Saturday, was the first match of the season on the Bristol Avon, this is my local river but I hardly ever fish any matches on it. This season will be different as the Div 1 National is in August and my Dorking team mates will be defending our title.
This match was fished at Newbridge, just downstream of Bath, there is probably more bream in this stretch of Avon than any other stretch, when there is colour in the water you usually need a big weight to win and some of the bream can be very big, by the time the national comes around the roach will be showing and this section will be one of the best.
The recent rain had put the river into flood, probably 2ft up and very coloured, ideal for bream. I drew permanent peg 24, just below the pumphouse, a good area for bream. My normal approach for bream on this river is to fish an open end feeder in the flow, however I needed 30g to hold when normally 15 or 20g is more than enough. Chopped worm and caster is usual with either worm or red maggot on the hook, my match started slowly, after an hour I had not had a bite and doubts were starting to creep in, then I caught my first bream followed by 3 more very quickly, all drop backs as the fish dislodged the balanced feeder.
I caught the odd bream for the rest of the match, along with a few skimmers and a couple of perch for a very pleasing 48lb 8oz and a winning start to the new season. My uncle, and match organiser, Kevin came second with 37lb 2oz, again on the feeder.
It was nice to see some lads from 'up north' practising already, one of them caught 23lb on the pole.
This stretch is controlled by Bathampton AA and can be fished on a day ticket, if you would like any more information on practising on the Avon, I can be contacted at the shop on 0117 9508 723.
Sunday, was my second visit to the Avon, the local Super League had a practice match at Keynsham, so with 60+ booked in and the river fining down nicely everybody was looking forward to it.
This stretch of the Avon will be A section in August, if you draw this section go prepared for a long walk with lots of styles to get over. The match organiser Lee Trevitt should get a medal for all the swim clearing he did prior to this match. The middle pegs along this stretch havent been fished for years, they are overgrown by trees and sheer banks, he did a lot of hard work to get this match on, as will lots of other clubs if they want to use their match lengths for the big day.
A good bit of advice for anyone fishing the Div 1 is to come prepared for long walks, bring a spade and tree cutting equipment and dont forget a platform and waders for some pegs. The sections will be spread over a long length of the river, it could take up to 45 minutes to travel from the most downstream section to the most upstream, so it will be a good idea to travel by yourself.
At the draw, I drew peg 20 which was the longest walk possible up the Crane stretch, a walk most people dread, but I was going to a fancied piece of river, I had drawn just below the famous split willow peg, but you would have to be my dads age to remember the willow tree. Knowing it was a good area made the long walk and the four styles I had to get over, bareable.
Since yesterday the river had slowed a little and the colour had dropped out a bit, but it was always going to be a bream match, I wouldnt expect to see roach catches featuring in the money until the end of july at the earliest, so my approach was exactly the same as yesterday, one feeder rod.
My feeder rod was set up exactly the same as yesterday, 0.22 reel line and a 30g open end feeder with a size 14 hook to 0.16 hooklength, there was a lot of flow under my feet and the trees hanging over made playing any bream awkward and I didnt wont to loose any.
The match started at 12 midday, nice to have a lie in and not have to travel hundreds of miles, I had a dozen quick casts with a feeder before starting to fish, first cast with a hooklength I hooked a skimmer and lost it, the maggot had gone over the point, but it wasnt long before I caught another, after an hour I had four 2lb+ skimmers/bream. Things were building well for the second hour when I caught 7 more and they were bigger, the next hour was my best of the match when I caught 12 more and some of them were 'lumps'.
The next couple of hours things slowed up, the last hour I only caught 2, but I finished up with 31 bream and 4 'puppy' chub. This gave me a weight of 85lb 15oz, or as the match organiser read out at the results 85lb16oz !!, enough for a comfortable win and a great weekends fishing, not to mention the brown envelopes.
Second place in the match was M.Kimber of Daiwa Gordon League with 42lb 8oz, Neil Richards of DGL was third with 37lb 9oz and S. Portlock, also of DGL was fourth with 26lb 6oz. Most sections of six were won with weights between 15lb and 23lb, as far as I know, everybody who picked up money caught bream on a feeder, when there is colour in the water the bream spread out a lot more than when its clear.
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