Sunday, 29 July 2012

Trent 'Carbelling'

After my Zander session the other night I was fired up for doing a full night for them on my next trip out. My old mate Phil was also keen to have a bash for them so we arranged to hit the river on Saturday night. By the time Saturday morning came around the Zander bug had waned somewhat and we decided to try a different stretch of Trent with Carp and Barbel in mind instead, fickle or what!

We got to the river at around 5.30pm and set about baiting our chosen swims and getting the camps put up. The stretch in question very rarely produces during daylight hours and you could be forgiven for thinking there are no decent fish to be had there whatsoever. After dark though it's a completely different story and the river literally comes to life in a way that I've never seen anywhere else. My swim, although very wide, had no more than 3ft of water anywhere in front of it and a clean gravel bottom. I'd not fished it before myself but it's noted spot for river Carp amongst the regulars down there so it had to be worth a go. Phils swim upstream was around 6ft deep and a little slower paced.

As expected neither of us had any indications up until dark when suddenly my upstream rod tip started banging around. It was a very Chubby bite but I bumped it off on the strike so I'll never know for sure. A similar bite occurred around half an hour later and I struck at thin air. By now it was properly dark and fish could be heard splashing all over the place, the atmosphere was electric and we both felt that a proper take was imminent. Nothing happened though and at 11.30 I decided to turn in for the night. I'd just made myself comfy and was gently nodding off when suddenly my downstream rod was nearly pulled into the river! The rod took the strain as I desperately tried to pull the fish away from the snags downstream and fortunately I managed to turn it. Phil had heard the take and he suddenly materialised next to me with the landing net in hand. The fish surfaced in the torchlight and turned out to be a nice Barbel which was soon netted. At 9lb12oz it wasn't quite the double we both thought it might be but still a very nice fish anyway, I was certainly pleased!

 After that I was buzzing and really struggled to sleep, in fact by the time my next bite came at 2am I don't even think I'd actually slept a wink. Another rod wrenching tug had me thinking I might be on for another Barbel but upon picking it up I was instantly disappointed. The strange jagging on the other end meant only one thing, Eel! I really wasn't looking forward to getting the thing on the bank and wrestling with it in the dark but it had to be done. Five minutes and 2lb of writhing slimy mess later, the offending creature was back in its watery home leaving me with the angling equivalent of a car crash to sort out, nice. Once sorted I was just drifting off to sleep when I heard Phils buzzer go. I could hear splashing and sounded fairly sizeable so I headed up to assist. I got there just in time to net a nice double figure common, a good result from what was another new swim to us.

By the time that was done and dusted it was gone 3am and I was dead on my feet. I hit the sack and once again my rod signalled a bite as I was drifting off. I hit into something decent for a few seconds before it came off, I reeled in to find a couple of large barbel scales on the hook and I cursed my luck. After recasting I heard Phils alarm shrieking again but I was too tired to care, I finally went to sleep. My slumber was broken a little by a couple of knocks that didn't develop into anything further and it was around 8.45 when Phil eventually came round and woke me up. He'd had a Bream and a Barbel of around 7lb just before first light and nothing since. The sun was shining as I had breakfast and once again the river looked dead. Darkness is definitely the key factor when it comes to catching on that stretch and i will certainly plan future trips accordingly.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Summer Predators

After an enforced blogging layoff due to a balls-up at the not-so-wonderful institution that is BT i finally find myself able to get back online and post something. My shiny new fibre-optic connection still isnt what it should be and i await an engineers visit next week but for now i do have an internet of sorts so here goes....

Summer has finally arrived over the last week with wall to wall sunshine and soaring temperatures, a complete contrast to the extreme wetness weve seen in previous weeks. Hot conditions have never been kind to me Barbel-wise in the past and not having the time nor inclination to stay out till the early hours i decided to get the lure gear out and try for a few Predators.

In the early part of the week the local rivers were still carrying a little bit of extra water and colour so i headed to a local canal for an early morning assault in a bid to beat the boats. I went straight in with my favourite Mepps to which id whipped on a few red fibres around the hook to hopefully increase its appeal. I dont know if the red stuff made a difference but i had a hit on my third cast from a small Jack so i wasnt complaining!

I had several taps and bangs on the lure over the next few casts so there was obviously a few interested fish around. Someone had obviously opened the locks around half a mile away from where i was stood as there was suddenly a strong tow in the water heading that way, i didnt have long before the days first boat came through. The canal is very shallow and it quickly becomes the colour of chocolate once the boats start stirring the bottom up, not great for lure fishing in my experience. With so much fish activity though another hookup was inevitable and soon enough a small Perch was soon posing for a quick pic.

Youll notice a common theme in most of my pics this week and that is the grey Musky armour gloves i recently aquired. Although thin, they are brilliant for use on fish with teeth and other sharp bits. They allow a very firm grip without fear of raker-rash or spikey gill plates, id recommend them to anybody.
Back to the fishing anyway, i had another Perch drop off before the first boat appeared around the corner and as i expected it killed the fishing stone dead. I stayed on for a short while to no avail before heading for home.

On my way back from that session i stopped off for a quick butchers at the Trent and although it was carrying a bit i reasoned that it would be good for a few chances by the time my next session came around in a day or so.........

.......... which is how i found myself stood on the banks of the great river on Weds evening. The area i was in is a favourite summer haunt of mine and is usually a good bet for having your string pulled and there always a chance of a decent fish aswell.  My second cast saw a confident pull and i struck into what turned out to be a nice sized Perch. It was worth a weigh and at 2lb6oz it kicked off the evening nicely. Apologies for the picture quality, i literally placed the camera on a nearby fence post and the results speak for themselves!

The Perch were certainly very active and i went on to land a succession of smaller samples to around a pound and even a couple of small Chub. It was still early evening and very hot and sticky, this coupled with the thick undergrowth and the myriad of flies, midges and mozzies made for some pretty uncomfortable fishing. The fish were feeding well though so my comfort was of little importance and i pressed on sweating through the nettles. Heres a couple more Perchy pics anyway,  as you can see the Mepps was slaughtering them ..........

As the evening drew on and no more big Perch seemed to be showing i decided to switch to fishing with Shads in an attempt to latch into something a bit bigger. I found a swim with a deep slow margin on the edge of a crease with some much faster water and as i worked the lure along the bottom a slow but heavy pull told me a Pike had decided to put in an appearance. At around 7 or 8lb it put a good bend in my light lure rod and was a perfect end to a great evenings sport, or so i thought at the time anyway.........

Another crap pic im afraid, travelling light i dont carry a tripod so i kind of lodged the camera in the fork of a nearby tree this time! On my way home i passed by one of our club carparks for the river and noticed a car parked outside the gate. Past experience tells me that usually means someone is fishing without a ticket so i pulled in to do my bailiff bit. A couple of cars were in the carpark and i recognised one as belonging to Rob, a mate of mine. As i made my way to the river i was passed by a young couple who werent fishing but who confirmed the offending car belonged to them. With that cleared up i headed back to get my tackle and then made my way to where Rob was fishing.
Rob and his friend Mike were both about to pack up and had caught several nice Perch to well over 2lb on quivertip tactics although they had experienced several bouts of Pike trouble. Seeing as they were packing up and it was starting to get dark i took the opportunity to have a cast or two. I chose the most garish coloured shad i had (see pic below) to make it as visible as possible and cast it out. Third cast in and i felt the familiar tug of a Pike and struck into a heavy fish. After a brief tussle Rob netted a fine fish of 11lb6oz which really did cap the evening off nicely!

I had a pass for another evening out on Thursday and rather than lure fishing i had a mind to catch a Zander or two. After a brief stop to catch some bait i made my way to my favoured Zedding area and got tackled up for around 6pm. I had around a dozen small Bleak and Roach to use although they were smaller than i wouldve liked theyd have to do. 
After around 20 minutes my downstream rod tip slowly nodded as a fish showed an interest. I picked up the rod and held the braid between my fingers, the line plucked decively and i struck. Straight away i knew it was a Zander from the perchlike jag jagging on the rod and soon a small one of around 2lb was lying on the mat.

Sadly it wasnt to be the first of many, another bite shortly afterwards resulted in a small Perch, only the second ive had on deadbait from the Trent. A missed run just as darkness fell was the only other action i had which left me scratching my head a bit. Conditions looked perfect and there was small fish showing everywhere, i did expect the Zeds to be more active than they were but there always next time i guess.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Double Double

The fishing for this weekend was to be dominated by the effects of the torrential rain we endured all day on the Friday. With widespread flooding occurring all over the Midlands and beyond it was probably for the best that i found myself headed to the Tench lake on Saturday. I had arranged to meet Phil there for a bit of a social and to find out what the state of play was with regards to the fishing. There had been conflicting reports as to whether the fish had spawned or not so we were hoping to find out for sure.
Although there was plenty of fish showing early on in the day the action proved to be extremely slow. It was so slow in fact that between four anglers only one fish was caught and that was a Perch of about a pound which fell to my rod. Another chap missed a take but that was it and we were all left scratching our heads as to what the fish were doing.

A river Barbel session was on the cards for Sunday and i hoped to get on the Trent or the Soar. Reading the latest EA river levels prior to leaving however wasnt exactly encouraging as the rivers appeared to be as high as ive seen them since the infamous 2007 floods. I packed the kit and headed to the Soar but as i drove down i could already see the river was in the fields so i kept on driving towards the Trent.
The Trent was also in the fields in places but the area i fancied didnt look too bad. After parking up and heading along the track to the river i was disappointed to see water flowing away from the river through the undergrowth and onto the track in front of me. I tried an alternative route and after wading through a great deal more waterlogged nettles and foliage i eventually made it to the riverbank itself. I must admit i fancied it for a Barbel but the river was still coming up and there was no dry land to fish from so for safetys sake i headed back to the car.

The Derwent looked to be fishable based on the level given at Church Wilne so i headed there for a look. It had been at near record levels on Saturday but had dropped an unbelievable 2-3ft overnight. Upon my arrival the fields around the river were full of large puddles and the grass was flattened everywhere. The levels had certainly been well up but now the river was back within its banks and looked pretty good for a fish or two.
The first couple of hours passed without event although a did see a couple of small Barbel repeatedly leap clear of the water like minature dolphins right out in the main flow, they were obviously in their element in these conditions! Lots of splashing in the nettles by the river in one spot also caught my attention and that turned out to be three Carp chasing each other around almost as if they were spawning.
My third spot produced my first bite in the end, A slight tap followed a couple of minutes later by that lovely Barbelly wrap around had me connected to a heavy fish. After a couple of strong runs it seemed to give up and allowed me to net it fairly easily. Upon lifting it out of the water i could tell it was a double straight away and the scales confirmed a weight of 11lb4oz, brilliant! first double of the new season!
I set the camera for the self-take shot, 5,4,3,2,1,please change the batteries, aarrrggghhh!!! I couldnt believe it, i forgotten to charge the batteries after the air show last week! I was gutted and ended up snapping a couple of crappy phone-pics.


I stayed on in the swim for another hour with no further action and headed down to another spot just downstream. The new swim proved to be a slow starter but after around 45minutes i finally had a pull. This fish proved to be a real powerhouse and did its best to pull my arm off in the flow. I netted it before it was ready and it proceeded to beat me up good and proper on the bank. At 10lb8oz it was another good fish but once again i was cursing my lack of camera!


I tried a couple of other swims on my way back to the car without any more action but i was well chuffed with what id already caught. After since checking my records it turns out that thats only the third time ive managed two doubles in the same session, the other two times being on the Soar. Seasons average so far is well over 9lb now thanks to those two fish, defo gonna have to pack some spare camera batteries in future though!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Planes, Perch and the worlds hottest Chilli

In between visiting relatives and attending an air show ive not had much time to fish really this weekend although thats not say i havent been out at all. I did manage to squeeze a quick-un in this morning so  i cant complain. Ive mentioned on here before that i have a keen interest in military planes and helicopters and some of the hardware being put through its paces at Waddington this weekend was very impressive indeed, the whole family had a great time.

Whilst we were there i came across a stall which claimed to sell the worlds hottest Chilli and after tasting a sample i can confirm the stuff is practically weapons-grade! I purchased a bottle with an idea of using some in my bait come the wintertime but after since having a look online i was surprised to see it genuinely is the hottest in the world and im having second thoughts in case it damages the fish! Find it here.

So what of the fishing? I knew id only have around 3hours max to fish so i went for the lure-fishing option and when i awoke Sunday morning the sun was out in force. I headed to a local stretch of the Soar only to find it very mucky and carrying around a foot. A quick check of the river levels on my phone had me heading towards the canal as i knew this wouldnt be affected by the recent rain. I know fish will hit lures in coloured water but im never very confident in such situations and try to avoid them where i can.
Although the canal itself was coloured due to the boat traffic it was a different kind of colour and visibility was around twice what it was in the river. I started below some locks and first cast with a chartreuse and orange jig-fly resulted in a nice Perch of around the pound mark.

After that i was getting lots of taps and plucks on the fly but no more hook-ups so i turned to my trusty Mepps backup plan. I had a couple of really savage pulls over the next few casts which didnt connect and i suspected that Chub might be responsible. This was confirmed as the next fish i did hook proved to be a nice canal Chub of somewhere between 2-3lb which put up a great scrap on the light gear.

Another Perch followed pretty quickly after that before the first boat of the day arrived and the action was killed stone dead. On the way home i decided to stop off at a couple of our clubs lakes to check some tickets seeing as i was in the locality and whilst i did so i took the opportunity to have a few casts with the jig-flies id recently tied up. Everybodies tickets were in order but the fishing proved fairly slow. An algal bloom had coloured the water up quite a bit but nevetheless i still managed to land a small jack and pull out of another slightly larger fish.