Monday, 4 January 2021

2021, Master Blanker.

 Since kicking off my Barbel fishing in mid October last year I had as most of you know a good start to the campaign, as November drew closer my rod has remained practically motionless, all manner of conditions have been fished, some I would really feel confident in. Alas I have only mustered a couple of bites in some 15 sessions in that time leading up to yesterday where I got back on to the Colne having been close for a prior commitment.

 With the mummers of another full nationwide lockdown I can count myself fairly lucky that as a mobile engineer within the M25 I have to be on the road regardless of what restrictions are in place, these callouts and jobs will often bring me close to waterways and with a selection of gear always in the van the opportunistic couple of hours can often be taken advantage of.

 Given the fact temperatures down here have struggled to push the mercury beyond a couple of degrees the river temps have also in turn been very sluggish and knowing Barbel in cold conditions their feeding spells are very short and I suspect will often go days without feeding as their bodies acclimatise to the cooler water before searching for food once again. Guessing it was going to be tough I thought what the hell, I'm here lets get on with it.

One rod either side of the river, targeting the margins.


 As usual I adopted a light roving approach and moved between swims on a 250m section (not to spread myself too thinly). One rod was fished with G.Nimrod 15mm hookbait shaved down to around 10mm and a small rounded off piece of Prince's luncheon meat (these are getting harder to find as time goes by).

 Any spots that looked worth while targeting I did, but as the swims changed and the hours ticked by I found myself looking at a very distinctive outcome, one I am hoping to change sooner rather than later. I know it's not really a good time to be on the Barbel but they have to feed at some point, I just hope to be there, in the right place at the right time as I am sure the areas I am targeting will provide me with what I am searching for.

 21 trips so far since mid-October and 19 blanks across 7 rivers, all of which I have never fished for Barbel and I am learning most of this in the dark with most of my visits being for just a few hours after work.

Thursday, 31 December 2020

A Round Up of 2020.

  2020, the year that if I could, start all over again, roll the dice and hope for a much better outcome!

 January: Very little of note was caught apart from a superb brace of tiny chalkstream Chub, four pound fish are still considered good fish. After plenty of searching myself and Brian located where there were some fish, a steady stream of maggots and dollop of patience was enough to take three super fish, topped off with a 6lb 3oz brute which was braced with a 5lb 4oz fish that in itself was good enough to walk away feeling a great sense of achievement.

 February: Was even more difficult as I only went fishing once, Whilst away in the Caribbean I did get some fishing done but as they were caught in March they don't really count, so this lovely marked Brown Trout will have to do! Oh and I had a lovely Barbel the evening before I flew out, 10lb 7oz.


 March: Once I got back to Blighty I fancied a trip out after Grayling and ended up having a great day out, with numerous fish to just under 2lb and also a lovely brace of Roach which again just missed out on the two-pound mark but were amongst a shoal of much larger fish, one of which I did lose.

 April: Owing to the pandemic sweeping the globe our freedoms were stripped to protect the elderly so we were told to stay at home, so thats exactly what I did, the fish could breath a sigh of relief and my house got a lot more attention than I thought it would. No Pics, apart from copious amounts of Gin!

 May: Well, what can I say, most of it again was spent at home until restrictions were lifted slightly, with that I decided the Catfish needed a good seeing to, so Brian, my brother Richard and I did just that where I landed fish to 39lb 9oz and my largest UK caught fish ever. Plus I had some beautiful small farm pond Tench that ranged from 5lb to nearly 8lb, everyone a worthy adversary as all of them battled tirelessly for freedom amongst the thick pads.


 June: Opening day of the new season Brian of Navareth ( formerly Brian of Sreatham ) came along for a 48hr session out in the boat after Rudd....3 hrs later we came in, hole in the boat we decided we'd stick to dry land, I managed a nice old warrior of 2lb 5oz, not bad for a session that was littered with poor decisions (mainly weather related)

 July: July looked to be my 2020 turning point as I went out in search of targets and got close to some and achieved others, a big chub of 6lb 4oz (early season) slipped up during a short morning session on a small chalkstream, then a canal march was decided upon. Although no Carp were located a big Bream decided a lump of slow sinking bread flake was too good to ignore, 8lb 14oz. Then I made my Wrasse debut where I had a few stunners off of Portland west side, a great experience and one I will certainly go for again.



 August/September: These were both very lean months in terms of angling and found myself scratching around for the odd Chub and Barbel, all of which weren't big therefore not really worth mentioning! Not that that is the criteria of course, just this is a highlights!

 October: By the middle of October I hadn't managed a trip, then I gave myself something to think about that put a foot up my arse, as my fishing was going stale and quickly losing my mojo. The plan isn't necessarily a short term goal but will give me a sense of direction for my angling. That target is to achieve a double figure Barbel off of forty different rivers across the country, some obscure and some alot more obvious. I started off with the not so secretive (Trent) and blanked then went off the radar and banked a huge 15lb 12oz Barbel on my fourth visit to that particular river. A few days later, I went back up the Trent and banked an impressive 13lb 9oz Barbel on the first evening, two rivers checked off in 5 days I think it was, not mention beating an 8 year old PB (originaly 14lb 6oz from the Hants Avon).


 November: The blanks started to mount up at an alarming rate but one I could have foreseen as temps started to fall away, the only thing that was good about November was a chub session I had on the float, 16 fish teased out of one pool where the remainder of the river seemed empty, glad I found them!


 December: The blanks continued on at the same rate, but for another session on the float for silvers it was fairly dead, on the float was great fun and to finish off I managed a beautiful mirror around 6lb on 2lb bottom, size 16 hook and a light float rod.

 Lets hope 2021 is a darn sight better in many respects, although 2 PB's isn't a terrible return I must admit.

 I wish you all a very happy new year in blogland and wish you peace and prosperity for the year ahead. Tight Lines all.

 James.

Sunday, 13 December 2020

Tackle Reviews.

  

For a few years now people who know I blog have asked whether I review tackle as part of my blog and the short answer is no, mainly because who wants to read my ramblings on about what rod or reel is good or what winter clothing system lasts a winter without the crutch area being clawed out by the incessant rigours of being a mobile angler where barbed wire is present most of the time and maybe the odd scratch of the family jewels. 

 However, on this occasion I do have a couple of things that I have recently purchased and feel compelled to at least sing its praises. Firstly before going any further I am not affiliated to either of the companies that these items are made/designed by, I personally feel that if someone is looking for something similar then these maybe for them! 

 First up is the Daiwa Igloo2 2-piece Bib & Brace set.

 At £190 I wanted something that will keep me warm when out in the depths of winter which I have already found myself doing and I have been pleasantly surprised as to how warm it is, I've already been subjected to driving torrential rain, sleet and strong winds and have remained dry and cosy. Very much the essence of what a winter suit should achieve. Plenty of decent pockets in the right places and I know that sounds strange but all too often pockets are either not particularly generous in size or if they are they are located in awkward places, where the hand doesn't naturally end up when trying to dig a chocolate bar out.

 Now, for me being 6ft tall and 14st + it works very well and the "large suit" is great in terms of length of arms and legs, the bib sits just on the bottom of my laces on my waterproof hiking boots which is perfect, only downfall for me is that it is a bit puffy, now I am a skinny jeans kind of guy and like fitted clothing ( at the moment I can get away with it ), and feel owing to this puffiness that a bit of heat does escape and when trotting isn' a hinderance but would be a bit more comfortable if its wasn't as bulky. That negativity aside, if you were say 6ft 2in and 15-16st then it'll probably fit perfectly in every way.

 As said above, that really is my only negative point on it and I have had other body suits/winter Bib & Brace' and have found so far this is the one I like the most for the reasons given above, plus you could always buy a SnugPak by Fortis but you would fork out £120-£180 for just the jacket, in terms of value and quality I would at the very least give it a look. Plus it is also made in partnership with Sundridge who are possibly one of the best makers of winter sports thermal wear, just look them up!




 Up next is a piece of terminal tackle that I use quite frequently given my target now for the foreseeable future. A lot of my summer fishing for Barbel will be sight fishing but in the autumn and winter fishing will most likely be following a static approach and I find hooklink material is very important in terms of building confidence in an approach, especially when they are clear rivers and the smallest of discrepancies are picked up by weary Barbel and indeed other fish such as Carp and Chub.

 I have now been using Korda's IQ2 hooklink material now for a couple of years and have found it very easy to manipulate to make tight turns, knots etc and rarely get a poor finish, very good abrasion resistance I have found and that is fishing in swims with snags like metalwork, trees and other rubbish that our rivers collect. Also in water ( not tap water, as I actually haven't tried it ) seems invisible to me and presentation of hookbaits seems to be perfect everytime.

 Some may say its quite expensive at £10 for a small spool of 20m but where I tend to use 8-12inch hooklengths it lasts me a whole season if not more. I have never had this stuff go on me and even when a hard fighting Barbel or Carp takes me through the ringer the rig more often than not is in good enough condition to re-use. That coupled with very good knot strength this is the only hook length material I will use until someone tells me there is something better to try or I find it myself.

 £10 for the 10/12/15lb BS spools that consist of 20m of material.


 All in all, you've now heard my guff, if you are looking for a new winter suit or just a jacket, or not comfortable the rig material you are currently using then look at these. 

Monday, 7 December 2020

An Afternoon on the Float.

  

Given my recent difficulties in locating and catching Barbel I have decided to target other species until conditions are more conducive to catching. Having visited the dentist this morning and having an extraction at 940am I wasn't feeling up to much. But you can't put a good man down! 

 The fire still burns deep even with my mouth in absolute bits and the temps not predicted to go above 2c all day ( which for once they did get right ).  I quickly shot home, grabbed a pint of maggots and the gear then headed out for an afternoons trotting. 

 The tackle I was using consisted of a Greys Prodigy specialist float 12ft 2-piece, Greys Bewick 4¾ inch centrepin loaded with 3lb Maxima Chameleon and a beautifully made drake quill trotting float rated at 6BB.

 Swim selection on a cold day with cold water is always key and I thought I had hit the nail on the head from the beginning as my second trot resulted in a mint 7oz 3dr Dace. The next half hour was a complete waste of time. Was there just one Dace in that entire 40 yard trot? I am inclined to think not and that shoal just switched off immediately, even though I had fed the swim for 15 minutes before trotting it. I did however have another idea and that was that shoal pretty much ended where I had that Dace, so I packed the keepnet and everything up and moved another 25 yards upstream and began my feeding regime as before.

 Bites again were instant, only difference this time is that they came almost every trot and plenty of quality Gudgeon came to the net, along with Chublet, Dace and a solitary Perch (which was a surprise - highest I've had one on this river). Once the bites dried up I weighed up my bag which totalled 4lb 6oz of hard worked fish, the Gudgeon came to around a pound with the best not far off 2ozs which is a very good fish.


1oz 12dr. My best for some time.

An hour or so in the right spot, 4lb 6oz.

Awesome! Got to love a Gonk.

 Then I continued on upstream to try and find some bigger Gudgeon and maybe a Roach or two as they had been conspicuous in their absence, I normally pick up a few among Gudgeon shoals. Next up was a couple of fantastic looking trots on nice gentle bends where I have done well in the past. Bites once again weren't forthcoming, fifteen minutes spent trying I upped and moved, as I looked downstream to where my trots were roughly finishing I could see two lovely carp, both sifting through the sandy/gravel bottom and really looked like having a bait, so off came the maggots and pinch of Warburton's went on and no sooner did the bait get to the bottom the smaller of the two carp it took it. The bread vanished and with the float dipping simultaneously I struck and the rod slammed over as the carp charged off past me at a rate of knots, I simply couldn't touch the pin and allowed the pin to do its job, but bad luck crept into my game as I suffered yet another hook pull to a river carp, my third in five attempts this season.

 For me, the gear was standing up to the task, albeit fairly outgunned given the fact the carp was around the 14-15lb mark ( not that its stopped me succeeding in the past ). Had my luck not evaded me on this occasion I felt quite confident that I would have eventually won that battle. But as said above, you can't put a good man down and I hoped that another chance would materialise which thankfully, it did and what a beauty it was too! In very similar fashion to the first attempt, the only difference was I would win this battle got the chance to marvel at what a stunning little creature it was, estimated at roughly 6lb I took a couple of snaps then let it head back into its watery world. Sometimes numbers matter not. 

No words.

The last grasp of Autumn slipping away into an icy coma.

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Blank #16...

  As the blanks rack up at a phenomenal rate I maintain the desire to get out and do my best to put a big Barbel on the bank during what are currently poor conditions. Now I know Barbel will still feed in the cold and with the frosts already settling in opportunities are going to be even more reduced, on top of that the work always picks up closer to christmas before having my usual festive siesta. 

 During the christmas break I do hope we get some mild rain and bring up the temps 2-5c, when this does happen I'll get back out as much as possible, at the moment I am trying to nick the odd session here and there just hoping that I get lucky, how many times can I blank? 

 Its probably an answer I don't want to know as I suspect it is going to be a far greater number than I would have liked. 

 Not that this sort of fishing is easy of course and some of the rivers I am currently targeting are not known for big heads of Barbel, most sections are holding possibly the odd decent fish. My task is to find them and put them on the bank.

 After a couple of weeks since hatching this most recent of plans with a friend of mine Mark a trip back to the Colne was pencilled in for Saturday. We arrived at 7am and began swim hopping with a big lump of meat, in such cold conditions it was possibly the best way to find a feeding fish, or at the very least tease something out of its lair. Fishy looking swim after fishy looking swim was worked well but nothing showed up across the expansive gravel runs that the Colne is famous for. Midday came and went in a flash without a touch.

 We were both having a good catch up and its been a long time since I last had a decent chat with Mark apart from when we've crossed paths in London when we've been working (we work in different trades), so to get the chance to do some fishing was pukka. Clearly we knew it wasn't going to be easy, we both trotted, rolled and static fished and my only bite of the day came around 2pm when I was fishing tight to an overhanging bush where my rod steamed off, I struck nice and firmly only to hit thin air, it certainly wasn't the outcome I wanted given the lack of activity, but it spurred me on as I knew at least one fish was present!

A typical nook that I tried.

 And, before we knew it the rods were out for the last time as darkness consumed the horizon, waiting for a bite in the witching hour is always a time where the hair stand on end, just waiting in anticipation for the rod tip to tap or slam around with a big powerful winter fish in tow, sadly, for us it wasn't to be as it was time finally to call it a day, a shame really as I had hoped for at least something to show itself, given the cold conditions I have convinced myself that the fish were tucked up under foliage and the like, awaiting the next warm spell and the river temps to creep closer to 50f. 

Sunday, 22 November 2020

A Decent Morning on the Chub front.

 

 With my Barbel quest taking centre stage for the last 6 weeks I have been feeling a tad stale with all the blanks I have been enduring, especially after I had caught a couple of super Barbel a few weeks back. So to break up the blanks I needed a pick-me-up, what better way than grabbing the trotting gear for some winter Chub fishing.

 A hard frost has covered the vehicles on the drive for the last two mornings and knowing it wasn't going to be warm I knew Chub were the only species that would still provide me with a few bites. However things were not straightforward if they are ever are in angling. I arrived to find my target river gin clear, painfully low and upon hopping into the water I could feel the water temp was very low. 

 Armed with two bags of smashed up bread and a half loaf for the hook bait I hoped that running out of bait would have been my biggest worry, two hours in and it was apparent this wouldn't be a problem and that my issue would be getting a fish to the net. It's amazing the session you picture in your head when you're planning and the reality is so very different and maybe part of that is down to my optimistic approach to my fishing and that it isn't always going to go by the book.

 By 11am I was scratching around and had managed 2 little chubblet and a solitary Roach to show for my efforts. I kept mobile and trying runs in between weed and deeper slacks off the lacklustre flow. As I got about half a mile up I was starting to think that those scratchings were going to be my lot until I found a nice eddy off the main flow and in the past I have managed a few fish from this particular stretch but its never proved to be easy pickings and typically it only throws up a couple of fish and then the area goes dead. 

First one in the net...relief.


 Twenty minutes later I was breathing a sigh of relief as my baiting of crumb had worked and slipped my net under a nice low 4lb Chub, from that point on I never looked back, it was all guns blazing! It was the sort of sport I was hoping for as my float was running down the back on an eddy I was fishing and burying itself at almost the same spot every time, Chub after Chub came in and the next was clearly waiting in line to snaffle my flake.

A decent Chub with typically brassy flanks...


....And another.

 For the next two hours I continued to manage the run by feeding and resting after every fish and it was a plan that clearly paid dividends as the bites dried up once I had netted my sixteenth Chub, I spent ten minutes after landing my last Chub to try and get another bite but that was it. Six feet of water was clearly what the fish wanted over their heads and with it being very cold to the touch I guess the fish were just huddled up.

A nice brace of Chub.


 The final score was sixteen chub worth counting that went between 3lb 5oz and 5lb 2oz, it wasn't easy but once I had found them they were in fine feeding form and a resting tactic I think was the difference between maybe two or three Chub and what I finished up with. 

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Heading West.

  With that cold snap last week a thing of the past a nice mild spell now sits over us, hopefully giving the Barbel the green light to do some more feeding. Having had such a poor nights sleep I decided to grab the stalking gear out of the shed and headed over to the Colne for a go at a Barbel. Targeting both countryside and urban sections I gave myself half a chance at possibly catching a big Barbel and potentially checking the Colne off my list as my target of eight rivers by the end of the season still looks to be in contention. 

 I headed around the M25 under the cover of dark as I only had this morning free and 45 mins later I was parked up and scouting my first bit of the river. I have previous on this river with my best at 8lb 8oz and I know larger exist as I had seem them at the beginning of last season albeit further upstream, here I was in the lower reaches in some not so glamorous territory. Any little run or bolt hole I was running a bait through, unfortunately with no idea as to what is present I just did what I know best. Rolling meat.

 As I made my way up I came across some more picturesque scenes and felt alot more comfortable and hoped among the numerous clear runs that I could find a Barbel. 


 But given five hours out in the fresh air I couldn't muster a single bite, only saw one Chub (approx 6lb) and a handful of Roach. Not what I was hoping for but know the Colne is capable of throwing blank after blank at you. Just keep going and an old warrior will be there waiting for me. It does look lovely though.


 Sessions count: 11 trips, 9 blanks, 2 fish.

Saturday, 7 November 2020

Coming off the high.

 

 Since my new challenge' inception time on the bank has been increased to try and get a head of steam going, visits to the bank have been mainly blanks as autumn swiftly turns cold as it has and Barbel become a little more difficult to locate and catch. Back out again on Tuesday evening for another go at one of my local rivers saw me arrive on a very cold riverbank. Not knowing what to expect and quite rightly high on confidence, my current set up and bait is certainly doing the right things and getting out as soon as any time comes up. The added impetus will hopefully lead to more fish on the bank.

 Two rivers ticked off my list in a week it was always going to be difficult to keep going and whilst I currently have two other rivers on the go I know the prospect of doubles now given the time of year will become more of a harder task, but I am more than willing to keep up the hard work, maybe another will slip up soon enough.

 Tuesday evening was spent roving around in 1c temperatures in the frosty fields and as I made my way through a few pegs it became apparent that I wasn't going to get a touch, so at 0030 I threw in the towel and headed off home to grab a couple of hours kip before getting on the road for work. Another blank added to the list.

 


 10 trips since October 13th has resulted in 8 blanks and 2 successful trips with a fish caught on both ( 15.10 & 13.9 ), both have been the target fish.

Monday, 2 November 2020

Third Time Lucky.


 Having made the effort to drive the 350mile round trip to visit the banks of the Trent twice already I really wanted to achieve my goal of a double figure Barbel. Knowing roughly where to go is always half the battle, however, it isn't always the case. Doing my best to keep away this time from the busy sections I opted to fish further upstream for a bit of solitude and hopefully a Barbel or two. 

 With large amounts of rainfall across the country I wasn't surprised to see it was up, coloured and pushing with more rain due during my visit. This time I was joined by my younger brother Richard, so perhaps it wasn't total solitude but close enough. I finished a 13 hr day at work having left the house at 6am and returning home around 7pm, I got myself together and set off for the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border ahead of what was likely to be a lively visit owing to the remanence of Hurricane Zeta that was blowing out in the Atlantic.

 Myself and Richard arrived around midnight and set about getting ourselves ready for what was a gruelling walk through the fields, boggy, slippery, raining and cold made it even less desirable, we knew however that the rewards for those who bother to make the effort are there. This certainly was no A1 pits or Collingham, the banks were steep and clearly had been under water for some time as a fine layer of mud was strewn everywhere, not that it mattered to us of course, in the torchlight of midnight we set about finding somewhere to fish, on a section of river I'd never set foot on before and only had a few snippets of info to go on, we made it hard for ourselves.

 With the rain continuing to fall setting up camp was the most important task to try and keep most of the gear as dry as possible as the forecast suggested opportunities to dry the gear out were going to be non-existent. A rod wasn't cast until 1am I think, so getting a bait out finally meant that we had got ourselves ready. The bait I am currently using is the HookBait Co' garlic nimrod boilees, along with the matching 6mm pellets in little PVA bags and glugged to give them a boost in the floodwater. A 30'' hooklength was deployed along with a size 8 teflon coated micro-barb hook. 

 In the Trent flow I knew I would have to make adjustments as time passed by and rainwater coming in upstream put another 3 inch on during dark. As the sun rose the Owls calling between trees stopped and the sight of the Otters playing downstream gave us another spectacle, the surroundings were even better and gave me my first showing of the Trent beyond the open plains of the tidal reaches.

 Without as much as a bite by 8am I decided to bring the rods in for half an hour whilst I went for a walk about to see the river in daylight and also see if actually we could choose a better looking area. As pretty as it was elsewhere, more so than in the area we was I thought the treeline below us would hold fish and after leading around at first light found a slightly deeper run and 5 yards below where I was casting to before and yes, Barbel have a great sense of smell, but on the odd occasion if that bait isn't on the dancefloor so to speak its not going to be effective or stands less of a chance of success. 

Our view for the trip to begin with.

 It wasn't until Richard had a strange knock around on his rod tip did we get the first sight of action, not big by Trent standards but a fish all the same, my confidence levels ramped up no-end and decided on a tactical change of my own, that being the rigs, the long 3ft ones came off and my standard 10 inch hooklengths went on. An hour or so later I was chatting to Rich when my left hand rod ( fished tight to the overhanging tree) roared off and the line, even on a relatively tight clutch melted off the spool! 


 I lurched forward for the rod that was still violently nodding downstream and as I picked it up I could feel the weight attached to the other end, immediately I knew it was either a Barbel or a Carp. To begin with I was just doing battle with something heavy out in the flow and constantly made a beeline for the main fast water which was hurtling through. I have to admit during the fight I was shaking like a shitting dog and really struggled to keep my legs steady as they shook like branches in a storm, the sheer power meant I was potentially connected to a large River Trent Barbel which is what I had undertaken the 350 mile round trip for and as the battle continued closer in I caught a brief glimpse in the murky water and a Barbel it certainly was! 

 Seeing how big it was I dare not put a foot wrong and allowed the fish to hold out in the flow to tire, a tactic that I've employed many times over the years with great success. With a width of roughly 100ft across and 3-6ft deep I had plenty of water to use and trusted that there were no snags in the vicinity that could cause problems. After around five or six minutes of battling I finally got the better of her and started to walk backwards so I could slip the fish into the awaiting net, that was when I knew I had achieved my goal of a Trent double, BOSH!! GET IN THAT NET!

 In the net she looked a good 12lb+ but when I hoisted it out onto the mat I knew it bigger for sure and the trusty Rueben Heatons didn't disappoint, my one and only bite off the Trent in 2 and a half trips amounting to roughly 90 hours by this point and it was exactly if not more than I'd dreamt or hoped of catching.

Trent Gold!


That will do just fine! 

 A Trent Barbel weighing at 13lb 9ozs which has capped off what has been a superb 6 days on the rivers.

 Thankfully when the rain passed I was able to get a couple of photos as it was hammering it down whilst playing the Barbel and think the rest gave it plenty of strength as out of 10 quick fire shots on the camera only two were in focus. Things on the Trent until this point had transpired against me, especially the weather, this time, even with the storm now blowing through I got my reward, but now I really wanted my brother to get one on the bank.

Finally stopped raining by this point.

 As the hours past I was willing one of the rods to go and as dusk quickly approached I felt even more confident that we would have more action, no sooner than I thought that my left hand rod went again, I leant into it and could feel immediately that it was a Chub and rolled on the top, a good fish too around the 6lb mark, then out of nowhere the weight increased as a Pike grabbed the Chub! I couldn't believe it, I would have thought a six pound plus Chub would be safe from attack by now but I was simply mistaken, within seconds however the Pike had towed the Chub into the snag I was fishing and couldn't stop it, just moments later everything went solid and did my best to get it out.

 After taking off the pressure and allowing the fish to try and come out on its own, it is a tactic I have used in the past but this time after a few minutes realised the fish had gone and my hook dumped into some branches...such a shame, how big was the Pike! well it wasn't little I'll tell you.

 By 7pm we had no further enquiries and had decided to call it a night and by 8pm we had packed down the rods and prepared ourselves, with no sleep, absolutely knackered for the mile walk back through the boggy fields to the car. They say no pain no gain, it was certainly true here.

I'm hoping my rich vein of form continues as I look to move on to two other rivers and hope to chalk them off, this challenge is one I am actually relishing. I needed to mix it up a little because I was starting to feel like I was stuck in a rut and something had to change.

 It has been a superb week, tough but superb. Now I continue my quest on two more local rivers to me and the River Trent is now, completed!

Monday, 26 October 2020

Creature of the Night. PB Barbel in the bag!!!!!

  

 I must confess, this last couple of weeks since I lost those two big fish a couple of weeks back have chewed me up and really got under my skin, not often I feel like that. To have a change of scenery to take my mind off it I dropped onto the Kentish Stour for a shot at a Barbel, however after 5 hours I came away with another blank, things haven't looked particularly rosey of late on the fishing front.

 The recent low pressure and incessant rain has had a good impact on the rivers down here and upon arriving on the muddy banks of the S.Ouse I suddenly felt confident that I'd get a chance, not that the river itself is prolific, anything but is probably more accurate but I was fishing with bait that I have become quite comfortable in using and a tried & tested approach that have caught so many Barbel for me over the years.

 After a swift drive into Sussex from my nice warm house I began to setup the rod and once that was ready I under arm threw a small offering of freebies and side hooked a small PVA bag of the same garlic nimrod pellets and 15mm garlic nimrod dumbbells crushed up. Now ready and raring to go a short placement of the hookbait on a gravel run was all I needed as any fish downstream would hopefully find my hookbait in the mild murky water.

 The setup I have began to employ is a 15lb braided mainline and an 18" 15lb IQ2 hooklength fished with a size 4 continental wipe gape barbless hook and a 2oz lead. It may seem a bit heavy and certainly heavier than I normally tackle up with but wanted to make sure that if I got another chance I didn't want to lose it, failure once again was not an option.

 As Arsenal played the last of a lousy 90minutes of football I opted to turn off the phone and watch the stars appear just as a large storm cloud eased away, which had dumped alot of rain during my opening thirty minutes on the river. Not to be deterred I put the hood the up on my new Daiwa bib & brace set and focused on my rod. Not long after the skies cleared another bank of rain headed straight for me, roughly 50 minutes after setting up and recasting with a new PVA bag I got a couple of very delicate taps which got me hovering over the rod, ready to pick it up the rod started to just pull round but very slowly and then stopped. I wasn't sure what was happening, for about 30 seconds it held firm in that position by which point I decided to lift the rod and give it a firm strike, to my surprise it wasn't a bunch of leaves, but didn't feel like a fish for about 10 seconds as it held solid, that was until I tried to gain line on it, then it moved!

 I cranked down on a fairly tight clutch and I don't think the fish realised it was hooked as it came towards the bank really easily and thats when I saw it in the torch light, a NEW PANTS PLEASE moment! It was a very big fish and just as I thought about mugging it "she" used one stroke of her large tail to soak me ( luckily donning my suit ) and she tore off downstream, stripping line off the tight clutch, more than 30 yards! I was powerless to stop her and could only out some side strain on to halt the charge!

 As she approached the next tree line I started to get worried that she'd shift my hook into the branches like the previous lost monsters of the night did, so I had to go for broke and tighten the clutch even more and pray my gear was up to the task, as having seen the fish I knew what was at stake. Mercifully, she started to slow up and found that lifting my rod up in the air rather than side strain got her to turn quicker, from that point on I didn't let up at all and just kept up the pressure and making the odd yard of line. Not before long I leaned back down with my awaiting net and this time, she was ready and gently slipped in. Cue the fist pumping and cheesy ear to ear grins!

 Not even the rain that started to hammer down by this point could dampen my excitement! The scales settled on a mind boggling, personal best breaking, Sussex river munching machine 15lbs 12ozs! 

 A quick few images were taken and hoped for the very best as I didn't want to damage the camera.


 I recast a couple of minutes after releasing her once a nice long rest was completed for both the fish and I! But I couldn't focus, so I packed up and went on my very merry way! River number 4, completed. 


Sunday, 18 October 2020

Pastures New, Tales of Lost Creatures in the Night.

 
Having spent many years trawling through what were local rivers to me I am now starting to target something a little different and have set myself something of a marathon target, that I shall touch on later in the blog.

 Given my proximity to a few rivers that may provide something of a different challenge to me I have decided to give them a go and see if I can catch some of the larger specimens that inhabit these rivers. The target for me is of course Barbel and my hope is that I can locate and catch double figure fish. With limited access and knowledge of these rivers it really is a work in progress and first up was a freezing cold night two Friday' back as I set about trying to bag up a fish on my first go.

 Under the stars and a murky river my hope was pinned on a very smelly bait with a small PVA bag glugged in some very potent stuff to do the work as locating fish in the pitch black was not an option. Nearly seven hours had passed before calling it a night and headed back home without a touch.

 So with that I decided to get back out as soon as I could, but given the good conditions dwindling I had to get back out sooner rather than later and chose another river, again in the pitch black I wasn't giving myself much of a chance to learn anything, only relying on basic watercraft and hope that there might be something local and feeding. After setting up, using a 18'' 15lb hooklength, size 8 hook and 2oz lead I flicked a single Garlic Nimrod boilee into the flow and hoped for the best.


 Twenty five minutes drifted by fairly quickly and got a little peckish, so as I reached into my bag to grab a bag of Wotsits my centrepin absolutely raged off! the rod thumped around and the nightlight was perpendicular to me to begin with, by the time hit the fish the nightlight was way downstream obviously attached to the rod, I nearly lost the rod! even with a pin.

 A big fish clearly from the outset and I was trying to remain calm as much as possible, no other fish was capable of such vigour that was present, so I knew I was hooked into what was possibly my target, so I played it as carefully as possible, but not knowing my surroundings this was counter intuitive. Plenty of rod tip in the air, plenty of side strain at times to as it kept powering off to the far bank margins and on the third attempt of the fish trying to get there my worse fears were realised when the tension just went. 

 As I tried to retrieve my hooklength a branch came along with it across the surface, the fish, clearly not wanting to come in transferred my hook to the branch and vanished, I was obviously gutted and didn't get to see what it was owing to the coloured water, so my mind is still, as I write this playing tricks on me and how could I have changed the outcome.

 Changing my hooklength and resetting I got a bait, back out in the same spot, this time I was even less optimistic given the battle I had just experienced, anything within 50 yards was probably long gone.....just over an hour had passed and I had carbon copy take! Another brutal take had me in full panic mode, my headtorch went straight on to try and see the culprit, but again, in the murk I could see nothing!

 Knowing what had happened just an hour before I really put the breaks on this fish, 1.75 Tc rod was bent hard, palm on the spool of the pin and the fish was still giving it hard! twice I managed to turn it and as the fish headed downstream I began to breath a sigh of relief it came back upstream so fast I couldn't keep up and it went straight over to the far bank and done me on the same sunken branches as the first one and on that powerful run, it proved to be the last, just when it was probably just a minute from netting, the line, once again went slack and the fish was gone. There was literally nothing I could do, to lose two fish in my first hour and hour on a new river to me and both felt really big, this particular river does fish over 17lb and who knows, I could have contacted one of them. Gut wrenchingly difficult to accept and never have I experienced such extreme shows of power from Barbel before last Tuesday. 

 I was so compelled to break my duck given those two lost fish I got my gear in the car the next evening and shot straight back down, unfortunately for me, I didn't receive a touch for 4 hours, I called it a night at 2330. I will certainly be back!

 As I mentioned at the top of the blog, I am setting myself a challenge which I know will be over the course of a few years and not something that'll be achieved overnight. That challenge is to catch double figure Barbel from 40 different rivers across England, something of a marathon and not a sprint, very early doors at the moment, but will hopefully gain some traction once I can get some time on the bank.