A Crab: Following the advice given to us on this blog and on the riverbank, combined with a bit of Google Earth research, myself and Dan set of to explore some new swims. We arrived during the final hours of daylight for a quick scout about before we settled down to fish.
We split up and fished a couple of pegs apart. No bites until darkness fell when Dan missed a small rattling bite. Next up he's phoning from the swim downstream so say he has landed a crab! I went running down to get some photos - I caught one last year and the photo didn't come out so I wasn't missing this chance.
I even got brave enough to hold it for a photo for scale. I'm pretty sure it's a Chinese mitten crab again, it was very aggressive, I'll look it up tomorrow. [Edit: Chinese Mitten Crabs]
Next up Dan hit a barbel, the five we were after! Or so it looked in the water before it came off at the net - he needs to find a lucky penny or something - his luck has to change soon!
A Barbel: Meanwhile I was fishing just upstream when a guy walked up behind me and introduced himself, he recognised me from this blog and had been reading about the Barbel Challenge and our quest for a double. I can't name locations but, with his local knowledge, it turned out I was fishing painfully close to a good barbel holding spot.
On his advice I moved a short distance & started fishing again. Ledgered luncheon meat was cast out, and we sat and waited. I lost track of time but it was a while before I had a rattling bite - followed by the classic barbel grab and run. Good fish on! And while he ran downstream to get the net from Dan I had a great battle in the darkness. He returned and after several more heart-stopping minutes, and powerful runs, he slipped the net under the fish...
The scales pulled round to 11lb 4oz, I quickly slid the barbel onto the unhooking mat to weigh the net... 1lb 8oz... I awarded myself 9lb 4oz on the bank, and have since corrected my maths... A new Wandte PB of 9lb 12oz, so close to a double - but do I care about those four little ounces? NO! What a fantastic fish! I was more than delighted!
Thank you so much Stuart. Thank you!
After returning the fish I cast out again, after a while Stuart left, I sat there for another bite-less hour before calling it a day. And then Dan wrapped things up with an eel of about a pound.
So the Barbel Challenge now stands at seventeen fish for 36lb 13oz and we have our eyes on a bigger prize - a Wandte double..!
The weather was set to be rubbish this evening, so Dan and myself headed for the Wandte with a plan to fish until it started raining then head for home... The rain didn't arrive so we didn't leave!
We added four more barbel to the challenge, 2lb 4oz, 3lb 0oz, 1lb 0oz (to Dan) and finally a fish that broke the four pound barrier, 4lb 2oz. Dan also managed a eel of about half a pound, and lost several more barbel - his luck hasn't improved! So the challenge now stands at sixteen fish for 27lb 1oz.
Following the advise given to me both on this blog and from the guys on the riverbank I think we'll be heading off downstream next time - thanks for all the advise everyone. And keep it coming - we need it!
It's cold, it's dark, it's raining - and it's Friday night... Let's go fishing!!
Myself and Dan are quite, quite mad. We popped down to the Wandte for a couple of hours trying to add to the barbel challenge total before heading to the pub, but as we couldn't tear ourselves away we missed the 12 o'clock last orders by over an hour!
We explored some new water with only one decent bite. A 3lb 1oz barbel on a hair-rigged halibut pellet. Dan's luck hasn't really been in yet this season, but we're only ten days into it. The challenge now stands at twelve barbel for 16lb 11oz, we need to land some bigger fish!
An afternoon on the Wandte with Dan and Phil, which turned into an afternoon and evening (as usual). The barbel weren't playing today so no progress on the barbel challenge.
Although after a couple of swims I hooked into a coat hanger which in turn hooked into an old Budweiser can for a total combined weight of 1lb dead, it didn't put up much of a fight but I thought I'd photograph it anyway.
Next up I had a chub of 2lb 7oz on hair-rigged halibut pellet, it was a beautiful gold colour (the photo doesn't do it justice) followed by a second chub, 3lb 3oz, again to halibut pellet. And Dan finished with an eel of about a pound... We'll get those barbel next time...
An evening session, and I was trying to avoid the rain. Dan and a mate of ours, Phil, went fishing in the rain, I decided to wait out the storm and join them later.
I started off downstream of them and work my way up. Bite first cast, which I missed, bite second cast which I hit - the fish powered off downstream before finding a snag (the fish in this river really know where the snags are). A few casts later and I landed a small chub - or so I though - when I went to unhook it I found it was a dace, 9oz a new PB, and on a large cube of luncheon meat!
I wandered upstream and met Dan and Phil, Dan had landed one barbel of 1lb and lost two larger ones - the fish in this river really, really know where the snags are! Phil was packing up due to an early start tomorrow, but Dan and myself fished on, we really don't know when to give up.
We fish for a couple of bite-less hours and were just about to call it quits when I had a slamming bite and landed a 3lb barbel, I quickly follow this with an 8oz fish, both to luncheon meat. Half an hour later, with no more bites, we headed for the kebab shop. We're yet to land a big barbel this season, but we are starting to locate them...
So the barbel challenge now stands at eleven fish for 13lb 10oz with the biggest being 3lb... Plenty of room for improvement!
Myself and Dan were on the riverbank, with everything set up, trying to kill half an hour before the season started - it's been a long closed season, but that last half an hour dragged on and on. Eventually the alarm on my phone sounded one minute past twelve - we could fish!
We both had bites on our first casts, and in true out-of-practice style we both missed them. My next cast resulted in our first Wandte barbel of the season 12oz - yay! Next cast produced a second 12oz barbel to me before Dan had a 10oz fish. Three fish in five minutes, things were going to plan... Then it slowed right down.
Over the next two hours I had a 10oz barbel followed by a 14oz one before Dan tipped us over the pound mark with a 1lb 4oz fish. I then managed an eel of about a pound and a half before it went quiet.
A move soon saw me in again, this time it was a proper fish, it didn't want to show itself and soon found a snag right beneath my feet. About 10 agonising minutes later, after trying every trick in the book, I admitted defeat - the line snapped just above the hook. Was this the Wandte double we are after?
Another move and I landed two more fish, 2lb 1oz and 2lb 3oz before tiredness took hold and we headed for home about 5am.
So the barbel challenge stands at 9lb 2oz (8 fish) with the biggest being 2lb 3oz, not bad for the opening few hours. The bigger barbel will have to wait for another day.
Well the course fishing season is nearly here, less than 2 weeks to go! This closed season seemed to go on for an eternity, and it has been harder than ever before to resist venturing to a canal or pond for a bit of out-of-season fishing - or do I say that every year? I do agree with the closed season though, not only does it give the fish a bit of time off to breed, it also gives the water birds, wildlife and weeds & plants time to flourish.
But now it's time to make a couple of plans for the forthcoming summer season:
Dan and myself have set a target of catching 100lb of Wandte barbel, last season we managed to catch 35 fish but there average size was just over a pound. We know there are double figure fish in there so it could be a lot of small fish or nine or ten big ones - hopefully a mixture of both. Within this challenge there will also be the biggest individual barbel competition between us (we're aiming for a double).
A Thames Pike
I put a lot of effort in last season trying to catch a Thames pike without landing one... I'm aiming for at least one fish (of any size) I can then work from there! I'm probably going to venture a bit further upstream where they seem to be more prolific.
I will also be targeting other species, carp, chub, eels, bream, as the mood takes me. And in the winter I'll be heading in search of a River Wye thirty pound pike, I've been after one for over 20 years, you never know, this might be my season. I'll also be applying to get tickets for Chew Valley.
For the first time in years I'm in England when the season opens, so fingers crossed I'll be on the bank on the 16th... Can't wait!
I'll keep a running total of the barbel challenge to the right. Tricky one this year!
'A man's reach should exceed his grasp' Robert Browning.