Friday 27 October 2017

Autumn Barbel: End of a Baron Spell.

 When I decided I was going to put more time on the bank in the evenings I did for a moment think it wouldn't be easy, but it has been harder than I imagined. Over a kilo of boilies and pellet has gone out in just over a fortnight in a handful of swims which look good for a fish, however no matter how good these swims have looked, most of them have produced nothing, not even a liner. Perseverance is a key factor for sections of river like this, low stock, very snaggy and no info to go on in regards to catches ( so I could try and devise a plan based on other anglers results/blanks ), without this it's all blind, although I must confess I am not a total stranger to this area.

 For nine trips up until tonight I had really struggled, a Barbel a few trips back was the tangible evidence I was in the right areas, five trips later and five blanks threw me a massive curveball, just when I thought I was getting somewhere, this evening I got down the river still with light in the sky which made my life a little easier. A few small handfuls of loose feed went out just whilst the gear got setup, little did I know though, over the last couple of weeks the rains have pushed all sorts into the swim I fished this evening, cast out for the first time and straight away felt the line was really tight, plenty of tugging to free my terminal tackle ended up in the line breaking.....great start !

 Second the spot, perfect.......five minutes later a lump of loose weed pulled the lead out of position and into that unseen snag......setup number two gone......this was getting expensive and also time consuming as I had to tie yet another rig!. I thought to myself I need to get a bait out and keep it out there, owing to the leaves and weed the lead size was increased to a 1.5oz which was swung out, unfortunately for me I over-egged it and into a tree on the far bank.......I didn't think it could get worse, it could of I suppose had I not been able to get it back, composure was needed, I could easily have packed in there and then.

 Finally after plenty of measuring up the cast I wanted hit the spot, a lovely solid thud as the lead hit gravel, just where the bait was going, could I keep the bait in the water long enough now was my worry, I sat and watched the end of my rod to see it sat rather still which made me feel confident the lead was holding in the spot, just to give me half a chance. Twenty minutes or so had elapsed when the silence was broken by two nearly fully grown Fox cubs which were playing just behind me, I sat on my chair with my back turned to the rod watching them when I heard the very sound I have missed, a screaming centrepin! Action at last.

 Obvious from the beginning I was into a decent fish as the slow calculated fight ensued downstream, the first run happened so quickly I could only let the fish go, I nearly paid the price too as it found a large weedbed which it buried its head in, thankfully it didn't take too much to ease it out. A few minutes of charging around in the torchlight I could make out the outlines of a good fish but a foot or so down and thirty/forty feet away it's hard to gauge accurately. The net was shipped out as she finished off her surging runs with a dash for more cover, but with good control over her it didn't take much more to slip the net under my prize, I enjoyed that.

10lbs 7ozs

A real minter!

 Not been easy and started to forget what a proper Barbel looked like, on the scales she rested on 10lb 7oz, on the Trent it's a good fish but not uncommon, here however a fish of this size is far from common! just the size I was after, I know the stocks are low and with this the average size tends to be bigger which is why the decision was made to target it more.

Never ceases to amaze me how good this rod is to use!

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Bit of a Mixed Bag.

 Fishing isn't always about catching big fish, or at least actively, the sight of an autumn Gudgeon cuttings its way through the gin clear river on a crisp morning is just as nice. Catching this morning was pretty slow to start with, the overnight winds culled a lot of leaves along the river bank and the river was full of them, even trotting was made difficult. This particular run has provided me with some great sport over the years, the first hour was poor but the consistent feed got the fish moving off the bottom and into the upper layers where they became more confident, I fished a simple 4BB stick float and fished about 6inches over depth and held back the float in the ceases which produced steadily for the remaining 3 hours I spent there.

 A mix of Gudgeon and Minnows kicked it off with my best Gonk weighing exactly 2ozs on the mini scales, my first over two ounces this season that I have weighed, the minnows were relentless to begin with, however the Dace began to get a look in, three came in a short spell, all of which were over 8oz! the best weighed 12oz 2dr, my biggest Dace from this particular section, something I did not expect. The Roach didn't show up until well into the third hour when a nice pound plus fish made it's way through the swift current and into the net, 1.03 the verdict, a few of them and it would be a good morning's fishing.

Mint Roach.

Clonking Dace!

Little stunners.

 By the close of play I managed a bag of 6lb 13oz of Dace, a Chublet, Roach and Gudgeon mix, the Dace and the best Roach making up the bulk of the weight, not as prolific as I have experienced in the past but a nice few hours faffing around, a two-pound Roach is a possibility so you can never tell what is in store when I arrive on these banks.

 Not a terrible substitute for my failed trip down south as the storm would have made conditions tough, the Avon probably would have been carrying colour thus not ideal conditions for stalking a big Esox, maybe next week.

Thursday 19 October 2017

Autumn Barbel: Hard Going.

 For nearly a week now I've been dropping bait in a few swims with a big Barbel in mind. Sightings of fish have become almost non-existent which leads me to believe they are leaving the shallower not so-weedy runs for some of the deeper runs, where they will hopefully start to fatten up, most of what I have caught in the last two months haven't been in amazing conditions, although there is always the occasional one which is built like a breeze block, just looking for a 12lb+ breeze block for my Autumn fishing, what ever else comes along in the meantime will be greatly appreciated, bites haven't been forthcoming.

 I had a two hour evening trip on Monday which proved to be fruitless, not even a sniff, but I got the chance to put a little bait out to hopefully get the fish moving into the swims I have been prepping, Tuesday I popped back out, the plan exactly the same but conditions were completely different, mainly due to the arrival of Hurricane Ophelia the winds were pretty strong, some gusts were making even the largest of the trees creek under the strain, this causing a huge amount of leaves to fall and the river was littered with them, not to mention sticks to whole branches were coming through every couple of minutes and pulling my tip around, keeping a bait in the water was tough.

 After plenty of trying with dusk just settling in my centrepin burst into life and the cane slammed around, no mistake in that take!. A staunch battle ensued against some far bank vegetation as it darted under to shed my hook, she made a good attempt but I wanted to land it more than "it" wanted to get away, a few minutes of continual lunges for freedom and she was in the net, dusk is the time, like a switch being flipped. Not a monster but 7lb 13oz is not bad, I'm in the right areas. The rest of the evening slipped by without another touch.

 Wednesday evening after work I was back down, with more bait put in the swims I am slowly starting to feel confident that the fish are going to begin to congregate in the knowledge more bait could be going in, just need to keep away from the Chub. A quick cast in one of the swims as I didn't have long resulted in a small Chub around 3lb, not quite what I was hoping for when the rod tried to disappear downstream, which incidentally crapped my bait all over the net and mat, someone was hungry!.

 Thursday, unfortunately finished work too late to get on the bank so it's given me time to do this post. I'll be back down soon, but before then the Avon Pike population are going to get some attention, followed by a 36hr session on the D.Stour, it's all go now :)

Monday 16 October 2017

Predator Season off to a Good Start.

 The mighty Thames, a boat and some live baits is possibly the best angling combo possible, the unknown monsters, the inevitable slipping under of the float, it could be 4lb pound, could be 32lb you just don't know and that anticipation is gripping, so much so when October came around I was making noises about getting out in the boat for a virgin Pike cruise. Now it wasn't necessarily a Pike trip to start with as Perch were actually the primary target but the lure of the Pike couldn't be ignored, so I didn't even set up perch gear, Brian only managed twenty minutes or so before caving in to his inner Pikey self.

 After a short motor around the pool we anchored up just off the main weirs flow, the bait went out and it was didn't take long before my float slipped under, I was away! A healthy bend in the rod indicated it wasn't a small fish, after playing her in the deeper water for a few minutes she cruised up toward the net, what looked a low double was resting in the net. Good start!

 The day only got better still as the bites came in very short spells as the Pike went into hunting mode, it was great fun with four taken over two days and lost another four, which was through poor tackle selection more than anything else, that will not happen again, prepared now properly before we get in amongst the big girls which will start to come on the feed now. Looking forward to it for certain!

Another shot of the top one, looked awesome.

Looked good, nothing on that trot.

 Won't be long and I'll be back out in the boat, ready for a shot at the larger residents.

Sunday 15 October 2017

Carp Bug: Part Three.

 Since I had made an effort to get some Carping done which culminated in banking a personal best river Carp I decided on targeting a lake where a forty pounder is a possibility and with enough time spent on it and a little luck I may come across ones path, only fishing a single rod I fancy my chances but a second rod would certainly make the task a little easier. The gear I have been using on this particular lake is a 9ft 2.1/4 TC Greys OutKast rod, 12lb and a running lead rig or choddy, depending on where I fish in particular.

 Unfortunately baiting up isn't really an option as the birdlife simply wipes it out the moment it hits the lake bed, quite annoying for sure but there are ways around not attracting the scores of Coots and Tufted ducks, either walking the bait out (not always the best option) and dropping bait around the area or PVA bagging it out, the latter is what I prefer to do as it causing only the one bit of disturbance, hence not attracting the bird life as much, walking it out has now been clocked on by the birds and no sooner do some anglers get back to the bank they are already dining out!

 Through personal experience on this lake in the past single baits and a mobile approach are often very good, especially in the warmer conditions, so many Carp have fallen to this roving approach and with Carp to 35lbs 8ozs falling to it, it's hard not assume that any other tactic would be better, so this was me on my last time out on the lake. Now, for the time being I'm only going to refer to it as 'The Lake" as I know a few of you will know where this is but for those who don't all will become clear, reason for this is some of the lakes residents are very famous Carp are of an ilk that are rare these days, full blooded originals, most of which have evaded my attentions for quite some time, albeit fleeting trips on and off.

 Can I be serious in catching the lakes monsters just being a part timer?, not really I suppose, I will however make more of a concerted effort as surely a couple of these larger upper thirties/low forties may only have a couple of years left in them and the rigours of spawning may lay claim to some fatalities, I want to achieve a goal of mine, catching a forty pound plus Carp and more importantly an original, such designs have been made by many anglers but most have never achieved them, I will certainly give it a try.

 Sitting behind rods for me is a tough ask, I am as restless as an ant, always wanting to keep moving. It may count against me at times but the amount of fish landed through this mindset ensures my focus isn't broken, the desire to keep searching burns even when times are tough, it's a numbers game after all and it "will" come good in time. This peach that turned up on a short session recently certainly wasn't one of the big girls that I am after but a welcome bend in the rod on what can be a very tough lake, some of the best Carp anglers in the country have cut their teeth on here and many have worked hard to get what they wanted out of it.

A blistling bronze Autumn Common, 16.03.
 The rest of that session drifted by without another knock but my brother Richard joined me for a nag for a couple of hours and we sat, watching the surface to see if anything breached to give away positions of potentially feeding Carp, unfortunately nothing picked up a bait and I disappeared to get to a previous engagement. I did get back a few days later but it played tough again and a four hour session passed by without as much as liner.

 So 4 sessions and 3 Carp to upper doubles is not a bad start at all, I just hope to get amongst the big girls sooner rather than later!

Thursday 12 October 2017

Beast From the South East.

 Not much to write on this one, but for the future is very bright. Mint, perfectly proportioned and all the hallmarks of a monster in the making, for such a small Barbel, possibly 12oz-1lb, I was as happy to catch that as I would a 7-8lb specimen.

 Hard not to love these!


Thursday 5 October 2017

In Search of Monster Chub: Thin on the Ground.

 Another day, another trip, this one was getting back on the trail of a seven pound plus Chub. Over the last few weeks I've been keeping my ear to the ground on how the river was fishing and most reports coming back didn't fill me with confidence, however I fancied it in the conditions, the wind was a lot cooler but it gave the feeling of a winters day and that always fills me with hope.

 The river was clear with a few inches on, ideal for a Chub, I picked a few small patches of gravel and fed some pellet, boilies and crumb to draw any feeding fish in, even if a Barbel showed up I'd be very happy to try. I decided to start at an overhanging bush which appeared to hold a couple of Chub on my last visit, knowing this I fed some broken baits out and put my rig straight in the mix, sat back and waited, twenty minutes later the rod lurched round and I was in, the clutch gave off a quick screech as it made off for the bush, I wasn't having any of it though. Halfway through the fight and cruising towards my bank in the eddy a huge Pike rose up off the bottom and stalked my Chub which was a low 4lb fish with the view to nail it, the Pike either an upper double or a low twenty followed my catch all the way to bank before drifting out of sight, that what close!

One of the two early Chub.
 After that excitement I was rather hoping for a hectic morning. After an hour or so it was apparent a hectic start wasn't going to materialise, so I decided to head around the neighbouring swims with a float rod and some bread, this proved to be a good idea as I managed another Chub (4.06) but a bigger one was sat side by side, as soon as I hooked the "four" the bigger fish vanished, not to be seen again. By 3pm I'd moved half a dozen times but simply couldn't get a touch, apart from a rogue fry-munching pike, I couldn't resist not fishing for it!

Not a monster but good sport.
 Another couple of hours passed before an take came to fruition, but when it did ( didn't think it was coming ) the take was brutal, the line pulled tight in an instant and the tip violently ripped around, certain Chub I thought to myself, I was right, it didn't appear to be a big fish, the fight though was deceptive, short lunging runs and head knocking had me thinking a big fish, for a couple of minutes i couldn't tell, even when it came towards the net there was plenty of uncertainty, I lifted the net to find a thick set fish and possibly a six pounder, not what I initially thought!

I thought it was six!

Mint condition, not quite a six pounder though.
  When I got the chance to photograph and weigh her I was to find out that at 5.10 it was clearly lacking at the back end, December onwards surely it will tip the scales past that milestone, I wasn't complaining though, it was a good a fish on a tough day, so tough that apart from a couple of liners before dusk that was my lot. Three Chub and a Pike....that'll do, it's been harder on other trips. I am looking forward to the winter Chubbing though, very much so!

Wednesday 4 October 2017

Autumn Barbel, Quest for a Monster Begins.

 Now with the warmer months behind us the rods come out to play for a better chance at catching a super sized Barbel, not many places on this island where they are common, locating them is a tall order especially that my target is a 15lb+ specimen, go to the Trent and stand a half decent chance? Avon, Stour (Dorset), Ouse etc these are all rivers that have done fish to this size and beyond or still do as is the case with the Avon, it's just a difficult river to learn, especially as I am an away day angler on these rivers, my more local rivers (Thames Tributaries) don't often give up it's treasures easily, but there is no harm in trying!

 Over the years I've spent countless hours walking and fishing a handful of these rivers and been very fortunate with what I have achieved but taking it to the next level will not be easy, if anything I know I'll enjoy the journey ahead as I always do.

 Recently I got out for my first proper session, baited a couple of areas with the intention of keeping it going in, build the swims so that they gain confidence for when the proper feeding times come along, typically a mild spell after a prolonged cold spell is best, but this isn't gospel! Unfortunately with the baited areas fresh I didn't manage a take but all will come good I'm certain. With the lack of action there I choose a different approach elsewhere and after a decent walk I was rewarded with a fighting fit, long and lean summer conditioned Barbel of 8.11, certainly got room to fill out there!


Mid 7lber

 Proceedings were looking up from there as it wasn't long before another Barbel, this time taken on bread flake came to the net, great condition and possibly a young Barbel ( hopefully with good growth genes ), be good to see a larger head of high single figure fish. After recovering that whisker in the flow I set off downstream further but the Barbel weren't forthcoming and only a Chub slipped up before I called it a day, not a bad couple of hours which in truth was only to get the baiting up started.

Monday 2 October 2017

Carp Bug: Part Two.

 Leading on from my first post regarding the Carp my fishing seemed to be going smoothly from the get go, after fishing on the lake I was on I decided to go for a drive somewhere I've never fished, only walked it a couple of times in the last closed season, these hours spent were to prove absolutely key. Over the years I could only imagine how many hours I have accrued whilst searching for Carp and many other species, to tell the truth I never think to myself "that was a waste of time", because there is always something to learn, whether it's fish stocks or gathering information on certain areas for potential campaigns.

 Now searching for Carp on a river is never easy especially when it's narrow in places, overgrown, choked with weed and so on, needle-in-a-stack type of fishing but I always enjoy this type of fishing more, the feeling of adventure is what does it for me and the sheer anticipation of finding something worth the effort. Thankfully the river was clear and I found that a tad fortuitous as we have had a considerable amount of rain, it seemed to have done nothing to the colour although I could see the higher waterline of some roots where it had been.

 For well over an hour, maybe two I bullied my way through nettles almost untouched which led me to believe it's not getting much attention. As I continued my way down river I started to get that feeling I wasn't going to find something to cast at apart from scores of small Chub and a couple of Pike, nothing of note and as I was on a Carp mission I didn't want to lose focus. Maybe another twenty minutes later on I came to a row of overhanging trees which created a vast canopy and I felt this would be a good place for a few fish to hold up, unfortunately it was only Chub again, everywhere I looked it was Skelly soup!.

 Then out of the corner of my eye I noticed something cruising under the far bank vegetation and disturbing the surface of the water, as it appeared from the edge of the bush I could see it was a small Common maybe 8-9lb, it was start and no sooner did I spot that fish another two came into view and one was really big! that was the one I came for, however getting a bait to it was not easy, where it was so overgrown I had to make a cast over the top of some briars and hope the line didn't snag on any thorns, perilous stuff, nevertheless to stand a chance of catching her I had to get a bait out but the scores of Chub could also pose a problem as they were ravenous at the plop of anything. Then a plan came to mind to give me a chance, I fed loads of crust in one go upstream and the Chub went mental, almost leaving me just the Carp, operation big Carp was in full swing and was working, just needed to get the bait in front of the Carp, first cast and not 6ft from it I could see every bit of the one I wanted, as the slow drift of the current inched the flaker closer to the Carp, she reared up and without hesitation opened her mouth and my bread flake disappeared!

 In utter disbelief I was locked into battle with a monster river Carp, something I didn't think would happen seeing how long I'd walked with nothing but blanks spaces and chub. Nevertheless I was bent into a good fish and my MKIV was being put through it's paces somewhat, the bend was frightening and wondered just how much more pressure I could put on it, the snags were everywhere and the ribbon weed was so dense, how I managed to get it close to the net after a couple minutes was beyond me but I was in a position to mug it so the net was shipped out quicker than a flash of lightning. As she inched over the edge of the net the water erupted for ages as the fight continued in the net, she went absolutely ballistic, but what a creature.

A 30inch spoon almost completely filled!

 After calming her down a bit I readied the scales and set up the camera whilst wedging the landing net pole between my legs, then the fun began, everytime I lifted her up for a photo she flipped, weighing, flipped, rest up, flip, she never gave up and part of me thinks she'd never been caught before and didn't know how to respond, when the time come and she had settled down I got a couple of photos to savour the moment and weighed her quickly, the outcome? a new river personal best at 28lb 3ozs, I was made up like you wouldn't believe, could this go thirty pound? Damn skippy she could, built like a coke machine with room to grow too, I was made up so much.

My face said it all, she was difficult to hold !
 And after she sat in the net preparing to be set free back in to the wild I said my farewells and in the blink of an eye the huge paddle vanished from sight back into the depths, that was it for me, I was so content that I folded the rod away and walked the river back up, peering into the areas I did on the way down, but nothing more than a few small Chub. I may come back to see if anything else is present, maybe a river thirty! 

Sunday 1 October 2017

Carp Bug: Part One

 After reading Terry Hearns "Pursuit of the Largest" has engaged the inner Carper, something I've not done properly for a long time and not likely to do it for long, this will be a stop gap whilst the colder weather settles in and I can target the Grayling and Pike. I have had an eye on a couple of locations of late, a couple of lakes and couple of separate sections of river where I believe a chance or two will come about should I put the time in.

 Carp are typically a target around April to June as the river season isn't open and I sometimes struggle to decide on what to target, lakes, canals and reservoirs are not in short supply where I live (within 30 minutes drive) and when the conditions are right they do make for good fun, especially on the canals as they are extremely nomadic. However on a lake they don't have much choice but to be close by, just a little smarter and do take some work to get amongst. So my latest foray on the Carp front has resulted in some ground work but I didn't expect it to take too long, problem is many anglers I encounter do the same thing and wonder why not many are "coming out", a little variety in tactics usually does the trick and this trip in particular was no different, a good couple of hours resulted in three Carp all in the double figure bracket but certainly not the monsters I have in mind.

 Good practice though it has to be said and my MKIV Avon got a very good workout which was to be expected, so here were the first of the candidates, it has to be said they are pretty and in very good condition too.

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 ...