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.