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!

Sunday 18 September 2022

New Gear and Preparing For My Wye/Severn Trip.


 Its all starting to get a little bit exciting now as Friday is getting just that little bit closer!, a trip over to the River Wye to begin with, then hopefully moving on to the Severn to bag a few fish with a double figure Barbel of course being the main target. 

 I head to the rivers aiming to get river number 15 signed off on my challenge and maybe even more than that if I get very fortunate, I have also had Barbel off of 21 different rivers and the Wye isn't one of them having never tried my hand on the Barbel mecca.

 Preparations have already begun and around 20 rigs have been tied, some 10-12 inch, some 18-24 inch to hopefully cater for the different scenarios I may find myself in and with the rivers being snaggy, more notably the Wye with the rocks/boulders I needed a fair few as back up.

 For the terminal tackle I've gone with 15lb Flourocarbon (Kryston - Incognito) as river conditions continue to be low and clear, so giving myself that edge of near invisibility may be the difference between confident feeding and fish approaching very cautiously, I want as many fish as possible as the numbers game on these rivers needs to be played unless I get really lucky, which is not beyond the realms of possibility.

A snap from my previous visit to the Severn.

 The remainder of the gear is my usual go to's, strong pattern of hook in size 8 and 6, with size 8 swivels and fishing predominately on the hair but will also roll meat where the conditions allow. 

 For a number of years I have wanted to get myself one of these centrepins and finally decided to treat myself, the Purist II by J W Young & Sons Ltd is up there with the very best and have bit the bullet and bought one, its first outing will most likely be the Wye/Severn trip, but can I christen it with a beast? Only time will tell.

It spins forever! I can't wait to use it.

Thursday 15 September 2022

Final Part of my August Northern Tour.


 After that great visit to the Mersey, the successful start on the Tame I decided to make the jump across the Pennines and target the R.Dearne, a medium sized river that flows through west Yorkshire that is home to some big Barbel, in the years gone by and even fairly recent it has produced fish over 16lbs with a few specimens over the magical 10lb mark.

 This view would be very nice to see!  

  So with plenty of research done and some good intel I headed to a section that was reputed to hold a few Barbel and some of the size I am looking for. I fished the Dearne last season once and found one Barbel that I failed to hook as it picked up my rolled meat and spat it before I could set the hook, so I set about banishing that memory and making a mends.

 Problem with the Dearne is it is loaded with features that scream Barbel and knowing exactly where to fish is a real head scratcher, so I went for the area that looked thee fishiest and set up shop there.


 Plenty of water to go at I gave each peg around 30min to an hour depending how much water was in each peg. Issue for me was the Chub were ravenous and seemed to be involved fairly quickly, even with the freebees. After four pegs I decided not to loose feed anymore and stuck with either a lump of meat or a boiliee with paste. 

 But the Chub just kept coming, even as pukka as this individual they really weren't my target, best in four hours was this one above. Just over 4lbs. I did see two or three Chevins that were possibly 5lb+ and as the sun dropped over the horizon I set up camp in a nice deep pool and hoped that a Barbel would come along. 

Would it happen for me?

 For me I had another day ahead of me and the night but I could feel my eyes closing as midnight closed in, the thought of catching a big Barbel from the Dearne had me wanting to stay but I was absolutely shattered and not sure if I could do another night without my bed. That thought sealed the deal, I decided I did have a great trip over the 4 days / 3 nights and it was time to call time, I will revisit this river later in the year. 

Tuesday 6 September 2022

Opening My River Tame Account.


 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.

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...