Magic May

 

 

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After a pretty average April on the fishing front things really bucked up this month. I increased my modest Tench PB to 8lb3oz and had multiple catches on 3 consecutive sessions, followed by my first ever Catfish, eclipsed by a bigger fish the next week.

The reason is simple, as mentioned previously I joined Lymm Anglers last month and the still water fishing has been excellent. I always fancied having a proper go for tench in the river close season but the waters I had available were either sparsely stocked or 50-60+ miles away. It’s great to get on a water in under 30 minutes that promises a fair chance of a double figure tench, quite a rarity here in the North West.

An unfortunate combination of events at work, completely beyond my control, have meant for practically the first time in my adult life I have found myself having to take prolonged time off. I don’t like it, but vowed not to vegetate and to grasp it as a chance to do some jobs round the house (and to get some fishing done). Obviously I would have preferred it to be in the river season but beggars can’t be choosers. Consequently I found myself on the bank at least twice a week this month.

01.05.17

I timed my arrival at this Cheshire Mere perfectly, to find a hot carp swim recently vacated. Where the carp bait goes in I figure the tench wouldn’t be far away. I am still learning about this water and it has been a steep curve. This session produced two lovely conditioned tench, biggest 6lb, and as it was only my second visit I was pleased, but I began to doubt my popped up mini boilie rig was going to be the most effective method here, plus the idea of hooking one of the huge resident carp or Catfish on a fairly light tench setup was a concern. I decided to get some maggots for next trip.

01.05.17
First Tench on a new water, big grin time!
04.05.17

A different peg on the same venue, following some plumbing around with a small lead I discovered a nice plateau 30m out, just a few feet shallower than the surrounding bed, but it seemed to be an interesting feature that I thought might be attractive to the Tench. As hoped it was a cracking session producing nine tench to 7lb and a lively bream full of spawning nodules, I began to feel I had a decent method now.

I fished an inline Drennan maggot feeder with a rubber red maggot on the hair, plus 3 or 4 real red maggots on the hook. The rubber maggot’s buoyancy counters the weight of the hook and it is important to make the bait float and act the same as the rest of the loose feed. I imagine the feeding tench blowing the carpet of maggots about, if the hookbait is anchored to the floor it looks different and doesn’t get picked up.

04.05.17 6lb04.05.17 bream

 

08.05.17

Back to the mere for more, I was so pleased to be getting among the tinca’s I felt like I had to get back there as soon as possible. Just a few hours remained of the afternoon but it turned into a real red letter day as the fish came thick and fast to the inline feeder/ red maggot method. A fantastic session, 10 beautifully conditioned tench and another decent bream, but the highlight was an 8lb3oz tench (and new PB) that frightened the life out of me as it came in like a wet sponge then turned into a turbo-charged dervish under the rod tip.

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I estimated the smallest fish to be 5lb and 5 of the 10 were weighed over 6lb. I did have a few dropped runs though, so I experimented with my rigs, changing the hair length and putting less maggots on the hook; so frequent was the action at one point I wound in my second rod for a while. I was a happy chappy driving home for sure.

08.05.17 8lb3ozpb tench
My PB Tench 8lb3oz, still plenty of room for improvement.

08.05.17 7lb tench08.05.17 5.5lb tench

 

10.05.17

For some reason I felt like I needed a change from the excellent tenching I had been enjoying, so I went to a different Lymm water and blanked miserably. There were carp cruising all over but not a touch for me.

Paradoxically that is the beauty of fishing, we never know what will happen each time we put the gear in the car, but isn’t that what makes it all the more joyous when we do have that next red letter day? My philosophy for all my fishing, especially rivers, is it was a new water to me and I left knowing more about it than when I arrived, so in my eyes it was a worthwhile trip.

12.05.17

I had satisfied my wanderlust so back to the mere tenching. I had hoped to try a new area but found it quite busy, so ended up back on a previous peg. The weather had changed and it was a bit colder and rainier than of late, with a sharp wind in my face it felt a bit wintery to be honest. However, the fishing was still decent, 6 tench to 7lb5oz. How ironic, last season I managed less than a handful of tinca’s all through the close season, now I’m moaning I only caught 6 fish in an afternoon! This water has really got under my skin and I’m struggling to find the enthusiasm to try others on the Lymm ticket.

12.05.17 7lb tench12.05.17 6.5lb tench12.05.17 5lb tench

17.05.17

As if to punish me for my ingratitude for only catching 6 fish the previous session I went back to the mere and blanked abjectly. I apologised to the water Gods before I left in the hope they would forgive me on my return.

19.05.17

A change of scenery and a visit to a pool reputed to contain Catfish, a species I have never before caught or even seen one on the bank in real life. My other club has an aversion to them so I was unlikely to come across them on their waters.

I set up for carp but fished Krill boilies just in case a cat might take a fancy (I read somewhere they like fishy flavours). Plenty of particles next to some lily beds just in the margin and a second rod across to a small island.

Well blow me if the margin rod didn’t fly off an hour later and I was attached to a powerful fish that proceeded to lay waste to the lilies and churn up my swim like a JCB. I was amazed at the fighting power when it finally surfaced and proved to be my first ever Catfish, (well a kitten to be honest) of only 6lb, but still a PB to boot. I didn’t want to mess around with it so just took a mat shot and weighed it in the net and slipped it back well pleased with myself.

An hour later the same rod was away and I was attached to something way more substantial, now I knew I was in a spot of bother, with my 2.25lb test barbel rod creaking to the corks, I was using a 12lb BS set-up and I gave it 12lb of stick to keep it out of the lilies but something had to give and it was my hook hold. It was abrasion resistant coated braid but it looked like it had been through a mincer on inspection. I concluded it was another larger catfish and decided if I was going to fish the water again I would need a more robust setup.

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PB Catfish 6lb, note to self…get stronger tackle!!

 

22.05.17

Back to see if the Gods of the mere had forgiven me…no they hadn’t! Yet another blank despite trying 2 different areas. I had some company in the shape of friends Matt and Jerry who had got there early and bagged a flyer. It didn’t fish well for anybody during the day, there were lots of carp showing but they seemed intent on getting ready for spawning; the shallows were like an aquarium, fascinating to watch all the same.

Things improved for the lads after I left with Matt having quite a time after hooking and landing 2 nice carp on his tench gear. Excellent angling to get them both in. The lads had a few tench as well so happy days (for them at least!).

Jerry tench 22.05.1722.05.17 Matts mirrori22.05.17 Matts koi

25.05.17

The loss of the Catfish was nagging me so I decided to try a return visit. I upped my gear to 15lb main line and more substantial braid and hook. The other rod was out in the open so I left that as it was.

Within an hour I had another small catfish almost identical to last weeks. I think it could be the same fish; I read they are very territorial. Later a 10lb common came on the other rod, but I had a feeling something was going to happen on my margin rod.

25.05.17 6lb cat
Same fish 6lb?

 

I persevered with the heavy gear, I’m not used to it really but I knew I needed to stop anything I hooked from ploughing into the pads.

Suddenly it was game on and I locked tight and held on for dear life, I felt a massive wrench and thought it had come off but it was the lead coming out of the lead clip; I think that was the best thing that could have happened as it was a clean contact direct with the fish after that, and a couple of minutes later and despite strimming quite a few lilies, I landed my new PB Cat of 14lb3oz. My arm is still hurting now from the power of that fish. I can’t imagine hooking a proper big one (the mere has cats to 60+!!!). Anyway, I’m more than satisfied to have caught one for now.

25.05.17 13lb3oz cat
2nd catfish PB 14lb3oz…Buzzing!

 

31.05.17

Last trip of the season and yet another blank on a new water. To be honest my mind is now on the imminent river season and I spent a lot of time with my lines on the bank chatting to other anglers.

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So I have enjoyed an excellent months fishing in general. Never mind the odd blank days, 2 PB’s in a month is very satisfying. I might get a couple more sessions in on still waters, but the river season is so close now I can taste it.

This year, due to leaving our holiday booking late (yet again) I have had to take the first week of the season to go to Portugal. I console myself by recalling that the early days on the rivers are usually a bit naff, however the forecast is for some heavy rain early June so it could be a missed opportunity. Oh well, might as well start this season as I mean to go on! Good luck to everybody on the glorious 16th!

Tight Lines

 

Dave

Keeping busy in April (a river angler in the close season)

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A moody mere!

 

March 14th means nothing to most people, but to a Barbel obsessed fella like myself it is a momentous day. The last day of the river coarse fishing season usually goes with a bang, the temperatures are on the rise and the fish are often obliging, yet it is tinged with sadness as we must face up to 3 months away from the purity of moving water, unless we are of the fluff chucking bent. There is a big hole in a river anglers life that needs to be filled.

However, all is not lost, I follow these few simple rules and find a crumb of comfort where I can (like methodone to tide me over until I can get back on the hard stuff!)

  • Don’t panic!! Its only 12 weeks, a 2 week holiday to the costa’s would fly by in a flash, its only 6 of those joined together!!!
  • I know I will have to do some jobs round the house, it’s unavoidable and my wife expects it. This season I will be organising my tackle room, putting up some shelves in the garage for my bait and clearing the freezer to make room for more hemp and paste. I might even mow the lawn.
  • Go on holiday, it’s been a hard season, now’s the time to do it to recharge those batteries ready for the glorious 16th.
  • Go to the tackle shop as often as required, its like psychiatric help. As a bonus I can restock on all the bits I lost in the Ribble snag pits over last season.
  • With all the purchases from the tackle shop I can do some important chores; refill my reels, tie rigs and restock my tackle bag.

Well that filled the first 2 weeks, I started to get itchy feet at that point so began my close season campaign.

‘Carpbelling’

There is no way I can call myself a real Carp angler but I do like them as a target species, mainly because the club venues I have at my disposal are invariably biased toward them. I try for Carp initially until the water warms up a bit, then I find my attention drawn towards Tench. I’m not dedicated to the giant specimens, just nicely conditioned and fighting fit, if they are of a decent size then that’s a bonus.

I watch carp anglers in amazement and admiration as they wheeze and creak past me with truckloads of gear; having done one or two overnighters on the Trent I appreciate a bit of comfort but it really looks like hard work. The problem is I’m not that into night fishing, preferring an afternoon and couple of hours into dark, so I fish ‘Carpbelling’ style, barbel rods and reels but standard carp end tackle, I even have a pair of Delks. I don’t need much equipment so carry all my gear on my back; I always feel a bit different to the bivvied up carp lads, and to be honest I quite like it that way. I’m a bit more mobile and can be on the bank and fishing quickly to optimise my time.

Having said all that my early results this close season have been mixed (some would say rubbish!), especially considering I always try to fish ‘runs’ waters, though I do draw the line at commercials. Many of my trips this month to club waters were pleasant afternoons watching the ducks build nests, but there were very few fish moving, so I wasn’t surprised to blank. The water temps are still quite low and the fish just don’t seem to be very active yet, but I expect it will improve quickly as May approaches

01.04.17 :-Northern Angling Show

This was only my second NAS and I had arranged to meet up with a couple of mates, Kris and Buzzo from Stoke. This show has become massive, the queue must have been half a mile long but it moved ok. There is definitely a big Carp bias here but I still found plenty to keep me amused. I have had the pleasure of meeting some top lads over the last couple of seasons and this was a great opportunity to catch up as many of them seemed to be in attendance.

A walk over to Dave Mutton’s stand Specimen fishing UK gave me a chance to have an interesting chat with Paul Floyd about his obsession with Eels, not my favourite fish but still very fascinating. Later, along came the Bewdley legend Des Taylor who was entertaining as ever, trading insults with another mate of mine, Jerry Gleeson.

NAS2017 Dave Mutton, Des Taylor, Jez Gleeson

After a visit to the Barbel society stand for a chin wag I went to the Lymm anglers stand and was so impressed with their still water portfolio I decided to join, the main attraction for me are the Tench fishing venues, many of which are within 30 minutes of home. They are a very modern club and I joined online and printed my paypal receipt and could have gone fishing straight away, but it was a couple of days before I could get out so instead I had a good look at the map book and planned my trips. I missed a trick not picking the brains of Dave Mutton who is an expert catfish angler as Lymm have several waters featuring these and I must admit I have no idea of how to approach them as a species.

So with new venues to try and an overdose of fishing fun at the show I was itching to get back out there.

05.04.17 :- Cheshire club water

A trip after work for a few hours to a club water I had a few carp from last season. These types of waters are the result of subsidence from salt mining, known as ‘flashes’, usually long and relatively narrow and fairly shallow. Even though it was quite warm during the afternoon, once the sun dropped it was icy cold, hence the water temperatures were quite low at 11C.

Most Carpers fish the bank they can set up their bivvies on here, and cast to the far margin. I wasn’t overnighting so fished the opposite bank and cast back across to an inaccessible marshy area, and my second rod was placed just down my own margin. Just as I was considering calling it a day an hour into dark, the far bank rod went off like a train and after a lively scrap I landed a lovely conditioned mirror of 15lb15oz, one of the nicest fish I have caught from here. I was really chuffed to get the first one of the close season in the net and packed up straight away, a happy chappy.

15lb15oz Tetton
Lovely conditioned mirror

 

The following weekend I went to try one of my new Lymm waters, Founders pool and had a demoralising blank. I wasn’t on my own however, so consoled myself that it had been a usefull learning experience.

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Founders pool playing hardball

 

09.04.17 :- Micklewrights Flash

Another salt flash on my new Lymm ticket, Micklewrites flash. I arrived late afternoon and found there was an access restriction, so had to be off early which gave me barely a couple of hours. I just settled for fishing a rod in the margin, a krill boilie popped up an inch because it was a silty bed, over a patch of hemp, and was quite happy to land a lively common of around 8lb. There were signs of fish moving over the bait but I had to be off so a bit frustrating.

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I had a few days off before Easter so managed to get two more exploratory trips to Lymm waters, including one to the legendary Lymmvale. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and I blanked on both waters. I was disappointed with my result on the vale as I set up for tench, fishing the method feeder and corn or mini boilie. I thought I fished neat and tidy and the features of the swim were good, but the fish obviously thought otherwise.

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So far I have fished the more specimen type waters on the Lymm ticket but there are plenty of easier waters should all the blanks get too depressing for me.

Over the Easter weekend I came down with horrendous Sciatica, now I have had a bad back before but this took pain to a new level with agonising spasms down my left leg, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. It totally ruined my fishing and its probably the first time I have lost the will to fish. I packed up early on Whitley pool, the third blank this month.

28.04.17 :- Club lake

I felt slightly better as April drew to a close so decided to test my sciatic nerve out with a couple of evening hours on a local mere. It was a lovely day and I managed to land a small mirror of around 7lb before hooking and losing a far more substantial fish in the newly sprung lilly growth. Theses aren’t strong enough to snag a fish at this early stage of their growth when the fish plough through them but they can interfere with the hook hold and this is what happened in this case. I was a bit disappointed as I had the fish more than half way to the net, and retrieved my rig intact. I also had a few bream, not massive though.

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So April is complete and its not been great fishing I have to confess, but I have some top quality tench venues at my disposal now and fully intend to exploit them as the weather warms and spring is sprung.

Tight lines

Dave

Suffering on the Severn

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Angry river Severn!

 

 

I think the Goddess Sabrina was suffering from PMT; bloated and angry are apt adjectives for the river we faced on Friday, the start of a long weekend trip. Maybe I had vexed her in a frustrated facebook post a couple of weeks ago when I told a mate I had never blanked before on the Severn. Little did I know that she certainly wasn’t going to bestow her Barbel treasures easily.

Friday

After a ‘big breakfast’ rendezvous in the Bridgnorth Wetherspoons, Kris and I headed to Danesford on the Birmingham Anglers ticket, simply because the walk is mercifully short and I reasoned we could survey the river for suitable flood water swims. The level was 2.8m and it looked like Willey Wonka’s river, with plenty of timber on the move, water temp was 7C.

We found one definite goer swim and 2 maybe’s so we flipped a coin and I won; no room for chivalry today, so I took what looked to be the dead cert. Just one rod I thought, 12lb braid to a 8’s Drennan conti with a 1.5″ cube of flavoured spam hair rigged on some gardening wire ‘ladies legs’ style.

Ten minutes later the rod ripped off and I quickly landed a very tatty looking splasher. I thought I was in for a good session but as I said, Sabrina had it in for me. The rain got worse and the day turned cold and miserable and the fish were conspicuous by their absence.

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My miserable face says it all, slim pickings from a mean river.

 

Kris managed to snare a similar splasher of his own, then at the death he lost a better fish. As is the way with BA we had to be off at dark but I think we could have fished till the morning for nowt that day.

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Thankfully the pubs and restaurants of Bridgnorth are excellent and fortified by many pints and a bloody good curry I slept the sleep of the just and awoke ready to face new challenges.

Saturday

Even more water! With around 3m on we had to find flood water swims now. My usual ‘flyers’ were nothing short of Amazonian, so I suggested we try a club water toward Shrewsbury that featured some near bank slack water. We arrived to find it looking fine and at last I felt positive about our chances, though still very coloured and a water temp of 6C. I fished 2 rods, boilie on one, meat on the other, perfectly positioned on the crease (or so I imagined!).

First chuck my mate is into a fish, it looked decent size in the net but the scales said otherwise. I did the honours with my camera and was shocked just how good the snaps were. Anybody who reads my blog and facebook page will know my usual self takes using a screw on a bank stick are pretty disappointing, but I excelled myself with camera in hand. The fish looked massive, just goes to show you can easily be deceived by photo’s. Kris was laughing as he posted it to his mates back in Stoke and they came back asking if it was a double!

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Camera tricks!

 

 

The day just fizzled out after that and I blanked, I could hear Sabrina cackling as I trudged back to the car. Still at least Kris had caught one. Later on facebook I saw my mate Rob Mitchell, Prince of Brignorth, had caught 6 in a couple of hours including a double…kick in the bollocks doesn’t do it justice! Only joking mate, awesome angling in those conditions.

Sunday

Kris headed back for a Christening, I was on my own, time to get busy. I yomped down cardiac hill to Knowle Sands full of determination. I yomped back up 3 hours later a little easier as I had lost so many leads and feeders….what a nightmare. I wasn’t going to catch, Sabrina made sure of that; I couldn’t even get angry about the Bell End in a high powered speed boat who ploughed up and down the length, I might think otherwise if he tries it in Summer!

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I legged upstream to Apley, a newly acquired BA stretch. I found a brook running into the main river, slack as a mill pond with a clear crease. Surely fish would be about in the lee? I packed up just after dark fishless accompanied by an otter that swam out of the brook no more than 6 feet away. I bet he caught something…bollocks! Read later Rob Mitchell had caught a load more…double bollocks!!

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Monday

The river had finally dropped a bit, some of the colour had gone as well, but I was on my way home, so decided to go and have a look at a couple of club waters and if I could find a spot I would have a couple of hours. The first length I couldn’t find anything that took my fancy; the second I didn’t trust the marsh of a car park, especially after getting stranded last week and having to beg a farmer to help…never again!

So I ended back on Saturday’s venue fishing the same peg, but something had changed with the fall of the level, I could just feel it in my bones…I had done my penance, Sabrina had forgiven me.

Kris gave me a load of boilies his carp fishing pal had made for him when he went, so I used them on a feeder rod, plus the usual chunk of meat on the other. An hour later the boilie rod went and I was attached to a decent fish. Landed without to much drama it weighed in at 7lb15oz, followed by 3 more all around or just below the same weight. They loved the boilies, got to get me some more!

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I was more relieved than happy as I drove home. It had been challenging to say the least, but a few fish were still caught by other anglers up and down the river. I think local knowledge is vital when the river floods as proven by Rob’s consistency. I would wager that the Severn will switch on as she drops this week, shame on my legendary bad timing. I certainly enjoyed the company though, cheers Kris. Bridgnorth is a great fishing destination, I’ve been coming here since I was a kid, full of welcoming pubs and talkative locals and the midlands beer is truly awesome!

Still a few days left of the river season so maybe a few more fish yet before I put the Barbel gear away.

Tight lines

Dave

Fleeting February

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Looks promising but…fish say no!

I feel like February passed by in a blur; family Birthdays and the loss of our beloved Border terrier Sid meant I missed a couple of weekends, but to be fair I didn’t feel the call like I usually do.

What a strange month this has been weather-wise, a cold start dismissed by the approach of spring, heralded by the appearance of snowdrops and feisty Coots fighting for breeding territory. Temperatures for the month were generally higher than normal, plus the visit of storm Doris toward the end of the month, officially a ‘weather bomb’ bringing some serious rain and high winds.

However, it certainly hasn’t been detrimental to the Barbel anglers, and several notable captures have been taken from up and down the country (not by me I hasten to add!). For the reasons above, and as is often the case, I was unable to take full advantage, but I did manage a few sessions and put a few fish on the bank.

03.02.17 Middle Ribble

With air temperatures on the rise a gradual beneficial effect was seen in the water temps. The river had dropped back down after a recent small rise and continued to fall a couple of inches during the afternoon. Unfortunately most of the colour had dropped out as well, but I took a water temperature reading of 7C which was very promising after a period of 5-6C.

Fortunately I managed to get amongst the barbel, just 2 fish, one small one about 4lb and another about 6-7 (not weighed), with both fish predictably arriving at dusk. When temps are low it’s usual for fish to feed for just one period per day and it usually occurs at dusk.

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I also had a few chub to 4lb8oz so not too bad. It was lovely during the afternoon but it started to rain and got really windy late on, it was absolutely freezing when I walked back to the car at 8pm.

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Nice Ribble Chub
20.02.17 Middle Ribble

I decided to try a different stretch, one I used to visit frequently last year, but haven’t tried for a few months. It’s a hell of a walk to my usual favoured area but I liked the look of an earlier swim and saved myself the yomp. The river was carrying 18″ of water that had been dumped the last couple of days. I was very optimistic with a water temp of 8C, well coloured and slightly rising.

A couple of average sized chub kept me amused during the afternoon, but again I had to wait till evening for the first Barbel to show up. To be honest I had been lulled into such a relaxed state watching a robin landing on my rod and begging for food, plus a plethora of other bird life, I got the shock of my life when the rod ripped off. When I dived up and connected to the fish something felt odd, the fight was very erratic, the fish could pull alright but it wasn’t right for a Barbel. I thought it might be a big trout but it turned out to be a relatively small Barbel with a damaged tail.

There has been much debate recently about the impact of Otters on fisheries and I posted the picture to see if I could get any information whether this could be damage caused by Otters. They have been resident on the Ribble for an age and I have spotted them a few times; to be honest I loved seeing them, and I don’t know enough about them to enter the debate that is raging in the angling world regarding the possible impact to fisheries they cause.

Just before dark I had a second and larger fish, unweighed but around 7-8lb

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Otter or Fin-rot?
25 & 26. 02.17

On Saturday I was looking forward to attending a Barbel Society fish-in at Bewdley on the Severn and had made a weekend of it by booking a B&B, unfortunately storm Doris put paid to that and it was cancelled, ironically for high water! Never thought I’d hear that as a reason for not going Barbel fishing, but to be fair they did explain that the stretch we were booked on has banks unsuitable for floods. I tried to cancel my B&B but it was too late so I thought stuff it and went anyway.

I haven’t fished around Bewdley much when it’s flooded so I just went on Birmingham Anglers Northwood stretch (headline picture) where I have fished before. I had it to myself and only found 2 suitable pegs so fished both during the day for a disastrous blank, I can honestly say I didn’t have a single touch on either rod and packed up in low mood at 18.00. Given that the river had fished its head off during the week it was very demoralising.

I stayed in the Wetherspoons hotel, and the town was absolutely buzzing. Unfortunately my room was directly over the front door of the place so I was woken several times in the early hours by fiesty locals with differing opinions on a variety of subjects, despite having a load of beer in me! (Note to self- must drink more next time!). Understandably I awoke in a bad mood Sunday, with low expectations of my chances of a fish. However, a big breakfast later I was on my way to a club stretch near Shrewsbury.

As it happens, despite reading a temperature of 7C and the river still 2m up, the fishing was ok. Big chunks of flavoured spam chucked right into the main flow worked a treat and I had 3 decent fish all over 8lb, and one missed bite.

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My troubles then began when I tried to reverse off the car park that evening…no chance, the car just slid sideways and was well and truly stuck. I tried allsorts and couldn’t get out. In the end I had to walk back toward a village and fortunately saw a farmer in his yard and he saved the day by coming out with his jeep. I gave him a tenner, it was worth 50 to get off there.

Fishing by oneself into the dark is one thing when you know you have the fall-back of a safe, warm vehicle you can jump in at any time and head for home. When it gets stuck you really are on your own and it’s not something I want to happen again. Henceforth I shall be very careful where I park.

So into March, the last 2 weeks before the river season ends. I have booked a week off work but unfortunately the weather has conspired against me, with a serious drop in temperature combined with very heavy rain. Undaunted I have booked a B&B in Bridgnorth with a mate and am heading out determined to put at least one fish on the bank.

Tight lines

Dave

Sid :- 23.05.07 to 14.02.17

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I never really understood the grief people felt over the loss of their Dog…until yesterday when we had to let our lad Sid go. Now I understand.

 

It seems the bad neck he had been suffering with for a few weeks was an inoperable tumour spread from his leg into his spine. He was in pain, but like a true terrier, he barely raised a whimper.

 

The house is empty now but he is everywhere, I hear the rat-a-tat of his feet on the wood floor as he raced to the door to convert a visitor into a friend, I see the ‘nest’ he made in his bean bag, curled up in a ball of snoring comfort.

 

He was a gregarious dog, a regular at my sons football matches, loving the attention and building a fan club, but scared to death of the ball due to the number of times he had been caught in crossfire in the back garden. Nobody could resist his charms.

 

Obedient, and disobedient in equal measure; a bundle of love with a toothy grin, and sometimes a big sulk if he felt slighted, but always full of character and what a joy to have around.

 

Unconsciously I left my ‘Sid tax’ on my plate last night, the last corner of my biscuit. It was still there this morning, I’m a big bloke but I wept like a baby.

 

He belonged to our family, but he was my first dog. The way I feel now he will be my one and only.

 

You are free from pain now mate, I hope mine will fade in time. Be patient, I’ll be with you soon enough.

 

January Barbel Blues

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January is always a tough month for the Barbel angler, but when favourable conditions do occur a few big fish can be caught (unfortunately not by me it seems!). My opportunities to fish were limited to Fridays so it was frustrating to watch a couple of good weather patterns come and go sat in the office. This year has been so (relatively) mild I have yet to wear my heavy winter coat, and it has offered many more Barbel opportunities than usual!

I think winter Barbel fishing is all about watching the weather and being able to get out there when the percentages are on your side. Knowing when the circumstances are right is a tricky subject and people have different opinions. When the conditions are bad it is a waste of time fishing for them, time better spent after other more obliging species. It’s a broad subject and vitally important to winter success so I will put something on my site about it at a later date.

02.01.17 Mid Ribble

First session of the New Year so I flew the 44 miles each way to the middle reaches of the Ribble with high hopes, unfortunately I read a water temp of 5c and it was very clear so my hopes of the first Barbel of 2017 were somewhat dashed. It was a glorious sunny day but very cold. I had hoped the bit of rain that fell a couple of days previously might have warmed the river but there was still snow on the tops so it might have just melted some of that. Either way I still fished boilie and pellet but next to no loose feed, just golf ball sized PVA bags of oily groundbait. In the end I had 3 Chub, a small one, 4lb1oz and 4lb10oz (seem to be a regular occurrence 4lb10oz chub, maybe my scales are jammed!!) plus a couple of chunky trout so not too bad considering once the sun went the whole world froze solid, couldn’t get my net off the floor when packing up.

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Looks like Summer! A lovely January Ribble Chub

 

06.01.17 River Dane

Friday was an overcast and very cold day, not ideal Barbel conditions, so I went down to a club stretch of the river Dane on the far side of Middlewich I hadn’t fished before insearch of Chub. It looked fantastic and quite different to the usual stretches of the Dane I fish further upstream, even the water colour was different, kind of greenish, however it was very cold at 5C. Some stunning looking pegs and I baited up with anticipation with a bit of liquidised bread, then fished it from top to bottom for sweet FA, not even a tap. After 2 hours I felt like I was flogging a dead horse so I upped sticks to the nearest of my usual Dane haunts. First drop in with a flake of bread and cheesepaste I had a nice chub of 4lb exactly and despite trying 5 pre-baited swims I didn’t have anything else, or even an indication. It was a very tough day. I can only assume the pulse of water going through was very cold; the fish I caught was like a block of ice.

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Hard won

 

08.01.17 Mid Ribble

Sunday I was going on the Ribble with a mate from Stoke, but he had forgotten to renew his club ticket so that was that. I decided the conditions were too good to miss as a warmish wet front had moved across the North West, so I legged it down to the middle Ribble after breakfast. After the Dane debacle I wasn’t sure what the water temps would be like so I plumped for a slow moving deep water pool. I was really pleased to get a reading of 6.3C so I hoped I was in with a chance of a Barbel considering it had been really cold the week before (4.5C). I had a long wait however and it was about 5pm before I had a bite from a 3lb chub, but half an hour into dark I had another delicate rattle and drop back that turned out to be a nice Barbel, unweighed but a solid fish around 7lb I guess. I was well chuffed to have caught my first of the year and I hoped for more, unfortunately just smallish chub obliged for the rest of the evening, 6 in all. It was lovely to be out in just a hoody in the middle of January though it got a bit colder later on.

 

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A window of opportunity grabbed with both hands

 

13.01.17 River Dane

First snow fall of the winter in the North West today, I was 50/50 whether to bother with my Friday session with the snow falling and disappearing fast all morning I didn’t know what to expect but I had a suspicion it would be all snow melt in the Dane, the all-time worst conditions for all river species. In the end the sun came out and I thought I would have an hour on the Dane and fish one banker swim, if nothing there I would go home. As it happens I had a couple of accidental trout and a decent chub around 3lb8oz so I gave it 2 hours. I was tempted to try a few more spots on the way back to the car but by then it was bitter cold and I quit while I was ahead. I don’t mind short sessions when the weather is so bad, its finding local venues that’s the problem. All fish came on my go to bait, bread flake coated with cheese paste.

 

 

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20.01.17 Mid Ribble

I thought I had a real chance of a Barbel Friday after quite a few came out during the week. I was the only one on the whole stretch all day!

Water temp was just over 6C on my new scientific thermometer, I have now housed it in a piece of acrylic clear tube and plugged the ends with rawl plugs, drilled a few holes and it works a treat, just need some string instead of attaching it to my lead clip. I took the opportunity to compare it to my old digital and was not surprised to find that read 10.7C, I knew it always measured over but didn’t realise just how much. That’s why I’ve always been so optimistic about my chances of a Barbel, henceforth I shall have lower expectations!

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Testing my old digital compared to my glass scientific, a valuable winter tool.

Anyhow, the Barbel wouldn’t play but the Chub were accommodating, a total of 8 fish and a couple of lost ones kept it interesting. Biggest daylight fish went 4lb10oz and a couple of the night fish were around the same size but I didn’t photograph them. A really nice stamp of fish in the main, but I ended up disappointed because of the no show Barbel. I think it had been up a bit during the week when they were all catching, but all that had dropped out and it was crystal clear. It was a lovely afternoon, but it went bloody freezing as the sun set, so I was on my way by 8pm. I have had a bad back all week and I was in agony the next day.

 

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4lb10oz on another gorgeous day on the Ribble

 

27.01.17 Dane

Wasn’t a great start, just a trout on my flyer peg which made me fear the worst. There has been some heavy clearance work done around that bit of the river, massive digger tracks all over the place, not sure what they are up to but I think it has disturbed that section.

So I moved on after an hour and tried a few different swims, a nice steady flow under a far bank bush where I hooked 2 chub, one of which was a good lump and put up a mighty scrap. It was white as a sheet but had a massive head and shoulders, I admit I thought I might have achieved my long term target of a Dane 5, but the scales cannot lie….4lb12oz. A very strange looking fish but still most welcome on an ice cold day. The other was a scraper 4lb, more conventional looking but equally feisty.

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Bleached out 4lb12oz Dane fish

 

I left at dusk and the last peg I tried was full of otter prints I didn’t realise they were on this stretch. Maybe they have been there a while and that would explain the change to the style of fishing I’m experiencing, in the past a shoal of Chub could be fed with care and a multi fish catch was possible, now I find its one or maybe two fish from a swim if you are very lucky, and the size has increased considerably. There doesn’t seem to be a good spread of year class fish which can only be bad news for this lovely river.

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Otter prints?

 

28.01.17 Poynton canal

I recently purchased a second hand drop-shot setup to try my hand at some Perch fishing when the weather isn’t right for the Barbel. I had to take my dog for a walk so tried to kill two birds with one stone and have a go as I walked along a local canal that holds some decent Perch.

Obviously I have got a lot to learn about the method as I was useless, never had a touch, but reassuringly neither did any of the other anglers I met (including a couple of lure men I kept bumping into) so the trip was inconclusive as far as my technique goes. I’m pretty sure I’m set up right, just need to try it a few times. It’s nice to have another option for my fishing sessions.

So that was my January, hard going but as always thoroughly enjoyable. In the next 6 weeks before the river season finishes I have a trip to the Barbel Society fish in on the Severn to look forward to, plus my usual ‘last fling ‘ in March where I generally try to catch as many Barbel as I possibly can to see me through to next June 16th.

Tight Lines

Dave

December blows Hot and Cold

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Sea Birds gather over the Ribble

 

 

 

December is always a challenging month for the Barbel angler, for me it’s all about grabbing the opportunity when the conditions are favourable. When they aren’t I switch target species to Chub. This month has offered a couple of windows of opportunity for a chance of a Barbel, which I have gratefully pounced upon.

04.12.16 River Dane

A freezing cold Sunday session this week, so a local venue was in order targeting chub and the Dane fitted the bill perfectly. I had some company for a change, a mate Kriston met me there.

Sadly the fishing was terrible to be honest. The fish just weren’t having it, a couple of plucks were the best I could muster on bread and cheesepaste, Kris had 1 small grayling on maggot on the stick. I fished all the likely spots downstream of the bridge, the only touches were a few knocks but no hook-ups, possibly Grayling.

I suggested we upped sticks and try a different stretch where I managed a couple of reasonable chub in the end. Not a great fishing day to be honest but the company and scenery were a treat.

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A frosty and moody Dane- pic courtesy of Kristan Lowe
09.12.16 Mid Ribble

A serious change in the weather this week with warm rain entering the river systems, I was buzzing with confidence when I got to the Ribble Friday, about 0.4m up and at the bottom of a trough on the river level graph in hindsight. I was fishing a falling river, but it rained pretty much the whole time and I was not surprised to see the it rose again before I left. No wonder the flow patterns of my normally steady swim were all over the place. I had a crease to die for when I set up, but that went west fairly quickly and it became a big eddy flowing upstream on the nearside. Surprisingly, very little debris was coming down and a water temp of 10C, so a rise of 5C over the week, surely enough to get the barbs going?

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I was so confident I decided to risk a feeder on the upstream rod with broken boilie, hemp, groundbait and boilie hookbaits, and straight lead downstream with flavoured meat. Well I didn’t have to wait long as a delicate bite produced a nice Barbel around 6lb after half an hour on the meat. It went a bit quiet till tea time then they came fairly evenly after that until 8pm, after that I didn’t get a touch till 9.30 when I packed up. 6 barbel to 7lb and a few chub including a nice one at 5lb1oz, same weight as one I’d had a few weeks ago just upstream, maybe the same fish.

A cracking session for December and vindication of all the text books as far as the warm pulse of water is concerned. I really should have hung on for a bit longer because I think these opportunities are few and far between in winter. Sorry the pics are terrible due to the rain.

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15.12.16 Mid Trent

The warm weather persisted so I made a 180 mile round trip for little return on a lovely looking river Trent with good water temperatures and colour. Just a few bream obliged despite sticking it out as late as I could put up with it (1am). It was frustrating to say the least. A guy on an earlier peg had lost one and had a few bites, so fish were feeding, which is even worse in some respects as it undermines my confidence in my methodology.

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A long day for little return!
16.12.16 Mid Ribble

With my confidence rocked I headed for familiar waters to try to restore my mojo. The water had cooled a little to 8C and it was very clear but I was still confident something would happen later on. Just one fellow angler on the whole length and he was long gone by the time I headed for home.

A couple of chub on pellet in the afternoon before the first unmistakeable wrench of a decent Barbel, which after playing it into safe ground was somehow lost to a hookpull. I was gutted as I didn’t expect to be catching many given the conditions. I persevered and was finally rewarded with 2 Barbel weighing in at a modest 5lb and 7lb. These together with 8 chub to 4lb8oz made for a decent December session.

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The landscape of this valley never ceases to inspire me and a huge flock of Sea birds massed overhead as the sun set. It was a magnificent scene and added to the enjoyment, fishing has become more than just catching fish to me these days, I would rather catch less and be inspired than bag up in a dump.

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Christmas Holidays

Just a couple of quick local sessions on the Dane to finish the year. The temperature has plummeted and frost is thick on the ground, but worthwhile sessions can still be had.

 

23.12.16

I fished a stretch close to Middlewich that has thrown up a few nice chub in the past and managed just 2 fish from 3 bites on cheese paste and bread flake. It doesn’t sound great but they weighed 4lb and 4lb11oz so I was quite pleased with the quality at least.

I have been trying for a Dane 5lb’er for a few seasons now, it’s not an obsession but I thought it was a realistic target. I have to say I am beginning to have doubts after several fish over 4lb8oz and my best of 4lb13oz seem to be the upper limit I can manage from the waters I frequent. Maybe I will need to look for pastures new further downstream to have a chance. There is still the remainder of the season though, so it’s not over till the fat lady sings as they say!

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30.12.16

This turned out to be my last trip of the year and the frost was still thick on the ground so once again I went in search of Chub on the Dane. I headed for a less popular length (due to the long walk down to the river) and was pleased to see no cars on the road so I had it to myself. I know this sounds like I am a right misery and terribly selfish, but at this time of year I like to keep on the move, baiting swims then returning to them during the day, more importantly when it’s flowing clear, a quiet and low profile approach is essential. Sadly this doesn’t seem to be high on the agenda of some anglers. As I fish club waters I know I have no right to exclusivity and nor do I expect it, but if I see an empty carpark I am always happier knowing I only have myself to blame if I muck it up.

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Lone Chub

This was a prolific chub water but I haven’t fished it for a few months, and I was quite disappointed to have just one bite in a few hours from 6 or 7 swims. I hope it was just the cold conditions but I have noticed a general decline in returns from this lovely river, even from last season. I have already modified my approach due to perceived changes in fish behaviour (hence the wandering I mentioned earlier), it seems I can no longer expect several fish from the same swim as in the past, now one or two if I’m lucky. I hope that the fish are spooking and vacating the area I’m fishing, rather than the horrible possibility that numbers of fish are so small due to predation that once the resident fish is caught there are no more left in the swim. This would be a terrible decline if it were the case.

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The lovely Dane, in decline or in transition?

So that is December and the year over, I will put some sort of a revue together but until then…

Tight lines

Dave