Saturday 28 October 2023

Keeping up Appearances.


 Barring that Perch trip last Sunday the last month has been very hit and miss, a couple of visits to the R.Itchen for Barbel (primarily) have resulted in blanks and along with a visit to the R.Blackwater I have stared at motionless tips or rolled hundreds of times without incident. Unfortunately for me time is tight, so many of my trips this season have been shaped around my work or this instance taking my brolly and bed-chair out and grabbing a couple of hours kip whilst trying to eek out a Barbel from what is turning out to be a bloody difficult venue on a work night ( getting back home for 5am to get showered and dressed for another days graft ), I know stocks on the Itchen are very low with around 30 Barbel estimated among the locals in over a mile of river. Real needle in a haystack kind of job.

Working the weedlines.

 During the day of my first trip I opted to fish for the Barbel where I remained biteless whilst sat in the expensive seats, by midday I'd given up. I then decided to go and join the boys (Keith Jobling, Danny Everett and Brian) who were sampling the wonders of chalkstream delights. I have to admit I'm quite spoilt that I can be on some of the very best chalkstreams in just over an hour and have access to some wonderful beats, some free, some paid for. The LIF is something of an enigma, because its a beautiful place to go fishing and you should feel that you are on an exclusive bit of river with the chance of big Grayling etc. Neither of those are true unfortunately as the Grayling rarely top 2lbs there anymore and its certainly not exclusive, £31.50 paid in advance is enough to have anyone wondering the banks!, plus the constant pressure once the coarse season opens. 

 For me when fishing the LIF it's never about PB'S, simply the catch-up with friends and the chance the bend some carbon. Going back to the Barbel, the more I go I know I'm just one step closer to what I want, the odd fish is coming out here and there but invariably anglers blank, that's just the nature of the beast and being a free-stretch it gets a lot of pressure. I must admit I can not wait to chalk off the R.Itchen, its taken long enough now. Think I'm 11 sessions deep now having spent around 120hrs without a Barbel, the sooner this one falls the better I'll feel!

 As for the R.Blackwater it seems that the stocks of Barbel, albeit small again are pretty transient, so my efforts have been mirrored and barring time spent in the peg I had my 9.01 Barbel I've only spent around 30-40 mins of my time before moving off to another spot if I've had no indication of fish present, it's a fairly narrow river and spent quite a bit of time peering in, in the vein hope I'll spot an unwitting target, thus far that hasn't paid off, fingers crossed that changes for me over the next however many trips it takes to finally come away successful.

 Moving away from Barbel I had a quick visit between jobs to the area I had that magnificent Perch last weekend, with just four live-baits I got to moving around a fair bit and let the gonks do their best to find me a massive Perch. The issue was the Pike were of a ravenous disposition, I managed four takes, using all four of my baits to all of which managed to swim off. I lost three of the four fish, with two looking / feeling decent (over 10lbs for sure) and a little jack, the one I landed again was a jack of possibly 6lb which was in great condition but not the species of predator I wanted, next time I hope that those big old soldiers are in a feeding mood and the Pike stay at bay.

No wonder why the perch are big!

Wednesday 18 October 2023

Lights, Camera, Action.


 Leading on from a couple of short and unsuccessful visits to the R.Blackwater and R.Bourne I set my sights on filling my boots on the picturesque R.Wye for a couple of days in front of the cameras. The boys at Drennan were on the banks with me doing a few bits which mostly required me to catch copious amounts of Barbel.

 Once Brian and I had arrived I set about familiarising myself with the cameras and what was expected of me and very quickly I was leant into a couple of fish, first of all a Chub decided to show its face but very quickly a typical three-foot twitch had me reaching for my rod as a Barbel shot out into the powerful flow.

 Action was fairly consistent for around 2hrs with bites coming frequently, by the time the swim died I had managed a few Barbel to mid-7lb and lots of Chub. From that point on I opted to move around and fish various good looking slacks and creases as fishing the main flow was not easy owing to the extra 3-4ft that was tanking through the valley. The odd Barbel and Chub slipped up as I made my way up and down the river but was unable to fish one or two of the known areas properly given the floodwater.

 As night fell I had a brief flurry of Barbel activity with three coming to the net in 20mins, again the best was exactly 7lbs, it was the Barbel laden day I hoped it would be. 10 Barbel in quite tough conditions on the first day for the cameras wasn't too bad at all I felt.

 Friday morning came and I fished for a couple of hours, drifting between swims and started off the day with three Barbel to 7.12 before the Chub got ravenous once again. Around 11am I started to do some camera work, so that was more time away from the rods and when I did get back to fishing the sport was really really slow, even Chub became difficult to catch and the day ended up a damp squib. Once again, the conditions were against me, 13 Barbel to 7.12 and 5.2 trillion Chub came to the net, and on dark Brian and I waved goodbye to the R.Wye and hello to the R.Severn as we continued our short tour of the west.

River-Keeper George looking on.

Another Wye snaffler.

 A night on the Severn around Upton was in order and although I fished all night, sat behind the rods I had very little action but for three Bream which the best weighed 8lb 2oz, a respectable weight, just not a Barbel, come 7am I still hadn't managed a Barbel and it was now time to move on to the next section of the river to try my hand there instead. 

 A short 6min drive up river bought us to a section of river I've fished twice previously which both times it was in flood, first time around 6ft up, the second about 26ft up!! the fields as you come down towards the river resembled more of an inland sea rather than meadows / grassy fields. At least on Saturday (3 weeks back now) the river was well within its banks, I just needed to find a Barbel! 

 The hours ticked by with very little incident, the faintest of touches occasionally getting my blood pumping before sitting back down to watch motionless tips once again, it wasn't all doom and gloom however as Brian continued his hot streak, landing something special, those details I shall leave it for the man himself to reveal, I however spent the day wishing to catch something akin to that, unfortunately for me even the best time of the day came and went without as much as a tickle.

 My purple patch has officially ended, next up is a trip to the R.Itchen where I hope to rediscover some form, I would really love to chalk off another double soon, keep the run going before the cold weather comes in and I look to move away from my fixation on the Barbel front. ***EDIT: I also blanked there too...***

 Until next time, tight lines and don't fall in, water is definitely feeling cooler already.

Sunday 15 October 2023

First frost! Epic Stuff.


 A sudden drop in temps in the last 48hrs has had my mind drifting away from Barbel, to tell the truth I think I need it. Yesterday evening I got my gear together to do some trotting with Perch in mind. It has been years since I targeted them specifically and feel it's something I will do a bit more of this autumn.

 One of the issues I have is that there aren't many areas where Perch reside, let or lone big ones. With my current personal best weighing in at a pleasing 3lb 6oz which I caught some 20 years ago! I think it was time that I changed that and with this fall in air temp I dusted off my LureFlex 9ft rod for its maiden outing.

9ft 15g-50g version.

  I set the alarm for an early start as I had about 1hr20min of driving ahead and given the very clear cold conditions I knew it would be a sunny start, so I wanted an hour or so's fishing before it got too bright.

 Having never fished this particular area before I just went with what I knew and hoped for the best. 

 Using small livebait's I worked the inside shelves and overhanging bushes etc to see if anything was present, after about fifteen minutes I watched my bait head one direction, then very quickly double back in a blind panic, the float bobbed and then shot under, there were no chance in missing that. A firm strike was met by some impressive resistance as the rod lurched over and line was sent peeling off the clutch. The fight didn't last too long and just a couple of short powerful runs later I had what was almost certainly a personal best Perch in the net! When it first came into view in the murky water my sphincter loosened up a tad! I've only ever seen one or two Perch that size before and never to my rod. 


 I wasted no time getting my camera set-up and sling wetted and ready to see just what this magnificent creature would weigh and it's suffice to say I was not disappointed, first Perch of the Autumn settled on 3lb 13ozs! PB buster, that will do!

Worthy of the early wake-up call!

 It's a fish of dreamt of for years, that old adage of 15mins spent in the right place is better than 15 years in the wrong place summed this capture up perfectly, but...could I find another? was I really getting blasé, of course not! 

 As the morning progressed the suns glow enveloped the river and felt the Perch would seek darker spots and lay up awaiting dusk before feeding again, I gave it a good 2hrs before deciding nothing more was going to happen. That was a big result for me and my first personal best in 19 months, however if more PB's are going to be bettered it's the predators bracket which is where I have plenty of room for improvement in my opinion, with that Perch this morning, it will be that little bit harder to surpass, that said, I'll give it a very good go!

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 ...