Saturday 29 December 2012

Roving for Big Barbel.

 An extremely busy christmas at work this year had severely cut out any hopes of getting out on the river until this morning when I decided on just going out really light and taking as little gear as possible, so I could move around quickly and cover alot more water.

 My aim today simply was to locate and bank a Barbel, being one of my favourites I like to fish for them as often as I can and today seemed almost perfect conditions for it, with my local river recently coming down after being almost out of its banks and debris 3 foot up trees where the river washed tons of rubbish, it looked very good still with extra water still being pushed through with a greyish tint that I always associate with good Barbel fishing.

 My first port of call was an old mill that has a deep pool that is practically covered with gravel and in the summer is used for spawning by the shoals of the Barbel that make their way up to the shallows at the tail end of the pool and I know they frequent there in the winter but thus far have struggled to conjure up a bite let or lone a fish but that's fishing and this session was no different when I spent around 30 minutes rolling a bait through and also static bait to see if anything was feeding.

 After a short walk down river I was peering into each swim to see if I could spot anything and straight away I noticed a very size able Barbel between 10-11lbs and I needed no time to decide on whether to fish the swim but the swim is very open so I had to get in very stealthily to avoid spooking the fish, cast one: rolled through, fish on, Barbel not the big one which turned out to be 3lb 9oz, cast two: rolled through again, fish on again, Barbel again but not the big fish but for its size fought very well and after a couple of minutes a Barbel of 4lb 2oz was banked and released, cast three: rolled through and a Barbel of about 7lb picked up the bait and dropped it immediately, cast four: nothing, cast five: I rolled it through same as the last 4 times and with all the commotion that the last 2 Barbel made I was surprised to see the big Barbel open its mouth and suck in my meat, then all hell broke loose and for 7 mins after that I was fighting a big Barbel that was a definite double but how big was anyones guess, second time of asking I landed her. Just what I expected when I first saw it on the bottom but not a long fish by any standards but very thick set and quite deep as well, after waiting over christmas to get out on the bank to have a go for a Barbel I got my wish and a double to!

(5th cast) A proper lump at 11lb 1oz and alot fatter than the picture suggests.
Plenty of joy so far and I was only in that swim for around 20-30 mins, roving downstream further I did come across a few Carp and as I was debating whether to fish for one when a Barbel flashed up on a gravel bar in front of me I put a bait just up above it and within 5 minutes my rod slammed around and a good sized Barbel was on the end ploughing through the swim, spooking another couple of fish out of the swim, a few minutes later a 7lb 2oz graced my net.

 After capturing that Barbel I did move downstream further but I didn't manage to catch anymore Barbel with 2 small Chub coming to the net, then the rain came back with avengence and the gusty wind also whipped up which put an abrupt end to my session and off home to watch Arsenal to see if Walcott will score again up front for us.

Tuesday 25 December 2012

Christmas Catch Up

 Owing to a very hectic lead up to Christmas I haven't managed to update my blog, but I have managed a couple of short sessions.

Thursday 20th December:

 My brother Chris and I had an evening session down to my local river on a lower beat for some of the good Chub that inhabit it and not to mention the Barbel.

 The river was up and very coloured with plenty of debris coming down including a couple of 6ft plus pieces of tree that had been torn away from the riverside by the extra water and also smelt quiet awful too but Chris and myself didn't give up and spent about 4 hours out on the river trying different swims but we neither managed a clear cut chance to bank a fish with a couple of enquires that I imagined were Chub, Barbel or Roach passing across the bait, the only thing that worked out right was that the rain held off the whole time and as we entered our parents house with the gear the heavens opened up.

Saturday 22nd December:

 For a change of scenery again we decided to go to one of my local lakes in search of Perch and maybe a Pike that are very elusive but over the last few years I have passed the lake and seen Pike basking in the sun close to structures on the island, so again Chris accompanied me for a short spinning trip in the hope of catching a stripey or two.

 My set-up was a 6ft Shimano spinner rod with 6lb line with a 12inch 25lb wire trace in case the Pike were feeding and also a selection of Mepps spinners of different patterns and colours and as the lake isn't particularly deep we both decided to use spinners of weights between 3g and 6g.

 Chris above with the first fish of the day, the elusive Pike at around 3lb and a fat little git that has been eating all the fish, with a couple of scars on it as well which is a good indication that larger Pike are still about and unfortunately that was the only joy we had between us and again I blanked but just nice to get out even for just a short amount of time and relax, but it was quiet a surprise though that I did not manage to catch a Perch as we fished some extremely Perchy looking swims.

Devil's Coachhorse escaping for safety.
Thames Pike fishing soon with a couple of trips planned so hopefully a beast will come my way.
And also Merry Christmas to everyone and a Happy New Year.

Sunday 16 December 2012

Rapid Barbel Fishing.

 Last night my brother Chris and I went out for a short evening session in the hope of catching a Barbel and maintain my great season in pursuit of the species and on Saturday night it was no different with 2 good Barbel banked in a short space of 10 minutes in a 5 hour session, with your host hooked and landing a nice Barbel 7lbs 5ozs and only a couple of minutes after I released my fish back into the river my brothers rod then went crazy with an identical take as mine, with a wrenching take downstream thus hooking themselves automatically and with the deeper water in front of us we both experienced good strong fights with Chris's Barbel fighting a little better, with Chris's Barbel weighing in at 7lbs 7ozs he was again a happy man for sure.

 Recently I have been teaching my brother how to equip himself in regards to fishing for Barbel and now he has had 2 Barbel in 2 sessions both in the 7lb bracket, teaching the set-up of rigs that I use and also watercraft even at night and learning how to play the fish once they have picked up the bait.

 Also a brief list of the tackle used: Rovex 12lb braid for the hook link, Atomic Tackle 'grabba' size 6 barbless hooks, small swivel and on the hair a standard pellet ( Elips )

 Photos were taken by Stu who did join us for the evening to sit and chat the night away, also catching two Barbel himself at 7lbs 8ozs and 8lbs 1ozs, so a good night for all. Great pics Stu cheers!

My 7lbs 5ozs Barbel at 19:52

The teacher and pupil with a 7lbs 7ozs Barbel at 19:58

Thursday 13 December 2012

Pike Hunting

 Recently I have been trying to get out and hunt down a Pike and in the process finding a few new places to fish, so for the day I was to meet up with Jeff jnr for a days piking on a Thames tributary in the lovely freezing cold weather.

 Up at 5:30am for an early start as I had to meet Jeff before we set off on our way, the time in the car went by pretty quickly as we just nagged about fishing tales of the past and what tactics we would employ to outsmart some winter Pike, after about an hours drive we turned up to our chosen venue and had a scout around to spot anything in the margins but nothing offered itself up so we headed back up river to the swim we turned up and got prepped and ready.

 I set up first and cast out a whole sardine at around 2foot under my pike bob and allowed it to circulate around the swim which was a large back eddy that was offset to a main current on the far side, when my bob stopped moving so I gave it a little pull but nothing, so I recast closer in and about a minute or so later the float did the same, so I pulled into again when my bait rose a Pike rose with it at about 8lb but not realising at first that it was a Pike on I didn't strike so it spat the bait almost immediately and the Pike was gone and back down to the bottom.

 Losing that fish so soon gave us confidence that there were a few here and they were feeding so Jeff got set up with the same tactic and we both were lying in wait and for the next half hour we waited but we didn't get a sniff, out with the spinners and shads to try something different and again almost straight away I got a strong take when a Pike came from under our feet to nail my green and yellow Mepps, it has to be said the fight was pretty drab with only one half hearted attempt at a tail walk.

My little Esox 4lbs 7ozs.
 After landing that Pike again the swim went all quiet so we decided to head down river and try to find some Pike elsewhere. Jeff below wishing he had one that big or even just a bite!!.

  For another hour or so we tried everything to get a Pike or 2 to show themselves but it was fast becoming a difficult session and coupled with the fact it was perfect conditions for Pike, it was a little hard to take but just maybe they were not in the stretch we were in, in big numbers, as dusk fell Jeff maintained his hunt for an Esox but changed over to putting a half sardine on the bottom and watching the rod tip, plus I changed my tactic to going after a big Chub by casting out a big lump of luncheon meat with a 1oz lead in the hope of a fish, as the light failed Jeff called it a night as the temperature was dropping noticeably from a meagre -4C that it was for most of the day and I did get a couple of enquiries on my meat but it wasn't anything substantial and by 4:45 we packed up and headed back to London, not catching as many as we hoped but at least we saw activity which kept us interested throughout the day, maybe another time.

Sunday 9 December 2012

Rolling and Roving.

 Today I managed to get out and do some fishing nice and early, last night was quite mild and I hoped the Chub and Barbel were on the feed so I packed very light and only packed the basics but I did make an adjustment to my gear, which was the changing of my line as I usually use Diawa sensor but recently I have had a couple of line breaks and I have almost lost faith in it so I spooled up a couple of my Shimano Exage 4000 reels with 7.3lb line from Rovex XTS mono line to see if I could connect with something decent to give the line a test to see if this brand of line is any good and I employed my usual tactic of rolling.

 A couple of miles walking and popping in and out of swims I struggled to find a fish of either species but I did after about 2 hours of fishing, I hooked a Chub that put up a fight but very briefly that weighed 3lbs 2ozs, which is a good fish to catch that did save a blank on a day that it seemed was becoming more and more inevitable,  I decided to go back on myself and try again to see if I had missed one that was lingering about.

 So after along walk back and another hour or so had passed I was just thinking about packing up when my rod wrenched around in my hand, instinctively striking into a Barbel that wanted to fight and it did, very well it has to be said plus the line was doing okay and also I felt more confident that I would land this one, roughly 4 minutes of it scrapping around I reached for my net and she came in first time, after weighing, photographing she was released fit and it was time to head home.

6lb 10oz Winter Barbel.

Saturday 8 December 2012

Fishing Exploits 1st year.

 Today marks my 1st birthday of this blog and in such a short period of time I have had the pleasure of sharing some fantastic catches of fish from the smaller species ie, Gudgeon pushing the British Record size to Carp over 30lbs and bags of Roach that would make the mouth water, plus an amazing specimen Barbel from the Hampshire Avon, so far this season alone I have broken 3 personal bests, but fishing really is just at the end of the day a hobby that I enjoy and being away from the hussle and bussle that is life in London on a bank just waiting in anticipation for that next fish that could just could be.........Thanks to my audience for dropping in and tight lines for the future.

 Just a small collection of fantastic fish I've captured over the last year since the blog was created.

 10lbs 14ozs Bream.
 31lbs 3ozs Mirror Carp.
 5lbs 10ozs Chub.
 A brace of 2lb Roach, 2.0 and 2.2.
 5ozs Gudgeon.
 5lbs 12ozs Brown Trout.
 14lbs 6ozs Barbel.
 11lbs 12ozs Barbel.

Monday 3 December 2012

Rutilus Rutilus

  Another short session was decided on and my target as I said in my last blog was Roach and maybe one of the rare Rudd, with the rain over the night and during the morning the river was up quite abit and very coloured, today's tactics were simple and consisted of a 1oz tip on a feeder rod and 4lb line fishing liquidized bread in the feeder and flake as my hookbait.

 I got to my chosen swim and the rain had made the bank extremely difficult to get down and nearly slipped straight down the bank into the river and only just grabbing a tree branch to stop me going all the way down, a little bit too much excitement for a fishing trip I think so I made sure that once in the swim I wasn't moving until it was time to go, in position finally and out with the rod I had a Chub first cast around 3lb, not what I wanted but a good fight all the same and then on the next cast I hooked into a Barbel about 4lb but it was finely hooked and the hooked pulled fairly quickly which was a shame, I've not had a Barbel from that stretch before.

 My intended target didn't look like they were about and I had fished for around 2 hours before I changed tactic to trotting and the response was instant and I had a Roach on first trot through, a good fight from the redfin that used all the water available to it and only knew it was a Roach simply seeing the red dorsal fin cutting through the surface of the water and weight was lifted from my mind as I had pulled quite a few strings to get the day off and a Roach is what I wanted today.

A fantastic 1.14oz Roach
 A brilliant Roach to catch but the madness was not over either as for next 35minutes I landed another 4 Roach all between 1.9oz and 1.13oz I had hit the jackpot again and after an extremely slow start I had finally cracked and after I had landed the fifth Roach I had decided that was it for me as night was decending quickly, so I packed up and moved up river to do a bit of Chub fishing.

A pristine Roach of 1.11oz.

My bag of Roach 1.9oz, 1.11oz, 1.13oz x2 and 1.14oz.
So with dusk settling in I setup in my final swim and fished into the night after until around 5pm and landing 3 Chub to 3.7oz but nothing large. Below: my last hide out and waiting for a take.
I didn't manage a 2lb Roach but it was a fantastic hour I had the fish in and that was it but Feburary will be high time for some 2lb + Roach, until then I'll play the waiting game. 

Sunday 2 December 2012

An Icy Mornings fishing

On Saturday I ventured out for a short morning session and braved the cold weather to hopefully keep my good run of form going and but with this cold weather I was more hoping than expecting but I remained optimistic and deployed my usual tactic, the long trot.

The aftermath of a cold night.
 Briefly after I had set up I got a ripping take on the float and I was in to a Barbel that decided to fight extremely well and upon netting the small specimen realised that it was one the better coloured fish that inhabit this river system and unfortunately the camera didn't pick up the bronze colouring but the size of the tail also struck me for a Barbel at 4lb 3oz it was massively disproportionate which explained the strong fight it gave me.

Around 10 minutes after reviving that Barbel I cast just upstream and long trotted back down through the swim I was just in and down a fast channel of water when again my float buried itself and I was hooked into something a lot more substantial and as it came up river towards me on the bottom over the gravel I saw a huge shape shadowing the bottom easily into double figures when it turned back down river it hit something on the bottom and it escaped, it is fast becoming a common occurrence for me and that's got to be at least 2 double figure Barbel I have lost this season, I can't say I'm not getting the chances I just can not land them due to unforeseen reasons.

 Later on the session I did manage a good Chub also on the long trot which at first I thought was a Barbel when it started to take line but quickly gave up on the power and slowly came in, a quality winter Chub of 4lb on the nose but I thought it would go a bit bigger.

 Out in search of some big Roach and Rudd (2lb +) is the target, on Monday hopefully the rain does not ruin the days intended sport.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Floodwater Barbel Fishing

 Whilst at work yesterday I was pondering on a couple of trips around the south for various different species of fish, one being the large Crusian Carp that inhabit Marsh Farm, knowing that the fishing is brilliant during the spring and early summer I will definitely be having ago then probably sometime around May or June but also enquiring about a winter trip there in search of the Tench and Crusians. The other 2 trips are visits to the River Wey for the Barbel and also the famous Walthamstow Reservoir for the enormous Bream and Carp, but them sessions will have to wait a little while until the time is right but on to the present.

 As the title suggests, today I decided to have a go at fishing my local river whilst it was very coloured and pretty high by it's standards and I don't normally fair well in these conditions but I fancied giving it ago and I wanted to roll meat for the daylight hours, so I started my day in a swim that I walked past initially but thought about the conditions and the big slack that is created by a tree up river on the inside edge and I'd run a rolling bait along the crease and after my third roll I got a pluck which I hit and my rod lurched over and fish on, I really didn't expect it but that's the way it can go and in the extra water it fought very well and didn't give up at all which was fantastic and after I managed to set up my net whilst playing my fish, a short chunky Barbel was banked.

                                                                A lovely 7lb 1oz Barbel.

 After I caught that Barbel, I had a few more rolls through but with no more pick ups but I know there was more in there, for a little while after I just had a nag with Jeff Snr who had a nice 9lb Barbel last night and then headed up river to another good looking swim that was pushing through alot of water and again I rolled a bait through the swim in the slack water bordering the fast powerful water and I got a very slight pluck on my finger and slowly flicked it as I thought it was caught up on a bit debris on the bottom and then the rod got tugged as a Barbel tore off downstream with my bait, a good fight ensued for around 3 minutes when it came up to the net and a Barbel between 8 and 9lb rolled over and headed back down to the bottom where it hit something and shed my hook, I was totally gutted to say the least and that's the fifth Barbel I've lost this season more than any other that I can remember, disaster.

 The rest of the short afternoon passed and dusk fell without another touch, at about 6 Stu and I headed up river for an hour and put a bait out and within 5 minutes Stu's rod slowly bent over and he struck into a Barbel, jammy sod!, a good fight followed as usual so I did the honours in netting it and taking the photos and weighing it.

Stu and his 6lb 13oz beard.

Sunday 25 November 2012

Mrs Spotty and Family

 For a while I have been contemplating on a return back up to the upper reaches of my most local of rivers in search of Brown Trout as it has been nearly 6 months since I last visited this stretch but the weather in London has been rather drab to say the least but I was thinking that the rain will colour up the very clear chalk water and give me some cover which may increase my chances of success.

 Unfortunately rain was forecast for the entire day so I knew it was going to be a wet one so I packed my little wychwood roving bag with only the absolute basics, which consisted of a couple of wire stem floats, pack of hooks and shot, plus my trusty Avon scales and camera with tripod, with today's chosen bait being a small loaf of Warburton's, around an hour or so of travelling I finally got to the river to see it up a few inches and also fairly coloured, immediately I felt confident but whilst I headed along the river downstream no Trout offered themselves up which was pretty rare as I tend to get a riser from a couple of the so-called 'banker swims'.

 Around an hour had past and I finally hooked into one on the trot from a very shallow gravel run but it didn't fight much and it turned out to be a very young Trout of around 3-4oz, next cast and I had another at 1lb 2oz a very silvery fish that did fight alot better than the baby, I moved down to the next swim and had a take straight away off of a Trout around 3lb but I missed it which annoyed me alot but oh well! it happens.

The tiny one.

 Another hour had passed and I'd caught another 4 brownies ranging from 1lb 1oz to 2lb 3oz, one of which was a lovely colour as shown below.

 Up this part of the river the fishing is quite limited due to the amount of bank side vegetation that is still present so there aren't as many swims as there could be so long trotting is a great way to capture the fish that are in the swims you can't access just like the next one I had that weighed 2lb 7oz which gave a fight like a bullet train with very strong runs and tail walking about 5 times before slipping into my net.

The day was fast becoming the best day I'd ever had in regards to quantity of Brown Trout in one day and as my session on the Trout beat came to an end I had managed to get my count to 10 spotty's, 9 over a pound plus which was mind blowing but the larger fish remained visible but too clever today but I'll catch them at some point one of which was well over 4lb but I know they are still around which is fantastic news as they do provide a great sport on light gear as was the case today for me.

One on the end.

Another pound plus Trout.

Back home after a good scrap.

A well coloured Browny, most are silver!
 After clearing the beat I took a hour and a bit stroll down river to try and catch a Barbel but the further down I got, the more the river had risen and coloured up I knew it was going to be quite difficult to catch one so I briefly popped into a known swim that holds Barbel quite often but for around 30 minutes my bait remained untouched by fish in general and the lead pulled around down stream constantly, but to break the monotony Brian from pikeblog came down for a few minutes to chat who had also had a pretty baron day but the conditions down this end of the river were not great and deteriorating rapidly so after Brian and Dan had gone home, I packed up and moved further downstream to find a swim with a slack in it to avoid the fast paced current and debris coming down with it, so I decided to put 3 swan shots on and roll a lump of bread around the slack water and on my 3rd or 4th cast I got a little pluck on my finger tip which I hit and the rod hooped over emphatically, I said to myself it was a Barbel without a doubt and after a couple of minutes of it steaming around the deep water it rose to the surface and into the net, on the scales at 3lb 13oz it wasn't big but I didn't really care but with the rain still coming down if not harder than it had been I couldn't take any pictures as I didn't want to risk damaging the camera.
 The little guy released I cast back into the same position not really expecting my rod to hoop immediately again but it did and I was connected to a fish that felt bigger than the last and in the dark I couldn't see the fish which held on the bottom the entire time until I got it up to the net and when it rolled over just in front of the net it dived straight back down to the bottom nearly pulling the rod out of my hand, a minute or so later she was in the net and my second Barbel within 10minutes banked, at 7lb 7oz it was a very good conclusion to a great day, I packed up and left absolutely soaked like a drowned rat.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Tutoring the art of Barbel fishing.

 After a couple of weeks of not being able to get on the bank due to illness/work I finally managed to wangle an afternoon off and although I'm still not well I couldn't resist a few hours fishing on the river but over the last month or so my youngest brother Chris has been champing at the bit to better his personal best Barbel which is a fairly modest 6lb 12oz caught many years ago, so me being a good eldest brother we got prepared to find a Barbel for him.

 Whilst travelling to one of our many local rivers I was going through the basics with Chris in regards to basic watercraft, tackle, bait selection, presentation and if it came down to it, the playing of the fish all of which are important especially if you have forgotten just how powerful Barbel are.

 As soon as we turned up to the river we noticed that the leaf fall was still in full swing and the river was littered with leaves making static bait fishing nearly impossible and that left us pretty much with a moving bait method but initially we started on the bottom but quickly discovered that even a 3oz lead in my case was only prolonging the inevitable with 5 minutes of my bait being out my line turned into a washing line and pulled out of position.

 For over an hour we persevered in a few swims and we did see a couple of Barbel which did make us feel good about catching one but the leaves looked like they were dictating the state of play, so Chris, Stu and I headed down stream and Chris put on a stick float with a couple of AA shot and a small size 14 hook at around 3-4 foot in depth, I pointed to Chris where he should cast it, right along the creases and work the creases down the run and after doing that about 6 trots he got a perfect take, with the float sliding under very confidently and he struck and a Barbel around 7lb came straight up in the water and held in the current with Chris understandably nervous his chance had come to beat a long standing PB he played it quite cautiously and after a good scrap especially after it saw the net and tired it out she headed straight into the net.

 Stu and I both looked at it and knew it was a definite 7lb+ Barbel, so to end the guessing she went 7lb 15oz and a happy Chris then held his prize for some photo's with a grin.

 So with that lovely looking Barbel released fighting fit we decided to head down river further and sit up in a slower deeper stretch hoping to avoid the leaves to the most part but unfortunately we didn't manage anymore fish but the objective was to get Chris a new PB Barbel and he succeeded, top fishing shorty.

Sunday 4 November 2012

Specimen Barbel......

......Please apply within for photo shoot, at last I managed to get out and do some fishing, all week I had been trapped at work doing all the hours god throws at me and in truth it was becoming a little laborious and I needed to break the cycle so the best known cure for that is a good old session trotting/rolling for Barbel, a technique rarely used on rivers these days the later of the two not so, I turned up at the river and it was down but still carrying a bit of colour but still tons of leaves on the bottom and washing down, fishing static would have been a waste of time.

 A couple of hours had passed and only had spotted a solitary Barbel and a big shoal of Dace and Roach of which unfortunately did not want to feed but there is plenty more river to search, but when I did finally get a take it was a good size Chub which did fight quite well by Chub standards and at over 4lb was worth the wait and it wasn't long before I did get another take which was alot more powerful which could only have been a Barbel and as I hooked it rose up towards the surface and rolled, with a big flick of the tail it stormed back down to the bottom and straight through a snag which my line grated across and in time the line parted and a Barbel of around 7lb broke free, disaster again.

 I stayed out to fish through dusk and into night, so I plotted up about a mile or so downstream and was joined by Stu who stayed with me as we nagged, dusk had came and went without a touch but after an hour or so I had a quick bounce on the tip but nothing substantial, another hour had passed and Jeff snr had joined me and sat down and we started to talk when Stu re-joined the party and Jeff cast out upstream of me with his trusty MK 4 Avon rod and carried on talking and I decided to stand up and stretch my legs and momentarily turned away from my rod when it slammed around and got ripped out of the rod rest and was literally being dragged down the bank about 5 foot to be exact with Stu and Jeff both laughing at what had just happened but I did latch into the fish, bearing in mind all that happened in about 2 seconds, but I was in to a barbel for sure and it felt like a good fish with a constant powerful run that made my arm ache and after 5 or so minutes I reached for the net and scooped the Barbel in first time, in the dark I couldn't see it was a big fish but when I got it out of the river and put it on the bank we all knew it was going to be a 9lb+ fish but when I slipped the hook out and picked it up I knew straight away it was a double, with Jeff guessing around 8-9lb I knew he was way out and Stu guessing around the high 9lb region, so on to the scales to end the speculation and she was weighed on 2 sets of Avon scales both registering 11lb 7oz, minus the net it was 10lb 8oz another double and my first from this stretch and an audience to boot, commence the photo shoot!

Photography by Stu.
An absolutely pristine Barbel and a massive paddle on it as well no wonder why the fight was very strong and on my secret rig again it's really doing the business this season 6 Barbel and 3 of those are doubles weighing 10.8, 10.8 and 14.6. To say the least I headed home very chuffed indeed, Jeff and Stu heading home as well to warm.

Saturday 27 October 2012

Mission nearly Impossible

Over the last 2 weeks I have been out fishing on a couple of occasions but I have been unsuccessful in my pursuit of some late Autumn Barbel, the sessions have been both during the day and at night but the Barbel have been very difficult this year to locate and when having the leaf fall has made fishing pretty difficult to say the least and a bit tedious at other times but you have to be in it to win it as I keep getting told.

 So the plan was to do what I usually do and stay light as possible and move around and find the fish, when you've had a couple of blanks you sometimes think to yourself that, am I doing the right thing or are the fish not feeding or have they all gone on holiday!, but you know the tactic is right and the fish will almost always feed and holiday to where?? 100yrds up or downstream. After assessing that in my head it was time to get to business and my day was to start off on a bad note, to shorten the story a Chub nicked the bait out of a Barbel's gob (about 7/8lb), which I landed at just around the 3lb mark, an hour later, I lost a setup on a snag washed down in one of the spate's, then about 45 minutes after that I hooked a quality Barbel of around 8/9lb, within 2 minutes of hooking it, the swine ploughed through a snag and broke me off! wasn't best pleased to say the least but the day was still young, oh around 15minutes before that happened I lost a Chub when I forgot to slacken off the clutch, what a dope I never managed to do that in all my years of fishing.

The Barbel bait thief. 

 Time for some composure.....Losing that Barbel made me more determined to actually land one I put the rod down for 10minutes and just get it out of the system and moved swim, cast out and after about 10-15 rolls through a couple of still quite weedy runs a Barbel cruised out of the weed and nailed the bait, I did play this one with a bit of calmness and let it hammer around the swim in the added water but making sure I persuaded it to avoid the snags, with it tired I reached for the net and the drought was over, mission nearly impossible achieved, just. 6lb 9oz of lovely late Autumn Barbel.

But the drama didn't cease there unfortunately as I carried on fishing to maybe have a go for another not being greedy but felt I deserved it, so my wish came true but unexpectedly it has to be said when I was talking to Stu who had met up with me a while after I had the 6.9, I rolled a bait down a gravel run, I lost sight of my bait momentarily not expecting a Barbel to take it, but one of around 9lb sat there with my bait in its mouth and I felt a little tension then I saw the Barbel rise up in the water and when I saw it was good fish disaster struck, when I started to play it the hook pulled where it must have been very finely lip hooked, it was becoming a day of things I've never done before, as I have never lost 2 Barbel in 1 session and as Stu can vouch for, I wasn't best pleased but who would be??.

 I did pack-up a while later as I was deciding whether to go back out for dusk on the bottom using the secret big fish rig, but with another 5 hours of night fishing done and no joy it was home time and with this cold weather coming I doubt the Barbel will feed much until they get used to the cold weather settling in, then it'll be a case of waiting for the mild spells then go after them, I think it is time for some predator fishing now it's turning cold. Esox Lucius watch your backs I'm coming.

Sunday 14 October 2012

Make mine a double

Yesterday morning I woke up with the intention of going fishing for a Barbel off of my local river in which I have'nt had one from for over a month, too long in my book so the challenge was set and 6.30am I left home with my trotting rod in search of a beard.

 The weather was perfect for rolling as the sky was clear and sunny, the river was low and gin clear so spotting them in the shallower water was fairly easy once you located them amongst the runs of weed, but I didn't have long unfortunately because I had a match with a 1.30 ko so I had about until 11am and for the first hour of so I was getting plagued by Chub between 2/3lb keep grabbing the bait everytime I tryed a swim it's although every swim yesterday was crammed with Chub don't know where they've been hiding but come the winter they will be one of my target species especially the 5lb+ variety.

 As the morning progressed I did start to find the Barbel held up in little shoals of 2 to 3 per group but mostly ignored the bait with the occasional bit interest but no clear cut chances, they are starting to wise up!, around 8.30ish I did manage to find a feeder and with a very accurate cast between two runs of ribbon weed it landed straight on her head and sucked it in with no hesitation, Barbel on and immediately seemed like that it had no idea that it was hooked because the fight was very uncharactistic with a slow plod around for a minute or two and she was in the net.

An old 6.14 Barbel ( room for plenty growth ).
The Barbel I had would easily be recognised because it was blind in the right eye, may that excuse the fish for it's pathetic fight?, certainly didn't hinder it's attempt of eating my bait that's for sure.
Time was pushing on and with that in mind I moved on upwards and kept rolling to find another fish by around 10am I did and it turned out to be a Chub of about 3lb all morning I had avoided catching them but this one obviously was very hungry, so I unhooked that swiftly and slipped it back in and next cast same again I rolled through and a Barbel about 6lb nailed my bait, nearly taking the top of my finger off!.
 2 minutes later it was gone........ "oh you f*****", not the ideal outcome but I know it wasn't fail hooked because I watched the bait disappear into it's mouth, so I came to the conclusion that it was finely lip hooked, such as life, but when I hooked that fish it spooked a few fish out the cover and one of the fish was a real lump an easy double I reckoned it to be between 11/12lb massive frame so my pallet was well and truly wet after seeing that but losing that fish seemed to have put the rest off. The rest of my alloted time passed and it was time to pack up and play some football, it was our league cup first round at home so another cup run this season beckoned.
Later on that day...........
 We bloody lost that game and I was an unused sub much to my disappointment and after scoring last week in a 3-1 win at Redhill Town I thought that a start was on the cards, evidentally not, so after being very fustrated for the middle of the day I'm going fishing again.
 So for the evening and night I was to change my tactics and use my nearly secret Big Barbel rig as I call it, as it was the same rig that caught doubles last season and my 14lb 6oz Barbel off of the Hampshire Avon in September, it couldn't fail, could it? only the next few hours would determine that so I got set up in swim number 1 and prepared myself slowly to make sure everything was right and I was starting in the swim that I saw that big Barbel in earlier in the day, so I was in with a chance of catching a good fish tonight and I had to wait nearly 2 hours for my first fish, my rod slammed around very confidently and Barbel number one was on, but was it the big one?, I wasn't sure it was because it stormed around 20 yrds downstream then upstream 20yrds absolutely mental stripping line off my spool and I was powerless to do anything to stop it, so I had to left it fight itself into the net which it did. 7lb 6oz of a pure powerhouse, you can tell it's getting cold the rusky hat is out.
 Re-baited and back out for another fish in the same spot and primed with all the trimmings, when about half hour approached my rod tip started to shudder and then slowly pull around but not too much, so after about 10 seconds I thought it must be a couple of leaves when I leaned into pick up the rod it slammed around again, perfect timing I thought and fish number 2 on, straight away I knew it was a bigger fish the fight was so different much slower and more powerful than the first ( if that was possible ), whilst I was playing the fish I was talking to Stu on the phone during the take and the fight (phone tucked into my hat) giving him a running commentary of the battle, twice it came up towards the surface and dived back down and holding the bottom but on this rig she was always going to be  landed I haven't lost one on this rig yet.
 The net was ready and so was the Barbel, I guided it in first time put onto the mat it was the double I saw earlier in the day, a massive frame and a lovely specimen for sure, so without hesitation I got the scales out still on the phone to Stu at this point, on the scales she registered 10lb 8oz after deducting my net, happy days!!!.

 A lovely fish for sure with space to fill out aswell just like the Barbel in the morning, clearly they've got plenty of feeding to do between now and March next year.
It took a while for the fish to recover but for the scrap it produced you have to take care of them and allow as much time as it takes for them to expell all the gases built up during the fight or they'll keel over, when it did recover it swam off nice and strong upstream and with that I packed up and headed downstream to fish a few other swims, I walked about a mile or so down and came to a known swim for me and set-up and cast out and within 10minutes I was in again the set-up was really doing the business, a couple of minutes later Barbel number 3 was on the bank.
A pristine kindergarten resident at 4lb 7oz.
I packed up immediately moved further downstream to a swim that I haven't fished much due to the lack of time available to me recently before today's trips I hadn't been Barbel fishing in over a month excluding the Royalty week, but I spent a good hour in the latest swim without as much as a sniff, it was starting to get very cold so I packed and went home a happy bunny.

Monday 1 October 2012

Short weekend sessions.


 On Saturday my brother Chris and myself decided to go out for a brief session in search of a Chub or two, not knowing that the river was coloured up due to a bit of rain that stayed around, I didn't get to stalk the Chub as planned so it was a case of fishing the spots that we know they frequent and within a few minutes Chris had a Chub on around 2lb 8oz and as he was fishing that swim I popped up river to have a look to find something to have a cast at and in the shallower water I could make out a sizeable shape sat on the bottom behind some debris, seeing that sat there I went back down to grab the rod and get some bait, back into the swim first cast and waited for about 3 minutes and the rod thumped around stripping line off of the centre-pin like a Barbel which I knew it wasn't, but the fight was very refreshing for a Chub considering they normally come in like a plastic bag off of the bottom.

Chris and his Chub.

My Chub at 4.1.
 As we had a couple of Chub we decided to head down river and have a go in a few other swims rolling a bait through but didn't seem to get much more of a response and towards the end of the session put a bait out and maybe wait for one to come to us but our plan didn't pay off and packed up early after just a while on the river.
Yesterday again my brother came out with me to have a go for some Perch to a known spot between us guys in the family up in Elmbridge on one the River Mole's relief channels and the spot was a big wier that has a huge slack in the inside and main flow on the far side, the target were the Perch that shoal up here and some of them are massive, well over 3lb and a good head of 2lb + fish aswell and not to mention it is littered with jack Pike and a few decent Pike and Zander.
 Chris had chosen to use a spinner through the wier and I had chosen to use a dendrobeana on a perch-bobber on the pin "Bernard Cribbins style" of fishing and poised for a soldier to take my bait, I cast tight to a overhanging bush as it was in the ideal position to find a Perch and my logic didn't take too long to pay off as the float started to dance around for a moment or two before it slowly went under by which time I had pulled into it and a wee stripey kited around the swim before coming in, first one in of the day about 6-7oz.
 The first not a biggey but it was a start and Chris swapped over onto the float and worm aswell to try and catch some as he didn't have any joy on spinner after about 20minutes on it, the next cast for me produced something I have only caught once before and that was a Ruffe, a very pretty coloured fish with tints of metallic flashing off of its flanks, how it took my worm is a mystery!, it must have waited until it got whittled away before it took the bait.

As the session went on Chris and I had quite a few Perch all around the 8oz mark but nothing bigger and after about an hour of Perch coming out I had another surprise in the form of a Rudd, on a worm?? never done it before but there you go first for everything I guess.
After pulling quite a few fish in we were both surprised that pike hadn't taken any of our fish and we knew they were there as 3 or 4 took fish off of the top the biggest looking around the 12-13lb mark, but as dusk was approaching we decided we had our fun and headed off home, I'll be back at some point for the big Perch I know they're there it's just getting through the small hungry perch or locating the bigger Perch in the wier as it is deep and a vast piece of water to fish.

September 2012 Barbel stats.


6lb 6oz


7lb 7oz, 7lb 2oz

Total weight of Barbel caught in September was at 20lb 15oz.

Saturday 22 September 2012

Hampshire Avon (Royalty Fishery)

Over the last few posts I have spoke briefly about my pending visit to one, if not the most historic fisheries in the country and after all the years that I have been fishing I've never made the trip, but the time had come for that to finally happen.

Day 1:

On the Monday we made the trip from London down to Christchurch with a few friends, Jeff snr, his son Jeff jnr and Stu. All excited of the prospect of catching a massive Barbel is always enough to wet any anglers appetite, needless to say the journey went by in a flash and we stopped off at the fishery to drop Jeff jnr off who couldn't resist the temptation, but the rest of us had decided to wait until Tuesday to start our campaign, so we sat and relaxed with Jeff jnr and took in the sights of the picturesque fishery.

 Unfortunately the session didn't start off as Jeff jnr had hoped without an inquiry for the remainder of the day, but I'm told that this fishery is not easy going, especially when you don't have the knowledge that the locals have, ie: holding spots of the Barbel, tactics and timing.

Looking up to the Trammels.

The view down from the Trammels

The Railway pool in the distance

Fishing a spot above the Telegraphs.

From my swim looking below the Falls.

Day 2:

 A new day and we had spent the previous evening fine tuning the rigs and decided where it would be best to spend the day, but I have learnt whilst Barbel fishing that they are a very mobile species so the angler has to be as well to stand a better chance of catching, of course that philosophy isn't adopted by everyone but I strongly believe in it.

 During the day I had fished almost every swim on the fishery for large swathes of the day with out seeing a single fish bigger than a Dace, the weed growth gives the fish so much cover and in doing so makes spotting them so hard, unfortunately a few of the swims were closed off due to work on the Railway pool and a couple of swims up and down stream of the railway pool, also a couple of very popular swims were inaccessible due to the extra water, which created a very boggy bank and without waders it wasn't possible to fish which was a shame as they have produced masses of Barbel in the past, but for this inconvenience the anglers were given until an extra hour to fish (9pm), which was perfect for us, as it would be dark and the Barbel would in theory feed more confidently because they don't get fished for that late on and the Barbel know that.

 I'd been roving for about 10 hours and not a sniff, I was doing the right things it was the fact the fish are heavily fished for and seen it all before, with dusk fast approaching I had decided to set up in a famous swim and put out a bottom bait and wait for one to come out of the weed and feed.

The top of the Pipes, my haunt for the evening, probably the most infamous swim in the country.

 So I was in position, hoping that something was on the feed, I laid back and waited, after about 15-20 minutes in the swim, I got an email on my phone which I was looking at when out of the corner of my eye I noticed my night light on my rod tip starting to bounce slightly and then a typical Barbel wrench, throwing my phone to ground and grabbing my rod, I struck into the fish and when I hooked it my heart started to thump and feeling very nervous as my chance of my first Royalty Barbel was on and so soon, but the fight was that of a fish I have not experienced yet, I thought I had hooked the bottom just that it was moving, for the next 17 minutes it slowly took line from my center-pin and ducked and dived between the weed beds and the line pinging off of the weed every time sending horrible thoughts through my mind that it would come off at any time, this was a very slow and calculated fight, the light had failed completely by this time and I couldn't see anything so needless to say I couldn't see the fish, so I didn't know how big it was, I've had many 6-8lb Barbel really scrap but this was in a different league, my arms have never ached so much during a fight.

 The fight went on for a long time and when she did finally tire I reached for the net and guided her in first time as she came towards the net I got a glimpse of her but only a flash of the belly, not being able to tell how big it was, a Barbel off of this river was the target regardless of it's size, so when I was in for the biggest shock of my life when I put the rod down and peered over into the net with my torch to see the sheer size of it, I said to my self this,"this is not happening", I could not believe what I had landed, it was the biggest Barbel I have ever seen in real life, with it reviving in the net I rang Stu who swiftly made his way around to my swim to witness it and take some photos and the weighing.

 Knowing it was going to slaughter my old personal best we put her on the scales when she turned the dial around on my avon scales to 14lb 6oz a totally immense and unbelievable circumstance had just unraveled and couldn't believe it happened to me.

My face was in a state of amazement and shock.

What an experience that I'm sure I'll remember the rest of my life, after a few minutes of reviving her I packed up and joined the rest of the party where word of the capture spread like wildfire much to my delight as a capture of this caliber is not one that is made often.

Day 3:

 After a night full of realization of my Royalty dream being fulfilled on the first night I could barely sleep but no wonder why, we all got up and prepared for another day on the bank where I changed my emphasis and decided to get some maggots and trot for some other species of fish.

 After roving the banks for the day I had caught a few species including Chub, Dace, Minnows and Bleak, the Perch evaded capture but I'll be back for them some day.




The trotting for the day was good fun and in such lovely scenery as well, as night fell I prepared myself to go back on the bottom to try for another Barbel so I made my way down to the bottom of the Pipes towards Greenbanks.

Your host in the Greenbanks.

 With dusk approaching I was waiting for an inquiry which did come in the form of another wrenching take that I managed to hit and within 3 or 4 seconds it was gone, the fish must have gone straight into the weed bank that I was fishing and shed the hook, so I knew I was in a good position and recast into the same spot but it wasn't going to happen as 8:45pm approached we packed up and headed back to the car.

Day 4:

 Thursday was my rolling meat day and the plan was to rove the whole fishery (the bits you could fish) rolling through every piece of weed to find a Chub or Barbel that was up for feeding and during the day I did struggle to get them out of the vast banks of weed that all of the fish hide in, I resorted to moving up into the Trammels and found a small shoal of Barbel and Chub in one of the middle swims so I sat back and waited until dusk with Jeff jnr just downstream of me in the Trammels, most of the fish caught during the week were all caught from the Trammels apart from the odd fish here and there.

 At around 8pm I got a ripping take that I hit and as I did a Salmon or Sea Trout lept out of the water where it must have hit my line, I was so excited for a split second then realised what happened but that does happen quite often I'm told by some of the locals, another day and no fish for the other guys, it was just starting to put into perspective what one fish really means on this fishery.

Day 5:

The Compound (The Great Weir)

We decided to all have a stab at fishing the great weir for the day, so with us all fanned out across the weir complex I did think that the Hayter's side of the weir would be a good place to start.

View to the weir.

Looking down to Hayter's.

The setup I used was the same that I used when I had the beast on Tuesday evening, fished right out in the middle of the pool in about 6 foot of water I fished pellet with a pva bag with some free offerings to draw them into feeding and after around about an hour I got a take and I was in at first I thought it was a Bream because the fight was quite poor out in the deeper water but when I got it in towards the bank and the shallower water it screamed off around the pools in front of me by which time I knew it was a Barbel and one of my wishes on this trip was to have a Barbel during the day because of the lovely color they take on in the clear chalk water that makes up the Avon.

A muscular 5.13 compound Barbel.

After that fish released the day seemed to pass by without a bite for anyone and again the night fast came upon us and we were fishing into dark hoping for someone to get a bit of action preferably one of the other guys as they had stuck to their task all week and no joy with Jeff jnr losing one of Tuesday in the weed at the top of the Trammels, 8pm came up quick and it was unfortunately time for us to pack up and leave for London, the holiday was over and it was a very relaxing place to be in the heart of the countryside and even though the Jeff jnr & snr and Stu didn't catch it was a nice getaway from the urban sprawl we are used to and to fish a river where fish traverse weirs and gravel bars rather than prams, trolleys and other debris. We will all certainly be back for another go at this pristine fishery, for me, well beating my personal best Barbel is now going to be a mammoth task indeed but I am more than happy with that and I still can't get that silly grin off of my face every time I think about it, Jeff jnr "described it as a look of shock".

Better luck next time lads it'll come and Jeff snr didn't get his customary double, last year his custom Barbel went 13lb 8oz, a massive fish!, ps cheers Jeff jnr and Stu for the photographs a pro job indeed.

What A Start!

   Since the river season ended I've taken a 3 week hiatus from fishing, work as usual the excuse! Storm Kathleen however was predicted ...