Avon chub fishing

A fishing trip to remember… 

Oliver Deakin visits a friend for some guided chub fishing on the glorious Bristol Avon at Laycock. Here’s how he got on…

Words and pictures: Oliver Deakin

When somebody offers to impart their years of knowledge of a single stretch of river to you, you take it. Learning the hotspots can take months of trips; casting, re-casting, snagging, breaking, and blanking. So, when a friend offered to guide me around the Bristol Avon at Lacock I jumped at the opportunity to learn every twist, turn, pool, run and eddy. Even after another popular angling publication informed its readers that it was a chub hotspot just a week before we were due to make our trip (rather than being confident we were going to the right spot, we were worried the whole angling world would be marching through the grounds of Lacock Abbey when we arrived. Thankfully, we were wrong!)

We marched ourselves across the grounds of Lacock Abbey to the furthest peg from our cars, with the idea of meandering back with the river until we’d had our fill, I couldn’t help but marvel at the spectacular sunrise which spilled its warm rays all over the 13th Century house. Every fishing trip I tell myself that being outside in nature’s full glory is good enough to make the whole day a success, I am, however, an angler and no great day would be complete without an arching bend in the rod and a racing heart to accompany it.

I’d packed light but still had 2 rods, one for feeder fishing and one for running a float but having seen most of the river we were about to fish I had a good idea that the float rod would stay packed away. At the business end I’d tied a paternoster rig on the advice from my guide that it would be easier to swing the rig in towards snags and allow my bait to drift towards the fish, with a medium wire size 14 hook tied to about 18 inches of 7lb hook length, 8lb mainline and a 20g ground bait feeder (I’d forgotten my cage feeder at home). The water was reasonably clear after the dry spell of the last week or so, hence my smaller than usual hook and 20g was just enough to hold bottom in the flow. In the feeder I had liquidised bread, large bread punch on the hook and hemp to ping in using a catapult or by hand. I’d also brought along some maggots as I never feel comfortable at a new fishing spot without them.

The first swim was tucked on the inside just above a weir from a small tributary. I decided to stay mid-way up the bank so as not to spook the fish. I swung my rod and tightened up immediately, put my rod in the rest and reminded myself to be a little patient, nobody had told the fish though and I missed a nice clean bite within seconds because I simply didn’t expect anything to happen that quickly. Another piece of bread on the hook and again within seconds the tip pulled around, this time I was ready for it and I felt a sizable tug on the end of the rod darting for whatever snags it could reach. In my haste and excitement I tried to get down the bank a little too quickly and slipped, when I got up again I lifted up the rod and felt the fish still there, brilliant! It had found a small patch of grassy weed and darted underneath in the hope that my line would fail but my 8lb line held firm as it chopped through, and I soon pushed my landing net under a lovely chub. What a cracking start to the day.

We never stayed in one spot for more than 40 minutes, less if the chub dried up sooner and David, my knowledgeable friend always gifted me the better swim and a couple of bad casts had me ruining some of them. With its steep banks, numerous trees and snaggy swims the river here can chew up and spit out anglers in a heartbeat but we caught steadily all day and let’s face it, any fish on a river like this is hard earned.

With our heads swarming with excitement at our next trip we retired to the Red Lion where I was eager to wrap my hand around a cool glass of beer to not only quench my thirst but to ease the fire on it created by a large patch of nettles. Some would wonder why we put ourselves through it, but we all know; that’s fishing and we wouldn’t have it any other way.