An afternoon in the boat on the Tidal Thames, the water was dirty and raging through - it was going to be tricky! I popped my livebait over the edge while me and James sorted the gear out, seconds later I looked back and the float was gone!
An instant jack, this was going to be good... Next action was over 4 hours later, James lost a jack before boating the 9lb 1oz pike above. Not quite the hectic action we’d hoped for - but I love floating about in the boat, even in those conditions.
Earlier in the day I did land my first Thames barbel while fishing for dace livebait on some shallow gravels, about 10oz. Followed by one getting on for a pound on the next cast - think I might need to target his grandmother next season - I’d love a big Thames barbel...
I needed to get over Thursday’s pike blank - time to catch a fish. With only the morning available barbel were the closest option - but it’s too cold for barbel and I haven’t had a barbel blank this season.
I decided a blank on the river, even in the cold, was better than staying in watching TV so I grabbed the gear and headed out. Time to gamble with my clean sheet - it has to come to an end sometime!
I made my way down the river searching the bottom with polaroids. I could see almost all of the riverbed but couldn’t spot a fish - they’re so adapted to their environment they really know how to hide.
Eventually I had a very gentle bite and a strike met with a fish, cracking fight including briefly getting snagged. But a beautiful 8lb 0oz barbel on a frosty morning - much better than watching telly!
A frost last night, a mildish day, a job postponed until tomorrow - only one thing for it - I ventured back to Penton Hook for the first time in three years. When I saw the water my heart sank; it was clear but really racing through - this was going to be tricky.
I started by trying to fish the fast water where I know the pike like to hang out, but despite a 4oz lead and rod set like I was beach fishing I couldn't hold bottom. I then decided to do a couple of circuits of the island fishing the slacks with a float fished deadbait and lures.
When that failed to find interest I set up shop in a deep slack and fished a ledgered sprat and a float fished dead roach for the rest of the afternoon, and hoped a pike would come and find me. But not a touch - fortunately I had a good book!
Despite the lack of fish it was great to be back on the island, just need some better conditions. Time between leaving my front door and first cast: 2 hours. Distance walked today: 12.4 miles. Penton Hook: Back on the radar, especially for the coming summer!
I've got an adapter that attaches my camera to a mini telescopic bankstick that is always in my bag - ideal when traveling light, I'm normally on my own when I 'need' that shot of a prized fish. Anyway, I left it behind last time I went fishing.
I was pretty much out of the way so I hoped it was still there and went back to get it. And decided last moment to take my kit - perhaps have a blast for an hour or so - why not? - I travel light so it wouldn't matter even if I didn't get the kit out of the bag.
I found it right where I left it - which was great because I bumped into the lump above - and ‘needed’ a photo! A beautiful 9lb 9oz barbel in top winter condition, and added one about 3lb for good measure.
The continuing rain has hampered the pike fishing, the rivers are in flood at worst and unsettled at best. I was hoping for a double every month of the pike season - but now I’m just hoping for better conditions for pike in February and March.
But it has been mild for the last few days, and despite not being able to stalk barbel in the coloured water they were on the feed - and put a bend in the rod! An afternoon wander resulted in five barbel, 8lb 6oz, 5lb 10oz, 8lb 1oz, 5lb & 6lb 0oz - that’ll do nicely!
Oh, and I added another four plus chub from the river this season, just scraped in at 4lb 0oz - the eleventh over the target weight. They are getting really difficult to locate, I seem to remember they disappeared this time last year - wonder where they go?
There is a barrage of crap across the local river, the EA and Local Trusts had been informed - and I believe even gone and had a look - but it's tucked away - out of sight, out of mind!
It has been like this since the summer and it’s only getting worse. So even though it's not a stretch James and I fish often it was time to do something about it - we had no idea what we'd let ourselves in for...
James drew the short straw and went in, I was happy enough to be helper. He passed whatever he could up - recycling & rubbish were bagged and logs were dragged out of reach of the floods.
The smell was horrific, we joked about finding a corpse - until James did! Someone's black & white pet rat, where else would you dispose of you beloved pet? Yeah - just chuck it in the river!
We then used a grappling hook to snag the big stuff - turns out I'm a dab hand at throwing a grappling hook - all those thousands of hours chucking a lure about have paid off.
I didn't get many photos of the clear up, it was bloody hard work, and if I’d dropped the camera in we’d never find it! Plus we hadn't allowed enough time and worked into dark...
I returned this morning to finish bagging the crap and to get some 'after' shots. A real sense of achievement and well worth the effort - I'm still secretly glad I haven’t got any waders though.
There are plenty of branches still touching the water to collect a new raft (good for the fish, especially chub) but hopefully not enough to clog up the whole river again. We'll keep an eye on it.
I did arrive a bit early and landed a couple of little barbel before hand - I thought I might fish after - but it was straight home for a shower, disinfectant and to burn my clothes!