Monday 26 October 2020

Creature of the Night. PB Barbel in the bag!!!!!


 I must confess, this last couple of weeks since I lost those two big fish a couple of weeks back have chewed me up and really got under my skin, not often I feel like that. To have a change of scenery to take my mind off it I dropped onto the Kentish Stour for a shot at a Barbel, however after 5 hours I came away with another blank, things haven't looked particularly rosey of late on the fishing front.

 The recent low pressure and incessant rain has had a good impact on the rivers down here and upon arriving on the muddy banks of the S.Ouse I suddenly felt confident that I'd get a chance, not that the river itself is prolific, anything but is probably more accurate but I was fishing with bait that I have become quite comfortable in using and a tried & tested approach that have caught so many Barbel for me over the years.

 After a swift drive into Sussex from my nice warm house I began to setup the rod and once that was ready I under arm threw a small offering of freebies and side hooked a small PVA bag of the same garlic nimrod pellets and 15mm garlic nimrod dumbbells crushed up. Now ready and raring to go a short placement of the hookbait on a gravel run was all I needed as any fish downstream would hopefully find my hookbait in the mild murky water.

 The setup I have began to employ is a 15lb braided mainline and an 18" 15lb IQ2 hooklength fished with a size 4 continental wipe gape barbless hook and a 2oz lead. It may seem a bit heavy and certainly heavier than I normally tackle up with but wanted to make sure that if I got another chance I didn't want to lose it, failure once again was not an option.

 As Arsenal played the last of a lousy 90minutes of football I opted to turn off the phone and watch the stars appear just as a large storm cloud eased away, which had dumped alot of rain during my opening thirty minutes on the river. Not to be deterred I put the hood the up on my new Daiwa bib & brace set and focused on my rod. Not long after the skies cleared another bank of rain headed straight for me, roughly 50 minutes after setting up and recasting with a new PVA bag I got a couple of very delicate taps which got me hovering over the rod, ready to pick it up the rod started to just pull round but very slowly and then stopped. I wasn't sure what was happening, for about 30 seconds it held firm in that position by which point I decided to lift the rod and give it a firm strike, to my surprise it wasn't a bunch of leaves, but didn't feel like a fish for about 10 seconds as it held solid, that was until I tried to gain line on it, then it moved!

 I cranked down on a fairly tight clutch and I don't think the fish realised it was hooked as it came towards the bank really easily and thats when I saw it in the torch light, a NEW PANTS PLEASE moment! It was a very big fish and just as I thought about mugging it "she" used one stroke of her large tail to soak me ( luckily donning my suit ) and she tore off downstream, stripping line off the tight clutch, more than 30 yards! I was powerless to stop her and could only out some side strain on to halt the charge!

 As she approached the next tree line I started to get worried that she'd shift my hook into the branches like the previous lost monsters of the night did, so I had to go for broke and tighten the clutch even more and pray my gear was up to the task, as having seen the fish I knew what was at stake. Mercifully, she started to slow up and found that lifting my rod up in the air rather than side strain got her to turn quicker, from that point on I didn't let up at all and just kept up the pressure and making the odd yard of line. Not before long I leaned back down with my awaiting net and this time, she was ready and gently slipped in. Cue the fist pumping and cheesy ear to ear grins!

 Not even the rain that started to hammer down by this point could dampen my excitement! The scales settled on a mind boggling, personal best breaking, Sussex river munching machine 15lbs 12ozs! 

 A quick few images were taken and hoped for the very best as I didn't want to damage the camera.

 I recast a couple of minutes after releasing her once a nice long rest was completed for both the fish and I! But I couldn't focus, so I packed up and went on my very merry way! River number 4, completed. 

Sunday 18 October 2020

Pastures New, Tales of Lost Creatures in the Night.

Having spent many years trawling through what were local rivers to me I am now starting to target something a little different and have set myself something of a marathon target, that I shall touch on later in the blog.

 Given my proximity to a few rivers that may provide something of a different challenge to me I have decided to give them a go and see if I can catch some of the larger specimens that inhabit these rivers. The target for me is of course Barbel and my hope is that I can locate and catch double figure fish. With limited access and knowledge of these rivers it really is a work in progress and first up was a freezing cold night two Friday' back as I set about trying to bag up a fish on my first go.

 Under the stars and a murky river my hope was pinned on a very smelly bait with a small PVA bag glugged in some very potent stuff to do the work as locating fish in the pitch black was not an option. Nearly seven hours had passed before calling it a night and headed back home without a touch.

 So with that I decided to get back out as soon as I could, but given the good conditions dwindling I had to get back out sooner rather than later and chose another river, again in the pitch black I wasn't giving myself much of a chance to learn anything, only relying on basic watercraft and hope that there might be something local and feeding. After setting up, using a 18'' 15lb hooklength, size 8 hook and 2oz lead I flicked a single Garlic Nimrod boilee into the flow and hoped for the best.

 Twenty five minutes drifted by fairly quickly and got a little peckish, so as I reached into my bag to grab a bag of Wotsits my centrepin absolutely raged off! the rod thumped around and the nightlight was perpendicular to me to begin with, by the time hit the fish the nightlight was way downstream obviously attached to the rod, I nearly lost the rod! even with a pin.

 A big fish clearly from the outset and I was trying to remain calm as much as possible, no other fish was capable of such vigour that was present, so I knew I was hooked into what was possibly my target, so I played it as carefully as possible, but not knowing my surroundings this was counter intuitive. Plenty of rod tip in the air, plenty of side strain at times to as it kept powering off to the far bank margins and on the third attempt of the fish trying to get there my worse fears were realised when the tension just went. 

 As I tried to retrieve my hooklength a branch came along with it across the surface, the fish, clearly not wanting to come in transferred my hook to the branch and vanished, I was obviously gutted and didn't get to see what it was owing to the coloured water, so my mind is still, as I write this playing tricks on me and how could I have changed the outcome.

 Changing my hooklength and resetting I got a bait, back out in the same spot, this time I was even less optimistic given the battle I had just experienced, anything within 50 yards was probably long gone.....just over an hour had passed and I had carbon copy take! Another brutal take had me in full panic mode, my headtorch went straight on to try and see the culprit, but again, in the murk I could see nothing!

 Knowing what had happened just an hour before I really put the breaks on this fish, 1.75 Tc rod was bent hard, palm on the spool of the pin and the fish was still giving it hard! twice I managed to turn it and as the fish headed downstream I began to breath a sigh of relief it came back upstream so fast I couldn't keep up and it went straight over to the far bank and done me on the same sunken branches as the first one and on that powerful run, it proved to be the last, just when it was probably just a minute from netting, the line, once again went slack and the fish was gone. There was literally nothing I could do, to lose two fish in my first hour and hour on a new river to me and both felt really big, this particular river does fish over 17lb and who knows, I could have contacted one of them. Gut wrenchingly difficult to accept and never have I experienced such extreme shows of power from Barbel before last Tuesday. 

 I was so compelled to break my duck given those two lost fish I got my gear in the car the next evening and shot straight back down, unfortunately for me, I didn't receive a touch for 4 hours, I called it a night at 2330. I will certainly be back!

 As I mentioned at the top of the blog, I am setting myself a challenge which I know will be over the course of a few years and not something that'll be achieved overnight. That challenge is to catch double figure Barbel from 40 different rivers across England, something of a marathon and not a sprint, very early doors at the moment, but will hopefully gain some traction once I can get some time on the bank.

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 ...