Wednesday 28 December 2022

Bars of Silver!

 Once the mercury dips below 5c consistently over two or three consecutive days the thought of Roach immediately come into play, the prospect of a days trotting after my favourite species is always an exciting one. I'm not entirely sure what could be better than running a float down a treelined section of river with the possibility of the "next" dip on the float resulting in a battle with a large bar of silver.

 ***Below are a couple of specimen Roach caught around 8-10 years back when this particular river threw up numerous 2lb specimens with some regularity, not anymore regretfully.***

A wonderful 2lb+ Roach taken on bread.

Another specimen Roach over two pounds.

 The tell tale plodding and head shaking a big Roach often give you as you apply the pressure, then that inevitable sneak peak of the big red dorsal fin cutting the surface layer of the river, swiftly followed by the obligatory roll as it shows itself off and really puts the fear of life into you as you go from playing a fish to playing a special fish! The complexion of how the battle concludes changes immediately. The sense of nervousness creeps in as it gets closer to the rim of the net where some battles are lost, the froth whipped up by the Roach' desperate attempts to escape cover the top and sometimes the fish disappear eerily before resurfacing a few yards from where you thought it was, thankfully more often than not these encounters ended with enormous amounts satisfaction as I got the chance to marvel at those wonderful broad bodied slabs of silver laying in the folds of my net, that moment is unrivalled in angling.

 On Tuesday I headed out in search of another one of those special moments that I have enjoyed so many times over the last 15-20 years. There was a slight caveat to the proceedings and that was I wasn't just Roach fishing, that would come slightly later in the day as I would wait for the cloud cover to come in and fish for the Roach in the murk of an arriving storm, before that I took the chance to dust down my MKIV split cane and pin for a Barbel, but not just any Barbel, a double figure Barbel! 

 This particular river has given up one of its treasures albeit below my target size (7lb 8oz) so I decided on a roving approach with a massive lump of meat in the margins, the river had dropped around 2ft over the previous 24/48hrs so it meant the areas the Barbel would hold up in would be reduced thus, in theory make it "easier" to locate them, that key word "easier" does make me chuckle a little as this river like so many in the south are far from easy! a low stock of predominately big fish, with averages of around 9lbs seems to be the perceived size, with a sprinkle of low doubles and in the past has done them to around 12/13lbs which considering the size of the river is rather impressive.

 One major issue here is snags, the river is littered with them, some small and easy to get free of, others are so robust and heavy that I end up pulling from breaks or bending out the hooks. It is a trade off, lose some gear with the slight chance of winkling out a real gem, it will happen...the question is when. Luckily for me its a river I can get on pretty easily and all I have to do is put my Barbel brain into gear and keep searching.

Poised for that moment to strike!

 I spent six hours moving around, with a big piece of garlic meat I gave each swim 30-40 mins, plenty of time for that smell and oils to permeate the flow and attract an unwitting Barbel, unfortunately for me that typically successful tactic didn't reap any rewards this time but it may do on my next visit, who knows!

 So with that aforementioned cloud cover rolling in I decided to bang the Barbel fishing on the head and broke out the trotting gear, my swim selection was a densely covered trot of around 30 yards, with a steady depth of 3.5ft, which at the end of the run tailed off to 2.5ft approx, within a few trots the Roach began to show up and not long after one fell to my trotted flake after prepping the run with a small amount of mashed bread.

 With only an hour left of light the fishing was fairly brisk, not looking to dwell too much on the finer details and just keep my hook bait working the line 3ft from the far bank vegetation as this seemed to be the hotspot which was worked out fairly quickly. Over that hour I managed six Roach, nothing big but all very pretty and in great condition. I will be back down there soon to hopefully contact some bigger fish with 2lb specimens a possibility, in truth it is just nice being there and catching them.

Sunday 25 December 2022

Chub Video - YouTube.

 I shall start by wishing all my readers a very merry Christmas and a prosperous 2023 which hopefully will be filled with fun, good memories and more importantly plenty of rod bending experiences!


 I haven't been on here much of late, to tell the truth I have barely been out fishing as life has dominated proceedings. Money making and family (rightly so) taking up most of my time, but once Christmas is done I will be looking to head out for Roach in the cooler conditions and when it warms up the Barbel will be back on the radar.

 Around 2 months ago I was approached by Drennan International who asked me whether I would like to do some filming and I jumped at the chance, working with Drennan? Yes please. So I organised a date and a time to meet and early December it was shoot day. Chub were the target, on the centrepin and float.

 The video can be found here ------)

 Now this was the first time I had ever been in front of a camera and found it a rather odd experience but felt that it came out well, Laurence, who is fishing fanatic himself was behind the camera capturing some pukka moments and felt coupled with some obliging Chub made for content to do a video. This is always a fear if the fish aren't playing the script, luckily I knew the pegs I choose would provide some decent sport. 

 The bigger fish did elude us but you can't have it all. Seeing some Barbel was also great as there aren't many in this particular tributary so I will be back for them come January. 

 Hopefully in the new year there will be some good news and kick off 2023 in a positive manner.

 Even though fishing trips have been lean since October the odd venture to the Loddon has been undertaken with nothing more than a nibble from the pre-hibernating Crayfish. I will get my Loddon one day....6 sessions down, 57 hrs and not one single bite. Tough old cookie.

Sunday 27 November 2022

Predator Season Looms.


 Given the tough conditions for Barbel over the back end of last week, Brian and I hatched a plan to come away from the Barbel and start our predator season. So Friday we headed back to the rivers and set about targeting Pike, given the mild conditions I had some reservations but it's late enough in the year and with water temps hovering around 7.5-8.5c it should be good enough to begin.

 We opted to float fish Sprats and rove around, trying to find the odd fish in amongst the tree-lines and deeper holes that litter the river, the sense of excitement was building as we rigged up our roving rods. The flavour had well and truly settled in before this trip, recently I purchased Mick Brown' new book and it is awe inspiring, the level of dedication he has shown and the results he has reaped has got me wanting to spend more time searching out the species and try to get a few more fish on the bank, one day I truly hope I become half as proficient as Mick, if I did it will be one hell of a ride!

A superb book!

 With the low sun we couldn't really see into the water and the clarity was pretty poor given the recent rains too so we relied upon our understanding of the fish, plus I had Pike-catcher-in-chief with me and I didn't have to wait long before I got bob on the float, a good solid run was met with a firm strike and with the hook set I was locked into battle with a good Pike that rolled on the surface thus showing itself, certainly around the mid-double range and as she approached the waiting net inexplicably the fish came off. I thought she gobbed me but it turned out my snap-link failed and the treble came loose.

 I know we all experience things like this over the years but it was a first for me and knew I wouldn't get many chances to catch a Pike as I don't think there are many around. I will certainly do a thorough check of tackle going forward and replace any of those components should I not be happy with them.

 About an hour later Brian was away with a decent fish, which I shall leave for him to publish on his blog.

 I was chuffed to see Brian get his winter season under way but there is always the shadow of doubt cast over your head when it hasn't happened yet, so I worked a few spots and fished all the likely looking areas where I thought something may happen and fortunately for me I got another shot at glory.

 A swift take followed by a strong but short battle where the fish hung under the rod-tip, before "just" squeezing into the net. At first she looked a decent fish of 15-16lbs, however when I lifted her up on to the mat it felt a bit more weighty, the scales confirmed that as they settled on 17lb 8ozs and my winter predator season was up and running! 

Chuffed with that!

 I stood back as she briefly lye on the mat and just marvelled at the markings and colours, don't think they come much prettier!
 Once the photos were done she slipped off back to the shadows, no doubt to continue her pursuit of optimum weight with spawning due in 2 months.
 We continued on downstream as we both felt 20mins in each area was probably the best plan of action and although we both felt that we were fishing well it turned out those two Pike would be the last of the action as the final 6 hours of fishing slipped by without another touch, maybe we just caught the back end of a morning feed? It'll be interesting to find out whether that rings true. 

 A seventeen to open my account for the season is a great start, hopefully I can find a big girl somewhere in the lead up to Christmas.

Saturday 26 November 2022

Wash Out Wye.


 Brian and I had a trip earmarked for the R.Wye to target the Barbel, ultimately the plan was to play the numbers game and catch a double figure off the river and chalk off river number 18 and then move on to the Severn. Little did we know 3 weeks back when we planned these three days of fishing that it would rain incessantly for days and the Wye and Severn were up and raging. 

 We knew it was going to be hard going before we left, however Brian's optimism was too assured to ignore and we made the journey to Ross. 2hr 40min later we were at our destination and the river had fallen overnight but still way off the level that would be deemed good, but it did create slacks which Brian and I fished, unfortunately such was the lack of action day one ended with one 10oz Chub and a 1oz Gudgeon, not the return you associate with the Wye, but this was hardcore stuff.

 Some of the storms that rolled across Wales were atrocious, 50mph gusts, horizontal rain/hail along with a few bolts of lightning and plenty of thunder made our first day pretty dire, thankfully Brian' mum and dad popped along with tea and cake to break up the monotony of motionless tips.

 Day two and we both woke up with a pessimistic slant on proceedings as the river had risen overnight like we thought it would and rose from 1.8m 4pm (Weds) to 2.4m by 7am (Thurs) with alot more to come through aswell, the only bonus was the water temp had risen from 7.7c to 8.3c overnight, so we went and gave it a go.....two hours later we sacked it off and went to the drawing board.

2nd morning and it looked even more unlikely.

 That meant making the journey back towards home and dropped on our local for a couple hours to save face and glad we did as I had two Barbel, one around 4lbs and another at 8lb 11oz which produced a superb take on the pin whilst watching over the rod. After landing the eight pounder the river became unfishable as wet wipes and other crap came through, thanks Thames Water 👌

Young gun.

A better one! 8lb 11oz

 So as we had finished our trip a day early we had to make up a contingency plan....where would we go and what would we target??? 

Saturday 19 November 2022

Red Letter Day!

 Over the years I've had a few of these, whether it be Roach, Chub or Barbel they are usually a moment in time of immense enjoyment. Yesterday I joined Mike once again on the picturesque R.Wylye for a days Grayling fishing. 

 Last winter provided some superb sport where I banked numerous "2lb specimens", with the outside chance of a 3lb specimen to add to my growing portfolio of "big fish". Don't get me wrong, my PB of 2lb 11oz is very special to me and deemed to be a very large fish for the species, but would like to go one better! 

 We both arrived around 9am and had a leisurely wander up to the top boundary where we garnered the attentions of the resident cows and one very very big BULL! no signs on the field entrance seems a little bit crazy given the size of it and the propensity for them to charge or be a right pain in the bum! To begin with myself and Mike worked a large inside crease where the water drops off to around 8ft. Previously we had done well in this peg and with the cows in attendance we waited for them to get bored of us.

 That gave us plenty of time to catch some fish and my first Grayling of the season was a belter! A sharp pull on the 11BB drake quill float was quickly followed by a strong fight in the flow which was a little stronger than usual as it was carrying a little more water and plenty of colour which initially did have me a little worried as historically I have not faired well in murky water when targeting Grayling.

 Nevertheless it did not take me long to register my first fish of the winter which weighed a very pleasing 2lb 5oz, glistening in the low winter sun what more could you ask for!!

 That was the start I would have hoped for whilst making the 109 mile journey! 
 Once she was released I set about running the float through the same runs and shortly after Mike picked up a lovely 2lb+ specimen before losing a big one to a hook pull which seemed to be a theme and most of the fish caught across the day were actually hooked by flaps of skin or just set in the smallest part of boney/fleshy mouth, I suspect that was solely down to the fish feeding quite tentatively and maybe the coloured water had played its part. 

 Once the cows moved to the other side of the field we made our break for freedom and got beyond the stile, from then on we split up after having a chat to try and find some more Grayling, to begin with it was actually quite difficult to find fish and even the areas I classed as banker swims last season provided nothing but the odd small Trout. There was a distinct lull in sport before I found another grayling, albeit small it meant there was fish around, next up was a fish around 1.04 and then I had a brilliant half an hour which spun the session on its head.

 My float sailed down on the crease which I struck and immediately I knew it was a big fish so I allowed it plenty of room to fight and didn't rush it, problem was the sun was right in my face and even with the polaroids I could not see the fish or where the fish was in relation to the net, so when the splashes of the corkscrewing fish looked like it was over the net I lifted it and thankfully a Grayling was nestled in safely, and it was a bigger one! 

2.10, my second biggest ever Grayling.

 A big broad bodied specimen that missed out on my personal best by 1oz! when I saw her on the mat I thought it would be very close to a new PB and wasn't wrong when the scales settled on 2lb 10ozs, super chuffed with that fish, but it got even better twenty minutes later when I had a carbon copy bite and a similar battle with a heavy fish holding deep in the flow with the rod bent double and the centrepin paying line as another big fish ploughed around the swift run with the wind whistling through the line.

 A cloud came overhead as I reached for the net so I could see what I was doing and it was another big Grayling! it looked bigger than the first, the burning question I asked myself was could it be a new personal best?, bigger still could it be a 3lb+ fish?
The verdict? 2lb 11oz, a joint PB!

 I did my best to jiggle the scales but it settled on 2.11 which I could not be disappointed with, what a brace of Ladies! By this point I had had 6 fish and 3 were over two pounds! 

 I fished that peg for half an hour longer with a couple more smaller fish coming to the net before we broke for lunch. After the pitstop I headed downstream to a few 'banker' swims but they were nothing like the pegs I fished last winter, now they are weeded up, branches in the slacks, topography all changed it really does put into perspective how changeable the rivers are. 

 For about an hour I didn't have a Grayling but did have a few nice Trout, one of which was just approaching the net when a decent Pike charged at it and piled off downstream, broadsiding the Trout which nearly flat rodded me as the pin sang! After a minute it let go and the Trout came in none the wiser with a couple of war wounds to show for it encounter.

 Given the time of year the days are short and sunset was fast approaching, thankfully I found another shoal of feeding fish and managed a few fish with another two "2lb specimens", weighing 2lb 3oz and 2lb 2oz. 

My 2.11 in all its glory.

Wonderful colours.

 That took my tally to 18 Grayling with 5 over two pounds. What a day! 

Sunday 13 November 2022

Making Me Work.


 As expected when fishing down on the lower stock southern rivers I am suffering from a dose of the blanks, left the banks of the R.Taff with a double under my belt and full of confidence, to only blank on the Itchen for 48hrs! then blanked on the Loddon a week or so back too.

 Sunday evening I had planned to head back to the Loddon to try and get myself river number 18 chalked off. I know the Loddon is a tough nut to crack and seem to have a few of these "tough ones" on retainer, what with the Itchen, Sussex Rother, Kentish Stour, ColnBrook and Loddon all taking up a decent amount of time with very very little to show for it.

 When I arrived at the top of the river it became very clear very quickly that it was high, the fields were reminiscent of an inland sea! Somehow I picked my way to the river on the tufts of grass that were slightly elevated than the rest, the question was, was it a good idea? I couldn't tell if it was rising still, however the conditions were far too good to pass up on and carried on with my plan, just needed to make sure I could still get back to car which was a good ¾ of a mile, my boots were really getting put to the test. As a side note I could still exit the field at the bottom of the section (another ¼ further down so a mile back to the car! so I wasn't any danger, just wet and cold feet! 

 When I arrived I took the water temp which registered at 14c which I was amazed at. With the added flow it did limit where the Barbel may be, you'd have thought the conditions were perfect, I fished one rod upstream on meat and the downstream rod with boilee wrapped in paste, the plan was to wait it out in each swim, typically about two hours to allow fish in the general area to locate the smell/scent and get acquainted with me. The first 6hrs! yes six hours passed by without incident and was just about to move for the third time (I spent longer in both swims just in case) when a huge Otter passed me going upstream when a huge bow wave came from under my bank, which I can only assume was a Pike ( which was big ) bolted from under my feet going downstream as the Otter continued on, the fish that spooked was very big and made almighty noise and disturbance, oddly old Tarka just going, hopefully loaded up on crayfish!

 For me the next two moves yielded nothing either and of course, by the end of the trip (around 7am) I had blanked. I can't say I'm surprised and since then I paid another 10hr visit to the river on Friday (11th Nov) overnight where river levels had come down around 4ft but still good colour with a temp of 13.1c so it had dropped around a degree in a week. Thats my fourth trip this season to Loddon now and I haven't had a bite, even a small Chub wouldn't go amiss now and again! 

Another night under the stars...
I did think it was in focus!

Wednesday 26 October 2022

All About Balance.


 Something in modern day angling that isn't mentioned much is the trails and tribulations that are involved in a quest like what I am embarking on. The 1000's of miles travelled, zig zagging across the country in search of Barbel and of course other species, this blog is keeping with Barbel in mind.

 I haven't been out many times this season but when I have been out they have been in blocks of two to four days, with the odd night thrown in for good measure. Conditions this season have been patchy at best, rivers running on bare bones with sluggish flows and dense weed growth owing to the superb summer we had. When I have been out successes have been had as I am sure you aware if you read my blog on a regular basis, but its the blank sessions that people rarely speak of, for what reasons I don't know but that sense of balance has to be struck and gives a true reflection on numbers behind the successes.

 A few of the rivers I have targeted this season have been nothing short of incredible. However, the likes of the R.Rother, Itchen, Loddon and Kentish Stour (Great Stour) have been a real challenge. Fish spotting on the Rother isn't really possible owing to its colour throughout the year, finding the fish is hard owing to the masses of features.

 The Itchen so far has consumed a fair wedge of time, over 7 trips and 91 hours spent without a bite, but the other day that very very nearly changed as I had a large Barbel which had to be 14lb+ mopping up 6mm pellet that I was feeding but owing to the snags I could not get the Barbel to come further out the cover, the sight of the gills puffing out sediment whilst it was clearly seen crunching food was exhilarating, but after 10 minutes she slowly dropped down the run and out of sight, I was gutted to say the least when it dawned on me she weren't coming back up. 

Sunrise over the Itchen on Saturday morning.

 That is definitely the closest I've come to tempting one on the Itchen, the same certainly can not be said for the Kentish Stour as I recently racked up my tenth blank on the spin as I seek one of the unicorns that I know exist, 65hrs spent searching and hoping over that 10 trips something would come my way. The only thing is the Chub on the KS seem to be a little more obliging than on some of the other rivers so when things aren't quite going my way I have been catching fish and not to the detriment of the Barbel fishing, I don't think I'm close to getting one soon either but I'll keep going and hope one day that final piece of the jigsaw will snap into position.

The Great Stour at sunrise.

 The Loddon and S.Rother to be fair haven't had a proper crack of the whip and as conditions start to improve these rivers will come into their own and catching Barbel becomes more likely but trips out in summer months to take in all the sites and learn the sections will no doubt serve me well on what are notoriously difficult rivers with small stocks of big fish. So far on the Loddon two trips have taken up 25hrs of fishing and the S.Rother three trips totalling 35hrs, its clear plenty more blanks will be needed before successes will be tasted but I knew this would be the case when I started this quest back in October 2020.

A very low S.Rother in the summer.

 Now to just drive home the numbers for my efforts since October 2020 I have blanked 70 times in 93 trips in this 2 year period, so when I do catch it very slightly shines a better light on the overall figure that will one day read, 40 doubles out of 40 rivers! But the figure that does look pretty good is that over that 93 trips my sessions to doubles ratio is currently at 5.47, that does certainly make for better reading.

 I love the sense of adventure and know it won't be easy but I am enjoying it enormously, here's to river number 18! Hopefully it falls sooner rather than later.

Sunday 23 October 2022

River Taff Double, That's a Wrap!!


 After a very relaxing week away in Tuscany with the family over the first week of October I was pretty keen to get something pencilled in for later in the month. Well, that time had come and I was ready to go for Friday morning. My plans as always are constantly changing to suit the conditions and go with my gut instinct. The original plan was to hit the Severn and Wye, then it changed to the Teme and Severn. However my mate Jerry Gleeson had had some success on the River Taff in South Wales and after much deliberation this was what I settled on.

 With plenty of miles (171 to be precise) to eat up I left in the early hours of the morning and when I did finally arrive in Wales I opted to grab a couple hours sleep in the car with my alarm set for first light. The alarm went off and slowly got myself together, initially the plan was to fish 2 rods static and build a swim and hope for the best, problem for me was that I couldn't hold a bait out in the flow even with 5oz leads, the amount of leaves coming down in the swift current quickly forced a change in my approach!

Dawn on the Taff.

 There could only be one tactic, yup - you guessed it. Rolling meat.

 Rolling meat needs no introduction, I use it all the time and it is arguably the most effective way to target Barbel, regardless of the type of watercourse. Given the fact first light was going and the birdsong was growing louder I set about my task. The swim I chose was a wide area, quite pacy throughout with plenty of eddies and swirly water, the sort of place Barbel might be sat.

 I had been rolling around for maybe twenty minutes before I got my first indication, a quick double tap on my finger as I coerced the bait along the gravel bottom, the initial touches were subtle, the second enquiry about 10 seconds later was anything but! A vicious pull on the rod that near pulled the line into and through my indicating finger! For the first minute or so I was met with pure power in the flow and suspected a Barbel simply from the bite, but given its fight I didn't think it was particularly big, it dawdled around the back of the eddies and dithered in the slacker water when the fish did come closer, after 3-4 minutes she finally showed herself and I was pleasantly surprised, plus it didn't take me long to pop the net under her.


 Measured, no frills, calamity free, perfect. But how big was it? upon first glance when I calmed down it became clear very quickly that I was staring a R.Taff double figure straight in the eye! a conservative guess I thought 11lb+ and was not wrong, 20minutes of fishing the Taff and I caught a big one, how very fortunate for me 😆 proves you should always trust your gut feeling.

My R.Taff double @ 11lbs 10oz.

 River number 17 completed and all before breakfast time too!! What a superb result.

 What a fish, what a journey, all over in no time. If any locals reading this or anglers who frequent the Taff will know its by no means an easy river, blanks are very much commonplace and areas where the Barbel live are pretty condensed from what I gather, so I felt doubly chuffed with myself and taken on my favourite method. Executed correctly it is devastating!

 Once I released that fish I wondered where to go next, before I did move off I met up with one of the bailiffs (Graham) where we chewed the fat for a while and got to learn a bit more about what is now a fairly clean river, like many across the united kingdom they were worked endlessly for various processes. 

 Once Graham had left I hot footed it to the Bristol Avon for a look about and then moved on to the R.Itchen which will be on my next blog post.

Saturday 15 October 2022

My First Soiree on the Banks of the River Wharfe.


 One doesn't know how 34 miles can pass by so quickly. I left S.Yorkshire and arrived in W.Yorkshire in a haze, I could not have been prepared for what had just transpired, who turns up at a river they've never seen before, fishes for 2½ hours, catches three Barbel, two of which are of the target size and blitzes the river record? Never heard of it happening before and I for one am pretty sure I'll never experience it again, as I write this (long overdue) entry the gravity of the catch is yet to fully settle in, its obscene.

R.Don - 15lb 4ozs

R.Don - 10lb 5ozs

R.Dearne - 10lb 9ozs

 Angling dreams are certainly made of moments like these and indeed much less. Now the R.Wharfe was playing host to my gigantic golden spherical plums, would she give up one of her treasures like the Dearne and Don had done in the previous 24hrs? 

 Before I was to find out I looked for somewhere comfortable to park up the car and set about grabbing a few hours kip in the motor before embarking on what I hoped would be yet another incredible days fishing. Given my mammoth effort the previous day ( Driving up from my home on the Kent/Surrey border to Barnsley in the early hours of the morning, roving around the Dearne all day before catching my target around 2pm, then I drove to the Don, had a leisurely and enormously rewarding couple of hours before slipping off up to Boston Spa near Wetherby, it had been a graft but I am used to this sort of fishing, real hardcore business. 

 I set my alarm for 6am and awoke wondering had I dreamt that all up. A quick scan of the pics once again was just the tonic to get me fired up and hopefully continue on what is a great spell. I grabbed my day-ticket from the shop and then got lost....half an hour slipped by with me buzzing around in the car trying to find the entrance to the river! After I wasted some more time I finally got my act together and found the wet stuff, what I was met by is a rolling meat wonderland!!!! I knew I would be in my element and so it would prove.

 The river was fairly clear with a reddy/brown tinge to it and within 20 mins I found Barbel, I got straight to work and got my lines on point from the get go, funnily enough the Barbel seemed to know what I was all about and the first two fish I found (both around 6lbs) seemed to spook pretty quickly and never returned. To begin with this seemed to be the way they all behaved, clearly rolling meat is a technique used here quite a bit given their reaction. The first 4hrs slipped by very quickly and had the shot at 8 Barbel by this point without even getting a sniff. 

 Around 2pm I decided to go back to the car, drop off the rolling gear and grabbed my bucket of goodies and the static gear. A change of tactic I hoped would eek out a fish. I wandered a 200 yard section first and put around 6-8 bait droppers of hemp and 6mm pellet in 4 swims which I planned to fish in rotation. My first swim was a very deep undercut bank that screamed fish, lovely gravel bottom with a swift inside line, it had all the hallmarks of a good Barbel holding area. 2hrs later and I gave up. I then decided to shorten my time in the other pegs to an hour as I was slowly running out of time ( kicking off time is around dusk ).

Amazed the rod remained motionless!

 The next two swims looked awesome and know they do hold Barbel from chats I had with friends and fellow anglers met on the day who fish it, but I could not muster a single touch! By 6pm things were looking bleak, I hadn't even snared a Chub!

It looked so good for it too!

 My last ditch attempt at a Barbel was to go back to the peg with the deep undercut bank and put a single bait over the top as I suspected the droppers of bait I put down around 2pm would either still be there or mopped up by fish that should still be in the vicinity. Sunset was fast approaching and by this time I had been in situ for around an hour, I really had gone from feast to famine, but these returns on away days have to be expected. I leant over to grab something out of my bag and out the corner of my eye see the tip bounce enough to get my attention, seconds later I was reaching out for the butt of my rod! Totally savage and typically Barbel-esk I knew I was connected to a Barbel, the deep powerful runs up and down stream played out in front of me without seeing it, possibly five minutes had gone by with me picturing various different sized fish on the other end, was it one of those rare Wharfe doubles that I sought after? or was it one of the great pretenders? When I finally got it close to the net I thought the previous! I muttered to myself "I couldn't could I?".

My first view of the fish.

 Must admit when I peered down the 10ft to the net I really thought I had! A hat trick of double figure Barbel in a little over 29hrs. She had it all, even hoisting her up to the mat the weight felt good! But could she go over 10lbs? 

 This time around she didn't, a very respectable Barbel all the same at 9lb 5ozs that could not be sniffed at, a Wharfe 9+ is a very good Barbel and took that gleefully! A very tough day worked out well in the end and knew I was close to time out too so after I took some lovely photos of my prize I slipped her back home to the depths of the mighty Wharfe and I scarpered!. Another river visited and yes, she wasn't a double and yes I will be back to try again but it was a very successful visit, even if it was challenging. 

 Being flexible in approaches to Barbel can be paramount to success and this scenario certainly highlighted that, never stick to one tactic if it's not working out. Mix it up, they may well be there, just not playing your game! play theirs.

Close, but no cigar this time around!

A superb specimen all the same, I was very happy 
given my effort!

 Once packed up and back at the car I had a dilemma, did I stay and fish the following day or head elsewhere and upon speaking with numerous other anglers during the day it was clear the Wharfe was in fact fishing quite poorly, so I decided against staying and drove down south to the tough R.Loddon which needs no introduction. A couple of hours back south via Donnington KFC was in order where I grabbed a few hours sleep...

Friday 30 September 2022

River Don Barbel Record!

 The elation of catching a R.Don double in such a short space of time was there for all to see, I was beaming! No one can ever confess to targeting a river to walk away with your prize within hours, but that luckily for me happens now and again. Now that I had caught that pristine 10lb 5oz specimen and river number 16 achieved on my challenge I thought briefly about packing up and leaving as mentioned in my previous post.

 However I decided to stay and with the rods lying dormant for a little while I decided to bring in one rod and roll meat around the swim to see if I could conjure another bite, that bite didn't take long, as I got pretty far down the run after a long roll in the slow paced water a tiny little pluck could be felt, which I struck and that was met with some force, your typical powerful fight at depth unfolded with lung busting runs upstream to where it would come on the inside line then charge back off downstream, stripping 20 yards of line off at a time. 5 minutes or so had gone past now and I still couldn't see the culprit in the torchlight, another run upstream had me hanging on and easing off my hold on the pin just so it wouldn't cause any issues such was the power, a break-off by this point would have been devastating as I knew by now it wasn't a small fish or even a medium sized fish for that matter, but throughout all of this fight I couldn't quite rule out a Carp.

 Another strong run was easily curtailed as it tired, then seized my opportunity to get it towards the net and into view, when she did come into view I nearly had a heart attack! this fish was big and it was a Barbel! Just how big I couldn't really tell but it was very big, enormous by Don standards, which at the time I didn't know about. I left the Barbel in the net to rest up after a brilliant fight and got my camera in position and sorted out the timer, sling laid out and scales ready to rock. 

 The next five minutes went past in a blur. When it came to lifting the Barbel out of the river it became apparent this fish wasn't 12/13lb etc, I had a sneaky feeling she was way over the fifteen pound mark and very quickly I got confirmation of this as the scales held on 15lb 4ozs!!! the second largest Barbel I've seen or caught ever! I was in dreamland but what made this even more special is two bailiffs who were downstream came along to witness this amazing capture who in turn once I cradled her for a few trophy shots made it fairly clear that this fish was actually a new river record which should be claimed, initially I was a little bit taken back and declined the opportunity but with some persuading I quickly came around to the idea and thought why the hell not! 

 So without further ado, here she is!

 And if the 10.05 cut it fine this blew it out the water! Two doubles in an hour off of a river I'd never stepped foot on before, I really was done now. I packed up, loaded the car before setting off for Wetherby to tackle the R.Wharfe, a river once again I've never seen nor fished before, could I keep this incredible run of form going? 

A fish of impressive proportions and on my new pin too!

***Update - The Barbel Society have ratified the claim for the River Don record, so I am officially a record holder :) *** 

 Happy as a fisherman could be !!!

Wednesday 28 September 2022

River Don Double, That's a Wrap!!


 From the R.Dearne I travelled a bit deeper into Yorkshire and set about tackling the R.Don, now unalike the R.Dearne I have never seen it before, also I've done very little research on it but know a chance of a double is possible. Like most rivers across the country they have been out of sorts and rewards have been few and far between. Tried and tested is always the way to go on any new water so I treated the Don no differently.

So I followed some sound advice from my mate Ash who suggested giving this section on the DDAA book, I bought a two rod day ticket and plonked myself in a swim that looked good and planned to fish an hour or so into darkness to try and illicit a bite at arguably the best time of the day. Once settled I grabbed my camera out of the bag and marvelled at my Dearne double.

 I purchased my tickets around 6pm with the view of fishing a couple of hours and yes, I know it's not long but for a tenner I can't really complain and once I got building the swim with small pellet I cast out with a lump of meat on one rod and a boilie on the other, the area I fished to was around 5-7ft deep.

 I had no expectation. 

 I sat patiently waiting for an enquiry and to my surprise I got a decent pull on the tip that I struck, the resistance wasn't much so I suspected a Chub, but this little beauty popped up! A mini R.Don Barbel, what a pukka little scamp.

 One day that'll be big, maybe as big as the fish I hooked next! A short while later my inside rod on the meat went and this was a much bigger fish, it hung deep in the flow and made numerous powerful runs up and downstream before it gradually tired. In the torchlight she looked a decent size and felt this fish could be a double figure fish, could it be?

 On the Rueben Heaton' she registered a very very very pleasing 10lb 5ozs, in the space of 5hrs I had landed a double off of the Dearne, driven to the Don and now I had slipped the net under a R.Don double, how bloody good is that!!! I was firmly perched on Cloud Nine, how on earth could I top that? 

 I didn't think it was possible, but with a trip to the R.Wharfe planned for the Saturday up in Wetherby I knew I had a decent drive ahead of me to North Yorkshire. However, I had only been fishing an hour and a bit so I decided to stay for a while longer to see what may transpire before calling it an evening.

Monday 26 September 2022

River Dearne Double, That's a Wrap!!


 Last week was a week of indecision, Brian and I were planning to head up to the Wye and Severn for a few days with the view of both targeting a double figure Barbel off of both rivers. Unfortunately for Brian his health isn't quite there to the level required to embark on a 4 day marathon of two demanding rivers, so given this development we decided to postpone it and then the cogs went into meltdown, over the 48hrs or so leading up to the planned departure I had all sorts going through my mind, finally a few hours before I set off the beginnings of a plan were finally in place, I was Yorkshire bound!

 I was loaded and ready to go at 3am, with a 211 mile journey ahead of me I chewed into the miles with the visions of big things, my last trip out was a total success as I managed to target a R.Mersey double successfully "My Mersey Double" and made good inroads on the R.Tame whilst also blanking on the R.Dearne. This was a case of picking up where I left off.

 Arriving around 0630 to a brisk but sunny morning I felt rolling meat would be the best approach, this would as usual enable me to cover miles of water and also initiating a response from a Barbel that could either be well hidden and drawn out of position or in plain view and the process of plopping a lead in would alert the fish thus potentially ruining the opportunity. My first few rolls across five pegs were ignored and I didn't see a single fish ( also just to put into context, the Dearne is not prolific at all, in fact it is a tough river with not a lot of Barbel present ).

 One peg I really did fancy the look of was a narrow run treelined on the far side with a canopy jutting out that looked like a good place for a fish to be held up, so I set about working the run and on my first roll the bait moved freely then through the back of the canopy without incident, that was until out the corner of my eye something moved in the murk but couldn't tell what, within seconds my bait disappeared and the flash of a substantial Barbel turned on the bottom and powered off downstream but more alarmingly to the next large willow canopy. 

 I had a good view of the fish and immediately knew it was a double, my heart rate shot up and I began to shake, just an hour in to the session and I'd found and hooked my target fish! My job now was to negotiate the myriad of trees and snags which looked at best perilous. In the tight peg I was shoving the rod tip under the water when she ploughed over the far bank treeline, then I got her out into open water I had to put side strain on it, then she shot under the trees again, the rod was sharply shoved under the surface again, this battle of wills continued for 3 or 4 minutes before I felt confident I would get her out, I leaned behind to grab the net that was made up and started to ship it out, but that last lunge for freedom is always one to look out for and regardless of how experienced you are they can catch you out with that raw power. She bolted across the river straight for a set of tree roots I had managed to avoid through the whole fight, this time I wasn't so lucky. She got under them so quickly I didn't have time to put the breaks on her and she went through the roots and came out the other side. Now I knew I couldn't put much pressure on her so I opted to let her drop down on her own volition, problem for me was I could feel the line grating through the fight and wondered how bad the line was (12lb), to my utter dismay and absolute disappointment she kicked hard and pushed on upstream further and this was the kiss of death as my line parted, the tension was lost and she continued on up river without me...I was distraught, I can't stress how tough that was to take knowing that may be my only opportunity of the trip to get one, but as you know from the title this wasn't true - at the time however I wasn't to know this so I worked tirelessly to make amends in the heat and near impenetrable banks, just trying to sniff out another opportunity.

Some wonderful looking areas on the Dearne!

Late September? Looks like mid summer.

A fresh Comma on blackberry.

 I lost that Barbel around 0700 and spent the next 4-5hrs covering 3.8 miles of river, most of which was beautiful, unfortunately in my case baron of Barbel, this really was a game of perseverance! But I consider myself a dab hand at finding fish even in tough conditions and I did just that. I found three Barbel in with around half a dozen Chub, and two of the Barbel were doubles! question I wanted to answer could I hook one of the Barbel and land it. You bet I could and what a fight it was too in the fairly clear water, and she looked like the biggest of the three Barbel too, a super fight ensued and made short work of it with very little to worry about in terms of snags, once clear of where I hooked it I enjoyed the rest of the experience.

Just what I was looking for!

An extremely pleasing 10lb 9ozs!

 On the Ruben Heatons she registered 10lb 9ozs and she was my 15th different river Double, the Dearne has been completed and what a beauty too! like a new penny.

 About twenty minutes after I released her my mate Ash popped along to say hello and bought along a celebratory ice cold beer! Much needed and even managed to get Ash using the centrepin and try to catch one of the other Barbel that were still present but unfortunately didn't commit to making his day too! 

 I was extremely happy with that, what a contrast in emotions, total deflation to elation, angling really does have it all and who says angling is a lazy mans game? 

I'll leave it there, what a start to the trip!

Blackwater Returns.

   Throughout my teenage years I spent many thousands of hours targeting Barbel in low gin clear rivers and really hammered home my love for...