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.