Saturday, 15 January 2022

Perchtastic

Out for another go for some river perch, after my last session I was hopeful of finding a few fish, however I failed to check the weather forecast. Overcast skies at home slowly cleared on the 40 mile drive and I was greeted with bright sunshine when I arrived at the stretch. The river has also lost all of its colour, confidence plummeted immediately and I briefly considered heading home to grab some pike gear and head to my closest river for a few hours.

Two bite-less hours later I reached for the dropshot rod to see if I could tempt something. I’ve had this setup for about 3 years without using it but I thought it might give me chance in these less than favourable conditions. It didn’t. 

It did help me find a dying weed bed a 1/3rd across the river, so I decided to bait this area fairly heavily and sit it out, hoping a perch would visit before dusk. A few dozen worms were chopped into a few big handfuls of mole hill and deposited into the area around the weed bed.

I was surprised when only 15 mins later the rod tip flew round and shortly after I had 2.09lb perch in the net. A new best for this river so I was very pleased.

2.09lb a new best from this river

The next 4 casts all produced bites…. 

2.12lb followed by a 1.11lb which was added to the net without a photo

2.13lb

The last was lost as I was bring it towards the net, gutted as it was the largest of the day! I had a bad feeling that I would struggle to get another bite and that was the case, despite trying a few different things and casting to other areas of the peg I had zero interest for an hour.

I made another couple of large chopped worm/mole hill balls, put them in the same area and then rested the peg for 20 mins.

First cast and a bite but excitement got the better of me and I struck far too early, next cast another bite but again I failed to connect. Luckily neither fish felt anything so I was still confident the fish hadn’t spooked.

A better fish was hooked next cast, a similar stamp to the one I lost, a little more care was taken this time and I managed to land the fish. A quick weigh and the fish went 3.04lb, no photo as I wanted to get my rod out asap.

Next cast and another 2 pounder was added to the keepnet. Time was running low as I had to get back home but I stayed until the very last possible minute which thankfully was enough for one last fish.


3.15lb - a very honest 3.15lb!!!

3.15 & 3.04 - my first brace of 3lb perch

3.15, 3.04, 2.13, 2.12, 2.09, 2.03 & 1.11lb

I managed to beat my best perch for this river five times, with the largest being a new p.b. Definitely my most memorable perch session.


Thursday, 13 January 2022

River perch


I’ve had a few perch sessions this autumns/winter across 3 different rivers without much to report, the odd small perch, a couple of ruffe and some decent bream was as good as it got.

Things picked up a bit on my most recent outing. Only a short 2.5hr session but I managed to land a couple, lose a very good fish and learn a bit more about the stretch.

I had a 2lb’er second cast, very small knocks on the quiver tip turned into positive bites after twitching the bait back slightly.

Bang on 2lb, my first perch from this river

Very pleased as that was my first perch from this river. Bites on the quiver tipped worm were infrequent and shy so I decided to trot a small live bait over the area I has been fishing the worm. First trot down, float straight under and I was into a nice perch. Unfortunately the hook hold failed before it was ready for netting, gutted. Possibly a 3 pounder as it was much larger than the one I landed.

Bites dried up after the lost fish, eventually a float paternoster live was snatched, however the excitement was short lived as it was a very small jack.

One more good bite on the worm before it was too dark to see produced a 6/8oz perch.



Im planning to head back down to this particular river next week for another go, given what I’ve seen so far I’m hopeful of a few decent perch from there before the season ends. 

PAC talk 

After that perch session I headed down to North Derbyshire to attend a Trent zander/pike talk by Ian Wilson and Steve Lyon. I usually head to the Trent for the day then stop off on the way back up north for the talk but this time I had my dates mixed up and couldn’t get out for the full day. 

The talk/slide show was great, some amazing fish caught by both Ian and Steve, plenty of info and advice shared meant a lot to think about on the long drive home. 

My one and only zander - I’ll be aiming to add a few more from both the non tidal and tidal Trent in the future, maybe not for a season or two as I’m on a long waiting list for the club ticket I want ( plenty of time to day dream).





Sunday, 9 January 2022

Chub blanks

Having caught my target 5lb chub from this particular river a number of times during summer barbel sessions, I was really looking forward to some winter chub fishing on this river. However the chub seem to be a little more elusive than expected and my last two sessions have drawn a blank, not even a bite. 

Winter chub 2021/22

There’s two main stretches I am currently fishing, a shallower, faster stretch and slower, deeper, wider stretch a couple of miles downstream. Both have recently produced chub in excess of 6lb and both stretches represent a different challenge.

The shallower stretch is proving quite difficult to fish in my usual way for chub (large single baits, lightest lead and quiver tip conditions allow). The river is wide, shallow, fast and feature packed, fishing as light as possible doesn’t seem like the best option. I might have to step the gear up to get the presentation needed. I’ve got some 1.25lb Avons which haven’t been used in a while so they should do the job.

On the deeper stretch my usual methods should work fine, maybe slightly heavier leads given the depth. The issue here is the size of the river and the low stock of fish. 

Usually during my short chub sessions I rove around with single large baits, (maybe the odd freebie if there seems to be a few in the area) casting to features etc… This stretch is fairly featureless, around 10ft deep and very wide. I don’t think my usual methods will work here so a rethink on baiting is needed.

Anyway food for thought until my next outing, which should be Tuesday. Initial thoughts of pike fishing might have to change given the rivers overnight rise.

Sunday, 2 January 2022

Festive sessions

Back down to earth after my last couple of sessions on the Trent, a quick Xmas eve chub session with my nephew Will and then a few hours barbel fishing on a falling river a few days after Xmas.

I’ve taken Will out about a dozen or so times and we are yet to blank, but I wasn’t so confident this time around as we only had a couple of hours and couldn’t get to my preferred stretch due to the amount of Xmas traffic.

We started getting interest in the second peg and soon had a nice 1.5lb chub in the net.

Will’s largest chub so far

The chub were a little cagey due to an otter also working the stretch and we struggled to connect with another fish.

Waterproof jacket left in car, the world noisiest carrier bag to the rescue

My barbel session was on a river I’ve had a few from this season. I had planned on a chub session but given the mild conditions I couldn’t pass the chance up. The river seemed in perfect condition 2 to 3ft up, falling and still holding a little colour.


3 pegs an hour or so in each, one pull from a chub and that was that.

Probably the last time I’ll have a go for barbel until the end of the season. I’ve got my eye on some local perch fishing, possibly p.b territory, hopefully the river conditions stay reasonable so I can have a few sessions after them.

2021 highlights

Barbel - 14lb 12oz
Bream - 6lb 8oz
Chub - 6lb 7os
Eel - Approx 2lb
Pike - 13lb 6oz

No need for a full yearly review as I hadn’t blogged until the Christmas break. The start of the year was successful for chub increasing my p.b by an ounce but more importantly catching a six pounder from a river I had been trying for one for a couple of years. 

The rest of the year I seemed to be (unintentionally) fishing for barbel, a local river best, first wye double and then 2 hectic Trent sessions resulting in 3 p.b’s to 14.12lb.

Hopefully 2022 will see no covid restrictions and plenty of time on the bank!



Thursday, 30 December 2021

Winter barbel (Middle Trent Madness!)

After that last Trent trip temperatures dipped so I changed my focus to perch from my local rivers, 3 trips, 3 different rivers, 3 disappointing sessions. Nothing much to report but I'm planning a few more trips before the season ends so hopefully I can manage a few.

I had been keeping an eye on the weather and river levels daily, hoping a spell of mild weather and kind river conditions would coincide with a night I had free. It wasn't until mid December all of these factors fell into place and I was again heading down the A1 to the upper reaches of the middle Trent.

Levels were up from my last visit, which thankfully I had judged correctly and had brought my 13ft flood water rods with me. I wasn't fishing long distances or using mega heavy leads (no more than 1/3 across and up to 5oz leads) but needed the longer rods to keep as much line out of the water as possible as the debris meant recasting every 20 to 30 mins. Thankfully the barbel didn't mind the debris as I was into a fish after 30 mins. I knew it was a good fish, heavy, holding its position in the increased flow and a bit of an arm workout! 

After a good 5 min fight in the powerful flow the barbel was resting in the landing net, using the heavier rods and larger landing net than my last visit, I didn't realise how big the barbel was until I lifted the net out a few minutes later. A new personal best.

14.07lb 

Another great start with the first fish of the session being another personal best! 

The session continued in a similar manner to the previous visit and I was kept busy over the next few hours with 3 more doubles, 10.07lb, 10.14lb and an 11.13lb.

10.07lb

10.14lb

11.13lb

Madness, 4 doubles in a little more than a few hours fishing. 

The higher water levels meant fishing further up the bank than previous sessions which meant the peg was now narrower due to the trees either side of the peg. I decided to drop down to one rod to make things easier/safer if I got a take in the early hours.

90 minutes later, I was woken by a screaming run, on the rod within a few seconds and again an obviously heavy barbel had taken the bait.

It was a few minutes into the fight that I realised that I had left the headtorch on my bedchair. In the middle of nowhere with no light pollution made for an interesting fight in the pitch black. The barbel stayed deep, fought very hard in the margin and was netted as it was trying to head towards the marginal reeds.
 
14.12 - another p.b on this session

Crazy fishing, 5 barbel, 5 doubles, 2 p.b's

Things went quiet for a few hours, so after some much needed sleep I got up at 05:00 and got both rods back in, hoping for another fish before dawn. I didn't have to wait long for the action to start again.





3 more single figure fish were added before first light. For once I didn't have to rush home early so I decided to slowly pack up whilst my gear was drying, obviously the rods were last to be put away. 


10.00lb - 6th double of the session

A 3lb chub and a 10.00lb barbel were landed whilst the gear was drying.

Another crazy session - 9 barbel (14.12lb, 14.07lb, 11.13lb, 10.14lb, 10.07lb, 10.00lb, 8.08lb, 7lbish, 6lbish) plus a 3lb chub.

Coming from the north east of england, barbel fishing of this quality is alien to me, I 'm more used to scratching around for the odd fish, occasionally having multiple fish in a session and very, very rarely coming across a double.

So barbel fishing of this standard is welcomed and very much appreciated!  

Well earned - The obligatory p.b pint when I got home

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

Late Autumn Trent Barbel (catch-up part 6)


 A planned social session down to the Trent for a mates birthday, 3 of us stopping for some food and a beer then heading to the middle Trent in search of barbel.

Ben had the best of this session with 7 (maybe 8) barbel to 12lb.


I split my session, between barbel and pike/zander, 3 barbel to 9lb and a modest pike.



The birthday boy had a bit of a nightmare session, forgotten equipment, a barbel blank and a lost rod ! I don’t even think a birthday pint cheered him up !

A week later I was back down with Ben, a short session, turned up as it was getting dark, left at first light, just the one fish this session.

The only interest on a difficult session, far too much debris coming down a river running cold

A week or so later I had the chance for an overnight trip back down to the Trent, more favourable conditions with very mild weather, the river had dropped a bit and most importantly the barbel were on the feed.

A full 35 mins after casting in I was into a good fish, the fish didn’t pull hard, just held its ground in the powerful flow. Eventually it tired and I pulled a new p.b over the net.

12.03lb - a new p.b, a great way to start the session

That first fish was the start of a very memorable session and a very busy night!







11 takes, 9 barbel landed with 6 doubles. (12.03lb, 10.04lb, 9.11lb, 6ish, 11.06lb 10.10lb, 11.09lb, 11.08lb and 6lbish)

On some of my local rivers I fish that’s a seasons worth of barbel and a lifetimes worth of doubles!

Obviously I couldn’t wait for the next trip down the A1……

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

Autumn pike (catch-up part 5)

Early October came and as planned I headed down to Lincolnshire to pike fish a syndicate gravel pit. The 2.5hr drive passed quickly with the thoughts of the huge pike that are rumoured to reside in this water. The excitement quickly turned to disappointment after seeing the water for the first time as 90% of it was choked with weed from lake bed to surface.

'About 2 months too early' was the thought of the day as I walked around the pit. I decided to recce the water properly and return at a later date. A few pike strikes whilst using the deeper confirmed the presence of pike and then a quick chat with a bailiff confirmed the size of the pike which had been caught in the previous season. 

I decided to head back north and fish a river for a few hours on the way home. The short river session almost went as well as the gravel pit session!


Shortly after my first cast I had a 'take', struck into nothing, same again next cast and the next. The bait was fairly trashed so I changed it to a bluely, within 5 seconds of the bait hitting bottom I had a positive take again, which turned out to be mitten crabs! I've had to deal with crayfish on my local rivers but these things are on another level!

Less than 1 minute in the water

I didn't have time for a move so I persevered for the final hour of daylight then headed straight to the closest pub, which fortunately served a decent pint of Guinness.

Ten days later I was back out after pike, running water this time, only my second session on this river. 

It took a couple of hours before I had any interest, a hard fighting 12 pounder on a margin fished sardine.

12.02lb - sardine

Another hour or so and again a sardine in the margin was taken over a paternoster live bait, slightly larger this time.

13.06lb of greedy, hard fighting northern river pike.

Both pike fought hard, but this second fish really didn't want to go in the net, tail walking, thrashing and even regurgitating a recently taken female mallard on the way in! The fish was rested in the net for 5 mins, whilst unhooking the remains of crayfish and possibly a young cygnet were found at the bottom of the net.


The fish went 13.06lb, I'd imagine it would of been around 15lb or so if it hadn't of ejected the contents of its now saggy stomach on in the way in!



After a couple of short blank sessions, I finally had the time again for a full days pike fishing, unfortunately conditions were against me as the chosen river was carrying 3ft of snow melt. I've found it best to stay active in these conditions, one hour per peg, recast the rods every 30 mins and try to drop a bait close to a pike.

Eventually the tactics paid of and five minutes after casting into the 5th peg of the day an ever reliable sardine was taken. Size is irrelevant on tough days like this, any pike landed makes it a successful session in my book. 


Monday, 27 December 2021

Local barbel (catch-up part 4)

I have been aiming to catch my first double figure barbel from a specific local river without much success. I've caught them in the past, only a few fish to about 8 and half pounds or so, but this summer I had half a dozen sessions without a barbel take, if I'm honest I didn't even feel close to catching one. 

During these sessions it was either big chub or blank. 





I think I'm a few years late for the barbel on this river, as predation is the heaviest I have ever seen on a river and the numbers of barbel have been decimated.   

I had a couple of visits to another water from where I have had barbel from in the past, again I've had fish up to about 8lb and I'll be looking to get a double from here in the future. 


8.06lb - a few oz added to this river best

I enjoy spending time on this river as the areas I've fished have been productive. Long term I'll also be aiming for a double from this river but I'll be aiming to cross the lower stock rivers off my list first as I fear in a few years time there wont be any point in barbel fishing them. 

 

Friday, 24 December 2021

Wye trip (Covid catch-up part 3)

 A trip to the wye during August, keeping an eye on catch reports during the weeks leading up to our trip and things weren't looking too great. A low river and poor water quality saw people struggling to bank the numbers of fish you expect when heading to this river.

An amazing looking river, well worth the 4hr plus drive

Wye not !! - Wye Valley Butty Bach

The trip was split into 3 sessions, a short evening session close to our accommodation, a full day on a wye & usk stretch then a very short morning session on the accommodation stretch again. Thankfully the river was slightly up on our first session. 



First fish to Ben


10.01lb - My first wye double

We both landed a few barbel each and plenty of chub during the first session.

 Day two, colour and levels had dropped, a harder session but eventually we both landed barbel and loads of chub (30 plus between us).





Around the 8lb mark

A very short morning session before travelling back home, one bite and one fish landed between us.



4.03lb - my best wye chub 

  Not as prolific as our previous visit but catching my first wye double definitely made it a memorable trip. I think my next visit to the wye will be in winter for the pike and chub, which will take some planning as I don't fancy that drive to find the river high and coloured.