Sunday 26 November 2023

River Severn Double, That's A Wrap!!

 

 Success on this river has taken some time and in time I knew it would come, 300-mile round trip and 5hrs of driving makes it one of my less local of venues but it provides me with a better chance of a double over the tougher and lesser stocked venues like the Kentish Stour and the Arun for example. 

 I had about 24hrs to fish as a cold northern front was due to settle in from Friday evening and the sudden drop may affect the fishing through Saturday. A water temp of 11.3c upon arrival had me feeling quite confident of fish. Still pushing hard and up around 4/5ft but falling I thought it was just a case of finding fish and the rest would follow suit. Once I was set up and fishing I got to making some scran for myself which was bloody lovely. 

Not a bad view for the night.


Maple glazed chops and rice 😍

 The hours rolled by without a sniff and a move around 10pm didn't yield anything until I got to sleep when I got a tentative pull on the rod which sounded the Delkim, I was up and ready but nothing happened so I lay there star gazing and watching on as the shooting stars came across the sky by the dozen.

 Finally at 0315 I got what I was waiting for, the rod hooped over and I found myself rushing out the bivvy to lift into what felt a decent fish in the strong flow where we fought for a few minutes before landing my first Barbel of the trip, not a big one but nice to see.

8lb 7oz, Severn best at the time.
 
 Once the rod went back out I nipped back into my shelter and had to wait an hour for the next enquiry which came by way of a pretty docile nod of the tip and gentle peeling of line, this had to be a Barbel, totally unaware it was hooked! I lifted the rod and the fish was heavy but couldn't really gauge much from it, that was until I cranked it up to the surface in the torchlight, thats when my knees went, it was big and certainly a Severn double, by some considerable margin ( I estimated around 12/13lbs ) when on the third lunge for freedom turned to disaster, for it found something submerged not far off the bank, it didn't find it the first time around but this time it did and within seconds my 6oz lead came flying out the water, the fish had broke me off around 3 inches from the hook, I was fuming beyond belief, I was seconds from landing it, the net was out and ready, this was most likely its last lunge I could not believe it.

 I got that rod set up and back out in the spot that had now done two bites, I hoped for more action. Unfortunately for me that did not happen and dawn came and went without another touch. I had planned to move stretch so I went along with that plan. I set myself up and got my first rod out before putting a lump of meat on the other rod when out of nothing my rod that I had just put out starting lurching to the river and line peeling off the spool! I couldn't believe how quick that was!

 I wasn't ready, the net weren't even set up but its so easy to pop the arms in on the new 36" specialist net that I could do it with one hand and jam the pole between my legs. The fight didn't last long and very quickly the body of a substantial Barbel broke the surface, I thought to myself that's going to be close but when I lifted it out the water I felt quietly confident I had achieved what I'd set out to do and this one wasn't escaping at the very last moment.
 
Pristine lower Severn double.

River No: 23 completed 😎

 It took a few trips, mainly staring at motionless tips or blank rolls with the meat. It all finally came good and exercised those demons from what transpired overnight, a solid framed Barbel which weighed on the right side of ten pounds at 10lb 7oz! That will do nicely indeed.

 Release video of that Barbel just here πŸ‘‰πŸ‘‰πŸ‘‰ Release Vid'

 I breathed a massive sigh of relief to have caught that fish and instead of packing down I decided to stick around and see if I could add to the tally of two fish and although the tip did go around again it was only with a modest Chub which was all I conjured up before leaving around 5pm. Job done, that will do me and maybe my last trip for Barbel this year unless conditions are too good to ignore.


At 6pm it was -1c and the frost had settled on the car.
This time I was successful.

Sunday 19 November 2023

Ladies, Ladies, Ladies.

 

...And no, not those kind of ladies, I mean these! battle worn, hard fighting and smelly...well that could relate to some of the human type but this time around I am talking of the Lady of the Stream (Tymallus Tymallus or Grayling). Around mid-November I tend to get the Grayling itch and dust off the trotting gear for a day out chasing a 3lb specimen which still eludes me.

 The day started off in less than ideal fashion when I got about 6miles into my 104 mile journey the break heat shield on one of my wheels came completely loose after going over a series of potholes, I had to jack up the car, remove the wheel, remove the heat shield, refit the wheel and tighten up the bolts, that cost me a good 20mins which had a knock on affect as I hit the beginning of rush hour traffic on the A303 which was slow with people heading toward Salisbury and neighbouring towns for work. I on the other hand had fishing to get on with and this was all a bloody inconvenience!

As anglers we really are lucky.

 Finally I arrived, about an hour later than I wanted. However I still caught the captivating sunrise which is of stark contrast to the dross we've put up with for weeks now! The river was high and waders were a necessity to fish half of the runs, the high water bought other challenges too as the water was really turbulent and Grayling aren't usually keen on staying in unstable water, problem was a lot of the river was like this and did limit the amount of water I and later on Mike would have to fish.

 That said I got off to wonderful start as my 14ft Acolyte Plus float rod was put into action with a 2lb 6oz specimen which was swiftly followed by a smaller fish of around 10oz then the float sailed away for a third time in as many trots with what turned out to be another two-pounder weighing in at 2lb 4oz, quite the start!

2.6 BOLM!

2.4 

  The sun was lovely and warm and the fish continued to come to the white maggot, reds really weren't working and in the end gave up on them, when the white maggots were going through the sport was steady. A few more average sized fish came to the net and the total was steadily rising past the twenty fish mark and another two-pounder (2.01) joined them, which was then followed by a slight lull in sport before I contacted what turned out to be the biggest of the day, a strong fight in the pacy main flow which made for a good video opportunity, see link here → Locked into battle!

Best of the day at 2lb 8oz.

 A pristine male Grayling, so not quite "a lady" but a fine specimen all the same. As said previously fish were not east to find and sport became really patchy, nevertheless I was still catching the odd fish and as dusk was fast approaching my tally steady increased to 31 Grayling with another three fish over 2lbs ( ending up with seven over 2lbs and two others that weighed 1lb 15ozs ), it was my best haul off the Wylye yet, a special place and feel very privileged to get the opportunity to fish it!

Another low 2...

...Followed by another...

...Finished off with this lovely 2lb 4oz female.

Saturday 18 November 2023

Bourne to Blank.

 

 That late August / early September glut is a distant memory now and used to reassure myself I am actually capable of catching Barbel, ordinarily things do get tougher this time of the year but I am still very happy to try. 

 With the Bourne being one of the last "local" rivers left for me to chalk off I've dropped on there a few times this season, hoping to cross paths with a Barbel which is something I've not seen in over two years of trying, my first and last Barbel came in August 2021 and was on my first attempt, I've since realised that that was a classic case of beginners luck because since then I have drawn a Barbel blank which spans 7 visits over 2 years.

 Last night I hoped that would change. I arrived late afternoon and immediately took a temp reading which settled on 10.2c, for me that is still less than ideal but Barbel will be caught if I could only find them. The river was still up really high, which did mean I could fish it but the flow was so quick it limited my options as to where I could fish, slack water really is hard to find on this river owing to its course, which is quite straight for large sections with a couple sharp bends thrown in for good measure.     

A couple of shots from my previous

 My first swim was a dud, 45min spent in there without a touch but the next swim about 40 yards upstream looked promising as I received a couple of half-hearted touches before the pulling began, nothing savage which suggested an Eel had found my bait, a couple of minutes later that Eel finally came back for the bait and had it away, about a pound n half it wasn't small but not what I was after, it was clear though that something was feeding, I drew a little confidence from that and continued to fish in the remaining slacks.

A typical floodwater bait, big and bold!

 Unfortunately for me that was all I could find, or that's all that found me! Another blank on the Bourne, something that I am expecting everytime I fish it now, that 7lb 8oz Barbel I had over two years seems to be one of just a small handful of fish that call the river home although I do know doubles do come out and seen photographic evidence that they exist with some being resident fish and some transient fish that have entered the river from the Thames when it's in severe flood. 

 I will just have to keep going, the journey there and back isn't terrible and it's a lovely little river to spend some time on, prospecting, hoping something will finally happen!

Friday 10 November 2023

R.Wye Return.

 

 It's been roughly a month since my last visit to the Wye and really wanted to get back this year before things got tough. Recently we have faced vast amounts of rain and most rivers across the country have been in flood and not just a little bit, some rivers like the Wye have been very very high, highest that some areas have experienced in a generation! not to be deterred I made plans to get up there and fish for Barbel.

3.1m on, nice!

 Of course my prime target was to catch a double figure Barbel and chalk off the R.Wye but given the conditions I did feel that I would be aiming at just a handful of fish across the time I set aside which this time around was 3 days ( I looked to divide that across the Wye and Severn ). After completing a very long drive to the Wye via the office of Drennan HQ to collect the key for the section I'm currently targeting I got a glimpse to what I would be faced with and even I was a little surprised at how high it was.

 For about 4/5 days leading up to Wednesday I'd been religiously watching the levels of both rivers at various stages in the course to build a picture of how it should look come midweek. With high levels on the Lugg yet to pass and stubborn main river levels the Wye barely dropped and indeed at times began to rise again during my time there. This did however make one part of my trip easier, the amount of water to target had been drastically reduced to half a dozen good looking marginal slacks, 6oz didn't reach the bottom out in the flow such was the force of the river, so I was left with the margins.



 I opted to hedge my bets across two baits, one being the ever-faithful Spam and the other boillie and paste combo to try and put a decent and consistent scent trail in through the murky water which I hoped would lure a tentative Barbel into the area and snaffle one of the baits. Owing to the colour and the water temp of 10.1c on Wednesday I opted to move the baits around each slack every 30-60min just incase in the colder water they became more slovenly. 

One of the rare moments it wasn't grey and grim.

 I fished numerous good looking slacks over the course of the ensuing 7hrs without more than a tap from what I suspect were very subdued Chub of the small variety, that was until I was halfway through a phone-call with Brian nattering about the goings on or lack of on the Wye when my paste rod absolutely slammed round with no indication that something was afoot, all out savagery and the battle was very impressive in the current as the Barbel made its presence known. For the first minute or so I was quite worried as I could feel what turned out to be the hook-length and line rubbing on a rock, at the time I could just feel grating but wasn't sure until I got it in to inspect it all. 

 This fish which was certainly a Barbel and a good one at that as it just kept going, fully charged and gave a superb account of itself, long lung busting runs up and down but completely measured at the same time with nothing remotely erratic at all, typical traits of big Barbel, problem was I left my torch in the car, so I had to do it all in the dark which was not easy, luckily for me my night vision is bloody good, upon the second time of asking I slipped what looked like a good Barbel over the cord of the net, she was mine and bloody well deserved if I may say so myself, I worked hard for that bite which actually turned out to be my only bite of the trip! But I'll touch on that afterwards.

 I staked the net down with a bank-stick and hiked back to the car and back, not knowing how big this fish actually was I was still chatting with Brian the whole way through, a running commentary if you like, the sense of anticipation was building, would it be pure elation or an anti-climax? From the title of the blog you have probably already guessed it missed the mark.

 Not to feel down it still is a big Barbel for the Wye at 9lbs 10oz, just not quite as big as I really hoped, she looked like it could be when I lifted out of the water for the first time, but just not filled out enough but such as life, I go again!

A new R.Wye PB, the weight of my lead off the magic mark.

 I took a couple of pics and a short video of her disappearing into the murky waters before recasting where I hoped there would be one or two more holding steady in the slacker water, unfortunately for me the rest of the evening passed by without incident, which was pretty much how the first part of day two unfolded.

 Prolonged showers and strong gusty wind made for a miserable few hours on Thursday morning where I again, tried those slacks I tried yesterday, with the water temp falling further ( now below the magic 10c mark ) and rising river levels once again I decided it wasn't worth anymore of my time and opted to target the Severn instead which, just like the Wye was up and very coloured but in a better state than the Wye.

 I targeted a section I've spent a bit of time on now and know some of the good floodwater swims from friends who frequent the river and found myself hopping from spot to spot every hour to try and land on a Barbel before kicking off time. I took a temp reading and it proved grime reading, 9.2c and the river was rising upstream once again, that for me was the end, conditions and fishing were only going to get harder and felt by remaining on the river I was running a fools errand, so I loaded the car and made the 163mile journey back home to delight of the mrs a whole 24hrs early! I'll keep that 24hrs in credit πŸ˜…

A beautiful autumnal riverscape.

 That was bloody hard, but very nearly pulled it out of the fire. Even as I write this on Friday night as the kids sleep my gear is drying out, it really did piss it down, thank god for my 25k suit! bailed me out.

Saturday 28 October 2023

Keeping up Appearances.

 

 Barring that Perch trip last Sunday the last month has been very hit and miss, a couple of visits to the R.Itchen for Barbel (primarily) have resulted in blanks and along with a visit to the R.Blackwater I have stared at motionless tips or rolled hundreds of times without incident. Unfortunately for me time is tight, so many of my trips this season have been shaped around my work or this instance taking my brolly and bed-chair out and grabbing a couple of hours kip whilst trying to eek out a Barbel from what is turning out to be a bloody difficult venue on a work night ( getting back home for 5am to get showered and dressed for another days graft ), I know stocks on the Itchen are very low with around 30 Barbel estimated among the locals in over a mile of river. Real needle in a haystack kind of job.

Working the weedlines.

 During the day of my first trip I opted to fish for the Barbel where I remained biteless whilst sat in the expensive seats, by midday I'd given up. I then decided to go and join the boys (Keith Jobling, Danny Everett and Brian) who were sampling the wonders of chalkstream delights. I have to admit I'm quite spoilt that I can be on some of the very best chalkstreams in just over an hour and have access to some wonderful beats, some free, some paid for. The LIF is something of an enigma, because its a beautiful place to go fishing and you should feel that you are on an exclusive bit of river with the chance of big Grayling etc. Neither of those are true unfortunately as the Grayling rarely top 2lbs there anymore and its certainly not exclusive, £31.50 paid in advance is enough to have anyone wondering the banks!, plus the constant pressure once the coarse season opens. 



 For me when fishing the LIF it's never about PB'S, simply the catch-up with friends and the chance the bend some carbon. Going back to the Barbel, the more I go I know I'm just one step closer to what I want, the odd fish is coming out here and there but invariably anglers blank, that's just the nature of the beast and being a free-stretch it gets a lot of pressure. I must admit I can not wait to chalk off the R.Itchen, its taken long enough now. Think I'm 11 sessions deep now having spent around 120hrs without a Barbel, the sooner this one falls the better I'll feel!

 As for the R.Blackwater it seems that the stocks of Barbel, albeit small again are pretty transient, so my efforts have been mirrored and barring time spent in the peg I had my 9.01 Barbel I've only spent around 30-40 mins of my time before moving off to another spot if I've had no indication of fish present, it's a fairly narrow river and spent quite a bit of time peering in, in the vein hope I'll spot an unwitting target, thus far that hasn't paid off, fingers crossed that changes for me over the next however many trips it takes to finally come away successful.

 Moving away from Barbel I had a quick visit between jobs to the area I had that magnificent Perch last weekend, with just four live-baits I got to moving around a fair bit and let the gonks do their best to find me a massive Perch. The issue was the Pike were of a ravenous disposition, I managed four takes, using all four of my baits to all of which managed to swim off. I lost three of the four fish, with two looking / feeling decent (over 10lbs for sure) and a little jack, the one I landed again was a jack of possibly 6lb which was in great condition but not the species of predator I wanted, next time I hope that those big old soldiers are in a feeding mood and the Pike stay at bay.


No wonder why the perch are big!

Wednesday 18 October 2023

Lights, Camera, Action.

 

 Leading on from a couple of short and unsuccessful visits to the R.Blackwater and R.Bourne I set my sights on filling my boots on the picturesque R.Wye for a couple of days in front of the cameras. The boys at Drennan were on the banks with me doing a few bits which mostly required me to catch copious amounts of Barbel.

 Once Brian and I had arrived I set about familiarising myself with the cameras and what was expected of me and very quickly I was leant into a couple of fish, first of all a Chub decided to show its face but very quickly a typical three-foot twitch had me reaching for my rod as a Barbel shot out into the powerful flow.

 Action was fairly consistent for around 2hrs with bites coming frequently, by the time the swim died I had managed a few Barbel to mid-7lb and lots of Chub. From that point on I opted to move around and fish various good looking slacks and creases as fishing the main flow was not easy owing to the extra 3-4ft that was tanking through the valley. The odd Barbel and Chub slipped up as I made my way up and down the river but was unable to fish one or two of the known areas properly given the floodwater.

 As night fell I had a brief flurry of Barbel activity with three coming to the net in 20mins, again the best was exactly 7lbs, it was the Barbel laden day I hoped it would be. 10 Barbel in quite tough conditions on the first day for the cameras wasn't too bad at all I felt.

 Friday morning came and I fished for a couple of hours, drifting between swims and started off the day with three Barbel to 7.12 before the Chub got ravenous once again. Around 11am I started to do some camera work, so that was more time away from the rods and when I did get back to fishing the sport was really really slow, even Chub became difficult to catch and the day ended up a damp squib. Once again, the conditions were against me, 13 Barbel to 7.12 and 5.2 trillion Chub came to the net, and on dark Brian and I waved goodbye to the R.Wye and hello to the R.Severn as we continued our short tour of the west.

River-Keeper George looking on.

Another Wye snaffler.

 A night on the Severn around Upton was in order and although I fished all night, sat behind the rods I had very little action but for three Bream which the best weighed 8lb 2oz, a respectable weight, just not a Barbel, come 7am I still hadn't managed a Barbel and it was now time to move on to the next section of the river to try my hand there instead. 

 A short 6min drive up river bought us to a section of river I've fished twice previously which both times it was in flood, first time around 6ft up, the second about 26ft up!! the fields as you come down towards the river resembled more of an inland sea rather than meadows / grassy fields. At least on Saturday (3 weeks back now) the river was well within its banks, I just needed to find a Barbel! 

 The hours ticked by with very little incident, the faintest of touches occasionally getting my blood pumping before sitting back down to watch motionless tips once again, it wasn't all doom and gloom however as Brian continued his hot streak, landing something special, those details I shall leave it for the man himself to reveal, I however spent the day wishing to catch something akin to that, unfortunately for me even the best time of the day came and went without as much as a tickle.

 My purple patch has officially ended, next up is a trip to the R.Itchen where I hope to rediscover some form, I would really love to chalk off another double soon, keep the run going before the cold weather comes in and I look to move away from my fixation on the Barbel front. ***EDIT: I also blanked there too...***

 Until next time, tight lines and don't fall in, water is definitely feeling cooler already.

Sunday 15 October 2023

First frost! Epic Stuff.

 

 A sudden drop in temps in the last 48hrs has had my mind drifting away from Barbel, to tell the truth I think I need it. Yesterday evening I got my gear together to do some trotting with Perch in mind. It has been years since I targeted them specifically and feel it's something I will do a bit more of this autumn.

 One of the issues I have is that there aren't many areas where Perch reside, let or lone big ones. With my current personal best weighing in at a pleasing 3lb 6oz which I caught some 20 years ago! I think it was time that I changed that and with this fall in air temp I dusted off my LureFlex 9ft rod for its maiden outing.

9ft 15g-50g version.

  I set the alarm for an early start as I had about 1hr20min of driving ahead and given the very clear cold conditions I knew it would be a sunny start, so I wanted an hour or so's fishing before it got too bright.

 Having never fished this particular area before I just went with what I knew and hoped for the best. 

 Using small livebait's I worked the inside shelves and overhanging bushes etc to see if anything was present, after about fifteen minutes I watched my bait head one direction, then very quickly double back in a blind panic, the float bobbed and then shot under, there were no chance in missing that. A firm strike was met by some impressive resistance as the rod lurched over and line was sent peeling off the clutch. The fight didn't last too long and just a couple of short powerful runs later I had what was almost certainly a personal best Perch in the net! When it first came into view in the murky water my sphincter loosened up a tad! I've only ever seen one or two Perch that size before and never to my rod. 

Woah!!!! 
 

 I wasted no time getting my camera set-up and sling wetted and ready to see just what this magnificent creature would weigh and it's suffice to say I was not disappointed, first Perch of the Autumn settled on 3lb 13ozs! PB buster, that will do!

Worthy of the early wake-up call!

 It's a fish of dreamt of for years, that old adage of 15mins spent in the right place is better than 15 years in the wrong place summed this capture up perfectly, but...could I find another? was I really getting blasΓ©, of course not! 


 As the morning progressed the suns glow enveloped the river and felt the Perch would seek darker spots and lay up awaiting dusk before feeding again, I gave it a good 2hrs before deciding nothing more was going to happen. That was a big result for me and my first personal best in 19 months, however if more PB's are going to be bettered it's the predators bracket which is where I have plenty of room for improvement in my opinion, with that Perch this morning, it will be that little bit harder to surpass, that said, I'll give it a very good go!

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!!!

 πŸ’₯πŸ’₯πŸ’₯  RIVER NUMBER 22 COMPLETE!!!!  πŸ’₯πŸ’₯πŸ’₯

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.

River Severn Double, That's A Wrap!!

   Success on this river has taken some time and in time I knew it would come, 300-mile round trip and 5hrs of driving makes it one of my le...