Plummeting overnight temperatures mean catches are few and far between

The Big Fish Column

Further flooding, followed by plummeting overnight temperatures, made for dreadful conditions for local anglers last week and both the local rivers and stillwaters were very much out of sorts.

Nationally, there were some large carp caught in conditions that, briefly, were almost spring–like but the window of opportunity was small and disappeared as soon as the frosts returned. Unsurprisingly, reported catches were few and far between.


Thank heavens for canals

The one venue that has continued to perform, despite the conditions, is the Kennet and Avon Canal with a few fish showing on both the lower reaches, which has no riverine input, and in more sheltered swims on the upper beats.

On the lower canal perch and bream, with a few small silvers, are order of the day and pole fishing tight to cover is catching most of the fish, including a net including bream to 3lb and perch to around the pound mark to Woodley‘s Darren Childs who fished red maggots on a size 16 hook to a 2lb 8oz hook length and 4lb main line.

On the upper sections, swims between moored boats and slacks below bends, bridges and locks seem to be the best areas to tackle. There are certainly perch and pike to be caught and I am told a few chub have been feeding too.

The best advice, if you want some quality sport in the week ahead, is probably to look to the chalk streams and spend a day fishing for grayling and dace. Despite the aquifers being full, the chalk rivers still fine down quicker that most venues and, of course, grayling feed no matter how cold it gets.


Trout returns

Moving onto trout, where the fishing has been far more positive, Jonno Randall reports that Haywards Farm Lake  has seen a huge influx of water this week, both from the heavy rain and a small tributary of the River Kennet backfilling the lake via the adjacent Kingfisher pond, which has risen by some 2ft.

Kingfisher Pond, constructed to teach beginners how to fly fish, and Haywards Farm Lake have actually now become one and some of the little residents of Kingfisher have decided to venture out to the larger world of its neighbour.

Despite this influx of small fish, the fishing on Haywards has been very good indeed with several anglers taking bags well in to double figures with specimens to 14lb caught and returned and lots of fish in the 4lb to 8lb range reported. The average weight for last week was 3lb 15oz, with a good rod average of 3.9.

As far as tactics are concerned, with the high water, fish have been more than happy to follow a fly right into the bank so the advice is not to be too keen to pick up and recast just in case something is following close behind! Buzzers, bloodworms and damsels have all taken plenty of  fish, as have mini lures such as blobs and cat‘s whiskers.


The week ahead

The forecast suggests that conditions will remain on the cold side, but with the threat of rain lessened, we may just see the rivers become fishable. Unless it snows…

Any anglers wishing to report catches may contact me at

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