Friday, 8 July 2022

Back to the Kentish Stour, Again.

 

 Session 11. Why am I struggling so much on this river? Much like the ColnBrook there is plenty of water but you just can't access most of it for one reason or another. Now I have seen the odd fish on the KS, locating Barbel just seems to be a challenge in itself rather than the catching part. I know many with myself included know that when it comes to Barbel location is 80% of the game, once found typically it is just a matter of time. On this intimate river you would think sightings would be common. 

 So I got back to it on Sunday afternoon and planned to do the night then the first few hours of daylight.

 A single bait approach was opted for and moved swims / sections fairly regularly to give myself plenty of opportunities to see fish. By fish I actually mean Barbel, the Chub were literally everywhere and I found avoiding them very difficult, their very nervy nature when the sound of a plop went in ( couldn't be avoided ) everything would just go dead, funny thing was more often than not I'd fish snags and when those Chub spooked it would take everything out the back, so I got to see exactly what was present and at every occasion, it was just the big rubbery-lipped Chub that were making an appearance, still no Barbel.

 I fished all through the night whilst moving around and fishing static boilee with matching paste to hopefully tempt an incredibly guarded Barbel from its watery lair, in turn by midnight I'd only managed 6 Chub to about 4lbs. Just gone half past midnight the rod quivered and then slammed around, was this what I was after? The initial 30-40 seconds would suggest so, then right on cue a decent sized Chub came up to the surface, trying to ditch me in some ribbon weed at the last moment before the net got shipped out and mugged the Skelly before it could smash me up in the weed.

 It certainly wasn't a Barbel but I wasn't too displeased as it looked well over 5lb even just hanging down in the net, I set up the camera gear and weigh sling/scales to see what this summer Chub would go. 

A good heavy Chevin at 5lb 8ozs.


 The bite certainly had me fooled and as of 0033 (when I hooked that Chub) three stupid Pike in the morning were taken whilst rolling meat was all I could conjure up. It really was a tough trip, again.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

Hard to Come By.

 

 During this 40 rivers challenge I knew there would be times that fishing would be tough, especially on rivers that I am not familiar with. This was in truth a large part of the lure of undertaking such a task, easy fishing is not challenging for the mind and yes, in lean times there is always a little part of me that thinks about just swinging by rivers I've already chalked off just to get fish on the bank. Thus far I have resisted as I see it as time not spent on rivers I should be on.

 On the ColnBrook for example I didn't think I would struggle, wrong again (seems to happening a fair bit of late). Six sessions down ( as of June 20 something ) and still not managed one, this scenario didn't at first appear to be in the balance as I spotted two Barbel last season within 30 mins of being on the river, unfortunately for me they disappeared quickly once a bait went out and since have found myself searching for the tell-tale bronze shapes caressing the swift and plentiful gravel beds. Inevitably if something is present and I spend enough time looking I am bound to find them, last week I did just that, one about 5lb and another quite possibly the very fish I sought.

Lightweight roving is so important to 
tracking down small pods of Barbel.

 Peering through virgin nettles is always exciting as you know no one has been there, then to see two Barbel sat hugging a small branch on the bottom in the first hour of trip 7 to the river, I knew I had to be stealthy and quick, I opted to put out a single SSG link ledger with a lump of meat on and in no time of the bait hitting the deck both Barbel left their holding point and charged upstream to the bait, I was poised to strike and simply hoped the bigger one would take the bait. Nope, that didn't happen.

It's a start, beautiful too.

 It was my first ColnBrook Barbel but really wanted the other fish, that could have meant wrapping up my efforts and moving on to another river, 5lb 6ozs of pure muscle and in immaculate condition, I do wonder if that fish had ever been caught before.

 Once that pocket rocket was released I continued my search which included locating the other Barbel that tore off downstream out of view. With fairly limited amount of time as I wanted to avoid the M25 peak rush hour my time swiftly came to an end. Another 3hrs spent on the river and some more solid evidence to go on, I am in the right places.

Nettles are good rod rests too.

But it takes a while to build up sting tolerance.

 Since that capture I have revisited the banks with a new sense of urgency, those two fish might not be around long and knowing that one had been caught would the other fish vanish owing to that pressure? It's certainly something thats gone through my mind as I searched low and hard for a fish and excluding the odd tit bit there was nothing to be seen and yes it is heavily grown over in alot of places hence my stealthy approach and roving with very little tackle, but the sense that there simply isn't many Barbel in the ColnBrook is growing ever stronger. Can I find that leviathan? or is the ColnBrook not going to be one of those rivers and eventually pull the plug and if so, when do I make that decision, and is that for the short term and revisit it in the future or never step foot on it again? That bigger Barbel I saw may just be the sighting I required to keep the interest.

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Third Time Lucky?

 

 At least I was hoping so, 177 miles each way with diesel now costing a years salary to fill up the tank I needed to make it worth while, I needed to catch fish and catch well, preferably get my Severn double, the taste of defeat on my previous two visits and £80 lesson on why not to park in fields was still very fresh, I really wanted to banish those memories and kick off proceedings with some Barbel. 

 So I set off from home in the early afternoon and arrived in Holt for my first port of call. My first venue was Holt Fleet on the BAA book which as a side note is an extremely good value for money membership to have, varied waterways across the midlands to try your luck on. For me, flowing water and plenty of oxygen was my original thought, with the Severn flowing sluggishly I thought a weir would be a good place to start, I couldn't get any closer if I tried. 


Very comfy!!


A nice place to spend some time.

 I started off getting a load of 4 & 6mm pellet out about 2/3's of the way across where I found a deep gully beyond a gravel bar that was very weedy - which I was to find out later on to my dismay. Fishing both rods to begin with on banded 8mm single pellet I set the traps 15 yards apart on the same line, first up, Chub and quite a few of them. The rigid tips on my 1.5TC Korum All-Rounders were pinging constantly and knew it was Chub, but I knew at any point a Barbel could come along and snaffle my hookbait.


 Wrong. A procession of Chub came to the bank with alarming regularity which wasn't filling me with hope that actually the Barbel would get a chance!, they seemed ravenous, but out of nowhere the rod hooped over and knew immediately that this was a Barbel, she rolled over the gravel bar, showing herself completely before ramming into the weed bed I eluded to earlier, nothing I could do and even with fairly stout tackle the game was up, after a few seconds of the pressure coming off of the fish I felt a brief thud, then it went slack as this fish came off, annoying to say the least, but if I can take any positives from it it wasn't a double and likely to be around the 8lb mark.  

 By 2245 which was nearly kicking off time I found myself head scratching and where I was going to go next. With a lovely sunset beyond the horizon I set about moving on to the next leg of my journey, which was to do the night in Bridgnorth on the town section, a stretch I kind of know and hoped would finally break my Severn duck.


 26 miles north of Holt and 40mins later I arrived in Bridgnorth and got straight on with unloading the gear, I was a man on a mission. A quick 5 minute trudge upstream bought me too a peg I was shown by a friend last year and remembered roughly where it was, by midnight I was fishing but had to wait an hour and half for my first bite, when it did come there was no doubt what it was, a powerful take followed by a powerful fight, I was at last on the winning end of a Severn Barbel and not long after it was resting up in the net. 

6lb 3oz and off the mark, at last!

Link for release video here ----->  6lb 3oz Barbel Release

 Finally done, now it was time to get that double figure specimen I really want, chalking off another river early season will give me a huge boost of confidence in which I think will be a very challenging season.

 Unfortunately the remainder of the short night bore no more fruit, so at 4am, I packed up again and headed downstream to Knowlesands to fish a few spots where again I know Barbel do frequent. I made the long walk down the hill and downstream on the fishery some way before finding the peg I was looking for, a nice deep churned up hole littered with big rocks, a risky move but I felt it was the deepest peg in the whole section and fish would be seeking some cover in the bright sunlight.

 I set up in the same manner as Holt Fleet, but instead of bait dropping freebies out I decided to use PVA bags for a more compact feeding pattern, with the turbulent water a bait dropper would have been much less accurate. I set up the first rod and flicked it out just into the main flow, then set about getting rod number two ready when the first rod screamed off, nearly bouncing off the rod-rest and into the river! pure power and as I lifted into the fish I knew it was big, it stayed low in the current and headed at pace downstream, unluckily for me I don't know the exact topography of the swim, but the Barbel did! Very cunningly it headed for a big rock and decided to smash me up on 15lb hooklength that was freshly tied, no imperfections present, a clean cut and a lost fish that could have been any size, I do fear given my extensive experience targeting the species that it was probably the one I wanted, but such as life.

Smaller one around 5lb.

 After plenty of swearing and more swearing I finally got myself together and now fishing with two rods, from this point on I was converting all the action which was roughly coming at a fish an hour, not exactly prolific but amongst that was another six Barbel with the best weighed 8lb 1oz and in post-spawned out condition as to be expected, the others averaged 6lb with a little one thrown in for good measure. 

Long lean fighting machine.

 Around 5pm the peg went quiet and thought about moving pegs when a Barbel rolled in front of me, two rod lengths out, so naturally I bought a rod in and hoped it was feeding. 7pm came and went and still no more bites, I decided to call it a day and head to the ColnBrook for a go there, but the weather was foul and remained on the M25 homeward bound. 

 So I didn't get my double but felt like I was close, I think to be honest I am going to wait a little bit before going back, give the fish time to bulk back up, because it'll just be my luck to have a spawned out 9.14/9.15 on my next trip! A nice fish but would not be the one, so I am going to be patient on the Severn, think that's a wise move.

 Also ordered a ton of hemp from Monster Particle and the heat seals went on two 10kg bags of hemp, the juice was everywhere and seed took me ages to get cleaned up, possibly lost half a pint in the clean up...





Wednesday, 22 June 2022

June 16th, Glorious June 16th...

 

 Every moment of the river season whilst conditions allow I will be in pursuit of Barbel as I restart my quest to achieve a feat completed by no man! For those that don't know, or aren't familiar with this blog then it's a quest to catch a double figure Barbel off of forty (40) rivers across England, Wales and Scotland. Yes it is an epic task, it's a task that might defeat me. 

 STOP! right lets nip that pessimistic mumbo jumbo right now! This is no place for failure and I will catch exactly what I am after and that begins on the Kentish Stour! 15th of June I was walking the banks in the heat armed with polaroids and cap, the mission was simply to find Barbel and get them to feed. Only one Barbel was found and annoyingly she was surrounded by a hoard of hungry Chub, yaaaaay. Just what I wanted to see.

Such a beautiful river, but heavily weeded throughout.


 Anyway, I went back to the area I earmarked to do the darkness hours and at dawn move around, as I couldn't do the night in the other area as the mosquito's were ravenous even though I was covered in Jungle Formula ( strength 4 ) which is their highest rating, one later on did slip through and get me, right on my "Adams Apple". I can still feel it! So I settled in the overnight swim and fed steadily through the evening and hoped by midnight that I would be in prime position to snare a Barbel at the first time of asking. 

 Midnight came after a few very long hours and within four minutes of the midnight gong the rod began to show signs of life, I prayed for a Barbel and got a Bream...hmmmmmmmm, not what I wanted to see! Then twenty minutes later a 2lbs 1oz Eel stormed the party, followed by another two Bream. Where were the damn Barbel?! In fact I don't expect to catch one when on the KS, its a tough river with a reputation for being just that.

Funny looking Barbel.


Break of dawn at exactly 3am,
complemented by a chorus of Tawny Owls.

 By 5am it wasn't happening so I decided to pack away briefly and go for a walk with the glasses for an hour or so, just in the vein hope I would get a chance, just one. Again though a few hours passed without seeing anything more than Chub, that was until I decided to check out the location where I saw the Barbel the afternoon before and it was quickly apparent that there were now two! One about 6lb the other 8lb or so, not quite the double I seek but would get me off to flyer for sure. One problem I had to encounter though was the sentries that responded to anything hitting the water, my hookbait would be engulfed in seconds, everytime. The Barbel stood no chance and after 7 Chub from that one swim it was abundantly clear I was not going to manage one of those fish and soon after conceded defeat, the temps just got too high and thought better of it. 67 miles back home...no Barbel again...it's almost a case of cut and paste from my previous 9 trips.

Best Chub was 4lb 5oz

A very dosile Red Admiral lapping up
minerals off an ash pile.

 I will be back of course to give it yet another go until I get what I want, looks like I am in it for the long haul on this river. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Return to Stow.


 After a blazing success on my previous trip after Abramis Brama (image below), my focus was unwavering at the task set before me, fish well and hope to locate the fish and let the rest fall into place. Hopefully set a PB, again and move on through the 15lb barrier which was my initial plan and didn't think I would achieve something close to that with a single fish banked, jammy or what.

Proudly showing off my new PB!

 Conditions weren't great for bottom, notwithstanding I was there and had to make the most of it. On site for just after the gates opened I set about putting an irrefusable meal in front of them, smelly yet visible to any passing fish, all I had to do was sit and wait. I opted to fish over a bed of small pellet and corn.

 Problem was I did a lot of waiting and found myself scratching my head. No fish were showing, all the Carp boys were sodding off home early as nothing was happening, by 7pm I thought my fortunes were on the turn as porpoising Bream of epic proportions began getting closer to me by which point twenty minutes later I had a vast head of fish over my baited area, issue was is I wasn't getting any indications of fish feeding and came to a point at 2130 that I thought it was not going to happen.

 Fishing the back lead owing to the under-tow I didn't get any liners but those fish must have been feeding on my area, no way were they there that long and not go for a munch up. Gates closed at 10pm and I found myself pacing up to them at two minutes to ten. I really eeked out as much time as I could, but it just did not happen for me.

 Here are some blanking shots...


Awesome reservoir to fish, but can kick you in the plums!

Twin Delks on the job.

Camera on the piss...

Tench and Butterflies.

 

 Went tench fishing, weather was crud and I blanked, I blame the weather.

 On to Butterflies....saw a few on my recent visits but most notable was the Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary which are pretty rare and missed out on them last year, so this year I was chuffed to see them and a mating pair to boot made it into the photo reel, species number 53 ✅. The remainder now require long distances to check off but with diesel now around £2.00 per LITRE! I am now thinking twice about any journey made in the car as its bloody expensive, regardless of financial standings, most are feeling it....


Side on SPBF.

Mating SPBF's!

Lightning quick Wall Brown.

Monday, 30 May 2022

Catfish Slaying Time.

 

 My bi-annual visit for Catfish was booked, plenty of discussion had about tactics etc which once all played out was pretty mute, they eat anything, on the surface, on the bottom and anywhere in between!, If re-incarnation was a thing, the humble slug would be my next life form, we do share that trait.

 Nothing special, only fish to 60lbs floating about in small numbers which were most likely guarding nests by this point, so we knew the size of the fish would be impacted by this but did we care? not one bit! my good chum Brian unfortunately received some terrible news recently and saw this trip as a blow-out before he is relegated to the sidelines as he takes on his battle with the dreaded C! 

 A friendly competition as always is good but when we do this catfish fishing we build a joint tally and try to reach certain targets but this time around it was fairly clear from the off that we didn't have massive numbers of fish in front us and that other pegs on the other side of the lake were fairing far better than us, but what can you do! We set out our stall and stuck to the game plan. 

First of 6 twenties.

 36hours was booked and hoped we would see at least PB fall whilst there. Brian' best is 30lb 3ozs, Richard (Bro's) 33lb 10ozs, Richard B 35lbs and finally mine at 39lb 9ozs. All fairly respectable weights without really fishing anywhere (barring a blank at Swallow Pool two years back) where monster fish are present. Knowing Charlie's in Ashford does hold fish over 60lb meant we do stand a chance of adding a fair chunk to our PB's, if we could find one. 

 That however in the blaring sun was not easy and found sport very slow, in-fact combined it took us well over 12hrs to get over 10 fish combined, that really was slow and fish weren't of decent sizes either, I lost a big fish that gave me the slip in some pads and Brian lost an equally decent fish to a hook-pull, not what we wanted but part and parcel with fishing. Meat was clearly the bait of choice and all but the odd fish falling to boilee and paste, it helped bolster our takings.

Upper 20.

 When these fish do go it is great fun and fights often last 5-10 minutes, especially when the battle isn't nipped in early and they get a second wind, it can be good fun with the added jeopardy of being given the slip as they know where the snags are and found them often charging 50-70 yards to far margins in search of cover, thankfully fishing decent gear they often didn't get close enough, but the battles are good fun.

 Over the 30 hours that we fished the scores were in and as we wrapped things up Brian slipped in to first with fish of the trip....written in the stars some might say! I shall let Brian fill you in with the details through his blog here: Pike Blog Nicely done mate!

 The scores were as follows:

 Brian - ******* fish - best *******.

 Rich (bro) - 6 fish - best 23lb 14ozs

 Rich ( Bentley ) - 4 fish - best 27lbs

 Yours truly - 10 fish - best 2x @28lb 6ozs.

 All in all, good craic and must do it again, but maybe go for something a little bit more serious once Brian has come out the other side! 


Best of the bunch for me 28lbs 6ozs.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

PB Bream, Walthamstow Reservoirs 2022.

 

 For many years the thought of a campaign for specimen Bream has always appealed, however the choice to go with it has never been taken. Finally, after plenty of deliberation the decision has been made, this spring my targets are going to be Bream and Eels. Not the pairing that many would feel comfortable with, nevertheless I don't mind and find targeting species like this very intriguing. A slime fest if you will.

 The thought of big Bream is one that I find exciting, I don't know how big they really go to in the reservoirs, because when they do come out it is often to disgruntled Carp anglers who tend to unhook them in the water, so there is no real detail on numbers and weights of the fish that get caught, this is where I hope to come in. Having decided to take on Walthamstow Reservoirs for my Bream campaign I hope to get amongst numbers of fish with the ultimate goals being: To thrash my personal best, B: Get a good idea on exactly what is knocking about and C: What other surprises there maybe, for example potentially put some meat on the bones of a British Record fish knocking about. How true that is, it's hard to tell but it all adds to the mystery and I quite like that.

 With a night available on the complex last weekend I decided to make the effort to get over there. I dug my gear out, made up a few rigs, loaded up the bucket with feed and made sure my camera batteries were charged! On Saturday morning I made my way leisurely up to E17 hoping that it wasn't too busy and to my surprise there was only ten on the gate for 0730, that I was surprised by, I thought given the fact its a great time of the year to target both Carp and Bream that it would be chocker. 

 With no barrow it was a long slog to the peg I had chosen, two journeys, carrying upwards of 100kg of gear isn't something I want to do too often and think it maybe time to bite the bullet and buy a barrow because it damn near killed me, not to mention rubbed my neck raw with the various handles turning on my skin, I just hoped it was all worth it! 

 The plan was simple, fishing two rods both with helicopter rigs. The setup I was using for this trip was the Korum all-rounder 1.5 TC rods, with Ultegra 5500's loaded with 12lb line ( Daiwa Hypersensor ), terminal gear was 10lb fox illusion flourocarbon, size 8 wide gape hook to a hair with 4 real grains of corn and 1 bouyant piece of corn to top it off. The feeder I used were cage feeder 80g loaded with Sensas 3000 brown crumb with corn, 4mm & 6mm pellet and broken scopex squid boilees to finish off. Plenty of sweetness, just what Bream like and with an hour of starting I did get the odd liner, so it was encouraging.

 For that first hour and a half I was on the phone to Brian and we had come to the end of our conversation when I was thinking about refilling the feeders and getting them back out, plus to also check that the rigs hadn't spun around the mainline. Within five minutes of hanging up my right hand rod bleeped a few times and the bobbin pulled up tight to the buzzer, without hesitation I picked up the rod and bent into the fish, hoping it was a Bream a fairly heavy fish immediately kited to my left and probably going a good 50 yards, not something I was expecting off of a Bream, the fish stayed down close to the bottom and occasionally skimming the bottom and releasing trails of gas from the bed of the reservoir, so I knew roughly where she was at times. After about four or five minutes the fish was coming in close, I took longer with this fish as I suspected it was a big Bream and it was my first fish of the trip so I didn't want to put any undue pressure on it and potentially lose it.

 I didn't expect to see a Bream this big though.....shocked was an understatement, I couldn't ship the net out fast enough! a new personal best had just slipped over the cord and I was in dreamland or Carp angler hell ;O)

 This is what greeted me when I got the fish out the water on to the mat!

I've never seen a Bream that big in the flesh.
 

 I was so pent up with excitement I nearly forgot to check the other rod that bleeped whilst I was attending to this fish, a couple of glances back at the other rod to see if would materialise, which it didn't so I continued with the lump in net. On the scales then a few photos were run off before I let her go back home.

Obscene, 14lb 6ozs, new PB, thank you!

 ***Click link here to watch YouTube video -------> Release video of PB Bream <--------***

 The sheer size of it had me wondering just how big is a twenty? which, one day will be a target as I hopefully inch my way through the Bream on this famous venue, I could not have asked for a better start at all and knew I had the best part of 22hrs to go. The stage was set.

 The thought of more fish that size coming to the net excited me so much and even the look of disdain from carp anglers who I spoke with about my desires on the Bream front didn't wain. Who could honestly not find that impressive, even if I say so myself. The rods were back out and I sat back patiently waiting for the next bite.

 Unbeknownst to me and is so common in angling, the wait would be a lot longer than I thought it would be and to cut a 20hr story short that fish was actually my last bite, the liners stopped not long after that fish was landed and spods of bait were launched out to keep the swim rocking but one of two things were clear to me, either there was only a couple of fish were in the area feeding, or it was simply me catching the end of their feeding spell and I got lucky, which I am leaning toward.
 
 I spent the evening, night and early morning ringing the changes to try and eek out another bite but it simply didn't come along and as the sun rose I could see Bream just under the surface cruising around, might they have just not been feeding at all? I don't really know, but what I do know is on my first outing I smashed my PB by nearly 2lbs, that is a right result in my book and will look to get down soon for another go! 

Sunset on a great day.


Tuesday, 10 May 2022

R"eel"y Good Start.

 

 I can't remember the last time I caught an Eel by design, let's just say I have forgotten a lot and needed to brush up. That said on various platforms there is a wealth of knowledge and tutorials etc to help blow the cobwebs out of ones mind to remind you of past experiences and teach you new things and how to implement that into your angling. 

 I spent a few hours setting up my gear and watching said videos so that by Wednesday evening ( a few weeks back ) I would be primed and ready to tackle the seemingly baron canals on East London. Given the fact Eels aren't liked by many means they are largely an unknown and having only seen a couple of dead ones floating against lock gates or in rafts held up by canal boats at mooring it intrigued me. Also given the fact the specimens I had found dead were very big, one I estimated to be between five and six pounders when alive, it looked bigger still, but with bloating and decomposition beginning some of the size had to be taken into account.

 Coupled with the cormorant predation on the canals I can't imagine there are many bootlaces around so that would potentially mean if I were to get a run it would be a good fish, a 2lb specimen to begin with was my target and once I've achieved that weight bracket then I'd move on to the next with a 4lb fish an ideal fish to really get my campaign going and a six pound specimen my ultimate canal goal.

 I arrived at the canal and headed straight to one of the lock basins as I would have thought these areas would be a natural place for food stuffs to settle thus a good place to start, only concern was that the sun was still bright and thought I may have to wait for dusk. 3 hours later and still bite-less ( as I thoroughly expected ) the sun had dropped beyond the built up horizon of the London skyline.

 Using the "Twig Rig" which I will go into more detail on another post was deployed, one baited with a small cube of meat, the other a fresh Roach head. The reason for using the head first is the head contains quite a lot of blood and juices, this being the attractive part of the fish and hoped to speed up the process of catching an Eel.

Bingo!

 Just twenty minutes into night and the meat rod bleeped a couple of times and then the line started to peel off the spool where I then picked up the rod and struck, but oddly, nothing. It was clear upon retrieval of the meat that it was indeed an Eel that had been eating the bait with the tell tale triangular nips out the sides. I quickly got the bait back out and within 5 mins the rod was away again and this time I made no mistake with the setting of the hook. 

 And as much as the Eel tried to evade the net it was ultimately in vein. I had got my first Eel of the campaign on the bank and it wasn't a bad one either. This fish was swiftly followed up by another around 1lb 8oz and was good to know I was in the mix. 

 I stayed until around 10pm when I decided to call time on the session but was a very good start and truly believe that there are bigger fish there, just need to get the time to target them and do the deed!

 The photo of the biggest one below at 2lb 5ozs. 

Tricky to hold....

29.5 inch length, 5.5 inch girth.

Sunday, 20 March 2022

Another Season on the Bank.

 

 Well what can I say about the 2021/22 season. It was bloody brilliant, lots of lows but amongst those lows I caught some big fish to really keep me focused and well and truly on track with my target for a double figure Barbel off of forty rivers across England, Wales and Scotland. So here is how it panned out!

 May:

 I only fished once in April so there wasn't much to write about there and May wasn't too different, a single trip out in search of Golden Orfe and Tench resulted in a success on both fronts, a cold spring did make fishing difficult on the day but did finally come good.

A nice G.Orfe, but not what the lake used to produce.

7lb 7oz
 June:
 
 Again it was a very lean time for me fishing wise as the birth of my second child meant I was helping out at home and being Dad, I did manage two trips (1x Medway and 1x Mole) but these resulted in blanks.
 
 2 trips / 2 blanks / 6hrs / 0 Barbel / 0 Doubles.

 July:

 I found time slightly easier come by on the bank as I was back to work, this gave me the opportunity to fish a bit on my way home and did start to have some successes, two of the six rivers I had fished in the month of July produced double figure fish for me in the shape of these below. Apart from that I had the odd Chub too and three smaller Barbel to 8.13.

R.Colne 11.07

R.Medway 13.09

 11 trips / 7 blanks / 40hrs / 5 Barbel / 2 Doubles.

 August:

 Again, in August I found myself getting about quite a bit with most of my trips being conducted after work, but I did also manage a superb road trip up north where I struck gold on multiple fronts. Nothing could have prepared me for the achievement I was to receive. A tough start on the Mole did come good on the sixth time of asking with a stunning double figure Barbel slipping over the rim of the net, I also rocked up on the R.Derwent, having never been there before and had a red-letter-day to rival all!

R.Mole 12.10

R.Derwent 13.13

PB Chub 7.04!!! EPIC.

 Trips 12 / Blanks 8 / 51.5hrs / 4 Barbel / 2 Doubles.

 September:
 
 This was yet another lean month for me and considering its possibly the best month of the season to target Barbel I simply couldn't get away from work and family matters, which in the grand scheme of things is more important, said no angler, ever! When I did get out I had some successes on the river Lea and Nene, but most notably was my incredible capture of a R.Ivel Barbel and a double at that. A river touted by many as a river in serious decline over the last decade through varying factors, it only took me 11 hours in total to manage the feat...child's play this Barbel lark :). Plus I also managed a big Kentish Stour Chub of 6.01 whilst rolling meat for Barbel, quite a turn up as that's a huge fish for the river.

A big girl for the KS!

R.Nene 8.07 (not a double but a great start)

R.Ivel 10.14 (A fish I thought would take me years to catch)

 6 Trips / 3 Blanks / 35.5hrs / 6 Barbel / 1 Double.

 October:

 A few trips were made through October and I had high hopes for a couple of the trips, however things were starting to go against me as I found conditions weren't in my favour and was missing the good conditions to be on the bank, I was quickly finding out that learning new rivers in the cooler months was hard going as I found it difficult to locate and stalk fish/potential areas. This will be a recurring theme I'm sure and ended the month Barbel-less, in fact the only fish I did catch were off of a R.Test tributary in the shape of some beautiful Grayling to just over 2lbs.

The best of a dozen taken on the float.
 
 6 Trips / 6 Blanks / 37.5hrs / 0 Barbel / 0 Doubles.

 November:

 My Barbel fishing by this point had taken bit of a nosedive and given the cold crisp conditions I sought out other species to target and although I did try on the odd occasions for Barbel it was the Grayling fishing that proved most fruitful. Two trips to the splendid R.Wylye in Wiltshire provided some of, if not the best Grayling fishing I've had the pleasure of experiencing. Numerous two-pound plus specimens were caught whilst trotting with the best in November weighing 2lb 7oz. I did also manage a stonker of a R.Colnbrook Chub too weighing a massive 6lb 6oz which was taken whilst in search of the elusive Barbel that do call this river home, not that I can catch them!

R.Wylye 2lb 7oz.

R.Colnbrook breezeblock, 6.06

 4 Trips / 4 Blanks / 29hrs / 0 Barbel / 0 Doubles.

 December:

 Just two Barbel trips were embarked upon in the last month of the year and given how poor my previous couple of months were for the species I didn't hold out much hope, but what do you know! A mild spell just before new year produced a super looking R.Lea powerhouse which bought an end to my mini drought, but also my time on the river which to be fair had been tough, well earned and one of the hard ones taken care of. Also as the weather got colder I fancied a go for some river pike and was rewarded with a superb mornings sport, two Pike were landed but both well worth catching with the best just missing out on twenty pounds.

R.Lea 10.05

19lb 9oz river Pike in the winter morning sun.

 2 Trips / 1 Blank / 17hrs / 1 Barbel / 1 double.

 January:

 A month of almost seemingly endless frosty mornings, could only mean one thing, Grayling! A return to the R.Wylye produced my best ever days sport for the species and taking no less than 7x 2lb+ fish to 2lb 9oz, quite a day it was. The Itchen was also on my radar and although the Grayling didn't show for me in numbers the Roach put in a surprise appearance and managed a few to just under 2lbs.

R.Wylye 2.09 - (2nd best ever)

R.Itchen 1.14

 0 Trips / 0 hrs / 0 Barbel / 0 Doubles.

 February:

 A couple of trips out for Barbel were had, one on the R.Severn and one on the Colnbrook as I hoped with the slight increase in river temps would begin to stir the Barbel into feeding. That didn't happen. All I can remember was an expensive night trying to get out of a field....


 2 Trips / 11.5 hrs / 0 Barbel / 0 Doubles.

 March:

 At the turn of the year I had my sights firmly set on having a 7-10 day assault on the rivers towards the back end of the season to try and find myself another river double to boost my tally even further, and it could not have started any better as I joined friend and fellow blogger George for a morning (wasn't planned this way) on the Warks Avon to target a Barbel, I left the river at 1pm having not only bagged a monster Chub for the river, but also a big Barbel too. The blanks that had mounted up were all but forgotten, it was a brilliant mornings fishing and to share it with George was wonderful! 

 I then went on to fish the R.Severn, R.Bourne, R.Dorset Stour, R.Itchen all with the view to maybe adding one last fish to that now very impressive list, much to my dismay however I drew almost a complete blank on all of those barring a few modest Chub. It wasn't until the penultimate evening on the R.Wey that I got a chance to wrap up the season with a bang, that said the Barbel I hooked had no inclination to stick around and after a brief battle a large unseen fish smashed me up in a nearside tree, thankfully for me whilst still cursing my rotten luck and thinking of drowning my sorrows did my rod hoop over again to produce another double figure Barbel, I got that grandstand finish I had dreamt of. It was not the way I planned it, but when does it ever go to plan aye? What an end! Eight different rivers chalked off my list in just this season alone, which now brings me up to 13 rivers out of my overall target of 40. Can I reach 20 and the half way point by the end of next season? That will be my target.

R.Warks Avon 12.06

R.Warks Avon 6.03

R.Wey 10.04

 9 Trips / 75.5hrs / 2 Barbel / 2 Doubles. 

Back to the Kentish Stour, Again.

   Session 11. Why am I struggling so much on this river? Much like the ColnBrook there is plenty of water but you just can't access mos...