Tuesday 30 August 2022

River Mersey Double, That's a Wrap!!


 If I am brutally honest with myself so far this season, it hasn't been what I hoped, there are obviously a few reasons for this that I am sure I have covered previously. A few weeks ago, on my thinking seat at home I got to researching the rivers that litter the NW of England. A few rivers that cropped up time and again were the Ribble, Tame, Mersey, Irwell and Dane. Catch reports on some of the rivers were more accessible than others; however, local knowledge is king and my good mate Jerry was very good with persuading me to come up and start my trip on the Mersey, they had had some rain recently and the peat had just finished running off, which was more luck on my part rather than judgement.

 Given the drive ahead I needed to be patient as the inevitable traffic/crashes and diversions (one through the M6 toll) had to be endured before I finally arrived on the banks of the River Mersey. My approach was to fish static in a few likely looking areas and looked for depressions/holes which may exist with a bare lead, this is where Barbel maybe hiding. Leading around on new venues can build a fairly good picture of the topography and the presence of snags pretty quickly and with my five minutes of splashing around done it was on to setting up my rods and get fishing.

 Tackle for this trip is as always balanced as best as possible. 1.75TC Fox 12ft rods Shimano 5500 Ultegras loaded with 12lb Hypersensor, fished in conjuction with a 2oz lead, 12lb Fox Illusion flourocarbon and a size 8 wide gape hook. On one rod I used a lump of meat and the other used a single 15mm "Source" boilie with matching paste. 

 With my spots worked out I plopped the rigs out, sat back and took in the ruggish feel to the place, a sense of atmosphere and that isn't something that can be levelled with a lot of places I target Barbel as they are mainly in the countryside and most areas look fairly similar. With my left rod out toward the far bank in 3ft of water my right hand rod was in tight to a sprawling willow on the inside bank which looked the most likelier of the two to go.

Taken in the night.

 48 minutes after getting my first rod out my least likeliest rod (LH) tapped gently then shuddered before pulling round confidently, I lifted into the fish to find the line going really slack really quickly, it took a good few seconds to wind down before regaining direct contact, by this point it was level with me, some 35 yards from where I'd cast! I was surprised at the pace this fish came at me and once I had the tension back on she began to strip line as it continued on up river at an alarming pace. Not knowing where the snags were I feared she had a plan to ditch me somewhere and knew that if I gave her anymore leeway I may come to regret it so went for it and used my gear to the max to turn her before it all ended in tears.

 Five or so minutes had passed by now and I was still no closer to knowing what I was playing, the peaty colour still present ( only slightly ) meant I had maybe 6-12 inch visibility, even when she turned in front of me as the fight drew to its conclusion I still could not make out whether it was a Carp or a Barbel although I suspected the latter. Once I had reigned her in after that final flurry of power I finally got to see my prize and to tell the truth, as soon as she came over the lip of the net I suspected she was a double.

 When I lifted her out on to the mat I knew it was a double and gave myself a high-five and thought I bloody deserved that for my efforts and not just getting there on Thursday evening but for what followed over the coming days. I left her to rest in the margins as I got my camera setup and sling/scales ready so the Barbel was out the water for as least possible time. As I lifted her up for some shots I could not help but smile, alot! for I had my River Mersey double in my hands and river number 14 of my challenge achieved. Bloody brilliant!

10lbs 10oz of pure Mersey power!

 That battle really did my nerves no good, just glad I landed it and with good reason too. After releasing that fish I decided to have a little wander up after bringing in my other rod for a rebait and found two shopping trolleys pretty much where I turned that fish, it was a bit too close and could have ended up very differently and wouldn't have known what was on the end, my suspicions would have suggested something like this or a mid-double carp, thankfully for me it all ended up in the best way possible.

 A couple of hours later my left hand rod went off again as I awaited my mate Jerry to finish work which turned out to be a smaller fish of about 5lbs that I slipped straight back. Not long after releasing that fish Jerry and I nagged for a while before heading back to his to get some much needed rest! 

 River Mersey had been very good to me, 48 minutes to achieve that, but there is always so much more to it than that, a massive effort rewarded in the most empathic way possible.

Tuesday 9 August 2022

A Change of Scenery.


 Finally we have a summer that everyone can be happy with! That said, the Barbel don't appear to be enjoying it much, in truth I haven't targeted them for about two weeks and haven't caught one in 6 weeks, so with those piss poor returns it was high time that I mixed it up a little. 

 And what better place to go than the wonderful endless skies of the Fens, a place I hold huge affection for. In the boat or walking the banks it never fails to ignite that intrigue and sense of anticipation not many places can rival. Pristine waterways, overgrown banks in many places means a boat is the only real way to fish effectively and search out big fish that invariably are never targeted. 

SS Rudd all cleaned up and gleaming!

 An afternoon of prep the day before meant I got the chance to scrub my best investment for another tour of the Rudd infested waters of Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, I could not wait. The following morning I awoke at 0315 to finish loading the car and then set off to pick up Brian who of course was as excited as me if not more so given his current predicament, this soiree is just what both of us need and for very different reasons.

 By 6am we were at our slip and could already see some decent Rudd so inevitably the excitement level ratcheted up a couple of notches. By 0630 we were afloat and in search of fish, which didn't seem shy at all. Yes catching is the aim of the game but we both had designs on something a little more substantial than 8-14oz bars of gold, even if they looked amazing!


 About an hour or so afloat we were making our way up the narrow corridors in search of some bigger fish as a pound seemed to be the threshold to begin with, that was however until we came across a few half decent fish with one almighty beast at the tail of the shoal, it was enormous and the target in my mind is a 3lb+ specimen, I assure you this fish was that and more! If I had to hazard a conservative guess I'd say 3.04 - 3.08, she was massive and immediately we eased up and tried to keep an eye on where she was heading as the shoal had seen us before we saw them, what with ample bankside vegetation and untold pad systems everywhere it very quickly disappeared. 

 For about 15 minutes we continued to search around for it and fed a couple slices of bread around to try and tempt anything still present into feeding but our efforts were in vein and I feel she either held up in the cover waiting for us to go, or they had pushed on up under cover and we never did see that again, the very fact I had seen a huge fish, the "one" I have sought after for 6 years now on the Fens had been located, I now know its not a pipe dream and that it really is possible!

 Notwithstanding the day did pan out nicely as we coasted around in the glorious sunshine for hours, catching fish with the odd bigger one coming to the net until my battery died and I had to resort to rowing instead ( Not so relaxing by this point ). Hundreds of smaller swirls and slurps at the floating crust would be punctuated by a bow wave and smash out of the blue as bigger fish looked to capitalise on the copious amounts of food we pumped out, they really were mopping it up.

My best of the day, a gnats todger under 2lbs.

 Brian did manage quite a few fish but nothing massive, the simple fact we got out on the boat was great, we will be back soon for another bash for sure! Next time we head out I may have a new engine and battery to try out, even more of an excuse to get back up there, it really is heaven and if you are reading this having never fished the Fens I urge you to give it some thought at the very least, its possibly my favourite place to fish, even if it is difficult to locate bigger specimens amongst the hoards of smaller ones.

What a view :) 

  Tight lines all and be lucky! 


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...