Ive been reading a lot about rolling meat for Barbel of late so tonight i decided to try it out for the first time on a local stretch of the Derwent for an hour or two. Theres only so much you can learn from reading about it and as i made my first cast i wasnt sure what to expect.
My rig was total simplicity, a size 4 buried in a rough cut chunk of spam and 2 swan shot pinched on the line about 10inches from the hook. After a few casts in a couple of swims i hadnt had any discernable pulls and i was starting to doubt my technique, was i getting it wrong somehow? I felt i was getting better control of the bait with every cast but the fish didnt seem to be playing ball.
The next spot i tried was the one where the Swan thwarted my plans the other night and i could see a few Chub ghosting about but no Barbel, they wouldnt be far away though. I cast in line with a nice run between the streamer weed and watch the bait trundle through. A couple of fish inspected it but never picked up until i started to retrieve it for another run down. As soon as the bait lifted a Chub dashed sidewards and grabbed it but i bumped it unfortunately. They didnt seem spooked so another cast was made, this time the bait disappeared from view behind some weed. A sudden double thump on the tip had me striking into a fish and after a brief tussle i landed a Chub of 4.4, at least id caught on the method now, i was well made up!
Obviously after the disturbance the fish did a disappearing act so i moved to another swim. I had no bites after 4 or 5 casts so i decided to try holding the bait back every 5-6ft and let it step its way down the swim. It was deeper here than the last spot and i couldnt see the bait so i was relying on feeling for a bite . When it came it was unmistakable, a sudden smooth pull which took the rod with it! i struck and the culprit was obviously a Barbel judging by the speed i was now backwinding! I locked up and applied some side strain in a bid to turn it then everything went slack. Closer inspection revealed that the knot on the hook had given way, yet another lost fish then, my own fault for not checking the knot after that Chub.
After that i was a bit gutted and the light was drawing in so i headed for home. Rolling is certainly a method ill be trying again very soon .
Friday 29th July
Tonight was time for what has now become my weekly trip out with my pal Keith . We had originally planned to hit the Dove but didnt fancy it on the day and opted for yet another new area of the Trent instead. I say new but ive fished the pegs on the lower and upper ends of the stretch before but considering they are over half a mile apart that leaves a lot inbetween where ive never wet a line! Judging by the amount of swim clearing we had to do it didnt look like anybody else had fished there either!
I cast out a 4oz lead rig about 3/4 of the way across in the main flow and found it was holding bottom well until the drifting weed hit it. To beat the problem i was forced to backlead which is something i hate but sometimes its a necessary evil and it certainly did the trick on this occasion. My other rod was a blockend feeder setup which was cast down the edge along the crease. The reason for using a blockend was to hold a flavour trail near the bait rather than having it washed away within seconds, a trick i picked up off one those underwater Barbel DVDs that are doing the rounds at the minute. Both rods were on Boilies.
Nothing happened until the last half an hour before dark which seems to be the magic time these days. Suddenly i was getting the odd tap and fish were starting to show regularly out in the middle. I was feeding a few pellets along the inside crease every five minutes or so and just as it was getting dark i recieved the 3ft twitch! I picked up the rod and struck only to bump the fish off! If i didnt have bad luck i wouldnt have any luck!
Fish were still showing in my swim so i quickly recast and rebaited. This time the knocks and taps had stopped completely and i was convinced id blown my only chance of the evening. Suddenly, out of the blue the same rod wrenched over and a Barbel was well and truly on! The thing went mental and its a good job my other rod was backleaded otherwise id have been in right mess. Once landed i weighed it at 8lb2oz.
Keith also chipped in with and 8lber of his own so it turned out to be one of our more successful trips in the end and from an area which has certainly shown some potential. The blockend feeder thing seems to have some mileage in it too considering i never had sniff on the standard rig out in the flow which is where the fish were showing.
Sunday 31st July
I was Trentbound again this evening, the conditions seemed pretty good for a bite or two being muggy and overcast with a warm breeze. Both rods went out with blockend feeders tonight and i also droppered in about 2 pints of hemp aswell to see if itd have any marked effect.
To cut a long story short it didnt, all i caught was a Bream of about 3lb and had a few other Breamy looking knocks. I stopped till 10.30 in the hope of an afterdark Barbel to no avail. Keith managed a fish of 8lb2oz though.
At one point i nearly jumped out of my skin as a couple of blokes on dirtbikes came thundering past within inches of my head. I was sat to the side of the path and if id leaned back in my chair at the point they came past they would have taken my head off. Just prior to packing up we were treated to an impressive fireworks display coming from a nearby hotel which probably had the Barbel reaching for their tin hats!
I seem to be really struggling with the Barbel this year for some reason. Lots of trips for not many fish and the Trent in particular has been very tough for me so far. I need to take a step back and maybe stick to one venue or have a look at my approach. There are other venues which offer much easier fishing but i want to catch the fish which i know to be present in the ones im on now. At the minute my 2011 target of a 12lb+ fish seems a very long way off!