Tuesday, 2 August 2022

A couple before the heat

 13/07/22

A session straight from work, clocking out at 21:58hrs, a quick coffee followed by a 45-minute drive and I was fishing by 23:15hrs. Similar conditions to recent sessions, clear skies, relatively warm, with 5-6ft of moderately fast walking pace water in front of me. A bit of bait was immediately thrown into the margin and towards the far bank willows, which was left undisturbed for a while whilst I set up in the dark.

Chub knocks almost instantly, despite sitting on my hands and ignoring the rod tip for as long as possible I hooked a small (2.5lb) chub, which was a bit of a swim wrecker as I didn't get a touch for almost an hour afterwards. A barbel provided the next action, a really hard unusual fight as the barbel surfaced almost immediately and stayed on the surface for the duration of the battle. 

8.01lb of hard-fighting northern river barbel

I should have headed home straight after that fish as the commotion had almost certainly scared everything in the surrounding area off. However I had one further take as I was about to leave, a 'proper' barbel take, which turned out to be a decent chub of 4.07lb


  15/07/22

Again straight from work and fishing by 23:45hrs, it was my last shift for 3 days so I could stay for as long as I could keep myself awake. Exactly the same approach as my previous sessions (it's working, why change it?!) on this stretch, a couple of balls of soaked pellet/ crushed boilie into areas on the near and far bank, with a single rod, casting in turn to each area, every 30 mins or so.

Without warning the rod hooped round just before 01:00 and a really aggressive fight developed.

Eventually, a nice barbel of 8.11 was landed, however that was it for the night. The only knocks on the rod tip were caused by the odd bat hunting moths which were attracted to the bright isotope. After first light, I recced a few more areas for future sessions and threw all the bait I had with me in as I knew I wouldn't be fishing for a while with the forecasted temperatures looking ridiculous for the UK. 

Sunday, 17 July 2022

Hat-trick

 07/07/2022

Another session straight from work, fishing like my previous sessions, a baited area in the margin and one on towards the far bank willows, with alternate casts in each area. My first cast was around 23:00hrs, with very little interest until the rod hopped over at around 01:30hrs. 

9.04lb
At 9.04lb this is my second largest from this river, a very pleasing capture. The fish fought extremely hard and it was a challenge to prevent the fish from making it to some submerged marginal roots. In fact, on checking the rig over before the next cast there was a lot of damage to the mainline. I use 12lb GR60 for most of my barbel fishing and have found it very robust and reliable, it rarely gets damaged so it must have been rubbing on something substantial. A couple of rod lengths of mainline were stripped before my next cast.
 
No interest for the next hour or so, I decided to concentrate on the far bank thinking that the barbel would be heading back toward the snags before first light. 5 minutes after casting another take.

8.11lb

Another 8lb plus fish on the bank, very pleased. This was the first time I have managed more than one barbel in a session from this river. I decided to fish on until 04:00hrs and a few minutes before the rod screamed off again.

The hat-trick fish, around the 7lb mark

A very pleasing session, I've obviously landed on a concentration of fish in this area, no doubt still grouped up post-spawning. I've had 5 barbel in my last 3 sessions, compared to 2 fish from 15 sessions previously. Hopefully, I can continue to stay in contact with the fish until I find that double I'm after!

Friday, 8 July 2022

Two in a row


A short session on the river, on the bank for just after 21:00 and off by 01:00. Similar tactics to last session, both margin and far bank cover lightly baited with boilie and soaked pellet. A 30 minute cast in one area then a cast to the other if no interest. 15 mins after the second cast in the margin the rod flew round. 

2 in a row, good going on this river


A 6lb’er was soon landed, nothing huge but any barbel is a result on this water. An hour or so later, the rod went round, again from the near bank margin.

A 4lb chub this time

I didn’t get near a barbel from this river last session so I’m very pleased with two this early in the season. Hopefully I’ll be out one night after work for a short session.




Friday, 1 July 2022

June barbel ( the hard river)

 A couple of days after the 16th I headed straight to the river after work for a short session, in the hope of trying to locate any remaining barbel in this river. I had half a dozen sessions last season without hooking one, spent a good number of hours in the closed season walking the banks without managing to spot one.

I know barbel fishing on this river is going to be a real struggle but I am determined to catch a double from this water before they no longer exist.

A 3lb chub on my first visit

A larger chub of 4lb 15oz on my second short session

A chub on each of my first sessions, usually I try my best to avoid the chub whilst targeting barbel but there are some very big chub on one of the stretches, so rigs have been adapted to give me a fair chance of catching either species.  

I decided to travel further downstream for my next session, a slower, deeper stretch of river that held a decent head of barbel a decade or so ago. I lightly baited an area on the far bank and one closer in, a rod length or so out. I generally only fish one rod at a time for barbel on the northern rivers, 30 minutes in one spot then try the other for half an hour whilst baiting the first area. 10 minutes after my third cast into the near bank area the rod flew rod, very obviously a barbel! 
 
Just over a pound added to my best from this difficult river - 9lb 9oz

Very pleased to have landed a barbel on my 3rd visit, especially with it being a new river best and less than half a pound from being a double. A massive confidence boost and I know what stretch I'll be heading to next time I am able to get out.

Monday, 27 June 2022

Opening Day

 I didn't manage to wet a line during the close season, a handful of recce's to new stretches (usually followed by a pint) was as close as I got to fishing.

The 16th of June came around quickly this year, I couldn't get on the bank for a midnight start so I decided to be on the bank at first light and have a few hours trotting for silvers hoping to draw in some large perch and target them with a light live bait outfit.


The river was on its arse, a fair bit lower than I had expected. Fishing was difficult, most trots down went ignored, eventually, I tempted a few small silvers but constant changes to the depth of the rig and to the shotting pattern were needed to keep the bites coming.

Around 50 small dace and chublets with the odd slighter better perch

A difficult first session back on running water, the larger perch failed to show, not surprising given the extremely low river and bright conditions. I'll be trying this stretch again in a couple of months when conditions are better, I've had perch to well over 2lb on the section and have a feeling that there's bigger to be had. 

Barely touched the sides!

Close season recces

I dropped a couple of clubs this season and added a couple of new tickets with numerous stretches of river that I've never laid eyes on so I've probably spent about 30 hours in the close season ( would have been more if we weren't getting bent over every time we need to fuel up!) visiting new waters, walking the banks, finding deeper areas with a castable sonar, all time well spent (hopefully!).





Sunday, 3 April 2022

2021/22 round up

 Each season I generally set myself a number of targets, usually aiming for a fish over a certain weight from a specific venue. 2021/22 targets were a p.b eel, a river best barbel, a river best pike and a 5lb plus chub from a certain river. For the most part my season was focused on these targets with the odd deviation for some river perch.

Eel

My season started mid May, eel fishing a couple of venues but mainly focusing on a large gravel pit. I managed two eels from the gravel pit, the largest about 2lb, not the targeted personal best but a good sign for future seasons, maybe.

 

Barbel

As usual my focus shifted towards running water not long after the rivers opened, another season when I should of held off and spent more time eel fishing as the local barbel weren't playing ball. It was early August before I managed to get some decent results, a trip to the wye produced my first wye double and I also added a few oz to my best wye chub.

New wye best - 10.01lb

Locally I also managed to increase my river best barbel from a venue I rarely fish, a good river with a good head of fish but its a bit of a trek so I only fish it occasionally when I'm frustrated on more challenging venues.

A few oz added to a local river best

Things didn't really take off until late autumn/early winter when I had a few visits to the trent, two average sessions, followed by two epic sessions. During the last 2 sessions I landed 18 barbel, 12 of which were doubles, I beat my pb on 3 occasions finishing with a new best of 14.12lb.



14.12lb

Chub

I struggled with chub this season with all my best fish coming whilst barbel fishing. 




I achieved my target by default catching a few chub to over 5lb from the targeted river on barbel gear, I also managed my first 5 from another river again whilst barbel fishing. All my attempts at chub fishing this season have been in vain as I didn't land a chub whilst fishing for them ! 

To be fair I have been fishing for them on a stretch that holds very few chub, however the fish that do occasionally turn up are massive by local standards. I'll be back next winter, aiming for a 6lb plus fish.

Perch

I landed on some good perch fishing so I decided to take advantage and gave the area a number of sessions, I managed a good number of 2lb + fish, a few 3lb + fish topping out at a new best of 3.15lb.



Pike

Time spent barbel fishing during some unseasonably mild weather and taking advantage of stumbling across some good perch fishing left little time for pike, I can count the number of pike sessions I had on one hand. Despite the lack of sessions I caught a twenty pounder from my local river and caught my first pike from another river (both doubles).


2021/22 highlights -

Barbel  - 14.12lb

Bream - 6.08lb

Chub - 5.04lb

Eel - 2lb (unweighed)

Perch - 3.15lb

Pike - 20.01lb

 Overall a very pleasing season, despite a few periods of no fishing (various reasons) I managed 3 out of 4 targets, beat a number of p.b's and capped it off with a local twenty, something I have been pursuing for a good number of years.

Plans are in place for next season, a couple of new club tickets have arrived this week, recces planned  and after another month or so I'll be out eel fishing, cant wait!


Friday, 18 March 2022

Twelve years in the making


 I’ve not had too many pike sessions this season, consciously spending the time I would usually target pike, fishing for barbel and perch instead. A decision which paid off as I caught new p.b’s of both species, however as the end of season was approaching I was eager to finish off the season with a pike session.

I had two stretches of my local river in mind but my preferred stretch had two cars in the car park (a lot for this stretch) so I did a quick u-turn and headed to the back up choice.

Within 20 mins of arriving I had a screaming take on a margin fished sardine, almost immediately after striking a huge chub was on the surface and with a quick flick of its tail it was gone. I have caught a number of 6 pounders over the last few seasons and this dwarfed any chub I'd previously caught or seen.

I was still at a bit of a loss when my second bait was taken, smelt this time and again fished in the margin. A very fast positive take, instantly I was hoping the chub had came back for a second helping, but thought more than likely it would be a jack. Thankfully after striking there was healthy curve on the rod, which was maintained during an uneventful but dogged fight. The pike was netted at the first attempt, a definite seasons best so scales and camera were sorted whilst the fish was resting in the net. 

Only on lifting the net from the water did I think this would be anywhere near the 20lb mark.

Late season, as fat as butter and just over 20lb.

For an accurate as possible reading the Reuben Heatons were hung from a tree branch and thankfully they went passed the 20lb barrier, only just, but I'll take that any day !


Just over the magic mark

Over the moon, a quick couple phone calls to a couple of close mates and despite being in a shite reception area they got the gist of what was going on!

I caught my first pike from this river in 2006 and started fishing for them properly from around 2010. Since then I have been dreaming of a 'twenty' from this river, I've had a number of close calls, both near misses (19lb plus fish) and losses of definite (known) 20lb plus fish. 

I had spent a lot of time in previous seasons focusing all of my pike sessions on this river (borderline obsessed) , but after landing fish to over 19lb and becoming a little burnt out from the hunt I decided that I would move on and just pike fish this river as and when and without too much of an agenda.       

The decision paid off as the pike was landed on only my second visit to this river this season and I've had some great times pike fishing on other rivers and targeting other species during times when in the past I would of been going through the motions on this river.

The pike was my last fish of the season, I had a chub session (different river) until midnight on the 14th but didn't manage to land anything. The capture will definitely see me through the close season and has reignited the drive to pursue a 20lb plus pike from another local river. Club tickets have been bought, google earth surveyed, recces have been planned, time off work requested............

Roll on October !!
 

Sunday, 13 March 2022

Post Covid Perch

 My youngest daughter brought covid home with her, nothing serious but after a few days I was also testing positive. I was expecting to test negative after a few days, but I was positive for the full 10 days and for the first couple of weeks back at work I was too wiped out to be getting out on the bank. Storms, floods and car problems also added to my time away from fishing. (Almost 7 weeks without setting a line !)

I had some time off booked in for the last week or so of the season, so I could manage a few sessions before the season ends.

Perch were the target, things were hard going compared to before the major floods we’ve had and although I landed a 2lb’er on each session it was a real struggle.



A brown trout, a surprise capture this far downstream 

Next session was in a similar area, similar methods as on previous sessions but most of the day the quiver tipped worm baits went untouched. Eventually a small perch hung itself, followed by a better fish at last knockings.

2.01lb taken as the last of the light faded



Nice to be back on the bank, with a couple of decent fish landed, hopeful of more during chub and pike sessions before the end of the season.


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).