Thursday 23 June 2022

Third Time Lucky?


 At least I was hoping so, 177 miles each way with diesel now costing a years salary to fill up the tank I needed to make it worth while, I needed to catch fish and catch well, preferably get my Severn double, the taste of defeat on my previous two visits and £80 lesson on why not to park in fields was still very fresh, I really wanted to banish those memories and kick off proceedings with some Barbel. 

 So I set off from home in the early afternoon and arrived in Holt for my first port of call. My first venue was Holt Fleet on the BAA book which as a side note is an extremely good value for money membership to have, varied waterways across the midlands to try your luck on. For me, flowing water and plenty of oxygen was my original thought, with the Severn flowing sluggishly I thought a weir would be a good place to start, I couldn't get any closer if I tried. 

Very comfy!!

A nice place to spend some time.

 I started off getting a load of 4 & 6mm pellet out about 2/3's of the way across where I found a deep gully beyond a gravel bar that was very weedy - which I was to find out later on to my dismay. Fishing both rods to begin with on banded 8mm single pellet I set the traps 15 yards apart on the same line, first up, Chub and quite a few of them. The rigid tips on my 1.5TC Korum All-Rounders were pinging constantly and knew it was Chub, but I knew at any point a Barbel could come along and snaffle my hookbait.

 Wrong. A procession of Chub came to the bank with alarming regularity which wasn't filling me with hope that actually the Barbel would get a chance!, they seemed ravenous, but out of nowhere the rod hooped over and knew immediately that this was a Barbel, she rolled over the gravel bar, showing herself completely before ramming into the weed bed I eluded to earlier, nothing I could do and even with fairly stout tackle the game was up, after a few seconds of the pressure coming off of the fish I felt a brief thud, then it went slack as this fish came off, annoying to say the least, but if I can take any positives from it it wasn't a double and likely to be around the 8lb mark.  

 By 2245 which was nearly kicking off time I found myself head scratching and where I was going to go next. With a lovely sunset beyond the horizon I set about moving on to the next leg of my journey, which was to do the night in Bridgnorth on the town section, a stretch I kind of know and hoped would finally break my Severn duck.

 26 miles north of Holt and 40mins later I arrived in Bridgnorth and got straight on with unloading the gear, I was a man on a mission. A quick 5 minute trudge upstream bought me too a peg I was shown by a friend last year and remembered roughly where it was, by midnight I was fishing but had to wait an hour and half for my first bite, when it did come there was no doubt what it was, a powerful take followed by a powerful fight, I was at last on the winning end of a Severn Barbel and not long after it was resting up in the net. 

6lb 3oz and off the mark, at last!

Link for release video here ----->  6lb 3oz Barbel Release

 Finally done, now it was time to get that double figure specimen I really want, chalking off another river early season will give me a huge boost of confidence in which I think will be a very challenging season.

 Unfortunately the remainder of the short night bore no more fruit, so at 4am, I packed up again and headed downstream to Knowlesands to fish a few spots where again I know Barbel do frequent. I made the long walk down the hill and downstream on the fishery some way before finding the peg I was looking for, a nice deep churned up hole littered with big rocks, a risky move but I felt it was the deepest peg in the whole section and fish would be seeking some cover in the bright sunlight.

 I set up in the same manner as Holt Fleet, but instead of bait dropping freebies out I decided to use PVA bags for a more compact feeding pattern, with the turbulent water a bait dropper would have been much less accurate. I set up the first rod and flicked it out just into the main flow, then set about getting rod number two ready when the first rod screamed off, nearly bouncing off the rod-rest and into the river! pure power and as I lifted into the fish I knew it was big, it stayed low in the current and headed at pace downstream, unluckily for me I don't know the exact topography of the swim, but the Barbel did! Very cunningly it headed for a big rock and decided to smash me up on 15lb hooklength that was freshly tied, no imperfections present, a clean cut and a lost fish that could have been any size, I do fear given my extensive experience targeting the species that it was probably the one I wanted, but such as life.

Smaller one around 5lb.

 After plenty of swearing and more swearing I finally got myself together and now fishing with two rods, from this point on I was converting all the action which was roughly coming at a fish an hour, not exactly prolific but amongst that was another six Barbel with the best weighed 8lb 1oz and in post-spawned out condition as to be expected, the others averaged 6lb with a little one thrown in for good measure. 

Long lean fighting machine.

 Around 5pm the peg went quiet and thought about moving pegs when a Barbel rolled in front of me, two rod lengths out, so naturally I bought a rod in and hoped it was feeding. 7pm came and went and still no more bites, I decided to call it a day and head to the ColnBrook for a go there, but the weather was foul and remained on the M25 homeward bound. 

 So I didn't get my double but felt like I was close, I think to be honest I am going to wait a little bit before going back, give the fish time to bulk back up, because it'll just be my luck to have a spawned out 9.14/9.15 on my next trip! A nice fish but would not be the one, so I am going to be patient on the Severn, think that's a wise move.

 Also ordered a ton of hemp from Monster Particle and the heat seals went on two 10kg bags of hemp, the juice was everywhere and seed took me ages to get cleaned up, possibly lost half a pint in the clean up...

Wednesday 22 June 2022

June 16th, Glorious June 16th...


 Every moment of the river season whilst conditions allow I will be in pursuit of Barbel as I restart my quest to achieve a feat completed by no man! For those that don't know, or aren't familiar with this blog then it's a quest to catch a double figure Barbel off of forty (40) rivers across England, Wales and Scotland. Yes it is an epic task, it's a task that might defeat me. 

 STOP! right lets nip that pessimistic mumbo jumbo right now! This is no place for failure and I will catch exactly what I am after and that begins on the Kentish Stour! 15th of June I was walking the banks in the heat armed with polaroids and cap, the mission was simply to find Barbel and get them to feed. Only one Barbel was found and annoyingly she was surrounded by a hoard of hungry Chub, yaaaaay. Just what I wanted to see.

Such a beautiful river, but heavily weeded throughout.

 Anyway, I went back to the area I earmarked to do the darkness hours and at dawn move around, as I couldn't do the night in the other area as the mosquito's were ravenous even though I was covered in Jungle Formula ( strength 4 ) which is their highest rating, one later on did slip through and get me, right on my "Adams Apple". I can still feel it! So I settled in the overnight swim and fed steadily through the evening and hoped by midnight that I would be in prime position to snare a Barbel at the first time of asking. 

 Midnight came after a few very long hours and within four minutes of the midnight gong the rod began to show signs of life, I prayed for a Barbel and got a Bream...hmmmmmmmm, not what I wanted to see! Then twenty minutes later a 2lbs 1oz Eel stormed the party, followed by another two Bream. Where were the damn Barbel?! In fact I don't expect to catch one when on the KS, its a tough river with a reputation for being just that.

Funny looking Barbel.

Break of dawn at exactly 3am,
complemented by a chorus of Tawny Owls.

 By 5am it wasn't happening so I decided to pack away briefly and go for a walk with the glasses for an hour or so, just in the vein hope I would get a chance, just one. Again though a few hours passed without seeing anything more than Chub, that was until I decided to check out the location where I saw the Barbel the afternoon before and it was quickly apparent that there were now two! One about 6lb the other 8lb or so, not quite the double I seek but would get me off to flyer for sure. One problem I had to encounter though was the sentries that responded to anything hitting the water, my hookbait would be engulfed in seconds, everytime. The Barbel stood no chance and after 7 Chub from that one swim it was abundantly clear I was not going to manage one of those fish and soon after conceded defeat, the temps just got too high and thought better of it. 67 miles back Barbel's almost a case of cut and paste from my previous 9 trips.

Best Chub was 4lb 5oz

A very dosile Red Admiral lapping up
minerals off an ash pile.

 I will be back of course to give it yet another go until I get what I want, looks like I am in it for the long haul on this river. 

Tuesday 21 June 2022

Return to Stow.

 After a blazing success on my previous trip after Abramis Brama (image below), my focus was unwavering at the task set before me, fish well and hope to locate the fish and let the rest fall into place. Hopefully set a PB, again and move on through the 15lb barrier which was my initial plan and didn't think I would achieve something close to that with a single fish banked, jammy or what.

Proudly showing off my new PB!

 Conditions weren't great for bottom, notwithstanding I was there and had to make the most of it. On site for just after the gates opened I set about putting an irrefusable meal in front of them, smelly yet visible to any passing fish, all I had to do was sit and wait. I opted to fish over a bed of small pellet and corn.

 Problem was I did a lot of waiting and found myself scratching my head. No fish were showing, all the Carp boys were sodding off home early as nothing was happening, by 7pm I thought my fortunes were on the turn as porpoising Bream of epic proportions began getting closer to me by which point twenty minutes later I had a vast head of fish over my baited area, issue was is I wasn't getting any indications of fish feeding and came to a point at 2130 that I thought it was not going to happen.

 Fishing the back lead owing to the under-tow I didn't get any liners but those fish must have been feeding on my area, no way were they there that long and not go for a munch up. Gates closed at 10pm and I found myself pacing up to them at two minutes to ten. I really eeked out as much time as I could, but it just did not happen for me.

 Here are some blanking shots...

Awesome reservoir to fish, but can kick you in the plums!

Twin Delks on the job.

Camera on the piss...

Tench and Butterflies.


 Went tench fishing, weather was crud and I blanked, I blame the weather.

 On to Butterflies....saw a few on my recent visits but most notable was the Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary which are pretty rare and missed out on them last year, so this year I was chuffed to see them and a mating pair to boot made it into the photo reel, species number 53 ✅. The remainder now require long distances to check off but with diesel now around £2.00 per LITRE! I am now thinking twice about any journey made in the car as its bloody expensive, regardless of financial standings, most are feeling it....

Side on SPBF.

Mating SPBF's!

Lightning quick Wall Brown.

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...