Saturday, 22 October 2016

Through the Lens, Barbel.

A recent shot of me trotting for Barbel and Chub.
Barbel are simply stunning creatures. (12.6)
 This particular post is looking back at some of the great times in my Barbel fishing. The countless hours spent searching for them as a species has taken me to some special places, with a few of the areas I had fished a certain amount of judgement as been needed. After hanging from branches peering into the water at double figure Barbel weaving in and out of the weed I have put myself in some very precarious situations but the end product has almost always been worth it, even if I have fallen in a couple of times.

Floodwater double.
 Over the years I've fished most of the rivers in the southern half of England for Barbel and various other species, I feel that nobody could argue that the River Avon is by far the very best. That has to be my favourite but many come close for different reasons. So here are a few shots of Barbel and some lovely looking spots, the fight's always remind me of why I continue to spend time searching for them, a few blank sessions are inevitable but certainly worth it when the rewards are so great.

My personal best Barbel, of 14.06.
My personal best revived and back home.
Vantage points are ideal for spotting feeding Barbel.
Double figure Barbel carefully released after a great scrap in freezing conditions.
Amazing looking waters flow through the Avon Valley.
Just resting up, one of eight from that morning's fishing.
A good double that was spotted from a tree, one that didn't manage to get caught.
A perfect specimen from last season.
One in tow and not giving up.
Barbel on the float are great sport.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Dawn on the River for Barbel.

 It's been a while since I last fished for Barbel during the early hours of the morning, years gone by it was something I did very often with high levels of success, since my work patterns changed and on the road by 645-7am those session's are but a memory. Today however I had no concrete plans and after hitting my snooze button numerous times I finally crawled out of my pit around 5:30am. A welcome lye-in :).  Lye in's are a rare feature in my life!.

I love being up before sunrise, absolute magic.

So tranquil, non-anglers will just never know.

 As I left the house I thought "Barbel should be a good shout", so Barbel it was, I had a few areas in mind all within a mile and half of each other which would make locating hopefully easier as I'd spend more time searching each swim more thoroughly, one unfortunate problem with that is where the river hasn't dropped in temperature much and the rains haven't affected the river much has meant that the weed growth is still present in vast runs, areas in which the Barbel can hide very efficiently, even though I know roughly where they're it still presents a hurdle.

 So having decided on all those factors all I had to work out was which bait shall I trot, I thought meat but to mix it up a little, bread was to be the order of the day, it's extremely underrated bait for Barbel and I proved that within three trots, the first two with no response, the third was met by a violent lurch of the rod tip as my float vanished below the surface, I had no need to strike as it was clear contact was made, the battle I was locked into was very strong and with 7ft of water to bear down on it made life fairly tough with my 12ft float rod creaking like a dead tree in the wind, fairly tough it may have been but equally enjoyable as those are the battles that I seek to encounter when I close the front door behind me whenever I go fishing.

The suspense is almost tangible at times.
 The frame was decent, a good heavy fish and after a good six, seven minutes she finally started to tire but the fight was by no means over, twice as I thought the battle maybe over she made a dive back for the river bed, so much was the power of the fight I had hesitations for once with my tackle selection, just this once had I really gone too light? After a tense couple more minutes my net was slipped out in haste and my prize was safe. What was surely a double figure specimen I wanted to get it weighed, photographed and returned as soon as possible. For what I thought was a certain double turned out to be 9.15, to say the least I was quite surprised as it felt pretty heavy but the scales don't lie, great start to the morning though.

An honest man's double.
 With the pressure off early doors to catch I went about my business, peering into every nook and cranny to winkle out another Barbel, the river was painfully low and clear but that benefited my tactic, any decent runs were likely to hold fish and I'd be able to run a bait straight to them. It took a while though to tempt another fish, a short run which tailed off into 6 inches of water held a nice Barbel which looked around 6½-7 pounds, once I spotted that fish I positioned myself at the very top of the run and trotted down, first trot and the float slipped straight away and a feisty Chub beat the Barbel to it, not big either at maybe 2lb. The appetite of the Chevin can not be put down, simply insatiable sometimes. But I didn't wait long for another Barbel, the very next trot through after the Chub I was away again, a solid fight of finished off with a strong dive for the bottom in typical fashion. 6½ was the outcome and very welcome too.

 By this point, 2 hours in, proceedings were looking good and after a couple of swims which didn't live up to expectation I found a good shoal of Barbel but they were in such a spot that it was impossible to land anything even if I could reach them, the nearest spot was on a blind bend upstream which was of no hope. I had to continue on up but as much as I tried to get another on the bank all I could manage was another Chub around the 4lb mark. It wasn't a bad trip but had to curtail it after learning some potentially very bad news so that was that. 

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Snippet's of Time and a Few Barbel.

 With the weekend over the short sessions after work have begun again. Investing a little time in pre-baiting the fishing hasn't been easy but having not blanked for a few sessions I seem to be idling, the bigger fish just don't seem to be feeding much at the moment, so as the night's draw in and the temperature drops I feel that it won't be long at all.

Another trotted Barbel for the camera.

Poser of a Barbel between 5&6lb.

Looking upstream to some quality trotting grounds.

My little arsenal.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Stour Chub: The Mission Part Five.

 Having just celebrated my 29th birthday and taking a step closer to entering my thirties I had a brief look back at what I had achieved angling wise, pleased to say I am beyond satisfied at how well I have done. The one species that stands out though guessed it. Chub. Apart from a mad half hour on the Thames a few years back where I accidentally caught two 6lb plus Chevins it is a species that I personally feel haven't really had a fair crack of the whip and only this season have I actually set about really trying to better what is not a bogie species, just one that I haven't spent a meaningful amount of angling time on targeting.

 Having said that, over the years I have caught plenty with a handful every season surpassing the "five pound mark" but never really targeting waters where "sixes" are not commonplace but achievable. The Stour is the only river that over the last 40-50 years has consistently mesmerised the angling world at it's ability to produce special fish at special weight's. Over the last 12 months alone an angler I know by the name of Robert Young has taken the Chub world by storm by banking an 8.10 Chub from the river amongst a serious back-up of "6 & 7lb" specimen's, the uncanny knack and sheer ability to catch such creatures had made my appetite just that little more staunch, even if they are hard to locate and catch the challenge is there. Over the last two months I have to say I'm enjoying it thoroughly even if I am being made to wait to really unlock the true potential that I know only to well it's capable of.

 Time to get back.....

 Sunday morning, bright and early, pretty chilly and the sun still a couple of hours from breaking the horizon and I'd already met the Piking Pirate, loaded up, on the road and heading out to resume our challenge. Whilst secretly waiting for the weather to provide some slightly more conducive "big Chub" conditions the stalking aspect that we have both adopted is great fun, I can only hope at times during the winter we will get this opportunity still as it's a hell of a blast, nothing gets the adrenaline pumping more....first cast, what would it yield? well the answer was a 4lb 14oz Chub, the bait fluttered through the water column and settled on the bottom, with a slight twitch it moved down the run and the line pulled taught and I was in! great start. But as is so often the case, you have to get it right every time as opportunities seldom coming by so effortlessly, Sunday certainly didn't threaten to buck that trend.

A good start.
 The initial excitement of a wet net within two or three minutes of arriving on the bank is brilliant, I know for a fact it's usually the precursor to a tough day and my logic was to be re-enforced as I went through large swathes of the day just searching for fish!. Once I had conceded that the Chub had switched off I targeted a perfect run along a far bank, just the perfect lye for hungry fish, Barbel, Chub and Roach alike. A few trots through appeared to show very little activity when out of the blue, the aforementioned Roach made a welcome appearance, of ¾lb or so it was magnificent, not big but perfect in form, not a mark on it and it didn't take long for more of it's bretherin to nail the breadflake. Indication's became thick and fast as the Roach and Dace really started to feed confidently, it seemed the more I caught from the shoal the harder they fed but the swim was missing something. Chub.

One amazing looking trot!
 For all the bait that filtered through the run and along the crease I'd have thought at least a Chub would have slipped up, many permutations were running through my mind why they weren't at the races but nothing I could think seemed to work. Everything rested on dusk. Dusk came and my chosen swim looked the business, everything an angler could conjure in a Chub filled dream, the swim that if you were asked, "what would your'e perfect Chub swim look like" and asked to draw it I imagine it would be my dusk swim. Time passed and the sun had disappeared, the Kingfisher's calls ceased and the steady roll of the ever present Otter broke the sheen on the surface as the moonlight set the scene for a beautiful night, "I do love fishing on a clear night", just magical, it was so serine that my inability to catch another Chub almost didn't tally. My time will come and boy when it does, you'll know! Until next time, tight lines and remember it's not the be all and end all to catch...on the odd occasion.

Buzzard keeping a close eye on proceedings
Dusk weather system moving in.
Peaceful evening on the bank...beautiful.

Monday, 3 October 2016

It's Been a Good Season so Far.

 From Barbel surpassing double figures to double figure Canal Bream it's been pretty good sport for the time I have managed on the banks, here is a little collage of images since June.

Best fly caught Chub (PB) of 4.10

New PB Bream of 11.07

A nice reservoir Mirror.
My target achieved! A canal double of 10.01.

This chunky river mid-twenty (25.03)

Fenland Rudd are just cracking creatures.

A wet and wild day in the boat, 2.04.

Summer Chub 5.11.

Season best of 2.06, simply stunning creatures.

Stour Chub of 5.10, not too bad.

My first ever Grass Carp, caught in Holland.

My second Asp at 4 ½lb

A huge summer Dace of 13½oz.

Season's best Chub in my campaign of 6lb 1oz.

Quality Barbel also making a welcome appearance during some short sessions.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Autumn Barbel: A Different Challenge.

 My quest for a "Seven pound plus" Chub is still very much alive but the distance that has to be travelled to pursue them requires at least a days angling/travelling to make it not necessarily worth while because being out there in pursuit is most exciting but all it takes is a mad 5 minutes to turn my quest on its head, we all know in angling can be as surprising as it can be predictable. But and this is a massive but, the time constraints with work do make this harder, not to mention that big Chub are not the easiest of fish to pursuade.

 The fact that I can't make weekly trips down south for big Chub doesn't mean I can not target big fish, they're closer to home, if I could just locate them, after plenty of work I think I have found that area, extremely overgrown, no sign of civilisation equals no pressure, just the sort of lye up for big Barbel. Short sessions at the moment is all I can afford but already it is paying dividends, catching on my first trip and second is all the assurance I need in my swim selection.

Tentatively watching, although it didn't take long. 
 Having just baited up sporadically for 2 weeks I hoped that they were in the area and to get enquiries within 20 seconds of casting out on the first trip was all I needed to know, from that point on I can enjoy it all knowing I'm on fish, the specimen Barbel will come and upon a visit recently I peered into the upper most swim to witness a lump around the 11-12lbs mark grubbing around, unfortunately I didn't have the gear but when I started to trickle in the bait the Barbel reared up and started eating the pellet as they fell to the bottom, some were barely settling before disappearing, but that was the only fish visible, just the size I want !.

Best of two in two trips at 9lb 6oz.

It took some serious work to get there!

The only way to the river.

 When the next short opportunity comes by I'll be in there straight away with the hope she is waiting for more.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Stour Chub: The Mission Part Four.

 During the last three weeks I've been watching the weather like a hawk for the potential of some rain, with Chub in mind and the knowledge of some areas now where large specimens are residing I simply want the conditions to be in my favour.

 Friday morning came and the forecast was bright sunshine and wind......just the conditions you do not want. Seeing as I and Brian had a few days fishing planned we carried on with the plan, we were Stour bound. It's a long river and packed with holding areas, a very difficult river to work out, the lack of opportunity to fish it and learn it faster is working against us. When it happens I think it's going to happen big time, in the mean time I will catch their offspring.....

A shade under 5lbs.
 Over the two days I only managed two Chub both over 4lb ( 4.13 & 4.9 ) but not the big ones although we did see them. Specimen's of over 6lbs could be seen flashing in and out of the vast banks of weed but were uncatchable, at one point a good fish of 5+ did nail a huge slug that I put on but unfortunately when I struck I somehow hit fresh air, that turned out to be my best chance over the trip. As the Chub fishing wasn't going to plan we both decided to fish for some Grayling on the way home to banish our Chevin blue's, two hours later and we caught nearly 100 between us, the fishing was crazy and I had a number over a pound with the best at 1.4, not monsters but very good fun!

 Over the two days I also saw a lot of nature at its finest, not to mention standing right next to three Deer curled up in a bush, as soon as I turned to continue trotting they bolted into the field behind, amazing to be so close to nature, in the evening's we were met with the chorus of Tawny Owls talking amongst the trees and the odd rustle of grass behind me which was probably Hedgehog's but they remained unsighted. Part five will soon be planned, just need the Chub to conform.

Wild as you like, caught at around 300 yards with my long lens.

Another stocky Stour Chub but not a monster.
That was the frustration boiling over, blasted Chub.