Sunday, 26 February 2017

Past Pleasures. Barbel.


 Over the years I have accumulated a scrapbook of specimen Barbel, plenty of fantastic memories I been experienced on various rivers across the country, double figure Barbel are a big fish on any river and I have been lucky enough to catch to just shy of 14½lb, many doubles have found my net over the years and this season has been no exception, this collection is just some of the images I've accrued over the years.

10.03

9.00

11.00

13.12

10.15

10.10

11.13

11.12

12.00

10.06

10.08

10.12

11.06

10.04

10.07

10.15

10.05

9.11

9.15

11.02

9.14

14.06 Personal Best.

12.06

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Chasing Chub in the Jaws of the Wind.


 For this weekend I had solid plans to finally after many years get myself on the mighty tidal Trent, all week I had been getting little bits and bobs organised with one eye firmly on the weekend......then came that storm we were warned about. Having not factored the aftermath in my plans I was facing a dilemma, shall I go or not? considering the preparation already put in the decision was tough but my gut told me to bail out, which it has to be said isn't me as I'd fish through a hurricane if I knew there was a good chance of big fish, which there would have been too, but to go on a near 400 mile round trip for it to be a disaster was too greater risk to take.

An aggressive Crow harassing a Buzzard.

 Instead I planned to go on more familiar territory.......Chub it was, but never going to threaten any PB's. However sometimes it's just good to catch, the conditions faced with today it seemed as if just getting the float to run in a straight line would be a challenge in itself.

 Challenge accepted, half an hour of flicking maggots out in the main run I decided to get fishing and the sport was fairly instant as a number of small Chub slipped safely into the net but not before a thick set chevin of exactly 5lb, I somehow neglected to pack the keepnet which is very unalike me, so all of my catch was going to head straight back into the shoal, knowing this I had to keep the feed going in to maintain their attention and ignoring the fact their mates were getting a good tug. I have recently found some very interesting results in my Chub fishing seeing as I've targeted them a lot more than I usually would.

 The interesting results are that I found some of the Chub have been approx 22-24 inches in length which should put them at an average weight of 5.4 to 6.4 and on various rivers I have noticed differences of more than a pound! whether this is down to genetics, feeding, available food, shoal density (competition) and/or angling pressure. Exactly what the reasons are it's clear some Chub are in a much better condition than others, this was bought to my attention today more so than previous. I landed a Chub which weighed 4.14 and was exactly 23.5 inches in length but it's stomach sank in rather than the typical portly appearance of a winter Chub, yet others that were caught today were in a good condition, one of the other Chub that I managed weighed a very pleasing 5lb 5oz which measured 22.4 inch, I never usually measure fish as I personally think it's extremely anal' but for this instance it's really got me thinking what the reasons are for the poor condition of some fish.

I'm happier than I look!

 The "5.5" I landed which turned out to be the best of the day was very wide across the chest/back and was fairly solid but again I felt there was plenty more space to fill into, I "think" I inclusively fish this area so the premise of being pressured is out of the window, so it's making me think in a bit of detail as to what is going on down under the surface of the rivers I fish and indeed all across the country. Chub across the country seem to be on the whole down in weight, whether these factors are different from that I'm experiencing closer to home is hard to tell but there may be a connection. One for the experts possibly as I'm certainly not one!, just at catching them :)

Below is a not so accurate gauge for size to weight ratio as this doesn't take into condition of girth and depth as I know this can vary massively from fish to fish. But my 5.5 today measured 22.4 inches which falls almost perfectly into that line of thinking, where as the 4.14 measured 23.5 inches which would put that around the 6 - 6.4 mark, by looking at the frame of the Chub (length wise) in good condition that Chub could reach that milestone.

25 ins - 6lb 8 oz
24 ins - 6lb 4oz
23 ins - 6lb
22 ins - 5lb 5oz
21 ins - 4lb 10 oz
20 ins - 4lb 4oz
19 ins - 3lb 8oz
18 ins - 3lb 4oz
17 ins - 2lb 12 oz
16 ins - 2lb 5oz

 As the day progressed the wind got increasing stronger and even managed to blow a 400g block of my finest cheesepaste into the river, never did see it again and that's been growing mould for months, when you have to cover your nose when opening the bag you know it's good, so to lose it having only pinching off one piece was bit of a bummer, serves me right for leaving a near half a kilo slab of cheese out for the wind to blow away.......that twisted my melon somewhat.

2 Toads in a hole.

 Two o'clock came and I'd had my fun, hometime and dry out all the gear. twelve Chub including two "fives" is a good trip and had that been the offer at the beginning I would have taken it. 

Friday, 24 February 2017

Barbel Sessions.


 Recently I have embarked on a few trips albeit short in search of a monster Barbel, with only one blank in five a monster Barbel is still out there. A mix of short day and evening visits have seen Barbel to 7.6 landed and a few Chub to low 4's.

Absolute perfection.

Best of the last couple of trips. 7.6.

Short fat fish.

6.4

Poised to spring into action.

A nice little selection for those hungry Chub and Barbel.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Search for Monster Chub: Part Nine.


 This searching for monster Chub has not been easy, as location, timing and bait selection/execution has to be perfect to tempt such greedy fish. I wonder sometimes just how many big Chub I passed over the past twelve months, what with a couple of donkey's seen during the summer soaking up the sun as they watched my 6mm pellets flutter through the water column I feel I've been close, almost close enough to touch them.

The gear all set, no centrepin for this trip, 80 yard retrieves are hard work!.

 So having managed some more time on the bank the hunt was very much back on. During the week I blitzed a few loaves of bread so I could lace my intended swims to try and get positive feeding spells where I could possibly wangle one or two out. Arriving on the river the conditions were bang on, arguably the best I've seen it all season, all I had to do was catch and it would be complete.....


 Funnily enough my day didn't start with Chub!, as strange as that sounds bearing in mind that the prime target I found myself trying to catch some livebait with one eye on dunking a Dace in a number of very Pikey looking holding areas, by lunchtime I gave up on the idea and took a Savage Gear 20cm line-through "Rainbow Trout", a few chucks around before a solid thump was sent reverberating through the rod, it didn't take long but unfortunately nor did the fight as a young Pike of 5lb+ eased into the net, not bad but it's Grandmother was the target.

 Proceeding's after the first half of the day were slow going so a change of venue was made, a change that did reap rewards, just not big ones as I'd hoped but target species found so it made me feel confident others were present, four Chub came to the net in a very short spell and a solitary Roach with the best Chub weighing just under 4lb.


 That aforementioned confidence by 8pm had waned somewhat and I ended up texting Brian who was downstream that we should bang it on the head for our digs for the night, whilst in the pub we formulated a vague plan that we'd hope give us a chance.

 Another change of scenery meant that we had given ourselves a good chance to locate some feeding Chub, I headed off to a run where I know good heads of fish reside and got straight to feeding the swim with crumb for over twenty minutes before trotting, I decided to stick with the crumb as I always feel strongly that if there is some colour in the water, which there was, the Chub will feed on it, the float continued on down the run time and time again with a dip then all of a sudden half hour into the fishing the float slipped under and a weighty fish played out a good fight mid-river, for a couple of minutes I didn't know what I was playing until it approached the net, as it rolled over and fought a little more I got a full sighting of the fish I was connected to, a thick set Chub possibly over six pound, having played it quite calmly anyway I just let it do what it wanted within reason, then out of nowhere my hooklink inexplicably parted just above the hook, I was furious to say the least and had to clear the air before replacing the hook-length.

 Nearly two hours it took to get another chance, that chance did come in the form of a long lean Chub of 4.09, not a monster but certainly good to see one on the bank but the rest of the day passed by with only the occasional twitch on the tip, a trip that highlighted everything current about most of the rivers I target, they're proving hard to crack. I must continue.

A long lean Chub, so much room to fill out.



Saturday, 18 February 2017

Bold Biters!


 It's a scenario that I'm not often faced with but as I'm getting slightly older I feel the cold a lot more now than I used to, so much so that on Sunday I decided to venture out ( with Roach and Chub in mind ) and felt the freezing temperature I thought about calling it off and jump back into bed, five - ten years ago it wouldn't have even crossed my mind to bail out on a session. However there is still a little part of me that has no regard for the conditions and just wants to get out fishing.

On a cold day I never overlook bread.

 Once I had overcome the frozen extremities I finally got myself into gear and decided to start on the float, the river itself was carrying plenty of colour and was certain that this would give me a good chance at some Chub but the Roach I thought would be a tough ask, even with the colour in the river and untold debris still coming down I still tried for an hour or so to find one.

 Three swims later I had absolutely nothing to show for my efforts, nearly two hours spent scratching my head and trying to work out what was going wrong, bread I always find when roving in those conditions works very well and couldn't buy a bite. I continued to move around and was now a mile or so upstream from where I first started, the walk did warm me up slightly, coincidentally not as much as seeing your float slip away after your first trot in the next swim. It was the perfect start in the run and whatever I had hooked was a playing a very slow deep and hard fight, at first I thought I'd hooked a Barbel, a couple of minutes of hanging deep had me thinking but all the time I was slowly gaining on it. Shortly after getting the fish parallel with me it came up out of the murky brown water and a large Chub surfaced, I scrambled to get the net and slipped the net under what was an easy five, maybe even "six-pounder".

5.12. My best from this watercourse, breeze block of Chub.

 It was clearly a big fish and had gorged on water snail recently as it coughed up a few dozen onto the mat when I prepared the scales, it was thick, deep and a very good length too, it had all the hallmarks of a "six", the scales gave me a reading of 5lb 12oz and a new best for the river, one I have fished extensively and not managed anything over "5.10" which was back in 2011, I was understandably very happy and on my first trot too, I staked the keepnet in the margins and slipped her in. The next twenty minutes provided me with a very pleasing head of Chub, the next five fish weighed 4.13, 3.15, 3.7, 3.8 and 2.12 which was not bad at all, then the trot started to slow up so I put the rod aside and laced the run with bread crumb at 30 second intervals to stimulate the shoal into feeding again, I was certain more were present.

On the entire 2 mile beat I fished this was the only area that held fish.

 I had a quick chinwag on the phone with a friend before casting back out and for the next two hours the sport was consistent and another five Chub made there way into the safety of my awaiting net, I was in the zone, the size of the Chub seemed to increase again as fish of 4.10, 5.02, 4.07, 4.14 and 5.03. It was a red-letter-day and in the conditions it took some staying power to continue fishing and I'm glad I did!


 48lb 7oz of Chub was just what the doctor ordered. I decided to give another swim a go after my Chub tree died off but I spent another thirty minutes without a bite, it seems all the Chub in a mile and half section were held up in one swim, amazing how different the day could have been had I not fished that swim, lucky me eh!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Game On.


 A 430am rising could only mean one thing!, it was time to hit the road for another bash at a specimen Roach, this time it was to revisit a slice of angling heaven, the tantalising prospect of large uncaught redfins is far too much for me to ignore, the idea was great but I know all to well the sheer cunning required to catch such clever fish.

 The river looked amazing when Brian and I arrived, a slight tinge of colour and a gentle mist rolling off the surface as we approached the hut, all I could think about was to get started and head to a lovely sweeping bend at the tail end of a pool I saw over two-dozen Roach in the Autumn. There was however one issue that there was to overcome, the game fish. These were everywhere, much to my annoyance it seemed every trot down the inviting pool I set my stall on was culminating in thrashing foam as the dirge of Trout ploughed their way through half a loaf of bread, it certainly made things difficult as every time I tried to get close to where the Roach were holding up the float would slip under but the end result not what was hoped for.

Just magical, a lovely time to be on the bank.

 After persevering for over two hours in that one swim I had decided to move on and try something different, I simply could not get past the appetite of the Trout, the Grayling were fairly elusive too which was strange, no sooner did I think that the float slipped away and the tell-tale Grayling fight ensued, it wasn't a bad one either as it approached the net I thought it was a good 1½lb, not a Roach but it was fine, the next twenty minutes resulted in very little, so I decided to swap over onto a cage feeder fished with a piece of flake on a tiny hook-length, it turned out to be an inspired decision as I landed on a small shoal of big Grayling, six fish in just half an hour and all were upper 1's (1.11, 2x1.13, 2x1.14 and the largest at 2lb on the nose), not something I expected but great to see as the remainder of the river looked devoid of larger Grayling and previous catches have been extremely low.



Another lump in the net.

 Seems that bit of good fortune was the turning point of the session, but not for me, a text came through with a shot of what I was after, a Roach! and a lovely one at that. Old, antiquated, characterful and exactly what a good Roach looks like, the only unfortunate thing about it was the fact she was going backwards, a frame of a comfortable "two-pounder" but now hanging around the 1¾lb mark, but when they look that good weight is in material. Needless to say once seeing that fish I stepped up my efforts, but decided to stick with the bait and wait approach to see if any more Roach were in the area. The endless attention from the Trout made things very difficult to get any consistency with a bait in the water, but I knew that a move bait was even worse, I hoped as dusk approached that the Trout would switch off and the attentions would turn to the Roach and maybe a couple of rogue Grayling.

 For a couple of hours I watched the tip like a hawk to see any tell-tale Roach indications but as the sun disappeared and the sound of the roosting Pheasants filled the air my quarry remained very much a target but not a reality, we decided by about 6pm that we should call it a night and head back to London but whilst I was packing my limited gear away Brian went to the hut for his 1 Billion candle watt power touch, I do believe you could see through the fish with the brightness and we used this to good effect, even if it was a by-product of some good timing and luck, as we scanned the clean chalk/gravel bottom I noticed a large Roach sat in a foot of water and then quickly followed by another. Clearly they had dropped downstream probably due to the commotion caused by the hoards of Trout frolicking in my swim.


 I thought that Roach by candle-light was a good idea and they weren't too bothered to be in the spotlight either, I jogged upstream full of a new found optimism and set up my rod with just a single SSG shot and bread flake. The idea was simply to get the bait upstream of the Roach and tease it into position, bare in mind that now it's pitch black and the only light we had was the torch, it was good fun and the heart rate increased which caused issue with our breath in the freezing cold air as we both tried to stop breathing in front of the torch as it was blocking our view into the water. At one point a large Roach over 2lbs was cruising up the inside of a run and was no more than 7ft from us as I dropped a small piece of flake in front of it, the cast was perfect and I bounced the bait to within a foot of the Roach and it sidled up to it as if it would suck the bait down any second, the heart really started to pump hard now and before we knew it she dropped off and disappeared into the deeper run in the middle and was not seen again.

 Had I have caught that Roach it would have been a first for me, I've stalked Carp at night, Rudd and even Pike but never stalked Roach at night by design, quite an experience but it wasn't to be that night, my luck on the specimen Roach front is becoming very few and far between, knowing how rare two-pound specimens are I haven't had one this season, it will be the first season since 2009/10 that I wouldn't have achieved the feat, but I suppose all good and great things must come to an end, at least the captor was full of joy and why wouldn't he be, lovely way to cap off what was a cold but enjoyable day on arguably the prettiest beat I have fished on any river.

 I will be back!

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Chub on the Quick.


 Short and sweet. Sometimes when after species like Chub and Barbel longer sessions aren't usually needed as if the conditions are right, location and bait selection are spot on too then just like last Wednesday evening the indications come fairly quickly.

 I aimed to get down the river for half five or along those lines but as six o'clock came and went I was still working, thankfully it wasn't a long drive but still took over an hour due to heavy traffic, once I had arrived the wind howled through the tree-lined bank but having made the effort I tried to ignore the blustery weather and find a swim where I would be sheltered, en-route I had a couple of areas in mind, the first I wanted to settle on was sheltered so that was perfect for me, I set-up a standard running 10" rig on a 1oz lead, bait wise with the conditions so bang on for static fishing I went with a 14mm LA Sausage Sizzle boilie.

 With it being pitch black I just flicked out ten-foot out but with lots of debris coming down I didn't want to go any further out in the flow, ten minutes later I had a very confident rap and my Mark IV came alive, but only momentarily, likely to have been a tentative pull on the bait but not a committed take, fifteen minutes after that the decisive slam of the tip came, this time there was no hesitation.

 Initially I thought it was a small Chub but once it slipped in the net and lifted it out of the river I could clearly tell it was a decent fish, the bend in the rod whilst playing it was healthy but didn't know it was going to be a 5lb plus fish. Pleasantly surprised for certain as a five pound Chub on any river is a good fish, had a very good season for them but "sixes" have been hard to find, could I find one downstream?

5lb 4oz, not what I expected.

 Three swims and an hour or so later and the answer was a resounding no, certainly not a reflection of my approach, simply either the Chub and Barbel were not home or not feeding. with the river carrying colour and pushing well I was surprised I didn't have any more enquiry's, another time it may be very different.

Fat as butter!