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.