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



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

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

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

02/02/18 Mid Ribble

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

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

04/02/18 Mid Dane

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

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

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

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

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

09/02/18 Mid Ribble

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

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

16/02/18 River Dane

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

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

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

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

23/02/18 Mid Ribble

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

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

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

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

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

25/02/18 Northern angling Show

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




January Blog


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

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

05.01.18 Middle Ribble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bent back Trout!

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


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

5lb1oz Oz 05.01.18

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

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

12/01/18 Upper Dane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

swettenham 12.01.18

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

13/01/18 Middle Dane

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

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

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

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

Manor 13.01.18

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

manor2 13.01.18

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

21.01.18 Middle Dane

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

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

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


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

4lb1oz chub manor 21.01.18
Terrible photo, the fish deserved better!

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

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


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

26.01.18 Mid Ribble

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

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

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

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

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



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

Freezing Friday, scorching Sunday…just my luck!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next month, Tight Lines






November blog; much ado about nothing!

Moonrise on the upper Trent

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

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

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

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

05.11.17 Upper Trent



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simple, adjustable and cheap


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

Trying to blend in!

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


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

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

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


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

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

24.11.17 Mid Ribble

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

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

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

trout crop


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

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

Tight lines


October blog


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

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

Feeling hopeful!
06.10.17 Upper Trent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13.10.17 Upper Trent

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

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

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

20.10.17 Mid Ribble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27.10.17 Upper Trent

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

8lb9oz Cuttle 27.10.17
8lb9oz and very welcome!

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

12lb8oz cuttle 28.10.17_pic2
12lb8oz of pure muscle

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

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


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

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

08.12.17 Heald Green Social Club ABG fund raiser

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


Tight lines


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.

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!



Suffering on the Severn

Angry river Severn!



I think the Goddess Sabrina was suffering from PMT; bloated and angry are apt adjectives for the river we faced on Friday, the start of a long weekend trip. Maybe I had vexed her in a frustrated facebook post a couple of weeks ago when I told a mate I had never blanked before on the Severn. Little did I know that she certainly wasn’t going to bestow her Barbel treasures easily.


After a ‘big breakfast’ rendezvous in the Bridgnorth Wetherspoons, Kris and I headed to Danesford on the Birmingham Anglers ticket, simply because the walk is mercifully short and I reasoned we could survey the river for suitable flood water swims. The level was 2.8m and it looked like Willey Wonka’s river, with plenty of timber on the move, water temp was 7C.

We found one definite goer swim and 2 maybe’s so we flipped a coin and I won; no room for chivalry today, so I took what looked to be the dead cert. Just one rod I thought, 12lb braid to a 8’s Drennan conti with a 1.5″ cube of flavoured spam hair rigged on some gardening wire ‘ladies legs’ style.

Ten minutes later the rod ripped off and I quickly landed a very tatty looking splasher. I thought I was in for a good session but as I said, Sabrina had it in for me. The rain got worse and the day turned cold and miserable and the fish were conspicuous by their absence.

My miserable face says it all, slim pickings from a mean river.


Kris managed to snare a similar splasher of his own, then at the death he lost a better fish. As is the way with BA we had to be off at dark but I think we could have fished till the morning for nowt that day.


Thankfully the pubs and restaurants of Bridgnorth are excellent and fortified by many pints and a bloody good curry I slept the sleep of the just and awoke ready to face new challenges.


Even more water! With around 3m on we had to find flood water swims now. My usual ‘flyers’ were nothing short of Amazonian, so I suggested we try a club water toward Shrewsbury that featured some near bank slack water. We arrived to find it looking fine and at last I felt positive about our chances, though still very coloured and a water temp of 6C. I fished 2 rods, boilie on one, meat on the other, perfectly positioned on the crease (or so I imagined!).

First chuck my mate is into a fish, it looked decent size in the net but the scales said otherwise. I did the honours with my camera and was shocked just how good the snaps were. Anybody who reads my blog and facebook page will know my usual self takes using a screw on a bank stick are pretty disappointing, but I excelled myself with camera in hand. The fish looked massive, just goes to show you can easily be deceived by photo’s. Kris was laughing as he posted it to his mates back in Stoke and they came back asking if it was a double!

Blur Bokeh07-03-2017_221351
Camera tricks!



The day just fizzled out after that and I blanked, I could hear Sabrina cackling as I trudged back to the car. Still at least Kris had caught one. Later on facebook I saw my mate Rob Mitchell, Prince of Brignorth, had caught 6 in a couple of hours including a double…kick in the bollocks doesn’t do it justice! Only joking mate, awesome angling in those conditions.


Kris headed back for a Christening, I was on my own, time to get busy. I yomped down cardiac hill to Knowle Sands full of determination. I yomped back up 3 hours later a little easier as I had lost so many leads and feeders….what a nightmare. I wasn’t going to catch, Sabrina made sure of that; I couldn’t even get angry about the Bell End in a high powered speed boat who ploughed up and down the length, I might think otherwise if he tries it in Summer!


I legged upstream to Apley, a newly acquired BA stretch. I found a brook running into the main river, slack as a mill pond with a clear crease. Surely fish would be about in the lee? I packed up just after dark fishless accompanied by an otter that swam out of the brook no more than 6 feet away. I bet he caught something…bollocks! Read later Rob Mitchell had caught a load more…double bollocks!!



The river had finally dropped a bit, some of the colour had gone as well, but I was on my way home, so decided to go and have a look at a couple of club waters and if I could find a spot I would have a couple of hours. The first length I couldn’t find anything that took my fancy; the second I didn’t trust the marsh of a car park, especially after getting stranded last week and having to beg a farmer to help…never again!

So I ended back on Saturday’s venue fishing the same peg, but something had changed with the fall of the level, I could just feel it in my bones…I had done my penance, Sabrina had forgiven me.

Kris gave me a load of boilies his carp fishing pal had made for him when he went, so I used them on a feeder rod, plus the usual chunk of meat on the other. An hour later the boilie rod went and I was attached to a decent fish. Landed without to much drama it weighed in at 7lb15oz, followed by 3 more all around or just below the same weight. They loved the boilies, got to get me some more!




I was more relieved than happy as I drove home. It had been challenging to say the least, but a few fish were still caught by other anglers up and down the river. I think local knowledge is vital when the river floods as proven by Rob’s consistency. I would wager that the Severn will switch on as she drops this week, shame on my legendary bad timing. I certainly enjoyed the company though, cheers Kris. Bridgnorth is a great fishing destination, I’ve been coming here since I was a kid, full of welcoming pubs and talkative locals and the midlands beer is truly awesome!

Still a few days left of the river season so maybe a few more fish yet before I put the Barbel gear away.

Tight lines


Fleeting February

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.


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.

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


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.


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