Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Flood Water & Falling Leaves

Autumn is an enjoyable season to be on the bank with its changing moods. It brings us shorter days, normally the first frosts and usually rain, which results in the rivers carrying extra water, however what does not change year from year are the vivid colours you encounter as the countryside prepares itself for the harsh Winter months.  The recent rainfall was the reason I trudged my way along a sodden mud caked track towards a swollen River Wye.  It felt colder of late and every breeze of cold wind sent ever more leaves spiralling to the ground to join the hundreds of others that made up the colourful patchwork.

Autumn Morning
The section I was fishing has a long bend which creates a slack on the inside bank, I intended to fish with 2 rods as I was not expecting the fishing to be hectic.  The inside rod for Chub with usual feeder tactics and a rod cast further out for Barbel, using a heavy lead to hold bottom.  I set up both rods before casting out.  I routinely cast out the "Barbel" rod and watched the tip as the lead settled, then reached for the "Chub" rod.  As I prepared a cast, the barbel rod heaped over, I stared at it for a second in disbelief, surely not a bite that quickly, then the tip trembled, I assumed it must have been weed or debris as I put the 2nd rod back in the rest and struck the arched barbel rod, there was a sudden kick as the tip bounced back leaving me to reel in realising I had just missed my first Barbel of the day! 
I recast, again let the lead settle and waited a minute before casting out the 2nd rod, just in case of a repeat performance!  All was quiet for now.  I managed to cast out the chub rod, just inside the crease in slightly slacker water.  No sooner was the rod in the rest the 1st rod bent over double again, no hesitation this time I struck and was playing a flood water Barbel.  It felt like a bag of shopping in the heavy flow as it glided side to side in the current.  Eventually netting a 5lber!  With the Barbel unhooked and recovering in the net, I noticed the feeder rod tip trembling, then bouncing down, then motionless.  The Barbel was just leaving the net as the feeder rod again thumped down and I struck which met with a residence for a few seconds, I reeled in to find a large scale, probably a Chubs on the hook!  What a mad 5 minutes!

Sport was seemingly more hectic than I had imagined, so I thought it would be best to fish with 1 rod at a time, alternating between the 2 during the course of the session.  I stuck with the Barbel rod first and was quickly rewarded with another, this time around 6lb.

Flood Water Barbel
With no further action on the barbel rod, I thought it was time I tried the feeder rod for an hour.  Having missed the first 2 bites, I hit the third and it resulted in a beautiful Chub just over 2lbs.  Albeit a small Chub, I wish I had taken a photograph of it now,  not only did it turn out to be the only Chub of the day, the iridescent purple and blue colours in the wrist of the tail were stunning.
The feeder rod was clearly going to out fish the other today, as it quickly accounted for a Barbel, biggest of the day at almost 7lb, the hotspot was going to be just inside the crease of the bend, which is normally the case.

Golden Flanks in the Autumn Sun
Above me a flew a flock of Redwing, winter visitors from Scandinavia, in search of berries after their long journey.  A juvenile Cormorant flew down river and a pair of resident Swans struggled to make their way up river against the dense flow.

The sun was now strong and felt pleasant on my face as I waited for the next bite I picked up another Barbel on the outer rod, then for the remainder of the day I fished the feeder rod.  I fished an hour in darkness, having no bites in that last hour, however the last hour of daylight was very productive.  Throughout the session I had landed 7 Barbel between 5 and almost 7b, a bonus Chub and lost another 3 Barbel. 

Into another Flood Water Barbel

The moment you know, its just not gonna happen!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

A River Pike Treble

It wasnt a classic Pike fishing dawn, the absence of frost under foot, far too many leaves on the trees , however it was a classic Autumn dawn with heavy dew covering the long grass and a soft mist blanketing the field which would lead me to my swim on the river Wye.  The morning had a distinctive chill and the sun was still to rise as I made my way down river.

I was in search of Pike, I chose to fish a slack area due to the river being high and coloured and bringing through lots of debris, I was hoping the prey fish would find sanctuary out of the main flow and in tern the pike would follow.
I intended to fish 2 rods , a float paternoster on 1 and a float leger on the other.  The paternoster rod would be cast to the edge of the main flow, with a deadbait and a small amount of foam inserted inside to make it "swim" about a foot above the river bed.  The second rod would be traditional float leger.  Baits are mainly roach or perch with bait flags for added attraction in the murky water.  With the rods cast out, I grabbed the camera for a couple of scenic shots and as I attempted to take a picture of the misty Wye, I walked into my tackle box with the lid open and managed to empty the entire contents onto the muddy wet grassy bank!  For the next 10 minutes I was on hands and knees salvaging as many beads, run rings, buffers and swivels as I could, I think I got most of them!  Now I was in need of a brew.

Brew in hand waiting for a bite
The paternoster rod fishes itself with the deadbait twisting in the current to attract any nearby Pike, its just a case of casting to different parts of the swim.  With the float leger rod, every so often I will pull it back a foot at a time in the hope of alerting a Pikes attention as the bait twitches along the bottom.  It was on one of these "twitches" that I had my first take.  As I slowly reeled the deadbait it went solid, I let off a little slack line and watched it tighten down and I struck into my first Esox of the day.  The fish put up a spirited fight swimming around in circles then diving for a partly submerged willow tree, before I netted a lean 7lber.  Fishing with braid lets you feel every head shake, lunge and surge the Pike makes its very exciting.

Lean "twitched" 7lber
As the sun began to burn away the mist, it started to feel warmer and the female moorhen that had kept me company decided to leave the sanctuary of a partly submerged tree and venture to the opposite bank in search of breakfast.  Within half an hour the float leger was again showing signs of a take, slight bob on the float, vibrations from beneath causing ripples to emanate.  The float sailed away so I disengaged the Baitrunner and struck into another river Pike.  The fight was a good one with the Pike tail walking several times, lots of heart stopping head shakes on the surface from which I could see it was only hooked with one of the trebles, so I carefully played the Pike into the waiting net.  A chunky looking fish with a small blemish on its flank other than that it was perfect.  I was glad of my new purchase which was the Abu Garcia Pike Net from Harris Sports Mail, the mesh is rubber coated which makes untangling loose trebles a breeze.  The Pike was in the 8lb bracket, a healthy looking fish with strong markings.

8lb Tail Walking Pike
It was nice to have a few early Pike under my belt however, as suspected the fishing went quiet for a while so I had a late breakfast and several cups of tea. The sun was now very strong and this, I think, had an effect on the fishing, I no longer needed my fleece hat or norgie top which had served me well during the colder misty morning.  I placed the fleece hat on the back of my chair upon which a dragonfly took an instant liking, hovering, landing and defending from other winged insects!

Winter hasnt arrived yet
It was now approaching noon and as the minutes ticked by it seemed as though the action was over for the day.  Thankfully there was now some cloud cover which subdued the suns rays onto the river.  If I was a betting man I would normally put money on the paternoster rod to produce a fish, however this was not the case today as the float leger rod which was now cast further down the swim ripped off again, the fish quickly taking the float under followed by a few yards of line off the spool.  I bent into the fish and it instantly felt heavier.  The fish stayed deep as it took line and there was a healthy bend in the rod.  Most river Pike fight like tigers and this one was no different.  As all pike fisherman will be familiar with, its a heart stopping moment when a Pike surfaces, slowly opens its mouth wide then you know the big head shake is imminent and theres nothing you can do about it, so many Pike have thrown the hooks this way, fortunately, the trebles held firm and I slipped the net under a cracking river Pike.  Superb looking fish, these Wye pike are some of the best around, with a fat belly and big fins.  A pleasure to catch.

14lb of River Pike
The Pike went 14lb, a nice start to the "pike season"  3 fish for around 29lb.  It was  an enjoyable and busy session, with the recasting and twitching of baits to induce takes.  I do enjoy a days river piking. 

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Suburban Piking

As I approached the canal the the roar of the M4 was very obvious and this would be my background noise for the next couple of hours, it certainly was a far throw from the secluded banks of the Wye.  I decided to fish a short stretch of canal near the city centre which a friend of mine recommended after he had taken some pike earlier in the year on livebaits.
I chose to lure fish, as I had never seen the stretch before I wanted to stay mobile.
It had been raining constantly for the last couple of hours, with no signs of stopping anytime soon so I was resigned to the fact I was in for a soaking! 
The canal was gin clear and the weed was prolific, it wasnt going to be easy to fish, I put on a sub surface lure that had a good wobbling action hoping it would entice a few toothy critters.  I put my lure bag under one of the graffiti daubed benches which was next to a burnt out bin, well I was in the city. 

Not what you call secluded
 The lure came back covered in weed on the first few casts which meant I could only crank it down to about a foot to keep it above the thick weed that carpeted the canal bed.  I was flicking the lure to the far side of the canal just short of the reed beds and floating weed and reeling it back trying to impart a bit of action with every cast.  An hour into the session the rain became heavier and the wind got colder, and with rain running down the back of my neck I had my first follow as a jack pike snatched at the lure falling just short, a quick recast and he followed again however he decided not to commit.  I stayed in this area for a while as I noticed a shoal of roach swimming above a clear patch, some of them looked a decent size certainly worth targetting in a future session.
A familiar face walked down the towpath, it was my mate Josh who had told me about this stretch.  We chatted as I changed lures then carried on casting to the far bank.  As we walked a bit further down the cut I spotted another jack in the margins, I gently lowered the rubber shad in front of the pike and made it dance about right in front of the jacks face!  He didnt move, I even plonked the shad straight onto his head this only made him move a few inches, perhaps he had just eaten!

Rain on the lense
 By now the towpath was littered with puddles, my Goretex jacket had taken a hammering and my summer hat was floppier than ever!  As we walked back up, I cast to likely looking areas then we spotted another of around 6lb I quickly chucked the lure in front of the Pike several times, even changing back to my original lure to try and get a reaction out of him but he just didnt want to play ball.  Time to call it a day, for whatever reason the Pike just werent in the mood, maybe livebaits are a better tactic on this canal.  Even though I didnt manage to persuade one of those Pike to take, they are definately there and in some numbers as we spotted another Pike in the 5-6lb bracket on the way back to the van.  We will return when the weed has died back in the colder months, Ill also be back to target those Roach.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Where have all the Chub gone!

After a productive meeting with my fellow market managers at lunchtime I was soon on my way to a tributary of the Wye hoping to winkle out a few Autumnal Chub.  I really enjoy catching them at this time of year, especially when the fiery orange Autumn sun catches their brassy flanks as you hold them up for a self take.
I chose to fish a stretch of the Monnow that I know intimately although I have not fished it for some years.  One of the reasons I chose to revisit this stretch is that during a conversation with Rob the bailiff a couple of weeks ago he mentioned how the fishing had declined, especially the Chub population, they dont seem to be there in the numbers they were a few years ago.   He explained how patchy the fishing was especially if you fished maggots or worms all you would hook were Brownies.  This seemed hard to believe, I wasn't doubting Robs recent experiences, however I would expect to of caught half a dozen Chub from this stretch a few years ago with relative ease due to the numbers of them.  This sounded like a challenge.

Spam and Bread - Classic
I drove over the small bridge that takes you into the car park, and this instantly brought back vivid memories of all the years I had spent on the river as a lad, stalking Chub in the height of summer, catching a mixed bag on the stick float and lure fishing for Pike, this was where I cut my teeth in river fishing and I learnt alot over those early memorable weekends.
I made my way to the first swim, a slower paced section with over hanging trees on a slight bend, it was one I could normally entice a bite or two.  I was armed with a medium feeder rod, feeder reel loaded with 6lb line, small feeder and a size 6 Drennan Specialist hook.  After all the Barbel fishing Ive been doing recently threading the eyes on the feeder rod felt like threading the eye of a needle with cotton, thin cotton! 
I mashed up a loaf of bread for the feeder and put a 50p sized breadflake on the hook.   I wouldn't normally use bread in the warmer months but I had the Spam as back up.

No one at home.
It looked ideal, big over hanging trees, the fallen leaves slowly making their way down river, the first cast was perfect, under the out stretched branches.  A couple of handfulls of mashed bread were fed slightly upstream and I sat back with the rod in the rest, the butt on my thigh and my finger on the line feeling for any indications.
In the background I could hear water cascading over a small broken weir downstream, a kingfishers high pitched call and about two hundred kids all trying to shout louder than the next one!  I had forgotten about the junior school on the  opposite bank which had obviously just broken for a break releasing what seemed hundreds of kids all rushing and screaming into the playground.  If there were any fish under those over hanging branches im sure it wouldn't of affected them, they hear this almost everyday and it probably bothered me more than the fish.
With no indications after over an hour it was time for a move.  I was travelling light, chair was left behind, I would sit on the unhooking mat, this made it so much easier to move around the river to try and find the fish.

Waiting for a bite.
I walked to a steadier section, not as deep, a nice long glide with several over hanging willow trees on the far bank.  My intention was to fish every 10-15 yards and fish for half hour at a time.  I put on a light leger, baited with luncheon meat and fed a few small balls of mashed bread into each swim just to try and get the Chub going.  After fishing a couple of swims I couldn't believe I was still fishless, I know this stretch like the back of my hand and ten years ago if you asked me to catch a chub I would of made a bee line for this stretch.  Surface activity was minimal too, just the odd dace breaking the surface.  I fed some floating crust and watched them travel the entire glide without any of them being harassed by anything sub surface.
As I waited for a bite I looked down to see 3 big slugs approaching my sliced bread, this was to be my final assault.  I retackled 6lb line straight through to a trusty size 6 and picked a nice sizeable black slug with the intention of rolling it under the over hanging willows.  After another half hour of constantly casting and rolling big fat slugs along the bottom, it started to spit with rain, and as I was travelling light I had no water proofs or brolly so I had to admit defeat.  I was scratching my head, perhaps it was one of those days the fish weren't feeding, however Rob had also struggled to land a Chub recently on a couple of trips.  After so many great memories of this stretch which include my PB Chub, my first river Carp, my PB Roach, it seemed that it was certainly in decline, this might seem harsh after just one session in many years away from the river, so I intend to return during the winter months to target the Chub again, when they will hopefully be shoaled up under those over hanging willows.

Monday, 10 September 2012

A Barbel PB - My Luck Had to Change

I took the opportunity to go fishing this week before my busy work schedule kicks in and I find myself having to plan my fishing sessions around work and family.  As I said in a recent post I'm going to concentrate my autumn/winter efforts on barbel and predators, so with this in mind I found myself on the banks of the Wye just as the sun was rising from behind the trees in a beautiful peaceful Wye Valley dawn. 
Usual tactics were employed of groundbait feeder with fish boilie hookbait.  I donned my BFW hoodie before I locked the van as it felt alot cooler this morning than of late.  I decided to cast the feeder out without a hookbait on to build up some feed in the swim without disturbing the fish that already might be down there feeding for the first several casts.  Once this was done I didn't have to wait too long before my my now baited hook was taken by an eager Barbel after a fishy breakfast and within an hour of fishing my first barbel of the day was in the net.  A long lean fish just over 7lbs, a few quick self takes of which I need more practise and she was back in the water.

A nice start, just over 7lb
The Barbel swam away strongly and the feeder was soon cast out into the swim delivering more groundbait for the hungry Barbel.  As I watched the rod tip I spotted a buzzard in the adjacent field flying low, then it folded in its wings to gain momentum as it swooped down onto its unsuspecting prey probably a rabbit or vole.
The rod tip then wanged backwards as a Barbel disturbed the feeder and I was into my second of the day.  The fight felt different, still powerful but no weight to the fish, I rather hoped it would be a big Chub and I was soon netting then releasing a perfect miniature Barbel of no more than 3lbs.
Over the next few hours I landed one more 7lber, a brace of 6's and a brace of 5's. 

Barbel in the Brambles!
The sun was now high and strong and it certainly was an Indian summer.  The banks on the Wye are often steep, and this swim was no different which makes it difficult for self take shots and with me needing more practise in that area, it certainly provides a challenge.
It was now approaching 12 noon and it had been a decent morning with several Barbel under my belt however the Wye still had one more treat in store for me.
The rod tip pulled down towards the river and my strike was met with a strong fish that confidently took line from my reel as I tried to slow it down and gain control.  I immediately knew this fish was going to be the biggest of the day, it felt heavier and more powerful.  Bigger Barbel tend to be more purposeful in their runs as it attempted to seek the refuge of weed beds or sunken snags.  I got the barbel in front of me after several minutes, I had to give her a bit of stick as I had a sunken branch to my left.  I still hadnt seen the fish as it hugged the river bed as it patrolled up and down the bank, the feeder still hadn't surfaced either.  I slowly pumped the fish up and just as the feeder was about to break the surface it headed down again with a flick of its tail.  Now I was starting to get nervous, I just wanted to get a glimpse of the fish and after a few more heart stopping runs, I could see its golden flanks a foot beneath the rivers surface and realised it was going to be a good Barbel.  I missed the fish on my first attempt to net her then let out a big sigh of relief as I lifted the rim of the net as she lay in the shallows in the soft mesh.  I hauled the fish up the bank with the net held vertical and layed her on the mat and I was quickly zeroing the scales with the landing net head to weigh my fish that was definitely bigger than any other fish that day, but would it go over my personal best.
As always I weighed the fish 3 times each time the scales resting on 9lb 8oz, a new PB, only by a couple of ounces but they all count.  Ill be 50 years old by the time I get a double at this rate!!
I was pleased with a new PB however I wish the pictures were a bit better.

9lb 8oz - just before the rowing boats were out

A few shots of the fish then I let her recover in the net before releasing her.  My fishing was made a little difficult as I continued for a further half hour due to the number of rowing boats that were now out on the river(as you can see in the first photo!) I decided to pack up and go and have a look at another stretch that intend to fish for Chub in the near future, it would be fantastic to catch a Chub PB in this river season as well.

Friday, 7 September 2012

A New PB Barbel - Will it be that Elusive Double...

Had a good session this week, including a new PB Barbel, more to follow tomorrow including pics. 

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Roll on Winter....

I really shouldn't be wishing the summer away, if we can call it a summer after the deluge of wet stuff that didn't stop falling, but I am looking forward to waters not being so crowded as the colder weather approaches.  My recent outing was in search of my first Avon Barbel.
I decided to fish a stretch of the Avon on the BAA card with my intention of staying the night in the van and making 2 days of it.  On arrival at this popular stretch I made the decision to walk down river away from the "popular pegs" which just so happen to be the closet to the car park!  I as I approached the river I could see a couple of heads down the bank, then another, then another, then as the river came into view there were anglers in every peg, the length of the river.  I know this is a popular stretch but this is ridiculous!
I spoke to one of the anglers, who happened to be fish less up to now, and he explained how the match had been moved that morning from another stretch of the Avon due to car park being flooded, that was why it wasn't listed on the BAA website.
Only about 2 pegs remained, neither one I would of chosen to fish if I had the choice, however as I made the trip I thought id give it a go, I set up and fished on, not in much confidence of catching.  After 2 hours I was also fish less, not even an indication on the rod tip, so made the decision to fish another stretch, one in fact that I hadn't even seen before.

My view upstream towards the weir
I managed to find the new stretch first time which doesn't normally happen, there was about 10 anglers but I found what looked a reasonable swim and fished 2 rods, both on feeder rigs one cast out into the flow and the second on an inside line.  As this part of the river was narrow the pleasure boats were bit of a problem, but at least I was topping the swim up regular.  I fished on all afternoon until it was almost dark however I remained fish less and still in search of my first Avon Barbel.
I made my way back to the van for some fresh bacon rolls and a cuppa.  On speaking to another angler in the car park he said he had been catching steadily all day, a bag full of Bream upto 3lb, not quite what I was after but at least someone was catching something.  I have noticed on these stretches there seem to be very few anglers specifically fishing for Barbel, the majority seem to fish match style for whatever comes along, which is fine, does this mean the Barbel are a bit thin on the ground.

My Swim on day 2
I was back on the water at first light the following morning on the same stretch as I finished up on the previous evening.  I chose to fish a swim further downstream with a big over hanging tree on the far bank.  I fished with just one rod, casting the feeder as close to the foliage as possible.  I tried to keep casting to a minimum and fed the swim by and only recasting when a boat came through causing me to reel in.  I nicknamed the swim the "Ashtray" due to the amount of cigarette butts that were left by an angler from the previous day, not very pleasant.  This was something  I was noticing more and more on these stretches is the amount of litter left by anglers on the banks.  An anglers upstream of me filled an entire carry bag full of litter he picked up from his swim when he arrived as he just couldn't fish with all that crap around and I don't blame him I would of done the same.  Why are anglers so thoughtless when it comes to taking their rubbish back home with them, they will be the first ones to complain when the land owner doesn't renew his lease to the clubs concerned!
Anyway not much happened over the next couple of hours so I photographed a couple of Canada Geese that came through my swim.

Canada Geese
The longer I fished on, it felt more and more likely I was not going to catch my first Avon Barbel today.  It was still only 10am, and I had fished for 4 hours.  I phoned  Rob the bailiff from my club stretch of the Wye who said the river had dropped a little over night and was looking perfect.  That's all I needed to hear, I packed up headed back to the van and drove to the Wye and hopefully get a bend in my rod.  This sounds a little defeatist but as my fishing has been limited recently due to work commitments I just wanted to get a bend in my rod and hopefully get a Barbel on the bank.
Within 90 minutes I was on the banks of the Wye sat under an umbrella with my feeder rig cast out in hope of a bite.  Over the next 4 hours I caught 4 Barbel biggest going just short of 8lb  It was good to have a fighting fish pull my line and I will definitely be back after those Avon Barbel.

6lb 4oz Wye Barbel in between the showers
 As I said at the start I dont want to wish the longer days and warmer weather away but I do enjoy my fishing when the banks aren't so busy.  Im going to make sure I get out on the banks more often as the winter approaches, im going to concentrate on Predator and Barbel fishing for the most part and my challenges from now until the end of the river season will be either my first Avon or Severn Barbel, improve my Pike and Zander pb and hopefully manage my first double Barbel from any river.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Just when you think it couldn't get any worse...

My latest fishing trip didnt go quite as planned.  I was never going to reach the river at the crack of dawn due to arranging to have a few beers for the Euro Final (congratulations to Spain - a masterclass) on the Sunday evening.  I was up at 8am on the Monday and not in as bad a shape as I expected.  Van was soon loaded up, however I had to make a detour to the tackle shop for some hooks as I only realised I had run out on Sunday morning when I was getting the gear ready after the 3 month lay off.
As I came around the roundabout I indicated to come off the turning, only to be greeted with bollards and a diversion sign!!    Damn it!  I now had to detour all the way via Newport centre through traffic which delayed me even more.
For the past couple of seasons I have been using Korum S3's seamless hooks, I scanned the wall of the tackle shop, I couldnt see any.  On enquiring I got the response that they have now stopped making them!  Whenever a decent product is introduced very often they stop being produced, however some of the more useless ones hang around forever!  Anyway I grabbed a couple packs of Drennan Barbel hooks, very strong and very sharp - as I was about to find out.

The river in question was the Wye after Barbel.  My Dad was already there fishing, so I decided to phone him en-route to see how he was getting on, considering the rain was still persisting since the early hours. The conversation went something like this:
Me:  Hi Dad, how you getting on?
Dad:  Bloody soaking
Me: Have you had any?
Dad: Yeah, one, usual stamp, 'bout 6lb, rivers ripping through, lots of weed and debris
Me; Well that's a good start! 
Dad: Ive been here 4 hours!  I wouldn't bother if I were you son.
Me: Its my only day off in 2 weeks, I got to go fishing, even if it is lashing down.
Dad: OK well you can move in here if you want, I'll wait till you get here then shoot off
Me; Ill be 'bout half an hour, see you soon.

When I arrived, I approached the swim to find Rob (the bailiff) helping my Dad with his gear up the very steep, slippery, mud soaked bank.  The swim would of been more at home at The Isle of Wight Festival!
It was still raining as we chatted and I unloaded the van, wellies on, waterproofs on.  I decided to fish the same swim as Dad, on the reasoning it had been baited up for a few hours this morning.  As I descended the step bank, he lowered my gear down to me, to make it easier. 
I got as comfortable as possible, as I tied up a couple of rigs with the new hooks, the rain seamed to be easing a little, I soon cast out the feeder and sat back.  The river was at least 4 feet above summer level and carrying quite a bit of debris.  It wasn't long before the rain got heavier again, I had no choice but to put the brolly up.  For the next couple of hours I sat there bite less, frustrated and wet.  I couldn't keep the bait in the too long before the tip got pulled round by weed.  Then as I tried to retrieve my rig for another recast it was stuck solid.  All I could do was pull for a break, with the rod in the rest I pulled the mainline, until it parted.
On inspection the hook length was fraid near the swivel.  I sat there and wondered if it was worth putting on a new rig or calling it a day.  As my time on the bank has been limited I decided to stick with surely my determination would be rewarded!!
New rig on, I held the hook in my left hand and reached for the heavy feeder, with everything wet and covered in mud, the feeder slipped out my hand pulling the hook full force into my index finger!

Ouch!  Its deeper than it looks
 Instant pain, a few choice words and worse still I it was past the barb.  My index finger started to throb and I started to sweat as I reached for the forceps.  I tried to tease it back out but I knew it was never going to come out the way it went in, I was delaying the inevitable.  I sat for a few minutes and gathered myself. 
Only thing to do was to pull it all the way through past the barb.  I gripped the hook shank with the forceps, gritted my teeth and started to force the hook round until I could see the hook point below the skins surface, then I had to keep going, the barb was the worse it seemed to take forever to break the skin.  As I had no cutters on me (in the pike bag) I had to flatten the barb as much as possible and hope it went back through the finger, luckily it did,  Then it started to bleed. 
By this time I had had enough, I was fish less, wet, bleeding, sat in mud!  I could of easily packed up there and then.  I decided to bait up the debarbed hook and have another few chucks.  Luck wasn't on my side today, I fished on for a couple of hours but didn't receive a single indication, still id given it a go. 
What an afternoon, diversions, constant rain, Barbelless, a throbbing finger, you gotta laugh or you'd cry!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Work, Work, Work...

My blog, unfortunately, hasnt made interesting reading lately due to my lack of fishing.  For the last 6 weeks I have been working 6/7 days a week due to the volume of business.  This has really had an impact on my favourite past time.  The odd day that I have had off has been spent with the wife or working on the house. 
Im hoping to find some days free soon so I can wet a line, hopefully on a river, im also going to look for waters much closer to my home so that in future when I do manage to get a few hours free in the evening I can go straight from work. 

Theres a local canal that I fished probably 15 years ago with a pole for Roach and Bream, however I have heard recently that lots of pike have been caught on lures from the stretch, which suits my style of fishing, hopefully its still a day ticket water.

So you should be hearing about more fishing adventures very soon, not sure what for but I dont care, I just need to catch something soon.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Bream and a Speedy Getaway!

When I wrote my last post I had no idea that my next would be 7 weeks later! This was mainly due to work commitments and atrocious weather conditions.  By now I was desperate to cast a line and I had intended to spend most of the river closed season chasing Tench and Bream. 
Last week I bit the bullet and booked 2 nights fishing at a club water for the following week,
I just had to hope the weather was going to be kind to me.

My 2 night session was due to start on the Monday and I had chosen not to leave too early as the forecast was for the weather to improve as the day went on.
The lake I had chosen holds predominately Bream, Tench, Roach and occasional Carp.  You are allowed to drive along the bank to your chosen swim which does help as its a long lake, however with the continuous wet weather we've been experiencing, I was expecting to have a long walk from the car park.

On arrival around lunchtime I inspected the track along the lake, most parts looked navigable and I carefully noted the areas to avoid so as not to get stuck in the mud.  Although I hadn't seen the lake since I last fished it a few years ago, something was missing.  Then it clicked, all the fishing platforms were gone! Only for me to realise they were actually very much still there however they were covered in about 4 foot of extra water, probably overflow from the River Severn.
I decided to set up the brolly straight away with the weather being so unpredictable.  My tactics were going to be open end feeder fished in a helicopter style, with fake maggot on one rig and a 10mm strawberry boilie on the other.

What was due to be my home for a couple of nights
After an hour and several casts from both rods I had my first indication, the alarm bleeped the bobbin rose to the rod and stayed there as I struck into my first fish of the session on the fake maggot rod.  The fish gave a few head thumps and came to the net relatively easy but it was nice to have a bend in the rod after all those weeks.
A perfectly formed Bream of around 3lb 8oz was soon on the bank and I forgot how slimey these fish are!

Perfect Bream and the winning rig
I have only ever targeted this lake for carp in the past, with not much success I must admit so it was nice to have a second fish on the bank within another half hour of fishing.   Bream number 2, this one slightly bigger at around 4lb.  The wind was now very strong and making casting difficult as it blew left to right.
It was now bacon time, I got the stove out and made myself a couple of bacon baps and a nice mug of tea.  There is something special about cooking bacon outdoors, the sizzling sounds and the smell of the rashers is irresistible.
At this point after lunch I realised that the lake was still rising, and quite rapidly, certainly a few inches over the last few hours. 
As the evening drew on the sky cleared and the sun was beginning to lower over the skyline with a hot fiery glow.  I topped up the swim with bait made a few more casts then I went to the van to get the radio as there was a massive Manchester Derby on that night.  Five minutes into the match, my bite alarm kicked off with the bobbin jumping up and down on the line.  As I played the fish it felt heavier than the earlier brace and soon I was photographing a battered old Bream that looked like he could tell a few stories.  It weighed 5lb 10oz, not a monster, it was nice to be catching fish again.  This time on the boilie rod.

Battered old Bream
Things went quiet for the next couple of hours, once the game finished I turned the radio off and got into my sleeping bag.  I wasn't asleep for long, it was now dark and my bite alarm woke me up at 11.30pm as Bream number four made the bobbin dance on the line again on the boilie rod.  As I played the fish I looked down to realise that my boots were in 3 inches of water were it was dry just hours earlier!   I quickly got the fish in the net and it started to spit with rain, it felt heavier and proved to be at just short of 7lb the biggest so far and what proved to be my last.  I now had a decision to make, it was getting on for midnight and the rain was coming down and the lake was coming up!  As I sat on the my bedchair I realised I didn't want to be stranded or maybe worse.  It was now time to get out of Dodge.
I left the brolly until last so I could keep most of my gear dry as I collected it together and got it in the back of the van.  I did another recce of the path and opened the gate so I didn't have to stop in the boggiest area.  As the gate got closer I put my foot down hoping speed would carry me through the mud and as I cleared the gate the back end of the van slid out and I made it onto the hardcore path - relief.
I phoned the wife to let her know my 2 nighter had been cut short and to expect me home in the early hours, she was glad I didn't take any chances.  I didn't want to leave the lake so soon into my session but no fish is worth risking your life or even your vehicle for, that might sound a bit over the top but as I watch the news today the River Severn has burst its banks, Tewkesbury is under water and people have been evacuated from their homes in Upton upon Severn. 
It never rains, it pours,after record temperatures in March we go and have the wettest April in history, its bonkers!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

13 - Lucky for Me? A PB

With the weather being so mild I just had to go Barbelling on the Wye again before the close season kicked in.  I booked the Friday off work so as to miss the weekend anglers, especially as it was the last weekend of the season.
Having caught consistently on my previous trip, I intended to fish the same swim hoping the barbel would still be in residence.  I Arrived just before sunrise and it didn't take me long to set up and get comfortable in my chosen swim, the sun was rising and the sky had a pink glow. 
Tactics were to be the same as the last couple of trips, standard feeder set up with boilie on the hair.
The day started well and I was getting a few knocks on the first couple of casts, probably chub, so I waited for a "proper bite"!  I didn't have to wait long until the rod thumped down and I was into my first fish of the day.  It gave me a good scrap, first heading down river, then across.  It was a steady fight after that as the fish stayed deep and patrolled up and down the near side shelf.  Once it was in the net I could see it was a decent Wye Barbel.
First of the day 8lb 3oz

The first fish of the day sent the scales to a modest 8lb 3oz, a lovely chunky strong barbel.  As the barbel was recovering in the landing net, I looked up to see the more ever present Black Plague - 4 Cormorants flying up river, no doubt to terrorise the depleting stocks of dace!
The far bank trees made perfect markers to cast to and I kept the bait in a tight area.
Then two consecutive casts resulted in 2 fish, both putting up good accounts of themselves and when on the scales went 7lb 5oz and 7lb 14oz respectively.  Over the next couple of hours I managed to land a further two 5's and two 6's also losing a fish to a hook pull.  It was a great start, 7 Barbel on the bank within a few hours fishing, although the biggies were still eluding me.
The groundbait that I used in the feeder was quite a stiff mix, with lots of different sized pellets, it was certainly keeping the Barbel occupied.  The next bite was a thumper as the rod sprang back then hooped over and I connected to a fish that shook its head then took line from the reel as it powered towards the far bank.  This fish felt heavier as it went on determined runs, I gradually gained line and slowly pumped the fish up to the surface, on seeing the net it turned leaving a large swirl in its wake as it headed towards the river bed.  Finally it was netted and I let it rest for a while before putting the fish on the scales.

8lb 8oz - Just look at the size of that tail
Biggest of the day so far at 8lb 8oz and you can see where these fish get their power from with the size of the fins.  I was then joined by Rob the club bailiff, I told him of my day so far and apparently the only other two anglers on the stretch were pike fishing with no result.  As we were chatting about the upcoming work party, I had another 2 Barbel, both 7lbers and Rob did the honours with the camera, mush easier than a self take shot, although I did forget to show him the zoom button!

Rob did the honours - 7lb 10oz
Action was thick and fast and the barbel were obviously on the feed and as Rob left to carry on doing his patrol of the river, the rod went again and after a tussle in mid stream the fish headed for a snag down to my left, I could feel the line grating over the snag and it didn't feel good.  The line went solid and I could no longer feel the fish on the end of the line.  I decided to let the line go slack for a few seconds before tightening down to the fish, on the second attempt the fish swam from of the snag and I managed to get the net in the water in the hope of landing my 11th barbel of the day.  As I eased the net towards the barbel, the fish turned and made a last bid for freedom, on my second attempt to net him the fish turned with a lot more force as the main line suddenly parted just above the hook length and the feeder plopped into the river as the fish vanished down the shelf.  Obviously when the fish found sanctuary in the snag earlier in the fight, the line must have been weakened.  Not ideal leaving a hooklink in a barbel, at least it will not be towing a feeder.
I was a little disappointed as I tackled up and it wasn't long before the rod was back in the rest as I waited for the next bite.  It wasn't instant, however a couple of casts later and I was again playing another barbel.  These Wye barbel certainly do pull your string and you always have a fight on your hands when you hook one.  It sent the scales to 8lb 2oz and this was quickly followed by a fish in the 6lb bracket.
12 Barbel and it wasn't even midday.
Would I be able to tempt another, it went quiet for a little while then the rod went into action as the tip rattled towards the river and I struck into a heavy fish, instantly it took line as it headed down river and towards the near bank, this wasn't ideal as there was a partly submerged tree to my left, I held the rod out in front of me to try and get an angle on the fish.  I could see the mainline just touching the branches on the waters surface, I let the Barbel twist and turn downstream hoping it would head back towards mid river.  Eventually it did and luckily the line pinged off the branch and I was back in control.  The fish stayed deep, usually a sign of a better barbel, and I played it hard as I didn't want it to head back towards the snag.  As it came across the surface I prayed the hook would hold, it was fish number 13 after all!

9lb 6oz - a new PB
As always I let the fish rest in the net before weighing and photos. It was going to be the biggest fish of the day, but how big, I knew it wouldn't make a double.  I zeroed the scales and they pulled around to 9lb 6oz, I re-weighed the fish 3 times and sure enough it was a new PB Barbel and fish number 13 of the day.   Luck certainly was on my side today, as I was preparing for a few self take shots, Tony who is on the angling club committee approached over the bank to see how I was getting on as he was one of the other pike anglers on the stretch.  He offered to do the honours with the camera and took a few shots for the photo album.  This was a red letter day indeed 13 barbel, a new PB and last session on the river before the close season kicks in.  I was very happy indeed.  Throughout the day I landed two 5's, three 6's, four 7's, three 8's and a 9.
As I promised to spend part of the day with my wife, I had a couple more casts but no further action, so I packed up and headed home a happy angler.

Note: As I write this I had a phone call from my father who went fishing in the same swim today (Saturday) He landed a 9lber and a new PB at 10lb 8oz, witnessed and photographed by Rob the bailiff.  He was happy to say the least. 

Friday, 9 March 2012

13 - Lucky For Me?

A Red Letter day on the Wye, will update you all on the proceedings very shortly.

One of 13!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Great Expectations

After coming so close to my personal best, I just had to get back to the Wye, especially with the weather staying mild. 
I arrived just as the sun began to creep over the trees on the horizon and although it was the last day in February it seemed like a spring day and I felt confident of catching as I made my way down the bank to the same swim I fished last time. 
Same tactics as before, groundbait feeder with red fish boilie on the hook.  With two trees on the far bank, I made my casts in between the reflections of the trees on the water, this meant it would keep the feed nice and tight drawing the barbel in - hopefully.
Things started well and within 2 hours I had landed 3 barbel, 7lb 14oz, 7lb 2oz and 6lb 8oz.  They were getting smaller not bigger!
Im starting to think my first double will not be from the Wye.  It went quiet for a couple of hours, but I still kept the feeder going in every ten minutes.  It was a glorious day, it felt like the middle of April, it certainly was a pleasure being on the bank, especially after the last two harsh winters that we have endured.
Then I started to get taps on the rod tip, my first thoughts were chub, or worse a small eel.  The taps were too fast to hit, so I took the rod off the rest and touch legered with the line looped over my finger.  With the rod in hand I waited for the next response.  After a couple of minutes I felt a vibration through the line and I just knew the tip was about to move, then it dipped towards the river and I struck meeting a solid resistance.
This felt a better fish, it stayed deep and took line when it wanted, acoss river, then down river towards a nearside snag, I managed to create enough side strain to pressure the fish back into open water.  The fish felt strong as I eased it near the surface and after my second attempt, across the the net.

Biggest of the day - 8lb 1oz
It was a strong healthy looking Barbel and sent the scales to 8lb 1oz.  Long way off my first double.
By the end of the session I managed to land 6 Barbel, an 8, two 7's, two 6's and a 5lber I also lost one to a weedbed, consequence of the mild winter!
A good session overall, but no monsters.  With the river season drawing to a close, I might be able to manage one more session, then my thoughts will turn to Carp, Tench and Bream.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Close but no Cigar

One of the targets I set myself for 2012 was to improve on my Barbel PB.  Most of my Barbelling will be done on the Wye due to the close proximity of the river to my home however on rejoining Birmingham Anglers I also have the Avon and Severn to go at.
Monday morning, and I have arranged to meet my father on the banks of the Wye in a swim we have never fished before but recent reports have led us to believe that some bigger than average barbel have been coming out including a couple of doubles - that'll do me!
I arrived about 10ish, couple of hours after the "Old Man" and on arrival he informed me he had just lost a fish which shed the hook after a few seconds.
Hearing this I couldnt set up fast enough, tactics would be standard feeder rigs, with a red fish boilie on the hook. The swim was a lovely looking glide with a steady pace and around 8 feet depth.
Dad had taken the only flat spot on the bank for his chair, only fair as he arrived first I suppose, I managed to get reasonabley comfortable on the sloping bank. 
I didnt complain for long though as within 20 minutes we both had a barbel each on the bank. Never going to break any records at around 5lb a piece but a confident start in a new swim.
We had only planned a short fishing session and over the next few hours we managed to land 5 Barbel between us, couple of 5's, couple of 6's with me taking the biggest.
The biggest coming half an hour before we packed up, I had a tremendous pull on the rod tip, which I connected with, immediately the rod bent over and the fish went on a purposeful run taking line steadily.  It stayed deep and ploughed up and down river for a few minutes as I gained some line on it.  I knew it was a better stamp than the previous fish caught that day.  On seeing it in the net it was a stocky pristine looking Barbel with a full belly. When I hoisted the fish up the bank in the net, I knew it was going to go close to my PB. 

9lb 1oz - A few more boilies and it might have been!
At 9lb 1oz it fell short a new best, still an impressive looking Wye Barbel.  Due to work commitments I will only manage a couple of days fishing before the end of the river season, if it stays mild its going to be very hard not to fish for a few more Barbs.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Closer to Home

With the temperature predicted to rise on Thursday to a tropical 14 degrees, there was only one place I was heading for and that was my local stretch of the River Wye in search of Barbel.
My intention was to fish an afternoon session, so I arrived at the river around 11.30am and on arrival I walked a short stretch, to find no other anglers, which was not what I was expecting due to the mild conditions.  My chosen swim was a glide just down from a salmon groin which created a nice steady run off with a nice depth of water.  I headed back to the van to collect the tackle.
Set up was going to be a standard feeder rig, including a 3oz feeder, 2 feet braided hooklength and a strong size 8 hook mounted with a hair rigged red fish 15mm boilie. As a little extra incentive for the barbel to bite, I wrapped the boilie in a fishy paste, surely irresistable. 
The sun felt warm on my face as I made the first cast towards mid river, as the feeder settled I squinted into the sunlight, wishing I had packed my polaroids.  The feeder mix was a stiffish method mix dashed with pellets that slowly released from the feeder, perfect in a strong flow.
First few casts were made in quick succession to buid up some feed in the swim and it didnt take long to attract the attentions of something fishy.  The bait had only been in the water a few minutes on my fifth cast when the rod tip thumped down, I struck, the rod bent over and line started peeling from the reel as the fish headed upstream, then across river, then downstream using the flow to its advantage.
With the added flow the fish felt heavy and certainly gave a good account of itself as it did its best to lose the hook in a winter weedbed.
On the surface the Barbel felt like a "sack of spuds" and after a blank 2 days on the Avon, I was relieved when I finally managed to persuade the Barbel over the lip of the net.

8lb 7oz - Photo doesnt do the fish justice

It was a short chunky looking barbel that sent the scales to 8lb 7oz, not a monster but very welcome especially after a hard fight.  Im hoping to improve on my self take shots which is something im looking forward to sharing with you all.
When the sun shone brightly it felt like a warm spring day, on the odd occasion when the sun dipped behind the ever increasing clouds, you were reminded it was still winter.  I had no action for the next hour, and as the clouds developed overhead I had a confident knock on the rod tip.  Within the next half an hour I managed 2 chub, 3lb 9oz and 3lb 4oz.  The smaller of the two was a perfectly conditioned fish, with proud brassy flanks and a pot belly, surely a future 5lber in the making.

Chub perfection
I fished on until dusk with no further bites.  Im hoping to have a day or two off next week which I will definately be spending on the bank, but in search of what, I havent decided!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Day 2

After an almost comfortable night in the back of the van, I was glad to hear the alarm sound so I could start preparing for a days piking!  Kettle on, cup of tea, quick wash and I was on my way to the new stretch of water full of hope.  Having surveyed the water the afternoon before I chose 4 or 5 swims to fish deadbaits in with 2 rods and hopefully pick up a few predators.
I walked downstream to the furthest swim I'd chosen with the intention of working my way back to the van during the day.  As I cast out  to an overhanging tree, the sun was rising bringing a beautiful pink tinge to the few clouds that graced the sky.
Deadbaits were coarse fish in the hope of picking up a bonus Zander.  Rigs were a simple float leger set-up, inched back every so often in the hope of provoking a take.   After 6 hours with no bites or indications I felt I needed to try something different.  I headed back to the van to exchange the deadbait rods for the lure rod and walked upstream and fished every inch of river I could reach, I was determined to get a reaction from the river.
With the morning being still and mild the afternoon was completely different, a cold wind had sprung and felt hostile when stood in its full force.  It was a cold wind that left me looking ruddy!

A cold and windswept Avon
I cast lures to deep bends, along dead reed beds, past overhanging trees and smooth glides in the hope of a take.  The only action I had was from a pike of about 2lb that snatched at my rubber shad in the margins but fell short of the single hook.  For the next 5 minutes we played cat and mouse as I teased the lure just off the marginal shelf.  The small pike showed an interest with a couple more follows but never committed. 
It was now late in the afternoon and the cold wind had taken its toll.  The two stretches have potential, one for barbel and chub the other for predators.  I have a barbel session planned for later this week on the Wye, i'll let you know how I get on.

Starting all over again

Eventually, after working 6-7 days a week for the last 6 weeks, I finally managed some time off work to wet a line.  As I had 4 consecutive days to do with what I liked, I decided to fish a couple of stretches of the Warwickshire Avon on the Birmingham Anglers Card (BAA) after predators, armed with a lure rod and a couple of deadbaiting rods. 
The stretches in question are completely new to me, ive never even clapped eyes on them until I arrived on the monday morning.  Once I arrived in the carp park I jumped out the van and took a quick stroll to have a look at the stretch for the first time.  I was pleased with what I saw, fishy looking swims, nice bends a few nice glides, it screamed barbel and chub!  Pity I had the piking gear with me!
The river leant itself to the roving approach, so I took the lure rod and left the deadbaits in the van.  After fishing several swims, I thought my best chance would be from the weir so I promptly followed the hedge line into the next field.

Good Barbel Potential
I spent half an hour working lures through the weir pool and run off with no success.  As I was preparing to move swims, a club bailiff strolled up to check my license, (a welcome sight that I dont see too often on my local rivers unfortunatley!) he was a helpful chap named Colin.  He confirmed what I was thinking and this stretch is more prolific for barbel and chub rather than predators.  We talked for 10 minutes and he described another stretch that I might be better off targeting for the Pike and Zander.
I took his advice and took the short drive to a stretch that was deeper and slower for a look around with the intention of fishing the next morning.