Mostly small stuff on the Basingstoke canal.

February 6, 2020 at 10:23 am

I have been trying to get back to the Basingstoke Canal for some time, but events, mainly bad weather have intervened. Ideally the Basi fishes well after a period of heavy rain with a good flow and colour and I was hoping for a repeat of past success, travelling to Fleet in Hampshire this week. The intention was to fish the exact swim, that that I had caught a double figure net of skimmer bream and good roach from four years ago, assuming that it was still a good fish holding area.

I had fished this swim on other occasions and always caught some quality roach and skimmers, being more optimistic due to a 40 lb net of bream reported in a match half a mile upstream the previous Saturday. My original plan to fish this match section was scuppered by a Road Closed sign blocking access to the hot area on Glen Road, so switched to plan B at Reading Road.

Fleet High Street was also closed and a diversion took me round the houses, only to end up 200 yards ahead of where I had turned off in the first place! Following the diversion again, I turned left where the arrow had said to turn right and my own diversion soon connected with the correct road and I drove into the Reading Bridge carpark half an hour later than expected. Walking to The Swim, I set out my stall to fish pole and bread punch.

Plumbing the depth, the shelf was 4 metres out and a I put in small ball of liquidised bread down that line. The canal was opaque  with little flow and I watched the bread cloud spread with a slight drift down stream. Going in over the cloud with 4 x 16 float to a size 16 hook and a 6mm punch, I was pleased to see an instant response and struck when the float dived away, but disappointed with the first fish.

Little did I realise when I took this photo, that this roach would be one of my better fish, a succession of tiny roach that struggled to sink the float being thrown back in disbelief, that they could get the size 16 in their mouths. There was deeper water between 7 and 9 metres out and I now fed these two lines with a ball of bread each, fussy bites still producing small roach and even smaller skimmers.

I changed rigs to a lighter 4 x 14 float rig and size 18 hook and a 5 mm punch, the bites were more positive, but the fish size did not improve, again throwing most of them straight back.

In the hope of something better, I fed over to the far shelf, holding back hard against the gusting wind, but a series of more small roach and several big twigs, brought me back to the boat road.

At least the bites were constant and I tried a ball at 9 metres, then fished the 7 metre line, switching to feed the 7, then fish the 9. It did bring some better roach, but not much better, this one being one of the best.

The wind was getting colder and gustier and I was almost relieved when rain began to fall with a vengeance, giving the excuse to pack up. My hopes of attracting some elastic stretching fish may have been realised beyond this two hour stint, but was not prepared to stick it out, my last outing resulting in a soaking.

Better Luck next time?