Monday 22 March 2021

Season Review 2020/21

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...

Monday 15 March 2021

Barbel Challenge 2020/21

The initial target was 100 barbel over the summer season - cracked! But with Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns limiting the pike season I decided to see if I could also add another 100 over the tougher winter season. Season total: 250 barbel, including 6 doubles to 14lb 2oz!

Starting the season on 800 small river barbel, the new target pushed me over 1,000 barbel from the river - something I couldn't have even dreamed of 11 years ago when I first cast a line in it! Making the most of the restrictive season - and a new PB was the icing on the cake!!

 Season No 5+ 7+ 10+ Best
 2010/11 27 1 0 0 6lb 6oz
 2011/12 44 14 8 0 9lb 12oz
 2012/13 56 34 20 6 12lb 4oz
 2013/14 8 5 4 0 7lb 13oz
 2014/15 71 33 16 1 10lb 1oz
 2015/16 127 45 15 0 9lb 4oz
 2016/17 70 31 15 2 11lb 15oz
 2017/18 132 56 23 2 10lb 9oz
 2018/19 101 36 13 1 10lb 3oz
 2019/20 164 69 28 5 12lb 1oz
 2020/21 250 77 20 6 14lb 2oz
 Total: 1,050 401 162 23 Breakdown

Thursday 11 March 2021

The Tail Of Five Barbel

My familiar walk to the river, but this time as dawn was breaking - an early start as this was the last trip of the season - and I wanted five more Small River Barbel today. The early start wasn't needed as I didn't get my first bite until 3.10pm - and two barbel in two casts!

I had nearly lost faith - trudging about in the sunshine searching for fish in the clear water - fish that seemed to have vanished. Perhaps they had come on the feed now. And I soon landed another before loosing one to a hook-pull. That lost fish turned out to be important!

Then things slowed right down - I was running out of time. I remembered I had some old luncheon meat to use up - and the little splasher above took a fancy to it. I just needed one more. Just one more. Nearly out of daylight and in the last swim I had a bite...

What a way to finish! Barbel number 250 of the season, an 11lb 7oz beauty! I genuinely haven't swapped the order (you can tell from the light). And just to think; if I hadn't lost that fish earlier I'd have called it with the splasher - what a way to finish the season!!

Tuesday 9 March 2021

Final Push

Quick - catch as many fish as you can - because next week we won't be allowed! The start of the final week of the season and five barbel, a chub and an obligatory trout landed - that'll do nicely!

Saturday 6 March 2021

On This Day 2010

Eleven years ago today...
What a fantastic pike, a 25lb 4oz River Wye beauty.

Friday 5 March 2021

Elusive Dace

An early morning start, time to track down a Spring dace and I could spot them in the clear water - but the trout repeatedly beat them to the trotted breadflake. A few times I struck into silver...

And careful fights before my hopes were dashed when small chub broke the surface. No dace landed! The weather started to turn nasty - I should have headed for home - but I had the barbel gear...

Barbel #238 - it's raining...

Barbel #239 - rain is getting heavier...

Barbel #240 - pissing down!

Wednesday 3 March 2021

Final Flurry

The last two weeks of the season - and a misty start gave way to a sunny afternoon - time to stock up on that barbel pull before three months without! And eight barbel found the net - brilliant!!

It's left me with a bit of a dilemma; I was going to spend the last few sessions tracking down a fat Spring dace - but 237 barbel is really close to 250 barbel - and it has been kind of a barbely season...