Wednesday, 27 September 2023

River Thames Double, That's A Wrap!!

 

 Well well well, this purple patch just keeps going! I think the superlatives have run dry by this point, need some blanks to reset and no, this is not a spoof!

 I shall start with the beginning, that would be helpful I guess. 

 A month or so ago a friend of mine, Rich, proposed that we meet up at some point for a bash at the Thames, it's a river I fished a lot as youngster. Barbel came up sporadically when targeting the Carp over night and managed some good fish over those years of carefree youth, my best was caught back in January 2013 weighing in at 11lb 9oz. 

 That eleven pounder was the last Barbel I caught off the Thames and remained my best until the present day. I thought the invite to the Thames would be a good excuse to put a rod out and see what the night might bring. 

 I loaded the car with my work and fishing gear, ready for a long day ahead. Working in Putney it wasn't a particularly long drive to the Thames but issues on the M25 meant the surrounding routes were suffering as a result so I spent over an hour picking my way through the tailbacks before finally arriving at the river 2hrs late. 

 Upon first glance the river looked in fantastic condition given the heavy rain we had endured for the previous 4/5 days. I must admit, I felt quite confident that one of us would catch a Barbel, but first, I needed feeding so off to the chippy I went. 


 After polishing off the grub I set about creating a decent area of feed and loaded my 6oz feeder with 2&6mm pellet, along with a large bag of PVA'd pellets, knowing this area of the Thames I knew I wanted to get the Bream grubbing around as I know the Barbel mill around with them. Pretty quickly the tip on my upstream rod began to bounce away, I knew what was happening and soon enough it was away, the culprit a nice Bream around 7lbs, the task now was to keep the bait going in and hopefully the Barbel would muscle in on the action. 

 For around 4hrs the Bream came at regular intervals with the tell-tale knocks before the rod hooping over, all of a sudden I had a sharp knock, almost like a liner and before I could even think of sitting back down the rod went into meltdown and the take was so savage the rod flew out the back rest and the eye above the reel seat whacked the Delkim and cracked the insert of the eye, with no need to strike I leant into the fish and immediately knew it was a Barbel, strong and steady out in the flow was a dead giveaway, for around 4/5mins we played tug of war before finally ambling into the margins, ready for me to slip the net under it, my first Thames Barbel for nearly 11 years.

9lb 2ozs, happy days!

 A good fish to kick things off (0235) was followed by a couple of Bream where I had a similar take almost an hour later (0340) to which the Barbel decided that it wasn't going to play hard and behaved itself relatively well. A short stocky fish, much like the first! This was becoming a bloody good session, two Barbel on my return, it couldn't get any better could it? 

No2 of the night, 8lb 3oz.

 Bream number 14,15,16 and 17 came to the net in quick succession before the crowning glory. Sleep was something that I had to forgo, the fish were on me and still feeding. I had just finished a rolly then looked at the time when I heard the clutch left off some steam! I was away again and this fish felt similar to the nine-pounder, stayed deep and did not move much, in a couple minutes I think I moved it ten-yards, probably nothing more than that. All of a sudden it woke up and went ballistic, first of all it thundered out into the middle of the river with gusto before slowly making its way back towards my margin, problem was it knew about the weedbed that separated myself and the gravel channel I fished. It wasn't long before I felt the line rubbing on the weed as the Barbel ploughed through it, the horrid thought of losing it started to play on my mind after a couple minutes had passed with it still in the weed. 

 I changed the angles, applied more pressure, then slackened off in the vein hope the fish would come out on its own volition and it worked, soon enough the weight of the fish back on the rod, I wound down on the fish and did everything in my power to stop it going into the weed again, but nope, it managed to make its way back in there and the same thing played out, only this time I had to completely slacken off. With full trust in my micro-barb hook being firmly in place I just waited for the kicking again. With the battle now edging toward 10mins I wondered if I was ever going to get it in! 12lb line, 12lb hooklink and a 1.75TC rod I knew I had the right gear for the job so as was becoming slightly impatient I turned the screw on the Barbel and once again I could begin to feel faint kicks through the rod, at that point I leant into the fish and got it moving, this time I could feel the fish was tiring, this was my chance and with my "long reach" landing net pole extended fully I finally had Barbel number three in the bag, this looked decent, double decent. 

 After a long hiatus, I was cradling a double figure Thames Barbel. 10lb 9oz on scales made for pleasing reading. Whilst Richard was asleep I was hauling, I was having a pukka return on a river I enjoyed fishing  for many years on the Barbel front, back in the late 90's and 00's double figure Barbel weren't as plentiful as they are now. That fish also set another record too, it was my fourth trip out in 5 weeks and managed a double on each of those four trips off four rivers, stupendous!

A solid Thames double, yeehaw!

 Once I'd taken some pics I slipped her back and hoped the night wasn't over, but with just an hour or so of dark left I knew bite time would end soon and so it proved to be. Sunrise had come and gone to which point I packed down and contemplated my next move. Unfortunately no Barbel for Rich but that's angling sometimes, I seem to be riding the wave at the moment, it's surely going to petter out soon. 

 End of session results, 17 Bream and 3 Barbel (9.2, 8.3 & 10.9).

Wednesday, 13 September 2023

River ColnBrook Double, That's A Wrap!!

 

 My last two trips out resulted in two magnificent catches of Barbel off of the ( River Ribble and River Rother (Sussex) ), somehow could I complete the hat-trick? Well, it would seem my purple patch extended into my third session, it has become quite an incredible 3 weeks. Almost speechless.

 After more than two weeks off the bank owing to work and family commitments I hadn't managed to get out, so with the hot spell abating and an unexpected early finish I thought it would be rude not to go fishing for a couple of hours before heading home for dinner. 

 Around 1530 I arrived on the ColnBrook and had a wander with my rolling gear, very minimal gear and scoped out areas where I suspect the Barbel would be holding up and it didn't take long before I got a savage wrap around on my rod but when I struck nothing was on the other end, I suspected a Chub as it was typical for Chub to be present in this specific area. But on the other hand I could not totally rule out a Barbel.

Tough to roll but doable when you know how.

 After that brief action I decided to stick it out in that area and got a bait on the bottom but after an hour nothing materialised so I moved upstream, rolling through various treelined runs but every run seemed devoid of life, all that broke that lifelessness was the constant flow of planes taking off from Heathrow, some low enough to cup your ears and feel the hot waft of aviation fuel whip past as they headed for foreign climes. 

 2hrs of constant rolling meat and evading mosquitoes led me slowly back down to where I had that early action, I dropped my bag on the floor gently, crawled into position and flicked my bait across to the far bank and allowed it to slowly fall to the bottom ( around 4/5ft ) no sooner did it brush the bottom I felt a subtle pluck which was instantly followed by the raw power of a Barbel, my centrepin was in meltdown and my 1.5TC Drennan Twin-Tip Duo was bent right through to the butt, this fish was very strong and within half a minute I caught a glimpse of the fish which I knew was a double, that made me very very nervous indeed.

 I think not seeing them for a majority of the fight makes it somehow easier, seeing this one so early on I knew how high the stakes were and this was a must win battle, ColnBrook doubles are very rare indeed.

 Three or four times during the battle the line pinged off its dorsal fin and that did not help with the nerves either, twisting and turning downstream after long surging runs up and down towards weed-beds which seemed to surround me before inevitably it found one and wedged itself deep underneath, luckily for me the bed it found was under my feet so I had the chance to create numerous angles on the fish, with 12lb line and a micro-barb hook I knew the odds were still in my favour. I slackened off the tension and slowly but surely began to feel it kick gently under the weed where I then put the rod into full action and the Barbel eased out and back out into the flow to continue its crazy fight, this fish did not want to come in, mercifully she was tiring and it wasn't too long before I finally had a ColnBrook double resting in the net, we both needed a breather! That was enthralling to say the least. 

 I didn't need to weigh it to know what I had achieved, but I did anyway, of course!.

 With great anticipation I watched the scales settle on 11lbs 5oz, EPIC!!!

 💥💥💥  RIVER NUMBER 22 COMPLETE!!!!  💥💥💥

My ColnBrook beauty.
 

 I honestly don't know what is going on but that's now three trips, 4hrs on the Ribble, 10hrs on the Rother and now 3hrs on the ColnBrook and caught a double off each with no other fish featuring, there is no way I could top this run, could I??? Right place, right time and the right tactics and watercraft.

 Bring. On. Number 23, please :) 

Tuesday, 29 August 2023

River Rother (Sussex) Double, That's A Wrap!!

 

 Well, what can I say? Last Sunday I had the absolute pleasure of achieving my goal of targeting and slipping the net under a R.Ribble double - seen in my last post. Just seven days later I have already added to that feat so here is how it went.

 I had a couple of plans running through my mind but in the end it was a toss up between the Kentish Stour or the Sussex Rother, it being a bank holiday weekend I assumed the KS would have been busy so after opting to fish the Rother I went to bed and had a lay in too. I finally got up around 0715 and loaded the car then made the hour journey down to the river. 

 I arrived in the car park to find two other cars so it was nice and quiet, this meant it gave me the luxury to move around. I walked downstream and fed some pellet and broken boilies into likely looking areas that I would fish on rotation. Every 20m has a feature that you know should hold fish but unfortunately there isn't many fish present, just handful throughout miles of river, it really is a needle-in-a-haystack kind of task.

Poised, waiting, unexpectantly.

 I stayed in each peg for anything between 45min to 1.5hr just to make sure if anything was present it gave them plenty of time to build confidence, but only one of those pegs gave me much of an indication which was almost certainly a chub bite that got me springing into action to strike at nothing, crafty fish. That peg however would feature again on my way back up to the car. Around 1400 I stripped down the rod and switched to rolling meat as the river has a decent bit of pace of it. Ideal for rolling meat. It's a tactic that has had its hand in a few successful missions and hoped it would do the same for me.

The rolling set-up ready to leave base.

 Around 1700/1730 I packed in the rolling meat to which I had no joy even though I covered some brilliant looking pieces of water. Once arriving to that peg mentioned previously I switched back to my static approach as it had been rested a few hours, before I set off rolling meat around 2pm I had thrown a few small chunks of meat in to hopefully stir something into feeding. 

 I popped the rod out off a nice steep slope where the river drops suddenly from 1ft to 6ft which seemed like a sensible place to position my bait, an hour or so later whilst munching through my sweets the rod savagely hammered round and my 70 year old match aerial pin roared into life as a big powerful fish steamed off downstream, I was in no doubt it was a Barbel from the outset.

 The initial run was extremely powerful and had my 1.75tc 12ft rod bent round to the butt as I put absolutely everything into stopping the fish from going under the trees as I knew even with 12lb line I stood little chance of getting her back out, the area I was fishing was gnarly, littered with weed, overhanging branches and a submerged tree which ran downstream that was about 50ft long, I was literally running the gauntlet with a fish in tow that knew it surroundings well and had no intention of making the battle easy. 

 I simply had to put the power and faith into the gear, thankfully for me I was slowly gaining on her after a few minutes, my heart rate couldn't deal with it much more, such an adrenaline rush when your backs against the wall. Slowly but surely I began to win and seconds later I shipped out the net on top of a weed bed and at the third attempt I got a glimpse of a solid Rother Barbel resting up, safely in my net. What a relief that was and my prize was this powerhouse, glistening in the sunset, its these moments is why I do it all! All the blanks, all the travelling, hot, cold, wet and windy, the expenditure on club books, fuel etc, every single penny well spent.

Sussex Sunset Seeker, 12lb 10oz!!! GET IN!

What an awesome beast, this sight never gets old.

 I had done it! For a moment I was speechless, every one of these fish are very hard won and some anglers don't see one of these Barbel all season! and those who are lucky to catch them 60 blanks a season are commonplace with just a couple of fish breaking up those blanks, utter madness. The winning formula, a big chunk of meat with a small PVA bag of little bits of meat. 

 I could not have been more chuffed, truly epic and this wonderful looking Barbel completes river number 21. 2 achieved in the last 7 days. How could I possibly top that. Time is tight in my life at the moment so I do need things to work out when I do get out fishing. It has done on my last two trips and very thankful for it too.

Tuesday, 22 August 2023

River Ribble Double, That's A Wrap!!

 

 While taking a break up in the Lakes with the family I knew that could present an opportunity to take the gear up north in the car and seeing as we crossed the Ribble on the M6 heading north it would be rude not to give it a go at some point, the Ribble is one of my most northerly target rivers and to achieve the unthinkable would be immense.

 The only time I ventured on to the Ribble previously was back in March and the river was in a terrible state where 5oz leads didn't hold bottom in the margins. This time around things were very different. 

Slightly less benign.

What I was greeted by on Sunday evening.


 Sunday evening I made the 50-mile trip south with the gear and made my way up to an area where it was reputed to hold Barbel and somewhere that I felt I stood a chance. With such a big river it was a bit daunting as to where I should start exactly. So I leaded around briefly to try and find any gullies or drop-offs where Barbel might patrol and within 5mins I found a good gully in between two shallower banks, this was to be where I would set my traps.

 A single 12mm robin red pellet with a small PVA bag on one rod and a large lump of Spam on the other rod was my go-to, all I could do now was wait and hope that there was something moving around. As mentioned above, the conditions on my previous visit were not ideal. However, they weren't fantastic this time around either as the river was really sluggish and barely moving owing to very little rain where it matters. I just hoped it wouldn't hinder me and around thirty minutes later as I was staring at the shooting stars arcing across the skyline my pellet rod went into meltdown, nearly losing my rod in the process!

 Immediately I had to loosen the clutch as the fish really fought hard from the get-go and knew I was attached to a Barbel or a Carp, obviously, I was really hoping that a Barbel was pulling on the other end and once I finally got it out of the gully and over the rocks I saw what I was attached to and knew it was my target fish, all that was left was the small task of coaxing it into the net which it was not happy about, she stripped around 30yards of line off and was back in the middle of the river before I could blink, such was the power of this fish I was not in complete control for around a minute, once I finally got it under control she came in gently with no more than a plod for the bottom, the battle was over and even better still it was a double! The scales were readied along with the mat, but oddly not the camera...yes, I bloody well left it at home in the middle of the bedroom floor. I could not believe it, but thankfully for me my iPhone is pretty decent and the couple of images I got were sufficient.

 My first and last Ribble Barbel weighed a very pleasing 10lb 13ozs and represents the 20th different river across the U.K that I have managed a double figure Barbel from and the halfway stage of my epic journey.

Very happy man!! No: 20!

 That. Will. Do!!

 The mighty Ribble conquered in very quick fashion indeed, it was the fish I needed and the hard work was mainly done before I had even stepped foot on its banks. Once she had left the sanctuary of the net and back home I sat back thinking about the achievement that's just been made, that sense of success is so good when I calculate all those times that I fail, every day is a school day!

City lights with Mars shining as bright.

 The rest of the 3hr session passed by without more than chublet pecking at the Spam and a small chub falling off as it was coming to the bank on the pellet rod, Mission Complete, on to River Number 21!!!!!

Wednesday, 16 August 2023

A Gap in the Nettles.


 After opening my account on the Blackwater a few days later my next trip was beckoning. This time I was heading back up to the Nene where I hoped that my run of poor form was turning the corner, a 9+ off a tough river like the BW gave me a bit of confidence whilst making the 288 mile round trip up towards Peterborough. 

 A decent run up there meant I managed to get fishing before witching hour in a spot my mate Ross knows holds a couple of fish around late-summer, we hoped this would be the scene of success and finally chalking off my 20th river. We sat chewing the fat and as bite time came and went we wondered what if..., so many ideas running through our heads but you could only fish one spot at a time. At kicking off time we packed up with nothing to show for my efforts.

 The next morning I woke up at 0430 and headed over to a spot that I felt maybe worth fishing for a couple of hours but unfortunately someone was already in there and had THREE! rods out in a small mill pool, really not necessary but that's fishing, I felt he was doing himself a huge disservice having three lines out in what is a tight area and quite likely the Barbel were on high alert before he finished setting up.

 With that disappointment I went back to the car and drove about 3 miles downstream to another section where I static fished for around 3hrs in an area known to hold early season fish, but again I had nothing but a couple of tentative Chub taps. Once those 3hrs had passed I had decided to completely change tact and opted to stalk Barbel in the backwaters, only travelling with the basics. 

Wonderful looking bits of water.

 I covered some superb looking areas with numerous areas that I thought would hold Barbel, it wasn't until 2/3pm that I finally found a Barbel and it was my target fish, a long thick set Barbel came cruising downstream past me and held up in a clump of ribbon weed before coming up in the water and flanking twice on some clear gravel, this fish of about 12lbs was the fish I really wanted and it was within reach. 

Stealth mode activated.

 I rolled meat continuously until it became apparent that wasn't going to work so I pinched on a couple shot and allowed it to gently come to a stand 8-10 yards downstream, alongside a bed of lush ranunculus, a modest sized piece of meat was just waving enticingly on the gravel and as the initial minutes drifted by I was very confident of a take, as the minutes turned into my first hour my confidence that the fish was still in the area was on the wane. Given the fact I hadn't seen it I changed my tactic again, by replacing the meat with a 2ft tail of 10lb flourocarbon and size 10 hook along with a scaled down 15mm boilee and small PVA bag of 4/6mm pellet with a tiny lead to minimise disturbance and up stream put another rod out around 20yards to see if it had passed me by and was sat just above me.

The rolling gear :)

 I spent the next few hours hoping she would come back but after a good 4/5hrs I finally gave up and decided to try somewhere else for dusk which was the spot I fished the evening before. Unfortunately night fishing is not allowed on the sections I was fishing so I was reliant of the witching hour doing the business but there was a familiar lack of action and by 9pm it was almost time to call it and another visit to the River Nene ended in a blank. This wasn't before an Otter showed itself cruising the far margins in search of dinner. 

 Just to make matters worse my 1hr 49min journey turned out to be 4hr 20min as the Dartford crossing was down to 1 lane and when I was approaching the roadworks the signage and my App said 20mins delay, that I can stomach so decided to ride it out, WRONG! that 20min delay ended up being 2hrs 31mins!!!! I was fuming to say the least and when I finally got on to the bloody bridge it was down to one lane for one bloody van! Absolutely disgusting. It made what was a tough trip and blank even worse. 

 I think I'll leave the Nene now until next season and create a plan of attack for an earlier season leviathan.

Wednesday, 9 August 2023

Go Big or Go home.

 

 That's quite often a phase I mutter to myself whilst pondering my misfortunes, the lack of bites does have me thinking whether my approaches should be refined, or if refined go bigger and bolder. That was something I had been thinking about between visits to the River Blackwater.

 At home, whilst driving around on my way to jobs and whilst on the tools that nagging feeling of what was I doing wrong. I couldn't seem to get a Barbel to commit to my highly nutritional offerings perfectly placed, in positions where I felt they would be home, not to mention hours of rolling meat too. None of which seemed to arouse one iota of interest, I couldn't be getting it that wrong could I?

 So I decided to rove around on Tuesday for the day, in the rain and try to search out a fish. A single rod, tin of meat, bag of essentials and I was away, just add Barbel. For around 2 miles I rolled and searched for fish, under trees, through the endless beds of ribbon weed and occasional metalwork, I just couldn't muster a touch, by this point (3pm) I'm thinking there must be next to no Barbel around and I seriously thought about packing away and heading to another stretch I have an eye on, but I wanted to try one more spot.

Playing hide and seek.

 This spot looks the bollox and with the persistent rain hammering down I opted to hunker down under the brolly and see if something would come to me, a sixth of a tin of meat went out on a nice hard slither of gravel flanked by dense ribbon weed. A game of patience began and in between phone calls with friends about three hours had drifted by without a touch, then, out of absolutely nowhere my rod thumped off downstream to what can only be described as a typical three foot twitch, IT HAD FINALLY HAPPENED.

 I wasn't home and hosed just yet though as this fish had no intentions of coming quietly, numerous strong lunges downstream and runs upstream into the ribbon weed this fish knew what was up! and it was a good fish too. In the relatively clear water I could see the fish constantly turning and flanking before disappearing from sight once again, it was a tricky 4-5min battle (or so it seemed) before she finally came to the net before resting in the folds, I had, at last caught a R.Blackwater Barbel and she wasn't bad either.

 A piece of meat was the winning formula this time around, who knew! :) the ever faithful luncheon meat.

Excellent!

 A few record shots were taken and a weight taken too, I didn't think it was the double I am angling for but knew it was a good Barbel and at 9lb 1ozs I was not disappointed, third trip to the river and I have lift off!


Mint conditioned Otter dodger :)

  The rest of the evening passed by without incident, I shall have to wait for another visit to chalk the Blackwater off my list, number 20 is pending, watch this space!!!

Saturday, 5 August 2023

Toughing It Out.

 

 Since my trip to the R.Wye I have struggled to get a Barbel and not through the want of trying. It's been one of them seasons where I feel the conditions are largely in favour of targeting Barbel given the lacklustre summer we have experienced so far. Typically in summer I am looking for times of heavy rainfall following on from a prolonged spell of heat and little rain, as for this summer we are spoilt for choice with conditions very much akin to late October!

 A couple of visits to the R.Blackwater have produced nothing more than tentative enquiries from small chub. The area of the Blackwater I've been targeting I know holds Barbel but not entirely sure of numbers, however having walked and fished it twice I would have thought if there were good numbers of fish that I would have seen them ghosting across gravels or hanging out the back of the plentiful ribbon weed or overhanging bushes. 

 It certainly looks good for a Barbel and Brian managed to extricate one from its watery home at the first time of asking (8lb 0oz), which gives me hope going forward, as with everything time will tell as to whether it'll happen here or if indeed I look elsewhere on the Blackwater, for now I will concentrate where I am currently fishing in the vein hope a double slips up!

Intimate and weedy!


Stealth is key!

 On Thursday I also returned to the R.Nene hoping to wrap up this river at the third time of asking. Things aren't looking good for what used to be a superb river, the Barbel seemed to have in the main ridden the Otter onslaught and now good sized Barbel are coming through between 8-12lbs and look pristine which bodes well and the river looks amazing, however given the amount of rain the Nene valley has seen I was shocked to find the river clear, in fact tap clear! Now I was expected it to have at the very least a tinge to it. Extraction is stripping millions of litres out of the river and water being diverted in extraordinary programmes to avoid new developments going under when the river will inevitably flood, plus the gates further the down the river are constantly open to prevent this, problem is the height of the river has dropped a lot too. The environment once again being exploited and damaged for human gain. Not that it looks terrible to me of course not knowing the river, but locals who know the river well and have done for 20/30 years have seen the decline.

Sunrise on the Nene.

 Yes it meant I could spot fish in the carriers and spot fish I did, good Pike (one very big Pike too), a couple shoals of Chub, again, some very big ones with one either over 7lb or just a little under along with a few friends that were over 6lbs themselves! I did find one Barbel that I estimate to be around 8lbs, however its positioning was making it almost impossible to target, when I finally managed to get an angle to enable me to get the bait under the tree the small plop of my half/ounce shot spooked it down river and out of sight, I knew the chance was gone but gave it half hour anyway. 

The Barbel' lair, Gnarly!

Beautiful stretches of river!

Tap clear, even after all the rain we've had.

Majestic!

 Chances of a fish were coming at a premium and later on the day I was joined by my mate Ross for the final few hours which we both knew was the best time for a bite from one of the Nene warriors, with baits out in the areas I felt a bite would come, I felt confident all the way up until the rods had to come in and pack up. Smaller fish such as Dace and Chublet were causing issues as they were whittling down my luncheon meat with consummate ease which meant at times I was fishing bare which I knew was not helping my cause so I've got to find a solution to that conundrum. 

 So another 3 blanks to add to my stats....

Brown Hawker.

Sunday, 23 July 2023

Wyeside Revisited.


 My first detour on to the Wye saw me battling freezing cold floodwater, driving 30/40mph horizontal rain and wind, just to top it off I blanked on the Barbel front. The fishing was pants.

 Fast forward a 8 months and I found myself back on the Wye. For weeks Brian and I were super excited to get back up and finally put the Wye hoodoo behind me, the search for a double figure Barbel was underway to get me to the halfway point of my enormous challenge. 

 Brian talked up our chances of having an absolute hatful between us and given what I know about the Wye I felt it would be about right...if we could find them.

 We arrived around 8am and got to work pretty quickly, the plan to begin with was rolling meat, something we are both very adept at doing. Stalking the fish where possible and playing the numbers game...that was until we saw the river, up between one and two feet and dirty / bordering red, we knew immediately we weren't stalking Barbel on this trip!! I stuck with the initial plan and rolled meat.

 Throughout the remainder of the morning and afternoon all I could muster was a few Chub to around mid-3lbs which was not what I was after, nevertheless I was catching.

 After fannying around for a few hours it was pretty clear that given the dirty water and lack of action on the rolling meat a change of approach was needed. Knowing that one of the shallow runs stretches a few hundred yards I could tell where the river started to drop away, which gave way to a steadier flow and somewhere I thought the Barbel might be held up, I dumped the rolling setup in the car and enlisted the gear I had packed for the R.Severn on Saturday.

 Within a couple of hours it was clear my decision to build a swim and work it paid off, after a couple of modest Chub I finally got the bite I wanted, a savage loop round of the tip and a Barbel was on the end, just not a very big one, nevertheless they all count and my quest on the R.Wye was underway. Not long after I was away again, with a better fish of about 3lbs which tells how big the first was! Then within 45 mins the third Barbel of the evening slipped into the net which again was slightly bigger at 5lb+.

Perfectly formed scamp.

 However it wasn't all glitz and glamour. At one point I was connected to a much better fish that I reckon was around 8lbs, a good fish and one that was nearly ready for the net when it made one last dash for the middle of the river and in doing so brushed past something sharp ( suspected rock ) and the 12lb hooklink broke about 2'' above the hook, gutted!

 Things after that started to improve as the fish got bigger and ending up the evening with a new Wye best of 6lb 8ozs. The following morning held much promise for the swim I had ticking over. 

6lb 2oz

6lb 7oz

 A quick scoot down from Brian's mum and dads place to the river was in order to try and get the most out of the peg I finished up in the previous evening. Action didn't take long to resume and I had another 6lb+ Barbel and a couple of Chub before getting another savage take which felt like I was connected to better fish, out in the flow she hung for most of the fight before kiting straight into the margins where the net was ready! 

8lb 4oz and another Wye PB.

 Another PB Wye Barbel for me of 8lb 4oz, I was very happy the weights were going in the right direction and hoped things would only get better. However, sadly they didn't. Infact after breakfast bites almost totally dried up and my hopes of a double figure Wye Barbel were slipping until the moment the rod came in and proceedings had come to an end on the second day. 11 Barbel my total across the two days which totalled 25hrs of angling, with six over 6lbs with the best 8lb 4oz, to be fair given the conditions yet again were against me I think I did quite well. Business not yet complete here, I shall be back with a firm target in mind.

Sunset over our Wye adventure.

Wonderfully fresh Red Admiral.

Plan B, C and D all scuppered by the weather, Saturday morning we headed off to fifth choice venue...to be continued. 

 Just coming away from the trip as it were I have read quite a bit about the parasite ( Argulus Foliaceus ) which latches onto the fish and penetrates the flesh and has a set of hooks that bed them into the fish and then feed off the blood stream, almost all of the fish I caught were carrying them, some 5-10 parasites, other fish had as many as 20 on them, for most of the fish I removed all I could find, horrible looking creatures and from what I understand they haven't been in the Wye and Severn systems long, I feel if something doesn't happen soon the infestation could claim a lot of fish owing to infection. 

 Most of the fish I removed parasites from I sprayed the areas with ESP Carp Doctor which hopefully creates a decent barrier to enable the fish to overcome any issues caused by their unwanted hitchhikers. 

 Anyone fishing the Wye, Severn and indeed any other water in that Wye and Severn catchment do keep an eye for it, if the fish you catch do have them as gross as it is, remove what you can and treat the latched areas, just help the fish out a bit! Oh and don't throw or flick the lice into the water, they swim very well, try to do on land and check nets, weighing slings and mats before leaving to ensure you don't inadvertently transport them to another watercourse that may well not have such a parasite.

Tuesday, 11 July 2023

Afloat Again.

 

 Back on the Rudd again with Brian on Saturday just gone. A trip that appeared to hang in the balance owing to the typical British weather, with heavy rain and thunderstorms forecast we wondered whether sat in a boat with carbon fishing rods in the middle of the fens was a good idea. One thing we have learned over the years is that A: neither of us are sensible when it comes to decisions made regarding angling, B: the weather forecasts are rarely accurate. 

 With such "Fentastic" angling on offer we decided that we were going to go anyway! 3am the alarm went off, 0320 I was showered and car loaded, 0330 I was leaving my house for Brian's in S.London and by 0545 we were at our launch site, serenaded by birds still going through their morning rigours.

 The really early start was in anticipation that we may have our visit curtailed, which we would do if things got too close for comfort, straight away we hunted down fish among the eel grass where we would see fish darting in and out of, the bigger looking to seek cover under the miles of reed and pads systems which they use so effectively to remain concealed, but when one gives its position away we would try to get their confidence up by feeding copious amounts of crust and aim for fish we perceived as being "decent".

Mint 1.8

 It was a slow start with some nice fish being caught but nothing big which was slightly frustrating but we know very well how quickly that all changes, but they are very pretty fish and size almost doesn't matter!  

A nice one of 1.10

 The cloud started to build around 11am and thought that the system was closing in on us and that we were going to have think about heading for the launch site, some 3miles from where we were fishing at the time, coupled with boisterous swans we had parts of the system isolated from us which was quite frustrating but angry cobs in an inflatable rib is no match.

 Thankfully I did find a bigger fish which settled on 2lb 1oz which we hoped would be the start of a good run of better fish. 

That's better :) 

 We pressed on with our hunt as the clouds slowly gathered weight and streaks could be seen getting closer and then....

 It trashed it down! Mercifully, not for long and lighter clouds could be seen beyond the system that was currently dumping on us, with that we decided to ride it out and see if we could get some more better fish as the smaller fish were really feeding hard and the larger fish seemed to be hiding away from us.

 I slowly edged my way to the total of 18 Rudd, amazingly less than half were over a pound, with only the one over two-pounds, a big fish day it was not, however its always great fun powering around the fens with Brian and just generally fecking around talking nonsense all day!  

Lush!

 Also for the ornathologists out there here's a video of a Bittern flying past us in the boat.

Bittern in flight

Monday, 10 July 2023

Another Piece in the Jigsaw.


 Miles of nettles and Himalayan balsam, untouched banks of the River ColnBrook have made reccy's very challenging, almost completed neglected it sounds like heaven with fish (in this case Barbel) completely unhindered but trying to target a place where there are no swims is a challenge. 

 Last season I found some Barbel fairly early on and managed a fish of 5lb 6oz, I looked to use last seasons experience as a springboard for this season. Targeting the same section I did last season I hoped to find a fish or two. With undergrowth dominating the banks it was a tough ask getting to the bank but managed it in a few places and fed 4mm pellet and hemp via a bait dropper onto gravel patches upstream of bushes and overhanging trees and with only a two-hours available on this occasion I had to get to work. 

 So I settled down in one peg which I baited first but nothing happened inside half an hour so a move was on the cards and popped 40 yards or so downstream to a slightly easier to fish peg and no sooner did the bait go in I got a couple of gentle taps on the split cane which had me tuned in immediately. With the tree cover I couldn't see in but hoped it wasn't Chub as I know there are some corkers present ( my best out of the ColnBrook weighing 6lb 5oz ). After ten minutes the rod savagely pulled round and was hooked into a powerful fish that moved around the swim with gusto, under control the whole time I allowed it some room to play as I'd previously fished this peg last season and leaded around to find no snags. 
 
 It wasn't the battle of a big fish and so it would prove as a scamp of a Barbel surfaced before continuing the scrap shortly then succumbing to the net, correct species and another ColnBrook Barbel.


 In pristine condition just like the 5lb fish I had last season, this one of a similar size, quite possibly has never seen an angler, ever and that's what I like about this river, yes its a b*tch to navigate but once the exhausting work has been done then fish can be found, I am just hoping I can find that big fish I saw last season that I couldn't find once the smaller one nailed the bait, it shot off and was never seen again. 

 The task is to find that fish ( which I estimated at 11lbs ) or of similar ilk to achieve what I want from the river as I've already completed its sister river, the Colne.

 I popped that one back and trickled a little more pellet and hemp in and sat back and listened to the Ashes commentary which wasn't quite going to plan. About ten minutes before I was going to pack away my rod without hesitation lurched downstream, I was away again but within seconds of connecting with what felt like a heavy fish it went through a snag and it was gone, cutting 12lb flourocarbon like it was cotton candy! was it a Barbel? or a Carp?...I'll never know but I have my suspicions.

 Once that happened I packed the gear away and bait-droppered 3 loads of pellet and hemp into all three spots, primed for a return at some point next week.

River Thames Double, That's A Wrap!!

   Well well well, this purple patch just keeps going! I think the superlatives have run dry by this point, need some blanks to reset and no...