I haven’t really caught the barbel bug this season, having hardly fished for them compared to the previous eight years. But I fancied that barbel pull and headed off to a drizzly, blustery river.
Just under three hours on the clock, and the river was high and dirty - most barbel anglers like these conditions - but I prefer to be able to spot my target - time to lob some luncheon meat in the little slacks.
I needn’t have worried, they were on the feed in the dirty water, hitting a barbel in the second swim. In a race against time I landed six barbel in the short session - that barbel pull I’ve missed - great fun!
The problem with only the occasional trip is locating the nomadic barbel shoals - so I shot down to the river again for a couple of hours the following afternoon - adding three more. Season total is now 68!
Time has been against me this month but seven more pike have been added - season total now stands at 54! I’m hoping to get amongst some Wye pike next month, just hoping the traditional Christmas floods give it a miss this year - and the big girls want to play!
There is no getting away from it; autumn is turning into winter - it’s getting colder out there! I hit the local river for the afternoon, time for another wander with the stick ‘n’ pin and half a loaf of bread.
As well as gudgeon and chub I was really after a pound plus roach in it’s beautiful autumn colours - in daylight - a bit of an ask as we’re starting to lose light just after 3pm at this time of year.
Loads of roach but none over the magic pound mark, I did start to hit a bigger stamp of fish as it got darker - but I thought I’d put these little beauties on here - what stunning looking fish!
I had about three quarters of a pint of maggots left over from grayling fishing - slowly turning into casters in the fridge. So I thought I'd pop down and chuck them in the river - and put a hook in a few! Waste not, want not - plus the stick and pin was already packed...
And I found a good shoal of roach, banking 40-50 fish, mostly between 4-12oz but I did land one about 1½lb - which escaped the landing net while I sorted out the scales and camera - so I stayed far longer than intended until I bumped into this 1lb 2½oz beauty!
To my mind there is nothing more exciting than watching your pike float sail away - racing to the rod, winding down and striking - could be 2lb, could be 20lb. Only my second pike on the float so far this season - really got the heart racing, I want some more!
I rarely do full days fishing these days, preferring to fish early mornings in the summer and afternoons in the winter, but an eagerly anticipated trip to The Hook is a different matter - I set aside a full day. An early start, arriving on the island for sunrise.
And it looked perfect; low, slow and clear. It wasn’t too warm or too cold and armed with a variety of bait, I mentioned to Richard my prediction “ten to fifteen pike between us“. Kiss of death! Deadbaits, livebaits and lures went untouched - we didn’t even spot a pike.
My last real successful campaign on the island was back in the winter of 2011/12, since then it has been diminishing returns. The stories of the 5 minute livebait and getting through the jacks and doubles to find a really big pike are over 30 years old now.
More recent stories have been of poaching, and current stories are of nothing. The pegs are overgrown and the island has been abandoned except for a few dog walkers and the odd optimistic angler - but pike thrive on neglect - perhaps I’ll find a forgotten monster...
A computer glitch at the EA resulted in my weir permit arriving a month late, but it landed on the doormat on the weekend and I was itching to get on the river. With very little time, made shorter trying to catch elusive livebait, it was zander time by the first casts.
But I was really hoping for a pike. Two runs, a little perch and the pike above. The pike had seen better days - long, thin and missing an eye - but a really big broad head - would have loved to have caught her in her prime! But a Barney, weighing exactly 10lb - great stuff!