I needed one more barbel to make it seventy this season. With September and October looking like really busy months, and months I really should be cracking on with the predator challenge - this afternoon was all about barbel.
The plan was to get barbel seventy on the books as quickly as possible then try and find some bigger fish. Barbel first cast, about 1½lb - part one done!
Part two didn't go exactly to plan, I struggled to find fish and I knew the rain was coming. I landed three more little splashers of 2lb, 1½lb and 1lb - so much for the bigger fish.
Then it started to rain - I stuck it out - it's only rain. And the barbel switched on, I landed four more in quick succession, 4½lb, 4½lb, 2lb and a 6lb 13oz barbel to end on - not a monster but I was more than happy.
Eight barbel for 22lb 13oz plus about half a dozen chub thrown in for good measure - a great afternoon.
Season now stands at 77 barbel for 284lb 9oz. My best so far is 7lb 15oz, perhaps a change of tactic is required for the bigger fish?
Saturday saw the last trip of the year to The Farm, hoping to bag another crucian or two before it gets too cold. And the plan was to split the day between the two lakes.
Match lake: Time to get some fish on the scorecard before heading to the specimen pond, but they didn't want to play. Small perch after small perch on maggot, prawn and pellet - with a few skimmers mixed in - this wasn't the plan...
With a quarter of a million small perch on the books it was time to head to the specimen pond - I smelt a BBQ on route, mmm cheeseburger!
Specimen pond: Crucian time, nope, small roach after small roach - they really weren't playing.
I only heard of one tench caught on the complex all day and by 3pm I had the place virtually to myself. I stuck it out until dark, after all you only need that one magic bite to make your day... But it wasn't my day...
Sticking to my plan to catch a variety of species this year I hit the river yesterday afternoon armed with a stick float, some bread and a couple of pointers from James in search of brown trout.
I found them sunbathing in the shallow water but they didn't really want to feed, most just ignoring the bait. I had two hit the bread, jump, and spit the hook - one managing to transfer the hook into a branch about 2 foot above the water - shot in a million!
I persevered and eventually landed two, both gave a spectacular aerial fights, they fight as hard as barbel in the fast water - but the jumping is very impressive.
Mission accomplished I headed home via a celebrator pint in the pub.
The plan for the day was to continue my perch quest, this time on the Thames. I ordered a new rod online from a company called Tidal Tackle early Tuesday and was expecting it to arrive in my office on Wednesday - nope. Nor Thursday or Friday either - rather crap service - either it takes them a week to put it in a tube or they sent it by carrier sloth!
New plan, take my barbel tally up to 70 fish, and hopefully find some bigger ones. I soon had a barbel of about 2½lb - so much for the bigger fish. And working my way down stream I found some more 7lb 11oz, 7lb 15oz (my best of the season so far, I shook the scales but couldn't make it an eight) and 6lb 0oz. And even a couple of bonus chub to 3½lb.
But I needed one more and after a bit of searching I landed one about 4½lb - 70 barbel, get in!! Job done I headed for home, while on the train I realised I started the day on 64 fish not 65... Aggh - I would have stayed out if I had known. Season total 69 barbel, I'll be back...
Time to start my predator challenge, and this weekend the target was perch. Before I started I decided I was only going to count predators over a pound - mostly to save valuable (and very limited) time weighing small perch.
Saturday, late morning, I hit The Wye armed with a light spinning rod and a selection of my favourite perch lures - all Mepps! And it wasn't long before I was into the fish - loads of perch - and it was great fun.
I lost count (well over 30) but I had 9 fish comfortably over my target weight (quite a few that might have scraped past, but I'd rather catch them than weigh them). The best two went 2lb 2½oz (top photo) and 2lb 2oz (above). I was happy to add 12lb 4oz to my predator weight.
I was surprised by the lack of interest from jacks, only hooking two - one about 7lb that spat the hook and one about 5lb below.
While fishing I did see the biggest grass snake I've ever seen, it swam across the river and disappeared into the grass beneath my feet - I don't think it was quite a six footer but it was pretty close. Brilliant thing to see while fishing, shame I didn't get a photo.
Today, I got up at first light and was on the riverbank 15 minutes later, I didn't have long today, but was soon back into the perch landing a dozen or so before my 9am deadline, including four more over my target weight. Best going about 1¾lb - 4¾lb added to the challenge.
With 5 minutes left on the clock I was wondering how I was going to tear myself away - until a loaded cast found a weak spot on the rod and it shattered - bugger... Still, back home and still in good books! New lure rod required.