Sunday, 27 February 2011

The Barbel cometh

Friday 25th February

I managed to get away from work early today which meant i had time to get a quick afternoon session in. Wed had quite a bit of rain in the week and i knew the rivers would still be carrying a fair bit of extra water and colour. A check on the EA site told me that the Soar was the one to head for if i was to have any chance of a Chub or two.
When i arrived the river was a bit higher and certainly more coloured than i anticipated with about a foot or so of visibility in the margins. A bit too coloured for Chub? maybe, but i was there and i certainly wasnt going to leave without wetting a line.
My favourite spot on the stretch was pulling through too quickly to hold bottom but a few yards downstream a small slack area had appeared behind an old reedbed which looked tempting. I cast out a bit of breadflake and let it swing around into the slack. As soon as the rig settled i had a sharp rap on the tip which i struck and missed. This happened again on the next cast and i hit into and landed a small Chub of about 2lb which was encouraging as it meant that the colour wasnt putting the fish off too much.
No more bites came from that spot so i had a wander downstream, the river was carrying about a foot so most of my usual areas were quite unfishable. On the flipside however, the extra water usually creates new swims which wouldnt even get a second glance under normal conditions and it was one of these which i decided to fish next. It was a small bay, under normal conditions its totally dead water and full of reeds but on this occasion there was a fantastic looking crease where the main flow passed across the mouth of it and the water was eddying around nicely.
I made a cast to the crease and sat back to await events. Before long i had a couple of small taps followed by a kind of tremble on the tip, something was obviously playing with the bait so i struck. The rod hooped over and i thought i was snagged, that is until i felt a heavy kick on the line and found myself backwinding furiously! The fish headed out into the full force of the floodwater and seemed intent on staying there, this was no Chub, the way it was hanging stationary in the main flow meant it could only be a Barbel surely. I kept the pressure on as much as i could, i was only using 5lb line so i couldnt bully it too much. After about five minutes of stalemate the pressure began to have an effect and i finally coaxed the fish out of the flow and into the slack. Despite this it still kept deep and it was a good few minutes before i got the net under it. I peered into the net to see a very odd looking Barbel, It had a bit of a twist in its back and had the fattest belly of any Barbel ive ever caught, in fact it was more Carp-like than anything else! It went 9lb2oz on the scales anyway, my first Barb of the year and the first ive ever caught on bread.

I did move to another spot after that but other than a couple of half-hearted knocks there wasnt much happening so i was soon homeward bound.

Sunday 27th February

More heavy rain yesterday meant that the rivers were now well up, in fact if the EA site was correct then the Trent was carrying over 4ft! After Fridays Barbel action and after speaking to a couple of mates who had been amongst a few it was obvious that the fish were having it after the mild weather of late. With the current conditions it seemed logical to break out the Barbel gear.
Once again i headed for the Soar as it was carrying the least amount (about 2ft)  and would be a somewhat tamer fishing experience than the Trent in full flood! Phil joined me today as he hadnt done any Barbel fishing for a good while either. The area we fished was downstream of a set of lock gates which meant a large slack with a good crease on the edge of the main flow was the predominant feature. We spread our rods along the crease and waited, i took a temperature reading of 47f and the river was definately dropping.

There was a lot of rubbish circling around in the eddy behind the locks which kept catching the line but it wasnt as bad as some of the stuff which was coming down the main flow. Trees, branches, car tyres, a fire extinguisher and even something that looked like a dead badger came flying past! It wasnt long before Phils rod tip buckled over and a fish was on, it put up a good scrap, punching well over its weight but soon enough a small Barbel of around 5-6lb was lying on the mat, a good start!

Shortly after this the heavens opened and the river, after having dropped about 2 inches during the morning, was visibly rising again. We stopped in the swim for another couple of hours to no avail before moving onto another area altogether. Again the swim in the new area was another crease swim and looked really good for a fish or two. We stuck it till dark through some pretty nasty weather and never managed even the slightest hint of a sniff between us.
Theres only a couple of weeks of river season left and with them carrying all this extra water the outlook seems quite bleak for some late river Perch and Chub sport. Maybe this weekend has served to force a shift in my tactics and ill be pursuing Barbs until the close, who knows? I have some time booked off work the week after next so we'll see but in the meantime a PB Roach beckons.............. 

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Uncharted territory

Friday 18th February

This week i managed to get an after work session in, the first of the year infact, and i decided to experiment a little and try for a Chub or two on fish baits. Ive not fished with fish baits intentionally for Chub before although i have caught them on livebaits and lures meant for Perch. Ive read so many accounts of outsized Chub falling to chunks of Mackerel and Sardine that i had to give it go in the hope of a late season lump.

The only bait i had with me upon arrival at the river was a tub of Prawns and a couple of Sardines. This was deliberate on my part to stop me falling back on the old faithful bread and cheesepaste if i was to struggle! Prawns arnt exactly what i had in mind as an out and out fish bait because many species of fish love a nice Prawn or two as we know but i took them anyway to build up some confidence towards sticking a chunk of sardine on!
I baited the swim with some liquidised bread mixed with broken up Prawns and made my first cast. It was about 10minutes before i had a bite which was promptly missed. I didnt make the same mistake on my next cast and was rewarded with a Chub just shy of 4lb. A good start i thought and after another half hour of no bites i upped sticks to another swim. I missed a bite straight away on the Prawn here and decided that there might be a few down there so the Sardine chunk was put into action.

It was a good while before i had any indication, in fact i was starting to wonder if the bait was even still on the hook. Suddenly i was alerted to a sharp tap on the tip, i had visions of six pounders going through my head so as you can imagine when the tip pulled around hard and i struck into thin air i was somewhat disappointed! Still. id had a bite so there was something down there which liked the look of the bait. A short while later and the light levels were really starting to drop now as daytime became night and i was struggling to see the tip. There was no mistaking the next bite though, the tip pulled around so hard i thought the fish had hooked itself but once again there was nothing there.
After this i packed up, pleased to have had bites on the sardine but frustrated to have missed them. I can only assume the fish were holding the bait in their lips and moving off causing me to strike the bait clean out of their mouths.

I was gonna fish all day Sunday but heavy rain on Saturday put the river levels right back up which put paid to any Chub aspirations i had. I couldnt get motivated enough to head for a lake so i never bothered in the end. 

You might have noticed that ive added a facebook link on the right hand side of the page. Ive set up an account for fishing only with the idea being that visitors to the blog can contact me and give me some constructive feedback on the blog .  Im not exactly genned-up on the whole facebook thing and its a bit of an experiment really so bear with it and for gods sake add me as a friend or ill be a very sad and lonely facebooker!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

A game of two halves

Saturday 12th February

After my recent success with catching Chub from some new areas i was chomping at the bit to get out this weekend. After last weekends surprise floods the rivers were fining off nicely, the Soar was still low and clear and the Trent appeared to be carrying about a foot with a tinge of colour to it. The weather was still very mild although a bit of rain had been forcast. My intention was to fish a couple of spots on the Soar in the morning before heading over to the Trent to see if it was worth a go in the afternoon.

First half - The Soar

I arrived at first light and headed straight for the area i had the five pounder from last week as i felt id found something of a holding spot. The action wasnt as instant as i had been hoping and it was after about half an hour of building the swim with loosefeed that i managed to kick-off with my first Chub of the day in the form of a mid-3lber on breadflake. After this i was still getting knocks and taps but nothing strikeable so i tried a switch to cheesepaste in a bid to tip the balance in my favour. Within minutes id hit into a slightly better fish of 4lb exactly which pretty much wrecked the swim in its bid for freedom and no more bites were forthcoming.

I decided to head about 100yards downstream to a spot where a very shallow run dropped off into a much deeper glide, the kind of spot which screamed Chub! It certainly held a few because within ten minutes id caught another two, both very small though in the 1-2lb class. One was grabbed and spat out again by a large Pike as i brought it in and although it lost a couple of scales in the process it seemed fine when i returned it.
Not wanting to sit there catching small ones and getting mauled by Pike i moved on again to another spot. It had been dull all morning but now the sun was coming out in earnest which made me think i might start to struggle for bites in the clear water. Sure enough it was a good while before i had another but i managed to hit it and another 3lb+ Chub hit the back of the [landing]net.
By now i was well into stoppage time and the halftime switch to the Trent was well overdue so i packed up and made my way over there........

Second half - The Trent

Upon arriving at the river and selecting a couple of swims, i  baited up,had my lunch then commenced fishing. The river was indeed carrying around a foot and was slightly more coloured than i thought it would be with about eighteen inches of visibility in the margins. My chosen area was noted as being tough  for Chub but if i caught one chances are that it would be a lump.
I spent about an hour in the first swim with no indications whatsoever so i moved onto my other one with the intention of fishing it till dark regardless of whether i had bites there early on or not. I wasnt disapointed because it was well over an hour before i had the first hint of a knock, i struck, missed and put it down to Roach pecking at the bread. This carried on very sporadically over the next couple of hours, just getting tiny taps, nothing worth striking and yet my bread was being taken off the hook everytime i reeled in. I scaled down hook and bait size to try and connect with at least something to no avail.
By now the sun was beginning to set and the light levels were dropping fast, the indications on the tip had become noticably more frequent, probably one every five to ten minutes. I began to pack my gear up and was literally down to just the rod and landing net when i had another little tap, out of frustration and with nothing to lose i hit it and was shocked when the rod hooped over and a decent fish made for the middle of the river. After a few hairy moments involving an overhanging tree it was soon netted, a nice fish of 4lb10oz, smaller than i thought but still a nice one and the biggest of the day, an extra time special!

I mentioned in a previous entry that i was going to get a new camera cos my other was getting a bit rubbish. Well ive now got one and the pics above are the first results, they do seem better and the camera has more functions for dealing with crappy light conditions so ill have no excuse soon once ive mastered it!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Blown away!

Saturday 5th February

The title of this weeks entry pretty much says it all about Saturdays trip. The whole country is currently being battered by gale force winds which make makes for some pretty uncomfortable fishing. Due to the winds south-westerly direction and the area of low pressure thats brought the wind with it, daytime temperatures have been up into double figures.
Despite hearing the wind howling past my bedroom window when i awoke, i wasnt deterred and i still headed for the river full of anticipation after last weeks success. Upon arrival i was a bit gutted that the wind was going to be directly in my face in my chosen area but i still setup nevertheless. To cut a long story short i ended up sitting there for about four hours constantly being punished by the weather throughout. Bite indication was next to impossible although i mustve had at least one bite because at one point i wound in to recast and found myself connected to a fish which swam upstream and then the hook pulled. It got to the point where i couldnt stand it any longer and headed for home.

Sunday 6th February

I awoke this morning to find that the wind had dropped a bit on what it was yesterday so i decided upon a rematch to even the score after yesterdays disaster. I couldnt get down till around midday but after checking the EA rivers levels site i was shocked to find that the river had risen nearly 3ft overnight! I checked the levels on the other rivers in the area and all but one said the same thing. The Soar was still crack-on though by the looks of it and that was where i headed for.
I was undecided as to what to fish for so i took both my lure gear and the Chubbing gear so that i could have the option to do either depending on conditions. It was still windy when i got to the river but nothing like as bad as yesterday. I broke out the lure rod and had a wander along the stretch as i hadnt been there for a good while and it would be good way to reaquaint myself with it. Apart from a Jack which came off as i was about to glove it out there were no other enquiries so after an our or so i headed back to the car for the Chub stuff.
The wind had come back with a vengeance by now so i headed for a spot where it would be coming off my back just so that i could fish in a bit of comfort. The peg wasnt one i would normally choose with Chub in mind so i was quite surprised to get a bite on the bread within a couple of minutes of casting out. That one was missed but when i had another on my next cast i managed to connect with one. It was a lively fish which i thought might go 4lb but it ended up going 3lb14oz.
Despite that fish splashing about all over the swim i decided on a recast due to the fact id had a couple of bites in quick succession which possibly meant there was a few fish present. This hunch proved correct as i missed another one within five minutes, in fact i went on to miss another half a dozen over the next hour! I couldnt work out what i was doing wrong, the bites were really good too, nice smooth pulls the kind that you dont usually miss!
In the end I decided to do away with the rod rest altogether and simply hold the rod as still as possible and feel for bites. This did the trick and i connected with the very next one i had. The fish kept deep and it wasnt until i got it near the net that i saw it looked a good fish. It went 5lb2oz, a good fish for the Soar so i was well chuffed!