Friday 19 January 2018

River Blythe – Rough and Chuff

With the calendar entries ticked off, I found myself with a longer than normal window of opportunity to fish without the dictation of the diary makers.

However I was still at the mercy of my ones fishing mind decision maker….

After mulling it over, and again, and again and once more, the big Warwickshire Avon Chub and Zander could wait and I decided to fish a stretch of the diminutive River Blythe I’ve been meaning to fish for years. After a few pointers from Mark Mole I hatched a plan of attack.

I’ve dangled a maggot in this area many a times as a youth, where I’d bike down with my rods strapped to ones frame and fish one of the many pools and lakes this fishery has for anything that would bite.

Largely neglected by anglers this relatively short stretch offers classic small-river fishing with smooth glides, deep holes, shallow runs and various fish-holding features to target. The river here is lined with ageing willow trees, most with storm-battered branches reaching into the river, and this restricts the number of areas where you can fish along the three-quarters of a mile stretch. It’s winter though so with many of the forna and thicket died back it’s the best I was going to get.

So anyway the Blythe for those that don’t know is a river in the Midlands that runs from Warwickshire,through the borough of Solihull and on to Coleshill. It runs along the Meriden Gap in the Midlands Plateau, is fed by the River Cole and is a tributary of the Tame beside the West Midland Bird Club's Ladywalk reserve. This then joins the Trent, whose waters reach the North Sea via the Humber Estuary.

I fished it in other areas not far from here and managed Chub to 4lb 9oz's so decent fish are there to be had, well if our furry or feathered friends haven't got to them first.

Some blurb....

The river has a wide range of natural geographical features such as riffles, pools, small cliffs and meanders, combined with a high diversity of substrate types ranging from fine silt and clay in the lower reaches to sands and gravels in the upper and middle reaches. The structure of this river is very variable and diverse, and is important as a rare example of such in lowland Britain.

The diverse physical features of the Blythe are matched by its diverse plant communities. Botanically, the Blythe is one of the richest rivers in lowland England, with the most species-rich sections containing as many species as the very richest chalk streams. Several damp, unimproved meadows occur along the length of the river, they receive some of their water from annual flooding and are largely dependent upon the river for the maintenance of a high water-table.

Oh and by the way it is one of the cleanest rivers in England and the chub are getting big because of the signal crayfish that have made themselves home here….

I’d been watching the river levels on the net and this river can rise and fall very quickly indeed but the levels looked spot on as did the weather, so a plan was hatched.

To be honest it’s something I might try and address in the new season because it’s the sort of fishing I love. It’s the thought of the unknown that sparks my interest where anglers fail to appreciate the waters they have in their locality and without fishing them, you wouldn’t know if they contain Dace, Chub and Perch of Brobdingnagian proportions.

We live in an era of once-Cinderella pastime growing to recognitions and traditionally contemplative art has been somewhat tarnished in a commercial scramble. Angling is seen to be a way of making money, not the pastime itself. One of the greatest attractions in angling lies in the fact that there are no governing rules. No particular physical prowess is called for in order to participate, and one interprets one’s own measure of enjoyment.

It is not for the angling writers to tell anglers how best to find their enjoyment but, for me, catching fish is the only part of the parcel that makes angling almost an attitude of mind.

If anglers wish to have the convenience of parking their cars on concrete patches right reside their swims, so share somebody else’s transistor radio and to attempt to catch fish in the wash of outboard engines, then obviously, that is how it should be. I know and I believe that many anglers share the sentiment, that this is not my concept of angling.

Whilst business consortia supply angling at a level which they think anglers want, and syndicates and large organisations compete for major waters as astronomical prices, we anglers cannot justifiably complain that angling is too expensive or failing to yield the quality of sport we anticipate. Literally thousands of miles of good fishing are neglected by the angler.

This average angler thinks that, to contain good fish, the water must be deep or broad, and he has a mental picture of good fishing waters based on reports in the angling press. Too often, I hear anglers complain they do not have access to the right waters.

David Carl Forbes had it right on the money in his 70’s Rough River and Small Stream fishing book, it reads true to today, as some of that above was a small extract for what’s on the whole, a decent read.

Go and have a look what’s in your back yard, open your eyes and maybe try something new for a change. Forget donning ones seat box, forget the water slapping for a morning and fish with the minimum, get back to basics and you never know what you might find hiding in a water local to you.

Anyway back to the session, having only seen some of the stretch from the road it was a bit of a guess what some of the stretch would be like so I sort of hedged my bets a little. Santa brought me a new rod for Christmas that should well be just the ticket. The 10ft Prologic Detek twin-tip has a nice responsive-parabolic action with enough backbone to get a big Chub out a swim if it was snag bound.

The tip section is nice and sensitive too for detecting bites and the two 4lb Chub I’d caught recently were landed on it without issue. It doesn't have the quality feel of my usual rod the 11ft 1.2TC TFG River and Stream which is built on a Free Spirit blank but I felt might be a little under gunned if I had to get on top of the fish quickly before it snagged me up, it is a small river after all.

Also being a foot shorter it should also be less cumbersome and equipped with a conventional open face reel rather than a centrepin, and any tangles I got because of the windy conditions that were expected would quickly be dispatched.

Bait, the standard fare and my usually armoury, lobworms in the main, a few maggots, liquidised bread and cheese paste, and my standard link ledger set-up for easy chop and change.

So enough of the preamble, was it worth a trip out?

It sure was, weirdly I could get a bite on lobworm but I started at the wooded top stretch, fed a few swims and started downstream in a deeper area with more far bank cover. It's very shallow on the most part and in many places the bottom can be seen, but find the deeper holes, and features the Chub seemed to be about.

Cheesepaste was the order of the day it seemed with a lull period around 1.00 to 3.00pm I still managed 7 Chub, the smallest 2lb fish, the biggest 3lb 15oz.

When the sun disappeared it was very cold indeed and my hands were suffering so I made my way back the start of the stretch and walked a bit further up from where I had previously tread. There was an elevated swim that looked pretty tasty, a nice crease where the river notably slowed up and also it was home to lots of debris.

Within minutes of the bait settling the tip went properly round without any tentative nudges and a fish was on, this felt far bigger than anything else I'd hooked but it was showing me who was boss, despite me giving it as much side strain as I dared with the clutch wound up to near snapping point, it got itself downstream and among a near bank raft which was part of a fallen tree.

The best of the day 3lb 15oz
All goes tight, leave, leave, yeah stuck solid. I managed to get the whole rig back intact minus the paste cage, but it was a fish I really want to see.

Some more paste went out, but with sun down approaching, the fish didn't return....

An enjoyable session, I'll be back....


  1. Perfectly described in a nutshell.

    1. Thanks for the pointers Mark, put me on the right track.

  2. Mick, a lovely piece and spot-on sentiment. I enjoyed that, thank you. I haven't managed to get out for ten days because of family but I have fond memories if a little river in North Yorkshire that ran into the Swale that was just the same. A club which shall remain nameless here in West Norfolk turned the chance of renting some water because the farmer wouldn't let them put down council slabs to mark each 'swim'. The way of the angler, not quite Zen. All the best, John

    1. It’s the sort of fishing I love and I need to do more of it. Appreciate the reply hopefully you can get out on the bank soon enough.

  3. That was a lovely read, perfectly evocative of time, place and opportunity - small river chubbing is one of the very best days out in winter.

    1. It’s the simplicity of it all I enjoy, the minimum of tackle and bait, not even a chair to sit on which seems standard fare these days. Might trot next time, some lovely runs available as well.

  4. Anytime Mick,just keep the blog going,best one out there.


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