Barton Mills

Words: Amer Jawad Pictures: Lloyd Rogers

Most narrow, shallow rivers can fall foul of the dreaded weed during the summer months, as the oxygenated water is a haven for the green stuff to thrive and spread. But come the colder winter months these small waterways really do come to life and open up many new swims to explore.

The little river Lark is typical of what I’ve explained as a “narrow, shallow river” which can become sluggish and weedy in the warmer months, but today it’s a very different river as I find out for today’s visit to this stretch in Suffolk.

Now most anglers I bump into whilst searching out these smaller waterways tend to travel light, mainly due to the roving around, looking for fish. Today i’am going to stick it out for the day and only in the one spot!


Choosing my swim for today was quite easy as looking at the options in one swim would be enough to keep me searching and exploring the swim rather than exploring the river in general. My swim choice was a spot where the river is narrow, shallow and fast in front of me, then opens out and slows up downstream where there is a small side stream inlet on the opposite bank. The water is tap water clear, temperatures are low and the challenge is on!


My tackle choice is quite simple as you’d expect for a water so small. My rod choice is a shorter Rive R-Design 11ft, soft action. The short rod is ideal as I am fishing near trees which are above my head and overhang opposite. It also enables me to cast around my swim as I search out fish from various spots in the swim. The lighter rod also is less of a strain as I hold it out to gain presentation. A soft action rod means I can scale down in the clear water and not worry what size fish I hook. 0.14 diameter mainline and 0.10mm hook lengths to a size 18 Guru Match Special hook. Stick float choice is a 4 x 4 DH stick float which is shot in numbers 8’s and two number 9 droppers.


Maggots, maggots and more maggots!


I start by running a stick float just past my rod length. I want to maximise any fish close to me and leave other areas of the swim free for fish to move into should they feel the pressure of being caught. Also I have seen a few small pike striking downstream. Sure they will soon home in on my fish as they group up! Dace are the first fish to make a show on my liberally fed maggots. It’s proving important to understand where the maggots need to be fed and by hand, just down stream has fish lined up 6-10m down my swim. Soon a few decent roach show themselves. I always like to catch a roach early on in a session as it’s a good indication how the session will pan out.


It didn’t take long for one of many pike to take a decent roach off my hook! A new hook length was needed and my thoughts turned to if the fish will still be on this line? Unfortunately they had all but gone, I am not going to ignore this line, I’ll keep feeding maggots here but now move further over in search of the fish. I am now feeding two swims which gives me two good options for building a net of mixed species. It doesn’t take long as those fish have just moved out and into deeper water down my swim. I am now catapulting maggots down my swim which seems to be working well. More roach with an odd welcome chub! All seems to be going well until another good roach is snapped up by a pike! Pike are a good sign that there plenty of silver fish about so it’s now becoming a game of cat and mouse.


I Drop back in short for a few fish but it’s slow close in. Now it’s a case of flicking maggots two thirds across the river and fish around the feed area. It works so well as I am taking fish from various lines from the head of the swim to casting further down and further over. Leaving this approach late on in the session has given the fish a place to go, had I gone there early I am sure the fish would have just drifted downstream.


A nice double figure net of silvers and all from one swim! Well many lines in one swim!! 😊🎣