Monday, 31 August 2015

Target achieved

A 36 hour session on the Trent, a birthday treat. This was actually my second visit to this river, the last being a couple of months ago but ultimately wasn't that successful, I was hoping for a better outcome on this trip.

The trip was broken down into 3 x 12 hour sessions. The first of these sessions I was targeting the zander. Initially we had planned to fish a ticket water, but Ben had managed to get us access to a private stretch that we could fish for free, so we opted to fish there.

Home for the first night
The stretch isn't particularly large and without wanting to waste time opening up a new peg, we shared the one peg, which was a bit of a squeeze but manageable.

Ben has fished this stretch before catching quality barbel, bream and chub. We hadn't know of any zander to come out of the stretch, but the section is on the navigable part of the river so has some depth and is relatively slow moving compared to other sections of this powerful river.

I spent some time catching bait and within 30 minutes there was enough bleak and roach in the keepnet to see us through the night. I decided on one rod for the barbel and one for the zander, both setup with simple running rigs, the latter with a small treble wire trace. 

It was a good hour after sunset before the first bait was taken, a live roach was snatched, as soon as I struck I knew it was an eel. A decent size, unweighted, definitely over a pound, but less than two. This is the first eel I have taken on a live bait, we were both surprised with the capture as the bait was a decent size, not what I would usually class as eel size.


About an hour later a bleak was taken, initially I thought it was another eel, it felt a good size too so I was pleased. Ben caught a glimpse of it and said it didn't look like an eel, I wasn't convinced until it surfaced and those trademark eyes reflecting our head torches back towards us were revealed.

Thankfully the fight wasn't very spectacular and although it took a couple of attempts to net, I soon had my first zander resting in the landing net, a decent one as well!

A first zander - 8lb 14oz
The rest of the trip could of been a blank, I didn't care, target achieved, a couple of beers were cracked open to celebrate.

The rest of the night passed without any zander being landed. Plenty of runs but they were difficult to hit, the few we did connect with were jacks, two for Ben and just the one on my rod. I also managed a couple of bream on the barbel rod, which probably only just went past the 2lb mark.

The next 24 hours was on a stretch further downstream, much more pace to this section of river so we were going for the barbel. Being a popular ticket water you have to pre-book pegs, unfortunately that meant having to fish a different peg for the day and night session.

The day session was hard, given the low water and clear skies we weren't overly confident in catching barbel during the day. Ben had the only take, on a rod he had scaled down to 6lb fluro and a small 6mm pellet. A pristine 7lb + barbel was his reward. I didn't get so much as a knock all day and I was glad when the evening came.

A new peg, a fresh start, two rods, one downstream to a near bank willow, the second would be cast into open water with a big bait and a heavy lead.

The first hour was spent putting some bait next to the willow, I recast the feeder every 5 minutes, to get a bit of the simple groundbait mix in the area. 

The first take came at 19:45 and I was kept busy thoughtout the night, 10 runs and 7 barbel landed.

A first barbel from this river - 5lb 9oz
The largest and final fish of the session - 9lb 5oz
The 5 barbel landed between these went - 8lb 14oz, 5lb 15oz, approx 4lb 8oz, 6lb 7oz and 6lb 1oz. A very productive session for me, as the most barbel I had previously caught in the one session was four.

Unfortunately Ben didn't land anything during the night, he lost a good fish first cast, but that was the only take he had.

That's probably my final barbel session of the year, time to concentrate on the predators.

The capture of that zander means that I have achieved one of the targets I set myself at the beginning of the year. The others being a p.b eel, perch and pike. Not asking for much! Probably unachievable but I'm going to give it a good go.

A few sessions for the eels, leaving me the rest of the year to target the perch and pike.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Birthday trip prep

As a birthday treat Lindsey was planning on booking me an overnight stay and a couple of days fishing over the Lake District, but it's still a little early for me to start dead baiting and besides he lakes will still be ridiculously busy given its the last week of the holidays.

Instead I'm heading down to the Trent for a nights zander fishing then a 24 hour barbel session. I'm heading to the same stretch (possibly the same peg) as my first attempt for the zander, a deep slow stretch that (apparently) is usually good for a couple of fish.

My first attempt for the zander was unsuccessful, a bit of interest in the baits, but no confident takes. The interest could of been zander but equally it could of easily of been eels. Besides that session was after finishing 6 weeks of constant nights and I spent most of the time asleep and didn't fish it as well as I could have.

Slow and deep, an ideal peg for my first zander ?
I have more confidence in catching barbel from the stretch I'm booked onto, plenty of info online and some recent catch reports from lads I know. A few fish coming out, mainly during the night which is no surprise given the low water levels. I'll be taking plenty of bait but sticking to a boilie, pellet and ground bait approach.

My gear is 90% ready just a few more hook lengths and some wire traces to make. Hopefully I will be on the bank by 18:00 tomorrow, which should enable me to snatch a few baits and get everything setup well before dusk.

Solar hair gauge

I've been using one of these little tools for a couple of years now. The hair gauge helps take the guess work out of hair lengths and provides a platform to hold the hook while tying the knot less knot, which is handy when it's cold and wet or dark.

A good bit of kit, especially for a couple of quid

Saturday, 22 August 2015

A social blank

Out for a barbel session last night, fishing a river with a much larger head of barbel than on my last session, so I was hopeful of a fish or three. I was fishing with Mick for the first time in a few months and we decided to fish a double peg and have a bit of a catch up.

It was a very mild night, still t-shirt weather at 03:00, a very nice evening to be on the bank, unfortunately the fishing wasn't up too much and we didn't have a take between us. Probably should of went eel fishing!


A new book arrived last week, Dilip Sarkar's River Pike, the first book for nearly thirty years dedicated solely to fishing for esox in our rivers. The last effort was the late John Sidleys 'River Piking' which is a bit dated and mainly focuses on a section of the River Severn. The Sidley book has a bit of a following and usually commands a high price on eBay, sometimes up to £100, luckily my copy didn't cost anything like that.

I haven't found the time to start reading the newer book (yet), but I have only heard good things about it so far and I'm looking forward to reading.

I'll be starting to get my pike gear sorted over the next couple of weeks, with the aim of having my first session towards the back end of September. I have a few stretches of river in mind for my first pike session of the season and plenty of areas that I haven't covered before for later sessions. I will also be continuing my search for a local still water that holds pike to a decent size, I want to try and avoid the jacks this winter and finally land that first elusive twenty.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Perfect timing......

With the heavy rain on Friday I was keeping an eye on the river levels, hoping that I would get an opportunity for a few hours barbel fishing over the weekend. I would be targeting them on my local river which isn't know as a barbel river, they are there but they are very few and far between, many blanks are expected and some anglers have spent many a season without landing one. My only barbel from this river came about 15 years ago and probably only weighed a couple of ounces.

Well my opportunity came sooner than I hoped it would, plans for Saturday night and a day trip to the lakes on Sunday meant it was Saturday morning or nothing. I was a bit worried that the river still would still be rising and checking the levels online overnight did nothing to convince me otherwise.


My gear was sorted from my previous outing, but I decided to drop down to the one rod and swap the tip from a 1.75lb to a 2.2lb section, a few heavier leads were also added to the bag.

I arrived just after first light and I had convinced myself that the river would be an unfishable raging torrent, however it looked spot on, high (about 6ft up), coloured, pushing through fast but fishable. I put a marker stick in the margin whilst setting up and within a few minutes it was obvious the level was falling.

Tactics were a cast to the marginal slacks, then 30 to 40 minutes later a cast slightly further out, if no  interest move to the next peg. No interest from the first two pegs, the third had a crease a couple of rod lengths out so I cast the double boilie bait there.

Within 5 minutes the rod went, a brutal fight in the strong current, even with the heavy tip on the rod was bent double and I knew it was a good fish. The fish went on many runs downstream and made it to the now submerged backside himalayan balsam, but some firm pressure soon had it open water again. It was a good 10 minutes before I managed to get the lead to the surface, the fish soon followed, instantly I knew it was a good one.

Netted at the first attempt, a definite new p.b -


11lb 3oz - beats my previous best (which was less than a week old)
by over 3lb and my previous best from this river by over 11lb !
Chuffed to bits with this fish, needless to say I had a few beers over the weekend to celebrate.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Back on the bank

It's been a struggle to spend any time on the bank recently, working longer hours than usual and being midway through the school holidays has meant fishing has taken an unwelcome back seat.

I had a couple of unsuccessful barbel sessions just after my last blog entry, both blanks with two fish lost on the first session and despite the more favourable conditions absolutely no interest on the second session.

Three weeks past without being able to wet a line. During periods of 'angling hibernation' I tend to avoid logging on to forums, reading angling blogs and books etc... as it just adds to the frustration of not being able to fish.

Anyway my first chance to spend some time on the bank was on Sunday morning. I had planned on a stickfloat session for perch but I didn't get the time on Saturday to call in the tackle shop and get any bait. Having plenty of boilies and pellets on the shelf, a barbel session it was.

Two takes, two fish, one new p.b.

8lb 2oz - added just over a pound to my previous best
Exactly 6lb, taken as I was packing up