Winter Help needed

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Lid

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After a fifteen year break from fishing and my then my best ever season throughout the summer and autumn catching mainly chub, barbel and perch from the River Lea in Hertfordshire on worms and slugs, I realise I don't actually know very much.

I had two trips this holiday, but both were virtually unproductive and am feeling very despondent about by angling knowledge.

On Friday I went to the Great Ouse at Felmersham - my first visit. It was very coloured, just breaking the banks and rising! I had no idea where to try and had annoyingly forgotten my heavy rods. I met two regular barbel fishers. One has spent every weekend there and (only) had 6 barbel all season - all doubles mind.

They directed me to the one slack on the stretch where a backwater rejoins the main flow and gets to about 10 - 12 feet. I tried lobs on the bottom all over it but only got them mashed up by roach. Eventually I switched to dendrobeaneas on a size 14 to catch three small roach and then came home. I used some feed and seemed to get a lot of activity with small fry near the top. I even got a bite in midwater on a retrieve when I paused for a moment!

Yesterday I went to a nice wild section of the River Lea, which was unusually busy as the upstream managed and stocked section (Marford Farm) was completely chocker block. The river was only slightly up, and clear and the air was colder than it has been. I couldn't tempt anything from a swim where I have caught barbel and chub regularly, including one barbel (and two lost) last week. I was anchoring lobs lightly on the bottom, which has proved very successful in the past for me. I also tried bacon grill. Admittedly most others were not catching too. I only heard of one 2 pound chub being taken, but I had to go early. Towards the end I scaled down to double maggot on a 16 and took three tiny roach, just so I didn't blank.

I realised when I got home that before my long break from fishing, I have rarely fished in winter, In fact I think I only ever did one season in about 1988, mostly on the Thames and Cherwell in Oxfordshire, and then I only used to catch a couple of reasonable chub every few outings.

Where are the fish then? They must still be in the river. Admittedly it was colder yesterday, but my books (especially My way with Chub by Tony Miles) all say I should still be able to make good, or even fantastic chub catches in the winter!! And all I am after is four or five (or six) nice chub on an outing!

Anyone got any hints or guidance please? I don't want to be just make reasonable catches in the Summer and Autumn. (By the way I can't use cheesepaste anymore because my daughter is very allergic to all milk products).

If I still can't find the decent fish in my local rivers, then I was thinking of trying some stillwaters. I thought of trying a local club lake (Smallford, Herts) with one rod for pike (I'm a beginner at pike) and one with light float tackle for roach, bream small carp, etc. Does that sound like a good idea? If I get the chance I'd like to try and join some MD's on a trip one day, but I am working on the latest close enough ones posted.

Thanks.

Leighton
 

jel

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Jan 16, 2002
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Hi Leigton.
Barbel and chub fishing has changed in resent years,i also had i break
from angling for some years . It sounds to me that you have a problem choosing your smims,flood water fishing can be hard.Try looking at it from the fish angle,lots of food is carried by the fast current so look for an area where fish can feed but also return to the slack water to rest.Dont give up on a swim if you dont catch, barbel will allways return to a good feeding area ,also look into pastes and bollie type baits. hope this helps.
cheers Jeremy.

j white
 

Lid

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Thanks Jel.

Both my swims this last week were just as you describe, slack water bordered by current. I reckon I'll just have to keep trying.

As to pastes and boillies (and pellets), I'll certainly look into them, but there is so many variations, I don't know where to start. You'd think the fish would still go for the more ordinary baits like worm, meat and crust though, if they were in.

When I have walked the River Lea, and other small rivers, when clear, there are great chunks where you just don't seem to be able to see any fish in them at all - even in spots that look really inviting.

We've got this problem on a club stretch of the River Ivel near Sandy. No-one since the club got it last year seems to have been able to find any fish in it and yet it looks like a river that ought to be brimming with fish. Other stretches of the Ivel have fish though, according to reports, but not lots.
 

jel

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Jan 16, 2002
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Hi Leighton, my advice about pastes and boilies would be to read the monthly and weekly mags and focus on what the fish are being caught on and make your own mind up what to use. I personally use John Baker's base mixes although this can be quite an expensive bait. I have fished both Dobbs Weir and Kings Weir on the River Lea and only managed some nice crayfish!!

Keep persevering and stay with the same swims.

Best of luck
Jel


j white
 
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