Big Fish Column: Waterproofs the order of the day for anglers as new river season gets underway

Ian Welch

Big Fish Column: Waterproofs the order of the day for anglers as new river season gets underway

Danial Curl and one of his hard-fighting carp from New Farm

And so we’re off…

The start of the new river season kicked off last week and those greeting sunrise on the ‘glorious’ sixteenth were, in fact, greeted with conditions that were far from glorious. To say it was a damp start would be something of an understatement but we anglers are a hardy bunch, and they do say there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!

Waterproofs were certainly the order of opening day almost everywhere and with the fishing patchy it was not the best of starts for most local anglers but it did start to slowly improve as the weather picked up towards the end of last week and into the weekend.

As expected, reports of local barbel were few and far between and the species can be very tricky early doors but Neil Keene found a double figure specimen on the RDAA beat of the River Kennet at Upper Benyons. Cookham-based Neil fished the maggot and caster feeder with 10lb main line, 8lb fluorocarbon hook length and two casters hair-rigged on a size 12 hook and hooked the fish during the middle of the afternoon having opened his account for the new term with a chub of around 4lb.

Staying with Upper Benyons and I am informed that as a result of the excellent restoration work being undertaken by Reading and District Angling Association and the Environment Agency the venue is becoming a very good trout stretch with every chance of a take or two on the fly. What is good for trout will be good for every other species too, so a big well done to one of our local clubs for their hard work.

A little further downstream there were reports of barbel at Theale with Windsor’s Ben Rawlinson netting a fish of 7lb 12oz on the rolling meat method, fishing a big lump of SPAM on a size 4 hook direct to 15lb braid. A lot of anglers tend to shy away from big baits during the summer but roll it through a swim in a natural fashion (and natural really is the key) and the fish will have it no matter what the conditions.

One barbel report from the River Loddon too with Twyford rod Andy Hull netting a beard of 7lb on a legered pellet. Andy fished an Elips pellet on a size 10 hook to 10lb line with a feeder packed with fishmeal groundbait and pellets to hook the fish at dusk.

Chub were more in evidence on most of the local rivers than barbel although, just like barbel, they can be out of sorts right at the start. That didn’t stop Richard Evans getting to grips with them on the River Loddon where his light maggot feeder approach scored with four fish to 4lb 8oz. Richard fished double red maggot on a size 14 hook to a 4lb hook length and 5lb 4oz main line.

Thames anglers were greeted with a river that, for once, had a bit of life in it with the wet spring and plenty of recent rainfall adding a little pace – in some areas at least. As expected there were bream to be found everywhere with Marlow and Pangbourne particularly prolific. Perch at Bourne End and Temple, roach through parts of Reading into Oxfordshire and the odd carp and chub from a variety of locations made for plenty of action for those starting on our main river. It can be a tough nut to crack at times but the Thames remains the most intriguing of all of our local rivers.

Of course not everyone started off on the rivers and Danial Curl fished the carp lake at Maidenhead’s New Farm Fishery for the first time last week. Danial employed a simple lead clip system on his two rods, one fishing a snowman rig, the other a single cherry and almond flavoured boilie. During the course of his day Danial had four runs, landing two of them, with the biggest weighing in at 15lb.

Daniel, pictured, told me, “These are hardest-fighting carp I have every caught from a day ticket water, I can’t wait to go back!”

Any anglers wishing to report catches may contact me at

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