Linear Fisheries, Stanton Harcourt
Linear is a really famous fishing spot and is only about 5 miles from my home, but I am not a big fan of lake fishing and I have also had the prejudice that Linear is dominated by carp anglers (this being based on what I can see from the road next to it when I go to the dump - so not really very good grounds for belief at all). But I walked round Manor lake today and actually most of my prejuduces were confirmed! There are about 20 marked swims of which perhaps 12 were taken. All had bivvies in place, all the kit was matching pairs and trios of rods on those Fox stands, all with matching sets of buzzers, all with a fourth rod with one of those heavy floats that are used to assess depth, and so on. In other words, everyone fishing exactly the same way.
There looked to be less people on St Johns and every fewer on Hardwick and Smiths, so maybe those would be the place to go. Of course, I am not after carp, but instead would like to catch a decent pike. So those other lakes might be fine for that. Smiths used to be well-known for its huge chub as well, so maybe have a go for one of these too - don't know much about stillwater chub fishing though.
I have heard one or two rumours that the Windrush has suffered from a sharp drop in fishing quality over the last few years, mainly as a result of otter predation. I haven't fished there seriously for years, but am tempted to give it a go again. Back in the mid-90s I fished this one stretch over 25 times and would usually catch one or two barbel per trip, sometimes as many as 6 or 7. It would be a shame if that isn't possible anymore.
This doesn't look much but was the best barbel swim on the river. The left bank is a foot or two deeper than the main river and is heavily undercut. One of the rare swims into which I would lower a bait rather than cast. This was my "banker" swim and rarely disappointed. Indeed I would usually manage at least two from here during an evening / night session. My best Windrush barbel came from here, 8:15 (and it is the swim that daughter photo'd me on for my barbel article from 1996)
This swim was quite a productive one. The barbel would be holded up under the bush on the far bank. Feeding hemp just above and outside the bush, the barbel would be tempted out from under the bush to feed. Best fish from here was about 7lbs