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WDAC offers our membership the chance to fish two trout waters, Winterborne Zelston and Rawlsbury


WDAC runs numerous matches across the calendar year, encompassing both stillwaters and the River Stour. Matches are also held on non-club waters.


Wildlife images courtesy of Hugh Miles.


YOUR club needs YOUR help to report sightings of cormorants


After spending several sessions chasing the chub at Throop I decided to continue a mini campaign I’d been conducting. This stretch is a favourite haunt of my mine, specifically when I can only do a short session, as it’s so close to home. It’s usually a beat without much competition for swims, but with a low stock of chub compared to Throop, it is a nice stretch of river to spend a couple of hours on.


Arriving on a Friday evening an hour before sunset, I was happy to find the stretch empty. I baited up the usual spots while I made my way up to my starting point mid-way up the stretch. I have caught a few from this area over the years and I’ve seen a small shoal this season with a couple of better fish among them. I went about my usual routine of a few baits on the spot whilst I was unpacking the ready made rod. With the low clear conditions this season I’ve been using a light link ledger down to a size 10 wide gape. It was 20 minutes after I’d dropped some bait in before I made my first cast of the evening, it landed perfectly on the gravel run downstream just above the snags the chub love to live in. I’ve found that with regular baiting of a spot, the first 20 minutes are usually the most productive. Tonight was no different, as within that period I had responded to the first tentative pluck on the 2 oz quiver I was using. By moving the rod toward the fish as it mouthed the bait, the strike was met with the thumping of a chub as it tried to rid itself of the hook. I could feel this was a decent fish from the off, as it piled toward the snag below. My heart sank when it locked up solid in a weed bed, which trailed the tangle of last years flood debris. I was not able to change the angle or get below the snag so as a last resort I dropped the rod top and slowly walked backward. By the second step the fish was free and I was now back in the game; with me firmly in control after nearly losing it to a snag it was not long before it was resting in the mesh of the net.


A favourite haunt

By Stuart Davison, Club Rivers Officer

I lifted it onto the mat and thought it might go over the magical number, but I wasn’t disappointed when the scales read 5 lb 9 oz. It certainly had room to grow and I think with such good weather the chub have spawned several times this season, which can be only good for the future. I had another cast in the same swim and I was surprised when the tip sprang into life again, even though I bumped this fish on the strike and that was the last of the action that evening.


Two days later I was back again, this time I had to wait until darkness for my chance in a swim at the bottom of the beat. I missed my first chance, but luck was on my side when I connected with a low 4 lb chub.


I was back the following morning at day break for a dawn session. It had been a while since I’d done an early start and it reminded me of why I love spending this part of the day by the river as everything wakes up. It’s magical! It wasn’t until my second swim of the morning with the sun already up that I had my first indication of life stirring in the river, as I connected to a pristine chub.

I decided to put a few more freebies out and have another cast, within five minutes I was in again. Sadly this chub well and truly buried me in the snags downstream and I retrieved the link ledger minus the hook link. I wasn’t confident after losing a fish that I’d get another chance. but after making up a new rig I had another cast. Soon I was playing another chub and I wasn’t giving this fish a chance to make the snags; before long the second fish of the morning was resting on the mat.


With two fish from the swim. it was now time for a move to a couple of areas that I’d been baiting and not fishing for a few weeks. The first produced a bite only for me to lose the culprit in a weed bed as it transferred the hook. The second didn’t produce a touch. By now the sun was high in the sky and it was mid morning, so I called an end to the outing. The following evening I was back for more, although I missed my chances and packed up fishless.


The next day I packed a float rod, as well as the chub rod and headed to the same stretch mid afternoon. It was hard work on the float and maggot, but eventually I found some dace and chublets. They were in a fast run at bottom of the stretch which kept me occupied until it was time to give the chub rod a try. I headed to the mid stretch banker and had a fish on the first cast, even though it turned out to be a recapture of a 4 lb 6 oz fish I caught a few weeks earlier. Unfortunately, I also saw my first cormorant of the season on the stretch and with it being early August it’s a month earlier than last year. Hopefully, my local club will be successful in obtaining its first area licence this season, so we can do something about these avian predators that cause so much devastation on our waters.


I had a break for a few days after that session and I decided to fish the above stretch for a change on my next dusk outing. It was clear, but there had been some other anglers on the beat in my absence, but they had not hammered the stretch and some swims hadn’t been used at all! I went about my routine of walking the entire beat before deciding on four swims for the walk back to the car. The first two didn’t produce a touch and as I made my way to an old banker, I was shocked to see another angler had dropped in on the spot. I left him in peace and headed to another swim out of sight. Just as prime time was approaching another angler that I knew walked past, just as I cast out. It was clear that the stretch had been fished more than I thought! Just as the light was fading the tip sprang into life and I was soon playing a chub. Several times it tried to do me in a snag on the far bank, but everything held and soon it was resting in the net.


I decided to pack up after that fish, I spent the last hour of my session catching up with the familiar face on the stretch since he tends to keep a low profile and usually it’s a while between chats. He spends a lot of time traveling abroad with a fishing rod, which means there is always plenty to talk about when our paths do cross.


The following morning I headed to Throop for a short morning session before continuing my mini campaign close to home. The stretch was busy for midweek and in the end I only fished a couple of spots. The first produced a 3lb chub, which hooked itself as I was sight fishing for some of the better occupants. Upon my return to the swim later that morning, I set out to sight fish only for a chub to take the bait on drop, but I wasn’t that bothered as it was a nice fish. After that capture the rest of the shoal vanished and I called an end to the session.


That evening I had a short stint at J.B which produced two bites. One was a recapture of the 4 lb 6 oz, while the other was a better chub that sadly after seeing it roll on the surface the hook pulled.


Bleary-eyed, I was back on the river for daybreak, my effort was rewarded within the hour as after several twitchy bites I hooked and landed a chub from my first swim. Sadly that was the only fish landed as another was lost in the banker.

The following evening I decided to take some lures to fish before trying for the chub at dusk. I settled into my first swim and after watching a small shoal of perch, I caught one around 12 oz before losing a better fish. With an hour spent doing that, I baited up some spots before heading to the banker to chub fish. As I approached I spotted another angler in the spot, but he seemed to be leaving. I waited to see if he left the fishery before dropping in the swim. Not knowing if he had fished it or baited it, I decided to just fish a single. The cast was made slightly further downstream than normal, 10 minutes passed before I had a some interest. Before I moved the rod toward the taking fish as I struck it piled toward the snags. Having lost a couple recently, I made sure I didn’t give it an inch and I bullied it upstream toward the waiting landing net.


My final swim produced another recapture of the 4 lb 6 oz, which made it the third time I’d caught that particular chub in a few weeks. It had been an enjoyable couple of months, but not being one to keep counting recaptures it was time to move on to another stretch until winter.

At the end of the first week of October Club officers became aware that adjacent angling clubs had decided to close waters because of concerns about Koi Herpes virus (KHV). The Club received no prior warning about these decisions to close. It was, however, known by that time that there were confirmed outbreaks of KHV at a number of local commercial fisheries.


So what is KHV? The Environment Agency  advise that it is a very damaging and easily spread virus that affects common carp and carp varieties such as koi. Outbreaks of the disease occur in summer when the water temperatures are high and can kill a very high proportion of carp in a still water fishery, although survival rates can vary considerably. Critically the water temperature needs to be 15 degrees Celsius or higher and the incubation period is about 14 days. A key symptom is necrotic gills – there is excellent published information available that means all anglers can work from fact.


KHV appears to have infiltrated fish stocks via the commercial, ornamental fish trade and may well have originated in the Far East. It can most obviously arrive via fish being stocked and one of the key lessons I and other members of the Committee have learnt is that stocking additional fish from outside the Club’s control is a last option for fish management generally. [Currently a Club Sub-Committee is looking at future fish stock management on our coarse waters].

Koi Herpesvirus and why the Club’s officers decided to keep our lakes open. Lessons to be learned

By Mike Hirsh, Club Chairman

Occasionally I look back through the fishing books that have come my way over the years, they sit on a shelf in the corner of my dining room and I can’t bear to part with any of them.  Many of these books are, ‘old’ now and the information they contain has been superseded by modern methods and by lighter and cheaper tackle.  Bread, worms and maggots have of course remained unchanged and I guess fish are no more intelligent now than they were when these books were written so perhaps some of the information they contain is still good, perhaps not.


Encouraging fish to feed then keeping them interested without overfeeding them has always been a personal challenge of mine so on picking up a new fishing book I turn to any information on ground baiting techniques first.  And now as I page through an old match fishing book I see the advice then was to buy a hundredweight (50 kilos) sack of breadcrumbs for 4 pounds and 5 shillings, this to last a whole season.  To prepare the ground bait for fishing the advice was to mix it with milk the night before the match using a bucket and a large spoon.  Heavier ground bait required for deep water and fast flowing rivers could be made by adding mashed potato to sausage rusk in the ratio of 3 to 1, the same mix as for strong concrete.  It was recommended that the mashed potato should be cooked and mixed on the morning of the match so, a nice early start was needed to peel the spuds and get things ready.  Certain venues required up to twenty pounds of pre mixed ground bait for a match and this was transported in tins and carried in a fishing basket strapped over the shoulder, no trollies about then.



By Brian Heap, Club President


In association with Sticky Baits and Wessex Angling we're fortunate to be able to launch our new competition, with £175 worth of Sticky Bait up for grabs.


By James Nash, Club Media Officer

Practice makes perfect, so accurate throwing was thought essential this to direct and present the bait to the correct spot each time.  Method feeders and pole pots were not by then commercially available but, it wouldn’t surprise me if early prototypes were being developed.  To improve throwing skills the advice was to position a bowl of water at one end of the garden path and sit on your basket at the other end then proceed to throw balls of ground bait at the bowl.  The reasoning was, the more accurate you were, the greater would be concentration of fish around your hook.  Setting the bowl into the garden path as a permanent fixture was also recommended for anglers seeking regular throwing practice.  The holding of the rod in one hand whilst throwing with your free hand was thought essential to the learning experience but anyone following this advice today should perhaps have a word with the neighbours first so as not to attract attention or cause alarm.  At the waterside regular feeding was the key to success and as one ball every minute was thought correct and hanging a wristwatch at eye level in front of you whilst watching the second hand sweep round was suggested to improve timing.  After several hours the wristwatch could be dispensed with in favour of the natural rhythm that would have developed by then.


Has fishing changed much in the last 70 years, perhaps not that much really, cereal based ground baits are still widely used nowadays but they are available in smaller bags and pure brown breadcrumbs take some beating on the river in winter.  Secrecy has always surrounded ground bait recipes and a it is a matter of personal choice whether we go home after a day fishing smelling of strawberry, chocolate or fishmeal.  After trying different brands, we tend to settle on our favourite, this decision often being made on the assumption that if it worked once it will work again regardless of where we are and which species we are targeting.  Can fish be tempted by a flavoured morsel when they reject a plain one; do fish prefer strawberry one day and chocolate the next; do the flavours catch the more fishers than fish.  Over to you and finally yes, proper preparation prevents a poor performance and as for practice, well we could all be world champions if we practiced every day, couldn’t we.

The reason the adjacent angling clubs decided to close waters was because it was seen as a preventative measure to avoid the disease being transmitted to their waters by anglers from those commercials close by. The evidence to support this position is based on deduction. It is common sense that an angler can transmit a virus from one carp to another via tackle and it is particularly likely that the transmission will occur from nets or carp mats and cradles. Thoroughly checking tackle after use, cleaning it and drying out nets, mats and cradles between trips makes best sense – I hang my nets and cradle out in the open air where the sun can help the process of sterilization too. A good friend of mine has his own disinfecting bath for his nets, which then get dried after dipping and I advocate this as best practice.


Common sense suggests that it is carp mats and cradles that may be the most likely culprits for transmission because in use they have a good contact with fish and also are the most difficult item to disinfect and dry thoroughly. It is ironic that an item of equipment focused on carp welfare may be their downfall.


So in that first weekend of October the critical matter became what evidence base was there for lake closure? I was clear that we should not be panicked by the actions of others or by pressure from social media. Fortunately Stu Hitchman managed to speak to our local CEFAS field officer who pointed to the weather conditions changing so it was unlikely that water temperatures would be high enough to facilitate an outbreak. Meantime I went to Edmondsham to check the water temperature which was fine because the water from the Crane keeps it cool, but a mean NE wind was blowing too and obviously continuing the cooling process not only here but across all the Club’s waters. We agreed not to call an emergency Committee meeting. Fishing has continued and there has been no report of sick fish or mortalities at our lakes as I write this (on the last day of October).


This exercise had already prompted a discussion among the Club’s officers about how, in an emergency, a lake is closed. At Kingsbridge and Edmondsham the likely methodology is to walk around the lakes, hopefully at dusk when most are packing up anyway, ask fishermen to leave and then lock gates with a large new padlock and chain. At the open access lakes at Creekmoor, Hatchpond and Alder Hills the Club would be restricted to putting up notices and then enforcing with bailiff patrols. We would of course also put up notices and post bulletins on the web-site and on social media.


It also prompted discussion about whether or not the Club should revise its rules to strengthen bio-security. No movement of any fish from one lake to another without the Committee’s agreement will be a new rule being recommended to the AGM in any event. However, should the Club ban keepnets completely for pleasure fishing and introduce compulsory disinfecting of nets and cradles etc?  How do we go about this in a meaningful way? The Club clearly needs to find a sensible way forward.



In the meantime – CHECK, CLEAN, DRY






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