WELCOME to our Friday blog. Every Friday we hand over to Carl and Alex Smith – known online as simply Carl & Alex.

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QUALITY RIVER FISHING UP ON A FREE STRETCH

 

AS YOU saw in the last blog, rivers have been my thing lately – and I’ve been spending a fair bit of time on trains to get there, including to where I caught those big chub seen the latest Angler’s Mail magazine.

The Upper Lea was my latest river stop, thanks to Network Rail.

My latest jaunt involved getting the train from Haywards Heath in West Sussex to Biggleswade in Bedfordshire. I would not normally bother with such a long journey but there are fish up there which would dwarf the ones in my local river!

I had planned to meet a friend of mine, Oliver, at the station on Friday and then to fish the Ivel that evening. Depending on how that went we had the option to travel over to the Upper Lea and angle for the large numbers of smaller barbel.

We said our hellos and strolled back to his house, which turned out to be quite near to the station. After sorting ourselves out with a bite to eat it was time to don the waders and get down the river.

Oliver is lucky enough to live just a short walk from a free stretch of the Ivel and that was where we chose to fish today. On our way to a top swim, we chatted to a pole fisherman who had caught a range of small fish including mini barbel and a small chub which had been snatched by a pike whilst shipping back.

The water was crystal clear and after watching him return his catch from a long keepnet we walked downstream to find some chub. My first cast under a tree on the far bank brought an instant result – a 5lb chub. ‘I could get used to this,’ I thought to myself… but in fact I got a bit lucky with that fish. As the evening drew in we had a couple more bites but failed to connect with any extra fish.

Not a bad start – this chub scaled 5 lb.

I stayed at Oliver’s house that night and we left our tackle in his garage, when we checked on the maggots we found they had escaped from the bucket and were literally everywhere! We even found maggots crawling out of the garage onto his driveway.

I helped Oliver and his dad pick up the wriggly critters but after about half an hour we just decided to hoover them up! After this maggot nightmare, we tidied up our gear and headed for the Upper Lea and a stretch full of barbel.

This small one didn’t half go!

We arrived to find the best swim available, so quickly set up our gear there. A group of Polish anglers turned up 20 minutes later and started casting over my lines and trying to get us to move out of the spot, luckily they did not catch anything as they had no net or unhooking mat.

Now I have nothing against Polish people fishing British rivers, but I don’t like it when people are rude and don’t obey the same rules as everyone else. Karma took its toll and after what felt like an eternity, they gave up and left me in peace!

I tried rolling meat through a fast weir and soon had a whack on the rod tip, I had to strike firmly to pull the size 6 Drennan Super Specialist hook through the meat. I connected with my first

And here’s a proper small one!

barbel of the day and applied maximum pressure with my float rod and 8lb line.

The fish was only around 2.5lb but in the fast white water it really did go!

Oliver had a go next and caught a couple of barbel too, one of which weighed around 3oz!

I had a few more barbel but they soon wised up to the rolled meat, a switch to a mini maggot feeder and using hemp and maggots brought a few more instant bites!

We started trotting a shallow run where loosefed maggots soon had chub, dace, perch, gudgeon, roach and even another mini barbel interested!

Everything just felt right, centrepin gently turning, red float tip bobing away and the weir’s rapids bubbling and churning. It was easy to forget I was just ten yards from a busy road and only 20 yards from a popular pub; the water flowing past my feet and the fish topping for flies drew me in and allowed me to forget everything else. I think perhaps that is why I go fishing…

Trundling a float through the swim was great fun.

‘Hello’ came a voice from the bridge, which somewhat startled me. ‘Caught much?’ I was surprised to see Oliver’s Dad who had come to take us home. We explained how good the fishing was but I was confused as to where the time had gone! We had spent a good seven hours at the river, yet it felt like the session was just beginning.

Perhaps I will go back and fish the Upper Lea again, I certainly enjoyed my trip!

I hope you liked this week’s blog, check back next week to read our blog about a fantastic carping session in Shropshire.

 

 

THE CARL & ALEX BLOG RETURNS HERE NEXT FRIDAY.

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