With a few mild days in a row I thought I’d hit the river for a couple of hours to try and add to this season’s barbel tally. And 2 hours soon turned into four - I really struggled to find this little blank saver.
I think the barbel fishing this season has been harder than the previous few years. Have they wised up, moved or turned nocturnal? And it’s not just me, some really good anglers are struggling.
Still half the fun is tracking them down - don’t want it too easy?!? And with just under a month left I’m hoping for another trip or two to hit my revised target of 80 barbel this season - 77 so far...
Work has been busy recently - I use the term ‘work’ lightly as I’m drawing and animating robots - but it’s nearly 3 weeks since I last wet a line. Time to head to the river and get a bend in the rod!
I was going to go pike fishing but I only had the afternoon and didn’t want to burn daylight traveling - instead I grabbed the stick ‘n’ pin and a pint of maggots with the aim of bagging a local roach.
I found roach but their delicate little bites proved impossible to hit, I kept the feed going in and the bites got more confident, almost to the point of suicidal - I bagged up - just what the doctor ordered!
Probably 50+ roach, at least five of them over a pound; 1lb 0oz, 1lb 1oz, 1lb 3oz, 1lb 4oz and 1lb 9oz - plus quite a few between 14oz and 1lb that I didn’t weigh - I’d rather catch them than weigh them.
There were a few chub, gudgeon and monster minnows thrown in, plus a barbel. It was one of those few occasions when I wish I had a keepnet with me - would have been nice to know the total weight.
All too soon I ran out of daylight, I struggled on for a bit feeling for bites when I couldn’t see the float - but my afternoon was done - a proper red letter one at that. Right, back to the robots...
I always used to think lure fishing was just for early season pike - switching to live or deadbaits at the end of November / early December - but this season I’ve mostly stuck with the lures.
For one thing it’s convenient; I don’t have to catch livebait or dig out the deads, my lure kit it always packed and ready to go - when I have enough light left in a day I can just grab the gear and head off.
With a few hours on the clock me and James hit the ponds, leapfrogging our way around - great way to cover the water - and as always in this situation it turned into a bit of a competition!
Rules were slightly unclear - if it was a pike fishing compo I won with 4 pike, if it was just a lure fishing competition it was a draw, James also landing 4 fish - only two of which were pike...
OK, a chub is fair enough, they will eat almost anything - but seriously - who lands a bream fair and square on a lure?!
Since posting about the balance between success and failure I’ve been on a bit of a failure streak! First up I lost a pike about 12lb. A few days later I lost a high double almost at the net - and I’m pretty sure it was the fish James caught a few days later at 18lb plus..!
So with 2 hours on the clock I hit the ponds, and it was cold - water must have been just above freezing. It took over and hour before something slammed my lure, shook its head and came off - hooks were sharp and an aggressive take - what is going on?
Running out of light I had to get a pike in the net. Eventually another ferocious take and my unseen pike ploughed straight though a snag. Eventually swimming out the way she went in, a really hard fight for it’s size and an 8lb 8oz pike was safely in the net - thank f**k!
Back in August last year I was lucky enough to catch a tagged blacktip shark, details were recorded and sent off to The Cooperative Shark Tagging Program. It took a while but it has been added to their database, and the details sent back to me - which is pretty cool.
Blacktip number 22281.
54 inches to fork of tail.
64 inches in total. And a male (below).
The first time it had been reported since being released, so not masses of information but it had been tagged for 2.4 years. And they sent me a hat - I think my brother has got four of these but I don’t think many people in England are wearing them. Cheers Paulos!
It’s a bit cold for barbel but I normally manage to winkle one or two out, so I wrapped up warm and hit the river. Wandering about scanning the riverbed with polaroids I didn’t spot a single barbel. In fact I was happy when the chub above appeared to save a blank.
Out of time I lost my kit on an unseen snag, packed up and called it a day - my first barbel blank of the season (and I didn’t blank for barbel at all last season). Still, I knew my run would have to end eventually - and thinking back it’s been one hell of a run!
It’s the balance between success and failure. I wandered back down the river looking in some of the spots I’d previously fished - and there, hiding under an overhanging tree was a barbel. I quickly set the kit back up and it nailed my bait as soon as it hit the water!
It’s a question I get asked a lot, I’m sure you do too. And I struggle to answer it. I, like a lot of anglers, was introduced to the sport by my Dad - but that’s not the reason I still drag myself out of bed at stupid o’clock to sit on a riverbank in all weathers.
Do you eat them? Is the question I’m asked by non-anglers - No, I take a photo and put them back - it makes no sense to those who ask. There is the rig/bait development, the excitement when the float dips and the rush of adrenaline when you spot that monster fish...
I’ve just read Fishing’s Strangest Tails by Tom Quinn and one paragraph really stood out, recounting a story from 1905, he described the balance between success and failure, and how that balance makes fishing so addictive.
I still don’t fully understand why fishing appeals to me, and perhaps I never will. But next blank or the next time I loose a big fish I’m going to remember this balance, it seems we need it. As for explaining the attraction of fishing I think it’s just another piece of the puzzle.
A trip to The Royalty in search of pike - I’ve had a lot of fish from here, but despite it’s reputation for big pike I’ve never managed a double (having lost 2 in the past). Time for another blast...
It was tough going, everyone I spoke to was blanking; barbel, chub, pike and even silvers weren’t playing. But in the afternoon my float hammered under, not a double but a jack to save a blank.
Staying into dark the only other fish caught on the fishery were a few small chub and salmon parr, as dejected anglers walked past. Just a bad day or did the otter footprints everywhere tell the real story?
There were scales from recent kills scattered about, I found this perch and the bailiff told me they’d found a pike the day before that would have gone twenty. Is time running out on this famous fishery?
I’ve got a really bad back at the moment, but yesterday - with the help of some painkillers - I thought I’d risk an hour or so on the local river. A bit of wandering about barbel spotting.
Spotting them wasn’t particularly difficult but most didn’t even want to look at a bait. I did find three takers; about 5lb, 3½lb and a beautifully conditioned 7lb 1oz above. And I can really feel it now!
My brother always sends me a few lures from the States for my birthday - cheers Paulos. And thanks for the homemade card! What amazing looking lures; an always effective Yo-Zuri, a fantastic looking perch and a pike that had been painted by someone who has clearly never seen a pike - I was gagging to try them out...
To the ponds, and I didn’t have much time. Which one should I try? I’m a fan of matching the hatch and these ponds are full of little rudd - the Acid-Pike it was then!! I lost a pike second cast, but after a bit of walking about managed to find two more that fancied Jackson Pollock’s pike - pike know their art - fantastic stuff.
The second pike was sporting two trebles, a wire trace and about 25 yards of line - I think he was glad to see me as he went back without the accessories. I had a quick cast with the perch, looks great, I’ll be taking it for a spin next time. And the Yo-Zuri is too deep diving for here - might save it for a return trip to The Wye.