Magic May

 

 

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

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

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

01.05.17

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

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

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

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

04.05.17 6lb04.05.17 bream

 

08.05.17

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

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

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

08.05.17 7lb tench08.05.17 5.5lb tench

 

10.05.17

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

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

12.05.17

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

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

17.05.17

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

19.05.17

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

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

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

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

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

 

22.05.17

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

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

Jerry tench 22.05.1722.05.17 Matts mirrori22.05.17 Matts koi

25.05.17

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

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

25.05.17 6lb cat
Same fish 6lb?

 

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

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

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

 

31.05.17

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

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

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

Tight Lines

 

Dave

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

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A moody mere!

 

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

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

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

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

‘Carpbelling’

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

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

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

01.04.17 :-Northern Angling Show

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

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

NAS2017 Dave Mutton, Des Taylor, Jez Gleeson

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

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

05.04.17 :- Cheshire club water

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

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

15lb15oz Tetton
Lovely conditioned mirror

 

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

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Founders pool playing hardball

 

09.04.17 :- Micklewrights Flash

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

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

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

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

28.04.17 :- Club lake

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

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

Tight lines

Dave

Fleeting February

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Looks promising but…fish say no!

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

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

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

03.02.17 Middle Ribble

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

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

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

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Nice Ribble Chub
20.02.17 Middle Ribble

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

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

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

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

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Otter or Fin-rot?
25 & 26. 02.17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tight lines

Dave

January Barbel Blues

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

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

02.01.17 Mid Ribble

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

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Looks like Summer! A lovely January Ribble Chub

 

06.01.17 River Dane

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

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Hard won

 

08.01.17 Mid Ribble

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

 

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A window of opportunity grabbed with both hands

 

13.01.17 River Dane

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

 

 

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20.01.17 Mid Ribble

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

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

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

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

 

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4lb10oz on another gorgeous day on the Ribble

 

27.01.17 Dane

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

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

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Bleached out 4lb12oz Dane fish

 

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

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Otter prints?

 

28.01.17 Poynton canal

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

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

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

Tight Lines

Dave

December blows Hot and Cold

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Sea Birds gather over the Ribble

 

 

 

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

04.12.16 River Dane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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15.12.16 Mid Trent

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

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A long day for little return!
16.12.16 Mid Ribble

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

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

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

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Christmas Holidays

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

 

23.12.16

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

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

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30.12.16

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

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Lone Chub

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

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The lovely Dane, in decline or in transition?

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

Tight lines

Dave

November Chubbing and Cheespaste Ideas

 

 

 

 

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The majestic Ribble in frosty mood!

 

 

It is the end of November as I write this, and I am looking out of my window onto a bright sunlit day with an air temperature of just 3C. The early part of the month brought some sleety showers over the North West; that icy cold water made its way inexorably into the local waterways, bringing with it melted road salt currently being spread liberally on our roads. However, a dry frosty period is now set in for the remainder of the month.

One might be forgiven for thinking river fishing would be a complete waste of time given the conditions and the plummeting water temperatures, but as the Barbel become much harder to catch the ever reliable and obligingly sporting Chub steps up to the mark.

I still consider myself an enthusiastic amateur when it comes to chub fishing, but I look forward to the approach of winter when I can pick up my Chub rod and a ball of stinking cheesepaste and head for the river. I have spent time refining my recipe and my approach to using it, but it’s still a work in progress, so with your indulgence I will combine a bit about this fine bait with the usual fishing report.

Bread and Cheese

Two of the best baits for the wonderful Chevin are the readily available (and relatively cheap) staples of bread and cheese. Cheese is commonly fished in the form of a paste and this is how I make and use it.

Keeping it Traditional

I have 2 recipes for Cheesepaste, the first is a common standard you will see quoted time and again in angling books and forums. The measurements may vary slightly but they are all around this specification;

8oz Blue cheese (any type as smelly as possible).
8oz strong cheddar (Extra mature or cooking cheddar).
8oz Berol shortcrust pastry (frozen).
Glug of oil (hemp or vegetable)

Method

Defrost the pastry (not in the microwave, it cooks it!!)
Flake the blue cheese into a large bowl
Grate the cheddar into the bowl
Add the defrosted pastry
Add glug of oil
Knead into a paste.

Keep going until ALL lumps are gone, takes a bit of time and effort but it will be worth it, and a better bait for reasons to be revealed later.

And that’s about it, simple! That will give you a pound and a half which will last you practically all winter. Break into 4oz balls and freeze. Never throw any away no matter how smelly it gets, the stronger the better as far as Chub are concerned. I usually leave mine to mature (fester!) for a few days before I use it anyway.

So Why Change a winning recipe?

You may be wondering why anybody would go to the trouble of tampering with the traditional recipe that is proven and has caught so many fish. Well, I believe there are 2 fundamental drawbacks with cheese paste;

  • The high fat content causes the paste to harden when its temperature is reduced, ie when dropped into an icy cold river. If used directly on the hook it can mask the point and prevent bites turning into hooked fish.
  • Again because of the high fat content, flavour leakage into the water is reduced at low temperature. Winter conditions are often murky and we rely on the scent trail and small particle’s coming from our baits to entice the fish to find them.

OK, so we know that the high fat content is causing some problems, but is it not also the thing that makes cheesepaste such an effective bait? I am very reluctant to change a legendary and proven bait too much, but in an effort to slightly reduce the fat and to help with flavour leakage I have recently experimented with replacing the pastry element in the above recipe with some milk protein basemix from the hookbait company. This includes a gelatine based flavour bottle and has a nice cheesy/creamy/vanilla smell and the whole product goes by the name of ‘Big Cheese’.

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One of the selling points of this product is to reduce the fat content of the finished paste by replacing the pastry. I’m no food scientist but when you look at the fat content of typical ready-made uncooked shortcrust pastry it comes out around 22%, and when you consider the fat content of the two cheeses is 29% for the blue, 33% for cheddar, it can only make a small impact. However the gelatine should be beneficial in preventing hardening and assisting flavour leakage. There doesn’t seem to be much of it in the basic recipe though, so I add a glug of hemp oil as well to get a very supple mix. When dropped into cold water it hardens just a little but nowhere near as much as the traditional recipe.

My initial trials have been quite promising, the flavour must still be there as I have caught a few, and I have been able to fish the paste directly on the hook quite successfully. As for scent leakage I have no idea if it’s any better than the original to be honest, a lot more fishing will have to be done!

Alternative methods

Rather than tamper with the actual bait there are other alternative tactical changes that can overcome these little niggles. After a fair bit of trial and error I often try some of the following ideas, each of which might provide a solution on a given day;

Hair rig

The first is simply not to use the cheesepaste directly on the hook. Tie up a hooklength with a fairly short hair and attach a small piece of Zig foam or a cork ball. Wrap the paste around this and you have a decent way of fishing the bait that doesn’t mask the hook, plus the buoyancy of the foam or cork helps to neutralise the weight of the hook and give a more natural bait presentation.

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Zig foam on the hair
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Finished product with neutral buoyancy

 

Another alternative is to use a paste coil on the hair. These are commercially available but I find some of them a bit flimsy and they often get ripped off when in the net with an angry Chub. A cheap alternative is to make a simple coil on the bank using garden wire. Just fix a length of wire to the hair then wind it round a disgorger or similar. Its surprising how well this will hang on to a ball of paste, I regularly cast to far bank swims on the Ribble maybe 40m and the ball stays exactly where it should, plus the added bonus that it costs next to nothing.

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Cheap as chips and it hangs on!

 

Unfortunately, even these solutions have their short-comings as chub are masters of wrenching the rod off its rests without getting hooked when fishing hair rigged baits. They pick the bait up with their lips and charge off and it is simply pulled out of their mouths. A short hair helps but sometimes they are just too clever!

Cheesy Pockets

One of my favourite methods to overcome the hook masking problem is a simple way of combining the cheesepaste with the other chub favourite, bread.

I fish mothers Pride medium sliced white loaf by default due to its doughy properties and availability. Typically a size 8 Kamasan Animal barbless is hooked right through a piece of bread, roughly oval, about 40mm x 25mm, so the point protrudes out of the far side. The bread is pinched onto the shank of the hook and stays stubbornly put, creating a small fold or ‘pocket’ close the hook. I force cheesepaste into this ‘pocket’ with the ball of my thumb, if the consistency is right it sticks like glue to the bread.

After immersion for a few seconds the ‘unpinched’ area of the bread fluffs up in the water and hides the hook point but it is so soft it doesn’t mask on the strike. The overall bait is a combination of good appearance with the flavour and scent attraction of the cheespaste; it has a very neutral density which I believe is important for presentation, though I usually pinch a small split shot a few inches away from the hook to keep the bait near the bottom, but enough to allow a certain amount of natural ‘flutter’ in the current.

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On small rivers not requiring long casts all of the above will be fished on my go-to standard chub rig utilising a Drennan float stop to secure a short paternoster of stronger stiffer mono to the main line. This allows for easy adjustment of the hook length, the stiffness of the paternoster prevents tangles and perhaps most importantly it is a ‘straight through’ rig with no knots to weaken the mainline. A micro feeder, plastercine or shot are fixed to the micro clip swivel.

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My standard small river Chub rig.

 

A wee dram!

I came across a forum post last year advocating the addition of a small amount of whiskey or vodka to paste mixes to assist in flavour distribution into the water. I thought it was a wind up to be honest but further investigation leads me to believe it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Some boilie manufacturers have investigated the addition of alcohol base as a flavour carrier/distributer. So last year in the interests of science I added 10ml of whiskey to a 200g ball of paste and gave it a try over a few weeks. My conclusions were…well, inconclusive! It certainly didn’t appear to make the bait less effective but I didn’t notice that much improvement in results. As it costs money and I am decidedly tight, I decided not to bother, but I haven’t ruled it out entirely.

Colour

I started colouring my bait to identify any ball I had modified, or added an extra flavour or ingredient to, I didn’t think the colour had any significant impact. However, after going to a presentation by Gary Knowles who is a proponent of it, and who was convinced it improved his catches, I took note and experimented.  I am not going to argue with an angler of his pedigree.

Assuming the fish don’t like the natural creamy white colour of cheesepaste, maybe they have been caught on it before and are suspicious, then it makes sense to try a different colour. I found the best to be a combination of red and green food colouring from the local Indian grocer, this gives a browny green colour that looks a bit silty/weedy and the bait certainly doesn’t stand out like the original. I did find an improvement in catches on hard fished waters using this, so now I usually carry a ball of it, identical to my normal paste except for colour.

I will now completely contradict myself on this subject. If I was just fishing paste and no bread feed all the above would make sense, but if I am throwing in bright white bread mash or liquidised bread in a feeder and the fish are competing for it why would they not take a piece of cream/white paste? Well the answer is they do, with gusto, but just in case, it makes sense during production to add a bit of colour to a ball. You never know, that 7lb’er might just fancy a bit of ‘green’!

Putting theory to the test

So has all this experimenting caught me any fish this month? I had 4 short sessions on my ‘local’, the river Dane and I caught Chub each time, usually 3 or 4 per afternoon session, plus a few suicidal trout. The sizes were not enormous but I did manage one good fish of 4lb8oz among the 3lb’ers.

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A fishy looking Dane swim!
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Nice bronze Dane fish 4lb8oz

 

On the subject of trout, and to some extent Grayling, they have a habit of bolting the bait down at an alarming rate. I prefer to touch ledger and even with this most sensitive and agile method I still find some deep hooked fish. I find that reducing the hooklength and increasing the size of the bait helps a great deal with this problem, and always use a barbless hook. I return all the trout I catch per club rules.

The Dane is a river dear to my heart as it is where I cut my teeth as a lad. I feel like a seed change has taken place over the last few years as far as the chub fishing is concerned, where once multiple catches were expected from the same swim, now it’s a case of keeping mobile and trying to catch a fish or two before moving on; rarely do I hang around a swim that hasn’t produced something after 20-30 minutes. Theories abound as to the reason, but as an angler I have modified my methods to suit and still enjoy reasonable success.

Toward the end of November I did the 100+ mile round trip to the Dove. This river can be a difficult Barbel venue, but holds some huge specimens, and similarly the Chub are substantially larger than those in the Dane. It turned out to be a difficult day with a fair bit of icy water running through but I did mange one lovely conditioned fish of 5lb1oz.

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A lovely Dove fish of 5lb1oz, makes the trip worthwhile!
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When the rivers up look for creases and slacks behind bushes

 

Finally around the 22rd-23rd we had a small spell of warmer weather and some rain fell, lifting the Ribble water temperature a couple of degrees and producing a few fish to the midweek anglers. This was a window of opportunity I should have grabbed but work most inconveniently got in the way. So it wasn’t until the Friday afternoon I got there, a severe frost had occurred Thursday and same again while I was on the bank, dropping the water temp quite quickly. I felt I still had to try for a barbel, but was sadly disappointed. The only saving grace was 3 average chub on a cheesepaste rig utilising the cork ball on a hair rig I discussed earlier, with a small feeder full of liquidised bread to accompany it. I was able to cast this rig without issue 30m to a far bank flow line without losing the cheesepaste, showing its versatility for both close and long range paste fishing.

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So that was my November, a notoriously tough month for river anglers. I have failed already in my resolution to catch a ‘Barbel each month of the season’ but thoroughly enjoyed breaking out the chub rod. If you have any thoughts on the use of cheesepaste please feel free to comment.

Tight lines

Dave

 

October Promise

 

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Why do I love fishing? Stupid question!

October has passed in a blur and the usual Autumn heavy rain didn’t materialise in the North West. However, temperatures predictably fell, and this combined with low clear rivers made for difficult fishing. I did manage to snag a few though so not all doom and gloom, and a Barbel Society Lancashire meeting plus a weekend down on the Lower Severn promised a good laugh at the very least.

 

07.10.16

Friday night on the mid Ribble, got on a nice far bank gulley swim with loads of sunken trees as a holding feature, substantial gear was a must from experience here, and I placed my rigs a couple of yards short just in case.

This was my second peg choice, the first being almost static due to the poor low water conditions, it just didn’t feel right, so I moved pronto. Blinding bright sun didn’t help but somewhat surprisingly it fished ok. As expected not a lot happened till late in the day but then an 8lb barbel shattered the calm, putting up a frenetic scrap to get into the snags, I was grateful for the 12lb braid hooklink.

Four chub also obliged, topped by a proper lump I thought might have gone 6lb, but the scales said different 5lb12oz, falling for a big chunk of flavoured spam. I would be made up with it on Chub gear this winter but to be honest it was a bit of a mis-match on the barbel gear. Both rods were rigged with straight leads with small pva bags and paste round the boilie rig, I just felt the feeder would have been too much for the conditions.

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8lb on the nose.
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5lb12oz Chub, promise for the winter months.

 

14.10.16

Another Friday afternoon down on the mid Ribble. It really was on its bare bones, boulders poking out everywhere, clear as tap water and bright sunshine, plus the drop in temperatures, I was again doubtful of my chances.

I got on the peg I wanted and I know there are fish there so I went softly, softly, straight leads only, just small pva bags of crushed boilies, 12s hooks to 10lb gravel braid, which I like over the gravel/pebble bottom of the Ribble due to its excellent camouflage, with a couple of bits of putty to pin the hooklengths down. Paste wrapped boilie hookbaits cast to a far bank gulley and just waited it out. Well the tactics worked and I had a proper wallop of a take and after a decent scrap I landed a nice fish 8lb11oz, followed by 4 decent chub, nothing like the monster from last Friday though.

 

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16.10.16

Sunday I was supposed to be fishing with a mate I fished with on the upper Trent a few weeks ago, he was desperate to try the Ribble but lives in Stoke, so I arranged to meet him and his mate and show them around the club stretches we have at our disposal, but unfortunately he was unwell so had to cancel.

I had used a considerable number of Brownie points to secure the extra day with her indoors, so I thought it was too good an opportunity to miss and went anyway. I decided to try a different stretch of the mid Ribble and did a massive yomp to a favourite swim; on this stretch I often wonder if I’m walking past good pegs to get to it, but it is reliable.

Tactically I fished the same as last Friday, no loose feed, just pva bags and boilie, but tried a chunk of flavoured meat on the downstream rod. Three barbel obliged, only small up to 5lb, plus 5 chub. Most came to the meat which was interesting because I was using a big chunk around 35-40mm cubed but that didn’t seem to put them off. My understanding is that the metabolism of barbel slows considerably as the water temperature falls, and that they struggle to deal with high fat content foods when the temperatures are low, so maybe it wasn’t as cold as I thought.

17.10.16 Barbel society Lancashire regional meeting, Hinds Head, Stockport

I absolutely love these meetings run by the inimitable Jerry Gleeson, a man who single handedly keeps the mobile phone industry in good health due to the number he has dropped in various rivers around the country. On a serious note the money made from these meetings goes to the B.S. for their various projects and is a very worthy cause, plus Jerry has raised thousands for the Army Benevolent Fund through other fishing related events, he is an all-round top lad. He is ably assisted by Matt Marlow, another sound lad who you will no doubt be aware of if you are on Facebook! and both are top Barbel anglers as well.

The guest speaker was the infamous Terry Theodore who I have heard a lot about but never met. Well, to say he was an entertainer would be an understatement, the place was rocking with laughter and the guy could have a career as a stand-up, so slick was his style and content. There was even some good stuff about fishing thrown in as well.

A few pints, some grub and usually a stall or two from the bait companies, in a decent boozer amongst a friendly bunch of barbel fanatics…what a great way to spend an evening. Entry is free to B.S members, a measly £2 to non-members. Get down there; you don’t know what you are missing!

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Matt, Terry and Jerry

 

21-23.10.16 Barbel Society Fish-in Pixham, Lower Severn

Keeping with the Barbel Society theme, I attended a barbel society fish-in on the lower Severn at the legendary Pixham fishery over the weekend. Non-members were welcome so I guess the aim is to try to boost membership of the society. It was organised by the tireless Jerry Gleeson.

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About 15 anglers were there, plus a couple of lads organising who didn’t bother fishing, on over a mile of river. I had never fished the lower Severn before, although I am a regular on the middle, so it was interesting to see and fish the venue, and as an added bonus well-known barbel expert Laurence Breakspear came down and visited each angler and talked about the river and the pegs, he was such a friendly lad and very, very interesting, and was free and easy with info for me about the lower Severn in general, so a big thank you Laurence.

As for the fishing, to be honest when I arrived I found there wasn’t a lot of visual evidence as to the best places to try, so I walked the length and bumped into a local lad (James Benfield) who was already fishing and he advised me to try the swim I ended up on. It was closer to the car park as well which was a bonus given I have no barrow and was camping on the bank all weekend. After a plumb round with a bomb I found a double shelf 3ft to 6ft to 10ft right down my side, so decided to fish 2-3 rods out just over the 2nd shelf. I didn’t want to over feed but it’s a big old river down there and its got some proper beasts in it, plus because of the compact nature of the swim due to overhanging trees, I bait-dropped a pint of hemp and some broken boilies upstream and fished a lump of flavoured meat downstream.

I set up my gear and finally sat down and 20 minutes later my boillie rod whacked over and I’m into a good scrap with a 9lb10oz barbel. It was a lovely looking fish, thick in the shoulder and I was made up with it. Obviously, having one so soon I thought I was going to bag up but it was not to be, the only other action over the 2.5 days being 2 tentative bites that set my alarms off in the night resulting in one mediocre chub and one missed bite. I put it down to a decided drop in water temperature, I was told it was 11-12C midweek, but was 9C when we arrived on Friday, plus all the disturbance of a larger group of anglers than normal.

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Stunning looking fish, they don’t have to be doubles!

 

 

A total of 5 barbel were caught and 2 of them were by James, who happens to also be the British record holder for Zander, so obviously knows his onions. Apparently it’s a hot length for the species and I actually saw one being caught around 2lb which was the first one I have ever seen in real life; the lad had a few more over the weekend as well. A few bream and a decent pike were the only other fish caught, quite poor considering I was amongst seasoned river men.

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Feeding Frenzy!

So I can’t complain, at least I caught one and I was comfortable in my bivie for once having brought a duvet to go over my bag. The food was all provided, cooked on the bank and was really good, and we had an enjoyable piss up on the Friday evening in the Blue bell Inn, so what’s not to like? More importantly I met loads of like-minded barbel men from around the country, I don’t have room to name them all but to a man they were brilliant, full of banter and fishing stories. The bonus is I have made lots of new mates for trips to the Swale and various other venues.

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The tireless Jerry Gleeson lets his hair down Friday night at the Blue Bell, Pixham

 

 

28.10.16

Yet again I ventured to the Ribble, another different stretch on the upper mid river. This has good access and is consequently quite popular. Even so I was surprised to find 15 cars in the car park and my favoured area was far to congested for my liking, so I ended up in a swim I haven’t fished before and to be honest I didn’t really fancy it. As the river was so low this deep slow pool was almost static and that usually isn’t what I look for.

I decided to make the best of it and placed 2 rods 2/3 across in the middle of what flow there was and sat back. I noticed something seemed to be happening when my landing net decided to float away and I had to jump to save it. The river was  rising fast and I had to quickly move my gear up the bank. It came up 18″ in an hour and as dark came it gradually started to recede. There hadn’t been any rain so it was a bit of a surprise, but the Ribble is a spate river and prone to such events.

As it was almost Halloween, nightfall coincided with a volley of fireworks and I was fearing the worst as I hadn’t had the slightest indication all day, when I noticed a tiny tap on the rod followed by a slight drop back. I stood up watching the rod like a hawk but no further movement was indicated. Not sure why but I just knew something wasn’t right and decided to wind down. Well, all hell let loose and after a spirited scrap a lovely conditioned 9lb12oz fish was resting in the net.

I’m convinced the fish was pricked and decided to stay put and try to free the hook hold, a behaviour I have read about on highly pressurised waters and common to carp, but one of my mates Harry Pardoe suggested it might not have even been aware it was hooked and carried on eating, which I think might be the case here. Either way it was a bit of an oddity as the normal barbel bites on the Ribble with hair rigged baits are a lot more noticeable!

9lb12oz-po-ribble-28-10-16
The slightest of bites!

 

So October has passed and my results have been reasonable, but I am hoping the warm Autumn rain we barbel men love is not going to be missing this year. I just checked the 2 week forecast for the North West and its pretty awful to be honest with a severe temperature drop…maybe December will be the month!!!

 

Tight lines

Dave