The River Ouse, Barway

CFPAS controlled the fishing rights at Barway for many years. The following is an account of one of many fishing trips to the venue made by Ian Asplen who has been a member of CFPAS for many years. Sadly we had to give up our rights to the fishery a few seasons back as the farmer would no longer allow us access via the track.

Ian's story

If I remember correctly it was back in 1981 and the day of the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Diana, 29th July and also my birthday. My father, my cousin and I decided to go fishing - who wants to sit in front of the black and white TV and watch a wedding? So off we went, Barway was our venue - a great place just a few miles up stream from Ely on the Great Ouse. I can not remember how long ago it's been since the club have not had the rights to fish there but it's a shame; it was a great stretch of river. We arrived about 11am; you had to drive down the farm track along by the Lode past the pump house where you could park without blocking the track. Once over the bank you were just down stream of the bend , we would walk a little way to where you could stand in the water far enough out so you could fish beyond the lilies with a waggler. The bottom was clear of weed past the lilies sandy I recall perfect for Roach back then. There was two baits you used there in summer for big nets of prime red fins, Hemp and Tares or Hemp and Bronze maggot and they where Bronze then we used Chrysadine - a bright orange dye which a few years later was banned for it's links to Cancer.Thankfully not a problem these days. We all made up our wagglers plummed up, it was about six foot deep, out went a good pouch of hemp baited up with a nice plump maggot and cast out two trott throughs no bites, out with another pouch of hemp this time a nice Roach comes to hand. A dozen or so Roach later a change to Tares and the proper Red fins turn up fish to over a pound which was common then. The average size was 6oz. The Cormarent problem over the last few years has put pay to them Shame, After a good afternoons fishing we all had over 20lbs off Tare caught Roach. Beats a Royal Wedding any day.… Ian Asplen This is my story also at Barway. Now you see it, now you don't, now you see, now you don't, don't STRIKE! I fished Barway with my friend Percy on many occasions. We enjoyed the wide open space of the Fens away from it all. The river is wide and slow moving with depths of 12 to 15ft, about 10m out from the bank. It was a favourite for us as we enjoyed fishing the peacock waggler, not the commercial ones you see these days but great big home-made ones of 18” taking around 3 swan shot bulked around the float. On such a wide fishery you would often get a good blow down the river with little waves which meant small floats were out. You see the trick is to get the float moving at the true flow of the river, not the surface skim you get from the wind. Our floats rode through the effects of the wind with the bulk weight acting as an anchor. Things were perfect and we often had double figure Roach and skimmer bream . We were fishing the venue in late September and were on the water at first light parked up in the lay-by just up from the pumping station. The first few feet from the bank is shallow here and so we fished in the water with waders and all our bait and stuff placed on platforms. A few balls of ground bait, home fed maggots and hemp were fired into the river and ground bait, in half an hour we would catch Roach to 8oz. It was quite a crisp morning with Autumn not far around the corner. The sun was just up behind our shoulder and the mist was still coming off the river when in the distance I could see low flying swans circling. They make a certain sound when flying and looked quite majestic in the sky. Two swans passed by and gradually descended to the water. They did that funny moonwalk/paddle flap thing as they landed quite clumsy until they settled and then swam around in a graceful manner. I did not mind that they disrupted my fishing for a brief moment. Then the next pair came in circling the river and slowly descending behind Percy and I ,behind us there was as a low telegraph pole type power cable, I think that supplied the power to the pumping station, just behind the flood bank. As the two birds swung round behind us there was this sound like a crack bang fizz and a plume of white feathers appeared with a cloud of smoke, one of the swans had clipped the cables and bang! I shouted up to Percy “did you see that?” Percy puffed on his cigarette and just shrugged his shoulders and said “silly bugger” It was quite an effort to wade out of the water and pull myself out. Green wellies covered in mud, I clambered over to the flood bank to see what I thought was going to be swan carnage. As I got up to the top of the bank I could see feathers around the bank. On the ground not far away was the swan, it was not well It looked at me its eyes slightly glazed. If it could have spoken to me I am convinced it would be saying “what the xxxx has happened?”. It was dazed and kind of waving its long neck around and making a click sound with its beak. “Wow heavy stuff man!” The swan's mate was on the water behind me making a heck of a sound. Then this dazed creature opposite me perked up and started to respond. Slowly it got up and managed to waddle/stumble up the bank. It must have only just clipped the power cables, but still it must have had a huge shock. Gradually it made it to the water and within a few minutes the two were doing that swan neck thing, a sort of mating dance and so I suppose all was good really. Somehow this drastic event had put me right off my fishing, however Percy was going at it in his determined way catch roach on a regular basis. I got back into the water, picked up my rod and cast out my waggler. The wind had got up quite a bit with little waves rolling down the river. Percy and I used the tactic whereby you watch the red tip of the float through the wave action. Now you see the float, now you don't, as it goes through one wave, now you see it, now you don't as it goes downstream, now you see it, now you don't, don't, don't and strike!! It was a bite and it was fish on!! Graham Tweed