The quality of fishing on the St Pats is well-known. Pleasure and match anglers travel from miles around in the hope of tangling with the river's head of barbel and chub. However, good as the Pats is, like any other river, some swims are better than others.
Unlike many other clubs, the locations of these hotspots are not jealously-guarded secrets. A walk along the banks during a summer match, or a couple of beers with a few of the locals, will soon provide the newcomer with all the information they need.
But, for anyone new to the club, or thinking about joining, the next few minutes might save you some time. No doubt, the regulars reading this will have their own views on which hotspots are hotter than others, and no doubt, some will have an opinion on my selection. In any case, here we go, in numerical order.....
Peg one is a difficult peg to access with a fair bit of gardening necessary. Just downstream from a bridge, the river is shallow and streamy. At first sight it doesn't look anything special, but in summer it holds a good head of dace and roach which are best fished for with a waggler set shallow. Matches here have been won with silver fish weights of more than 20 pounds.
Peg three lies just before a bend in the river. Chub and silver fish can be caught trotting a float down a weed-free glide under the far-bank trees. To fish the swim you will have to wade more than three quarters of the way across the river.
The first of The Pats' barbel hotspots is found at peg seven. A large bush and overhanging trees on the far bank provide cover to a good head of chub as well. Float fishing the centre line, and swimfeeder work equally well.
Peg 17 is a popular summer swim. Overhanging far-bank willow trees provide shelter for large shoals of chub. Casting needs to be tight to the trees and, at only three feet deep, the swim is best tackled with a waggler with plenty of loosed-feed every run down. Chub catches in excess of 100 pounds have been recorded in seasons gone by, and 20 pound bags are fairly commonplace, even in short evening sessions.
The next hotspot is 25 pegs away. Pegs 41 and 42 produce good bags of bream in the summer months. Sturdy roach pole tactics are needed to run a bait down clear channels in between beds of streamer weed. In the winter, once the weed dies away, the bream disappear to be replaced by barbel and chub. Overhanging trees on the near bank on peg 42 are also home to several large pike.
The next hotspot, at peg 54, is known as the Boroughmarsh swim due to the fast-flowing Boroughmarsh Stream entering the St Pat at a 90 degree angle. Peg 54 has been the club's most popular swim for many years. Not only does it hold barbel, chub, bream and silver fish in abundance, the swim is comfortable and only a few minutes walk from the car park.
Peg 54 responds equally well to both float and swimfeeder tactics. A patch of quiet water on the left side of the swim holds bream and chub and can be fished with a waggler with the rod held up high to keep the line out of the main flow. If its barbel you're after, a swimfeeder fished in the mainstream is the best bet.
A pontoon gives peg 64 its nickname as 'The Pier' and enables the mainstream to be fished comfortably with either float or swimfeeder for barbel and chub.
On a bend and opposite a cottage, peg 67 is another swim which can produce bream and barbel. A large far bank slack bordered by a willow tree can be fished with a swimfeeder, or if you're brave enough, a long roach pole. The bream are big - six and seven pounders - and fight hard when they need to be brought across the mainstream. The main current can be fished by float or swimfeeder for barbel. Please note that this swim has to be vacated by 9.30pm.
Peg 72 is the last but one peg on the stretch and qualifies only as a part-time hotspot. From time to time barbel take up residence. The near bank offers a clean and smooth run through. Heavy loose-feeding with hemp and casters or maggots in conjunction with a float fished hard on the bottom works best.
So there you have it, one person's view of the best swims on The Pats. But don't think for a moment that the other pegs on the river are a waste of time. Its true to say that quality fish, and plenty of them turn up from just about every peg.