Big Fish Column: Good news for local rods who like to fling a bit of fluff

Ian Welch

Big Fish Column: Good news for local rods who like to fling a bit of fluff

Jonathan Tomlinson with an 8lb rainbow trout from Haywards Farm

My inbox revealed a very interesting mixed bag of results and observations from around our local fisheries this week with big catfish, trout and bream to the fore.

As far as catfish are concerned New Farm Fishery is definitely the water to be on and the big fish are making a regular appearance on the bank with Mark Decruze fishing a 48-hour session to net specimens of 18lb, 43lb and a huge 56lb. The New Farm carp are feeding hard too and mixed bags of fish are making up decent weights for the pleasure and match anglers with 31lb 2oz needed to top last week’s evening match.

On the bream front I received a very interesting message from local angler Alan Blackman who found a dying bream while he was walking his dog. Now a bream in its last throes of life may not, at first glance, appear to be a noteworthy news story but, as Alan pointed out, it was a big bream – in the region of 10 to 12lb – but most interesting of all is the waterway in which Alan found the fish. It may raise a few eyebrows but it wasn’t one of our big pits with a reputation for turning up giant slabs but a fishery with a reputation for producing very few fish – the Jubilee River.

A fascinating waterway for a variety of reasons, and one which has frustrated local anglers since it first opened, it is the angling embodiment of Churchill’s famous quote of, ‘a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.’ Few have managed to crack the puzzle and a bream of this size lends yet more intrigue to the story.

To find a large, dead bream at this time of year is not unusual because the older, more fragile, specimens to have a habit of keeling over after the exertions of spawning. As far as the Jubilee River is concerned the interesting fact is that bream of this size are not only present, but that they are probably present in considerable numbers because bream are shoal fish.

Trying to pinpoint what might be a single shoal of bream in the Jubilee River might seem like a daunting task but the species does have a habit of showing themselves by rolling at dawn and dusk and they do tend to follow regular patrol routes. A bit of reconnaissance and a lot of groundbait could well produce some very interesting catches for anyone willing to give it a go when the rivers open up.

The rivers do, of course, open up again on June 16th and a lot of us will be keen to get back onto the flowing venues for another nine months. As reported previously in the column the current state of the smaller rivers is very good indeed with a good volume of water pushing through; the Thames too is looking better than it usually does in late spring. A look at the current state of play and a few early season pointers in the column next week.

Onto trout fishing and news that Haywards Farm at Theale, another venue that was always somewhat frustrating, is now under new management. The vision for the fishery is a very different one to previously where limited opening and, at times, a shortage of fish made for somewhat challenging fly fishing!

Re-stocking with a lot of 3lb plus rainbows, plenty of fish in the 5 to 8lb plus range and a big head of browns and a few blues has already transformed the 10-acre lake and last weekend saw buzzers and dry flies being hit right, left and centre with a lot of 6lb plus fish being taken, including the great 8lb fish pictured, which was caught by Jonathan Tomlinson. Boats are due to be installed soon and the venue is staging two heats of the prestigious European Fly Fishing Championships in June – so good news for all local rods who like to fling a bit of fluff.

Great trout action was to be found on the Farmoor reservoirs too last week with good averages from both bank and boat with buzzers and dries both scoring well.

Any anglers wishing to report catches may contact me at

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