Monday 27 March 2023

Season Review 2022/23

A tricky season this one - cancer had a big impact; fishing around surgery, chemo & radiotherapy - but I did get the all clear in November - fantastic news! Not much piking but far more fishing than I was expecting - so here's my fourteenth season review since I started blogging - written monthly as I went along...

Closed Season: Things were very up in the air after the diagnosis - after the bad news we had to create a plan to try and deal with it! Fishing was far from my mind to begin with but an away day before surgery seem a great idea - and a catfishing trip was perfect - eight cats to a 33lb 6oz new PB - that'll tide me over...

June: Opening day was just 10 days after surgery - but I dragged myself to the riverbank - it really gave me something to work towards. Season opener was a small carp and soon the barbel flowed - 34 of them over three trips to the Small River, not big fish but just what the doctor ordered! Plus a 5lb 3oz summer chub.

July: A couple more trips to the Small River but the main event was five days on the mighty River Wye. Targeting barbel in the low water, a few hours a day on Swan Shit Island inbetween family time. And the fishing didn't disapoint - 30 barbel to 8lb 4oz, 70+ chub and seven eels! Hopefully be back for a few more barbel before pike time.

August: Started with a mission to find a seven pound plus barbel on the Small River - do they still exist? Yep, got one - but I think they're few and far between now! Then a fantastic day chasing Fenland rudd in the boat with James - no monsters but a pretty perfect day! And the initial round of treatments came to a close - I am knackered!!

September: Really knackered - in fact I ended up in hospital - just pushed it too far! I had to cancel my trip to The Wye and take it easy closer to home. I've said it before but I'm so lucky to have the Small River - it was a summer of chasing barbel - and great just to be out on the riverbank when I thought I would be stuck at home!

October: Still going to hospital regularly, I escaped to the River when I had the chance - sometimes going straight from my appointment - barbel and a bit of trotting. A couple of weeks relaxing and recouping in Tenerife - just what I needed. And back to the Small River! Really hoping the treatment is coming to an end - fingers crossed!

November: The news I was waiting for - all clear! Brilliant!! To celebrate I tracked down an ultra-rare bream from the Small River, and added a few more barbel. A trip to The Wye was derailed by floods - typical! And closer to home I opened my pike account with a beautiful small stream 14lb 10oz fish - more to follow I hope...

December: Started with a 5lb 9oz chub, cracker but there are bigger in the shoal. Then the temperature plummeted, snow & ice - and I stayed inside! It warmed up for my traditional Xmas trip back to The Wye, the river was unsettled but fishable - no pike! A few chub & a Wye barbel found the net but where have the pike gone?

January: Another cold month, but I took the opportunity to fish when we had a few warmer days in a row. I started the month with some big chub to over 5lb. A trip to the Kennet where I was the net-man for a new river double for James. And finally managed my first double barbel of the season, backed up with 26 more to eight pound.

February: The frosty morning and cold days returned, which hampered my search for a big end-of-season chub. When it warmed up I was back into the barbel, taking my Small River barbel count to over 200 for the season! I am starting to find a bigger stamp of fish, perhaps I can find another double before the season ends?

March: The final push, two weeks left of the season. I started the month with a brilliant day on the River Wylye which saw 21 grayling banked, five over 2lb to a new PB of 2lb 12oz. And a few local trips took my barbel total to 259 fish (including The Wye). Turned out to be a cracking season after all - roll on the next one...

Monday 20 March 2023

Barbel Challenge 2022/23

I didn't really set a Barbel Challenge this season as I was unsure if I'd be able to go fishing that much. But I did manage to get out on the Small River quite a lot - it turned out to be a godsend during my treatment. And I landed a remarkable 228 barbel - mostly small fish but just what the doctor ordered! *Plus 31 Wye barbel.

One of the highlights was a Small River double, they are very few and far between these days. And despite occasionally fishing with James over the years we'd never witnessed the other land a double - until I was netman for James' Kennet double in January - a couple of weeks later he returned the favour - and jumped into the photo!!

 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
 2021/22 180 34 8 2 11lb 1oz
 2022/23 228 47 8 1 10lb 9oz
 Total: 1,458 482 178 26 Breakdown

Wednesday 15 March 2023

Last Chuck 22/23

Couldn't resist one last trip to the river - I had a few options; try and find a dace, roach fishing - or barbel... Yeah, I fancied a last barbel pull to tide me over for three months of closed season...

A barbel first cast - so I'd made the right decision. Over the day I landed eleven barbel to 7lb 5oz (top) before I ran out of daylight - brilliant end to the season - another one in the history books!

Monday 13 March 2023

Ice Cold Felina?

A frosty morning but at least it wasn't raining and we're running out season - to the river to bother the chub and barbel one more time (until summer). And I didn't realise just how cold the water was until I caught a fish - they were like blocks of ice!

Took a couple of hours to get a bite - time to slow the bait right down. Then I was into the fish - seven barbel (best 6lb 12oz & 6lb 0oz) and five chub (best 5lb 1oz, 4lb 5oz & 4lb 3oz) on very slow rolled luncheon meat - before the icy rain returned.

Another season in the history books? Well I have got half a pint of maggots & some meat to use up - might sneak out one more time...

Saturday 11 March 2023

Dace & Roach

With what looked like a four hour gap in the rain (and snow) I hit the flooded river to use up the remaining maggots from the grayling trip. The target was some end of season dace and roach - and I was soon into the fish; six dace* (above) and two roach* (below)...

*The dace turned out to be gudgeon and the roach were barbel (didn't half pull in the flooded river on light gear), I still can't find a dace or roach! A trout and a few chub rounded out the trip - I can't seem to get away from barbel - lovely problem to have though!

Tuesday 7 March 2023

Wylye Coyote

To the legendary grayling river, the Wylye, with James (massive thanks to Mike for inviting us) and I was really looking forward to this! A beautiful little river, not easy fishing, but I knew this was PB territory if I could just tempt these shy ladies of the stream.

But my morning seemed to be a string of disasters; tangles, line breaks and culminating in me standing on a bank that collapsed leaving me dangling over 10 foot of water holding on to two bunches of stinging nettles to save myself from an early bath!

In the afternoon I got into my rhythm, stick 'n' pin, 15 foot float rod, size 18 hook and maggots for bait. Three or four free samples per cast and holding the float back as much as I dared in the deep runs - made harder in the cold downstream wind but I started to find fish...

Over the course of the day I landed 21 grayling, including five over the magic two pound mark; 2lb 0oz, 2lb 4oz, 2lb 4oz, 2lb 6oz and a new PB of 2lb 12oz - a beautiful battleship grey monster. We fished until we couldn't see the floats - a red letter day for sure!

We had a bit of a camera nightmare - James leaving his memory card at home and my camera not wanting to play - I had to wait until I got home to see if we had photos of our fish. Phew! My new PB and James' best of the season were there - my 2lb 12oz beauty below.

Thursday 2 March 2023

Two Weeks

Not long left now. Probably not going bag another pike before time is called on the season (next time) - but let's face it - it's been a far better season than I was expecting - and a lot more fishing...

But if a fail to catch another pike I'm more than happy to bag a few more barbel - and three hours on the river yesterday resulted in three early March barbel - 6lb 1oz, 6lb 9oz and one about 5lb.

What are your plans for the last two weeks?