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.

IMG_0567
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

 

Advertisements

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!

IMG-20170903-WA0000
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.

20934070_10155422892475470_1168664462681578280_o
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

 

 

Magic May

 

 

IMG_0499

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.

IMG_0489

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.

IMG_0507

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)

IMG_0418
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.

IMG_0409
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.

IMG_0411IMG_0410

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.

IMG_0412

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.

IMG_0422

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

img_0331
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.

blur-bokeh02-03-2017_20021116463343_1460248333994820_6731969517571537568_o

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.

16473372_1460247957328191_4249880542739146343_n
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

16826209_1477159342303719_3632827100866335962_o

16903439_1477159355637051_5056486759702811352_o
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.

17021350_1482337588452561_7107574036827191115_n16999005_1482337598452560_328961868699031491_n16938575_1482337595119227_3162883419257323860_n

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

img_0301-jpgcrop

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.

4lb4oz-ribble-oz-crop-02-01-16
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.

06-01-17-4lb-dane-manor-farm
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.

 

img_0310-jpgadjusted
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.

 

 

img_0303

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!

img_0316
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.

 

4lb10oz-ribble-oz-20-01-17
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.

4lb12oz-swettenham-dane
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.

otter-print-swettenham-27-01-17
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

img_0285
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.

kris-dane-pic
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?

img_0247

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.

img_0251

img_0257

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.

img_0273
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.

img_0281

img_0289

img_0294

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.

img_0283

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!

imag0398

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.

imag0405
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.

imag0406
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