Sunday 26 November 2023

River Severn Double, That's A Wrap!!


 Success on this river has taken some time and in time I knew it would come, 300-mile round trip and 5hrs of driving makes it one of my less local of venues but it provides me with a better chance of a double over the tougher and lesser stocked venues like the Kentish Stour and the Arun for example. 

 I had about 24hrs to fish as a cold northern front was due to settle in from Friday evening and the sudden drop may affect the fishing through Saturday. A water temp of 11.3c upon arrival had me feeling quite confident of fish. Still pushing hard and up around 4/5ft but falling I thought it was just a case of finding fish and the rest would follow suit. Once I was set up and fishing I got to making some scran for myself which was bloody lovely. 

Not a bad view for the night.

Maple glazed chops and rice 😍

 The hours rolled by without a sniff and a move around 10pm didn't yield anything until I got to sleep when I got a tentative pull on the rod which sounded the Delkim, I was up and ready but nothing happened so I lay there star gazing and watching on as the shooting stars came across the sky by the dozen.

 Finally at 0315 I got what I was waiting for, the rod hooped over and I found myself rushing out the bivvy to lift into what felt a decent fish in the strong flow where we fought for a few minutes before landing my first Barbel of the trip, not a big one but nice to see.

8lb 7oz, Severn best at the time.
 Once the rod went back out I nipped back into my shelter and had to wait an hour for the next enquiry which came by way of a pretty docile nod of the tip and gentle peeling of line, this had to be a Barbel, totally unaware it was hooked! I lifted the rod and the fish was heavy but couldn't really gauge much from it, that was until I cranked it up to the surface in the torchlight, thats when my knees went, it was big and certainly a Severn double, by some considerable margin ( I estimated around 12/13lbs ) when on the third lunge for freedom turned to disaster, for it found something submerged not far off the bank, it didn't find it the first time around but this time it did and within seconds my 6oz lead came flying out the water, the fish had broke me off around 3 inches from the hook, I was fuming beyond belief, I was seconds from landing it, the net was out and ready, this was most likely its last lunge I could not believe it.

 I got that rod set up and back out in the spot that had now done two bites, I hoped for more action. Unfortunately for me that did not happen and dawn came and went without another touch. I had planned to move stretch so I went along with that plan. I set myself up and got my first rod out before putting a lump of meat on the other rod when out of nothing my rod that I had just put out starting lurching to the river and line peeling off the spool! I couldn't believe how quick that was!

 I wasn't ready, the net weren't even set up but its so easy to pop the arms in on the new 36" specialist net that I could do it with one hand and jam the pole between my legs. The fight didn't last long and very quickly the body of a substantial Barbel broke the surface, I thought to myself that's going to be close but when I lifted it out the water I felt quietly confident I had achieved what I'd set out to do and this one wasn't escaping at the very last moment.
Pristine lower Severn double.

River No: 23 completed 😎

 It took a few trips, mainly staring at motionless tips or blank rolls with the meat. It all finally came good and exercised those demons from what transpired overnight, a solid framed Barbel which weighed on the right side of ten pounds at 10lb 7oz! That will do nicely indeed.

 Release video of that Barbel just here 👉👉👉 Release Vid'

 I breathed a massive sigh of relief to have caught that fish and instead of packing down I decided to stick around and see if I could add to the tally of two fish and although the tip did go around again it was only with a modest Chub which was all I conjured up before leaving around 5pm. Job done, that will do me and maybe my last trip for Barbel this year unless conditions are too good to ignore.

At 6pm it was -1c and the frost had settled on the car.
This time I was successful.

Sunday 19 November 2023

Ladies, Ladies, Ladies.


...And no, not those kind of ladies, I mean these! battle worn, hard fighting and smelly...well that could relate to some of the human type but this time around I am talking of the Lady of the Stream (Tymallus Tymallus or Grayling). Around mid-November I tend to get the Grayling itch and dust off the trotting gear for a day out chasing a 3lb specimen which still eludes me.

 The day started off in less than ideal fashion when I got about 6miles into my 104 mile journey the break heat shield on one of my wheels came completely loose after going over a series of potholes, I had to jack up the car, remove the wheel, remove the heat shield, refit the wheel and tighten up the bolts, that cost me a good 20mins which had a knock on affect as I hit the beginning of rush hour traffic on the A303 which was slow with people heading toward Salisbury and neighbouring towns for work. I on the other hand had fishing to get on with and this was all a bloody inconvenience!

As anglers we really are lucky.

 Finally I arrived, about an hour later than I wanted. However I still caught the captivating sunrise which is of stark contrast to the dross we've put up with for weeks now! The river was high and waders were a necessity to fish half of the runs, the high water bought other challenges too as the water was really turbulent and Grayling aren't usually keen on staying in unstable water, problem was a lot of the river was like this and did limit the amount of water I and later on Mike would have to fish.

 That said I got off to wonderful start as my 14ft Acolyte Plus float rod was put into action with a 2lb 6oz specimen which was swiftly followed by a smaller fish of around 10oz then the float sailed away for a third time in as many trots with what turned out to be another two-pounder weighing in at 2lb 4oz, quite the start!

2.6 BOLM!


  The sun was lovely and warm and the fish continued to come to the white maggot, reds really weren't working and in the end gave up on them, when the white maggots were going through the sport was steady. A few more average sized fish came to the net and the total was steadily rising past the twenty fish mark and another two-pounder (2.01) joined them, which was then followed by a slight lull in sport before I contacted what turned out to be the biggest of the day, a strong fight in the pacy main flow which made for a good video opportunity, see link here → Locked into battle!

Best of the day at 2lb 8oz.

 A pristine male Grayling, so not quite "a lady" but a fine specimen all the same. As said previously fish were not east to find and sport became really patchy, nevertheless I was still catching the odd fish and as dusk was fast approaching my tally steady increased to 31 Grayling with another three fish over 2lbs ( ending up with seven over 2lbs and two others that weighed 1lb 15ozs ), it was my best haul off the Wylye yet, a special place and feel very privileged to get the opportunity to fish it!

Another low 2...

...Followed by another...

...Finished off with this lovely 2lb 4oz female.

Saturday 18 November 2023

Bourne to Blank.


 That late August / early September glut is a distant memory now and used to reassure myself I am actually capable of catching Barbel, ordinarily things do get tougher this time of the year but I am still very happy to try. 

 With the Bourne being one of the last "local" rivers left for me to chalk off I've dropped on there a few times this season, hoping to cross paths with a Barbel which is something I've not seen in over two years of trying, my first and last Barbel came in August 2021 and was on my first attempt, I've since realised that that was a classic case of beginners luck because since then I have drawn a Barbel blank which spans 7 visits over 2 years.

 Last night I hoped that would change. I arrived late afternoon and immediately took a temp reading which settled on 10.2c, for me that is still less than ideal but Barbel will be caught if I could only find them. The river was still up really high, which did mean I could fish it but the flow was so quick it limited my options as to where I could fish, slack water really is hard to find on this river owing to its course, which is quite straight for large sections with a couple sharp bends thrown in for good measure.     

A couple of shots from my previous

 My first swim was a dud, 45min spent in there without a touch but the next swim about 40 yards upstream looked promising as I received a couple of half-hearted touches before the pulling began, nothing savage which suggested an Eel had found my bait, a couple of minutes later that Eel finally came back for the bait and had it away, about a pound n half it wasn't small but not what I was after, it was clear though that something was feeding, I drew a little confidence from that and continued to fish in the remaining slacks.

A typical floodwater bait, big and bold!

 Unfortunately for me that was all I could find, or that's all that found me! Another blank on the Bourne, something that I am expecting everytime I fish it now, that 7lb 8oz Barbel I had over two years seems to be one of just a small handful of fish that call the river home although I do know doubles do come out and seen photographic evidence that they exist with some being resident fish and some transient fish that have entered the river from the Thames when it's in severe flood. 

 I will just have to keep going, the journey there and back isn't terrible and it's a lovely little river to spend some time on, prospecting, hoping something will finally happen!

Friday 10 November 2023

R.Wye Return.


 It's been roughly a month since my last visit to the Wye and really wanted to get back this year before things got tough. Recently we have faced vast amounts of rain and most rivers across the country have been in flood and not just a little bit, some rivers like the Wye have been very very high, highest that some areas have experienced in a generation! not to be deterred I made plans to get up there and fish for Barbel.

3.1m on, nice!

 Of course my prime target was to catch a double figure Barbel and chalk off the R.Wye but given the conditions I did feel that I would be aiming at just a handful of fish across the time I set aside which this time around was 3 days ( I looked to divide that across the Wye and Severn ). After completing a very long drive to the Wye via the office of Drennan HQ to collect the key for the section I'm currently targeting I got a glimpse to what I would be faced with and even I was a little surprised at how high it was.

 For about 4/5 days leading up to Wednesday I'd been religiously watching the levels of both rivers at various stages in the course to build a picture of how it should look come midweek. With high levels on the Lugg yet to pass and stubborn main river levels the Wye barely dropped and indeed at times began to rise again during my time there. This did however make one part of my trip easier, the amount of water to target had been drastically reduced to half a dozen good looking marginal slacks, 6oz didn't reach the bottom out in the flow such was the force of the river, so I was left with the margins.

 I opted to hedge my bets across two baits, one being the ever-faithful Spam and the other boillie and paste combo to try and put a decent and consistent scent trail in through the murky water which I hoped would lure a tentative Barbel into the area and snaffle one of the baits. Owing to the colour and the water temp of 10.1c on Wednesday I opted to move the baits around each slack every 30-60min just incase in the colder water they became more slovenly. 

One of the rare moments it wasn't grey and grim.

 I fished numerous good looking slacks over the course of the ensuing 7hrs without more than a tap from what I suspect were very subdued Chub of the small variety, that was until I was halfway through a phone-call with Brian nattering about the goings on or lack of on the Wye when my paste rod absolutely slammed round with no indication that something was afoot, all out savagery and the battle was very impressive in the current as the Barbel made its presence known. For the first minute or so I was quite worried as I could feel what turned out to be the hook-length and line rubbing on a rock, at the time I could just feel grating but wasn't sure until I got it in to inspect it all. 

 This fish which was certainly a Barbel and a good one at that as it just kept going, fully charged and gave a superb account of itself, long lung busting runs up and down but completely measured at the same time with nothing remotely erratic at all, typical traits of big Barbel, problem was I left my torch in the car, so I had to do it all in the dark which was not easy, luckily for me my night vision is bloody good, upon the second time of asking I slipped what looked like a good Barbel over the cord of the net, she was mine and bloody well deserved if I may say so myself, I worked hard for that bite which actually turned out to be my only bite of the trip! But I'll touch on that afterwards.

 I staked the net down with a bank-stick and hiked back to the car and back, not knowing how big this fish actually was I was still chatting with Brian the whole way through, a running commentary if you like, the sense of anticipation was building, would it be pure elation or an anti-climax? From the title of the blog you have probably already guessed it missed the mark.

 Not to feel down it still is a big Barbel for the Wye at 9lbs 10oz, just not quite as big as I really hoped, she looked like it could be when I lifted out of the water for the first time, but just not filled out enough but such as life, I go again!

A new R.Wye PB, the weight of my lead off the magic mark.

 I took a couple of pics and a short video of her disappearing into the murky waters before recasting where I hoped there would be one or two more holding steady in the slacker water, unfortunately for me the rest of the evening passed by without incident, which was pretty much how the first part of day two unfolded.

 Prolonged showers and strong gusty wind made for a miserable few hours on Thursday morning where I again, tried those slacks I tried yesterday, with the water temp falling further ( now below the magic 10c mark ) and rising river levels once again I decided it wasn't worth anymore of my time and opted to target the Severn instead which, just like the Wye was up and very coloured but in a better state than the Wye.

 I targeted a section I've spent a bit of time on now and know some of the good floodwater swims from friends who frequent the river and found myself hopping from spot to spot every hour to try and land on a Barbel before kicking off time. I took a temp reading and it proved grime reading, 9.2c and the river was rising upstream once again, that for me was the end, conditions and fishing were only going to get harder and felt by remaining on the river I was running a fools errand, so I loaded the car and made the 163mile journey back home to delight of the mrs a whole 24hrs early! I'll keep that 24hrs in credit 😅

A beautiful autumnal riverscape.

 That was bloody hard, but very nearly pulled it out of the fire. Even as I write this on Friday night as the kids sleep my gear is drying out, it really did piss it down, thank god for my 25k suit! bailed me out.

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...