Manor Farm - Warwickshire Avon

Rich pickings are to be found along the banks of the Warwickshire Avon in the vale of Evesham. Fruit hangs heavy in the market gardens enjoying the mineral rich soil caused when a river regularly bursts its banks. Combined with the gentle climate to be found in middle England. The river also gives life to more than just fruit and veg for between the locks and beneath the barges a fish population resides that’s equal at least to its two cousins – the Bristol and Hampshire Avon and it’s no longer the poor relation. When barbel are my quarry the truck is far more likely to head up the M5 than cut across Wilshire and on my latest adventure I decided that a journey north, not south, was the only sensible option if I wanted to get the rod bent.

The vast majority of the river is open to all anglers, be it a cheap club membership or in this case a day ticket sold by the Byrd family. Their Manor Farm leisure complex is a haven for holidaymakers being able to enjoy both still and running water with the added advantage of accommodation. The commercial fishery also attracts match anglers keen to indulge in huge bags of carp but for me it is, and was, their famous stretch of the Avon that saw me take the long track off the main road down to its banks as here barbel to 14lbs and chub over 5lbs are caught every year.

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Swapping tarmac for grass the Avon’s delights were soon clear to see from my truck window and surprisingly I had it all to myself on a Monday afternoon. I was spoilt for choice on this pay on the bank fishery with cover abounding the far bank, trees offering canopies or beds of reeds pulsing in the flow providing cover for the fish to sit behind. Add a tinge of colour from local rain, which surprised me, as did its pulse especially given just over an hour my local Avon, the Bristol, was in a pathetic state and prospects looked good. The intention was to fish the night so I needed to choose carefully, however a dozen swims had potential so I fell back on a tried and trusted combination of guesswork and past experience selecting a section where the Avon narrowed, the flow increased and reeds on the far bank and weed on the near supplied cover.

The luxury of parking in the swim was another added bonus so with the tail gate down I was soon sitting on the back of my truck preparing for the session ahead. First a pre-bait needed to be prepared and in a bucket I created a mix of small pellet and Red Band. To this half a kilo of boilies were crumbled giving me a soup of attractive food particles. Ten bait dropper loads gently laid on the riverbed would be my lure plus a sprinkling of whole boilies and these would be allowed to entice my quarry until dusk when the first cast would be made. That was 3 hours away so the assembling of the equipment was a relaxed but methodical process. Many angler’s choose to use multiple rod set-ups however in all but the largest of waterways I would rather focus my attention and baiting on one rod in one spot.

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Therefore only a single 1¾lb test curve Drennan rod bearing my name was rigged up with 15lb fluorocarbon. The breaking strain might seem very high for such a place but in my experience this type of line that is always ridiculously overrated. On first went the obligatory back lead, a small bomb sitting on a beaded snap link between float stops 6 feet away from the terminal tackle starting, the main lead, 2ozs, also sat on the line in an identical arrangement but with an additional float stops at the front to prevented the weight from slipping forward. Without a knot at this point to terminate the fluorocarbon it could continue to provide two-thirds of my short hooklength finishing in a blood knot connected to a size 11 uni link swivel. The remainder of the rig continued with 2 inches of 10lb gravel braid fixed from the ring before forming a knotless knot and hair around a size 12 Super Specialist barbel hook. A lump of putty was then moulded around the swivel barrel to increase the rig’s hooking potential. With time on my side I tied up 5 spares of the braided section allowing me to be well prepared for the night ahead. Likewise every cast would be accompanied by a PVA mesh bag of pellets and enough of these were tied up to last the hours of darkness. With work done, cricket on the radio and a curry simmering on the pan I was now happy to let the swim stew and allow the sun to fade.

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Patience is key and time allowing fish to feed freely is never wasted and only when the need for a torch was close at hand did I thread on a dumbbell shaped small boilie and wrap in a little paste. The reason for the overly large stop and a dab of superglue was quite intentional, stopping chub from being able to steal the bait and leave me wasting previous time. The last act was to connect the PVA mesh before allowing it to trace the descent of the bait dropper hours before and landing in position.

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Baulking with tradition I hoped that the bite alarm would grab my attention should I of dozed off and missed the rod tip being dragged round. However any thought of a kip was abandoned by midnight with 2 barbel and hoards of chub testing my reserve of rigs. There was no respite and nor did I seek any until the sky turned blue again and another barbel, plus the biggest chub of the trip, saw me finally fished out and exhausted! Manor Farm, I concluded, sits on the bank of the country’s finest Avon!

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Top 5 Tips

1. Don’t fill your swim with lines – 1 rod is enough.
2. Bait and wait – time invested like this is never wasted.
3. Use a bait dropper so you know where your free feed is and then fish over it.
4. Use a back lead and look to fish close in – the less line in the water the better.
5. Prepare – if you’re going to fish all night have spare rigs and PVA mesh bags ready so you angle to your maximum.

Manor Farm Leisure supplies both river and Stillwater fishing near Evesham and is available on a day ticket. For more details call on 01386 870039, email [email protected] or visit www.manorfarmleisure.co.uk