Covid-19 and the extended Barbel Challenge. A plague, barbel, Brexit, barbel, lockdowns and barbel - a weird season to say the least! The virus and restrictions meant staying close to home - light on pike fishing - but I still got out locally when I could. So here it is - my twelfth season review - written monthly as I went along...
Closed Season: Strange times; lockdown was in place and fishing was banned. It was a shame because I had my eye on a few canal targets - pike, chub and carp. As soon as we were allowed to fish me and James hit a small pond for some tench action. And 24 hours fishing for wels resulted in a 1000lb+ bag of fish including a 30lb+ PB each!
June: Opening day saw me and James searching for rudd in the boat - except the boat had a puncher - so a long walk chucking bread out and watching for fish - but we both found a cracking rudd each before a storm cut the trip short. I started my quest for 100 local barbel and bagged 15 of them over 3 short trips - not a bad start.
July: My barbel quest continued and I added another 26 fish over six trips to 8lb 7oz (total now 41). The Farm was calling, so a train journey and eight tench plus two beautiful crucians found the net - my only away day. And what better way to use up the maggots than a couple of trips catching the mighty gudgeon on the stick 'n' pin?!
August: A couple of storms dumped some fresh water in the river - and got the fish moving - I was mostly catching small barbel but a lovely double slipped up - always great to bag an early season double! A trip chasing rudd on The Fens didn’t go quite to plan - but a 5lb 13oz chub off the local river made up for it! Barbel total now 71.
September: Summer began to give way to autumn and I started the month with some cracking chub on floating crust - including 3 over five pounds to 6lb 3oz! A cold trip to The Tidal Trent provided some tough fishing - but it’s only our second visit - we’ll work it out. And locally I cracked my Barbel Challenge - summer total: 114!!
October: Pike-time! Opening day saw 9 mini pike and 56 perch on lures - a great start. But the next trip produced only one pike and one perch - the next two trips were blanks - very odd! I continued my Barbel Challenge (upping my target to 200) - and added another 32 barbel, including two doubles - season total now 146 barbel.
November: Lockdown 2.0 - we were allowed to go fishing, but I was avoiding public transport - pike fishing was out. Fortunately the barbel and chub are within walking distance - and I put a lot of miles in! Eight trips to the river saw 34 more barbel added to the Barbel Challenge, including double number 4 - season total: 180!
December: Lockdown 2.0 was rebranded as Tier 4 - same thing different name. I needed 20 more barbel to hit 1,000 from the local river - more miles walking back and forth - but I cracked it - and had a celebratory bottle of Blue Moon - brilliant! Biggest barbel was 9lb 7oz, and best chub was 5lb 0oz - but still no pike fishing.
January: New year - new Lockdown! Local fishing only, I'm running out of time to bag a double figure pike!! Not much fishing, just 3 trips to the Small River - the plan was to bag an elusive perch but conditions were against me. A barbel back-up plan produced 12 fish - including a fantastic new PB barbel at 14lb 2oz - get in!!
February: A cold and snowy start to the month - temperatures barely rising above freezing - then spring seemed to spring! Only 4 trips to the river - so lucky to have that barbel pull within walking distance. Eleven barbel landed - season total now 229! A dace mission was plagued by OOS trout - but there's still time to bag a big dace...
March: The final 2 weeks, and the final 4 trips to the local river. It was all about barbel - barbel have dominated my Covid-19 season and I really wanted to land 250 of them. Twenty one needed - 21 landed! The highlight of the month was barbel #250 - an 11lb 7oz beauty, my 6th double of the season - brilliant! Right, roll on the next one...