Sunday 29 November 2020

Blank #16...

  As the blanks rack up at a phenomenal rate I maintain the desire to get out and do my best to put a big Barbel on the bank during what are currently poor conditions. Now I know Barbel will still feed in the cold and with the frosts already settling in opportunities are going to be even more reduced, on top of that the work always picks up closer to christmas before having my usual festive siesta. 

 During the christmas break I do hope we get some mild rain and bring up the temps 2-5c, when this does happen I'll get back out as much as possible, at the moment I am trying to nick the odd session here and there just hoping that I get lucky, how many times can I blank? 

 Its probably an answer I don't want to know as I suspect it is going to be a far greater number than I would have liked. 

 Not that this sort of fishing is easy of course and some of the rivers I am currently targeting are not known for big heads of Barbel, most sections are holding possibly the odd decent fish. My task is to find them and put them on the bank.

 After a couple of weeks since hatching this most recent of plans with a friend of mine Mark a trip back to the Colne was pencilled in for Saturday. We arrived at 7am and began swim hopping with a big lump of meat, in such cold conditions it was possibly the best way to find a feeding fish, or at the very least tease something out of its lair. Fishy looking swim after fishy looking swim was worked well but nothing showed up across the expansive gravel runs that the Colne is famous for. Midday came and went in a flash without a touch.

 We were both having a good catch up and its been a long time since I last had a decent chat with Mark apart from when we've crossed paths in London when we've been working (we work in different trades), so to get the chance to do some fishing was pukka. Clearly we knew it wasn't going to be easy, we both trotted, rolled and static fished and my only bite of the day came around 2pm when I was fishing tight to an overhanging bush where my rod steamed off, I struck nice and firmly only to hit thin air, it certainly wasn't the outcome I wanted given the lack of activity, but it spurred me on as I knew at least one fish was present!

A typical nook that I tried.

 And, before we knew it the rods were out for the last time as darkness consumed the horizon, waiting for a bite in the witching hour is always a time where the hair stand on end, just waiting in anticipation for the rod tip to tap or slam around with a big powerful winter fish in tow, sadly, for us it wasn't to be as it was time finally to call it a day, a shame really as I had hoped for at least something to show itself, given the cold conditions I have convinced myself that the fish were tucked up under foliage and the like, awaiting the next warm spell and the river temps to creep closer to 50f. 

Sunday 22 November 2020

A Decent Morning on the Chub front.


 With my Barbel quest taking centre stage for the last 6 weeks I have been feeling a tad stale with all the blanks I have been enduring, especially after I had caught a couple of super Barbel a few weeks back. So to break up the blanks I needed a pick-me-up, what better way than grabbing the trotting gear for some winter Chub fishing.

 A hard frost has covered the vehicles on the drive for the last two mornings and knowing it wasn't going to be warm I knew Chub were the only species that would still provide me with a few bites. However things were not straightforward if they are ever are in angling. I arrived to find my target river gin clear, painfully low and upon hopping into the water I could feel the water temp was very low. 

 Armed with two bags of smashed up bread and a half loaf for the hook bait I hoped that running out of bait would have been my biggest worry, two hours in and it was apparent this wouldn't be a problem and that my issue would be getting a fish to the net. It's amazing the session you picture in your head when you're planning and the reality is so very different and maybe part of that is down to my optimistic approach to my fishing and that it isn't always going to go by the book.

 By 11am I was scratching around and had managed 2 little chubblet and a solitary Roach to show for my efforts. I kept mobile and trying runs in between weed and deeper slacks off the lacklustre flow. As I got about half a mile up I was starting to think that those scratchings were going to be my lot until I found a nice eddy off the main flow and in the past I have managed a few fish from this particular stretch but its never proved to be easy pickings and typically it only throws up a couple of fish and then the area goes dead. 

First one in the net...relief.

 Twenty minutes later I was breathing a sigh of relief as my baiting of crumb had worked and slipped my net under a nice low 4lb Chub, from that point on I never looked back, it was all guns blazing! It was the sort of sport I was hoping for as my float was running down the back on an eddy I was fishing and burying itself at almost the same spot every time, Chub after Chub came in and the next was clearly waiting in line to snaffle my flake.

A decent Chub with typically brassy flanks...

....And another.

 For the next two hours I continued to manage the run by feeding and resting after every fish and it was a plan that clearly paid dividends as the bites dried up once I had netted my sixteenth Chub, I spent ten minutes after landing my last Chub to try and get another bite but that was it. Six feet of water was clearly what the fish wanted over their heads and with it being very cold to the touch I guess the fish were just huddled up.

A nice brace of Chub.

 The final score was sixteen chub worth counting that went between 3lb 5oz and 5lb 2oz, it wasn't easy but once I had found them they were in fine feeding form and a resting tactic I think was the difference between maybe two or three Chub and what I finished up with. 

Sunday 8 November 2020

Heading West.

  With that cold snap last week a thing of the past a nice mild spell now sits over us, hopefully giving the Barbel the green light to do some more feeding. Having had such a poor nights sleep I decided to grab the stalking gear out of the shed and headed over to the Colne for a go at a Barbel. Targeting both countryside and urban sections I gave myself half a chance at possibly catching a big Barbel and potentially checking the Colne off my list as my target of eight rivers by the end of the season still looks to be in contention. 

 I headed around the M25 under the cover of dark as I only had this morning free and 45 mins later I was parked up and scouting my first bit of the river. I have previous on this river with my best at 8lb 8oz and I know larger exist as I had seem them at the beginning of last season albeit further upstream, here I was in the lower reaches in some not so glamorous territory. Any little run or bolt hole I was running a bait through, unfortunately with no idea as to what is present I just did what I know best. Rolling meat.

 As I made my way up I came across some more picturesque scenes and felt alot more comfortable and hoped among the numerous clear runs that I could find a Barbel. 

 But given five hours out in the fresh air I couldn't muster a single bite, only saw one Chub (approx 6lb) and a handful of Roach. Not what I was hoping for but know the Colne is capable of throwing blank after blank at you. Just keep going and an old warrior will be there waiting for me. It does look lovely though.

 Sessions count: 11 trips, 9 blanks, 2 fish.

Saturday 7 November 2020

Coming off the high.


 Since my new challenge' inception time on the bank has been increased to try and get a head of steam going, visits to the bank have been mainly blanks as autumn swiftly turns cold as it has and Barbel become a little more difficult to locate and catch. Back out again on Tuesday evening for another go at one of my local rivers saw me arrive on a very cold riverbank. Not knowing what to expect and quite rightly high on confidence, my current set up and bait is certainly doing the right things and getting out as soon as any time comes up. The added impetus will hopefully lead to more fish on the bank.

 Two rivers ticked off my list in a week it was always going to be difficult to keep going and whilst I currently have two other rivers on the go I know the prospect of doubles now given the time of year will become more of a harder task, but I am more than willing to keep up the hard work, maybe another will slip up soon enough.

 Tuesday evening was spent roving around in 1c temperatures in the frosty fields and as I made my way through a few pegs it became apparent that I wasn't going to get a touch, so at 0030 I threw in the towel and headed off home to grab a couple of hours kip before getting on the road for work. Another blank added to the list.


 10 trips since October 13th has resulted in 8 blanks and 2 successful trips with a fish caught on both ( 15.10 & 13.9 ), both have been the target fish.

Monday 2 November 2020

Third Time Lucky.

 Having made the effort to drive the 350mile round trip to visit the banks of the Trent twice already I really wanted to achieve my goal of a double figure Barbel. Knowing roughly where to go is always half the battle, however, it isn't always the case. Doing my best to keep away this time from the busy sections I opted to fish further upstream for a bit of solitude and hopefully a Barbel or two. 

 With large amounts of rainfall across the country I wasn't surprised to see it was up, coloured and pushing with more rain due during my visit. This time I was joined by my younger brother Richard, so perhaps it wasn't total solitude but close enough. I finished a 13 hr day at work having left the house at 6am and returning home around 7pm, I got myself together and set off for the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border ahead of what was likely to be a lively visit owing to the remanence of Hurricane Zeta that was blowing out in the Atlantic.

 Myself and Richard arrived around midnight and set about getting ourselves ready for what was a gruelling walk through the fields, boggy, slippery, raining and cold made it even less desirable, we knew however that the rewards for those who bother to make the effort are there. This certainly was no A1 pits or Collingham, the banks were steep and clearly had been under water for some time as a fine layer of mud was strewn everywhere, not that it mattered to us of course, in the torchlight of midnight we set about finding somewhere to fish, on a section of river I'd never set foot on before and only had a few snippets of info to go on, we made it hard for ourselves.

 With the rain continuing to fall setting up camp was the most important task to try and keep most of the gear as dry as possible as the forecast suggested opportunities to dry the gear out were going to be non-existent. A rod wasn't cast until 1am I think, so getting a bait out finally meant that we had got ourselves ready. The bait I am currently using is the HookBait Co' garlic nimrod boilees, along with the matching 6mm pellets in little PVA bags and glugged to give them a boost in the floodwater. A 30'' hooklength was deployed along with a size 8 teflon coated micro-barb hook. 

 In the Trent flow I knew I would have to make adjustments as time passed by and rainwater coming in upstream put another 3 inch on during dark. As the sun rose the Owls calling between trees stopped and the sight of the Otters playing downstream gave us another spectacle, the surroundings were even better and gave me my first showing of the Trent beyond the open plains of the tidal reaches.

 Without as much as a bite by 8am I decided to bring the rods in for half an hour whilst I went for a walk about to see the river in daylight and also see if actually we could choose a better looking area. As pretty as it was elsewhere, more so than in the area we was I thought the treeline below us would hold fish and after leading around at first light found a slightly deeper run and 5 yards below where I was casting to before and yes, Barbel have a great sense of smell, but on the odd occasion if that bait isn't on the dancefloor so to speak its not going to be effective or stands less of a chance of success. 

Our view for the trip to begin with.

 It wasn't until Richard had a strange knock around on his rod tip did we get the first sight of action, not big by Trent standards but a fish all the same, my confidence levels ramped up no-end and decided on a tactical change of my own, that being the rigs, the long 3ft ones came off and my standard 10 inch hooklengths went on. An hour or so later I was chatting to Rich when my left hand rod ( fished tight to the overhanging tree) roared off and the line, even on a relatively tight clutch melted off the spool! 

 I lurched forward for the rod that was still violently nodding downstream and as I picked it up I could feel the weight attached to the other end, immediately I knew it was either a Barbel or a Carp. To begin with I was just doing battle with something heavy out in the flow and constantly made a beeline for the main fast water which was hurtling through. I have to admit during the fight I was shaking like a shitting dog and really struggled to keep my legs steady as they shook like branches in a storm, the sheer power meant I was potentially connected to a large River Trent Barbel which is what I had undertaken the 350 mile round trip for and as the battle continued closer in I caught a brief glimpse in the murky water and a Barbel it certainly was! 

 Seeing how big it was I dare not put a foot wrong and allowed the fish to hold out in the flow to tire, a tactic that I've employed many times over the years with great success. With a width of roughly 100ft across and 3-6ft deep I had plenty of water to use and trusted that there were no snags in the vicinity that could cause problems. After around five or six minutes of battling I finally got the better of her and started to walk backwards so I could slip the fish into the awaiting net, that was when I knew I had achieved my goal of a Trent double, BOSH!! GET IN THAT NET!

 In the net she looked a good 12lb+ but when I hoisted it out onto the mat I knew it bigger for sure and the trusty Rueben Heatons didn't disappoint, my one and only bite off the Trent in 2 and a half trips amounting to roughly 90 hours by this point and it was exactly if not more than I'd dreamt or hoped of catching.

Trent Gold!

That will do just fine! 

 A Trent Barbel weighing at 13lb 9ozs which has capped off what has been a superb 6 days on the rivers.

 Thankfully when the rain passed I was able to get a couple of photos as it was hammering it down whilst playing the Barbel and think the rest gave it plenty of strength as out of 10 quick fire shots on the camera only two were in focus. Things on the Trent until this point had transpired against me, especially the weather, this time, even with the storm now blowing through I got my reward, but now I really wanted my brother to get one on the bank.

Finally stopped raining by this point.

 As the hours past I was willing one of the rods to go and as dusk quickly approached I felt even more confident that we would have more action, no sooner than I thought that my left hand rod went again, I leant into it and could feel immediately that it was a Chub and rolled on the top, a good fish too around the 6lb mark, then out of nowhere the weight increased as a Pike grabbed the Chub! I couldn't believe it, I would have thought a six pound plus Chub would be safe from attack by now but I was simply mistaken, within seconds however the Pike had towed the Chub into the snag I was fishing and couldn't stop it, just moments later everything went solid and did my best to get it out.

 After taking off the pressure and allowing the fish to try and come out on its own, it is a tactic I have used in the past but this time after a few minutes realised the fish had gone and my hook dumped into some branches...such a shame, how big was the Pike! well it wasn't little I'll tell you.

 By 7pm we had no further enquiries and had decided to call it a night and by 8pm we had packed down the rods and prepared ourselves, with no sleep, absolutely knackered for the mile walk back through the boggy fields to the car. They say no pain no gain, it was certainly true here.

I'm hoping my rich vein of form continues as I look to move on to two other rivers and hope to chalk them off, this challenge is one I am actually relishing. I needed to mix it up a little because I was starting to feel like I was stuck in a rut and something had to change.

 It has been a superb week, tough but superb. Now I continue my quest on two more local rivers to me and the River Trent is now, completed!

8 Years in the Making.

   So we find ourselves finally able to get back on the rivers and thank god for it too. I don't mind stillwaters and canals now and aga...