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.............. 

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