Sunday 26 September 2021

River Ivel Double, That's a Wrap!!


 Well, what can I say. As the title above clearly indicates, I have somehow managed to achieve a feat I honestly and truly thought would take me dozens of visits, on just my second outing on to the R.Ivel a double figure Barbel lay in my net. But, let's rewind a little to fill in those blanks.

 On the 17th of Sept' I was on the Lea and Nene where I had caught on both rivers, on my way home I did take a detour to the Ivel to have a look around, lamping around with my bright torch I hoped to illuminate shapes on the bottom or amongst the weed, I spent roughly two hours doing this with no joy, having slept very very little I needed to play catch up. 

 Fast forward two weeks.

 Today's trip came as bit of a surprise as we were at Butlin's for the week for my daughters 3rd birthday treat...(where has the time gone) and got back Friday afternoon, Sat' night and Sun' day fishing time became available, so then came the dilemma of where to fish. Then I thought back to my wander along the Ivel and thought it would be worth a go again, this time armed with a bit more time and a rolling meat approach.

5lb 0oz

 There are not many techniques better than rolling meat and from the off at 1am I was catching, but of course it was Chub, the first one weighed 5lb and then the following fish going between 3lb - 4lb with another around 5lb that I didn't weigh. Barbel on the other hand, that are my target are extremely thin on the ground and coupled with the fact I don't know much about the river the odds were really stacked against me. After years of systemic Otter predation the Ivel has seen a majority of the old guard eaten and plenty of the back up fish faced the same fate. 

 Thats what made this capture so much more impressive as I was expecting to be on this river a lot! So when I rolled a bait a couple times under large set of willows following half an hour of static fishing before hand in the peg and maybe a hundred plus rolls along a half mile section my finger was nearly sliced off and the rod nearly pulled from my hand! There could be no doubt in my mind it was a Barbel, the outcome could have been so very different too. When the fish decided to tear off downstream on its first run it went under the willow branches and roots where the fish then became locked up, the glasses came off as I couldn't see through them anymore and relied on some patience, allowing the micro-barb hook to stay in place whilst I removed the pressure. Thankfully for me it did the trick after two minutes or so of negotiating the Barbel, she came free and I eased her upstream to a clear area where my brand new net awaited.

Respecting it's recovery time.

 A River Ivel double and also my 10th river chalked off, my pre-season target has now been achieved and what a fish she was too!!! 10lb 14ozs GET IN.....I was not expecting a result so soon if at all.

That winning feeling again :) 

  But the capture of that Otter dodger very nearly wasn't all, as I was making my way back to the car on the phone to a mate of mine I spotted two Barbel, both doubles, one clearly much bigger tucked away with four big Chub under a tree canopy, inaccessible but I could make the cast, these fish however clearly knew that they were being targeted and very quickly shut up shop and after twenty minutes of trying I admitted defeat, packed up and drove to the R.Lea where I hoped to continue this incredible run of form.

 That run of form on the Lea doesn't seem to be replicated and I am struggling to get bites or find fish, I must keep moving until I do, but the river is to die for, everything you could want from a bit of river fishing, oh except some fish!!

 This image is pretty cool though I think.

Saturday 18 September 2021

R.Lea and R.Nene Successes.


 I have to admit, I have wanted to fish the R.Nene for many years but have never made the effort, this 40rivers challenge is going to be a great way of seeing and fishing these rivers that have appeared in certain aspects of my angling life, whether its reading about them, knowing people who fish them or simply passing them on my travels elsewhere. 

 Before I made it up to Peterborough I stopped off on the R.Lea to try and break my Barbel duck after four attempts between the middle Lea and Fishers Green, its not been easy for Barbel at all. I decided to try a different section and see how I would fare, the answer was pretty good, although it took me over an hour to get in position, no doubts at all that these fish have definitely not been targeted. After my monthly quota of jungle bashing was over the bites came roughly every forty minutes and I opened the account with a 5lb+ fish, fairly typical for the middle/upper reaches.

Not the Lea monster I dream of, but great to catch regardless.

 As the night wore on another three came to the net with best going 7lb 4oz, yes it wasn't a double but a start nonetheless and packed away before jumping on the A1M northwards. Another 70 miles beyond the Lea bought me to a beautiful stretch of river in the heart of the Leicestershire countryside and the sunrise wasn't bad either once I'd grabbed an hour kip at 5am.

  I began the day rolling meat from a weir at the end boundary and was immediately pestered by Chub, some of which were not bad and over the course of the day I managed four with the best weighed 4lb 15oz, my target of course was a Barbel over the 10lb mark but would welcome any sized Barbel and given the fact that probably 8 out of 10 Barbel caught where I fished were doubles my chances of complete success was good!

 So when I did finally get a savage bite out of nowhere I quickly sprang into life but within seconds disaster struck as the run was so powerful it smashed me up, however this was no Barbel but a big Carp so the hammer blow of losing it was softened somewhat. Not that I dislike river Carp of course, I'm just not there for them this time around. Then everything seemed to go quiet so I spent more time rolling meat with very little more than the tentative plucks from tiny little mouths. 

 About 1530 I popped back to where I lost the Carp and setup in identical fashion and placed the bait in the pacy water and hoped another chance would come by.....thirty minutes later a couple of delicate taps registered on the rod tip which were swiftly followed by a savage slam towards the water, the next five minutes were played with a real I give you some and then I take it back, constant back and forth with the clutch was needed as this fish sought to make full use of the 9ft I had in front of me, my experience and suitable tackle got me over the line though and this beautiful 8lb 7oz R.Nene Barbel was in the bag! 

Happy Chappy with that one!

 Not that I knew it at the time but after releasing that Barbel it would be the last fish I'd see for the rest of the day, I honestly sat back into my swim thinking I had got them feeding, unfortunately for me it was wishful thinking, I did enjoy myself and on the way home I took a diversion to the R.Ivel to see if I could spot any big Chub or Barbel in the torchlight and potentially give them a go, but after 5 swims and 2hrs roughly I didn't muster a bite so I went home for some much needed sleep, one hour in forty two is tough going with over 350 miles of driving thrown in and don't worry, with a 3 year old and a 4 month old I'm used to sleep deprivation!!! This was just self-inflicted, to be fair though, so were the kids :)

Thursday 16 September 2021

Preparing for the Unknown.


 In about 3 hours I'll be on my way up north towards Northamptonshire being my final destination to fish a couple of rivers up there, conditions look pretty good if the forecast can be believed, with warm weather, plenty of cloud and a little rain predicted around Sunday it promises to be fairly pleasant. First of all I'll be making my way up to the R.Lea to try and get a double figure Barbel or even a Barbel for that matter, still haven't had one.

 Then I make the 64 mile trip from the R.Lea to my first port of call which will be the R.Nene which is completely unknown to me but I am relishing the challenge of finding a Barbel and if I find some then hopefully move on to finding bigger fish, the crystal clear waters should aide me to stalk fish out and then settle down as dusk approaches, only problem with that is that I need to make overnight arrangements as kicking off time is around 2030, with that I'll probably head over to one of two sections on the R.Ivel that I hold tickets on.

 A lot of unknowns on this trip but the last one was no different and look how that panned out! So I will only do what I can and then determine whether I need to adjust my approach or continue with the rolling meat as that is my preferred tactic on what is likely to be a clear river, I have roughly 48hrs to make something happen, so lets see how this goes!

 Hopefully I can manage something like one of these that have graced my net over the last two months. 

R.Colne 11.07 no:6

R.Medway 13.09 no:7

R.Mole 12.10 no:8

R.Derwent 13.13 no:9

Tuesday 14 September 2021

Kentish Stour, Where are the Barbel?.


 With this river being possibly the closest distance wise to my house that I haven't already done, I set about trying to check the Kentish Stour off the list and get my tenth river double under my belt and achieve my pre-season target, truth be told it was a target that I thought was ambitious, nevertheless I am nearly there and could potentially surpass it with a bit of luck and time.

 Last night I decided to beat the rain and give it a few hours through dark. One area I choose to fish a static "Big Squid dumbbell with matching pellets as rolling was impossible owing to dense weed growth, so I setup a standard 12" hooklength and 1.5oz grippa lead into a gravel channel and fed with 4&6mm pellets in a PVA bag, this is a tactic that does work pretty well, however these Barbel don't seem to feed at all! 

 3 hours without more than a twitch I decided to hot foot it across Kent to another section that I hoped would bare fruit, what with the Great Stour as its also known as being 51.5 miles long there is a lot of water to go at! Luckily a mate of mine is pretty local and has some very good knowledge of the river which he has imparted on me, with that I made my way to another section he'd suggested a few months back, so it was time to give that a go.

 Thankfully the weed in this short run wasn't as bad so I opted for a rolling approach, some may even think surely rolling meat at night is difficult, I grant you rolling meat at night is sometimes easier as your focus is solely on touch rather than sharing that sense with sight, I find my bite identification is much better at night and feel just as comfortable exploring with this technique day or night. Queue the savage Chub bite, normally pretty obvious with a Chub as you feel a few plucks before they commit and yes it didn't turn out to be a Barbel but I couldn't be disappointed with yet another six pound plus Chub and my first from the KS, she was a big old unit, just looking a little worse for wear. 

6lb 1oz on the scales, none too shabby.

For me my task got a little harder and with any potential Barbel now on high alert I didn't think much else would happen and only one other bite materialised before the forecasted rain decided to come down in stair rods! That for me was to call a halt on proceedings and keep my gear as dry as possible. Not a terrible return and that is my best Chub off the Kentish Stour too. This was my 4th visit and not managed my target yet. Where are the Barbel??.

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 ...