Dan and I hit the river after work to see if yesterdays feeding frenzy was still happening. It wasn't! I did manage a 4lb 13oz barbel and an eel, Dan nearly managed an eel but it came off before he could deal with it - bet he's gutted.
As darkness fell there was a real chill in the air, time to zip the lining back into my coat. Autumn is almost here and that can mean only one thing... Pike!
Barbel Challenge August 2012: 86lb 9oz | 13 barbel | 6lb 10½oz average | 10lb 8oz best
I allowed myself an afternoon to do the amends on the latest DVD sleeve, it was signed off straight away, fantastic... If I ran for the train I could get 4 hours fishing in!
A chub first cast, 4lb 0oz, great start - unfortunately I set the camera to macro and the photo was a silver and red blob - bugger. A couple of casts later, and a mini-bite hit, I was connected to a good barbel, 7lb 3oz above, the trip was already more than worth it! Then...
7lb 8oz, thanks to a passing Stu for net and photograph duties...
And a 6lb 0oz barbel on the last cast.
A total of 35lb 2oz added to the challenge, and with the chub added a 39lb 2oz few hours... Back home for tea and medals!!
We've passed the half-way mark on this years barbel challenge, 6lb 3oz above and 7lb 0oz below (155lb). Two fish in two casts from exactly the same spot, good old SB4!
Soon the fishing is going to get even tougher, from the past two seasons we know it's very difficult to tempt them in the colder months. October to February was virtually devoid of barbel last year - and when pike are on the menu the barbel fishing tends to get a bit neglected.
I'd be happy if we could get over the 200lb mark by the end of September, leaving us 50lb over winter and 50lb in March. We do have a few plans to tempt a winter barbel - a few more bait experiments etc... Fingers crossed we'll find something they like!
I got back to the river last night, and after fearing the worst, I saw dace topping, a koi and even saw a barbel flash - but it was almost dark so I got up early(ish) this morning for a proper look.
Just downstream of the pollution was a disaster with a big fish kill, the next stretch down suffered less, but I was interested in further down, where I thought less attention would be paid.
I saw dace and roach, three koi (including Kylie) and a barbel - a barbel were I wouldn't expect to see one. After and climbing a tree I found it was a small shoal of barbel - I needed a closer inspection of one of them - I wanted to catch one!! Dan was soon on hand, I fished corn he fished SB4...
Didn't take long before Dan had a wrap round bite and connected to a good fish. To say it was a great fight would be an understatement - probably 10 minutes of hard work, and netting it was no picnic either.
A 9lb 6oz barbel, fantastic result! I think we would have had more but a thunderstorm pushed us off the river soon after - even we aren't stupid enough to fish during lightning! And the rain is great news, diluting the pollution and washing it out of the river.
I didn't manage a barbel but I did add another species to this years list with a 3lb 1oz ornamental koi.
On 17 September 2007 a chemical was accidentally flushed into The River from Thames Water's Beddington sewage works, the company failed to notify the Environment Agency, and the pollution washed downstream killing a reported 2,000 fish.
The company said they were 'mortified' by the incident and met with local clubs and charities to discuss restocking the river. Translation: We need some photos of local school children releasing baby trout into the river as soon as possible.
The company was fined £125,000 for the incident, although when the publicity had died down they appealed it and it was reduced to £50,000
Since then, through hard work by a variety of charities and clubs, The River has been cleaned up restocked and was recently reported to be the most improved river in England and Wales.
The photo above was taken yesterday, borrowed from The Wandle Trust website. A fire at the same sewage treatment works has knocked out the power, there are no redundant systems in place to isolate the plant from the river and pollution is once again flowing downstream.
I'm trapped at work, monitoring websites for any news, but I really want to get down there and have a look. I'm really hoping it is not going to be as bad as the last incident - time will tell.
Where am I going with this? Perhaps this time, instead of a small fine and a publicity stunt, they should be forced to put a system in place to stop it happening a third time. Perhaps all companies with the potential to destroy an environment should - yeah, as Wayne from Wayne's World said - and monkeys might fly out of my butt.
I have been a bit distracted recently with the quest for a pound-plus roach, and those carp were far too tempting to resist. But I'll be back for a roach when it gets a bit cooler and I've had my fix of carp for the time being - still want to catch one of those Leney(?) carp though...
So this evening Dan and myself returned to the barbel challenge. We fished SB4 and I didn't have to wait long for my first wrap-round bite. It felt like a big fish as it charged around the swim before I caught a glimpse in the shallow water, it definitely looked like a double, then it got stuck fast in a snag.
I tried all of the tricks in the book and just when I was about to give up hope it swam out by itself and continued the fight, soon the net was under a new PB barbel, 10lb 8oz - fantastic!
Dan was next into the action with a bite that very nearly pulled his rod in... And an 8oz barbel! We thought we'd found a shoal, but darkness fell without another proper bite. As it was getting close to home time Dan landed an eel and then on the next cast a cracking 4lb 0oz chub.
Great fishing session... And my second double - brilliant!
I was about an hour late meeting Darren at the river, the moment I arrived his rod ripped round. Great fight and a prehistoric looking mirror carp was banked. 6lb 10oz and as it turned out the only carp of the day - but another great looking fish - in an ugly kind of way!
I had a bit of a mixed bag; with dace, roach, chub and a barbel banked - but nothing over a pound.
Darren headed home at lunch time, I persevered through the hot afternoon and was eventually rewarded with a 3lb 4oz barbel - another barbel for the challenge... And talking of the Challenge, we'd better get back on it...
When me and Darren went stalking carp on Saturday morning we saw quite a lot of fish - but there was one that was quite a bit bigger than the others, a blond mirror carp. Darren managed to put a bait to her a couple of times but she didn't want to play... Can you see where I'm going with this?
I've been away for a long weekend in the Lake District, no phone, internet, no sketch pad or fishing rod - a break from everything I normally do - but that big carp was always in the back of my mind. Darren went out on Monday night but 'only' managed a roach, over a pound and the battery in his camera died... Agghhhh....
So this morning I got up at stupid o'clock and had a blast before work - and I didn't have to wait long. No messing about today, 8lb line straight through and a size 12 hook - but it still went like stink - and my knees started to shake when I saw what I'd hooked.
A beautiful 14lb 7oz mirror carp, I'm pretty sure it's the same fish that was teasing us on Saturday. I was so pleased I photographed both sides! With about 50 minutes left on the clock I had a few more casts... And a 7lb 14oz mirror to finish on (I thought it was a leather until I got it to the net).
Not bad for a couple of hours fishing, and back home for breakfast!
Well I skived off work, it was sunny and there was way too much on my to-do list. Following the advise of fellow blogger Stew from Barbel Quest I went in search of a roach. And I found them, it took about half an hour of feeding before they became confidant, then it was a roach a chuck.
No big ones, but I probably had a couple of dozen to about 4oz, I'd have happily sat there all afternoon catching them - but unfortunately my center pin seized up solid (cause yet unknown). As I had to break the tackle down to change reel I thought I'd put on some slightly heavier gear and go in search of a trout.
My trout radar was on top form, although basic fishing skills had left me - hooking and loosing 3 trout in quick succession! I did manage a small chub, which looked like it was the only one hanging about with the trout.
While wandering about I spotted the odd carp in the shallow water, every time I did I'd chuck half a handful of maggots at them to see if they wanted to play - they didn't! Then I spotted a carp and barbel lying next to each other, both looked like doubles - half a handful of maggots went out and they both wanted play. (There isn't supposed to be any barbel in this stretch).
I crept upstream, removed the float and all but one of the split-shot and put a bunch of maggots in their path. After five minutes I was thinking of popping down to see if they were still there - then the rod hooped round. The carp shot past me, I must be connected to the big barbel - it was at this point I remembered I was using 4lb line and a size 14 barbless hook.
Cracking fight - why did my center pin break? And eventually an unexpected 9lb 1oz barbel was added to the challenge!
Running out of time (I had to be at a birthday party) I headed back to the roach shoal, and this time it was a better stamp of fish, 8-10oz, I'm sure there must be a pounder there - next time I'm bring bread!
Right then; fix center pin, clean barbel slime off camera lens and catch up on work... Or I could go fishing...
Caught this strangle looking fish last night, going to have to look it up in my Big Book Of British Fish to find out what it is... Oh yes, I remember now, it's a barbel - haven't seen one in a while!
When Dan and I set the Barbel Challenge in the closed season we both knew we'd have a lot less time on the river this year - but we both thought the experience gained over the past season and a half would mean 300lb was a reasonable target (perhaps even a bit easy).
Last year we fished likely looking spots until we found fish, then extracted a few before the shoal moved... Same plan this year except we are targeting bigger fish, but without the available hours it's hard to find the barbel.
And we know it's tough fishing between October and February so to stay on target we really needed to be well into 200 pounds but the end of September. Something we're still hoping to do, no need to panic just yet!
After searching for this graph on the web without success, I've had a blast at drawing it myself from all the studies I've collected from various waters over the years.
Without hindsight I only kept the bits that were to do with growth rates, so without spending hours re-tracking them down I can't credit the sources - probably should track them down. And I've only really been interested in waters that are similar to the River Wye, discounting trout waters, small streams etc.
If anyone has a link to a similar graph done by proper science bods please leave me a link in the comments - thanks.
Snowed under at work this week, only managed a couple of hours on the river with Dan (he's back bank-side after a nasty infection in his arm rendered him unable to go fishing - nightmare). Just an eel each, double hook-up, need to get back and have a good blast at those barbel!
Last week I lost my sunglasses, an essential piece of equipment for small river fishing, so I was delighted when I returned to the riverbank and found them nearly a week later. Need to transfer some of that luck over to catching fish.
Can't really complain about work, I'm doing some really cool stuff; DVD sleeves, a shark tattoo and a logo for a rad new fishing company - I'll post the logo on here when it's done. I've also built a new blog for design work, hopefully it'll inspire me to post new stuff once in a while... Prawnsoda Blog.
And after a string of big barbel (including 4 doubles so far) Roger finally caught one while someone was walking past to take a photo... His smallest fish of the season!