My PB and the one that “nearly” got away….a suspect catfish!

A fairly routine trip up the M5 towards Worcester was about to become one of those very special ones which I have been fortunate enough to have had a few times before, a real stellar day!

The rain had been falling lots and the river had risen with leaves aplenty and a reasonable water temperature too. Little did I know that today I was going to catch my barbel PB!

Upon arrival I checked the above details (temp, level, etc) and decided upon an area that may produce bites in these conditions and had done for me before. The approach would be mobile, no bites after 40mins to an hour, move on! It was noon and the first swim showed no signs, so I left for the next swim. The day was set to be showery & mild, and the river 6 feet of extra water and flowing hard with a water temp around 8C. The next swim drew a blank, so off again, I was a good walk away now.

Except for leaves, the conditions were good, so I just had to find the fish…First cast in the next swim it was not long before the rod banged and pulled. A good scrap in the flow and a barbel was netted 3lb! It was a start and if one was willing, more would surely follow.

With leaves a problem, another move was needed. Next area, not a sign!

So by 3pm I arrived at “the” swim. By 3.15 the mid-river rod in my hand had dropped back, and before I could lift, was pulling “very” hard, then steamed off on an unstoppable run! The rod was bent to the butt with the drag set as tight as I dared, yet the line kept peeling off, two hands holding the rod and trying to pull back at the leviathan under the depths to no avail. Could this be a carp? A catfish even?    

I tried to regain line, but the rod was bent double with line still peeling off. The fish then kited inside a hundred yards or so downstream into the bank side overhanging vegetation and all locked up! I could`nt believe it, so as I slackened off the clutch to try and allow the fish to free itself, the upstream rod positively pulled!!

The fight was similar and hard going, but this fish stayed out in the torrent of flow, and I kept the rod up to guide her away from inside trouble! After an epic battle with several long powerful surges, the big framed fish rolled into the waiting net. She was massive, and I knew she`d be close to my best ever. Shaking, the scales read near to 17lb in my net, so after checking progress on the other rod & resting the biggy, the weigh sling was out and settled at 15lb 5oz! My PB by an ounce!!

It was twilight & the other fish was still attached, so with a rest before pic`s, and total intrigue as to what was on the other rod, I tried again. I recast the upstream rod also because it seemed like “they were having it”. They were, because after just 10mins trying with the phantom huge fish downstream, the upstream went again!

A dogged battle ensued…. and another determined double figure fish fell into my waiting spare net! 10lb 12oz.

The “catfish” seemed to be nodding now & trying to pull out, which eventually – in darkness – she did. This time it was like I was dragging a tree against the current deep down & barely movable against the fully bent 2lbtc rod & slipping drag. As the “thing” rose from the murky depths below, and in darkness all around, my headtorch followed the line with lustre, what was it going to be? 

Thinking “catfish for sure”, the silhouette rose gaining size & strength diving away again, it was a………”barbel”!! Foul hooked in the dorsal fin, no wonder it took me on such a merry dance! How did it get it there? It was 10lb too!

After photo`s and releasing these 2 beauties, two more followed at 8lb & 9lb. It was time then – with frost on rods, nets froze (unhooking mat solid too) – for a nice cuppa before the drive home. This really had been a “red letter day”

 

A new best…15lb 5oz!

UPDATE: A sizzling summer and some barbel too…

After a wonderful start to the season camping and fishing, catching and chatting, the weather decided to go on getting hotter and dryer than we are used to. The river levels were as low as ever and oxygen levels were down too. Fishing was put to the back burner until some cooler wetter conditions came through. I did not fish the end of June or any of July as a result of the wait for kinder conditions, and then finally chances came in August just before our holiday. I grabbed the chance to fish the Avon with both hands and as a result had a memorable fish which was not massive by any means, but fought like it had been having a siesta all summer long and was ready for me!!

After this session and a beautiful holiday I was once again riverside, the Wye this time, and a bounty of bites from pristine barbel to 10lbs. It came as quite a surprise to my guests!

I then had the very great pleasure of being the “best man” for my lifelong friend Tony. Congrats to you and Stacey mate.

August was still not done with me and I was on the river Avon again as a guest with my friend Andy, we had spoken of having a go on his private stretch for some time, and now the time had arrived! He had been down the week before and done very well with two doubles and other fish. So when i arrived I was full of optimism for a few hours with some action….

Andy was in his swim of the week before, and I was in one that had also seen a fish or two out in the preceding week…..I was not disappointed as the first cast for the downstream rod resulted in a steady pull and epic battle through cabbages, after 30 minutes or so waiting. A fish of 7lb or so was duly admired and released.

Sitting back now knowing that the next hour or so before dark was a good time, was enough for me to think another may grace my net…As the sun set the rod tip bounced into more action with a heavier fish this time pulling hard and making it`s presence felt! It was 9lb 14oz…so close to a double from a new stretch just before darkness. Speaking with Andy, he too had had a barbel “out of the blue”, and we decided to give it half hour longer before retiring to the pub for a celebratory pint.

Ten minutes before that half hour was up and, – you have guessed it – the (upstream) rod this time bounced and pulled hard for far bank cover in the semi-dark. I was in to another barbel for sure, after several runs upstream and down and a determined fight to stay low close in, I had a feeling this just might be the double in the swim (or one of a few)!

A quick call to Andy and a weigh (10lb 4oz) and a photo …..; 

A new stretch 10lb4oz

 

Into September it was “back to school” time, a busy time in our house. I had also had a couple of guests on the rivers Wye, Teme and Bristol Avon, and the time was fast approaching when I was to help be a part of the tagging process of barbel from the lower Teme and Severn in a study to monitor movement. Having been looking forward to helping with this, it was with some excited enthusiasm that I headed towards Worcester… 

Heavy rain was forecast, but that discomfort may be consoled by better fishing prospects as a result….perhaps? Maybe?     Day one was tricky, Pete Reading and myself were ready bright and early, but with howling wind and driving rain conditions were difficult, and then not helped at all when I received a call from Pete asking, “whats the worst thing that could possibly happen?” I really didn’t  know as things were pretty bad as it was. Then he told me he had caught a fish of a few pound, ready for tagging, when it did a mean “flip and escape” back to freedom in it`s watery world below the pouring rain!

The electro-fishing team might be having more luck……? No! They had missing equipment, and then could not fish until the rain eased. The day was turning into a grueller, things could only get better!

Thankfully they did, the professional team had managed to catch their quota of smaller 2 to 5lb (electro-fished) barbel to be tagged, by tea time. Angler caught was still zero, until I managed a flurry of fish before dark from 5 to 7lb. 5 barbel caught and ready for tagging the following morning! There were 3 remaining tags and these would ideally be put into fish which were “angler caught”, to even up the ratio of electro to angler.

The rain was due to clear after storms over night and I suggested that fishing conditions would be “bang on” after the freshen up, with low pressure prevailing and river rising, so we agreed that I would try to catch the remaining 3 barbel next morning whilst they tagged the 5 fish tanked. The wind blew my car from side to side, the rain pelted the rooftop, and I tried to sleep safe in the knowledge that the sun would shine tomorrow…

It did! I awoke at 6ish to a new and better looking day altogether. After a fish first cast, the team agreed to meet and set up the tagging process where I was. All my kit was laid out to dry in the blustery wind and sunshine of this late summer September morning. I was fishing and breakfast was cooking, another barbel before they had arrived had put me on target for one last one when they did arrive! The fish had been up to 8lb until the last one which was the biggest coming late morning whilst setting up for tagging and pictured below.

One for tagging!! 10lb6.5oz

What a day it had turned out, and just as the party left at luchtime I capped off my session with this fish of 10lb9oz….

She pulled!!

Many thanks to Laura and the EA team for supplying these pictures, and obviously resources for the whole process! …

Barbel safely released..

Scale sampling..

Scanning for tag…

Barbel release at Powick..

Catie with a perfect baby barbel.

Powick barbel.

Aeration tank!

Measuring..

The tank!

Electric fishing at Powick!

Hazy daze….

Well here it is, not only the beautiful summer weather, and some fabulous fish to start the season, but England doing so well in the world cup finals!! (Even if not convincingly). What a start!

There are also places available for day`s out with me, check here….. http://fishingforbarbel.com/coaching/

The barbel have been biting well on the Wye and Teme, and the middle Severn. Float fishing and small baits working well, but as this heatwave prevails, please be sure to rest your fish well in the flow and oxygenated water, making sure they swim off strong, rather than rushing to catch the next. If in any doubt, do not fish.

In my next report I shall endeavor to have lot`s of pictures, in the first week there were some beautiful shots of both fish and scenery which for one reason or another did not get taken, and as we all know, a picture paints a thousand words.

Enjoy the weather, be vigilant, report any concerns!! 

Tight lines..

 

Bransford fishing…

Bransford fishing and conservation group

I am very pleased to announce that the opportunity has arisen for some prime river Teme fishing. The area in question is Bransford and the fishery, once well known for its barbel fishing, still does hold some gems. It also has some very special chub trout perch & pike fishing.

It will be available to a limited number of anglers who wish to experience the tranquillity and beauty of this wonderful setting with private parking at the bankside and access via a private road. This is classic small river, (high banks and lots of vegetation for cover) fishing. Night fishing is permitted with prior notice given.

The fishery will also be monitored and used as a conservation resource for river studies, including some catch comparison work with the imminent removal of Powick weir.

There are a very limited number of spaces available, so please, if you are interested, do get in touch asap. Feel free to pm me or contact me here at the website www.fishingforbarbel.com which has more contact details.

Tight Lines!

A Special Summer…

My physical penned diary is full of reports of special day`s, from this season so far. Some are days out with customers, some with family & friends, and a few all to myself, all very special for different reasons. So in this entry I’m going to try to give an overview of all of these encounters..

The opening month & time is flying!!

I have enjoyed a brilliant month of fishing, the way I love to do, either seeing the fish up close and “persuading” them it is safe to feed, or getting in the river, with the sun on me, and fish feeding! Rolling a bait or holding the rod while static, with only moments before the next bite, it has been a joy…

The fish have (for the most part) been in fine summer condition with only the odd few taking longer to recover, even when hardly taken out of the water. This is why we`ll find it hard to see any of my pictures at the moment, because they are few and far between!

Some Pie & Good Luck!!!

Here are some pie charts from the anglers observations we have recorded over the last 3 years;

Kennet Pie Charts

Severn Pies 

Trent Pie Charts

Warks Avon Pie Charts

These are forming parts of different studies around the country regarding predation, and river health. There is data for many other rivers also, please feel free to contact me for any info I can provide on yours…

Now for Friday!!

Good luck to you all for the new season and enjoy your bank time whatever……be sure to check out my predictions page, if only for fun!

 

Has Spring Finally Sprung??

Hi everyone, gee this one has been a long time coming!!

We last spoke when a winter storm of Westerly’s had broken out and got the fish feeding, well they didn`t stop then until midnight on the 14th of March! It was a wonderful way to end the season for many anglers, reports of catches were coming from rivers very rarely mentioned for Barbel…and everyone (who could) was making the most.

Well then came these Easterly`s and made the idea of “spring” a bit of a myth, but now we reliably have the April showers…even though it is May! At least the sunshine of last week has really got the fish moving and thinking of reproduction! I have been lucky enough to find them on many gravel beds doing what comes naturally, during last weeks warm spell!!

So to that last week….Early March and the rivers were lapping the banks, Barbel do like to feed in these conditions! I had moved on from river to river catching on the Severn, Wye, Teme, Warks & new rivers. Having my first double from a new stretch of the Severn and a seperate new river double too.

The last 2 days were spent on the Severn & Wye where I was lucky enough to join up with this old warrior of a fish….

12lb 8oz Severn

This season has been a real success and challenge, I have met up with friends old and new, and caught on several new rivers. The last day though was reserved for the Wye, in a spot where only the birds and breeze can be heard throughout the day. It was perfect, after having this big Severn fish, to just enjoy the surroundings and the weather, a bite would be a bonus.

Casting a little further out from the previous chub cast, (3 rod lengths instead of 2), I didn`t have to wait too long for some interest and a bounce, before a crippling pull and one of the hardest fights of the season from a fit, perfect, (uncaught looking) fish of just “under” 8lbs! It was the best end to the last day I could think of…but I had time for one more too. A fish of just as much beauty but slightly smaller. The light was fading as the sun dropped and I was walking back to the car.

Just then it occurred to me that I was going to try and meet my friends on the Severn for a catch up before midnight! So after a cuppa, and a drive across the valley towards Worcester, I was on the bank with my buddies and I was happy to just chat, it was 9pm and took another hour before I cast out as we were having a good catch up. Finally by 10pm, I had cast a rod and was ready to wait as the others had reported a severe lack of action…..

40 minutes had passed before the rod from stationary, to full flow in 1 second flat, had curved into a Barbel bend! The fish fought hard and well and gave a good account of all of it`s 9lb frame. I was finished, what a way to end the season, and at that, my mate called to say he had one too, perfect. My other friend (very unluckily) had a hook pull moments before midnight and reckoned it to be a BIG one, typical.

So my reflection of the season was that it proved to be full of variety, and many new experiences, as well as lots of fish from new rivers. Numbers wise the best for a few years, and I can`t wait to fill the new season with memorable captures and journeys like the last!

I have also been offered the wonderful chance to represent the Barbel Society from a committee position, which I am relishing the opportunity to do. I will do my best to protect the Barbel and the environs in which it is found, this has always been a special cause to me as I have seen – first hand – what a delicate balance exists for this fish, and experienced – first hand – the joys of finding them all over the country.

Don`t forget the Barbel Society show is on Sunday 4th of June!! At Chesford Grange Hotel, for more…. click on the link on the front page to go to the BS website.

What a Winters Week!!

Last week saw some of the best conditions of the winter for Barbel, with lows blowing in off the Atlantic, and even a named storm! Time then, to get out there wherever safe and possible…..and many anglers did, reporting catches from what seemed to be every Barbel river in the country! They were feeding!!

I had a lot on though last week, and only managed to grab a few hours after work of these prime conditions, but very glad I did, as the fish were biting and five graced my net with four of them coming to my new rod too!! 

I shall have to name it “Doris”…. 

Good luck to everyone for the last couple of weeks…..