You can count the people who deliberately target perch on the local river on one hand, probably on one finger - but I knew there were pound plus perch in there - I’d seen them - or was I going mad?
I was off to a good start - landing two small perch on maggots while trying to catch minnows for livebait. With 4 minnows sat in the net I swapped to a chubber float and a bigger hook.
Trotting down then gently winding back, just as the light faded my float hammered under - good fight and I was delighted when a spikey fin broke the surface - 1lb 7oz - mission accomplished!
Releasing the fish I accidentally freed my livebaits - but the one on the hook still looked good - so out of light I had one more trot down and a 1lb ½oz perch to finish on. The quest for a two starts here!
Ping. I’d landed four barbel to about 4½lb and now I was watching something special. A good double, and as she moved to my side of the weed bed I trundled a cube of luncheon meat down to her - she nailed it straight away - fish on - for about 30-40 seconds before the hook pinged out - I watched a potential PB dart back into the weeds...
Gutted. I started making my way home - but there was still a couple of spots I wanted to try on route. And in one my fortunes changed. An unsighted barbel hit my bait - hell of a fight in the fast water, including getting snagged - but by then I’d seen her and waded out to free the line - wet shoes and jeans but totally worth it!
Meatball. A very distinctive fish (Stu named her Meatball) and she’s been out a few times over the years. For a while it looked like she’d peaked in weight getting caught between 9lb & 10lb, but last year James caught her at 11lb 2oz - and I’m glad the growth spurt is continuing - weighing as she did 12lb 1oz - brilliant!
I couldn’t wait for a gap in the weather so I broke out the rain-suit and went anyway - to the ponds! I lost a pike about 5lb second cast, and I don’t know how many hundreds of casts later I saw a big pike swirl in the edge - I didn’t need a second invitation - she didn’t need a second invitation to hit the lure...
Even though I hooked her a couple of foot from the bank she shot out to the middle of the pond and plodded about - then she made a right fight of it and really didn’t want to go in the net. Cracking pike, 18lb 3oz, with plenty of room to fill out. Delighted - a stillwater PB as well as a lure caught PB pike - a brilliant start to the campaign.
And I think I know what’s happened to all the jack-pike in the pond!
There is a lot to look forward to in October; the film Joker finally hits the cinema, El Camino is getting aired on Netflix and Rick & Morty is back after what seems like an eternity. Anything else? Oh yeah, pike!
To the pike ponds - and I’d like to say between storms - but I got soaked! But it was worth it; my season opener was a beautiful dark double at 12lb 6oz followed by a jack on the next cast.
Both fell to a Storm Curl Tail - my go to lure in these conditions. I think I could have had more but the storm thickened - then thunder and lightning - and even I draw the line at fishing in lightning..!
The summer river season is just 107 days long, and once again it has flown by. After a quiet closed season I was eager to get cracking - I mainly limited my targets to just three species of fish; barbel, carp and chub for the opening months. Lots of early starts and creeping about in the nettles - here’s my summer, written as I went along...
Closed Season: I had a bit of a break over the closed season, very little fishing. I did manage a couple of gudgeon matches against James on a local pond. A couple of days chasing my first wels catfish - landing five, setting a fantastic PB of 27lb 0oz. And pre-season warm up with the tench and crucians down on the farm.
June: Well rested I was looking forward to the start of the river season, and this year it was all about barbel. Seventeen barbel on the opening morning was a result beyond my dreams! And four more short sessions took my barbel tally to 34 fish for the month - a cracking start to my 100 barbel challenge, could I complete it in the summer?
July: As well as barbel fishing I set my sights on a fly caught carp - but what I wasn’t expecting was this stunning double figure koi on the fly - brilliant way of catching her! A long day of bait ‘n’ wait was rewarded with a beautiful twenty pound common carp - the first of many I hope! And I took my barbel count to 55 fish.
August: I continued my barbel quest with a few short early morning sessions - which included bagging a double - my barbel count was up to 84 fish. But the fish of the month (perhaps season) was a six pound chub from the local little river. Me and James have long speculated their existence - and here was one on the bank - brilliant!
September: The month started with a beautiful river koi - followed by catching carp on Jelly Babies! But the main mission of the month was my barbel quest - and I cracked it - 102 in the summer season! Sorted, I managed three crucians from the farm and said goodbye to the summer with my very first tidal Trent barbel!
Thirty six hours on the mighty River Trent; tidal, stormy and in flood - and worse still the barbel had fed like mad at the beginning of the week then completely switched off. But some of the locals were catching the odd fish (with their local knowledge) - so tempting a barbel was still a possibility - even on a first trip.
To cut a long story short; as home time approached I was thankful I’d landed a blank-saver bream, but then, far more by luck than anything else the rod hammered over and the alarm screamed - a hard fighting stocky 8lb 15oz barbel - I was delighted - not one of the monsters the river is famous for - but we’ll be back for them...
The mornings and nights are closing in and there is a chill in the air - it’s very nearly pike time. But before it’s too late I fancied a crack at a neglected summer favourite - the crucian.
To The Farm! I fished one rod on the mag ‘n’ wag, on the other I fished the method feeder with scaled down hair-rigged halibut pellet on a bite alarm - traditional verses modern approaches.
I landed dozens of rudd, roach and perch on maggot - and the pellet accounted for three crucians, 1lb 12oz, 1lb 14½oz & 2lb 9½oz plus a bonus tench at 3lb 9oz. Beautiful fish, glad I didn’t miss my chance.
Baffling: All three crucians ripped the rod off the rest on the lead - I couldn’t hit their bites on the float - how can something that bites so delicately on the float be so aggressive on the lead?
Stick ‘n’ pin, half a loaf of bread and an afternoon on the river. And it started so well; four roach, three over a pound; 1lb 0oz, 1lb 2oz & 1lb 3oz and six gudgeon - the biggest of which flicked out of my hand before I could weigh it - definitely over 2oz.
Then my centerpin fell to pieces in my hands - I couldn’t have tightened the screw properly last time I cleaned it. I reassembled it but dirt had got in - my trip was done - back home to wash, oil and reassemble it properly - now it needs a test - I’ll be back...