The Barrows Boy

Once more I find myself in Bristol in Summertime. I can’t let the occasion pass without casting a line while down here. What I REALLY want to do is get out somewhere like Blagdon or Chew in a boat for an evening when I am down but it is just too difficult to get worked out. Tickets for Blagdon can be had from 15:00 or so in the afternoon but I can’t reasonably get there much before 18:00 at the earliest by the time I knock off work, pick up my gear and get there. As I am flying, the necessary accessories needed for such a trip are 400 miles away at home. Waders for bank fishing , or the electric outboard and battery for boat outings.

I just wish I knew someone who would go out on a boat with me and had the necessary set up.

So once again it was my annual outing to the Barrows, or the Tanks as they are known locally, a cluster of three concrete reservoirs near Bristol Airport. I noticed as I filled in my card at the honesty box that there were signs warning of Blue/Green Algae present ( have seen this before in summer here) and that you should not pay for a ticket before assessing if the weed growth was too much for fishing.

Weed growth can be lets say, luxuriant, in summer and while that can be a hassle if you are constantly getting snagged up in in, you really ( in my view) just need to take your chances, adapt to it and try to fish around or over it. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t. My set up initially was to be a buoyant booby pattern on point with a couple of buzzers washing line style, on a floating line. A sink tip would be tempting fate too much with that weed growth. You will inevitably pick up weed now and again with the set up I was using but  it was only an occasional hassle.

Later or if I spotted rising fish I hoped to move onto a dry fly. Last year I had a great late evening period fishing sedges around sunset and got 4 or 5 fish as I recall. It is a bit of a feast or famine place I tend to find either you catch a hat-full or you catch nothing. I don’t think I have ever had just one or two fish. There was a surprisingly strong wind blowing from the airport direction as I wandered round a deserted Tank #2 and I opted for the side that shares a causeway with Tank #1. There wasn’t a soul here bar me. I started fishing near the end of the railings and fished back into the corner where the wind sheared round the point. Casting right over the weed was no problem the only issue really was the right to left wind was tending to blow the flies with the light booby on point off to the right of the fly line and you needed to recover a fair bit slack to get in touch with the flies after a cast. After about 10-15 minutes I had my first indication there was even a fish here, with a subsurface swirl around my flies but no take. A few casts later I had that annoying scenario where you recover your flies dangle them a minute, lift off and as you false cast there is a swirl where your flies had been as a fish arrives late to the party clearly looking for the flies no longer there.

Bounty in paradise

Enjoying the tropical taste of Paradise as the rain came tipping down

There had been a few showers in the surrounding area as I fished but the sun had until now been out, but I suddenly detected it getting gloomier and rain looked inevitable, so I had to break off from fishing , return to the car and grab my jacket, a good 10 min walk each way. I just left my gear on the bank as I was totally alone. Having got back the rain seemed again to recede, but not for long. Around half eight as I made my way down the bank to the corner I did so well at last time, the rain came on…. and boy did it tip down! The steeply sloped bank of the reservoir which has moss and lichen on suddenly became treacherous and I slipped nearly ending in the water twice. I gingerly made my way to the wall and got off the concrete which was too dangerous to fish from now. The adjacent east bank is grass so I got here just in time for the rain to switch up a gear blown on the wind. There was no shelter and I got soaked. My jacket kept my upper half dry enough but my legs were getting soaked between the driving rain and the rain running off my jacket. I did manage to get a wee bit shelter from the corner of the boundary wall and at least stop my legs getting more wet while it took about 30 minutes to pass, leaving the reservoir very still indeed.

Sunset at the Barrows

A pleasant sunset, but still not a fish to be seen

As the sun finally put in a late appearance before it set, I noticed a few flies starting to come off the water- mostly sedges but the fish weren’t following them up and it was utterly dead. I waited a while and tried a few prospective dries over the weeds but nothing was showing an interest. Eventually I decided to walk the long way round the rest of the reservoir and  would fish to anything I seen move. I seen nothing. I eventually came upon another angler, who I assumed arrived for the late evening rise that never happened. He was like me hopeful the recent rainfall might have freshened things up and got a few late fish but had seen nothing and was similarly disappointed this night.

It beats being stuck in watching TV in a hotel room but sticking out the conditions, weed, wind and then rain seemed I felt, to merit a fish and it didn’t happen.