Another tricky angling month completed and not a lot to show for it fish-wise. Some decent Chub sessions on the Dane mitigated the pain inflicted by my arch nemesis, the Ribble, a river that intrigues and dashes hope in equal measure, but somehow keeps calling me back. No matter how many times I get snagged up, how muddy, wet and battered from falling down the treacherous banks, by the following day I am desperate to have another go for her precious piscine treasures, so begrudgingly given.
A trip to the Northern angling show provided some light relief and severe fiscal temptation, but fortunately I had already disposed of my angling budget on club cards for next season.
All plans for the end of season Grande finale are on hold due to the ‘Beast from the East’ which is currently battering the UK. Loads of snow, sub zero temperatures, its all very disappointing!
02/02/18 Mid Ribble
With a new club card in my pocket I was itching to get out and explore. The conditions were far from ideal but I was still excited as I navigated to the first length. Half an hour later I was back in the car covered in mud and scratches having tried to negotiate the treacherous slippy banks and been found wanting. Never mind, looked interesting, try there when it dries out a bit.
A short drive down the country tracks and I arrived at the next location, walked most of the stretch, again it looked interesting but it was hard to pick out any features with the water so high. I settled on a lovely looking swim with a nice glide on the far side and proceeded to blank with style. I wished I had listened to my Ribble contacts who urged me to go light for chub; obviously I ignored them and paid the price. With a water temperature of 4-4.5C it was a no-brainer really but I stuck to gear capable of landing a Barbel and that was way too unsubtle for the wary Ribble Chevins. Hey Ho, a good recce of 2 new beats at least, so it wasn’t wasted.
04/02/18 Mid Dane
After Fridays poor showing I felt like I needed a good result today so I was dissapointed when I looked out of the bedroom window onto a thickly frosted garden. However they say fortune favours the brave so I threw the chub kit into the Fiesta and plodded the 30 minutes to the river. I was meeting a mate there anyway so there was no way I was staying in bed.
To say it was nippy would be an understatement, just above freezing and a bone chilling wind, little did we know this was positively balmy compared to what was to come later in the month!
I arrived first so grabbed a favourite swim and quietly began by dropping a ball of liquidised bread in while I set up my usual light quiver tip fishing a micro feeder, cheesepaste and bread flake on the hook. Kris turned up and headed downstream, and soon after I had my first cast and an instant take from a nice Chub, and proceeded to bank a further 3 before it dried up. That’s quite a result on this stretch as it gets a bit of pressure and the chub generally spook after one of two fish.
I decided to move on and leap frogged Kris and headed to the lower part of the river. I managed one more fish before I had enough, the cold had got to me now so I decided to call it quits while I was ahead.
A most enjoyable session and good to have some time to chat fishing with Kris. We made plans for a trip to the Severn in the last week of the river season before I left.
09/02/18 Mid Ribble
Another fact finding mission on one of the new stretches of the Ribble I have recently gained access too; a very cold bright day with the river carrying 2 feet of icy water (4.5C) so it wasn’t a shock to suffer yet another blank!
I can’t recall this many winter blanks in previous years on this majestic but cruel river; it doesn’t suffer fools gladly and it appears I am becoming a chump! Nevertheless, I had a good look round and fished a couple of spots for a few hours, but all were facing directly into the wind, which was so bitingly cold I eventually made the decision to bolt upstream to another more sheltered length. I blanked there as well, so I put the whole day behind me, double blank and all, and drove the hour home for a couple of pints and a kebab.
16/02/18 River Dane
As the temperatures hadn’t risen since last weekend I chose to pass on the long drive to blanksville and try the Dane for a chub. At least there was a decent chance of a fish, plus its only 30 minutes away and I can dodge the rush hour traffic on the back roads should it fish badly and require an early finish.
As it happens it turned into a cracking session with 11 chub in an afternoon, all on bread flake and cheesepaste. None of them were much over 4lb and the smallest was probably 2lb12oz but they all punched above their weight. All came on a micro feeder on my standard Dane set-up (see previous months blog for details). I weight the feeder with small lead strips according to the vagaries of each swim in order to present the bait close to the fish holding features, such as overhanging trees, undercuts or rafts of flotsam.
The bites varied from gentle tugs to full on aggressive wrenches; I love to touch ledger and it fits perfectly with this type of fishing. Keeping mobile I was only able to extract one or two fish from each swim before it all went quiet, but a return visit an hour or so later and they would be back and hungry for more.
Yes, it was bloody cold and the banks resembled the Somme (curse you Cows!), but it was so good to get a few fish after my recent Ribble trips I enjoyed every last second. Even scraping two inches of clay and cow dung from my person before getting in the car seemed worth it!!
23/02/18 Mid Ribble
Another voyage of discovery on a new part of the Ribble, this time a lovely secluded stretch I had all to myself. My Ribble advisor sent me a guide (thanks mate!) so I wasn’t going in blind.
After a lively encounter in the car park with a gigantic and over friendly hound, I made my way along the banks keeping a close eye out for fishy features. There was a week winter sun to keep the chill off, but the wind was brutal. The river was just a couple of inches up and clear as tap water, with a temperature reading of 5C which combined with the bright conditions was always going to cause me a problem and I was convinced that Chub were the only reasonable option.
I rigged up a quiver tip rod with a small feeder and fished liquidised bread and my go to chub bait of bread smeared with cheese paste. The swim I selected was very slow and deep and the tip remained motionless. The downside of bread as a hookbait is its lack of longevity on the hook, even the freshest of doughy Warburton’s only lasts a few minutes, which becomes a problem if the bites are sparse as they were today. I began to worry I might be fishing a bare hook, so I changed to a small halibut pellet. This proved no better and after an hour or so I decided a move was called for.
A few hundred yards upstream was a perfect looking wide glide running about 20m out, and with the far side being almost stationary there was a pronounced crease line. This is where I cast so a little bit more lead was required to hold station, but I soon had things balanced nicely and decided I was going to stick or bust in this swim. I kept the chub set-up on the upstream rod but set up a second rod, a light barbel outfit with half a boilie on a straight lead with a tiny pva bag and cast into various locations downstream, just on the off-chance it might drop on the nose of a lethargic Barbel, or more likely a roaming Chub. Unfortunately it didn’t work on the downstream rod but the upstream rod, baited with a small cube of flavoured meat fished on a fine hair and smaller hook than usual, came alive toward dusk and produced 3 decent chub.
I was so cold by now as the sun dropped under the high far bank and the temperature suddenly plummeted such niceties as weighing were forgotten, but I still took a quick picture for proof that I had avoided my third Ribble blank in a row. In fact I left an hour into dark feeling quite pleased that I had caught anything, and it was certainly an improvement on my previous showing!
25/02/18 Northern angling Show
This show has become a regular fixture in my calendar and seems to be growing year on year. If it is a barometer of UK fishing then I pity the poor Carp as they must be getting battered from all sides such is the proliferation of carp based stands. That doesn’t bother me greatly; much of the barbel tackle and tactics we use these days has origins in the carp world, so I am always interested to see the latest innovations. What does bother me was the jaw dropping prices that carp anglers seemed willing to spend on the ‘latest and greatest’ and that has a knock on effect putting up the prices of the tackle I use. The mitigating factor of this fast turnover sector is that stock becomes ‘old hat’ so quickly it often means last years ‘must have’ is sold at a more reasonable price just a few months from launch.
Apart from this I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. To be honest I love to go and have a catch up with a few ‘facebook’ friends. I always head for Dave Muttons UK Specialist stand where I usually meet up with him and fellow Stopfordians Jerry Gleeson and Matt Marlow, and this year Christophe Pelhate who talked me into buying one of his ‘Spoppers’, a version of a Spomb that sinks and opens on the deck. I have heard good things about them for distance fishing on the larger rivers, and I will be interested to try it out (probably next season in all honesty!).
After that I got stuck into a walking tour of the hundreds of stalls. There are a few bargains to be had, but basically, the traders by omitting the cost of postage, can make it look like you are getting a steal when its still making them a good margin. I bought a few bits and bobs, but kept my spending in check.
The most worthwhile aspect of the day is to get hold of the current rod ranges from the big suppliers and give them a bend. So much crap is written by the marketing men about new rod ranges, but when you actually get hold of them they often disappoint, but its still good to have a hands on experience to be sure.
I didn’t pay much attention to the celebrity anglers doing speeches on stage, it seemed to be a carp fest, but every time I looked I thought I recognised somebody from the telly (thinking tackle mainly!!). One of the great things about this awesome sport of ours is that the same ‘celebrities’ from the stage are walking about the show like the rest of us, simply angling enthusiasts among their peers, and long may it continue so.
As I write this the ‘Beast from the East’ is entrenched over the country bringing unusually cold weather and a fair amount of snow. This is a real disappointment for us river anglers as, like a Christmas visit from the in-laws, it is predicted to outstay its welcome and linger into the early part of March. I fear it might jeopardise the traditional finale of the river season; I usually take the final week off work and head for a few days away on the Severn and have had some cracking results in the past, but its not looking good for this season. Even if the cold front moves off the aforementioned snow has to melt and filter through the river system before the increased air temperatures can make any discernible difference to the water temperature. I will be watching the weather forecast and river levels like a hawk and praying for the ‘beast’ to bugger off as soon as possible, and on that depressing note I will sign off for February.
Here’s hoping you all manage to catch one before the 15th March