April Blog

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Mixed results this month as the waters seem slow to wake up; Spring hasn’t really sprung as I would have liked, and I am still waddling around the sodden banks in an assortment of winter clothing. It still feels a long way from the thermos flask taking its summer break. Still, nothing ventured nothing gained, in my humble opinion time fishing is time well spent, even if I’m blanking!

03.04.18 Cheshire Mere

An afternoon session, my second on this Cheshire mere since the rivers closed, and part of the early phase of my Spring/ Summer Tench campaign. Last months initial foray was a frigid and futile experience with a water temperature of 5C and a bone chilling breeze, but today I felt slightly more optimistic about my chances. It was overcast but there was definitely a slight hint of spring in the air, the ducks were bickering over territory, the trees were full of buds and the daffs were out in force. However, with a water temperature of 6.5C and the lake seemingly devoid of fish activity I was quickly brought back down to earth.

I fished maggot feeder on one rod onto a small plateau of 11ft surrounded by water of 14ft depth, the second was a worm rig fished to an overhanging tree in 11ft of water, allegedly a known hot-spot. Unfortunately the fish weren’t aware of that fact and the highlight of the day were 2 slow but sure lifts of the bobbins, presumably passing carp oblivious to my lines, and somewhat though provoking considering I had back-leaded and presumed they were flat on the bottom. That was it apart from a couple of plucks on the worm rod, all told a disappointing outcome to a promising day. I resolved to try a different venue next week, my reasoning being that the improvement in air temperature should have a quicker effect on shallower water; I had somewhere in mind but it doesn’t have the Tench potential of this place, maybe I should try for a carp?

10.04.18 Cheshire Flash

As previously mentioned, after last weeks blank, some thought was put into this choice of venue, since the upturn in the air temperature wasn’t having the hoped for effect on the deep Cheshire mere I will be targeting for most of the close season.

This long narrow water, known locally as a ‘flash’ is the bi-product of the subsidence caused by salt mining. They are quite common in Cheshire and are generally quite shallow, so I was banking on it being warmer. In fact it was around 7.5C which was pleasing.

The depth was a fairly even 4ft all over the flash and there were few features of note, so the one big overhanging tree was like a magnet to me. First I needed to do some negotiating with a couple of carp anglers opposite, I fully expected them to be fishing across to the feature, but they were really nice lads and had no objections to me walking round to the far side and fishing next to the tree. I’m not a big fan of long casts and fancied my chances of controlling and landing a carp from a potentially snaggy area were far higher if I was fishing at close range. I use my barbel set-up for carping and have never had a problem with the fish I hook. I think the 3lb test carp rods are really for long range casting and I much prefer the margins where 2lb test is more than enough.

After a quick lead around I couldn’t find any depth changes and the bottom felt firm so I catapulted a patch of hemp and a few micro pellets just off the tree and under-armed my boilie and rubber corn to the hotspot and left it to its own devices, with the butt close to hand knowing I would have to be on the rod fast should I get a take.

I had a maggot feeder rig already set up from last week so with Tench on my mind I lobbed it out 30m to the right, put both rods on the alarms, then sat down like a crouching tiger waiting for action!

An hour later I had landed 5 bream to 5lb on the maggot rod, and after scraping the slime off my kit once more I decided to forgoe the pleasure and swapped it for a second carp rod down the right margin, close to the reeds in 3ft of water.

An absolutely glorious sunset was underway (see header photo) when the tree rod went off like a train, I was on it like a snake, gave it plenty of side-strain and once away from the tree it was plain sailing, a common of 11lb. Only small admittedly, but I have been struggling, so it was very welcome. With the bream it was a decent afternoon, capped off by the wonderful sight of a barn owl patrolling a hedge line just 20m away, lit up fluorescent pink by the epic sunset…magical!

Mic flash

13.04.18 Cheshire Mere

Back to the search for Tench, this time I headed for a swim I haven’t fished before and found 13ft of water at 30m. a bit of leading around didn’t reveal any major shelves or depth changes so I just stuck to a comfortable distance, and with the aid of marker elastic I clipped up for accuracy. A couple of hours into the session and my first Tench of the season fell for the red maggot rig….only to spit the hook just under the rod tip. Such is the clarity of this water I had a good view of the fish before disaster struck and somehow the loss didn’t seem so bad. I estimated it to have been around 5lb but who knows really.

Soon after away went the maggot rod again, this time I played it like my life depended on it and felt uncharacteristically nervous. I was a relieved man when it finally slid into the net so I weighed it, despite knowing it wasn’t anything special for this water. Still, a nice fish at 5lb8oz and because it was my first of the campaign I took a picture for posterity. So nice to finally get off the mark.

5lb9oz Lymmvale 13.04.18

Just as night fell and I was starting to pack up my second of the session arrived, again on the maggot, slightly smaller but no less welcome. I settled for a mat shot and didn’t weigh it, but was quietly satisfied with my lot as I made my way home.

5lb Lymmvale 13.04.18

20.04.18 Cheshire Mere

After catching a couple last week it came as a bit of a shock to go back to square one with a disheartening blank. It was a lovely breezy, sunny day and the water temp had risen to a most promising 13C, so to say I was looking forward to it was an understatement. While having a short walk round looking for swims I came across a lovely big carp tearing up the shallows looking for leftovers from a presumably recently departed angler, which gave me even more cause for enthusiasm.

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I won’t bore you with the details of this sorry blank but the bailiff informed me that half a dozen tench were caught by an angler at the far end of the lake, and to really add insult to injury a carp angler 150m to my right had a couple within plain sight, while I kept working my swim and watched motionless bobbins all afternoon, waiting in vain for the cry of the Delks.

It was all a bit mystifying, especially as I was in a swim that really delivered for me last year, and I fished the same in-line feeder rigs and red maggot bait which were successful last week. Maybe I should have moved, but it was the age old quandary, last week the fish came on at dusk and I had built up my swim expecting the same, so just kept holding on in expectation.

I will just have to put it behind me and try again next week, but be more willing to move in search of Tench instead of expecting them to come to me.

27.04.18 Cheshire Mere

I couldn’t let last weeks blank stall my Tench fishing so I climbed back on the horse and returned to the same water, its wasn’t a difficult decision as the place really got under my skin last season and I find myself drawn back to it. I headed for a different area I hadn’t fished before and again there was no sign of fish activity, so in effect it was chuck it and chance it. A light but deceptively cold breeze blew in my face and it rained consistently for the early part of the afternoon; it was still very un-spring like and I was glad of my fleece and waterproofs.

I had a lead around and found around 12-14ft of water over a reasonably solid bed at 35m and little discernible change in the topography of the bottom anywhere in front of me, so I stuck to this comfortable distance and fished the usual inline maggot feeder with red maggots as bait. This was about as much as I could reasonably discover with just a straight lead.

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Looks lovely but it was bloody cold!

 

On my left was a large bush protruding over the water and I found at least 14ft at the end of the end bush; the shelf must have been virtually vertical to go from 4-5ft near the side to that depth just over a rod length out. I decided to fish a straight lead just past the end of the bush, and by casting from the far right limit of my peg I could get my bait almost in front of the tree. My thinking was that the constant winding retrieval, and recasting of the longer range feeder rod wouldn’t disturb the margin swim as much if it was fished as far to the left as possible. I double back-leaded to ensure the line was pinned down just in case I had to bring a fish in on the other rod in a quite constricted swim between the bushes either side. In the end it didn’t matter a jot as I didn’t have a solitary peep all afternoon from that near swim; I dare say something would have come over the nice bed of feed in the depths of the night, but I would have long been home by then.

The maggot feeder rod however, after a long period of inactivity, finally sprang to life at dusk and produced 4 Tench in 5 casts, a brace of 5’s and 4’s, and as suddenly as the action began, after the 4th fish it ceased just as abruptly. Apart from one battle scarred warrior they were all handsome looking fish and boy, they didn’t half fight! Coming up through 14ft of gin clear water I could see them boring for the depths over and over, and these were only modest in size, but on appropriate gear they are fantastic fighters pound for pound.

 

27.04.18 Lymmvale2
As pretty as a picture, perfect spring Tench

 

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My theory is that the Tench haven’t really switched on yet because the water temperatures are still relatively low and are just feeding for a short period each day, in todays case around an hour, which leaves anglers with the conundrum of whether to stick it out in a seemingly barren swim in the hope of just catching a feeding spell, or to up-sticks and chase the fish. Today by sticking put, I had something to show for my efforts, unlike last week.

Hopefully the weather will really pick up now and I hope May will bring the same Tench results as last year. Considering I had never fished for them before I did well and caught a couple each time I went. More of the same this year please!!

Tight lines!!

Dave

 

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March Blog- Goodbye rivers, hello stills

Danesford 13.03.18

Well what a month March has been… and for all the wrong reasons! First there was the spiteful ‘Beast from the East’ to contend with, bringing prolonged sub-zero temperatures and significant snowfall, then after eventually petering out it left a legacy of snow melt that detrimentally affected the rivers, potentially right up to the end of the season on the 14th of March.

For me this end of season ‘last fling’ has become something of a tradition, a treasured week when the rivers have usually warmed up, and the days have lengthened sufficiently to stir the Barbel from their winter lethargy. It is a time I, like many river men, book a few days off work and have a final attempt to catch a Barbel or two before the season finishes, however this years trip was in serious jeopardy as my chosen river, the mighty Severn, looked set to breach its banks .

The consequence of all this was icy water temperatures and volatile levels, which made for very hard fishing. Many experienced lads just hung up their Barbel gear until next season but I still clung tenaciously onto the forlorn hope that the rivers would come good for me for the last knockings of the season.

As if this aggressive weather front wasn’t enough, yet another nasty weather pattern arrived soon after the rivers closed, named the ‘Mini-Beast’; it caught me by surprise arriving almost without fanfare, yet bringing another coating of quite severe snow-fall. Fortunately this was just after the rivers had closed so it didn’t feel as bad as the original ‘Beast’, but it still had a negative effect on my enthusiasm for the transition to the stillwaters.

09.03.18 River Dane

Once again I have the river Dane to thank for providing some sustenance during this Baltic blast. I have had just two blanks on this lovely little river all winter, once with bank high snow melt and the other at the peak of the big freeze (and if I’d had my wits about me I wouldn’t have blanked that day either because I lost a fish off the hook…Doh!).

I target winter chub on the simplest of set-ups using nothing but bread and cheesepaste for bait, and so far they have been very obliging. Despite the cold bright conditions and extra coloured water the river was carrying, today was no different as I managed to extract 5 fish, all 3-4lb+.

3lb12oz Dane Manor 09.03.18

From the 6 swims I tried 4 produced a fish, and I think mobility is the key in order to find where the fish are located; often they can be in the most unlikely looking of swims. The chub were feisty and generally in lovely condition, but anybody going there expecting record breakers will be disappointed, a 4lb fish is a decent specimen.

4lb Dane Manor 09.03.18
Typical Dane Chub, a worthy adversary on light tackle!

 

The stretch is not overcrowded and I usually have it to myself which suits this style of nomadic fishing, but today I bumped into an old mate and sometime Dane regular Graham. I spent a very interesting and enjoyable hour chatting, and if I’m honest, being educated, because this lad knows his onions when it comes to Barbel fishing on small rivers; we discussed everything from home-made paste to centre pins. He was determined to catch a Barbel but I had convinced myself there was no chance, so I left him near dusk and managed my fifth and final Chub from my 6th swim before heading home.

Season Finale on the Middle Severn

As mentioned in the introduction, traditionally I spend the last few days of the river season down on the mighty Severn but the conditions and forecast almost put me off this year; levels were close to breaching the banks and the temperatures hadn’t recovered enough to instill confidence. In the end I was glad I went; a nice social with a mate the first 2 days, then on my own for the remains of the season, fishing venues between Shrewsbury and Bridgnorth where I was based.

11.03.18 Club water- Middle Severn

Cressage 11.03.18

The first day I travelled from south Manchester with hope in my heart to my destination a few miles downstream of Shrewsbury. As I arrived just after dawn to meet up with my mate, I was surprised to see snowdrifts still in evidence, but not so surprised to peer through the mist and see water almost at the top of the bank; a temp of 5C didn’t bode well either but we both worked hard in likely looking swims and in the end managed a brace each, my mate had an 8 and a 7 and I managed a 5 plus a splasher to finish. Lobworms proved the most effective bait and I was glad I’d had the foresight to secure some before setting off.

 

7lb Cressage
Even a tiddler felt like a result that day!

 

Under the circumstances I was satisfied with the return but I was really hoping the level would fall and temperature rise over the coming days, which in hindsight turned out to be just wishful thinking.

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Kris’s best fish

 

12.03.18 Club water- Middle Severn

A good night in the pub followed by a substantial kebab seemed like a good idea at the time, but left me feeling a bit jaded for the Wetherspoons brecky the next morning, I could only manage the traditional, not the large so definitely below my best. Nevertheless I polished it off and felt better, and we were soon back on the bank and raring to go.

If anything the river had risen even higher overnight, but on a positive note the water temp had also risen slightly to 6C. Neither of us were familiar with our chosen venue with water at this level, so we walked it first to asses if it was even fishable. I was pleased to find a couple of near-bank slacks that looked reasonable and I thought they might at least give us a chance of a fish; one in particular really looked the part. We both wanted it so a coin toss settled the issue in favour of my mate and I wandered off dejectedly to do my best elsewhere.

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There’s a river in there somewhere

 

The problem with fishing bank high rivers on unfamiliar stretches is that you don’t know what lies below; I found out after working hard for a bite in a couple of swims for several hours, and when it finally came the fish found some submerged feature to lodge itself in. I count myself fortunate that after giving it slack line it decided to swim out and I manged to land it. It was just a splasher and the reality was that I would have surely lost anything more substantial. My mate was due to leave early so I jumped into his vacated swim purely because the swim was relatively snag free. He had caught one around 7lb, which was also encouraging.

I fished feeder upstream with pellet on the hair, and straight lead downstream with double lob worm, but I wasn’t getting any action. I decided to stick it out to the finish as the swim certainly looked good, but the lack of indications hardly filled me with confidence. Consequently I was caught napping by a rattling knock on the worm rod which had me jumping off my chair, but it didn’t develop any further. After a few minutes with hand hovering over the rod handle I decided to move the bait slightly to see if the fish could be tempted to bite; I drew the lead just a couple of inches then put the rod back on the rest and immediately it yanked over and battle commenced. Battle is an apt description as the fish fought like an athletic 7lb’er but with far more substantial weight behind it, using the enormous volume of water to its advantage and charging towards downstream trees. I was very relieved to turn it and get into the slack in front of me, but disaster struck and it found a snag and was stuck fast. I gave slack line and waited until I felt a few tugs, tightened down and was relieved it drew free. Just the last couple of lunges and it was in the net!

As it rested there in the murky water I could see it was a good long fish, but it was a bit thin, so when the scales registered 10lb14oz I was more than happy; a new middle Severn PB for me when I really didn’t fancy my chances, can’t be bad!

 

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New Mid Severn PB

 

I still had the scales in my hand when I heard the sweet sound of the bait-runner screaming on the other rod, after all that time without a bite a double hook-up…you couldn’t make it up!! Priority was the fish on the bank so I jammed the landing net into the bank and ensured the fish was in good deep water and that it had righted itself before I pounced on the other rod and wound down to feel another substantial fish; sadly there was to be no happy outcome to this tale as after 30 intense seconds frantically turning the fish away from snags real and imagined, and with the fish just yards in front of me the hook pulled and the battle was lost. I have had exactly the same experience before on the Ribble with a double hook up, the fish left to roam while prioritizing the fish on the bank has time to loosen the hookhold and somehow sheds the hook close to the net. It’s an absolute gut wrencher, but in this case my disappointment was mitigated by the fish still resting in the landing net and I didn’t shed too many tears over my loss.

Once I had stopped shaking I continued to fish on feeling rather smug with myself, until once again the lob-worm proved to much to resist for another nicely conditioned Barbel of exactly 9lb, this one was as fat as butter; it put up a decent account of itself but nothing like the previous specimen. Soon it was in the net and a nice looking fish it was.

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9lb on the nose

 

That concluded the action for the day but I was still a very happy lad driving back to my digs, making plans to re-acquaint myself with the hospitality of the ale houses of Bridgnorth.

13.03.18 Danery

I have never done particularly well on here but I know a couple of decent flood swims and I had the pick of them when I arrived to an empty carpark. I chose the nearest swim, not because I am a lazy git but it looked so good with a completely still margin that dropped rapidly to 12ft depth just a couple of yards out from the bank. The crease was about 5m out so I placed both baits on this line and hoped for the best. Upstream was a feeder with some oily groundbait and pellet, downstream was a lump of flavoured meat to start, which I soon changed to lobworm.

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It was slow going, neither rod picked up debris so I sat watching motionless tips. Even the lobworms failed to impress, so I wound in and had a wander along the length. I realised just how high the river was as I recalled fishing here last summer at normal levels. The whole nature of the swims change as the levels fluctuate; some become better, some worse, but isn’t it refreshing to have to rise to the challenge and read the conditions in order to catch your quarry?

I still thought my current swim had the right features so I stuck at it and finally the worm rod arced over and a splasher was in the bag. Two more similar sized fish followed during the evening and I decided to call it quits just before dark, but not before I had an inspiring chat with a departing local lad who had been a few hundred yards downstream; he told me about his technique of float fishing meat in the summer and the effectiveness over the standard pellet feeder approach…very much food for thought for the summer.

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Small but welcome

 

14.03.18 Club water, Mid Severn

The last fanfare of the season, always a sad day but one that has to be grasped and every last second of opportunity wrung out of it. I was heading for home and I am fortunate to have many waters to choose from in that general direction, however I just couldn’t resist having another go on the length I had my double from.

I had it to myself and grabbed the same peg and set up exactly the same as last time, but there was a subtle change to the flow. I checked the marker I had used last time and it was around 6″ lower and as the day wore on it began to drop quickly. It still looked great so I was confident of some action and I didn’t have long to wait as the downstream lobworm proved irresistible to a feisty 7lb’er.

7lb Cound 14.03.18
Athletic 7lb’er, tackle tester in a snaggy flood swim

 

That proved to be the pinnacle of the day; five more Barbel landed but all 4-6lb in weight. The water temp was still 6C but the river fining off was the catalyst for a fairly lively afternoon of improving sport.

I had mixed feelings about how the trip went, the conditions are usually much better at the tail end of the season so I had to be happy to have nabbed a few. Obviously the double was the highlight on the fishing front, but there is always more to it than just fish. I explored a few new areas and found some new swims with the river at the top of the banks; the social side was good and I re-acquainted myself with Bridgnorth, my favourite Severn-side town. What a pity that this was the end of the season, the conditions were improving steadily and next week would have been grand I’m certain.

The close season is a hot topic currently as the EA are conducting a survey of the impact of all year river fishing. Watch this space! Personally, I’m sure the dates we currently have are way off the mark and don’t align with the spawning windows of our river species, but I think the break benefits not just the fish, but the riverine environment as a whole  Maybe the dates just need to be adjusted, I will wait and see the scientific evidence produced by the EA before making my mind up, but the cynic in me can’t help thinking this is commercially driven.

That was it for another year on the rivers, time to take stock, have a short break from fishing, do a few jobs round the house, clean up the gear and prepare for the transition from Barbel and Chub to my bungling attempts at Carp and Tench fishing.

25.03.18 Cheshire mere

My resolve lasted 10 days then I cracked and I began my close season Tench campaign way too early…will I never learn? I bought some maggots and headed for my chosen venue, without too much optimism I have to admit. I recalled last season, brimming with enthusiasm for my first attempt at this Cheshire mere, and how I fished it a few times during March for a grand total of nothing. Thankfully everything clicked into place during April as the water warmed; it became a different story and I had a fantastic close season pursuing the Tincas.

I arrived to a plethora of bivvies all seemingly in the process of being dismantled, so I had a walk round the lake and chatted to the departing Carp lads only to hear a dispiriting tale of a busy wekend with just a single carp gracing the bank. Not very encouraging, but I was told a couple of tench had been caught so went and set up on a swim that did me proud last season. Unfortunately it was shaded and facing into a strong breeze, and without the week sun it was really nippy. I took a water temperature of 6C which was another dissapointment but not entirely unexpected.

I fished two 1.5lb test barbel rods, 8lb mainline with in-line feeders and short 6lb flouro hooklengths. One rod was baited with red maggots, the other lobworm tipped with a maggot, both about 35m out onto a small platteau a couple of feet shallower than the surrounding area. I was confident my baits were in the right location from last seasons experience, but I was still in 12ft of water and on reflection might have been better going for a generally shallower area that could have warmed up in the sun a little.

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My go-to tench rig for the summer. The rubber bead turns it into a running rig, remove it and it becomes semi-fixed. There is a buoyant rubber maggot on the hair to neutralise the weight, and I put 2 or 3 real red maggots on the hook. I usually fish a flying back-lead above the float stop.

 

As you may have guessed from my negative introduction I blanked, but I consider it a fact finding mission. I will definitely try one of the shallower areas until the water warms up. I was happy with my set-up in general and had a good look at a few of the pegs that I skipped past last year, so it was a worthwhile exercise.

So that was my lot for March, I shouldn’t harp on about the weather but it was absolutely foul and I really felt like I was on a hiding to nothing a lot of the time. Nevertheless as they say, you don’t catch sat in front of the telly…

Things can only get better, the current flurry of icy rain is purported to be the last this year and I am hoping for a steady improvement in temperatures and consequently an upturn in sport. April is usually a decent month…God knows we deserve it!!!

Tight lines

Dave

 

 

 

February blog- into the teeth of the beast from the East!

 

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Another tricky angling month completed and not a lot to show for it fish-wise. Some decent Chub sessions on the Dane mitigated the pain inflicted by my arch nemesis, the Ribble, a river that intrigues and dashes hope in equal measure, but somehow keeps calling me back. No matter how many times I get snagged up, how muddy, wet and battered from falling down the treacherous banks, by the following day I am desperate to have another go for her precious piscine treasures, so begrudgingly given.

A trip to the Northern angling show provided some light relief and severe fiscal temptation, but fortunately I had already disposed of my angling budget on club cards for next season.

All plans for the end of season Grande finale are on hold due to the ‘Beast from the East’ which is currently battering the UK. Loads of snow, sub zero temperatures, its all very disappointing!

02/02/18 Mid Ribble

With a new club card in my pocket I was itching to get out and explore. The conditions were far from ideal but I was still excited as I navigated to the first length. Half an hour later I was back in the car covered in mud and scratches having tried to negotiate the treacherous slippy banks and been found wanting. Never mind, looked interesting, try there when it dries out a bit.

A short drive down the country tracks and I arrived at the next location, walked most of the stretch, again it looked interesting but it was hard to pick out any features with the water so high. I settled on a lovely looking swim with a nice glide on the far side and proceeded to blank with style. I wished I had listened to my Ribble contacts who urged me to go light for chub; obviously I ignored them and paid the price. With a water temperature of 4-4.5C it was a no-brainer really but I stuck to gear capable of landing a Barbel and that was way too unsubtle for the wary Ribble Chevins.  Hey Ho, a good recce of 2 new beats at least, so it wasn’t wasted.

04/02/18 Mid Dane

After Fridays poor showing I felt like I needed a good result today so I was dissapointed when I looked out of the bedroom window onto a thickly frosted garden. However they say fortune favours the brave so I threw the chub kit into the Fiesta and plodded the 30 minutes to the river. I was meeting a mate there anyway so there was no way I was staying in bed.

To say it was nippy would be an understatement, just above freezing and a bone chilling wind, little did we know this was positively balmy compared to what was to come later in the month!

I arrived first so grabbed a favourite swim and quietly began by dropping a ball of liquidised bread in while I set up my usual light quiver tip fishing a micro feeder, cheesepaste and bread flake on the hook. Kris turned up and headed downstream, and soon after I had my first cast and an instant take from a nice Chub, and proceeded to bank a further 3 before it dried up. That’s quite a result on this stretch as it gets a bit of pressure and the chub generally spook after one of two fish.

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I decided to move on and leap frogged Kris and headed to the lower part of the river. I managed one more fish before I had enough, the cold had got to me now so I decided to call it quits while I was ahead.20180204_172845

A most enjoyable session and good to have some time to chat fishing with Kris. We made plans for a trip to the Severn in the last week of the river season before I left.

09/02/18 Mid Ribble

Another fact finding mission on one of the new stretches of the Ribble I have recently gained access too; a very cold bright day with the river carrying 2 feet of icy water (4.5C) so it wasn’t  a shock to suffer yet another blank!

I can’t recall this many winter blanks in previous years on this majestic but cruel river; it doesn’t suffer fools gladly and it appears I am becoming a chump! Nevertheless, I had a good look round and fished a couple of spots for a few hours, but all were facing directly into the wind, which was so bitingly cold I eventually made the decision to bolt upstream to another more sheltered length. I blanked there as well, so I put the whole day behind me, double blank and all, and drove the hour home for a couple of pints and a kebab.

16/02/18 River Dane

As the temperatures hadn’t risen since last weekend I chose to pass on the long drive to blanksville and try the Dane for a chub. At least there was a decent chance of a fish, plus its only 30 minutes away and I can dodge the rush hour traffic on the back roads should it fish badly and require an early finish.

As it happens it turned into a cracking session with 11 chub in an afternoon, all on bread flake and cheesepaste. None of them were much over 4lb and the smallest was probably 2lb12oz but they all punched above their weight. All came on a micro feeder on my standard Dane set-up (see previous months blog for details). I weight the feeder with small lead strips according to the vagaries of each swim in order to present the bait close to the fish holding features, such as overhanging trees, undercuts or rafts of flotsam.

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The bites varied from gentle tugs to full on aggressive wrenches; I love to touch ledger and it fits perfectly with this type of fishing. Keeping mobile I was only able to extract one or two fish from each swim before it all went quiet, but a return visit an hour or so later and they would be back and hungry for more.

Yes, it was bloody cold and the banks resembled the Somme (curse you Cows!), but it was so good to get a few fish after my recent Ribble trips I enjoyed every last second. Even scraping two inches of clay and cow dung from my person before getting in the car seemed worth it!!

23/02/18 Mid Ribble

Another voyage of discovery on a new part of the Ribble, this time a lovely secluded stretch I had all to myself. My Ribble advisor sent me a guide (thanks mate!) so I wasn’t going in blind.

After a lively encounter in the car park with a gigantic and over friendly hound, I made my way along the banks keeping a close eye out for fishy features. There was a week winter sun to keep the chill off, but the wind was brutal. The river was just a couple of inches up and clear as tap water, with a temperature reading of 5C which combined with the bright conditions was always going to cause me a problem and I was convinced that Chub were the only reasonable option.

I rigged up a quiver tip rod with a small feeder and fished liquidised bread and my go to chub bait of bread smeared with cheese paste. The swim I selected was very slow and deep and the tip remained motionless. The downside of bread as a hookbait is its lack of longevity on the hook, even the freshest of doughy Warburton’s only lasts a few minutes, which becomes a problem if the bites are sparse as they were today. I began to worry I might be fishing a bare hook, so I changed to a small halibut pellet. This proved no better and after an hour or so I decided a move was called for.

A few hundred yards upstream was a perfect looking wide glide running about 20m out, and with the far side being almost stationary there was a pronounced crease line. This is where I cast so a little bit more lead was required to hold station, but I soon had things balanced nicely and decided I was going to stick or bust in this swim. I kept the chub set-up on the upstream rod but set up a second rod, a light barbel outfit with half a boilie on a straight lead with a tiny pva bag and cast into various locations downstream, just on the off-chance it might drop on the nose of a lethargic Barbel, or more likely a roaming Chub. Unfortunately it didn’t work on the downstream rod but the upstream rod, baited with a small cube of flavoured meat fished on a fine hair and smaller hook than usual, came alive toward dusk and produced 3 decent chub.

I was so cold by now as the sun dropped under the high far bank and the temperature suddenly plummeted such niceties as weighing were forgotten, but I still took a quick picture for proof that I had avoided my third Ribble blank in a row. In fact I left an hour into dark feeling quite pleased that I had caught anything, and it was certainly an improvement on my previous showing!

25/02/18 Northern angling Show

This show has become a regular fixture in my calendar and seems to be growing year on year. If it is a barometer of UK fishing then I pity the poor Carp as they must be getting battered from all sides such is the proliferation of carp based stands. That doesn’t bother me greatly; much of the barbel tackle and tactics we use these days has origins in the carp world, so I am always interested to see the latest innovations. What does bother me was the jaw dropping prices that carp anglers seemed willing to spend on the ‘latest and greatest’ and that has a knock on effect putting up the prices of the tackle I use. The mitigating factor of this fast turnover sector is that stock becomes ‘old hat’ so quickly it often means last years ‘must have’ is sold at a more reasonable price just a few months from launch.

Apart from this I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. To be honest I love to go and have a catch up with a few ‘facebook’ friends. I always head for Dave Muttons UK Specialist stand where I usually meet up with him and fellow Stopfordians Jerry Gleeson and Matt Marlow, and this year Christophe Pelhate who talked me into buying one of his ‘Spoppers’, a version of a Spomb that sinks and opens on the deck. I have heard good things about them for distance fishing on the larger rivers, and I will be interested to try it out (probably next season in all honesty!).

After that I got stuck into a walking tour of the hundreds of stalls. There are a few bargains to be had, but basically, the traders by omitting the cost of postage, can make it look like you are getting a steal when its still making them a good margin. I bought a few bits and bobs, but kept my spending in check.

The most worthwhile aspect of the day is to get hold of the current rod ranges from the big suppliers and give them a bend. So much crap is written by the marketing men about new rod ranges, but when you actually get hold of them they often disappoint, but its still good to have a hands on experience to be sure.

I didn’t pay much attention to the celebrity anglers doing speeches on stage, it seemed to be a carp fest, but every time I looked I thought I recognised somebody from the telly (thinking tackle mainly!!). One of the great things about this awesome sport of ours is that the same ‘celebrities’ from the stage are walking about the show like the rest of us, simply angling enthusiasts among their peers, and long may it continue so.

As I write this the ‘Beast from the East’ is entrenched over the country bringing unusually cold weather and a fair amount of snow. This is a real disappointment for us river anglers as, like a Christmas visit from the in-laws, it is predicted to outstay its welcome and linger into the early part of March. I fear it might jeopardise the traditional finale of the river season; I usually take the final week off work and head for a few days away on the Severn and have had some cracking results in the past, but its not looking good for this season. Even if the cold front moves off the aforementioned snow has to melt and filter through the river system before the increased air temperatures can make any discernible difference to the water temperature. I will be watching the weather forecast and river levels like a hawk and praying for the ‘beast’ to bugger off as soon as possible, and on that depressing note I will sign off for February.

Here’s hoping you all manage to catch one before the 15th March

Dave

 

January Blog

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The festivities of Christmas are now a distant memory, but the lasting and happy legacy of the holiday season was a wad of cash burning a hole in my pocket. The January sales aren’t as good as they used to be since we adopted ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ from the yanks (or whatever it ‘s now called, I know it seemed to go on the whole of December!) but there were still a few bargains to be had. The upshot of all this is that January sees me as the proud owner of a bargain pair of Shimano 6000D-OC reels, a barrow and a compact fishing stove. Some logic has been applied here; all these items should be useful on the bigger, more tackle destructive rivers such as the Trent, and I now feel happier having a go at a few overnighters before the river season terminates in March. For now this gear is in storage because I’m far to feeble to try until the weather warms up significantly.

In the mean time I had to make the most of what January has to offer, which in short is not usually a lot on the Barbel front, but always a chance of a nice Chub or two.

05.01.18 Middle Ribble

Last month I had a lovely Barbel session on this stretch landing four fish, two of which were around the 9lb mark. Today the conditions were almost identical except for one crucial factor…water temperature!

Despite having problems with my thermometer (now resolved), I spoke to a couple of contacts who fished the Ribble that productive day last month, and from their readings I believe the water was around 8C; today using my new instrument I read just over 5C, and my same local informant confirmed my measurement was thereabouts but told me the bad news that it had fallen 1C overnight. Doesn’t sound like much but I am a great believer in temperature trends being critical to success.

I was still very optimistic despite this news because everything looked the same. I had the pick of the swims to choose from, plumping for one adjacent to the scene of my previous success, which featured the same characteristics I was looking for, slow and deep with a pronounced drop off. I approached it in an identical manner and fished both rods on the same line, just past the shelf where the river depth changed from 8ft to 12ft, which equates to a cast of 40 yards, approximately ¾ across the river, but there the similarities between the 2 sessions ended.

Due to fears of over feeding in the lower temperatures I fished a really small feeder carrying 4oz of lead and it was holding bottom well. The second rod was placed downstream, a straight 4oz lead, boilie hookbait and a PVA bag secured to the lead with a clip; because of the good depth here I prefer to do this instead of impaling it directly on the hook. I believe the mesh can melt before the rig has settled, resulting in the detached bag rolling downstream away from the target area.

There Ribble was carrying a couple of feet of water and the rigs soon gathered leaves, grass and weed on the line, but to be honest, after sitting watching motionless tips for half an hour, it was almost a relief to have to wind in, clean up and re-bait.

A couple of hours into the session a chap set up 50m upstream on the far bank. Funny how the grass always seems greener, I was envious of his short cast to the deep water and features on his bank. As far as I am aware he didn’t catch but we had a nice chat across the water.

Two hours in, at last some action as the rod top nodded and I quickly pounced and wound down into a fish. It was no barbel, that was obvious from the odd fight it put up, and as it crossed the net I saw it was a trout. Now I don’t particularly like catching trout but I quite like the look of them; this one however, only its mother could love. With a bent spine and a mean set of teeth, I took a snap out of curiosity and was glad to slip it back. Obviously it was fully functional and feeding, and this deformity, though not common, does occur in Barbel and other species and seems not to affect them detrimentally.

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Bent back Trout!

Next cast another bite, this time a proper rod rattler, but again I could tell it wasn’t my target species. A nice pristine chub of about 3.5lb was the culprit, putting up a bit of resistance but no match for the Barbel gear. At this juncture I decided the chances of a Barbel were looking bleak and switched the downstream rod to a more chub friendly rig, with an 8lb team silstar hooklength and a small halibut ellipse pellet super-glued onto a fine hair. This is about as fine as I go on the Ribble, it really is the most abrasive bedrock of any of the rivers I fish, and a chance encounter with a barbel of any size is going to end badly!

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Sods law the next cast resulted in the bite of the day, a barbelesque 3 foot twitch that had me cursing my tackle change as I was convinced this was the hoped for Barbel. It wasn’t..despite the hair raising fight on the lighter rig I could tell it wasn’t a Berty, instead a big chub using the deep powerful flow to its advantage. It had been around the block a few times but it was still an impressive fish and well worth a trip to the scales. Sadly it was a little bit hollow as they can be at this time of year and came in at 5lb1oz, but still a decent stamp.

5lb1oz Oz 05.01.18

I stuck it out a couple of hours into dark, optimistic of a Barbel but it was not to be. In fact it died completely and even the Chub cleared off.

By now the weather had seriously deteriorated and I was soggy mess by the time I got back to the car, but I still enjoyed myself and I was glad I grabbed the opportunity to try for a Barbel, the weather forecast showed a cold, bleak month ahead.

12/01/18 Upper Dane

A quick social session on the Dane this morning  prompted by a surprise phone call from a good fishing buddy of mine, Matt Marlow. He had the day off and fancied a bit of trotting so I headed to meet him at a club venue we both have access to.

It is a beautiful stretch of river and the club fortunately has several adjoining lengths, which allows a bit of ‘Mr Crabtree’ style roaming. I love to do this but it just isn’t practical on small busy venues; prebaiting likely swims then returning to them half an hour later you have every chance of finding them occupied, which defeats the object somewhat.

As I don’t see Matt often I took a seat behind him, unpacked the flask and chatted for quite a while, putting the fishing world to rights. I was quite taken by his set-up of a centre pin and a 15ft Drennan Acolyte rod and eventually blagged a go for myself. Its been a while since I fished this style but it was a real pleasure to inch the float down the glide with his top of the range gear. I was very impressed with the reel in particularly, I think it was an Adcock Stanton. I am a great believer in modern tackle and to be honest I don’t use any old items, but I have to admit this worked a treat and was perfect for the job in hand; the line just trickled off under the pressure of the flow. I checked out the prices that evening and was shocked; obviously there is a good market for these old classics to elevate the prices to these levels for used reels. I know they are extremely popular with some Barbel men for close in work.

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One of Matt’s ‘arty’ shots!  Photo courtesy of Matt Marlow Angling

Eventually I decided to actually have a go for a fish myself and wishing Matt good luck I wandered upstream to another field. The river was 6″ up and lightly coloured but the water was icy cold. I knew we’d had a couple of very cold nights this week but wasn’t expecting it to be so severe.

Eventually I picked a couple of likely looking swims and dropped a little bit of liquidised bread in each one. I started at the furthest swim, intending to fish my way back to the car. Two swims later and I hadn’t had a touch, and these were good looking spots with nice features so it was a bit disheartening. Usually fishing the bread and cheese paste method, and with the aforementioned pre-baiting, I expect to get a bite first or second cast if the chub are in a feeding mood, so I wasn’t feeling optimistic as I trudged to my third swim.

This swim featured a raft of flotsam trapped against the far bank by a fallen tree, all the current flowed under the tree but the downstream part of it created a nice sheltered slack, and I chose to place my rig on the edge of this. First cast I felt a jagged tug and I was in; a 3lb chub resulted so I was very pleased and slightly relieved to have caught something at least. That is one of the features of visiting several swims, eventually you will come across a feeding fish in even the most unpromising conditions, and I am a firm believer this philosophy will translate to Barbel fishing just the same in cold water conditions where the ‘bait and wait’ approach loses its effectivity as the fish are too cold to actively hunt down your free offerings.

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By now it was practically dusk and I just had time to blank in a final swim before heading back to meet Matt and walk back to the car park. He reported a few grayling and its pleasing to see them seemingly making a good come-back on this very picturesque river.

13/01/18 Middle Dane

My second session in as many days, I was feeling blessed as I drove to another stretch of the Dane, this time closer to Middlewich. Its one of my favourites and I have had some nice Chub from here, up to 4lb14oz which is my Dane pb, plus its as reliable for Barbel as anywhere on the Dane can be these days. Today was definitely going to be a Chub day; the air temperature of 6C was the same as yesterday but a biting wind blew and it was absolutely freezing if you were exposed to it. Sadly all the pegs I fished today seemed to be facing into the teeth of it, so my ‘touch ledgering’ fingers were soon blue!

This was another social, meeting my mate Kris from Stoke. He had got there early and was just setting up on a ‘banker’ swim. Unfortunately with the extra water it didn’t look quite as good as it can and was a bit turbulent. However he fancied his chances, so I sat down for a nice catch-up, before heading downstream to find a few fish.

First cast in my first swim, I had an unmissable wrench…that I somehow managed to miss! I cursed myself for my ineptitude, knowing full well that it was going to be a tough day and bites would be at a premium, and despite patiently and carefully continuing to fish I didn’t receive the slightest interest after that.

I gave it half an hour and moved on to swim number two. This was a nice slack under my feet and an overhanging willow downstream. I always look for features that might provide shelter; such is the level of predation on rivers these days these features are sure to hold fish. This was no exception as on my second cast I had a fearsome bite that caught me unawares and almost snatched the rod from my hand. Fortunately I hung on and after a fantastic battle I slid a nice Chub over the net. It looked a chunky fish so I gave it a weigh and it was 4lb4oz, not to be sniffed at. It had certainly trashed the swim and even though I released it in another area I had no more luck there.

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Moving on I tried a nice glide that dropped under the root system of a near bank tree. I made sure my rig was light enough to allow the current to roll it under there and I was rewarded with another very aggressive bite and a frantic scrap from a Chub of 4lb1oz.

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I went back upstream at lunch and had a good chat with Kris who had got out the float gear and started getting some interest. He ended the day with a couple of trout and a nice grayling so we both went home happy.

21.01.18 Middle Dane

I managed to snatch a few hours today and headed for yet another quick chub session on the Dane, arriving at 8.30am to an empty car park. As I yomped down the hill full of optimism, I remarked to myself that at least the weather was decent, cold at 2C but with an overcast sky, little wind and a falling river after recent heavy rain. When I got a look at the water I estimated 10-12″ up and quite heavily coloured.

With the river to myself I settled in a nice swim with a fast glide traveling past a series of overhanging trees, some of which had fallen, creating an extensive series of rafts that provide shelter and hold the fish. On first viewing with this much extra water the swim doesn’t look too appealing, with a turbulent surface belying its true potential, but if a light rig is allowed to roll down toward the near bank snags it becomes evident that there is slack water all the way along the tree line and I believe the fish rest in there and move up and down the length of the snags intercepting food items in the flow.

I didn’t have long to wait for my first fish, a nice Chub of around 3lb that really used the fast flow to its advantage and gave a good account of itself.

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A second chub followed a few casts later; this was a bigger fish and again caused some havoc as it charged around the swim. I was impressed with its size and got the scales out; a very decent 4lb1oz so I took a trophy shot with my phone because, as usual, I had forgotten to pack my camera. The result was predictably disappointing; how these facebook lads produce quality selfies with just a phone is beyond me!

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Terrible photo, the fish deserved better!

By now the weather had deteriorated into Siberian conditions, with howling wind driving sleet and snow into my face, dashing my earlier enthusiasm. I had almost lost the will to live but was determined to try a couple more swims.

After no interest in the next usually reliable spot, I staggered on to a noted flyer featuring a large overhanging willow and a nearside slack. Second cast I had an excellent bite resulting in a nice chub of 3lb15oz.

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This was to be the final act for today, I was defeated by the conditions. I could no longer touch ledger as my fingers had become as nimble as Edwards scissor hands, not much use for the delicate operation of attaching bread flake to a size 8!

26.01.18 Mid Ribble

I don’t want to become a weather bore, and repetition makes for dull reading, but I really believe successful Barbel fishing is all about being on the river when the conditions become right.

I had one opportunity to fish this week and that was Friday afternoon, but I just knew from looking at the weather forecast it had to be Sunday or Monday, with a warm wet front moving in during the morning of Saturday.

The evidence was there but I would still rather fish than sit at home, so I bombed down to the mid Ribble and still targetted Barbel despite knowing my chances were slim, mainly because I hadn’t caught a single one this month and I was getting a bit desperate for the old ‘3 foot twitch’.

The Ribble looked perfect, mucky brown and 2 feet up, but the water temp was just 5C and it had dropped half a degree more by 21.00 when I finally gave up without a Barbel, just 2 chub and a trout.

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The chub getting smaller but at least it was nice in the sun

 

 

It was a pleasant afternoon in the sun but it didn’t half drop cold as dusk arrived. I had to prize my net off the grass as it had frozen solid.

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Freezing Friday, scorching Sunday…just my luck!!

As I expected the temps rose perfectly Saturday night and loads of fish came out Sunday including a stunning 12lb plus to a Ribble regular I know, an absolute belter for this river, congratulations in order there. I must admit to feeling a bit jealous as I reviewed facebook on Sunday evening and seemingly everybody I know had filled their boots, but I am not bitter, one day my ship will come in!

As the saying goes, the fat lady has sung her January song and not a single Barbel crossed the threshold of my landing net. Even the Chub played hard to get and the few I managed from the Ribble were not exactly earth shaking specimens when you see the quality that the river is capable of.

The Dane threw a few fish my way and although of a decent stamp, they were hard won.  I read a lot of concerned posts recently regarding the current state of this wonderful river, alluding to issues of predation and pollution being the underlying root cause of the decline in the general health of the ecosystem which manifests itself in poor anglers returns. I read these with some sympathy but I have little idea of the root causes of the decline in fish stocks; I believe it is probably a combination of factors including the above plus some large building projects upstream and I wouldn’t discount agricultural run-off as a major factor.

Other than these concerns, my only other disappointed is that I missed that weather window of opportunity in the last week to snag a January Barbel, it was such an obvious set of conditions I’m sure even I would have caught one, I would have been there had the inconvenience of work and impending destitution not reared its ugly and rather threatening head.

Instead I console myself remembering the enjoyable laid-back Dane sessions with my fishing mates that, despite the scant fish returns, provided some amusing moments and much needed camaraderie.

My new reels are now loaded and my membership of ‘the other’ Ribble fishing club came through so plenty to look forward to next month. Hopefully work won’t get in the way of the important stuff!

Until next month, Tight Lines

Dave

 

 

 

 

December blog

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First of all I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my actual and digital friends all the best for 2018. I met lots of new people on the bank and at fish related events this year and it was great to put faces to names. Some of you mentioned my blog, some even said they enjoyed reading it!!! To those guys especially, I want to say your support and encouragement means a lot. I write this blog for fun but to know that somebody actually reads and enjoys it makes me feel very humble…Thank you!

Now, onto matters piscatorial. Normally December is the toughest and most inhospitable month of the river fishers calendar. Usually I would be making excuses for my poor performances during the month, with more blanks than a fertility clinic sample fridge! However, for a pleasant change this year the weather Gods have smiled and sent such varying conditions that in spells it was conducive to good fishing; so good at times even I fancied my chances of catching an elusive December winter Barbel. My only grumble is that despite having the whole of Christmas off work due to a fortuitous shut-down, I still only managed to get out three times; instead of fishing I just got fat and drunk while my wallet got considerably thinner!

03.12.17 Middle Dane

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I don’t visit the Dane nearly enough and the strange thing is I could never give you a valid reason why not. Its close to home, a beautiful, meandering intimate little river, full of character and a lovely variety of swims to try. Though chub are quite prolific in the 2-4lb bracket, I still believe a 5lb fish is an elusive but realistic target, though I haven’t yet managed to catch one myself (close at 4lb14oz but no cigar!). The barbel are a little bit thin on the ground and anything above 9lb is a rare beast indeed. Trout and Grayling have made good progress and other silvers seem to be making a bit of a come-back, despite severe predation.

For those not aware of the history of this Cheshire gem, it suffered a terrible pollution back in 2005, where slurry flowed into a tributary, the river Croco just below Middlewich, destroying most of the life for many miles downstream. Despite some stocking attempts in the interim it never seemed to achieve its former glory.

Above the affected areas, a decent river remained, but for unknown reasons the fishing even there was never quite as good in my opinion. The truth be told the glory days of the mid to late 90’s were long past when the pollution struck. The current Barbel river record of 14lb4oz was way back in 1994, and I don’t expect a fish of that magnitude to turn up in the foreseeable future.

Despite all the hard knocks this is still a river that can throw up a really satisfying session when its on form and lends itself to both trotting and ledgering. I prefer to ledger bread flake and cheesepaste and keep as mobile as I can, pre-baiting any likely looking spots with a compressed lump of liquidised bread, then re-tracing my steps fishing as many of the swims as possible. I find this throws up one or two fish from a swim before they spook, probably due to angling pressure and predation. Float anglers seem to have more success building a swim but the days of 50lb hauls from a single location seem to be in the past.

This is why I was quite surprised on this overcast, drizzly but very nippy short session, with the river carrying a foot of coloured water, to hook a nice 3lb chub first cast from a nearside slack under some overhanging trees, followed in fairly quick succession by 3 more in 5 casts. A couple of casts later a grayling and a 5th chub followed at 4lb on the nose. I was very pleased with 6 fish in little more than an hour, but I was eager to see if any of my other pre-baited swims would be as prolific, so I gathered my minimalist kit and yomped downstream to my next swim.

This was a steady run above an overgrown, tree strewn section that screamed chub. I was hoping to draw the fish from this area upstream to my bait, thereby avoiding the snags. Another bonus of the swim was that it had a slight deeper depression just a few feet from the nearside bank, but that required a very stealthy approach. This was duly accomplished and another tiny lump of bread was dropped in just upstream of where I intended to cast. A few minutes later I under-armed my rig into position and sat touch ledgering, feeling a good electrifying pluck immediately….a quick flick of the rod and game on! The result was the best fish of the day at 4lb2oz, photographed then released 30m upstream so as to minimise disturbance of the swim. This proved to be a good tactic as yet another 5 fish haul followed, mainly around the 3-4lb mark but excellent sport on dedicated chub gear.

I moved on and tried 2 more of my favourite swims and couldn’t buy a bite. I certainly wasn’t despondent as I slipped and slid my way back up the mudslide of a hill to the farm and the comfort of my warm car,  a great couple of hours for the cost of a loaf.

15.12.17 Middle Dane

This was a hiding to nothing; heavy snow had fallen last week and I miscalculated the speed of the thaw. Guagemap had a couple of feet of water on the Dane but it looked to be topping out and on the drop when the reading was published (4.30am). This was very misleading as another pulse of water came downriver and when I arrived around mid-day the Dane was over its banks in parts. This was undoubtedly snow-melt, the worst possible conditions for all species, a water temperature of 3C confirmed my fears, but I was already there so decided to give it a try. After walking the whole of the mile and a bit length I found a single swim that looked fishable, but even this was very turbulent and hardly filled me with optimism.

Just to be clear, it was the snow melt and its sudden rapid negative impact on the water temperature, not the actual level that put the spoilers on it for me; in the same conditions with warmer water I would be fairly confident of a barbel or chub from the same locations, but today, as expected, it was a thankless task, I totally blanked but I consoled myself that I had seen this fairly new section of the river in flood conditions, I had noted the fishable swims for another day, and had a bracing walk into the bargain.

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Hiding to nothing, a blank on the cards and my face tells the story 😦

 

Another bad example of predicting the conditions and reacting accordingly, I could have probably had more success on the local canal targeting perch had I been better informed.

22.12.17 Middle Ribble

Readers of this blog will note I often harp on about ‘windows of opportunity’ (usually because I’m angry I missed one through work commitments!). This time of year with rapidly varying conditions we need to keep and eye on the weather reports because even in the coldest spells a sudden storm of relatively warm rain will lift the water temperature noticeably. This could be as much as a few degrees overnight, and the dormant Barbel with metabolisms slowed to a crawl, will suddenly burst into life and be very, very, hungry. The feeding spell could be so short you might blink and miss it, so when conditions look right it pays to be on the bank with a bait in the water.

The snow from the previous week had gone fast as a warmer wet front moved in, the Ribble went bank high with snow melt then gradually fell over the next couple of days, to be followed by a few minor rises and falls as the heavy rain squalls came into the system, but the important factor is that this rain was a lot warmer so lifted the river temperature. All the Ribble regulars rubbed their hands together and threw the rods in the car.

Fortunately all this coincided with it being my day off (hurrah!) so I made my way to the Ribble post haste. I chose a length that has some decent high water swims because I wasn’t sure just how bad it would be, but I needn’t have worried it was a couple of feet up but perfectly fishable. Surprisingly there were only a couple of cars in the carpark so I tried a new swim that was moving at a reasonable pace, nice and steady, with a deeper food holding area just a couple of rod lengths out. I fished 2 rods as usual and settled for a long wait. Happily the debris in the water was manageable and I could leave the rods in place for 30 minutes without the rigs being pulled off line. At this point I took a water temperature and was disappointed to get a reading of between 5-6C, a bit lower than I expected, really I was hoping for 8C but any rise can signal a feeding spree so I was not too despondent.

I don’t know why but an hour in and some instinct told me to try a different swim, somewhere slower maybe. I always act on my gut feeling, so many times it has paid dividends, so I grabbed my gear and headed downstream to some slow deep water. There was another angler on my first choice swim catching silvers on the float; I took this to be a good sign that fish were feeding.

I found a decent bit of bank to set up, more than 50m downstream of the other chap and he had no objections. I hadn’t fished this particular spot so had a chuck out with a lead and found a good drop-off in depth, almost a shelf, just over 2/3 across; this seemed like a good line as the river is 50m wide here and although the debris wasn’t too bad the more line was out, the more weed would gather, so the far bank would be unwise.

I banged out the rods, upstream a small feeder with 4oz of lead, packed with oily ground pellet and hemp plus a tiny handful of mini halibut pellets; I was conscious of not overfeeding given the temperatures, but wanted to create a scent trail. The second rod was a 4oz straight lead with a small pva bag of crushed boilies and oily hemp (a glug of hemp oil stops the water in the hemp melting the pva bag) fished on the same line as the feeder rod, just over the drop off. I use marker elastic and clip up to ensure I stay on the same line, even into dark.

I had a long wait but I always felt like I had a chance, the conditions were right, just the temperature was a bit low. I kept plugging away with the feeder and began to vary the straight lead position, trying to drop the rig on a barbels nose.

Suddenly just before dark a rip-roaring run on the downstream rod signalled a fish. A small Barbel resulted, putting up quite a good scrap in the heavy flow. I was pleased to have bagged a December Barbel and was confident something else would turn up.

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As dark fell the Barbel came on the feed, 3 more fish topped by an 8lb14oz and the grand finale 9lb on the button.

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fish4 crop

fish3 crop

Obviously this was a good result but it was all dependant on having a bait in the right place when the temperatures were warm enough to trigger a feeding response. The new boilies I was trying proved their worth and all in all I was a happy lad despite having to leave prematurely for traffic reasons.

27.12.17 Upper Dane

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A nice easy few hours on the upper river with an old pal Matt Marlow and a few of his mates, something of a Christmas social. Unfortunately the conditions had deteriorated quite quickly from the previous session, snow had fallen on the hills and the temperatures had dropped. The river was carrying a foot of dirty brown water that felt cold enough to be snow melt, and I didn’t hold much hope out for a bumper catch. I donned every layer I had but it was bitter cold and a few flurries of snow did nothing to lift my pessimism.

On the plus side it was great to have a good old chin wag with Matt, he has been fishing forever and was once a fanatical and successful carp angler, before he saw the light and became completely obsessed with rivers and their denizens. He is a funny lad and very good company; we were soon having a good laugh but the fish were playing hard to get. I suggested a move and we tried another field upstream. We both fished the same pool which would normally be something of a flyer, but today it was a maelstrom of mucky water and leaves. However I could see an area of slacker water lay on the inside of the swim and that would be my best bet today. I threw in a golf ball of compressed liquidised bread just upstream of my chosen spot, hoping it would sink there or there abouts, then set up my usual rig of a micro feeder of liquidised bread, a piece of medium sliced bread folded round the hook shank; the pocket it created was filled with cheese paste. I pinched a BB shot a few inches from the hook to keep the bread down on the bottom but still allowing some movement to the bait. I waited a few minutes then dropped in on the edge of the flow, hoping my light weight rig would roll until it found the edge of the slack. I made sure I rammed the feeder tight as I could to ensure the payload wouldn’t start to eject before the rig had settled.

With the line over my finger I could look around and admire the beauty of this river environment, it really is a little piece of heaven. On my second cast I felt a sharp rap and like a rooky I struck, no doubt pulling the bait out of the mouth of whatever fish had mouthed the bait. I cursed myself and re-baited knowing bites were going to be at a premium today. With the rig repositioned I settled down and seconds later the unmistakable rapid tug of a fish and a quick strike met with the resistance of a fighting chub. It was over in a few seconds, the fish was under 3lb at a guess, ghostly pale, but by God it was welcome. A quick photo and it was returned to its turbulent home.

3lb xmas soc chub
A manky looking chub worth its weight in gold caught by Santa in camo gear!!

 

Nothing more came from the swim so I suggested a move. We both upped sticks and Matt settled in a swim with a nice looking slack created by the protruding bank, I kept going until I spotted a similar slack created by a combination of the bank and a change in flow direction. Second cast again the rapid knock of a fish, strike and the rod took on a healthy bend. Immediately I knew this was a better fish, it charged downstream toward a sunken branch. Side pressure with the rod low managed to turn it away; it then bored deep heading for some unseen sanctuary, I managed to lift its head and before it had chance to do much else I scooped it up. At 4lb8oz it was a very nice fish for the Dane, and would be easily recognised for a healed up stab wound across its shoulder. I would like to meet it again in autumn, I would imagine it might make the elusive 5lb target weight I have been pursuing for the last few seasons.

4lb8oz xmas soc chub

I called it quits at this point and packed up to go and have a chat with Matt’s mates, Dicky and Mike who had just turned up. There is more to fishing than just catching fish, sometimes talking about it is almost as good.

31.12.17 Mid Ribble

After some pleading with my Mrs, Yvonne,  I was granted permission for an afternoon on the Ribble. I had been studying the levels and had seen a pulse of water come through on the 30th; the air temperature had been 8 and 9C for a couple of days and I had convinced myself this was warm rain water coming through, and we all know what this means…Barbel time!!!

Capture

The river had held onto the pulse of water and was still a metre up but I was full of optimism until I took a water temperature of 4C! I thought my chances of a Barbel had gone at that point but I was still keen to fish; maybe a chub would save the day.

I put out a small feeder packed with ground pellet laced with some glug that matched some new boilies I have been trying out. The feed was bulked out with hemp soaked in hemp oil and a few finely crushed boilies, pretty standard winter fare so as to give a scent trail but little free feed other than the boilie hookbait.

Downstream I tried some cheesepaste wrapped round a hair-rigged cork ball, with a little pva bag of liquidised bread mixed with cheese paste as an attractor. An hour later I had lost faith with this and switched it to a half boilie wrapped in paste.

As often seems to be the case in winter the straight lead/ pva bag provided what action there was. A small chub under 3lb in the afternoon was encouraging, but unfortunately it was a solitary fish and didn’t bring its mates to the New Years Eve party.

31.12.17 chub
Small but welcome

 

However late afternoon the same rod did the Barbel dance and after a brief scrap a little splasher made my day!

31.12.17 barb

I was well chuffed in the circumstances, I took another temp before I left and measured 3.5C so it wasn’t exactly tropical! In fact the weather turned monsoon style and really intense rain pinned me down until 7pm, when a lull gave me the chance to make a bolt for home and a chance to see the New Year in with Yvonne.

So the year comes to a close, I won’t bother with my ‘greatest achievements’ of 2017 but they are all recorded in my monthly blogs; if you have a spare moment I would love you to take a look.

Have a great 2018, may all your lines be tight!

Dave

November blog; much ado about nothing!

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Moonrise on the upper Trent

I bumped into a couple of Ribble regulars at a fund-raiser last night and they mentioned they like my blog because I still write about my sessions even when I’m having a stinker….well they should enjoy this months because November was pretty grim!!!

A month of limited opportunities to fish and poor returns, due almost certainly to my Barbel obsession blinding me to the realities of the prevailing conditions. Ironically last season was one of my best winters ever for Barbel; I improved my catches quite dramatically from previous years by taking a more logical and pragmatic approach to cold weather fishing, letting the water temperature trend dictate my target species and tactics. Somehow I seem to have forgotten my own advice! I started to write a blog about exactly this subject but didn’t finish it, I will dig it out when I get a chance.

November is often a time of transition for the river angler. The harsher winter weather has got a good foothold now and the water temperatures have plummeted. Barbel start to become a more difficult proposition as their metabolism (and hence their feeding spells) slow in line with the fall of the thermometer, making pursuit a sometimes thankless task.

However, all is not lost. An able substitute is coming into its prime; sometimes bold as brass, others as elusive as morning mist, but always a good possibility in any conditions, the charismatic Chub quickly become my target species when the conditions are not conducive to the Barbel. They provide an interesting change of tactics and location, and I find myself becoming just as obsessed in pursuit of them as I am with that of the prince of the river.

05.11.17 Upper Trent

 

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Quite a strange overnight session targeting barbel, starting with a promisingly clear sunny afternoon, night came early lit by a massive full moon, shining like the sun in a crystal clear star dotted sky. It was too good to last however, ruined by a never ending biblical deluge that didn’t stop until dawn, turning my swim into a bog, most of which somehow got inside my bivvy and sleeping bag. I didn’t like it much and neither did the Barbel who conspired to thwart me yet again! However the chub did and I had a long disrupted night landing 12 of the buggers with the majority not very impressive and under 3lb, just one decent fish of 4lb! I take little pleasure catching chub when I am targeting Barbel and I was an exhausted and broken man by dawn!

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Biggest of the night at just 4lb, a tiddler for the Trent
10.11.17 River Dane

A very brief window of opportunity opened and I was out of it quicker than a greased weasel! I could only go local so I flew down to the Dane for a couple of hours late afternoon. Now this was the type of chub fishing I like!

The river was up a few inches and had a bit of colour, and armed with my chub rod and some liquidised bread with a few slices of Warburtons and my ever reliable cheese paste for bait, I was a free spirit.

My chub kit for small rivers is pretty straight forward, a reasonably priced drennan series 7 avon rod with the 2oz glass quiver tip fitted, compensation for horrible basic fittings is a lovely through action perfect for chub fishing. This is paired with a Shimano 3000 twin power reel filled with either 4lb sensor or 5lb series 7 mono. Now this is a bit of quality and has the sweetest clutch of any reel I own, an absolute boon for cushioning chub lunges on light tackle.

My end rig couldn’t be simpler, just a 4-6″ paternoster of 8lb mono to provide a stiff boom and prevent tangles, onto which I attach a tiny clip swivel for a home-made mini cage feeder, split shot or even a lump of plastercine.  This is secured to the mainline by a drennan float stop for adjustablilty and ease. Tied direct to the mainline is a size 8 barbless animal hook, big enough to hold a good chunk of bread or lump of cheesepaste. The hook is concealed inside the bait so the quite large size isn’t an issue. I usually nip a shot on the line when bread fishing to make sure it gets down to the bottom, but leave it far enough from the hookbait to allow a good flutter in the current.

I prefer barbless because of the likelihood of hooking a Grayling, they are very fragile and sometimes, despite touch ledgering and striking like lightening, they manage to bolt down the bait and get hooked deeply. I like to get them back as quickly as possible and a barbless speeds up the unhooking process. Provided fish are played on a tight line losses are not significantly worse than using barbed.

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Simple, adjustable and cheap

 

Its lovely to throw off the clutter of my overweight barbel kit for a single avon rod and a handful of tackle and I’m far more mobile; in fact the way the Dane fishes these days its almost essential to fish multiple swims to make the most of it. For whatever reason the Chub don’t seem to gather in shoals like they used to and its difficult to build a swim and catch multiple fish no matter how quiet your approach may be. Despite this a good days fishing can still be had, its just a case of adapting to the circumstances and snatch a couple of fish from here and there.

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Trying to blend in!

The water temp was surprisingly cold and I had a slow start, the first couple of swims proved fruitless, which made me fear the worst, but eventually I found a few fish in a deep glide and had a couple before it went quiet, and I took that as a prompt to try the far end of the stretch. This type of fishing doesn’t work if the river is busy but fortunately I had it all to myself.

 

Another 2 small chub obliged in a nearside undercut opposite a willow on the far bank, I couldn’t get a touch in the obvious area under the tree, but when I cast short and my rig rolled down the side, the rod was almost wrenched from my grasp. It was quite satisfying to get some fish from a less obvious feature and just reminded me to try undercut banks more often.

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Typical small Dane chub, I caught bigger that evening but none as pretty! Great sport.

As it was almost dark now I settled into my final swim down a treacherously steep bank. I made the descent with some difficulty and had a nagging worry that I might not get out so easily! This swim looked so ‘barbelly’ I just had to have a go for one. I quickly set up my stalking rod and quietly lowered my pellet rig close to the upstream snag. I always touch ledger for chub and it works just as well for Barbel; I sat with adrenaline coursing, the line looped over my finger waiting for the electric shock of the pluck or wrench.

 

I really fancied my chances of a Berty but ironically it was Chub all the way, despite the 10lb braid hooklength and size 10’s hook. Funny, they were playing hard to get on the finer gear I was using earlier. Maybe it was the pellets they liked but I had 4 fish in an hour, all I estimated between 3 and 4lb, and each one did its best to turn my carefully nursed barbel swim into a Jacuzzi. So precarious was my fishing position I passed on weighing and photographing any of them on the grounds of safety, so you will just have to take my word for it!

By now it was non stop lagging down and the banks were becoming a mud bath. I decided to call it quits and packed up, but my fears of a difficult ascent to safety were well founded, and I had to resort to the old ‘double bankstick’ ice axes to crawl my way to the top of the bank, coating myself liberally in mud and, as I later realised, cow dung that I unfortunately crawled through in the dark…Hey, shit happens!!! Despite this I was satisfied with a return of 7 chub from a short session.

24.11.17 Mid Ribble

Sunday, Monday and Tuesday this week we had torrential rain, but more crucially the air temperatures were 15C. This was very promising, bringing a pulse of relatively warm water into the rivers that might spark the lethargic Barbel into a feeding spell. The bad news was that there was a huge drop in temperature Wednesday and Thursday but I still headed out on Friday with high hopes.

The Ribble had been 3m+ in the early hours of Thursday but I knew it well enough to expect it would be right back down by the time I got there. It was still carrying a few feet of nicely coloured water, but it was perfectly fishable. I chose a reliable high water swim with a decent slack on the nearside and a pronounced crease line that looked quite promising. Unfortunately my hopes were dashed on first view of the thermometer which read a frigid 5C, I knew a rapid temperature drop had occurred since Monday/Tuesday and the chances of a November Barbel were all but dashed. However my ‘Barbel blindness’ prevailed and I still went for it with a small feeder cast on the crease-line, filled with a winter mix of ground pellet and hemp so as to provide a flavour trail but not to overfeed any potential fish. The second rod was a straight lead with boilie and a pva bag of oily hemp to stop it melting too quickly, mixed with bit of finely broken boilie and cast downstream in the slack water.

The weather was lovely in the afternoon; the sun did its best and I was lulled into a false sense of security. I was day dreaming in my chair when I noticed a slight tap on the downstream rod followed by a good old tear off. Grabbing the rod a decent scrap ensued; I thought it was a really good chub until getting it close to the bank the mystery fish flew straight out of the water and revealed itself as a lump of a Brown trout (or maybe a sea trout?). I’m not a trout man and I was surprised to see a full set of teeth on this one, obviously it was a fish eater. It was unhooked and returned for a lucky fluff chucker to have a crack at another day.

trout crop

 

After that things took a downturn, the weather turned evil, a crazy intense hailstone storm followed by a massive cold snap with temps down to 4C and continuous heavy rain, I stuck it out 2 hours into dark but at the first lull in the rain I dashed back to the car and headed for home, vowing next time to think more carefully about the conditions before committing to trying for a Barbel.

So that was that, a combination of football and early works Christmas parties put paid to any more trips in November. I didn’t manage a barbel and so that’s my ‘barbel each month’ annual resolution blown out of the water. Hopefully I can get out more often in December but I will definitely be more choosy about my target fish if it gets as cold as expected. I will dig out the article on cold water fishing, have a read and remind myself what I did differently last year!

Tight lines

Dave

October blog

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Dark and moody, overcast and windy, putting an end to the last vestiges of Summer; that is the month of October….and I love it!!! Why? Because its the best barbeling month of the year (probably!)

It could never be described as an easy month, the rain and wind bring their own issues for the river man in the shape of high water, leaves and uprooted weed building up in giant clumps on your line, plus the obvious discomfort of getting soaked and chilled to the bone, but for me these negatives are totally outweighed by the opportunity to catch Barbel at their fattest and fittest as they bulk up for the hardships of winter. Usually the rivers are up and coloured, but with water temperatures still in the anglers favour, hopefully spurring the big girls to get on the munch.

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Feeling hopeful!
06.10.17 Upper Trent

After last months relative successes on my chosen club stretch of the upper Trent I felt I had to return and have another go just to prove it wasn’t a fluke. I had chosen all my swims previously because they had attributes that made them suitable for the high water conditions I faced all through September, and I believed those features would hold resident fish or at least create a patrol route that would be visited by a barbel at some time during the session. At the start of the week the water levels were down to just a few inches above normal level so I was looking forward to trying somewhere new and interesting, maybe a nice glide or a shallower section I had earmarked on previous visits. However, my plans were put in doubt as some substantial rain fell in my area mid-week, and my mate from Stoke confirmed it was hoofing down around there, so I wasn’t sure what I would find on arrival.

As it turned out a fair bit of water had indeed got into the river, it was about 1.0m up and a lovely clay brown colour that filled me full of optimism, but I was now faced with the choice of either fishing one of the same swims as last month where I knew I could hold bottom and wouldn’t have to worry about water-borne debris so much, or risking somewhere new where I might get washed out by the rising river.

I chose the boring option of familiarity and set up exactly the same as usual in one of the slacker swims I had fished previously. Unadventurous it may have been, but I have learnt the hard way from fishing the spatey Ribble that choosing the wrong swim when the river is on the rise is time consuming and frustrating, and invariably ends in a forced move…far better to make the right choice to start with, based on the predictive tools we have at our disposal these days, plus a bit of guess work.

It was a quiet evening and night, the leaves and weed weren’t much of a problem and my 4oz leads never budged due to the slack nearside water and back leads keeping the line pinned to the bottom and out of the way of the weed and leaves in the water column. It was a nice mild evening and I enjoyed the relaxation of the countryside, watching the Kingfishers and Herons working the far bank.

It was a bit of a shock when the upstream rod went off like a rocket; it would have been the much beloved ‘3 foot twitch’ except the rod was pointing almost in line with the direction the fish was heading due to the constrictions of the swim, and I was alerted in no uncertain terms by the scream of the baitrunner ratchet. As soon as I picked it up I knew it was good fish; the slow forceful plod, non of the erratic tail pumping of the smaller barbel, just pure power and the odd lunge and heart-stopping ping on the line as the fish turned. The fight got serious under the rod tip as the fish looked for sanctuary under the upstream willow, but I managed to turn her and soon the battle was won. I knew she was a double but I underestimated her weight by a pound. At 12lb6oz my seasons best and 2nd equal biggest I have ever had….I was buzzing.

12lb06oz Cuttle Brook 06.10.17
12lb6oz with a tail to kick ass! Many thanks to Joel Virgo and others (On the Banksy facebook page) for helping improve my picture https://www.facebook.com/groups/1251110481672282/

No further action was had after this, other than a few small bream and chub that launched themselves inconsiderately onto the hook, but the session was a roaring success as far as I was concerned because of that one beautiful fish.

13.10.17 Upper Trent

I just had to go back and have another go…I was flushed with confidence, but that usually proves to be my downfall and true to form that bloody river confounded me yet again. It was a fair bit lower than last week, most of the colour had gone. I had definitely made my mind up to try a different area, but wouldn’t you know it, contrary to normal there were several lads on when I arrived and every swim I had earmarked was occupied! So guess what, I ended back on the same swim as last week!

Suffice to say, despite my best efforts I didn’t even manage a Bream or a Chub, and in the morning sat shivering on my damp chair as the morning sun defrosted me, I pondered the fine line between a triumph and an absolute stinker, consoling myself with the thought ‘you cant have the former without going through a few of the later’.

The only positive of the session was finding a new café, the ‘Nose Bag’ in Hatton that was a bit cheaper and a bit better than my usual haunt (in my humble opinion) so at least I had a nice full tummy for the long drive home, stuck behind the series of pensioner piloted Micra’s and poo splattering tractors that frequent the 70 mile route.

20.10.17 Mid Ribble

I had become a bit obsessed with the upper Trent, so decided to buck the trend and head for the Ribble for an afternoon session, promising my better half I would head for home just after dark. After a quick look at Guagemap (4am reading) which showed the river topping out at 1.6m high, I predicted a hard drop in level typical of the Ribble, and expected it to be almost back to normal by the time I arrived around lunchtime. It just goes to show the limitations of only having two read-outs per 24hours as another pulse of water followed after 4am and the level was higher than anticipated, around 1.8m. However there are plenty of suitable swims to be had that can be fished in these conditions.

To be honest this wasn’t anything too exciting for hardy Ribble anglers who often see 3 or 4m of raging water and still manage to catch a few fish, but swim choice becomes reduced. I am looking for nearside slacks or smooth laminar flow and these are in short supply in a Ribble flood. This isn’t always a bad thing of course as the fish will concentrate in these calmer areas, and a good session can be had if you know where to look.

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The Ribble with a drop of water in her a couple of years ago!!!!

To cut a long story short I fished a swim that in normal conditions is a slow moving pool, but as the river rises it provides a nice slack on the inside and a lovely crease as the main flow rushes along mid river. I took the water temperature for the first time this winter and the reading of 12C gave me confidence something would come along eventually.

I chose a feeder approach to be sure some bait was always going to be around my hookbait, and as the flow wasn’t too great because of the slack I hoped to build a patch of feed as the day progressed. The second rod was straight lead, boilie wrapped in plenty of paste, with a PVA bag of broken boilies and a few pellets soaked in glug. This was cast to various likely spots around the slack pool downstream but in the event it was the upstream feeder rod that produced, just 3 small barbel and a couple of chub, all around dusk.

Oddly the expected fall in level did occur in the evening and I estimated an 18″ drop in a couple of hours but this really messed the swim up, the nearside slack became very turbulent and it was only as dark fell that the swim settled somewhat, and that coincided with the fish getting over the feed. Not the most productive session but the Ribble hasn’t been as kind to me this season compared to last. Fellow anglers have also reported a downturn in sport but nobody is sure why.

One concern I did have was the large amount of foam evident; this used to indicate detergent in the water in the bad old days of the 70-80’s when the rivers were far more polluted than now. I just hope it is a natural phenomena and not unwelcome run-off entering the system. I had a couple of photos of the changing face of the swim as the levels dropped which also illustrated the foam build up but I can’t publish them for fear of falling foul of the ‘Ribble barbel police’ and ‘fishing fight club’ as they give the swim away, very frustrating but I don’t want to upset anybody.

27.10.17 Upper Trent

Back on the Trent, this time I was determined to try a different type of swim outside my usual area. the river was carrying around 0.4m so not as much as recent trips, and this offered the option to fish some of the faster moving glides.

I chose just such a swim, a nice 2m deep glide below a shallower section, and fished a feeder in the main flow line only 20m from my bank, plus a straight lead, paste wrapped boilie and pva bag further downstream.

I have made my own pastes for quite a few years now, just a basic home made boilie base mix, with added fish meals, crushed hemp, oils and flavours tailored to match whatever boilie I am fishing. This is much cheaper than off the shelf pastes that are sold by the boilie companies in little pots, I just add an egg to bind for a longer lasting paste. Even better, you know exactly what’s going in it and can flavour to suit the conditions and mix it to break down at the desired rate. I wouldn’t bother making my own boilies however, its hard work and there are plenty of good ones around, I don’t have the time to be honest, but a big ball off paste can be knocked out in 10 minutes and frozen for future trips.

I had some company in the shape of my mate Kris who has been through some bad times recently. He rang me to say on top of all this his car had broken down on the way to the river. To be honest I didnt expect to see him, but good on him for borrowing his mates van and turning up that evening…top lad (and he brought his brewing kit for much needed cuppa’s!).

As usual I set up for the night here to make it worth the long trip. There seems to be very little action during daylight anyway. Just at dusk I hooked a nice chub, I didn’t weigh it as it was a bit of a miss-match on the heavy barbell set up, but I estimated around 4-5lb so a decent fish and worth pursuing in the frosty winter months on appropriate gear.

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An hour later a hell of a wrap around bite resulted in a great scrap with a nicely conditioned Barbel of 8lb9oz. With the extra flow in this swim the fish could use it to its advantage and really put the tackle through its paces. I was relieved to get it in the net to be honest as I recalled the disappointing blank last time I was here.

The bright sunshine and clear skies of the day were followed by severely plummeting temperatures, not the best recipe for a Barbel session. Never the less I was here for the night so I kept busy and re-cast the rods regularly, at least before the floating weed built up on the lines and forced the issue. I could keep the rigs in place for an hour without too much difficulty so I was happy to keep the upstream feeder rod active and leave the straight lead rod in position as long as possible.

8lb9oz Cuttle 27.10.17
8lb9oz and very welcome!

In the early hours another screaming run on the feeder rod had me scrambling for dear life. Again I knew the moment I picked up the rod this was a good fish, it bull-dozed around and like the earlier specimen it used the flow to its advantage, taking me for a run around a couple of times. I was as confident as I could be that there were no snags in the swim; I had leaded around before I started fishing to give me some idea of the depth and composition of the river bed. Thankfully this proved to be the case, just some nearside streamer weed to avoid and after what seemed like an age the fish finally rolled over the lip of my landing net. After a good rest in the net while I calmed myself down and set up my camera & scales, I finally lifted her out and knew another double was on the cards. She weighed in at 12lb8oz and just pipped the fish from earlier in the month, and goes in the diary as my second biggest Barbel ever. To say I was pleased would be an understatement!!

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12lb8oz of pure muscle

The pictures were, as usual, a mixed bag,  I have been getting some poor results recently with my self-take night shots but I can’t afford a new camera. I have made a little diffuser guard to fit over the flash to try to reduce over exposure of the fish and at least that seemed to help a bit. As for the framing and my bizzare facial expressions…well I will just have to keep working on them!!!

12lb8oz cuttle 28.10.17
Same fish, at least I can crack a smile, pity I cut such a magnificent tail off!!!

 

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Home made flash diffuser made from plastic milk bottle (thanks for the tip Dave Mez)

The temperatures have started to fall fast as we enter November; I had to scrape the ice from the car window for the first time this winter. I also dusted off the chub rod yesterday and checked the freezer for left over cheese paste from last season. When one door closes another one opens!!

08.12.17 Heald Green Social Club ABG fund raiser

For any North West angler looking for something to do on a rainy mid-week evening you could do far worse than get to Heald Green on December 4th 8pm for Jerry Gleeson and Matt Marlows fund raiser for the Army Benevolent Fund. Gary Knowles is the guest speaker and I can vouch for the quality of his fishing presentations. Expect some barracking from the floor and witty comebacks. Its only £3 entry and all money raised is for a worthy cause. There is usually a bait stand and a good raffle as well. I will see you all there…mines a bitter!

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1973245402943668&id=100007746820544

Tight lines

Dave