I didn't pack my centrepin which would have been ideal, but in an hour and a half trotting an 18-inch deep rig, managed3 roach (to 4 ounces), 2 dace (similar), 7 bleak and 2 minnows. My 2lb hook length was also snapped by a nice chub after a very exciting fight. Mind you, I lost a good 30+ other fish, their shaking their heads so vigorously that I hooked and lost them. I wound in fast, I wound in slow, I changed hook size three times and hook pattern twice but could not make them stick. It's barbless hooks only for me, so maybe I'll just have to put up with this on my next trip, unless you have any advice?
  3. Kennet & Avon Canal - Enborne 1430 - 1745 Overcast, VERY windy with light rain for last hour and a half. AT 10º ->7ºC. 7 Perch; 4 over 1lb of which 2 were over 2lb - best 2lb 10oz (last bite of the season - I nice way to end!) Many, MANY years ago (probably sometime during the last millennium) I bought a pack of 3-way swivels. I stuffed them in with a wallet of tubing and they have languished at the bottom of one of my tackle boxes ever since. I suppose I must have thought 'they might come in useful one day' - well that day was today! My morning venue is relatively sheltered with tree cover - however arriving on the bank of a much more exposed canal I realised I'd be casting into the teeth of a gale. The trick here is to get the bait as close as possible to the far bank reeds (and keep it there). Casting today was problematic at best with the added jeopardy of giving it to much welly and the whole kit and caboodle flying straight into the reeds. Even if I did pull off a decent cast the wind quickly pulled the float away from the take zone. So after 10 mins of cussing and a few near misses into the reeds I was looking for my 3 way swivels and tying up a paternoster rig - bit of a first for me on fresh water - and it worked a treat. The extra weight aided accurate casting AND keeping the bait exactly where the perch would find it. Was always a little nervous of tangles - but a 1lb+ fish first cast gave instant confidence in the set-up.
  4. Kennet & Avon Canal - Woolhampton 1500 - 1800 Sunny with scattered showers. Windy/blowing a hoolie, especially during the squalls. 8ºC 9 Perch: 2lb 14oz & 8 small uns - one of which was close to a pound the rest half that or less. 2 Pike: 3lb 13oz & 3lb 4oz. 1 Chub circa 8oz. Pike are always a piscatorial hazard when fishing lobs but slightly miffed to get one from each of my 2 'banker' perch swims. It looked like my last trip here of the season would end in disappointment on the perch front until quite literally last cast (in the ever increasing gloom) produced a perch that actually fought back! Turned out to be my best of the season from this stretch of canal - still not had a 3 from here since I started coming here in 17/18 but this is now the 3rd season in a row I've come within a few ounces of that mark.
  5. Kennet & Avon Canal - Enborne 0700 - 0915* 1000 - 1715˜ Mild, mainly overcast, quite breezy (some milky sunshine at times) - light showers on and off all day with rain for last hour and a half. AT around 12/13ºC all day. *27Perch - with 13 (!) over 1lb - and 3 over 2 - best 2lb 7oz. ˜(½mile upstream!) 7 Perch - all over 1lb (3 over 2) best 2; 3lb 10oz & 2lb 11oz. A doz roach and a dace - all small. What a Red Letter day! Make hay while the sun shine's! Nailed on conditions for a day's winter perching, mild and overcast after a 2 week cold snap - just knew that stripeys would be on the munch - but didn't dream of such a return! The morning was just ridiculous - fishing was almost 'Mr Castwell' at times - cast out, let the float cock, float dips - 1lb perch - repeat! Thankfully the bites were drying up when the local yoofs turned up and with no sense of etiquette made base camp not 10 yards from where I was fishing. Suspect they weren't even members but as I was out numbered 5-1 discretion proved the better part of valour - and I moved upstream earlier than planned - but also thankful to escape the dogs - one having knocked over my bait box and another had tried to steal my lunch! The rest of the day started serenely - fishing yet another swim I've not fished before I was straight out with a lob again and settled into my seat to watch a stationary float. After an hour I'd switched to maggot and soon started catching small roach - and hoping these would draw some perch into the swim - but really just killing time until the light started to fade. By 1530 I was out with a lob again - and met with instant success in the shape of the 2-11. Slow and steady sport then ensued - interupted by an unexpected barge - which put an end to action for nearly an hour - however there was still time for one really special fish -the only bite 'post barge' - but what a fish - my biggest perch (and first 3lber) for 5 years. And my biggest from this stretch of canal by a country mile - fat as a football - it had clearly been on the munch!
  6. Kennet & Avon Canal - Woolhampton 1500 - 1630. Mild, overcast with a stiff downstream breeze putting quite a chop on the water. 9ºC 3 Perch; 1lb 5oz and a couple of 6-8oz. 1 Pike; 2lb 12oz Quick return to yesterday's venue hoping for a bigger stripey (achieved by around 4oz!) Dropped into a different swim - one in which I saw some scattering fry as I walked back to the car yesterday evening. All fish in the first 45 mins - Pike was last caught and didn't get another bite afterwards.
  7. Kennet & Avon Canal - Woolhampton 1330 - 1630 Overcast and Mild(er) 7ºC. Canal gin clear!. 6 Perch; 4X14oz(± a couple of ounces)& 2 tiddlers. Birthday trip to make the most of the milder weather. Up until Sunday the mean average temperature for January (locally) had been a lowly 1.1ºC so with temps up as 'high' as 9ºC this Mon/Tues I was hopeful that the perch would have woken up. And the session started off promisingly with the 2 tiddlers in the first 20 mins - however I then had to wait 2½hours for my next bite - with the 4 'bigger' fish coming in a flurry as the light went. The time between was punctuated with an argument with one of the barge owners who claimed I was breaking lockdown rules by angling - must print off the AT guidance for next time I go!!!!
  8. Kennet & Avon Canal - Enborne 0700 - 1000 Chilly and bright - clouding over. 3º - 8ºC 6 Perch - only 1 below 8oz but only 1 over lb (and not by much!) 1 Roach c10oz (on a whole lob) A sudden drop in temps and a bright crisp morning are not the ideal conditions to kick off my autumn perch campaign here - so glad to get any interest at all in my float fished lobs. Started in one of my 'banker' swims which produced all the fish before doing a bit of prospecting which produced just a couple of half hearted bites!
  9. Kennet & Avon Canal - Woolhampton 1345 - 1615 Bright with squally showers. AT 10ºC 9 Perch; 5 over 1lb - 3 not by much and two that went 1lb 12oz & 2lb 8oz. 1 Roach (small - the lob worm it took was longer than it!) With a very mild end to the week I reasoned that the perch would be on the munch - and I was right. Didn't even need to wait until dusk for some action - in fact most fish caught with the swim bathed in sunshine - though (of course) the biggest one WAS as the light was fading.
  10. Kennet & Avon Canal - Enborne 1400 - 1600. Bright & breezy. AT 7ºC 4 Perch; 2lb 14oz, 2lb 0oz, 1lb 6oz, 1lb 2oz. So Plan B was to fish the witching hour on the canal hoping for a big stripey - though as so often happens in the winter it's a witching 20 minutes around 4.00pm just as the light is fading. Had all 3 bigger ones in this 20 minute spell culminating in the biggest - which was a very last cast fish as I'd already packed up my bags. A season's best as well.
  11. Kennet & Avon Canal (flowing), Thatcham 1100 - 1330 Dull and breezy. AT 11ºC. River at normal levels and quite clear. 6 Dace; 5 over 8oz - biggest 15oz !! 1 Gudgeon. Another trip to an infrequently fished (and less than reliable) venue but one which has thrown up decent dace and chub in the past. Nothing quite in this class however - a female almost in full breeding condition (3 months early). My biggest dace for 11 years, since this day.
  12. Kennet & Avon Canal - Enborne 0700 - 0915 & 1445 - 1630 Squally rain to start, overcast and becalmed to end. Quite mild. 18 Perch; Most 8-12oz with around half a dozen in the 1lb class save the biggest which went 1lb 10oz. Dawn and dusk session to top and tail a trip to Speen and there appears to be a LOT of perch in the 12oz class this autumn. More fish during my dawn session than dusk - but that may have been due to pike as was bitten off twice.
  13. Kennet & Avon Canal - Woolhampton 0615 - 0945 Mild (13ºC) with an increasingly strong breeze (storm Aiden approaching) 9 Perch: All, bar one, over 8oz with a couple pushing a lb. Still searching for the bigger ones! Quick session before the rains arrived (started pishing down just as I got back to the car!). One of the advantages of the clocks going back is there's a bit longer to fish before the barges start up and whilst the first one came through at 0830 again - there wasn't the same traffic as last Saturday. This was a bit of an exploratory session - tried around a dozen new swims - though most fish came from last year's 'hotspots'.
  14. Kennet & Avon Canal - Widmead 0715 - 1030 Mild, overcast with some light drizzle and an ever increasing breeze. Canal quite full. 4 Perch: 2 'pounders', biggest 1lb 6oz. 3 Chub: again a brace of pounders - to 1lb 9oz. Dawn perch raid to a favoured swim of old - been 3 years since I last fished here but for a decade from 05-15 this was a nailed on banker venue for big perch - had dozens and dozens of 3lbers in that time plus a couple of 4s. My last 3 from here was Dec 15 and they did a rapid disappearing act over the following couple of winters - and yes I'm blaming the otter, as I saw frequent sightings of it on the canal at this time.... Was hoping the perch would have thrived on neglect and I had to wade into the margins to clear one of my favourite swims of common reed on arrival. Despite this commotion I had a perch first cast and there followed a busy hour or so when I caught everything else. Alas the first barge came through at 0830 and whilst I did get the odd bite after this further shipping meant the swim never really had time to settle down - still I saw enough to want to come back!
  15. Kennet & Avon Canal - Woolhampton 1245 - 1615 Overcast, cool and drizzly at first (after 2inches of rain in the previous 24 hours). Water up and coloured. 5 Perch; All 'netters' with a couple nudging a pound. 1 Tench; 2lb 6oz. Quick 'snatched' session to the venue nearest where I live. Had planned to fish upstream of Newbury today but didn't fancy standing out in the pouring rain all day - so made the most of a short break in the weather (the rains returned as I walked back to the car). Had vowed not to fish here until November when winter mooring starts and the boat traffic diminshes - but reasoned there wouldn't be much boating happening in the rain - and so it proved! Never been so disappointed to get a 2lb tench - which snaffled my lob - on the drop - first cast. For a good couple of minutes I thought I was into a jolly decent perch - and rather surprised to see a tinca eventually brought to the surface - my first from this part of the K&A. Not a Perch!
  16. Kennet & Avon Canal - Enborne 0645 - 0915 Northcroft Stream 0930 - 1100 Cool and foggy - lifting to bright sunshine for last half an hour. Canal: 4 Perch; 1lb 3oz & 3 tiddlers. 1 Chub; 1lb 9oz, 1 Roach 1lb exactly. A morning on the canal in search of perch - or at least that was the plan - so float fishing whole lobs to far bank bushes and snags. Somewhat surprised therefore to get a 1lb roach pretty much first cast - quickly followed by the chub - a few perch eventually showed up - but the crayfish attrition rate on my stock of lobworms suggested there wasn't many big stripeys in the area (if any!). Northcroft stream: 3 Chub; 4lb 6oz, 3lb 11oz, 2lb 2oz. 7 Dace, 1 Perch, 1 brownie. So as I'd worked my way down to Egypt Point I thought I'd have a quick hour or so at Northcroft. Fished the weir-pool for the usual mixed bag then dropped downstream to finish off the morning with the two bigger chub.
  17. Kennet & Avon Canal - Thatcham 1345 - 1600 Mild, breezy with some drizzle in the air. AT 51ºF. WT 49ºF. 2 Perch: 2lb 13oz, 1lb 11oz. 1 Pike; 4lb 3oz. 1 roach. Had a half day workshop in Newbury so rather than go back to work - seemed the perfect excuse to take some time owed and squeeze in a couple of hours fishing! All fish on lobs and all caught in the last hour.
  18. Kennet & Avon Canal - Woolhampton 0645 - 1230 Mild, overcast with light drizzle for the first couple of hours. 5 Perch; a couple of pounders but not by much - best 1lb 4oz. 1 Chub circa 12oz, 3 Roach - one of 12oz - on a whole lob and 2 smalluns, 4 Bleak. Had the day off to fish the Frome on the first day of the season (it's open for 4 months from 1st Nov) but rain in Dorset this week put paid to that idea - so it was back to my autumn stripey hunt - which was again thwarted by way more boat traffic than I expected for a weekday in November. Fishing had started promisingly as well with both my 'biggest' perch caught in the first half an hour - but a boat coming through a 0730 (!) stopped bites for over an hour - and after that the frequency of barges meant the swim never really settled down - sigh!
  19. Kennet & Avon Canal - Enborne 1430 - 1800 Still bright and breezy with a brief drizzly shower. AT down to 8ºC when I packed up. 10 Perch; 6 over 1lb - best 3, 1lb11oz, 1lb 14oz, 2lb0oz.12 Roach - all small & 3 Bleak At last some bigger perch - with the odd exception I've had loads of perch around the 1lb mark this winter from different parts of the K&A - I obviously found a different year class today as the pounders were all over 1lb 4oz.
  20. Kennet & Avon Canal - Woolhampton 1500 - 1800 Mild, bright and very breezy. AT still 11ºC when I packed up. Canal quite coloured up after all the rains. 13 Perch; 5 over 1lb and a couple just an ounce or 2 shy of that. Biggest 2: 2lb 13oz & 1lb 13oz. 1 Roach - 9oz (on a whole lob!) I've now had nearly 2 doz perch over 1lb from here this winter but this was my first 2 (and I think the 1-13 may be my 2nd best from here this year!) Yet again I fished a different spot - but one which will certainly get a return visit next winter! Fat as a football!
  21. Kennet & Avon Canal - Woolhampton 1500 - 1745 Mild and breezy - with sunny spells. AT 10ºC. Canal still with quite a bit of colour. 3 Perch; 1lb 13oz, 1lb 10oz & a tiddler. Bunked off work early to snatch a couple of hours on the canal - though in truth I needn't have rushed - no bites till gone 1700 and all the fish came in a flurry around 1730. Fished half a dozen new swims - including the one which produced.
  22. K&A Canal - Woolhampton 1400 - 1615 Bright sunshine - and quite mild at 9ºC but quickly got cooler as the sun set. 1 Perch; 1lb 3oz. 1 Pike 3lb 9oz. With a couple of cracking perch already 'under my belt' (see 30 December part 1)! for the day I decided to fish a couple of new swims on this stretch. The first appeared to be Pike heaven - lost one, then landed one, so moved to another new spot - where I had a solitary bite right at the death resulting in the stripey....
  23. K&A Canal - Woolhampton 1515 - 1615 Mild and breezy with heavy, squally showers. 11ºC 5 Perch; 4, lbers - though not by much - best 1lb 7oz. Left work early for a last minute decision to make the most of the mild snap and have a last hour of daylight on the canal. All the bites came a few minutes either side of 4 o'clock - and resulted in fish of a remarkably similar stamp - here's hoping there are still some bigger ones to be found!
  24. Kennet & Avon Canal - Woolhampton 0700 - 1430 Mild, overcast and becalmed - perfect perching weather - pity no one told the perch! 5 Chub to 2lb 2oz. 1 Perch - small, 8 Roach - with a couple needing the net - both just shy of 12oz. 4 Gudgeon & 2 Bleak. Another frustrating day on the canal - this time I had incessant boat traffic to contend with - had hoped to get at least a couple of hours peace but the first boat came through at 0710 when it was still nearly dark! and thereafter it was constant all morning - can't believe it's this busy in the height of summer! So no interest at all from the stripeys, in a swim that proved a bit of a banker last winter, with just the occasional chub (and roach!) snaffling my lobs.
  25. Kennet & Avon Canal - Avington 0700 - 1400 Mild and VERY gusty with drizzle for the first couple of hours or so (lovely - not!) 1 doz+ perch - most around to 10-12oz mark but couldn't find anything bigger (which what I was after primarily). 2 doz+ roach nothing big), 1 Gudgeon (1st of the season), 1 Dace, 1 Chublet and a Skimmer. 'Orrible session! Wind was a nightmare for casting and presentation (and nearly knocked me off my feet twice). Fished half a dozen or so swims in search of a decent perch and pretty much had similar results from all of them - though at the last place I tried they were slightly bigger so might start here next time. I truth though it was a bit of a 'I'll be glad when I've had enough of this session' !! as the wind made for very difficult conditions - my wrist was sore from holding the rod against it - as it was straight downstream.
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