Whenever I plan a little trip to the Royalty I spend the days leading up to it feeling like a little child with Christmas on the horizon, the history, the prestige it's all very consuming and I still feel that even though it isn't the easiest fishery but it has looked after me well with Barbel to nearly 15lb, Pike a shade under 20lb and quality stamps of Dace too.
The journey from Surrey to the fishery takes a little over 2hrs but before we knew it we had arrived in the car park to find a tiny tinge of colour, maybe not enough for the Barbel to feed their tits off but we stood a chance, with the right tactic and application theres always a chance of success, I started the day rolling meat and continued throughout the day to hopefully find feeding fish on my travels up and down the fishery on both sides.
The first few hours produced nothing but a couple of half-hearted taps on the meat as tentative Barbel knew it wasn't any good for them but their instinct nearly got the better of them, alas I had to wait until around half ten before I got my first real hit, just above the telegraphs I spotted two tails hanging out the back-end of a long run of weed, my bait went out above the raft and rolled it down on the blind side, not 5 metres down the run my finger nearly got sliced off as a Barbel shot out from under the weed and charged upstream, taking nearly 30 yards of line with it.
The fight is exactly what I expect off of an Avon Barbel of any size, the depth multiplied by the current makes them very enjoyable, it took what seemed as much as 6 or 7 minutes to finally land it and once in the net I allowed it a few minutes just to recoup, then a couple of photos to savour the moment before she was slipped back to make someone else's day.
|Typical of an Avon Barbel.|
As I played that Barbel I noticed on a set of shallows below a couple of Chub spook off so I wondered if one of them wanted to play ball.....three casts later and this lovely brassy Chub was connected and causing havoc amongst the weed beds, but no match for my determination to get it in, two fish in ten minutes....Sweet!
As the sun was really high and the heat made it all the more exhausting I took a more laid back approach throughout the afternoon to just try and find fish with one eye firmly on the evening. About 100 yards up from Harrigan's I found a shoal of Chub, a couple of which were big fish and more than likely over the 6lb mark, my Avon best is 5.09 so there was a potential river PB in front of me. The waiting began whilst I worked out a way to catch them, for ages I catapulted out pieces of crust and after a little while I got them taking it off the top, having fed them for twenty I went out with my own piece of crust but the wind blowing into my face made it almost impossible to get it on the spot, with the 'pult I could get out but the bait and line was just too lite, having tried for nearly an hour I gave up with the intention of coming back at dusk, so that's what I did.
No bread this time but just a healthy introduction of Barbel and Chub crack (aka The Source) on an ounce lead and a foot long hook length at 10lb breaking strain as there was a couple of thick weed beds between me and the fish, knowing Chub they would head straight for them! I let the broken bits settle down and then put my first cast out after twenty minutes or so, no sooner did I put the rod down it slammed over and was into number one, 4lb on those, then it must have been 2 minutes after getting my bait back out when it tore off again, slightly bigger this time at 4.14.
All day I wondered if it would go off in the evening, it was clear my question had been answered, I had to tie a new rig as the 4.14 had ruined the rig on the way in coming through the weed bed, so I kept little bits of bait going in whilst doing that and by the time I was ready the swim got a little rest, I flicked my bait straight out on the spot and held on to the rod, I didn't even get the chance to set the clutch and sit back in my chair before it savagely slammed over again, couldn't believe how easy this was becoming and as the Chub rolled on the surface before diving for the weed I could see it was a very big fish, probably the biggest I saw in the shoal earlier on in the day, knowing I'd only get one shot I put some power into it and luckily the Chub didn't get properly stuck in the weed and started to come free, once over that main bulk of weed I could breath easy and paid out the net as she cruised in, not two minutes from bite to bank, not bad and it was exactly what I'd hoped for, had to be a 6+.
|My new Avon best, 6lb 4oz.|
Even for a summer fish she was big, very long and in the depths of the winter it may be a 7lb fish and one that I'd love to cross paths with again, I enjoyed the moment and with a couple of snaps she was gone. The commotion didn't put the remaining fish off as I had another of 4.06 out fairly quickly afterwards by which point I decided to try and find a Barbel before the light failed but all I could find was enormous Salmon gliding across various gravels, in truth I had had a brilliant days fishing and yet again the Royalty turned up again for me.