Sunday 21 January 2018

Winter Roving, Excellent Sport.

 During the winter most barbel anglers either go static in their approach or completely put their gear away and await the opening of the new season, I, however look forward to the time of the year when we have increased flows and less weed to work around. Long trots using bread, free lining or rolling all manner of baits is very much the flavour of the winter and this doesn't mean just big rivers, it's also a good tactic for smaller waters where stealth is absolutely integral to catching.

 Last weekend I had a short session squeezed in after a morning of clearing up and I wasn't left in any doubt that it was a great decision, not even three hours of marching around, possibly trying my luck in twenty spots I had the pleasure of three fighting fit barbel, all of which were of good size with two weighing 8lb+ ( 8.02 & 8.06 ) and the biggest at 10lb 6oz.

The 8.02 which was a real stunner.
This was the double in fine fettle.

The bend on that !

 The Mark IV doing its very best to tame anything it can connect with, so far I've had carp to 28lb 3oz, chub to 5lb 9oz and barbel to 10lb 7oz, I am hoping next season it will tame even more beasts as it will make more trips out with me.

Chub Challenges.

 When it comes to winter fishing the Chub are a very obliging species to target, which is good for me as I leave home sometimes deciding what I should go for, often I make my mind up on route to wherever it is I'm going. Leaving the manor without a concrete idea on what I'm angling for does put me at a disadvantage occasionally, that however is the way I've always fished.

 Three days of solid fishing which began not 3 hours after arriving at Gatwick. Through the border control, then waited twenty minutes for the backpacks to come along the carousel, then a brisk march along the winding corridors into the terminal building, then onto our train back into London. Barely home for an hour and the gear was packed, I was ready to go. Bait wise I didn't have much but four pints of maggots, a loaf of bread and a tin of meat, the bread was my obvious choice to start with and within ten minutes my keep net was in position with a lively Chub of 4lb+ thumping the end of it trying to escape.

Mint winter Chub of 4lb+

 For the next two hours I added another five Chub up to the high 4lb bracket, great fun on the light gear but more annoyingly I lost two fish in quick succession to an unseen snag which was held up in maybe 5ft of water, it wasn't ideal thats for certain, why does this happen?, The Chub seemed to be feeding confidently which was more apparent by landing six, but to hook and loose two in consecutive trots was strange. I continued to trot this particular run which was around 70 yards before it shallowed up for possibly thirty minutes after the sixth with no further response from the remainder of the shoal.

A manic spell, quite often how it goes.

 A move downstream to pastures new failed to produce a single fish, although a few tentative bites came along sporadically none of them seemed as if they would produce a fish, I had plenty of ideas as to why it was fishing so hard but no matter what I tried I couldn't make it happen.

 Day two and change of scenery, the hope was that the cold rains hadn't put the fish off. The river was in good nick as I expected, pace was perfect, colour slowly dropping out. It spelt success. If only they could be located. The previous day the bites came early on so the plan was to get on the feeding, possibly for 20 minutes before casting in. Twenty minutes later it was time to go down the run and the float was just about to reach the end of the run when the float buried, fish on! But, oh no, it was gone, not five seconds on and the float pinged out of the water. I bought the gear back and inspected the hook which was brand new and sharp as a tack.

 More feed went out, the float was sent back down the run again, the float barely got twenty yards down the run and off it went again, four or five seconds later the fish went solid, the outcome all to familiar. That annoying process continued for another half a dozen trots as I connected with a total of five fish, all which I believe to be Chub. I could do nothing to stop them from getting their heads down and into the weed. The loss of those fish killed off the swim, however I didn't come to that conclusion immediately as I trotted it for another four hours before giving up.

 It was tough!, the remainder of the day was spent trying to find Chub, that task ended up with me throwing in the towel an hour after dark, I couldn't believe through the amount of promise the beginning of the day bought that it could end in a blank.

A magnificent sunset.
 Day three, was slightly better due to the fact I finally managed to bank 2 Chub, nothing big but a welcome sight seeing how tough day two was. It is mind bending how the river could look so good and produce so little, it is conceivable my tactics weren't spot on, the fish had fed during the bulk of the high water and their feeding spell had tailed off or worse still I was possibly a day or two early as the fish sought more settled conditions before gorging themselves. Whatever the reason I was just thankful my 220 mile round trip wasn't a complete blank and some fish were tempted.

 Eight Chub in three days.......I guess I'll take that.

Monday 15 January 2018

Frome Frustration.

 Ah, the Dorset Frome, equally as pretty as it is hard most of the time. I, in eight days spent fishing it have never experienced " a good day", infact that's a lie, I had one once upon a time otherwise it seems to either be hard or very hard, not that it dampens my spirit of course as why would it? what other hobby gives a human the need to get out in such brutally cold conditions? I don't think theres many anglers out there that would undertake something as mad, was possibly -5c when we arrived. The Great British countryside in the depths of winter is as beautiful as it is the summer, just without the midges and scores of nettle stings.

A sky of fire!

 It's a long drive down, 2hr and 20 min on a good run or 121 miles each way, before starting off, in the dark of the night I was sifting through my "Angling Compound" for the remaining bits of kit I'd need for the day trip as *it is criminal making such a journey for a day's fishing* ( I have done it in the past ), however, I don't like to waste a good opportunity to get my line wet, two days is better than one! After I'd finished faffing around in the shed and creating all sorts of noise, much to the dislike of my light sleeping neighbours I drove the short journey down the road to pick up the partner in crime.

 "We only had one day, criminal isn't it, Nearly 5 hours of driving in one day and 250 miles of driving with 10 hours of fishing sandwiched in the middle".

 Once Brian was on board with his tackle we set off for the south-west of England to where they speak of big Grayling, not that we see many of course, we just do it for fun in the vein hope one of us gets lucky or accidentally hooks one in the mouth whilst pretending to fish. It was hard!

Which one, I love them both.

 Really there wasn't much to elaborate on as bites came very slowly and I honestly tried my best, when we arrived on the river we could see that colour from recent rains hadn't dropped out with possibly 6 inches of extra water still thundering through, fun, especially for Grayling. Luckily one slipped up around 1pm which weighed 1lb 8oz, not before I hooked and landed my first ever Salmon ( around 4-5lbs ), I didn't have the pleasure of weighing it as I was mindful of its duty which lye ahead.

 Dusk came quicker than I'd have liked. As both Brian and I were thinking of packing up in preparation for the long journey back my tip twitched momentarily and then tore off as if a Barbel had taken the bait, the pin screeching had my attention rather swiftly. For three or four minutes I was locked into battle with an unseen fish, certainly not a Grayling, too heavy, not a Salmon, not erratic enough, Carp? didn't know there was any in there, having played out in my head what was on the other end the roll of a small Common on the surface revealed all. Little blighter!

A pretty one in her winter splendour.
 That was all she wrote.

Sunday 14 January 2018

Dace O'Clock, the Hens Begin to Show.

Looking splendid in the frosty morning sun.
 Before I flew off to Asia for five weeks over December to Mid January I did embark on a couple of trips, one which I'll touch on in another post and this one, a short trip to a favourite chalk stream of mine where big Dace take a leave of absence for what seems like a couple of years. For possibly ten years, maybe even more I have conceived every possible reason for their miraculous disappearing acts, one season it's boom, the next, bust. Quite often more.

 This season however I have already located a shoal of possible monsters with a couple spotted likely to get close to magical barrier of a pound, the premier league of Dace weights. Knowing where they are doesn't guarantee you one, furthermore, they seem to move with great mobility. Many times I have done my level best to keep track of them, yet a shoal, sometimes sixty strong in a hole the size of a dustbin lid under a bush and you'd never know they were there. The task of catching the larger ones isn't an easy one, that said, I relish a challenge and would love to get my greasy mitts on another 1lb+ Dace. In the past I have been very lucky to cross paths with seven of them in my twenty plus years of angling.

 With a few days prior to my departure a morning became free to go fishing with, what could be better than targeting Dace with ultra light tackle. I confess that even though in physicality they are small, there is something about their fight which it rather addictive, that Grayling like corkscrewing through the pacy water before trying their best to shed the hook, which happens often when they aren't feeding confidently and the hook doesn't set correctly.

 No such misfortune on this particular trip as white maggots seem to be order of the day when a shoal was finally located, I had around an hour on the shoal taking six fish to 12oz and a few drams (pictured below), no doubt larger fish reside within this pod. A little more time on them should start to unearth the monsters I believe to be present.

Best of the trip. 12oz+
  It will take possibly another four weeks before the Dace really start to fill out and the large hen Dace will possibly be within touching distance of the pound mark and the odd couple will have already surpassed that incredible milestone.

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 ...