Back up to my neck in nettles, after about an hour an unsighted barbel nailed the bait. A cracking fight in the unusually dirty turbulent water after the recent rain - before a stunning double was swept up in the net. On the scales she went 10lb 10oz - fantastic!
My 10lb 11oz barbel from just over a week ago? I thought so - and nearly settled for a mat shot. Still a cracker but slightly disappointing to catch the same fish twice. So I was delighted when I compared the photos on the Mac - a different fish and a new one to me. Twins!!
There is no getting away from it autumn is here - the leaves are falling, it’s getting colder and the nights are really closing in - loosing light from about 3pm and dark by 4.30pm - winter is on it’s way.
An afternoon on the river and a bit of trotting - a real mixed bag; roach, chub, gudgeon, minnows, dace and some beautiful perch. All too soon the light faded and the short trip was done - I’ll be back.
A trip to the pike ponds and four hours of thrashing the water to a foam with a variety of lures didn’t even result in a follow. I think I fished well and covered a lot of water - but that’s fishing! Ah well, at least the barbel are on the feed at the moment...
With three hours on the clock I hit the river - a barbel or two to take my mind off it. But 3½ hours into my 3 hour session I hadn’t had a bite. As hour 4 came and went I had to call it - wait - a nibble - a tiny barbel blank-saver. I’ve never been so pleased to see a little fish!
I shot down the river - firstly to check it was still there and secondly to see if the fish had missed me! And my timing couldn’t have been better; the barbel were on the feed - fourteen landed to 10lb 11oz. Plus a bonus chub of 4lb 14oz. Had the fish missed me? Hell no!!
You can count the people who deliberately target perch on the local river on one hand, probably on one finger - but I knew there were pound plus perch in there - I’d seen them - or was I going mad?
I was off to a good start - landing two small perch on maggots while trying to catch minnows for livebait. With 4 minnows sat in the net I swapped to a chubber float and a bigger hook.
Trotting down then gently winding back, just as the light faded my float hammered under - good fight and I was delighted when a spikey fin broke the surface - 1lb 7oz - mission accomplished!
Releasing the fish I accidentally freed my livebaits - but the one on the hook still looked good - so out of light I had one more trot down and a 1lb ½oz perch to finish on. The quest for a two starts here!
Ping. I’d landed four barbel to about 4½lb and now I was watching something special. A good double, and as she moved to my side of the weed bed I trundled a cube of luncheon meat down to her - she nailed it straight away - fish on - for about 30-40 seconds before the hook pinged out - I watched a potential PB dart back into the weeds...
Gutted. I started making my way home - but there was still a couple of spots I wanted to try on route. And in one my fortunes changed. An unsighted barbel hit my bait - hell of a fight in the fast water, including getting snagged - but by then I’d seen her and waded out to free the line - wet shoes and jeans but totally worth it!
Meatball. A very distinctive fish (Stu named her Meatball) and she’s been out a few times over the years. For a while it looked like she’d peaked in weight getting caught between 9lb & 10lb, but last year James caught her at 11lb 2oz - and I’m glad the growth spurt is continuing - weighing as she did 12lb 1oz - brilliant!
I couldn’t wait for a gap in the weather so I broke out the rain-suit and went anyway - to the ponds! I lost a pike about 5lb second cast, and I don’t know how many hundreds of casts later I saw a big pike swirl in the edge - I didn’t need a second invitation - she didn’t need a second invitation to hit the lure...
Even though I hooked her a couple of foot from the bank she shot out to the middle of the pond and plodded about - then she made a right fight of it and really didn’t want to go in the net. Cracking pike, 18lb 3oz, with plenty of room to fill out. Delighted - a stillwater PB as well as a lure caught PB pike - a brilliant start to the campaign.
And I think I know what’s happened to all the jack-pike in the pond!
There is a lot to look forward to in October; the film Joker finally hits the cinema, El Camino is getting aired on Netflix and Rick & Morty is back after what seems like an eternity. Anything else? Oh yeah, pike!
To the pike ponds - and I’d like to say between storms - but I got soaked! But it was worth it; my season opener was a beautiful dark double at 12lb 6oz followed by a jack on the next cast.
Both fell to a Storm Curl Tail - my go to lure in these conditions. I think I could have had more but the storm thickened - then thunder and lightning - and even I draw the line at fishing in lightning..!
The summer river season is just 107 days long, and once again it has flown by. After a quiet closed season I was eager to get cracking - I mainly limited my targets to just three species of fish; barbel, carp and chub for the opening months. Lots of early starts and creeping about in the nettles - here’s my summer, written as I went along...
Closed Season: I had a bit of a break over the closed season, very little fishing. I did manage a couple of gudgeon matches against James on a local pond. A couple of days chasing my first wels catfish - landing five, setting a fantastic PB of 27lb 0oz. And pre-season warm up with the tench and crucians down on the farm.
June: Well rested I was looking forward to the start of the river season, and this year it was all about barbel. Seventeen barbel on the opening morning was a result beyond my dreams! And four more short sessions took my barbel tally to 34 fish for the month - a cracking start to my 100 barbel challenge, could I complete it in the summer?
July: As well as barbel fishing I set my sights on a fly caught carp - but what I wasn’t expecting was this stunning double figure koi on the fly - brilliant way of catching her! A long day of bait ‘n’ wait was rewarded with a beautiful twenty pound common carp - the first of many I hope! And I took my barbel count to 55 fish.
August: I continued my barbel quest with a few short early morning sessions - which included bagging a double - my barbel count was up to 84 fish. But the fish of the month (perhaps season) was a six pound chub from the local little river. Me and James have long speculated their existence - and here was one on the bank - brilliant!
September: The month started with a beautiful river koi - followed by catching carp on Jelly Babies! But the main mission of the month was my barbel quest - and I cracked it - 102 in the summer season! Sorted, I managed three crucians from the farm and said goodbye to the summer with my very first tidal Trent barbel!
Thirty six hours on the mighty River Trent; tidal, stormy and in flood - and worse still the barbel had fed like mad at the beginning of the week then completely switched off. But some of the locals were catching the odd fish (with their local knowledge) - so tempting a barbel was still a possibility - even on a first trip.
To cut a long story short; as home time approached I was thankful I’d landed a blank-saver bream, but then, far more by luck than anything else the rod hammered over and the alarm screamed - a hard fighting stocky 8lb 15oz barbel - I was delighted - not one of the monsters the river is famous for - but we’ll be back for them...
The mornings and nights are closing in and there is a chill in the air - it’s very nearly pike time. But before it’s too late I fancied a crack at a neglected summer favourite - the crucian.
To The Farm! I fished one rod on the mag ‘n’ wag, on the other I fished the method feeder with scaled down hair-rigged halibut pellet on a bite alarm - traditional verses modern approaches.
I landed dozens of rudd, roach and perch on maggot - and the pellet accounted for three crucians, 1lb 12oz, 1lb 14½oz & 2lb 9½oz plus a bonus tench at 3lb 9oz. Beautiful fish, glad I didn’t miss my chance.
Baffling: All three crucians ripped the rod off the rest on the lead - I couldn’t hit their bites on the float - how can something that bites so delicately on the float be so aggressive on the lead?
Stick ‘n’ pin, half a loaf of bread and an afternoon on the river. And it started so well; four roach, three over a pound; 1lb 0oz, 1lb 2oz & 1lb 3oz and six gudgeon - the biggest of which flicked out of my hand before I could weigh it - definitely over 2oz.
Then my centerpin fell to pieces in my hands - I couldn’t have tightened the screw properly last time I cleaned it. I reassembled it but dirt had got in - my trip was done - back home to wash, oil and reassemble it properly - now it needs a test - I’ll be back...
I cast out a ledgered cube of meat and in the clear water I watched a barbel rush towards it before it had settled - I thought this is going to be quick - but the barbel inspected it and backed away.
The barbel seemed to be alone in the pool and over the next 20 minutes came and examined the meat a couple of dozen times - didn’t touch it, no indication of it’s presence on the rod tip.
I’d given up hope of it taking the bait - but interesting behaviour to watch. Then it grabbed the bait and tried to steal the rod! Makes you wonder what is really going on in this normally hidden world.
There can be no better tackle review that using an item to destruction and replacing it like for like. So even though I rarely mention brand names I’m going to have to recommend the Korum Day Sack. I’ve had the old one for nearly six years and I’ve really put it through a rough ride! Right then; time for a quick test...
I’ve seen this koi swimming about numerous times, but being highly visible she’s seen it all before - still I couldn’t resist. An early start and I positioned myself upstream, floating bits of bread down to her, she examined each piece but wouldn’t commit.
After 15 or 20 minutes she finally sucked in a bit of crust - the next one had a hook in it! Hell of a scrap in the fast water - what a beauty - had to get a quick photo of both sides. Mission accomplished I celebrated with a few splasher barbel.
For the barbel records: 5½lb, 1½lb, ½lb & ½lb (84)
Sneaking about in the nettles (again) I spotted another monster chub - first cast the luncheon meat was hit by an unsigned barbel - landed, weighed and photographed - the chub was still there...
The next cast she nailed it - short fight before I was looking down on her in the net - I couldn’t believe it - another monster. But I recognised her as soon as I lifted her out of the water...
I did feel a bit guilty - she’d moved about half a mile, lost weight (5lb 14½oz) and who was there with a baited hook! Not a deliberate recapture - I don’t want to see you again until February or March!