Sunday 29 July 2012

Gone Baby Gone

Back to my roach spot and after a few casts with no bites I climbed the tree, the shoal had gone... They'd eaten all the pre-baiting corn and bread balls and done a runner! A scout about the surrounding 100 yards revealed no fish, had they dispersed or the shoal just moved?

Time to crack on with the barbel challenge then. I worked my way down the river but the barbel seemed just as elusive, I had a few small chublets and the odd little roach but the day wasn't going well.

A phone call from Darren revealed the location of a shoal of big chub (he'd had one of them earlier), I was straight there. And a 3lb 8oz chub first cast saved the day (one of the smaller fish in the group).

Time to relocate the roach shoal... And find a barbel...

Barbel Challenge July 2012:
30lb 15oz | 5 barbel | 6lb 3oz average | 7lb 13oz best

Friday 27 July 2012

Mission: RedFin II

I've been baiting up the swim where I spotted the shoal of roach a few times this week. And climbing the overhanging tree with polaroids on I've spotted my target 1lb+ roach, there are probably 5-10 of them mixed in with the smaller fish - a pretty big shoal for this river.

Now I've no idea how to target the bigger fish, so I planned on playing the numbers game, if I catch enough of them I'm bound to hit a pounder!?!

First session was in the midday sun and they just didn't want to play, so today I tried an evening trip. Fishing bread I was soon catching fish, roach to about 8oz, tiny chublets and a dace getting on for 10oz (need to get some delicate scales).

As the light was fading I hit another typical bite, but this one really pulled back with that jagged roach-like fight... Sadly I only had it on for a few seconds before the hook pulled - bugger.

And with that the rain started and the bites stopped, time for home, but I'll be back.

Jack's Pike #86 & 87

And Jack's Pike is now appearing every week in Angling News Week.

Sunday 22 July 2012

Photos From The Riverbank 3

Ducklings at sunset (iPhone).

Duckling - couldn't resist another photo (iPhone).

Bee feeding. Difficult to photograph!

Parakeet (older photo).

Toad about as big as my thumb nail.

Bug, not sure what type. Mayfly - Thanks Ollie.

Geese at sunset (iPhone).

Red eared terrapin.

Sunset over Clapham Common Pond (iPhone).

Graffiti. Gang tag? Weirdly we call this section of river the dead zone because it doesn't seem to contain any fish... I expect the artist meant something else though (iPhone).

Still working on the kingfisher photo...

Saturday 21 July 2012

Flying Ant Day

A few hours on the river this afternoon, and there were three things on my mind; minnows, barbel and roach...

Minnows: Infuriating little fish, I'd spotted a shoal a few days ago and today armed with bread on a size 18 hook I tried to add one to my species list. Had quite a few out of the water (confirming they are minnows) but they kept dropping off before they got to hand. I'll be back with maggots!

Barbel: I then met Darren just downstream, who had just lost a carp (one he'd caught before) and we went in search of a barbel. Fishing in a new stretch I ledgered sweetcorn on a long (4 foot) trace between weed beds - the idea being the bait would wash under the weeds and hopefully find a shy fish.

After about an hour a hooping bite (on my finest minnow quivertip) and a great battle amongst the weeds. Six pound line and a 14 barbless hook didn't seem like a great idea right now, but the fish was eventually steered out of the snags and a 7lb 1oz barbel was added to the challenge.

Roach: Darren had to head home and I had about an hour left. Time to head to the spot I caught a roach on Thursday - I've since seen my target 1lb+ roach among the smaller fish there. Ripping bite first cast, missed setting up the net. Ripping bite second cast and another baby barbel about 8oz. Third cast and I got a roach, not my pounder, but a lovely fish to end on.

Time for a sneaky pint!

I did do a couple of hours last (Friday) night; 12oz chub, 8oz barbel and a 1lb 4oz barbel - one added to the challenge. I did however commit the blogger's sin and forgot to take my camera - just as well I didn't get a double.

Thursday 19 July 2012

Mission: RedFin

This evening I started my campaign for a pound plus Wandte roach, accompanied by Dan who, as always, was after a barbel.

I think I've found a little shoal of roach in a spot I wasn't really expecting to find them. I got nowhere near a pounder but it's always nice to catch one - I can work from here.

I did manage four species of fish; roach, chub, dace and a new river species, a perch. All caught on sweetcorn - the perch grabbed the corn as I was winding it in. A great evening's entertainment!

Dan didn't find a barbel, but we've rediscovered a few spots to try, and he added an eel to make our grand total 5 species today.

We also saw the pike, sprats on standby...

Small chub, always game!

Dace getting on for 8oz, need some delicate scales.

And a rare Wandte perch, my first from the river.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

It's Getting Tougher...

Well the honeymoon period is over, the barbel (and chub and carp) have wised-up to us fishermen. They've spread out and are thinking twice about the baits they are offered. Even the broken weather, which barbel like, isn't helping much. It's going to be tough going from here...

Tuesday: Evening and night session trying to tempt a barbel on sweetcorn, but only a 2lb 9oz chub and a little barbel about 12oz were tempted and that was well after dark.

Monday: Fishing with Darren and we stayed into the night, just one barbel to Darren, a cracking 9lber, but that was just before midnight.

Friday: Couple of hours fishing SB4, for just one eel. I did lose a couple of bigger fish through hook pulls - they weren't feeding confidently.

Thursday: Couple of hours in the pouring rain with Dan, our first blank of the season!

Time to go searching for the new haunts, experimenting with times of day, rigs, bait and working a lot harder for the fish - something I enjoy!

Last year we had a tough end of July but in August and September we were back on them, I've been looking up where we found them and what they were feeding on - the advantage of keeping extensive notes.

And we've had a great start to this year's barbel challenge: 100lb down... 200lb to go...

A very welcome little chub, 2lb 9oz

About 12oz, I love photographing mini barbel - hopefully one day someone will be proudly holding this fish up for a photo when it's a double.

Tuesday 17 July 2012


Evening session searching for barbel and Darren and I headed for some out-of-the-way swims. I lost a fish early on (forgot to check the far too lose drag, stupid mistake) then we had a long wait before I had yet another eel. And it was starting to look like that was going to be it...

Darren had a bite, long after it should have been home-time, and a cracking fight in the dark water. When you only get the odd glimpse of the fish in the moonlight you really do start to imagine a monster!

Once it hit the net we could see it was a good fish, not a double but a fantastic looking 9lb 0oz, brilliant!

I had done the pre-baiting duties, it was great to return the favour from when Darren pre-baited before my double a couple of weeks ago...

Now I need to catch one, it's been over a week..!

Saturday 14 July 2012

Mission: Mudskipper

A couple of hours in my favourite gudgeon hot-spot this afternoon, trying to add one to this years River Wandte species list - but as always, when you fish for them they never turn up.

I did have a few chublets and the gudgeon's larger cousin - I thought for a second I'd caught a monster - turned out to be another baby barbel about 6 or 7oz. Meanwhile, Darren added a 3lb 10oz barbel to his season.

Last season I managed 10 species of fish, a number I'm hoping to better this year.









Stone loach -X


Trout (B)ss
X= Caught
Trout (R) -s
s= Seen

First column is this season, second column is previous seasons. I've caught 5 species so far this year, most of the easy ones. And adding the 'Seen' column makes fish-spotting more interesting!

Others: Bleak, Carp (Common, Mirror, Leather), Pumpkinseed. Please feel free to add more below if you've caught or seen them...

Monday 9 July 2012

The Barbel Triplets

Evening session with Dan and Darren, and we thought wouldn't it be great if we all caught a barbel... And for once we all did!

Daylight, 7lb 9oz (maggots)

Sunset, 6lb 0oz (corn)

Night time, 7lb 13oz (SB4)

Darren lost a second fish, I added another baby barbel and a couple of eels for good measure and Dan accidentally chucked his radio in, Davy Jones has it now. Oh, and Darren I've got your weigh-sling.

Dan also found a lovely spot for a picnic!

Saturday 7 July 2012

Healthy River

I could just about squeeze a couple of hours fishing in this afternoon, time to have a blast at a monster 10oz plus dace. Half a pint of maggots and a spot of trotting was in order. I found dace but not the giants I was after, but it was still an enjoyable way to waste a couple of hours.

I caught another baby barbel, this time even further downstream from where they stocked them a few years ago after the pollution. I'm pretty sure these are too small to be stockies, they must have been spawned in the river, a good sign for the future...

And this photo gives me an idea for a new screensaver!

Thursday 5 July 2012

Rain, Rain, Rain. Sun!

Days and days of rain, then a sunny afternoon - and we get to the river and it's painfully low and clear. It is a small urban river, with a small but mostly concrete rain catchment area, so the influence of the weather is very quick to take effect but doesn't last long.

I've been mad enough to sit through a storm, the water soon starts to rise and colour up, an hour or so after the rain has finished it begins to return to normal.

Work and other commitments has kept us off the river so far this month, but with a quarter of the challenge bagged in June we were keen to add to our total. With the low water we could see the fish swimming beneath our feet. We saw ghost koi, a carp, chub and our target - barbel.

No bites for a few hours and we came to the conclusion the fish must have fed like crazy while the water was up and weren't hungry now. I finally had a little tap-tap on the rod and I thought it was a crab or a little chub, eventually I hit it and it powered off.

A 7lb 4oz barbel, perhaps they were feeding. It had definitely taken a liking to SB4, it took the entire length of the disgorger to find the hook. We waited for more barbel to come on the feed but all that took a fancy to the bait was an eel each.

Dan counted down last minute out loud before we headed home, when he got to 59¾ seconds his rod ripped round. The barbel gave him some real stick before finding freedom, a shame, looked like a good fish! We'll be back.

Then disaster, Dan just phoned to say he left his rod on the bus - fingers crossed some nice soul has handed it in. We'll find out tomorrow.

Oh, and Roger phoned while I was fishing; he's landed his fourth double of the season - well on his way towards ten barbel for over 100lb!

Tuesday 3 July 2012

The Double Club?

I didn't manage to get out fishing last night but Darren did. And had a cracking few hours sport, landing three fish; 9lb 1oz, 6lb 0oz and 4lb 10oz. Top stuff! But here comes the worrying bit:

"I had the 9lb 1oz from the same spot as your double on Saturday, and... I think it might be the same fish

A barbel can't lose 1lb 5oz in 48 hours, alarm bells started to ring! We couldn't have messed up weighing it by that much?! Could we?

I had a couple of hours to think about it before I received the photos. One - I was caught up in the excitement of potentially my first double. Two - We used Darren's scales (unfamiliar ones to me, even though mine were in my bag). And three - my first take of the weight was 10lb 6oz minus the 1lb (exactly) weigh sling, I didn't realize Darren had zeroed the scales.

I always have the same two worries on the walk home after catching a big fish (pike up until now). One - the scales are broken (they are always tested after a big fish). And two - the photo is going to be out of focus / deleted (I've been pretty lucky so far).

Surely the photos would confirm or reject my worst fears? At least pike are easy to tell apart.

The heads appear to be different shapes, good. And there seems to be a line of dark scales half way along the left side of Darren's fish, could be dirt or shadows. But the dorsal fins and tails look pretty similar.

Comparing the left side of the fish.

And the right side.

I'm sure someone who reads this is a barbel spot-the-difference expert, but until I'm told different I'm sticking with the weight I walked away with. If I can't ascertain its weight when it is in front of me, I stand no chance now!

The fact I even worry about stuff like this means I'm taking fishing far too seriously - I should really chuck the scales away...

But just to be on the safe side I'm going to go back out and catch another double, perhaps a twelve this time to put my membership of the Double Club beyond doubt!

Sunday 1 July 2012

Early Morning Mission

Up at five for an early morning barbel mission, I met Darren just after six who was already fishing. The water was painfully low and clear, the rain overnight hadn't materialized. We soon started seeing barbel in the clear water but we couldn't tempt them to take a bait - although they were hovering up the free samples.

After a couple of hours all we had to show for our efforts was one mitten crab. Then it rained. We sheltered under some trees knowing that soon the water would colour up and vastly improve our chances. When the rain stopped and with the water rising we went exploring.

We covered a lot of water, and saw a lot of nettles. Darren was using sweetcorn, I stuck to stink bait 4 (SB4) but despite the water looking really good, we had just one lost fish to Darren while all I managed was a boot-lace eel. Home time of 3pm came and went. Darren mentioned fishing in one of the first spots we'd tried - he'd baited it up with corn a couple of times throughout the morning.

First cast and a couple of minutes later something tried to rip my rod into the water, a great fight and a fish that didn't want to show itself. After a while the fish began to tire, we could see it was a good fish, but it wasn't until Darren picked the net from the water we realised it might be the one I've been searching for (Darren's already in the double club).

The digital scales read 10lb 6oz, a pound off for the weigh-sling - another bloody nine! I didn't realise Darren had zeroed it... I'd got my first double - fantastic, bloody brilliant! The best photos and the ones of the other side of the fish are on Darren's camera, I'll add them here when he sends them to me. Added!

While I was holding the fish in the water to recover Darren had a big dace, over half a pound but in the excitement we didn't weigh it. Soon we were fishing again and it wasn't long before I had another rod ripping bite, how I missed it I don't know - I was probably just sat there smiling.

I left it to the last minute before packing up and heading off to meet my girlfriend, just as I was about to leave Darren shouted I'm in. A great fight on his light line and a 6lb 11oz barbel to end the session. Darren's barbel campaign is underway. Despite a slow start a fantastic day was had by all.

Barbel Challenge June 2012:
77lb 7oz | 14 barbel | 5lb 8½oz average | 10lb 6oz best