Friday 22 November 2019

Summer/Autumn barbel campaign (part 3)

As October approached opportunities for time on the bank dried up, work around the house that (should of finished in the close season) needed completing before we could get new carpets fitted, so any spare time was spent decorating, fitting skirting boards etc...  I only managed two sessions throughout the whole of October both for barbel, both in flood conditions and both hard work.

First up a visit to a localish river, only my fourth visit to this stretch so am I still learning the ropes. The river was on the verge of bursting its flood banks when I arrived, loads of extra warm water, south westerlys blowing but I struggled to present a bait for more than 10 minutes at a time and blanked.

Next trip was a trip to the tidal Trent, planned well in advance and was very nearly cancelled at the last minute as the river was 10ft up on normal levels. One of the lads dropped out, but the rest of us went down, persevered with the conditions and managed a few fish between us, including a couple of p.b’s.

A few ounces added to my p.b, but not one of the Trent monsters I was hoping for. I’ll hopefully head down for a few visits next year to try and tempt one of the outsize barbel this river often produces.

After that last trent trip the urge to roam the banks at night after barbel subsided and my thoughts started to turn to predators.

Friday 4 October 2019

Summer/Autumn barbel campaign (part 2)

By the beginning of August the school holidays were in full swing and although I was still fishing fairly regularly, weekends away, trips to the beach, theme parks, zoos etc... took priority over chasing barbel.

When I managed to get out the fishing was fairly consistent, blanks were rare (plenty of chub) but I was still struggling to locate the double I have been targeting. 

This season I have concentrated on 3 different stretches of the river, each offering there own individual challenges. A stretch new to me this season has tree lined banks with very tight pegs. Using my usual barbel rods on this stretch was a hindrance, meaning some lovely looking pegs had to be left unfished. A shorter rod was needed and after a bit of on line searching eventually I settled for a 8ft 2lb Korum Opportunist rod. 

Initially I was going to splash out a 9ft 1.75lb Nash Scope, but was put off by many reports of breakages and the high price. The Korum cost £43 delivered, less than a third of the Nash rod I was looking at. I wasn’t expecting much from the cheaper Korum rod, but have been very pleased with its performance so far.

Some good chub to over 5lb were caught on its first outing, which were subdued very quickly. Next outing with the rod was hard going, the river was higher than I expected and with shorter rod length it was difficult keeping enough line out of the water, but eventually I found away of keeping the rod high enough and got the barbel feeding, after a good scrap in the powerful flow a nice 7lb plus fish was landed. The Korum rod has a slim powerful blank with a decent reel fitting, full cork handle and lightweight PacBay Minima guides. I’ve used this rod 5 or 6 times so far without complaint.

The 8ft rod pairs well with a small 2500 baitrunner
So far this season the fishing has been challenging, always enjoyable and more often than not rewarding. I have really enjoyed my summer on this river, the only negative being the amount of otters and mink present in the area. 

Every session on this river this season I have seen otters, quite often multiple times during the session and sometimes more than one otter at a time. Twice I have witnessed mink dragging decent chub up the far bank and into a tree to eat. I’ve had otters surface in the margin no more than a couple of foot from me and even had an otter on the bank in the bushes behind me.

It can be quite frustrating baiting up a swim over a couple of hours, for otters to turn up 5 minutes after your first cast and ruin things. I have started questioning if I should be baiting up areas as it just feels like I’m setting the dinner table for the otters!

As frustrating as it is I am still catching, but it certainly won’t stay like this for long. I can only see the fishing getting harder, stretches becomes devoid of any large fish and anglers leaving the banks, which has happened on the river closest to my home.

Despite the having many a session ruined by the predators I was still catching during my short sessions and had a trip to the Trent to look forward to.

Mid August and my first visit to the Trent of the season. Due to family and work commitments longer sessions like this have to planned well in advance. Unfortunately this trip happened to be during the largest flood of the year, meaning the river was 8 to 10ft up depending on the tide. No scope for changing dates etc... so we went and fished anyway. The conditions gave me a chance to test out another new purchase, a pair of 13ft 2.5lb Korum barbel rods. 

My normal barbel rods are Korum Neoteric (Mk1’s) twin tips (1.75/2.2lb) and whilst I’ve used these on the to tidal Trent in the past, I would be gutted if I broke one casting heavy leads as they are hard to get hold of now. 

It was hard work presenting a bait and I struggled during the day landing only 2 small bream. Ben had a very good session during the day landing 4 barbel (including a new p.b) loads of bream to a decent size and a rouge sturgeon.

A p.b for Ben 13lb 2oz !
During the night I managed to get amongst a few barbel. The fishing was hard with lots of debris coming downstream, 8oz leads would only hold for 20 minutes, 30 if you were lucky. So it was a night of little to no sleep but ultimately worth it as I landed 3 barbel to 11lb. 

Bang on 11lb

Ben struggled during the night and didn’t catch anything else, not that I think he was bothered as I’m sure that p.b barbel will live long in the memory. Before the 2.5hr drive back home we called into a few other stretches on the tidal river for a quick recce for future sessions. The new rods performed well, Ben and I were both impressed with them, I’ll need to use them for a few more sessions before I fully make my mind up on them, but so far I’m happy with them.

Back on home turf things were slow, 3 sessions, 2 blanks, 2 chub, time for a change of scenery again. I headed to another local(ish) river that I had caught from a month or so previously, conditions were similar so I thought it would be worth a go. Plenty of interest from small bait stealing chub, but eventually the rod ripped off with a barbel.

8lb 8oz, a new best for this river
Nothing but chub on my next couple of sessions back on the normal river. I had a chance of a full day session so decided to head to somewhere new, and try and catch a first barbel from another new river. With the number of clubs I am a member of I have miles of this river to go at, lots of choice, but not a lot of info on any of the stretches. After some time on google earth I found a stretch that seemed to have everything, shallow, gravelly streamer weed choked areas, deep runs, stretches with plenty of cover.

The session was hard work but I stayed mobile, fishing 12 different pegs and managed 4 barbel by the end of the day, nothing over 7lb but a memorable first barbel session on this river.

My first barbel from this particular river.....
Larger than the first so another new river best
A break from the barbel with a short stick float session on my local river with my daughter Sophie and nephew Will. An hours fishing for 15/20 small dace and roach and then a catapult competition to finish, great fun.

My next barbel session was a bit of a nightmare, straight to the river after a 10hr shift and somehow I managed to get snagged up every cast. I was fishing a familiar stretch and never had this problem here before, the river was low, with very little flow so definitely was in need of a flush through.

Thankfully a few days later we had the first significant rainfall for a month or so, the river rose a few foot so I was straight down after work. My third cast of the night and the rod tip flew round, the fish felt reasonable and was coming in easily until I got it under the rod tip and then it powered off upstream. It took a while to gain control of the fish, I was unable to see the fish in the heavily coloured water but I knew it was a good one. The fish was netted without drama and although I knew it was a double I didn’t allow myself to get too excited until the scales confirmed it.

Well worth the wait

The Avons settled at 11lb 3oz and equalled my personal best. I was over the moon with this capture as a lot of effort has gone into catching my first double from this river. The fact I caught the fish from a stretch I had targeted all season made it more satisfying, I thought I would have to cave in and head to the more heavily fished day ticket stretches as doubles come out there slightly more frequently. 

I’ll probably continue to fish for barbel throughout October, I’ve got a weekend on the Trent to look forward to and few areas locally I would like to explore before getting the pike gear out.

Monday 2 September 2019

Summer/Autumn barbel campaign (part 1)

My close season was very quiet compared to last years and was mainly spent working on the house. A new gravel pit was recced with thoughts of targeting the supposedly non existent eels in there, but being a pike rod short and struggling for time I only managed two early spring tench sessions.

Both sessions were hard work in less than ideal conditions, both during a cold snap with bitter northerlies blowing. This pit is choked with low lying weed and is definitely a challenge to present a bait, small method feeders seemed the best option and I managed my only tench on one during these sessions.

An early spring gravel pit tench (5.02lb) which looks like it has had an encounter with an otter
With the new season approaching barbel were the only species I was thinking about. Plenty of time was spent sorting gear, preparing bait and planning sessions for the upcoming months. I didn’t really need to spend much time thinking about targets for the campaign, trips to the Trent would be spent trying to beat my overall p.b, the majority of my sessions would be spent locally, aiming for my first double from this river. A few sessions on local(ish) rivers would be used as a change of scene, exploring new venues and trying to get my first barbel from a new river.

Unable to get a midnight start on the 16th I headed out late evening on opening day, as usual these first sessions are a struggle with very little interest and plenty of otter activity. My second outing a few days later saw a couple of decent chub landed but a large barbel lost due to a loop knot failure!

I always check my rigs and mainline, before and during sessions so was at a loss at how the line broke. The fluoro hooklength snapped about half an inch below the figure of eight loop knot, which was inside an anti tangle sleeve. A real kick in the balls as it was a good fish, possibly a double, it took a few days to get over that lost fish as fish of that size don’t come around too often on this river.

Next time out I managed my first of the season, nothing of size but a fine looking fish and a bit of a confidence booster. A few decent chub made for a good session.

After that first barbel was landed I started catching fairly regularly, not as many or as often as last season but definitely a larger average size this season.



5.07lb, a new river best


A good start to the season with barbel approaching 9lb and lots of good chub including a new river best of 5.07lb and plenty over the 5lb mark.

A nice looking fish during one of my rare daytime sessions
One of two 5lb plus chub on this session

The decent run continued during July, again less fish than last year, but generally of a greater size. A different feeding approach than previous seasons has no doubt helped attract barbel of a larger size, the chub have responded as well, catches of 5lb plus fish becoming the norm.

My last session in July and a visit to a forgotten peg, very overgrown and seemingly overlooked by everyone else this season. Only the one take during the session but a cracking fish which had me in the marginal reeds a few times before reluctantly going into the net.

I punched the air as I looked into the net, certain that I had caught my first double from this river, but the scales didn’t make it that far round and stopped short at 9.10lb! Obviously I rested the fish, re-zeroed the avons and weighed the fish again, 9.10lb. A new river best but a slight feeling of disappointment as I was sure this was the double I have been searching for.

After catching that new river best I decided on a change of scenery for my next session and headed to a new stretch of a river that I’ve only barbel fished once before. In the past this river used to be fairly productive but as with most waters round here has been heavily impacted by the otters/mink.

The river was in great condition fining down after a recent flood, still carrying a few foot, but it looked great. This fishing was hard with lots of weed making its way downstream and despite carrying only a few feet of extra water I needed 5oz + to hold bottom for anything more than 10 minutes.

I was surprised when the upstream rod screamed off, even more surprised when it was a barbel.

A first from a difficult river, hopefully more will follow in the future

The barbel only went 6.05lb but I wasn’t bothered, my first from this river and the fish was immaculate somehow avoiding the many otters this river supports.

I also had another take, but the hook pulled after 30 seconds. Despite the fish feeling heavier I wasn't too disappointed as I was still elated with that first fish.

This post updates the blog to the beginning of August, I'm planning on posting part 2 at the end of September. I am also planning a post about bait, methods and tactics I've been using this season. I've also been using a couple of new rods, which I am very pleased with so will try and post something about those as well.

Friday 9 August 2019

Another catch up - January to March

The last three months of the season were spent chasing pike during the day and chub on night sessions. Nothing significant in terms of size was caught but chub and pike were landed on most sessions.

A session on the coldest day of the year, - 6.5°C when I arrived rising to - 3°C by the end of the session. I knew the river banks would be empty so I could of headed to any stretch and had my pick of pegs but I choose a completely new stretch. 

A few small chub were had on bread and cheese paste, definitely one of my favourite sessions of the season.

It was my nephews birthday in February so after a trip to the tackle shop we went out in search of grayling. Despite the river being in good condition we struggled to locate any, but found plenty of willing minnows to avoid a birthday blank.

Steady action during my evening chub sessions with a few going over 5lb, not troubling my 6lb target from this river but very enjoyable sessions, which are usually a flying visit after work.

The pike captures slowed down and things got worse as I managed to snap one of my rods whilst roving on a small river.

I had put holidays in for the final week of the season and typically my local rivers flooded with 10ft + of icy cold water and killed the fishing. A few attempts for chub with only one bite to show for my efforts. Levels started to drop and I was hopeful of a final day pike session but we had another flood, slightly warmer water this time though so I had a go for barbel.

Surprisingly I managed one, 8lb 6oz which is a good size for this river, a nice end to the river season. 

A few days later I headed down to a canal for a final pike session, a first visit to this waterway. I was hopeful of a pike or two to wrap up the season but it was hard going, a difficult session with zero interest in the baits, perhaps with the warmer weather the pike were focusing on something other than feeding.

Tuesday 8 January 2019

New jack city

Having longer than expected for my first session of the year I decided to head to a new stretch, further upstream on this river than I’d previously ventured.

Steady action from the off, I pulled out of a jack first cast and with the next cast I landed a nice looking fish which was possibly pushing double figures.

I had steady a stream of runs throughout the session, landing 5 and pulling out of a few jacks.

Enjoyable fishing in beautiful surroundings with an abundance of wildlife putting on a show over in the far bank. I was sat opposite what seemed like a buzzards favourite perch and a pair of kingfishers were continuously working the stretch. 

The pike were also in top condition, even the jacks were well marked. A couple of the jacks showed scars from lucky escapes and a much larger fish followed the last jack of the day to the net.

A good start on this stretch, it seems over run with jacks but I know there’s at least one good fish here so I’ll be heading back soon.

Saturday 5 January 2019

2018 - a quick review

A look back on 2018 and a chance to bring the blog up to date.


Flu caused a delayed start to the year but 4 pike to 12lb 8oz on my first session of the year was a decent start. Big floods made the river difficult and unpredictable, my attempts for barbel, chub and pike went unrewarded.


An enjoyable month chasing chub and pike on my local rivers with chub to 5lb 3oz and pike to 18lb 2oz.


The rivers were up and coloured and I was pushed for time towards the end of the season, I managed to get out 4 times catching chub to over 4lb, pike to just over 10lb and a very satisfying final day barbel before the rivers closed.

A couple of still water trips with fish caught each time, nothing of size but these were my first fish from these venues so a decent way to end my pike season.

April (and May)

Any spare time I had was spent visiting stretches of river, walking the banks, making notes for the coming season and very occasionally spotting fish. I visited eighteen different stretches, some were flying visits, but most were in depth recces with a castable fish finder making copious notes for future reference.


A few short sessions on a french river whilst on a family holiday, barbel were the target but they were hard to locate I did manage a good bream and a wels catfish my first of the species.

Unable to fish opening day, my first session was a few days later, a frustrating blank. By the end of the month I was regularly landing barbel.


12 barbel plus the odd chub were taken on short after work sessions. 5 landed during one session, my best haul from this river so far.

Other sessions included a double figure net of silvers from my local river in bright sunshine on a very low river and a daytime sesssion stalking chub.


A memorable session straight from work, 12 casts, 10 barbel hooked, 8 landed and 2 chub. Catching barbel was no longer an issue but they weren’t the size I was looking for. The minor floods of the summer made things difficult, almost unfisheable as the summer weed growth made its way downstream.


I was still targeting barbel on a local river, numbers of fish had reduced but I increased my seasons best to 8lb 11oz.

A tough trip to the tidal Trent produced a couple of chub and a single barbel.


The month started with a barbel trip to the middle Trent then a pit stop at a Nick Peat PAC talk on the way back north.

Back on my local rivers, the targeted barbel were gradually replaced with pike.

12 pike in 4 sessions from a different stretch of river each visit.


Another 9 pike in November including my first twenty.

More relief than a sense of achievement as it has been along time coming.


21 pike before December, more than my total from the previous season but then the first winter floods came. 4 blanks in a row until I finally got a chub and a pike during my last two sessions of the year. The pike, a jack of 5lb or so, was taken on a small trotted bait. After taking my offering it must of grabbed a decent grayling before I struck as it had a fish of about a pound hanging from its mouth when  I landed it.

2018 highlights -

Barbel - 8lb 11oz
Chub - 5lb 6oz
Perch - 1lb 15oz
Pike - 20lb 6oz

No other species troubled the scales!

Thoughts on 2018

Generally a good year, regularly catching pike from new rivers, an upper double from my closest river plus my first twenty. My barbel campaign went well in terms of numbers of fish caught but I fell short of the double I was chasing.

Plans for 2019

From now until the end of the season I’ll be out on the rivers as much as time allows, when conditions are good I’ll be targeting the pike, not so good I’ll switch to chub, as a last resort I’ll head to a canal or still water. I am hoping to get amongst the larger chub on a certain river I’m fishing, hopefully I can find a six pounder before the season ends.

I’ve got a couple of Trent barbel trips planned for next season, but other than those I’ll wait until the close season before deciding next seasons direction.