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ANGLING: This might be the last 'glorious 16th' as change is in the air

Column by Ian Welch

This weekend brings what may well be the last ever ‘glorious 16th’ as the 2018 river season finally opens for business.

If we have not just endured the last ever river close season, I think it is probably fair to say that the days of the three-month break are probably numbered and, within a very short time, we will all be adjusting to a new regime.

There were choruses of disapproval when the close season on stillwaters was abolished, and doubtless there will be again, but just as the fishing world didn’t come to an end then, so it won’t now.

We will adjust, the fish will adjust and we will all carry on!

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River prospects

As it happens, our local rivers are not in bad shape for the opening.

The Thames is showing signs of an algal bloom through many sections, which never does the fishing any favours but it is likely to fish reasonably well in the more oxygenated sections, particularly after dark.

The River Loddon is looking good with a reasonable depth of water and the barbel, as far as I could see during a walk last week, have finished spawning.

I have not visited St. Patrick’s Stream for some time, but friends tell me it is in decent shape and, as well as the usual chub and occasional barbel, there have been sightings of some large carp milling around.

The Kennet remains the most problematic local river, it will be very interesting indeed to see the early returns. I, for one, continue to be pessimistic about its fate.

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Stillwater results

Our local lakes are far easier to predict than our local rivers and all the commercial pools are currently fishing well.

Readers of Angler’s Mail magazine will have seen New Farm Fishery bailiff, Alan Wolstencroft, and venue regular, John Llewellyn, pictured with a catfish of 47lb 2oz, one of six fish the pair banked using suspended lobworms and squid and crab bottom baits.

All lakes on the complex are in cracking shape at present and are well worth a visit, whether you are a carp, catfish or pleasure angler.

Local tench haven’t quite got around to spawning yet, at least on most venues, and some good fish were banked last week including a Twyford fish of 7lb 10oz to local rod Will Turner.

Feeder-fished sweetcorn tipped with red maggots on a size 10 hook to a 6lb hook length and 10lb line was the successful method for Will, who also scored with specimens of 6lb 4oz, 5lb 12oz and 4lb 14oz during an overnight session.  

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Trout report

Over at the Sportfish Game Fishing Centre, Chris Hayward reports that boat fishing on Haywards Farm Lake is proving very successful, with some great fish being caught from the deeper, cooler water topped by an impressive 9lb 1oz blue trout to Henryk Koltan.

Henryk used a Whisky Fly on an intermediate line to fool the big fish.

Haywards Farm Lake is currently brimming with a diverse range of aquatic life and the trout have plenty of food to choose from.

Because of this Chris recommends fishing small nymphs with a bright ‘hot spot’ as this ensures the trout can easily home in on your fly, rather than all the natural invertebrates that are present around it.

If you are making a start on the rivers this weekend good luck, check back here next week for the very first reports of the new season.

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Any anglers wishing to report catches may contact me at ian@bigfishtrail.com

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