I was going to head back into the dark on the eel grind again one night this week but a text message changed that and instead I hooked up with Andy for a predator session on the Avon. I love catching Zander in the warm summer evenings rather than on a chilly autumn ones as they give a much better account of themselves during the fight. They always seem rather pumped up from chasing bait fish around and in my opinion fight at least twice as hard as they do once the temperature drops and they become a little torpid.
The plan was simple; leave work, drop Jacky home, grab my already set up rods and kit, drive to river, park car, cast out a couple of dead's and start landing Zander.
The both of us having cast out some baits took it in turns to try and bag a few bleak to use as livos. Turns out the message had got around of what we were up to and although we could see bleak topping everywhere we couldn't prize one out anywhere for love nor money.
Andy bagged one little pike from the first area before we made the decision to drop onto a very reliable Zander hotspot where I have bagged up time and time again. Turns out this time I wasn't due a bag up session and whilst Andy got straight into the schoolies I couldn't get a bleeding run.
As dark approached I felt the looming shadow of old mr blanky upon my back and in desperation dived head first into my ruck bag to search for inspiration. Low and behold there they were - a sorry sight to most, but to me the 8th of a bag of Halibut ground bait and the 30-40 8mm pellets were like an oasis of hope as I faced that desolate road to blanksville.
The lead came off to be replaced by a feeder, the hook link was changed from wire to braid and a pellet was lassoed just before the whole lot was cast into the flow. Straight away the tip nodded but I had to wait a while before the hypnotic ground bait spread it's scent over the river floor and worked its wondrous magic. Three sharp bangs then I hit the fourth.
Not the savage response I'd expected but there was something on the end.
"I reckon its a tiny barbel" is what I said trying not to be too brutal to a small fish on heavy gear.
"Go easy Dan it ain't a barbel its a big roach" is what Andy replied
And right he was, but what would any self respecting roach want with a big fat halibut pellet?
Exactly 1.8lb of avon finest.
This stretch of the Avon is starting to produce some good size roach and it must be attributed to one thing; Barbel! As Barbel are the new carp and every angler in old blighty seems to chasing them right now, using not the old school truncheon meat or sweet corn. But instead by piling lavish amounts of high protein baits in the hope of bagging a double (something I can't deny I was doing) and of course not only bertys are going to eat it. So these roach are living in pretty good quality water eating large amounts of free steroid like food and if they can avoid the hungry intentions of otters, cormorants and other larger terrestrial predators(you all know who I mean) then they should actually be able to find themselves in the situation there lake bound piscatorial cousins did a while ago and we could see an upsurge in roach weights in rivers all over the country.
Later on my old friends the bream moved on and I bagged a couple of plump examples up to 4.8lb which just increased the size of the smile on my face.
As I dropped this picture onto the blog I noticed something very interesting on the bream in the above picture. Its tail! I had caught this fish before on a session last year and I weighed it then at 3lb.
And that got the brain turning over too. That fish has put on one and half pounds in weight in eleven months which has to be a lot for a bream and possibly reaffirms my previous theory re the affects large scale berty fishing is having on our rivers.