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Big Fish Column: An autumnal feel

The Big Fish Column by Ian Welch

If you have made an early morning start in the past week – be it for work or for fishing – you will have noticed that there has been a definite feel of autumn in the air.

As the temperatures begin to cool and the days begin to shorten, so the fishing will slowly improve.

Results from past week, however, have continued the recent trend of some good results among a sea of mediocrity.

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Stillwater round up

The local commercial pools have continued to produce the best results and over at New Farm Fisheries the catfish have continued to feed well with reports of fish to 70lb and numbers over 40lb making a short trip to the bank.

A big lump of luncheon meat is the going bait.

It’s good news for carp and match anglers at the venue too with plenty of doubles from the Carp Lake and bags to over 100lb from the Match Lake on pole with pellets.

Some good cats have been showing at Finch Farm too, with floatfished fish heads the telling method.

Wargrave rod Owen Green used exactly this approach to connect with a specimen of 23lb which picked up a sardine head fished in the margins.

Owen missed two runs in quick succession before connecting with the fish at his third attempt and he banked it after a five-minute battle on 12lb line.

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Hot but it could have been worse

The stats from the weather boffins are now in and the summer of 2018 has been officially declared as the joint warmest on record for the UK, but the hottest ever for England alone.

The fishing throughout much of this summer was tough but, despite the heat, our local rivers did not experience exceptionally low water conditions because we had a wet winter in 2017.

This meant that ground water was not as depleted as it had been in years of marked drought: 2006 and the period from 2010 to 2012 being the prime recent examples.

The problem this summer was not so much low water, but rather high water temperatures, and in times of low water, during the warmer months at least, it is the relationship between water temperature and oxygen concentration that is the critical factor in respect of fish.

This is the reason why many salmonid rivers closed to angling this summer, as salmonid species have a higher oxygen demand than most coarse species.

It is also the reason why the Barbel Society, amongst other groups, argued the case for anglers to exercise restraint and not to fish for barbel, a species with a particularly high oxygen demand, especially during the post-capture recovery phase.

Even now the rivers are not great, but it could have been a whole lot worse!

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Get set for autumn trout

Local trout anglers will certainly welcome the cooling down as the heat of the summer made for far more challenging fishing for the oxygen-loving game species.

Both of our top local trout waters, Haywards Farm Lake and Farmoor I, closed for much of the summer.

Farmoor is now open for business again but the fishing is slow.

Haywards Farm Lake remains closed but I’m told that the water temperature is now 18C and falling and the situation will be reviewed in a week with a view to reopening fully at the beginning of October.

Both waters tend to produce the best of their fishing in autumn, so don’t put away your trout rods just yet, the best is still to come.

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

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