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!!

12lb8oz cuttle 28.10.17_pic2
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

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September blog

 

 

2lb6oz Roach Oz 29.09.17
2lb6oz of Ribble Silver!

 

September heralds a real change in the seasons as Autumn kicks in. All barbel anglers, including myself,  love this time of year as damp, mild weather arrives, coinciding with the Barbel fattening themselves up for the rigours of the winter ahead. Hungry fish should be easier to catch…in theory!

Currently the water temperatures are still at summer heights, but over the coming months they will start to fall and a wise angler will be keeping a close eye on temperature trends, as it will have a massive impact on his or her chances, but for now its mainly about water levels and water clarity triggering the fish to feed.

08.09.16 Upper Trent

If you are one of the few people to have read last months blog (thank you!!) you will know this season I decided to have a pop at the upper Trent, and to concentrate on a single stretch to try to get to grips with it, and that so far I have failed miserably to land a decent barbel. However my determination is undiminished, so once again I drove the 80 miles, with a lot uncertainty in my mind. Despite my best efforts I have failed to find an effective method of catching the resident Barbel but have seen several fantastic fish caught by anglers while I sat just feet away!

I had checked the levels on Guagemap (http://www.gaugemap.co.uk) before I set off so knew the river was carrying a fair amount of extra water, and I had a particular swim in mind. Fortunately I was the only angler on so was happy to set up camp there.

Given the distance travelled, I have started doing overnighters and this stretch is ideal as it allows good car access,  basically fishing out of the boot. This is definitely a ‘Trent thing’, I cant think of a single stretch of the Ribble that has banks accessible to vehicles, and to be honest I quite like it that way. To carry all your gear on your back to the distant swims needs commitment and almost a ‘who dares wins’ attitude. Every fish feels hard won and somehow more valuable for it. That’s not to belittle Trent fish; despite what the social media would have you believe they still take some catching, especially the upper reaches which can be ball breakingly tough going.

The swim looked good with the extra water but it had lost any of the colour it might have had, so I was still uncertain of my chances. Initially some heavy rain came through during the day but as the evening approached the sun came out and it was very pleasant sat watching the motionless rod tops with a couple of pies and a flask by my side.

I fished 2 rods, both with 12lb mainline, straight leads, pva bags, Krill and Source and boilies wrapped in paste. I set my rods as low as possible here, the water is fairly slack and around 10-12ft deep and I am only fishing 5 metres from the bank, so having the rods high achieves nothing and leaves the main line cutting through the water at a such a steep angle that any self respecting barbel must be wary of the rig.

It was past midnight and I was about to retire to my bed when my downstream rod screamed off. I was on it as fast as a fat middle aged man is able, and a mighty battle ensued. Despite gearing up for the larger residents of the stretch I was amazed by the power of the fish and feared the 12lb striptease hooklength and size 8 korda widegape might not be up to the forces I was applying to stop the fish getting to far downstream as I was uncertain if the willows there harboured any snags. I shouldn’t have worried, no snags were found and the rig was more than up to the task; soon the fish was nestled in the net. In the beam of the headtorch I thought it looked around a double, a nice fit long fish but not as thickset as the ones my mate Kris caught the previous trip. I was pleased to read 10lb1oz on the scales after subtracting the net, my duck was broken and I was a very happy angler.

10lb14oz Cuttle 08.09.17

After resting the fish swam away strongly; I sat out under the stars and gathered my thoughts, the over-riding feeling was one of relief at finally landing a decent Barbel from the stretch, however I couldn’t help but dwell on the knowledge that there are some super specimens here that would dwarf the one I had just released.

I guess I must have nodded off in my chair because I was woken with a shock in the early hours by a screaming Delkim, fortunately this fish went straight for the far bank, it was a frantic fight but it was relatively straight forward to stop it and play it out in open water in front of me. As soon as it hit the net I could see it had wider shoulders than the first fish and it made a difference at the scales coming in at 10lb14oz. Again, it wasn’t going to break records but I was absolutely made up with it, and wasn’t even disappointed when the rest of the night passed without incident.

10lb1oz Cuttle 08.09.17

Even though I find these overnight sessions hard work physically and mentally I believe they are the best way to maximise the chances on this relatively tough water, and to make the most of the cost and time spent getting to more distant venues. My overnight kit is pretty basic with no frills, so I could probably make it a lot more comfortable with some judicial investment, but I don’t intend to make it a regular thing. What I do know is the full English in the Salt Box Cafe tasted so much better the next morning with a couple of good fish under my belt.

15.09.17 Upper Trent

I just couldn’t resist having another try after last week. I watched the river level rise all week and knew where I wanted to be. I turned up at lunch and was pleased to find my first choice swim vacant so got set up without further ado.

I fished exactly the same as last week, the only difference was the feeling of confidence I had knowing the method had worked before.

Well, it was a long night to be honest, I sat on my rickety old chair under a brolley in persistent rain until the early hours with not a twitch to break the monotony. Eventually I was beaten by fatigue and retired to my bivvie, intending just to lie down and rest my eyes. I know this may be controversial but I confess I left my rods on the Delkims, primed and in position. I was in a relatively snag free swim, both rigs were equipped to deal with big fish and were situated over a boulder free gravel bottom. I fish from an open fronted bivvie and believed I could be on the rods as quickly as I could from my chair.

At 5am I got the chance to prove the theory as I got a scream on the upstream rod and leapt from my bed barefoot in a flash, any thoughts of footware lost in the panic, and I have to say I moved like Hussain Bolt ( a larger, beardy version anyway!). I had the rod in its fighting curve before the fish had moved more than a couple of feet and after a short but frantic scrap it was in the net. The scales read 10lb1oz, same as last week but it was a different fish, easily identifiable by a dent near its anal fin.

10lb1oz Cuttle 15.09.17

The lady serving at the Salt Box the next morning must have thought I was ‘care in the community’ as I stood before her in my dishevelled state grinning from ear to ear, but that’s what catching a good fish does to me! God help her if I bag a 14!!

22.09.17 Mid Ribble

I might as well start by saying straight from the off I blanked today. Not just for Barbel but for everything, not so much as a tap all day and half the night.

The levels were down and the river was pretty clear, not the best to be honest. I decided to venture downstream of my usual area to try a new swim I had my eye on from a previous recce. I often take a walk when the going is slow and I think it is time well spent when you can identify interesting features, especially when the river is low and reveals her secrets.

This swim just looked interesting, a far bank run dissolved into a pool that looked deep, but until I chucked a lead around I didn’t realise just how deep. I estimated 15-18ft with a sandy bottom. Despite working hard I failed to entice the slightest interest, but I believe it holds promise and made a mental note to try again here when there is more water in the river.

29.09.17 Mid Ribble

After last weeks disappointment I headed for more familiar water, but once there I again decided to forgoe my usual swims and try somewhere new. The river was dropping from a sharp rise the day before and still a foot up, but some serious rain had fallen in the night and on the journey up the motorway so I suspected she would be on the rise again.

Sunset Oz 29.09.17
When the weather can’t make its mind up!!!

 

The Ribble is a fast reacting spate river and because the ground is now saturated, rainfall moves very quickly into the system. Rises can be quite astonishing and definitely affect my swim choices. No point casting to the far bank when there is likely to be a 2m rise in the next couple of hours that turns the river to leaf soup and drags your rig to the near bank! I always try to do my research, find swims that will be good in a flood and be prepared to move to them if the levels change.

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Hard to believe it was absolutely hammering down just 15 minutes later!!!

 

In this case I chose a slow deep section that would be easier to fish if the river rose, but even here it was difficult due to the number of leaves already in the water column. I was forced to fish mid river rather than across as I would have preferred. On the day I suffered epic monsoon rain storms followed by hot sunny ‘T shirt’ spells, typical of September and even though the river only rose a few inches the leaves were a menace and I think I probably made the right choice.

I was fishing for barbel and geared up accordingly, so I was quite surprised when the rod indicated a tentative bite on a 16mm krill boilie which turned out to be a 14oz roach. This area is renowned for its roach but I didn’t expect them on such heavy gear, nor did I think they could fit a 16mm boilie in their compact mouths, but I live and learn.

The surprises continued as I managed to land another similar sized fish, followed by the biggest roach I have ever caught from a river weighing in at 2lb6oz (see headline photo)and another around 1lb12oz!

The Ribble is one of the few places that has a head of ‘Roach/Chub’ hybrids, know locally as ‘Choach’ but the larger fish certainly looked like a proper Roach. It was witnessed by a passing angler who was seemed very impressed, but I have to say it was not very sporting on the gear I was using. However once again it shows the potential sport this cracking river could offer the float angler; I could see a winter trotting session on the cards!

 

Roach from Oz 29.09.17
Pure roach??

 

Late afternoon I finally managed a Barbel of around 4lb and I was grateful for it. Sadly it was the only one despite sticking it out until 10pm. Things don’t seem as easy as last season on the Ribble but there are still some very good fish coming out, just not for me at the moment.

5lb Oz 29.09.17
A welcome splasher

 

So that was my lot for September, the triumph of catching a few nice fish on a challenging new venue balanced out by a blank session. I’m looking forward to October, this time last year I had some cracking fishing and I am hoping for a repeat. To everybody who gets out this usually productive month, good luck and Tight Lines!

Dave

 

August blog

Madgel bank 04.08.17

When I started this blog I vowed to make my reports as honest as possible, but the last couple of months have made pretty dismal reading, such has been the dearth of my target species, the mighty Barbel. However I am going to stick to my guns even if it pains me to recount fruitless frustrating hours sat watching motionless rod tops, I just hope it is not to boring for anybody who cares to read it, warts and all.

To be honest, after a relatively disappointing July with few Barbel to speak of, I entered August with confidence quite low. After some introspection I resolved not to change what I was doing too drastically; my methods and bait have proven to be effective for many years. However, things weren’t going well so something had to be done. I am always looking for new edges so I made one or two tweaks to my rigs, plus a small change in work ethic, namely to get mobile and try to cover more swims. This was to address the obvious lack of dispersal of the Barbel; many of my fellow anglers were reporting good catches from one swim while nothing was being caught on the rest of the section, usually an early season phenomena post spawning where fish stay around the spawning grounds but this year it is still very much in evidence and we are not far from Autumn!

During mid-August I had the opportunity to have a few days holiday on the middle Severn, one of my favourite rivers and normally very productive for Barbel. If I couldn’t catch there in August with mild conditions and some rainfall forecast, things really would be desperate. This would be sandwiched in between trips to the Ribble and upper Trent so plenty of opportunity to end the relative Barbel famine (if only!).

04.08.17 Mid Ribble

A bright and breezy day, not the best Barbel weather but lovely to be wandering with a fishing rod in the beautiful Ribble valley. Only a few anglers were out on this popular club stretch, quite surprising considering the river was fining down after a fair amount of rain fell during the week and was still carrying a hint of lovely peaty colour. Clarity, or lack of it is, in my opinion, the number one factor in dictating the success or failure of Ribble barbel fishing, closely followed by water temperature.

I was lucky enough to get on a fancied swim but decided to take a softly softly approach as far as feed goes. I fished a medium feeder rig two thirds across to the edge of the main flow line. Any further across is asking for trouble as the river bed is littered with big stones, a tackle graveyard.

As mentioned in the intro I had made some adjustments to my rig to try to improve bait presentation by tying a very fine braid hair and supergluing a couple of the smallest hinders pellets to it, a tiny bait presented as carefully as I could manage while still having the strength in the rig to handle a hard fighting double (I wish!). My commitment to be more mobile vanished and I ended up staying put the whole day apart from a quick recce in the afternoon.

I have great faith in pellets on the Ribble, but I am careful of the quantities I give as freebies, preferring to give the fish more hemp than pellet and increasing the amount of flavoured groundbait, in an attempt to provide a scent trail but not too much free feed. This becomes more crucial as the water temperatures drop in winter, where a couple of pellets will fill a fish for days as their metabolism slows. However, the plan sort of backfired when my tiny bait attracted a tiny Barbel, though I was quite pleased to see a new year class coming through, always a good sign of a healthy Barbel population. It’s of great concern to see rivers producing exclusively large specimen Barbel without a mix of smaller ones showing up, such as seems to be the case currently with the river Dove. I fear there is a problem building for the future of this wonderful river if recruitment of new year groups is failing, but that’s a serious topic for another day.

baby barbel Madgel bank 04.08.17
Perfection in miniature and a great sign of a stable Barbel population

 

The day passed with little to report other than constant action from eels. Now this is interesting, my second rod fishing worm down the deep channel just down my near side was in constant action with them ranging from a few ounces to a couple of pounds. I’m not a fan, but again it shows a healthy balance of species, and of course eels are Otters favourite food, so maybe less of my target species will fall prey to them. It’s strange considering eels have been practically absent from the Ribble for the last few years, very much in line with the national statistics where the population has crashed dramatically.

Later, just as dark descended my feeder rod went off and after a brief but lively tussle I landed a Barbel of around 4lb. Never has a splasher been more welcome, understandable after my recent lack of success. I stuck it out till 11pm then called it quits. Other anglers passing reported it being a hard day all round, so I wasn’t too despondent on the 40 mile drive home.

4lb Madgel bank 04.08.17
Only a splasher but so welcome!

 

07.08.17 Mid Severn club water

Day 1 of a four day Severn break based in one of my favourite fishing towns, Bridgnorth. After a breakfast departure it was lunch time before I reached my destination, a club water downstream of Shrewsbury which has been kind to me in the past.

I had no problem getting a favourite swim where I always do well with my secret recipe flavoured luncheon meat fished half way across in the main flow. However I had made the batch up and frozen it to absorb the flavour a couple of days earlier using an old tin I found in my bait store. I guess it must have been many years old because it had basically turned to jelly. I only found out as it thawed and became impossible to keep on the rig, despite using the ‘ladies legs’ hair rig method that is usually fantastic for keeping meat on the hair for long casts. I think it was so soft that the impact with the water after a 40m cast was destroying the cubes; in desperation I tried wrapping it in pva net and using straw under the wire to spread the force, all to no avail. All very frustrating as the first 2 chunks were still partly frozen and stayed on well, and resulted in 2 cracking 3 foot twitches from a 6lb and a 7lb12oz Barbel. After that I had no idea if my bait was still on after casting but had no more fish. Lesson learnt, use fresh meat!

I stayed till dusk and only just made the last hour in my favourite Bridgnorth pub, the Bell and Talbot and barely managed to squeeze a few down before last orders. The Black Country beer is just so good, I even contemplated missing out on food to have a last pint, but in the end a sprint to the kebab shop saved the day.

7lb Cressage 07.08.178lb Cressage 07.08.17

08.08.17 Severn Stoke- Lower Severn

This felt like a pilgrimage for me to fish this famous length of Birmingham anglers controlled water. I have never made it to the lower until last season’s excellent weekend on Pixham with the Barbel Society, mainly due to the distraction of the middle reaches of the river being so good I never really had the urge to pass Bewdley.

Severn Stoke sunset 08.08.17

There is something about the lower Severn, slow, deep and home to larger Barbel in general than the middle, and much larger boats than I had ever encountered in my river fishing experience. Severn Stoke is a very beautiful stretch of water and obviously popular with the boat trippers.

I had some local advice from Lawrence Breakspeare and James Benfield, both extremely successful Barbel anglers on the lower river, but they warned me it might be difficult as the river had been out of sorts, and so it proved. Features don’t jump out at you down on the lower, very few visible indicators can be seen on the surface but I knew I was in the right area so I stuck it out till dark. Sadly, only bream obliged, big ones granted but not my target species, so I went home to my B&B with my tail between my legs, vowing to return in the Autumn.

09.08.17 Knowle Sands- Mid Seven

This Birmingham anglers stretch is one of my favourites. Located just a stone’s throw from Bridgnorth and down a massive hill to the river; obviously that means an equally massive climb back up at the end of the day. The positive thing is it puts a few off so I can usually get one of my chosen swims here. Unfortunately it is also prone to being fished by some real low-life’s judging from the amount of litter I usually have to collect before I fish; why people come to the beauty of the Severn and feel they have the right to leave their detritus behind is beyond my understanding, but I collected it up anyway, ready to be carted back up ‘cardiac hill’ at dusk.

Knowle Sunset 09.08.17

The rain of the previous days had started to show today and I estimated a rise of 18″ of water from normal level, plus a lovely brown tinge that promised a Barbel or two. As usual on the Severn, it also made the banks treacherous underfoot; I always carry a length of nylon rope and use a deep set bankstick at the top of the bank before I descend to the river side, it has helped me so many times in the past I usually do it on even mildly sloped banks these days.

I fished the standard pellet feeder rod in the main flow line and with my second I dropped a boilie rig down the nearside into a deep slack that I have found this to produce the larger fish in the past. This sleeper rod was set low to the water and after throwing a handful of broken boilies around the slack I cast it in, engaged the bait-runner and left it to its own devices, still mindful that I had to be on the rod quickly in the event of a run.

I started to get a few on the pellet rod, just small fish around 3-5lb but spirited fighters and great fun. Then in the afternoon the sleeper rod screamed off and I had a decent barbel of 7lb, followed shortly after by one of 8lb. By now I was getting fish on both rods quite regularly but the sleeper was producing way better stamp, averaging 7lb. I even managed to hook a couple of quality roach but it was a bit unfair on the gear I was using, however it shows the potential for a nice float fishing session.

knowle 38lb Knowle Sands crop09.08.175lb Knowle 09.08.176lb Knowle 09.08.17

Before I knew it dusk had passed and I had to be off per B.A. club rules. I’d had 13 fish, biggest 8lb, not huge but a very enjoyable and action packed day…the big hill didn’t seem so bad!

10.08.17 Mid Severn club waters

Atcham Lymm Landscape

I decided to head part way home to a new club water near Atcham. It was more of an exploratory visit and in the end I walked 2 full sections, just chatting to the 2 anglers present and generally having a good look around. It was a very attractive bit of river and eventually I came across an enclosed swim overhung with willows with a distinct flow line on the edge of the trees, that just looked so ‘fishy’ I had to give it a try. I could only fish one rod, and because some of the colour had dropped out overnight I decided to go for a straight lead and loose feed approach. I was surprised the only fish to take an interest was a nice perch because it looked like a Barbel’s dream location.

Perch atcham Lymm 09.08.17

In accordance with my new policy I decided to get moving and try a different length a few miles downstream on another club ticket. As usual at this venue I found an empty car park meaning I had the river to myself. I set up in a compact swim below a willow bush with a deep hollow on the nearside and the main flow running by only 5m out. I love this stretch, it’s so picturesque, peaceful and full of wildlife. For some reason the water looked more coloured than the last venue and I had a good feeling as I set up a medium feeder with pellet, and swung it out underarm to the edge of the flow.

Only 10 minutes later I had an absolute screamer that resulted in a very nicely conditioned 8lb’er, followed half an hour later, after a bait change to boilie, by an equally ferocious take from one about 7lb. Both were landed with some difficulty due to a downstream bush that the fish seem to head for, and I had to act quickly to stop them. After the commotion I put a few broken boilies in and went for a walk to let the swim settle. This seemed to do the trick and a couple of 5-6lb fish obliged at dusk.

As dark fell I was hoping for one last big fish but it was not to be, however I was pleased with the trip in general and felt as if a corner had been turned.

8lb Buildwas 10.08.17

18.08.17 Upper Trent

A long trek to the upper Trent to meet my mate Kris from Stoke. We were fishing a popular stretch and as he lives a lot closer he was already well ensconced in his favourite ‘flyer’ by the time I had negotiated the agony of 85 miles on the M56, M6, A50 etc. As we were staying the night I fished the next peg upstream despite having a poor result from there last time while Kris battered them from just 30 yards away. I was confident that this time would be different….Wrong!

Just to confound my optimism my swim failed to produce a barbel despite it looking an absolute peach with the extra water in the Trent creating a fantastic looking crease; Mr Crabtree would have been salivating! Kris proceeded to land four thumping Barbel, topped by a 13lb specimen that was fin perfect and would have made any anglers season.

Kris 13lb
13lb Trent beauty

 

 

I had plenty of time sat watching my motionless isotopes to ponder the reason for my failure; why won’t those barbel move from the downstream swim? My theory is the slightly deeper hollow that exists there holds food, the fish expect to find items dropped from the flow in that location. Logically when there are freebies already there why would they need to waste energy moving further upstream?

Three bream between 2 and 4lb and a couple of chublets were the only visitors to disturb my night. Generally I never worry about blanking, always looking to learn something new from a visit to a river, but I have to admit to feeling a bit deflated after the success of my Severn trip and the close proximity of Barbel to my unloved baits.

The highlight of my session (other than witnessing Kris’s fish) was a cheesy oatcake he cooked for me in his ‘ridge-monkey’! That’s when you know it’s been a hard slog. To be fair to the lad he could actually work for the Stoke tourist board such is his enthusiasm for the best things to come from his ‘fair’ city; the previously mentioned oatcakes which make up 75% of the average Stokies diet, his beloved Stoke City FC and of course the River Trent!

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The mighty cheese Oatcake, upon which Stoke is built!!!

 

In the cold light of day a trip to the Salt Box for a full English was in order, and we were accompanied by Mark, a fellow Stockport lad we met on the bank. A bit of banter and a full belly certainly lifted my spirits for the drive home. I know the potential of this stretch so won’t be dissuaded easily; just to confirm this the following week my pal Harry landed this stunning creature from an undisclosed location on the river…simply awesome! My plans are already in place for a triumphant return.

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Harry with an earth shaking Trent fish…truly awesome!!!!

 

25.08.17 Upper Trent

My triumphant return turned out to be somewhat less than triumphant. Another overnighter, this time I got there before Kris so had the pick of the pegs. It was a close call between 2 swims, I chose a lovely looking swim with a deeper gulley running down mid river and fished both rods along it.

Kris turned up in the evening and dropped in the other swim I had looked at, and went on to land 4 nice barbel…I blanked yet again! I didn’t even get a decent kip as several small chub, just big enough to move the rig and set off my alarms, plagued me throughout the night!

I thought I had turned a corner after my Severn trip but obviously I chose a dead end street full of pot-holes. It is incredibly frustrating to blank when my mate is catching just a hundred metres away, but I am sure it is a temporary slump I’m in and that things will come good sooner or later. I take so much pleasure from this great sport of ours that even after all the bad days and 150 mile round trips I wouldn’t change a thing.

Autumn is round the corner…bring it on!!!

Tight lines

Dave

 

 

July Blog

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When I wrote my June report and bemoaned my bad luck in the early flourishes of the season, little did I know that things would hardly improve for the entirety of July. There have however been a couple of rays of sunshine to brighten the otherwise gloomy month I have been enduring on the river bank; a nice barbel and a very good chub, both from my ‘local’, the river Dane.

Due to a change of work location I am currently heading out from Chester to get my Friday afternoon fix; consequently my venues have changed from my beloved Ribble or Dove to either the Severn or heading homeward to Cheshire and my old stomping ground, the Dane.

07.07.17 River Dane, Middlewich

This was my first visit to a new club length of this Cheshire gem, although I have fished the other bank quite extensively in the past. It’s a strange thing in small river fishing but swims you might ignore on one bank look like sure-fire winners from the opposite side.

It was bright sun, low levels and fairly clear today, so a stealthy approach would be essential. I love fishing a natural overgrown river but most of the obvious swims had been fished already this season so it was easy to identify the popular locations. Contrary as I am, I try to avoid them where possible and look for somewhere less well trodden.

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Typical Dane fishing, stung and bitten, but what a buzz when the rod goes flying!

I approached a few likely spots as carefully as I could and pre baited with a handful of hemp and a few mixed pellets, keeping my silluette off the skyline and being mindful not to bump about and alert wary fish. Unfortunately I was so careful I sneaked into a swim already occupied by another angler; I must have been quiet as he didn’t notice my presence before I had left him in peace, moving away to the far end of the stretch.

This kind of stealthy approach is essential on small clear rivers like the Dane; Chub and Barbel will melt away at the first sight of a clumsy angler breaking the skyline or hammering in banksticks, a habit I find really annoying and unnecessary. Personally I usually touch ledger with my rod tip at water level on the Dane, and rarely use a rodrest, preferring to balance the rod along my leg with hand on cork and line across my fingers.

The conditions were not ideal so it was no surprise when my first 2 swims proved fruitless, but I had high hopes for the 3rd, a lovely silent pool surrounded by willows, a difficult cast with trees overhead, plus both upstream and down featured some gnarly old snags in the water. I decided to lower my bait in just a few feet from my own bank and slightly downstream, using the dense undergrowth as cover. I knew I would have to be firm with any fish hooked because of the proliferation of snags. I fed a few handfuls of hemp and pellets as I was confident there would be fish about. I left the swim alone to allow the fish to gain confidence and get feeding over the freebies, sneaking off to explore the remainder of the stretch. On my return I got myself back into position with minimal disturbance and lowered my bait into position. Fifteen minutes later I began to wonder if my confidence was misplaced, when without warning the rod was almost wrenched from my grasp by the powerful and unmistakable surge of a barbel. The fight should have been short as I had tackled up appropriately for the snags, but the fish had other ideas and lead me a merry dance; several times the tackle seemed to be at the limits of it’s endurance as I ‘locked up’ to keep the fish out of the roots. Finally I managed to usher it into open water and over the rim of the net, a lovely summer fish of 8lb8oz, a very respectable size for the Dane.

8lb8oz Dane Daisy Bank 07.07.17
8lb8oz, a good fish for the Dane

 

I thought the commotion had destroyed the swim so I tried the last pool on the stretch to no avail. I had to leave at 8pm, well before dusk, the most productive time, so I decided to return to the willow swim for the last hour. Surprisingly I had a good chub of 4lb first drop-in which disturbed the swim yet again, but I still decided to stay put for the last cast and was shocked to snag a feisty 4lb barbel before I packed up.

23.07.17 Mid Ribble

I managed to organise a day session and fished a club water with a mate, Kris. We were lucky enough to get the swims we wanted just upstream of the spawning grounds with a bit of depth and flow, which this time last year were absolutely prolific. Something has changed this season though, whether its the weather conditions, or the fish may have spawned early, but either way it just didn’t fish. We managed a couple of roach and chub between us and left feeling bemused and disappointed by the lack of action.

Generally I feel the rivers I frequent haven’t fished particularly well despite the nice wet conditions. A lot of fish have been coming out of the Trent but I don’t go there that often. I also wonder if the majority of captures aren’t coming from the same few ‘fliers’ giving a false impression of the general quality of the fishing. Or maybe I have just lost my mojo!

28.07.17 River Severn near Atcham

A new stretch of the Severn to explore. I was the only one in attendance so had the run of the water, always a nice position to be in as it allows a bit of pre-baiting and wandering around to take place. I love to do this on a new stretch just to get a rough idea of the depths and maybe find a few features along the way. Unfortunately the conditions were pretty rotten with gales and swirling winds meaning sheltering under a brolley was a thankless task. Despite these problems I thought it was a nice venue, alive with wildlife including kingfishers, kestrels and a quite rare Little Egret.

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A drop of rain never hurt anybody!

 

I moved swims late afternoon, I just didn’t feel right in the first place and hadn’t had a single tap, so I settled on a very deep pool further upstream. I fished a lump of flavoured luncheon meet in the margin downstream in 15-20ft of water no further than 10ft from the bank, and my second rod in the main flow line with feeder and pellet.

Half an hour in I had a bream around 3lb on the pellet line which was slightly encouraging, and then 10 minutes later a proper bite which on initial contact felt like another bream, however it quickly became clear I was attached to something far more substantial than a bream. Whatever it was plodded around taking line at will, then I would crank it toward me for a couple of minutes before it would decide it didn’t like the location and head elsewhere. Ten minutes later I had it under my rod tip when disaster struck and the hooklink parted. I convinced myself it was a big old Barbel at the time, but on reflection, given the nature of the swim, I have come to the conclusion it was big pike that took hold of a bream I had hooked. Either way it was a bit of excitement on an otherwise uneventful session.

Just before I packed up at 11pm I managed at last to snag a barbel, just a splasher around 4-5lb but very, very welcome.

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Just a splasher but what a relief to put one on the mat!

 

31.07.17  River Dane Middlewich

If you have read my blog before you will know I have a few targets I set myself each season, one of which is quite longstanding. In short I am trying to catch a 5lb chub from the Dane; I know it doesn’t sound much on paper but fish of that size are few and far between on there. Talking to people on the bank you would think they were ten-a-penny, yet I have never beaten 4lb14oz despite fishing it regularly during the autumn and winter for many years, nor have I seen anybody else catch one and weigh it over the magical figure.

The Dane used to be a prolific chub venue, these days the fishing has changed quite a lot, in that it is difficult to build a swim and catch a large bag of chub from one place. The fish are still there but to be successful mobility is key, and taking one or two fish from a swim has to be followed by a move to the next likely location. Maybe its down to predation or over-fishing, but one result is that the average size of fish seems to have increased, so I am convinced the 5lb target is achievable in the waters I have at my disposal.

Given the above I was elated to land a sizable fish that fought like a Barbel, and that had the length, if not the girth of a 5lb’er. I’ve had plenty of 5’s from the Ribble and Dove so when I lifted it I just knew it was there or there abouts the magical figure. I have a different kit for my ‘small river’ fishing with a set of flyweight scales. Imagine my disappointment when I got them out to discover the bloody thing had come unwound inside and would not work. There were no other anglers about so I had to console myself with a picture, and the thought that fish of the correct physical proportions to possibly achieve 5lb do exist, and even better, I can catch them! Roll on autumn, I will be back!

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So barring a couple of minor successes on the Dane, my July fishing has been largely forgettable. Fish seem to be coming out all over the country which could be depressing if I didn’t enjoy my fishing so much whatever the result. Things can only get better, bring on August!!

Tight lines

Dave

 

June blog

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I have been writing this monthly fishing blog for a while now and usually have plenty to talk about, but June has been so uneventful as far as fish are concerned, I think it will be mercifully brief.

After the enforced period of leisure of the last couple of months, during which I fished 2 or 3 times a week, I have now got back to work so my opportunities are down to once a week. Every cloud has a silver lining though, I might not be fishing as much but at least I wont be getting the house repossessed.

The first 2 weeks of June are filled with anticipation for a keen Barbel man like myself. With the river season fast approaching my enthusiasm for still water fishing fades and I can only think about moving water.

By some incredibly bad planning I managed to book the family holiday to coincide with the first week of the river season, so for the first time in years I was by the swimming pool instead of by the river. Lounging, with beer in hand, it didn’t seem too bad at the time but my river season hasn’t got off to the best start, more about that below!

We also had a new arrival in the shape of Tilly, our new Border Terrier, who needs a bit of attention and has taken my mind off my Barbel preparations. She can never replace my old dog Sid, but she is lovely! Hopefully she can come fishing with me if I can find somewhere that accepts dogs!!

tilly
Tilly in the dog house

 

02.06.17 Cheshire mere

I had a few hours spare so visited a local water and fished for carp. It wasn’t a bad session to be honest. I managed to land a mirror of around 15lb which went absolutely mental on the mat, so much so I decided the best thing to do was to pass on the weighing and photo and get it straight back. This was quickly followed by a common of around 10lb that was equally lively.

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Picture perfect

The trouble with blogging is that I need images every month, so end up taking pics of quite unremarkable fish that wouldn’t normally merit the effort. In this case the fish made my mind up for me, I was on my own and couldn’t risk leaving them to flip off the mat while I picked up the camera. I never risk fish welfare for the sake of pictures for my blog so they both went straight back. Fortunately I managed to pinch another common of around 12lb off the top on a floating dog biscuit, I love this type of fishing but rarely get to try it. This fish behaved and I got a mat shot.

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Not a bad session but my mind was wandering to moving water; I even cleared out my fishing bag on the bank, removing the carp bits and bobs till March.

24.06.17 Mid Ribble

At last my river season could start!! I was buzzing as I drove the 45 miles to the Ribble. I decided to try a stretch that has produced some good fish, but can also require a monster walk. I planned to fish the first decent swim I found to save my legs but for some reason I was drawn to the furthest reaches of the stretch where there is a nice glide around 2m deep below some broken oxygenated water, often a good bet in summer when the river is low and clear. I set up 2 rods, both fished in the flow of the glide, one pellet feeder, the other straight lead with a paste wrapped boilie and a few crushed boilies in a pva bag.

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This swim has always been kind to me in the past but can be slow during the day and come alive at dusk. This is the conundrum we face as Barbel anglers, to stick or twist; I decided to stick it out. It was slow going to be honest, and with the river so stale I thought the fish might be tempted more by a moving bait. There were no other Barbel lads about, just a couple of Salmon anglers, so I decided to wander upstream and try rolling meat through a faster shallow run. I flogged it for an hour but didn’t have a touch.

Back to my swim, as dusk approached the first action of the day was a roach of a pound, followed by a tiny eel, and that turned out to be the sum total of my first river session of the season. Disappointing but still enjoyable in a perverse way, its a beautiful, haunting river and the wildlife put on a show, with Buzzards, kestrels and an owl all making an appearance. I had to be off by 11pm due to club rules but if I had stayed all night I doubt I would have caught a barbel.

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Nice roach but where are the Barbel?

 

30.06.17  River Severn- Shrewsbury

I had the company of my mate Kris from Stoke for a rare overnighter and we decided to try a secluded and under-fished club stretch just above Shrewsbury (I class the river above Shrewsbury as upper Severn).

I hadn’t fished it before but Kris had a good day there first week of the season. He had already grabbed the same peg and looking at it I could see why, it looked a peach with a big flotsam covered sunken tree on the far side that must be a holding area. It was not to disappoint and he managed a pristine Barbel of around 8lb that afternoon.

 

I picked a nice looking swim a couple of hundred yards downstream, also featuring a sunken tree and some overhanging willows, fishing a feeder and pellet across to them, and a straight lead and boilie down to the sunken tree, but it was all in vain. Just 3 chub bothered me in the night, admittedly of decent size, but scant return for sleeping under a brolley on the floor.

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Looks like a banker? Well the fish thought otherwise!!

By dawn I’d had enough and packed up, just in time to see Kris bag another almost identical fish from his swim. Good result for him considering the river was low and stale; later I had a look at facebook and it seemed the Severn was quite out of sorts all over, typical of early season.

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Lovely summer Barbel
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I can’t catch fish but at least I was useful with the Camera 😦

 

So a poor start for me but I am quite philosophical about it, I have been through dry spells before and find that they don’t last long.

Early season fishing can be very hit and miss, often the fish are still around the spawning grounds and tightly bunched, its a case of finding them. On reflection my ‘sit and wait’ tactics might have been misplaced, probably better to get mobile and search a few swims. I’m already buzzing about the next trip!

Tight lines

Dave

Magic May

 

 

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

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

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

01.05.17

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

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

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

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

04.05.17 6lb04.05.17 bream

 

08.05.17

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

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

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

08.05.17 7lb tench08.05.17 5.5lb tench

 

10.05.17

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

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

12.05.17

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

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

17.05.17

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

19.05.17

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

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

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

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

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

 

22.05.17

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

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

Jerry tench 22.05.1722.05.17 Matts mirrori22.05.17 Matts koi

25.05.17

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

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

25.05.17 6lb cat
Same fish 6lb?

 

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

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

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

 

31.05.17

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

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

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

Tight Lines

 

Dave

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

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A moody mere!

 

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

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

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

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

‘Carpbelling’

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

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

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

01.04.17 :-Northern Angling Show

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

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

NAS2017 Dave Mutton, Des Taylor, Jez Gleeson

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

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

05.04.17 :- Cheshire club water

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

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

15lb15oz Tetton
Lovely conditioned mirror

 

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

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Founders pool playing hardball

 

09.04.17 :- Micklewrights Flash

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

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

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

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

28.04.17 :- Club lake

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

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

Tight lines

Dave