Wednesday 27 September 2023

River Thames Double, That's A Wrap!!


 Well well well, this purple patch just keeps going! I think the superlatives have run dry by this point, need some blanks to reset and no, this is not a spoof!

 I shall start with the beginning, that would be helpful I guess. 

 A month or so ago a friend of mine, Rich, proposed that we meet up at some point for a bash at the Thames, it's a river I fished a lot as youngster. Barbel came up sporadically when targeting the Carp over night and managed some good fish over those years of carefree youth, my best was caught back in January 2013 weighing in at 11lb 9oz. 

 That eleven pounder was the last Barbel I caught off the Thames and remained my best until the present day. I thought the invite to the Thames would be a good excuse to put a rod out and see what the night might bring. 

 I loaded the car with my work and fishing gear, ready for a long day ahead. Working in Putney it wasn't a particularly long drive to the Thames but issues on the M25 meant the surrounding routes were suffering as a result so I spent over an hour picking my way through the tailbacks before finally arriving at the river 2hrs late. 

 Upon first glance the river looked in fantastic condition given the heavy rain we had endured for the previous 4/5 days. I must admit, I felt quite confident that one of us would catch a Barbel, but first, I needed feeding so off to the chippy I went. 

 After polishing off the grub I set about creating a decent area of feed and loaded my 6oz feeder with 2&6mm pellet, along with a large bag of PVA'd pellets, knowing this area of the Thames I knew I wanted to get the Bream grubbing around as I know the Barbel mill around with them. Pretty quickly the tip on my upstream rod began to bounce away, I knew what was happening and soon enough it was away, the culprit a nice Bream around 7lbs, the task now was to keep the bait going in and hopefully the Barbel would muscle in on the action. 

 For around 4hrs the Bream came at regular intervals with the tell-tale knocks before the rod hooping over, all of a sudden I had a sharp knock, almost like a liner and before I could even think of sitting back down the rod went into meltdown and the take was so savage the rod flew out the back rest and the eye above the reel seat whacked the Delkim and cracked the insert of the eye, with no need to strike I leant into the fish and immediately knew it was a Barbel, strong and steady out in the flow was a dead giveaway, for around 4/5mins we played tug of war before finally ambling into the margins, ready for me to slip the net under it, my first Thames Barbel for nearly 11 years.

9lb 2ozs, happy days!

 A good fish to kick things off (0235) was followed by a couple of Bream where I had a similar take almost an hour later (0340) to which the Barbel decided that it wasn't going to play hard and behaved itself relatively well. A short stocky fish, much like the first! This was becoming a bloody good session, two Barbel on my return, it couldn't get any better could it? 

No2 of the night, 8lb 3oz.

 Bream number 14,15,16 and 17 came to the net in quick succession before the crowning glory. Sleep was something that I had to forgo, the fish were on me and still feeding. I had just finished a rolly then looked at the time when I heard the clutch left off some steam! I was away again and this fish felt similar to the nine-pounder, stayed deep and did not move much, in a couple minutes I think I moved it ten-yards, probably nothing more than that. All of a sudden it woke up and went ballistic, first of all it thundered out into the middle of the river with gusto before slowly making its way back towards my margin, problem was it knew about the weedbed that separated myself and the gravel channel I fished. It wasn't long before I felt the line rubbing on the weed as the Barbel ploughed through it, the horrid thought of losing it started to play on my mind after a couple minutes had passed with it still in the weed. 

 I changed the angles, applied more pressure, then slackened off in the vein hope the fish would come out on its own volition and it worked, soon enough the weight of the fish back on the rod, I wound down on the fish and did everything in my power to stop it going into the weed again, but nope, it managed to make its way back in there and the same thing played out, only this time I had to completely slacken off. With full trust in my micro-barb hook being firmly in place I just waited for the kicking again. With the battle now edging toward 10mins I wondered if I was ever going to get it in! 12lb line, 12lb hooklink and a 1.75TC rod I knew I had the right gear for the job so as was becoming slightly impatient I turned the screw on the Barbel and once again I could begin to feel faint kicks through the rod, at that point I leant into the fish and got it moving, this time I could feel the fish was tiring, this was my chance and with my "long reach" landing net pole extended fully I finally had Barbel number three in the bag, this looked decent, double decent. 

 After a long hiatus, I was cradling a double figure Thames Barbel. 10lb 9oz on scales made for pleasing reading. Whilst Richard was asleep I was hauling, I was having a pukka return on a river I enjoyed fishing  for many years on the Barbel front, back in the late 90's and 00's double figure Barbel weren't as plentiful as they are now. That fish also set another record too, it was my fourth trip out in 5 weeks and managed a double on each of those four trips off four rivers, stupendous!

A solid Thames double, yeehaw!

 Once I'd taken some pics I slipped her back and hoped the night wasn't over, but with just an hour or so of dark left I knew bite time would end soon and so it proved to be. Sunrise had come and gone to which point I packed down and contemplated my next move. Unfortunately no Barbel for Rich but that's angling sometimes, I seem to be riding the wave at the moment, it's surely going to petter out soon. 

 End of session results, 17 Bream and 3 Barbel (9.2, 8.3 & 10.9).

Wednesday 13 September 2023

River ColnBrook Double, That's A Wrap!!


 My last two trips out resulted in two magnificent catches of Barbel off of the ( River Ribble and River Rother (Sussex) ), somehow could I complete the hat-trick? Well, it would seem my purple patch extended into my third session, it has become quite an incredible 3 weeks. Almost speechless.

 After more than two weeks off the bank owing to work and family commitments I hadn't managed to get out, so with the hot spell abating and an unexpected early finish I thought it would be rude not to go fishing for a couple of hours before heading home for dinner. 

 Around 1530 I arrived on the ColnBrook and had a wander with my rolling gear, very minimal gear and scoped out areas where I suspect the Barbel would be holding up and it didn't take long before I got a savage wrap around on my rod but when I struck nothing was on the other end, I suspected a Chub as it was typical for Chub to be present in this specific area. But on the other hand I could not totally rule out a Barbel.

Tough to roll but doable when you know how.

 After that brief action I decided to stick it out in that area and got a bait on the bottom but after an hour nothing materialised so I moved upstream, rolling through various treelined runs but every run seemed devoid of life, all that broke that lifelessness was the constant flow of planes taking off from Heathrow, some low enough to cup your ears and feel the hot waft of aviation fuel whip past as they headed for foreign climes. 

 2hrs of constant rolling meat and evading mosquitoes led me slowly back down to where I had that early action, I dropped my bag on the floor gently, crawled into position and flicked my bait across to the far bank and allowed it to slowly fall to the bottom ( around 4/5ft ) no sooner did it brush the bottom I felt a subtle pluck which was instantly followed by the raw power of a Barbel, my centrepin was in meltdown and my 1.5TC Drennan Twin-Tip Duo was bent right through to the butt, this fish was very strong and within half a minute I caught a glimpse of the fish which I knew was a double, that made me very very nervous indeed.

 I think not seeing them for a majority of the fight makes it somehow easier, seeing this one so early on I knew how high the stakes were and this was a must win battle, ColnBrook doubles are very rare indeed.

 Three or four times during the battle the line pinged off its dorsal fin and that did not help with the nerves either, twisting and turning downstream after long surging runs up and down towards weed-beds which seemed to surround me before inevitably it found one and wedged itself deep underneath, luckily for me the bed it found was under my feet so I had the chance to create numerous angles on the fish, with 12lb line and a micro-barb hook I knew the odds were still in my favour. I slackened off the tension and slowly but surely began to feel it kick gently under the weed where I then put the rod into full action and the Barbel eased out and back out into the flow to continue its crazy fight, this fish did not want to come in, mercifully she was tiring and it wasn't too long before I finally had a ColnBrook double resting in the net, we both needed a breather! That was enthralling to say the least. 

 I didn't need to weigh it to know what I had achieved, but I did anyway, of course!.

 With great anticipation I watched the scales settle on 11lbs 5oz, EPIC!!!

 💥💥💥  RIVER NUMBER 22 COMPLETE!!!!  💥💥💥

My ColnBrook beauty.

 I honestly don't know what is going on but that's now three trips, 4hrs on the Ribble, 10hrs on the Rother and now 3hrs on the ColnBrook and caught a double off each with no other fish featuring, there is no way I could top this run, could I??? Right place, right time and the right tactics and watercraft.

 Bring. On. Number 23, please :) 

What A Start!

   Since the river season ended I've taken a 3 week hiatus from fishing, work as usual the excuse! Storm Kathleen however was predicted ...