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.


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.




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.