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.