Evesham Open – River Avon
7th Feb 2011
Due to a sudden rise in river levels over night our scheduled winter league on the River Wye was cancelled at the last minute. I had already collected my team mate Steve Williams and we were heading to Hereford when we learnt the match was cancelled.
After a short discussion and some serious encouragement from another team mate Leigh Gardner, we decided to divert to Evesham and fish an open on the Ferry stretch. As we only had our Wye gear with us we were not really going to be very well prepared for the Avon match.
We had left our long poles, lighter rigs and Avon gear at home. Of course we had plenty of bait (an understatement!) but no bread punch or fine groundbait.
Anyway Leigh assured us we didn’t need to worry as the river had been fishing well and a ‘normal’ river approach with maggots and float tactics would suffice. When we arrived at the Ferry we noticed that the river was low and clear and the weather was very windy, not really conducive to easy float fishing on a hard river!
I drew peg 44 at the top of the stretch and was not very impressed. I knew that this area had been left out in recent matches as it was not fishing very well and most people wanted to draw the deeper pegs down the bottom (68 to 80), where some good roach weights had been taken recently (on bread punch!).
After the draw, Steve Ashmore very kindly lent me his spare long pole and some bread / punch crumb so at least I didn’t feel to disadvantaged when I got to the peg. I’ve caught some nice bags of roach in this area before and I decided that bread punch would be my best tactic to start with.
Due to the windy conditions I decided to fish the bread punch at only 11m and found I had about 5-6ft depth with a nice steady flow.
I set up just two pole rigs:
Bread punch rig = 1 x 2grm Colmic Jolly: 0.12 XWR main line, 0.08mm XWR hooklength, size 20 Gamakatsu hook
Caster rig = 1 x 3grm Superteam ST6: 0.12 XWR mainline, 0.10mm XWR hooklength, size 18 Kamasan B560
My selection was a little bit restricted as these where the only (light) rigs I had in my Wye kit! A lighter rig would have been handy, but due to the windy conditions I wasn’t to bothered.
At the start of the match I cupped 2 golf ball sized balls of punch crumb into the swim. As is often the case when fishing the bread I started catching fish straight away, it really is an instant method. The fish where not big but I was getting bites and happy. I was also gently loose feeding caster over the same line with a view to catching some bonus fish latter in the match.
After 2 ½ hours I estimated I had about 2-3lb of fish (small roach), not great but in my mind a section win was all I could really expect from this area my target weight was 5lb.
I decided to go for a quick walk and check out what was been caught in my section. I walked up to Demo on peg 42 and had a shock….he told me he had aprox 8lb of Chub on the feeder!
I then walked down to the bottom of my 8 peg section and learnt I was probably last! Odd chub where been caught and most people had 4lb +
Time for a rapid change of plan!
I quickly set up a waggler rod and decided to start lose feeding maggots about 1/3 out. In normal conditions I would have fished a stick float on this line but had no chance with the vicious downstream wind. A heavier than normal waggler fished on this line would give me the best chance of getting half decent presentation.
Rod =15ft MACH 3XT float rod
Reel = 035 MACH 3XT FD reel
Main line = 0.16 XWR
Hooklength = 0.10 XWR
Hook = size 20 Kamasan B510
Waggler = 3 AAA straight peacock
After feeding for about 15 mins I hooked a decent chub (over 3lb). I managed to play the fish away from some serious snags at the bottom of the swim. As I was fishing relatively fine, I gave the chub as much pressure as I dare and just as I was starting to think I was winning the hook pulled out…..not good! Fish like that are hard to come by at Evesham and I was annoyed with myself.
Anyway I carried on and hoped this was not a lone chub . Thankfully it wasn’t and I quickly hooked and landed 3 chub for around 5lb in as many casts.
Interestingly I didn’t change my hook and hooklength to more robust gear (say 18-0.12mm), although the thought had crossed my mind. I know from experience that the Chub at Evesham are very educated, especially when the river is clear and even a slight increase in hook and line diameter will result in no bites.
With balanced tackle it’s amazing how quickly and efficiently you can play and land even big chub on relatively fine gear.
The best tip I can give is stand up when you hook the fish and try and put as much of a bend in the rod as possible. This brings the Chub up in the water and allows the rods action to absorb the lunges of the Chub efficiently. Also I now like to play chub with the drag on my reel rather than back winding. The drag systems on modern reels like the MACH 3XT FD are so smooth and reliable I think you can exert more pressure on the fish, but still have the sensitivity to give line when required. Its hairy fishing especially as most Chub will try and snag you up at any opportunity….remember they fight dirty!
I continued to fish the waggler for the remainder of the match and caught 3 more chub for about 4lb. I tried double maggot but by far the best bait was single red maggot. I tried all the tricks in my repertoire to catch these final chub. Its often the way as the first few fish can be caught relatively easily, then you have to work hard to catch any additional fish!
Most of the Chub I caught where taken with the bait dragging or just touching the bottom. However I did catch 2 chub by swallowing up to mid water (3ft). This can be a devastating tip and can give you bites completely out the blue.
I also like to constantly change the amount and frequency of feed I’m introducing and think it helps to confuse the Chub and also help disguise the hookbait amongst the free offerings.
So at the end of the match I estimated I estimated I had about 10lb and was fairly pleased with my catch. I was however annoyed to lose that first fish and also a bit surprised how well the river had fished.
When the scales came to me there where two 9lb 2oz weights leading from Nick Cowling on peg 46 and Leigh Gardner on peg 80.
I weighed 10lb14oz and was pleased, however I was concerned about Demo above me on peg 42 as he told me he had caught some more Chub.
When Demo put his fish on the scales my fears where confirmed as he weighed 12lb 8oz. This was a great result of a peg that doesn’t normally have much chub form. Demo is in fine form at the moment and making his feeder method work on a variety of different pegs at Evesham. He is 71 and a great character, I hope I am still winning if I get to that age!