Seeing as I had successfully targeted a double figure Barbel from the mighty Mersey in an evening I moved onto the next river on my list and what better river to target than the Tame, a river that reminds me very much of my apprenticeship river, slow in places with pacy areas, littered with areas that look like it would hold fish but just not clear enough to fish spot clearly. It is a river I knew little about but was clear from early research that the lower Tame is where the party is at.
So with a location in mind it was all go on Friday morning after crashing on Jerry's couch (certainly beats sleeping in the car) with an inevitable spring in my step, I looked to find a Barbel to begin with but ultimately a double figure specimen was as always the target as river number 15 was locked into focus.
Given the size of the river I thought it would be a foregone conclusion in regards to catching, I hoped to spot the fish too given the depths averaged 2-4ft, however the water is an odd colour and seeing even into ¾ft of water I really struggled, it wasn't until I got past the canopies that I could actually see the bottom, so god knows what I passed downstream. I opted to fish static although in hindsight a day rolling meat may have served me better but the meat I had was rubbish (don't use DAK luncheon meat for rolling), its dreadful. Tulip or Spam is best but needs to be cold, when warm they both don't fair well either.
The areas to fish looked pukka on my first viewing and hoped I would be lucky again!
On Friday I fished numerous pegs and found fishing very difficult, I thought I was fishing well but didn’t even manage a bite, that was until I happened upon a spot that looks like it should be holding fish. The first 40 minutes went the same way as the other spots when out of nowhere I had a savage rap on the rod tip and a fish stormed off downstream then straight under a fallen willow where I shoved the rod tip under the surface to give me half a chance, before I created that half chance though the tension came off and the fish was gone, not a monster of about 7lb but would have been great to get one on the scoreboard and off the mark on the Tame.
That take was around 3pm and found myself, yet again, scratching around for a bite, I just could not conjure one up. Nearly 6hrs had passed and another 4 swim changes before I decided to settle back in the peg where I lost the Barbel earlier on. With the light failing I got some bait in and hoped after a few hours rest that any other Barbel that maybe present (Barbel of that size aren’t often alone) would be inclined to feed.
Around 2130 I got a delicate tap on my rod tip before gently settling back down, so posed to strike on the next movement hovering over the rod-ready, but after a minute or so with no further movement I sat back into the chair to get comfortable again, then BAM! A savage take had me scrambling out of my chair and lifting into a decent fish that by the time I did have complete contact it was level with me having travelled some 30 yards upstream from where it was hooked.
In the torchlight I could make out a decent frame, however looking down a ten foot bank into 4ft of water the size wasn’t necessarily in my mind right now, I had so much more to do as these Tame Barbel clearly have a taste for a good battle, she did not want to give up and I really had to put my gear through its paces. Like most battles with barbel they have a blistering start, methodical middle section and a last moment dash to catch the uninitiated out by smashing them up on a slightly tightened clutch, but no sir, not me! I am too long in the tooth to fall for that trick, but 3 times? It’s a new one on me and testament to how strong this Barbel was, it did not know when to lay down and accept defeat, such was the battle I afforded it all the time it needed to recover before briefly weighing and photographing this immense creature.
|A beautiful 8lb 11oz specimen.|
At no point did I think she would go double figure and the scales confirmed this but clearly has the frame to achieve that toward the end of the season. On an Otter strewn intimate waterway this fish and the subsequent fish I would go on to catch were all in tip top condition. It may seem controversial to some but once the Barbel wise up the Otters ability to polish off the stocks becomes less and less effective and the fish actually are better for it, weak fish, diseased fish fall foul whilst the strong younger fish continue to thrive and hopefully bolster the stocks that are present.
A couple of photos later and she was ready for release, a short video was shot as she left the net to continue its journey to becoming one of the Tame’s future big girls no doubt, right shape and got the power of twenty fish.
My Saturday night was spent gradually feeding up the swim and over the next 3 hrs would take another three Barbel weighing between 4&6lbs, not a bad nights work and the following day I got back down and repeated the process, this time around I looked to rove around the section of river I was fishing and hope to catch some out of position, in the open water but oddly the fish were not there, even in the weir I found bites hard to come by, even if in the weir I couldn’t keep a rig on for more than 5mins such was the carnage that unfolded. I drove up north with 9 leads, by 2pm on Sunday I had none….a pack of swivels, hooks and beads all gone, 4m roughly of expensive rig material gone, it really was getting to me so I canned the weir and headed to the pub for dinner that my mate Jerry knocked up for me! Much needed it was too.
|A wonderful place to fish!|
|About to lose one of nine rigs.....|
....nice place to waste time though.
I hung around in the pub for a couple of hours before getting back to the Tame, this time around I didn’t muck about, I got straight back to the “willows” and set about building the swim exactly the same way I did the night before. The expectation of a bite in the daylight was slim so hedged my bets on dusk onwards. By 10pm I got my first knock and that turned out to be a smaller fish around 4lb which wasn’t terrible, then I had a lull in sport until around midnight when I had a spell of 3 takes in 45mins when the Barbel clearly went on the feed, those going 6.2, 6.10 and 7.5. Not bad average sized fish but that elusive double that does exist was not showing itself.
|Best of the second night at 7lb 5oz.|
Having been fishing for 17hrs straight (minus dinner time) I was knackered and decided to call it a night at 430am, I headed back to Jerrys to get my head down for a couple of hours where I then had a decision to make, did I go back to the Tame where I knew I’d have to wait until at 9-10pm for any action or head north to the R.Ribble, or head across the Pennines to the R.Dearne in W.Yorkshire. The decision given the journey from the Ribble to home was 6hrs it didn’t fill me with excitement if I’m honest and the Ribble needs some serious water at the moment, it isn't in great shape like many rivers up and down the country, but the Dearne by most accounts fishes okay in these conditions so that was to be my next port of call.