Saturday, 29 June 2013

Two rivers, four fish and a donkey

I've managed to get out twice over the last seven days the first trip of which was a another night session on my local bit of Trent. My daughter Charlotte was to join me on what was to be her first ever night fishing trip, she was very excited!

The swim I chose was very shallow but I knew from past experience that the Barbel move through there at night and seeing as its something of a natural bottleneck something would have to pass the baits at some point. Once we got everything setup and sorted it didn't take long to get a bite. I was quite surprised to get one in the daylight and the fish was proving to be a tough customer out in the flow and streamer weed. I passed the rod to Charlotte who was completely unprepared for the power and nearly let go altogether! She passed it back after a minute or so and Grabbed the landing net instead. eventually we slid the net under a very rare fish indeed, a Trent Rainbow Trout! At around 4lb it wasn't a bad un either. Charlotte had no hesitation picking it up to have her pic taken although she wasn't so keen when it flipped about!

As day became night it began to rain and we got settled in our beds, Charlotte went out like a light! I remembered back to my first night session which took place on a lake in the middle of a theme park in North Yorkshire, lightwater valley I believe it was called. It rained that night too very heavily as i remember and I certainly never had the luxury of a bivvy, bedchair or even a decent sleeping bag! I was on a sloping bank under a 45inch nylon brolly in an Argos sleeping bag and trying to sleep directly on the floor, that was a seriously long night! Despite not sleeping a wink I did catch a couple of small bream and they were PBS at the time so I wasn't put off one bit. Since then I've fished hundreds of nights and even now I still struggle sleeping a lot of the time despite having all the creature comforts.

Back to the session anyway, at around midnight the Delkim warbled urgently as a fish shot off downstream with my bait. I rushed out telling Charlotte that we've got one and she didn't even stir! After a hectic tussle in the dark I managed to net it and get it on the mat. At this point her ladyship decided to get out of bed just as I was doing some pics for the blog. "Can i get a photo please?" was all she said as she picked up the fish off the mat. I took a pic and then she announced she was going back to bed, leaving me to return the fish and tidy up! Charming!

By the time I got back to bed she was snoring again, for all her worried talk of foxes and other creatures of the night she certainly seemed to be taking things in her stride. The rain really started hammering down and I had to half zip the bivvy door down to keep it out.

At about 2ish I had another bite and went running out in just my socks to hit it getting my feet soaked in the process. The fish powered off downstream and I tried to give it the butt to stop it reaching the snags about 40 yards away. Unfortunately this proved too much for the size12 hook and it pulled. I reset everything and dug out my spare socks, Charlotte? She was still asleep!

Dawn broke and as I lay there listening to patter of the rain on the bivvy I was suddenly jolted to attention by another bite, this one on my upstream rod. I hit it and the fish immediately powered into the streamer weed and buried itself. It kicked a couple more times and then everything went solid. I tried slackening the line and waiting to see if it moved and then I tried changing the pulling angle all to no avail, I was well caught in the rocks. Braid doesn't like rocks and after a bit more tugging the line parted.

Charlotte finally awoke at about 7.30 demanding breakfast, " that was great dad when are we going again" she kept saying. Blimey she slept through most of it! Me on the other hand, I was knackered and after a quick brekky we packed up and headed for home.

I had originally planned another night the following Friday to try and even the score a bit but work got in the way and I ended up heading out on an evening session instead, my first non- night fishing river trip of the season. I didn't hold much hope for success in daylight hours on the Trent so I opted to head to the Dove instead as I'd heard some good reports of late. It would be the first time I'd fished the river with Barbel in mind for a good few years.

I got down the river for about 3.30 and after beating back the overly friendly Donkey which lives in the carpark field i made my way to the river. I didn't have any particular swim in mind and upon seeing the river in its full summer glory my decision was made even harder. Big rafts of weed intersected by golden gravel runs and overhanging trees with deep looking pools beneath seemed to be everywhere I looked, what a stunning piece of water.

I eventually settled in a swim with a tree downstream, the weather was very muggy but there was rain in the air and I was fully expecting a deluge. I wished I hadn't brought so much stuff with me though because with the river being so intimate, a mobile approach would've been so much better. Within about 20 minutes of casting in I received my first bite and hit into a fish. Although powerful this was no Barbel but I wasn't complaining as a nice chub slipped into the net. At a tad over 5lb it was my first decent one of the season and I returned it hoping the rest of the session would be as productive.

No more bites occurred in that swim over the next hour or so and I decided to move to a deeper slower pool which shallowed up into some extensive beds of streamer weed at its tail. No sooner had I cast in however then the farmer decided to come into the field to round up his cows for milking. Round and round the field he sped in his 4x4, hand permanently on the horn and revving the hell out of his engine. Obviously that must've done wonders for the fishing in my swim and not surprisingly I never had a sniff there in nearly two hours. Oh well, the next spot was beckoning.

By now the wind and rain had actually started to get quite ferocious and after casting out I cowered under my brolly praying no trees would come down on top of me! I suddenly became aware of a buzzer sounding out in the maelstrom and looked out to see my upstream rod bucking violently. I hit into the fish which weeded me quite badly but steady pressure won in the end and a lovely golden Barbel was soon posing for its photo. Not huge but a nice fish in what can best be described as challenging conditions!

After returning it I was just preparing to recast when my downstream rod gave the old three foot twitch. I quickly dropped everything and hit it but I bumped it on the strike unfortunately. That was all the action I was to get over the rest of the trip. The weather continued to deteriorate badly and I packed up at about 8.30 having had a right skinful of it. The friendly little donkey was waiting for me back at the car and I swear it would've got inside with me if I'd let it!



  1. When I saw donkey in the title I thought it was referring to a Chub, not an actual donkey! Brilliant trip there Leo and Charlotte looks over the moon with her catch too.

  2. Is the donkeys name Rob ;-) hahaha