Thursday 31 January 2013

Post 100, Thames Barbel.

 For a little change of scenery I headed off to a different stretch of River Thames after Barbel, but I went there more in hope rather than expectation, nevertheless I was confident I could catch something, as soon as I turned up at the river I noticed that it had hardly dropped and was still pushing through very powerfully and still coloured ( like milk chocolate ).

 My tackle for the evening/night was a 12ft feeder rod with a 2.5oz tip, with 9.7lb line, 4oz lead, 10inch 15lb braid hooklink fished with a straight halibut pellet and a small pva bag of free offerings to try and draw fish up from downstream but in such a vast waterway using the smelly baits was probably my only chance of getting fish to my vicinity if they were'nt there already, so I had cast out and now the wait had begun.

 During my time on the bank I had been consistently battered by strong winds and drizzle just waiting for maybe one bite that could be my one and only shot of hooking something and a good 3 hours had passed when I was starting to think of changing the bait to a couple of crab and mussle boilies as I have had some Barbel and Chub on the Thames using them and not many on the pellet but the debris coming down was constantly moving even my 4oz lead around the bottom to a point it ended up about 15 foot from where I think I cast it, so I recast to roughly the same position and sat back had a brief conversation on the phone and my rod slammed around with almighty speed, I struck and I was met with a strong resistance and in the current I was doing battle with a big fish by which time it was 730 so it was pitch black, I couldnt see a thing, I put my head torch on and then just waited for the fish to tire, all I could do was hold on and allow it to do whatever it wanted and when it would ease off the gas I'd gain my line back on it.

 5 or so minutes later guessing it was a Carp or a Barbel I reached for my net and put in the water just as a large Barbel came to the surface out of the depths, she went in second time of asking with the first attempt spooking her and lunged back for the main flow. I had landed a good Barbel and a fantastic fish to catch of such a dreadful night which made it all worth while, on the mat she looked immaculate and scale perfect with an almighty belly on it, a fish worthy getting soaking wet for.

 On the Avon's she went 11lb 9oz a lovely fish to catch and may never had been caught before, after a few minutes reviving in the net she swam off back into the river none the wiser.

That was the last action of the night I packed up and went home to get warm and dry off, I'll be back for it's parents soon enough. But smiles all around for the long journey back home.

Thursday 24 January 2013

A Proper Barbel Session.

The other day my youngest brother Chris and I headed out to find some winter Chub and the session threw up more than just Chub as the post title suggests, it turned out to be far more than just the pursuit of the skelly's.

 Early morning start for us both was in order to get down to one our local rivers before sunrise to meet with a friend of ours, Jeff Jr, who set out to locate the Barbel in the lower reaches of the river whose approach was a lot different from ours, the tactic we employed was a simple roving approach, travel as light as possible, so we left Jeff to his own devices and we set off on our way.

 The session started off as planned with a capture of a 3.15 Chub on rolling meat, with my target of 5lb + this fish was the sort of stamp that are average if not just a little above but the larger fish are knocking around but in very small numbers so the target set was a difficult one but I enjoy the challenges that fishing can provide, just a short time after and a fair walk up river I latched into another good sized fish which was noticeably larger with the scales confirming 4.14 much closer to my target and a fantastic sized Chub.

The larger of the 2 Chub.

 Chris unfortunately hadn't had a bite all morning and he was finding it quite difficult to muster attention from his quarry, but that's fishing and he still is learning the ropes in river fishing. With no further fish after about 2 hours we carried on upwards by which time Stu popped over on the bike to stop and have a chat, but it wasn't long before I employed him for net duties when my rod slammed around nearly giving me a heart attack it was so fierce, it could only be a Barbel and the fight was very powerful and I struggled to land the fish on such light tackle, which consisted of that silly 10ft match rod again and 5lb line with a size 8 Barbless hook, but after a good 6 or 7 minute battle and a number of very strong runs a large Barbel slid into the net with an elated Stu calling it a double or his name isn't Stuart, but it registered 9.13 on the Avon's, just missed out on that magical figure but a lovely bonus for what was supposed to be a Chub outing. Sorry mate what shall I call you from now on??.

A lovely specimen and revived to fight another day.

 Well that certainly was not expected and my rod just keeps impressing me, Chris was becoming more irritated at the sight of another fish on the bank that he hadn't had but it's part of the training, thing's like this take time to learn and perseverance is key!, not to kill off the swim I moved straight away and hopefully put Chris on a fish, within 30 minutes he had his chance twice but missed a good solid take both times which could have only been a Barbel but a change of approach was to prove absolutely pivotal as I advised him to go onto the float, first cast the float buried itself and he was struck firmly and a lump of a Barbel was snared but it took a good 5 minutes to overcome it and it was my turn to take over netting duties, whilst Chris was playing it the nerves started to have an effect on the playing and he tried to rush the fish and put pressure on it but I advised him to take it easy as doing that risked losing the fish and all would be in vein but he took heed and played it cautiously and guiding it into the awaiting net, Chris was understandably over the moon as I knew this fish was going to smash his old PB of 7.15.

Nearly a double at 9lb 11ozs, a pristine fish, well done mate.

 He was still shaking with the adrenalin and still reviving his fish when I had a trot through and my rod slammed around, he looked at me in amazement I just laughed whilst doing battle with a good size Barbel, which held firm and low for the entire of the fight until I got it up to the net, so we released Chris's Barbel into the margins then slipped mine in, 7lbs 4ozs it weighed but the colour it had was so good, this season these Barbel have taken on a lovely golden brown tone and us anglers that fish here have all noticed it, what has done it I don't know, my only guess is the diet or the amount of rain we have had has put a ting of colour into it which may have altered the amount of light penetrating the water column thus the Barbel being bottom dwellers their flanks have seen less light so the light hasn't bleached there colour out, just a theory of course.

A perfect example of the condition that our Barbel are in.

 With light fading now we just decided to head back down river towards the station to get home but that walk was is a good 2 mile walk so we just both took a slow walk and talked most of the way back, but walking past a swim that I've always liked I decided to have just a roll or two and on my first cast I felt a pluck on my finger tip and I struck and was met by a fairly strong fight for about four minutes, another Barbel slowly came to the net and that was number three of the day which went 5lbs 0ozs, another future Beast, one cast one fish and move, that sort of fishing is absolutely brilliant and you have to make the most of it as it is a rare occurrence especially in the winter.

 Later on we met up with the man with no name who decided to brave the freezing temperatures as well, he was had a couple of wraps but nothing doing so he decided to head down further so headed down with him and I popped into another swim to have a roll around and after four or five rolls my I struck into a slight bite I felt on my finger which turned out 3 minutes later to be another Barbel.

5lbs 4ozs, a great day's fishing, could it get better??.

 With that fish revived and released, Chris decided he was to have a go instead of being a spectator since his record breaking Barbel but couldn't manage another bite, so we moved and headed to our last port of call before we packed up and headed home, fifteen or so minutes passed when I had a rasping take rolling and immediately knew I was into a big fish, bearing in mind it was pitch black and the swim I was fishing is about 7 foot deep I couldn't see a thing, with the fish charging up river I had to follow it up about 20 yrds as I was totally powerless to turn it as it would have snapped me up on such light gear, staying low and fighting extremely hard I was thinking that it must be a really big fish because it was fast becoming the hardest battle I have ever experienced with a Barbel, the relentless runs kept going and going, nearly ten minutes had passed before I even got it up towards the surface to net, when it then took another powerful surge down river thus having to follow it back down the 20 yrds back into the swim I hooked it in, it really had other idea's in regards to being seen, the longer the fight went on the more my mind was imagining just what I was battling was it a Barbel or was it a Carp as I know they do occasionally get caught here or even a rogue Pike had taken a liking to a piece of meat which isn't unheard of, could it be a huge double or a fish just punching way above it weight, but I finally did manage to tire out the fish and when it surfaced a Barbel appeared my brother reaching for the net and scooping it in first time, I have never been so relieved to land a fish, but it was nowhere near as big as the fight suggested but a very nice fish all the same. excluding the 14.6 monster off of the Hampshire Avon Royalty fishery, this Barbel has to be the most powerful I've ever done battle with, truly amazing and one I will not forget in a hurry for sure. A lovely 8lb 1oz beard, not to mention the best Barbel haul I have ever had, not bad for a Chub session!

My arms were still aching after releasing that fish, "my god", is the only thing I could think of.

 It understandably took a good five or six minutes to restore that Barbel back to health but she swam off very strong and ready to give someone else the potential fight of their life!

 2 x Chub: 3.15 and 4.14
 5 x Barbel : 9.13, 7.4 ,5.0, 5.4, 8.1 

Thursday 17 January 2013

Two's Company.....

 With the really cold stuff coming in soon I felt I had to get out before it really gets a grip on the river systems and try to catch some winter Roach. Today I only had a small window of opportunity to get out and do some fishing as I had work as well, so cramming in a nice 3 hour session in search of a chunky red-fin was my plan, after around an hour commute to my destination I had arrived at the river of my choice, I quickly got ready as I didn't have a lot of time available and I had a positive tug on my float on the first cast, which I missed but second time around I did connect with it and ended up being a 3lbs 9oz Chub, which was quickly followed by a smaller Chub around the 2lb mark, but after the 2 fish I spent about another 45 minutes trotting through with only a couple of touches on the float.

 The bites had dried up so I moved upstream to a slightly shallower stretch where I hoped some Roach were laying up and again quiet quickly the Chub showed their eagerness for a bit of bread, with 3 Chub coming to net in quick succession all around the 3lb mark, so I decided to fish an inch over-depth and almost immediately had a take but it was a very delicate pull and the Chub normally nail it, so I played the fish with caution and I'm glad I did when a lump of Roach was powering against the current heading upstream I started to worry as I was only using a size 16 barbless hook, with a little tension I managed to guide it straight into my net, I'd done it, more luck than judgement though I think, but the size of the Roach had me stumped and I wanted to know how big she was and the scales revealed 2lbs 7ozs my biggest of the season so far.

Erm.... it's been around awhile.

 I had caught my first Roach of the session so I set my keepnet up and then crushed up some bread to get them feeding, hopefully bagging a couple more as the light was failing and within 5 minutes of slipping that one in the net my float slid away again and another quality sized Roach was on the end and for the next 10 minutes the fishing was absolutely brilliant with another 4 Roach coming to the net which weighed, (9ozs, 14oz, 1lb 4oz and 1lb 13oz), some exceptional fishing in what was a usually slow start was really fast becoming one of those sessions you will never forget, plus it was only getting better when my next trot ended up banking a 2lbs 3ozs red-fin, I couldn't believe it and not 10 minutes later I had another 2lb Roach on the bank, that on the scales went to tune of 2lbs 2ozs, I was to say the least ecstatic with the capture that I had made. Not to be greedy though, after landing the 3rd of my 2lb + Roach I packed up and got my pictures done and let them all swim back to their watery home. It made a very cold day feel a lot warmer with the capture of some brilliant fish, on my trip down to the Royalty in September I spoke to a fellow angler who was a member of a well-known Roach fishing club and he was the only member of the club that had never had a 2lb plus Roach so I know these aren't easy to catch I guess I'm just very lucky.

Myself with the other two 2 pound Roach ( 2.3 and 2.2 ).

The Roach triplets, what a bag! Three's definitely not a crowd.

 Tackle used today: Shakespeare 10ft match rod, Shimano Exage 3000 reel, 4lb Rovex ultra thin diameter line, a 7 no8 Avon spigot trotting float with a barbless size16 Drennan super specialist hook and my bait was white bread flake and crushed crusts.

New Addition to the growing collection.

 In my last post when I headed out in search of Roach and Dace, but only managing 2 good Barbel, I briefly mentioned a new piece of kit that I took out with me, the 10 ft Shakespeare match rod that for £20 seems like all thrills rather than no thrills considering the price but it certainly got put through it's paces and did surprisingly well. Plus I am also looking at buying a piece of history in the shape of a Alcock's "match aerial" centre-pin or a Fred Crouch "true pin" centrepin reel but at £170 it's not cheap.

 Also recently I have changed my line to Rovex mono-filament line because of issues with the last brand of line that I had was breaking too easily under slight pressure but no where near enough that would warrant a breakage, to say the least even though it's early doors I've had no problem yet and also a quality that my previous line didn't have was the fact it doesn't mark easily when pinching shot on especially when rolling meat plus the diameter of the line is amazing with the 9.7lb breaking strain spool is 0.23mm. The breaking strains I use is: 4.8lb, 7.3lb and 9.7lb, using various breaking strains for different target species and also based on how snaggy the swims are. A typical spool below for my silver fish trotting.

 Brief catch up from last week as well, my brother Chris and I did pop out for a very short session but unfortunately didn't manage to land any Pike which was our intended target but Christopher did lose a small jack that spat his Sprat just before I was going to net it, but that's fishing and we did fish some really Pikey looking swims whilst on the River Mole but it just didn't pan out as planned but another trip is in order soon hopefully this really cold snap will get the bait fish shoaled up where the Pike will surely start to feed a lot better than have so far this winter.

Just one of the spots we tried but not even a touch.

Saturday 12 January 2013

Funny old sport this...

 Over the weekend I managed to aquire a 10ft Shakespeare match fishing rod (Omni Match) and I have been itching to try it out for some small fish so I decided to go on the hunt for some Roach and other silvers, so with that in mind I spooled up with 5lb line and a selection of floats and a small loaf of bread.

 Again as usual I packed up very light and went for a long walk in search of some fish, but my day didn't go as planned as I'd hoped and finding the Roach and the like was very difficult with only a couple of Dace rising in a 2 mile stretch which was not what I expected but I haven't fished the bottom reaches of my most local river for quite a few years and the river had changed alot since I had last been and seemingly the fish have vanished or playing very hard to find.

 So after a long walk upstream I started to reach the more familiar beats where I know shoals of Dace lay up, so I positioned myself at the top of swim and broke up a hand of bread and watched it drift throw the water levels and creating a white mist of flake as the water carried it downstream, a few seconds later I cast a small piece flake downstream with which my float slowly dipped and the sailed away and a fairly firm strike was met by a wrenching tug on my very light gear and only after a brief fight it broke free cutting my line on something sharp on the bottom, it could only have been a Barbel and fairly sizeable by the brief scrap I did have, so obviously the Barbel were feeding and the silvers weren't so I moved to few more swims with again no joy.

 20 casts later, I was into another Barbel whilst trotting bread flake through a deep pool hoping to find a Roach or Dace but again found a large powerful Barbel that wanted to show off it's immense power against my very light tackle and it did for a good 5 mins when I guided it towards my net but the next thing that happened wasn't in the script when my landing net handle came unattached from my net with Barbel making a break for it to open river, so I needed to start playing the Barbel again and rescue my net whilst working out how I'd land it but I opted in the end to head down to the tail end of the swim and scoop the Barbel out with just the net.
A stocky 8lb 14oz Barbel.
So much for Roach fishing because I had gone even further up stream and had the same issue when on my first trot I had another quality take which ended up being a nice Barbel again at 7lb on the button which also put up a very good strong fight on a very thin and flimsey rod that I certainly didn't expect it to handle the pressure of a Barbel as well as it did, so far for £20 it's looking a right bargain.
Another 7lb bracket Barbel to finish up with.
I'll manage a Roach sometime soon.

Thursday 3 January 2013

New Year Cracker.

Yesterday morning Jeff Jr and myself headed down on to deep surrey armed with a haul of Sprats in search of some Pike and Perch, so after our drive down and a long walk to the river through the fields and covered in mud before we had even started we reached the weir at the top of the stretch we decided to try, it was coming through with some immense force that I have never seen before, the amount of water coming through was almost unthinkable to which Jeff said to me it was up a good 3 to 4 foot and a sandy colour so straight away we knew pike were out of the question for sure but a canal ran adjacent to the river which was carrying the same colour but was a little more fishable than the river which was a shame as we were both looking forward to fishing it.

My friend who only liked me because it was getting fed.

 At first we both started with spinners using a range of different types and lures working the water but we didn't have much joy so Jeff decided to go for Barbel in the slacks using meat and paste and I stuck to canal after a couple of hours of working it I did get my reward when a green Mepps got slammed by a size able Perch of 1lb 8oz caught in a typical swim below.

After spinning for a few hours and only the one Perch I was beginning to think that was all I was going to catch for my efforts but Jeff had only one Chub knock all day, I decided to then start rolling meat with 2x 2ssg shot to get the bait down and with the pace of the water the bait moved perfectly along the bottom, over the time that I was rolling the water level dropped around 2foot or so and I tried about 20 swims in which I didn't manage to muster a bite, as dusk was approaching me and Jeff met up again and decided to set up on the bottom and fish for the Chub and Barbel in the hope something was feeding, with Jeff witnessing a small Barbel around 3lb being caught by another angler it gave us an added sense of confidence.

 This was the swim we set up in for dusk and it looked good with a level run in front of us with slacker water in front of us, with 20 or so minutes gone the rain started to come down lightly and gradually got heavier which bought up the water level by over 2 foot in a very short period of time which nearly caught me and Jeff out as our swim was fast in danger of going under water and also hearing the banks falling into the water as the river tore the away we made a quick getaway before we had to wade back to the path, as the river was up even more than it was before, the amount of swims we could fish due to the power of the water limited us to just one or two swims and as going home at 5pm wasn't really an option we decided to head to the bottom of the beat and set up on a reed bed that had died back and it did look very good with the extra water, though we standing about 6 foot up the bank from where I was fishing earlier in the day which just put in perspective how much it rose.

 For about an hour Jeff and I just put out static meat for around an hour and watched the rod tips with anticipation whilst talking about where we are going to fish this year and what species we're going to try for, when I thought about moving my bait I lifted it up and then started to roll it around the swim when I got the finest of plucks on my fingertip which I hit and the rod bent double and a fish powered away it the current where it remained for a good 5 minutes and really did put my tackle to the test in the powerful flow it was hard to dictate the fight until I managed to get it out of the flow when it headed to the net a good size Barbel appeared and we started guessing how big it was and first estimates were around the 7lb mark but when we finally got it up onto the mat my estimate increased to 9lb+ and Jeff around the 8lb mark, so to end the guessing she went 9lb 2oz and a lovely specimen indeed and first time Barbel fishing on this river a very good return of my time for sure and it made me a very happy man. A beautiful example of the power and poise of this fantastic species.

 The funny thing as well about releasing the Barbel was that I released it in the water that early in the day I standing on and it was dry land about 4 inches above water level at the time, Jeff unfortunately didn't manage any fish even when we headed down to he's favourite swim but the day was mine and very grateful for it, we headed back to the car covered from waist down in mud and very tired as we had done alot of walking and the walk to river from the car was a good mile or so to where we started fishing. But the nicest thing about the trip was the peace and quiet was a god send, it was just us and fishing a very wild river and nothing artificial about it. Happy New Year (belatedly)!

Breaming of a Slime Fest.

   As the weather begins to warm so does the water and slowly but surely the Bream will come to a point where they will go off and spawn, en...