The stats are in - it's become tradition - time to see how far I walked with my lazy hobby in 2020. Not a lot of walking during lockdown - but avoiding public transport and walking to and from the river afterwards made up for it - a total of 2,340 miles - lazy hobby?!!
I'd like to be out chasing pike and grayling - but it seems Tier 5 is on it's way. Hopefully I'll still be able to fish the local river - but while I'm waiting for the gudgeon, roach & perch(?) to acclimatise to the recent cold spell I'll crack on with a couple of books I got for Xmas.
I'm about half way through Monsters Of River & Rock by Adrian Smith, so far it's excellent - combining stories about fishing in London as a kid, being in one of rock's biggest bands & fishing all over the world - it is 90% fishing - and detailed - technique, bait, size of hook etc...
Next up will be The Book Of Trespass by Nick Hayes, I don't know anything about this book - given to me by my girlfriend - but the title makes me wonder exactly what she thinks I get up to when I'm fishing?! Right, bugger off Covid - it's pike time!
What to target next? With 1,000 barbel in the bank (I love the comma in the number) it's time to find a new target. Covid, lockdowns and travel are restrictive factors - otherwise pike would be my target - I thought I'd have a sit on the riverbank and a bit of a think...
As I can't get back to The Wye this Christmas I knew the conditions would be perfect for pike; water is low and clear, frosty mornings and mild afternoons, baitfish everywhere... Oh wait, it's in the fields as usual - the traditional Wye Christmas flood! Hopefully I'll get back before the season ends - fingers crossed. (Photo by my Mum).
Early start and out into the rain - presuming lockdown 3.0 was about to be announced - and I only needed one more barbel. Barbel first cast - barbel number 1,000 - f*cking brilliant! I said it out loud "barbel one thousand" wow - I've talked about it for long enough and here it was resting in the net!! Not a monster but who cares?!
It was too far to walk for just one cast - and I had a whole loaf of bread - I fished on for a few hours. A chub and five more barbel found the net, including this 9lb 7oz beauty. I couldn't help refecting on the amazing little river me and Dan had stumbled on 10 years ago - Dan I hope you're reading this. Anyway, here's a few barbel...
When I transfered the beer from the fridge to my bag I was certain it wouldn't be coming home with me. In fact after the last trip I was sure I could land two more barbel, drink the beer and be off the river in an hour - home long before the forecast rain would arrive.
I couldn't have been more wrong - hours later and in the rain I finally had a bite and the little blank-saver barbel above. Soaking wet I had to carry the beer home! The barbel hadn't read the script - or perhaps they have and it'll be an epic challenge finale next time..?
The river looked great but time was limited, it would be getting dark in 3 hours, and had I cursed myself by bringing a celebratory bottle of beer with me? I'd convinced myself I was cursed walking to the river!
Barbel on in the first swim - until the hook pulled (cursed) - but at least I knew they were feeding. And a 5lb 0oz chub the next cast made up for it. Then the barbel gods really smiled on me...
Barbel #991 - 7lb 0oz
Barbel #992 - 4½lb
Barbel #993 - 5lb 12oz
Barbel #994 - 8lb 10oz - best of the session
Barbel #995 - 6lb 8oz
Barbel #996 - 5lb 0oz
Barbel #997 - 3lb
Barbel #998 - 3¾lb
I could almost taste the Blue Moon - but I was out of daylight - just over three hours had gone by in the blink of an eye - no surprise with action like that! Two barbel to go - hopefully I'll crack it next trip...
Early morning session and three barbel added to the challenge, total now 990 - ten more to catch! So even though I hate carrying any extra weight - and it'll probably be 3 or 4 trips before I drink it - I'll have my celebratory bottle of Blue Moon in my bag ready. So close!
Bet I forget the bottle opener though - I'll end up opening it with my keys or forceps! Oh, and while I'm remembering forgetting stuff - it's Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Christmas Fishing tonight, BBC 2, 8.10pm - or you can wait for the repeat on Christmas Day!!
With a good frost the night before and ice-cold rain in the morning I nearly didn't go - but I haven't been fishing in over a week - and you've got to be in it to win it. To the river! Barbel #984 (above).
Small river barbel #985
Small river barbel #986 - with the head of a tench!!
Winter is starting to bite, it's getting cold and the barbel fishing is getting tougher - and it's only going to get worse from here! But I managed to find three early December barbel to 6lb 3oz - result!!