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River Lea Double, That's a Wrap!!

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   Well what can I say! It's been a tough few months on the Barbel front, eleven trips since my R.Ivel double back in late September has resulted in just the odd Chub and yesterday evening I thought it was going to be a case of deja vu as I slipped a solid looking 4lb 15oz Chevin into the net. With the Lea in flood, pumping through, looking like milky tea and along with the water temp up at 9.1c upon arrival it just had to produce a Barbel, end of December and unseasonably mild it was 'thee' perfect condition to fish for winter Bertie.  Moving around the river, I gave each peg forty minutes or so to get a bite, typically in these conditions I would expect to drop on fish getting out of the turbulent waters, where food would also collect in the eddy's making life a little easier for the fish. My tactic was to feeder fish worm with crushed hemp and micro pellet in the 5oz feeder to hold bottom, plenty of loose debris was coming down in the main flow so I opted to fish the

My Arch Nemesis.

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   A river that is fast becoming a thorn in my side is the Kentish Stour, with eight trips now on the scorecard across 12 months and only four Barbel seen across all those visits ( all in one visit ) I am wondering whether this is going to be one of those rivers that will play very hard to get, much harder than it currently is.   With very little by way of action the question in my head is am I doing it all wrong? Chub do occasionally do come to the net and this was no different as I managed two on rolled meat through the extensive beds of weed that still exist. The first was after three hours of fishing, a very tentative tap on my finger and nothing more, I hit it and the rod whipped round! Fairly quickly it was obviously not a Barbel as I caught a glimpse of the silvery flanks, the second was one of a series of savage wraps on the tip and finger as I worked a superb looking pool, neither were monsters but with the Barbel nowhere to be seen its better to catch something rather than no

Chub Successes.

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   Given all my effort on the Barbel front as I pursue my "Forty Rivers Challenge" I have also come across quite a few Chub on my travels up and down the country with a handful being what I consider to be of specimen proportions. Taken on a number of techniques I'd say the catch rate is pretty similar to my Barbel returns and quite often when I have had Chub or where I have had Chub I have also caught Barbel.  Given the amount of time I have spent out on the banks, the last couple of months have been very difficult and apart from the odd Grayling and Pike trips I have caught nothing, blanks are certainly order of the day!  The warmer months were certainly a lot kinder to me, now the trips to the rivers just seem to have become a blankfest.  Here are few photos from this season so far of Barbel bait robbing culprits, and also the odd targeted specimen. I suspect as the winter gives way to early spring before the season finishes that I will come across more, I just need to

No Pleasure Without Pain.

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   I write todays blog nursing a sore head as a very good friend of mine proposed to his other half and went out to celebrate and it was someones brilliant idea to order a large bottle of Tequila to the table along with copious other tipples, problem was I was one of only three of the party that likes Tequila, good for me! Or maybe not......I'm a touch on the lite side today and will abstain from any other alcoholic beverages until next week I feel, at 34 it is beginning to catch up with me, I never used to get pumping headaches like this.  Kids, if any read this, consume alcohol in moderation, be sensible!  Anyway, let's talk fishing. Yesterday was my first proper trip out in search of Pike. The previous Saturday I spent the morning out with my brother Rich and Brian for a recce on a local lake but only two small jack' were caught before the sun heralded the end of the feeding spell that we clearly just hit as we arrived.  I arrived on the river having bullied my way throu

No Beginners Luck on the R.Severn.

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   For about three weeks I planned my first trip to the Severn, a river after all these years I am very surprised I hadn't visited yet, I had to change that. What with the rivers impressive stocks of Barbel seemingly coming out in their hoards given a poor first few months of the season and the conditions ideal for an Autumn trip to hopefully break my Severn cherry it was a trip I had to make.  With a watchful eye on the forecast the temps were decreasing all the time and catches were slowing up as the weekend approached, it certainly wasn't looking good but me being me and very stubborn I decided to stick with the plan which was to drive up to Highley around 3am to arrive in Shropshire before sunrise.   I was met with some beautiful scenery along with a pretty low and an almost clear river, it was not what I wanted to see, turning back now was not an option, in the unlikeliest of conditions Barbel do come out and big ones at that. I chose to fish the Sidings Fishery as they al

Return to the R.Wylye.

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   I must admit I was super excited about this trip and having enjoyed a great day last time around I hoped for something similar or even better. Following on from a baron day and night on the R.Severn and a rough 4hrs kip in the car I had a day's fishing once again on the beautiful R.Wylye. It was cold, crunchy under-foot and very bright which is excellent Grayling weather, myself and Mike who once again invited me down hoped the Grayling were feeding well and it didn't take long to clock on to a big fish that Mike had previously seen the week before.  As it cruised across the lighter patches of gravel, hoovering up maggots my heart kept racing as ( what turned out to be a he ) everytime I thought my float would bomb under. After a good thirty minutes of working the pool I finally got that all important tug of the float and away it went. In six feet of water he powered around with the typical head shaking and rubbing on the bottom (trying to dislodge my hook), I could see the

Back on the R.ColnBrook

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   It's been a while since I've been able to manufacture any time on this wonderful river, plenty of hours spent walking it but haven't seen an awful lot, plenty of Chub and some really big ones, however I feel maybe there isn't as many Barbel in it as I'd hoped, or is it just me?   I had the gear in the van as I quite often do and got a bait out in the first likely looking spot, a nice deep gully on the far bank under a willow, just the spot for a Barbel. Forty five minutes later I was moving, as is so often case, spots that look like they should produce fish, simply aren't and along with the endless rubbish on the bottom like metal and plastic the leaves were causing me grief, millions of the things coming through.  Because of the added issue with leaves I found myself fishing under the rod tip and keeping as much line out the water as possible. My second spot looked just as good, with a large elderberry bush on the inside it created a nice upstream crease tha

Grayling Fishing on the R.Wylye.

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    Recently I was very kindly invited to fish a wonderful section of the beautiful R.Wylye set deep in the Wiltshire countryside, the offer was far too good to refuse and Mike who would be my host and I organised a day on the banks amongst my incredibly busy work schedule, just the tonic!   The previous day I was guiding on a picturesque R.Test tributary where my client for the day targeted the Grayling, once we had had our day, I packed up and drove down to the R.Itchen via the kebab house in Eastleigh - Large Kofte with salad, chilli sauce and chip :) - as I looked to continue my quest for an Itchen double, a fish that so far has eluded me and by 3am the decision was made to pull the plug so I could grab some shut-eye before driving up to Amesbury after a biteless 6hrs, yet again.   It is incredibly frustrating fishing on the Barbel front, seems its either feast or famine as between mid July to the end of September I'd managed to chalk off FIVE target rivers with lets face it pr

My First Guiding Day.

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   Last Wednesday and Thursday I unusually found myself fishing! with work pacing along and family life all consuming I had the pleasure of two days Grayling fishing!   My first day out actually wasn't myself wetting a line but a client who had won a days fishing on a premier chalk stream beat that holds some wonderful fish in a wonderful setting. Of course the winner of the charity lot had the unfortunate fact that he'd be fishing with me! But what I will say is I know the river pretty well and if anyone stands half a chance of doing well then it might as well be with me!!! (Not that I'm blowing my own trumpet of course!)  My client for the day was a young man named Dom and having never caught a Grayling before I thought we should set our sights at one to begin with and then work our way towards the target of a two-pound specimen that do exist, if you can find them of course.  Over the course of the day Dom became more familiar with the centrepin which wasn't easy at t

Barbel...Where Have They Gone.

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   I have really struggled of late on the Barbel front, I am currently dividing my time between the Kentish Stour, Lea, Itchen, ColnBrook and the Nene, all of which have provided me with little or no sport what so ever, not even a small Chub which would normally really annoy me but now it would simply be an indication that I  am fishing effectively.   Since my last Barbel, which came off the R.Ivel I have embarked on eight sessions ranging from short 2hr after work visits or all nighters on the Itchen and K.Stour. Numerous areas tried and various baits tried, from rolling meat to sat behind a rod or two where possible and still absolutely nothing happening, its been bloody hard, so much so unless conditions do not improve markedly then that'll be it for me until February at least, with that the Grayling gear will come out of retirement!    Since my last Barbel here is my list of blanks up to the beginning of November.  Lea - 3hrs  Nene - 13hrs  K.Stour - 3.5hrs  Itchen - 9hrs  K.St