It's been over a week since we last hit the river, work has been going nuts for both me and Dan, but this afternoon we decided to finish an hour early and get on the barbel challenge...
Bite first cast, a fight that mostly involved getting the fish stuck in as many snags as I could, but eventually a 6lb 11oz barbel was added to the challenge. This one tipped me over my own personal barbel challenge - over 200lb of Wandte barbel in one season - very chuffed!
I thought the swim was thrashed but the next casts were met with shy bites, the barbel were still there, just lost their confidence. After about an hour Dan (fishing two rods) had a bite on both at the same time, but neither developed into a rod-ripper.
Just as it was getting dark I had the rod-ripper, another snaggy fight and a 9lb 6oz barbel - brilliant - but the swim was definitely thrashed now - time to move.
We did a bit of exploring but no more bites... Back to the river for an afternoon session tomorrow...
First things first, chuck out a couple of deadbaits and get the sausage sandwiches started! A very much anticipated, first trip of the season to Penton Hook. Dan and I were targeting the barbel and pike, Dan used luncheon meat and ledgered sprats, I used maggots and float fished livebait.
I lost a pike early on, then had a perch on float fished bleak, but the fishing was very slow. A few dace, small roach and gudgeon fell for the maggots, but the barbel didn't want to play.
Just after lunch (sausage sandwiches again) Dan hit a better fish but it escaped unseen - perhaps it was a barbel? I'd like to think so, but we'll never know.
I left Dan at base camp, traveled light and went in search of a pike but only managed to find a couple more perch. Might be a bit early for the pike.
We fished into dark but couldn't find a barbel and when we spoke to some locals we learned it has been tough all season, one guy was just finishing his fifth weekend in a row without a bite. And two others couldn't work out how many hours they'd spent for one barbel.
If, like me, you're not a professional angler, have a job and other commitments, you often have to squeeze a few hours fishing in when and where you can.
When I can only spare a few hours I head for the local river. Fish roam around but fishing the same stretches you're bound to bump into the odd fish more than once, but I wonder how often it happens?
Some fish are specimens, with closely studied photos, some have distinctive marks and are easy to recognise. But would you recognise an average size, none distinctive fish next time you caught it? Probably not.
How many fish have you caught? Probably a lot less than you think...
I've called it Title Two because I think this post could have been called 'A Brace Of Doubles'.
Seems like ages since we've ventured to the river, both myself and Dan are snowed under at work and the nights are closing in. Plus I've been baby-sitting a cat that lives miles away, over 2 hours out of the day... But this evening we managed to get to the river...
Slow start but eventually I hit a fish, only had it on for seconds, some you win etc... As I put the rod down Dan was in, good fish, looked like a double in the shallow water but it spat the hook after a few minutes - disaster?
An hour or so later another bite and he was in again, careful does it - and a new PB, 10lb 6oz, fantastic!
It turned out to be the one I had on the 4th, now gaining weight (which is great news), and Dan's second double, different swim, bait - great stuff!
Really wanted to get a few more barbel on the challenge before the end of the month, so I tried to finish work by four. I finished at 5.30 and was on the first train to the river, Dan was on the train behind... Fortunately the barbel wanted to play today, 6lb 15oz above.
Pike fishing is in the air! There is a chill in the mornings and evenings and the leaves on the trees are starting to turn. Autumn has arrived and that can mean only one thing; time to venture to the river in search of things with teeth!
My weir permit has arrived, new line on reels, traces made and some fab-looking new Storm Perch to try. Sent from America by Paulos of Shark Blog - thank you - can't wait to get them wet.
One problem with traveling to and from the venues by bike is transporting a bucket around. I've tried hanging it on the handle bars, where it bumps my knee every turn of the peddles. And I smashed the last one when it dropped off onto the concrete train platform.
But the local counsel have just delivered this food recycling container - between us, the cat, foxes and wormery it's never going to get used - perfect!
The addition of some air-holes and a pump (held on with velcro so it goes inside for transport) and it's good to go - a tackle box on the way there and back and it should hold five or six bleak livebaits for a bit of roaming.
A couple of weeks ago a chance conversation put me onto a spot where crucians used to live 'back in the day'. It was too much to resist, I'd love to add one to this year's species list, in fact I've never caught one.
Fishing maggots and sweetcorn I only had to wait about half an hour for the first bite, a careful fight and my first crucian was in the net.
Then, and I'm not sure how fish do this, it transformed into a common carp between the water and the unhooking mat.
A shoal of gudgeon arrived and I was happily catching them until crucian suspect number two was netted. Another small common!
Suspect number three also turned out to be a little common carp.
Next cast I hooked his great, great grandmother... Just as I thought the fight was starting to go my way the hook link broke... I'll be back with beefier kit!
Davy Jones finally got my sunglasses... An evenings fishing and wandering about we got so far separated Dan had to use his phone to say 'get the net up here, I've got one'. A great fight (so I was told) and a great fish, but while on net duty I glanced over the high bank my sunglasses slipped off my hat... Bugger!
Should I have a wade about tomorrow looking for them? Probably not. Will I? Probably yes... Those glasses were excellent for fish spotting!
Short evening session with Dan and just one proper bite between us - my turn this time - a fantastic fight among the streamer weed, another hairy net job and a great looking double. Great photo - thanks Dan.
It's my biggest fish on a centerpin reel so far. I'm hoping to do some centerpin piking later in the year - and if this fight is anything to go on it's going to be a lot of fun.
Another Double? Unfortunately No! I checked the tail in the net. I know I wanted to track the weight of this fish but this isn't exactly what I had in mind. Same fish as Friday, same weight, 10lb 1oz, different swim and bait though.
For the Barbel Challenge purposes we're going to count her as a third double, but in reality it's my PB caught a second time... Still pretty chuffed though!
She swam away strongly and I hope to see her again - hopefully not until March when she's put on a pound or two..!
We managed to fit a few hours in this afternoon, and headed to a spot I've been pre-baiting all week.
On route Dan and I talked about how we haven't seen an eight pounder yet this season. Ten sevens and 7 over 9lb between the three of us. Perhaps it was something to do with the the pollution a few years ago or a few poor spawning years?
So it didn't take long before Dan added one, SB4 fished in shallow water, a cracking fight and a 8lb 8oz barbel, pushing the challenge to over 200lb!
Two great fish in less than 24 hours and I was just the net-man, can't really complain after the week I've had!
Well it seemed to kick off a bit, barbel wise, this week. But Darren was on holiday, I'd been texting him the results, so this afternoon on his return he was chomping at the bit to get to the river. He asked me if I fancied an evening's fishing, yeah, like I'm going to say no!
I was definitely going home at 9.30pm so we fished hard and covered a lot of water. At 11.10pm (in definitely our last swim) I saw his rod making a break for the river - the only bite of the night. Darren was hooked up and had a great fight in the dark.
Wasn't until the fish was in the net we saw it was a real whopper, a 10lb 1oz barbel, it doesn't matter if you've sat there half the night, sometimes in the rain if you get a double - well done mate - top fishing!
And look who it was, the 10lb 8oz from the 20th August (same set of scales, tested on Wednesday, double checked against Darren's scales tonight).
It's been out 4 times this year, twice in February and twice this month, losing weight each time - but it fought like stink and went back well - does anyone know the natural fluctuation in barbel weight?