After the success of Monday`s trip, it was time to follow up and try for one of those “Big Girls”. With the car loaded – much later in the day than I had hoped due to all those other incidentals that crop up – I set off along the M4. Upon arrival there were 4 other cars in the car park, not too bad I guess for a sunny afternoon, the swim I wanted to try first was taken and then the second choice too, so finding another good looking spot the gear was set up and lines in. The river looked great but was much clearer today than Monday even, so the fish may be a little more suspicious, after 3 hours or so of motionless rods it seemed they were. This was not a worry though, because often the fishing can be very quiet before the fish find the food and switch on.
The smell`s were much more summery now, as we find when the sun beats down on all the vegitation and creates an atmosphere of warmth. I was now going to be banking on the golden hour for a bite, and as the hour approached and a nice chub graced the net, I felt compelled (maybe wrongly, but thats fishing) to move. As the sun was setting, I set off for a swim I always look at and think has a fish or two down under. The midges and mozzies were out in force so headtorch use was kept to a minimum, and a meat loaded hook was lowered down the inside line. Hardly had the line been settled and I was baiting the other when, the rod was dragged over in typical barbel style. Hitting the bite I found a very spirited fight from a lovely perfectly proportioned barbel of barely 1lb, well I had a good feeling about the swim, but did not expect that!!
Darkness had fallen and it was time to go, I will save the “Big Girl” for next time….
Well it was about time to go East and so we did, my friend Mark and I were set for a nice day on a new river for the season for me, and the first time ever for him! The weather was set to get dryer after heavy drizzle into the afternoon, we visited the local tackle shop to collect the appropriate permits, and made the most of a nearby cafe – setting ourselves up for the day ahead. It was great to be there to see his face and reaction to a new river, we were both excited to get started, but first things first we checked out the stretch with a walk. It really has some lovely features and holds some nice fish too, even the constant rain could not dampen our enthusiasm as we settled for a couple of likely looking area`s.
A couple of hours later and we had some bites, a chub had grabbed in one swim and then a nice barbel of 5lb in the next! Then as the rain was easing slightly the call came from Mark. “Is it time for tea yet mate?” “Yes”, I said. “Well come and see this fish first”, he had had his first kennet barbel before tea break! So back we went very happy with the day so far, cooked up some food and had a guess at what might happen when we got back on the river for the evening session. The drizzle was still in the air and we waited under our brolly`s for bites, they did not come, so we wandered around a bit before finding some fish that might oblige. After half hour or so the first bite came, and then into the evening a couple more but the fish seemed to prefer my line and we finished with 4 more! We left very pleased with our start to the river Kennet.
I have owed my son a day out after barbel for a while now, so this was it, we had said adieu to the girls (my wife and two daughters) who incidentally are now owed a day out aswell, and made our way to the river. The rain was relenting slightly after pouring all of last night, the journey was a good hour long and Joseph had been very excited for the first half an hour but had got impatient and restless for the next, “are we gonna fish today dad?” Well we were hoping to fish, but when we arrived at the river it was in the fields and only fishable from a road bridge where you would normally watch the shadows of fish below. The river was angry and racing and hit the pillars of the bridge swirling as it was redirected. So it was from here we would have a go and see if the fish were sheltering from the torrent, we were told by another angler that a 12lb barbel had been caught here a couple of days earlier. With the lines in, it was with anticipation that we watched, it was a busy bridge with other anglers wanting to fish and dog walkers passing by regularly. The day was cloudy and really rather cold and after a couple of hours, the anticipation left and so did we, heading for another river and some nice duck & hen eggs from the farm shop en-route. Upon arrival all was dry and calm, speaking to a couple of other anglers things did not bode well, the river was rising, but I think the fish are fed up now in more ways than one! Anyhow, filled with the usual optimism that goes with arriving, we headed for a likely swim and launched our assault. It was only half an hour or so and Joe wanted to know when we were having tea, “lets have a cast here first and give it at least 20 minutes” I said, and 22 minutes later we were into a fish that gave a strange bite as it picked the bait up and swam towards us, it was the fish of the day at 6lb 12oz. We made our way back to the car then for tea and some food, the wind was picking up and some dark ominous clouds were coming our way…. going back to our swim Joseph carried the brolly which I might have otherwise left in the car. After half an hour the blackest sky had blown over our heads and was set to dump its load, we had the line in and and took cover as the rain came down in sheets splashing on the river in unison. At one point, just before,the drops were forming and splashing up like a paint logo! When this downpour finished the rod arched over and we had a chub of 4lb 8oz, a lovely finish as we were just about ready to head home before darkness set in. Walking back to the car the fields had sheets of surface water, it really was time to go.
Well it was great to get out before first light yesterday, but my run of misfortune continues. This was some bad parking….
Unperturbed, I left the car here until it was going to be a reasonable time to go and call on the farmer for his services. Well to be honest, I was in a bit of a flap and worried to boot, still there was nothing I could do but hope that with all this rain, the ground would be as soft coming back out as it was going into this ditch!
Anyhow I arrived at my preferred swim and got my things together for trying to catch one, about 2minutes into the cast with a small open end feeder and pellet and paste, a fish was on and pulling hard. This fish pulled well beyond his weight and had me on the run around
From here on the bites came quite regularly, but they seemed to be chub only, so after 4 of them I decided that if barbel were willing to bite they would have got in by now before the chub, so a move was needed. I moved not too far away and had a pull after just 10 minutes, it took me by surprise and when it went the drag did not kick in and so the hook pulled! When will I learn? Anyhow, next cast and even less of a wait whack and this lovely 9lb 10oz fish was on. Another chub and it was 7 fish and 7 o`clock and time to find someone to help pull my car from a muddy ditch!! I was very fortunate and found a very nice man and his son who were able to tow the car (slowly) up the bank and onto level land, which of course was set to get softer as the morning went on. After much merryment bacon and tea (and being told how lucky I was not to have damaged the ditch), it was back to the fishing, and the river had not yet coloured up, so a change of tack was in order. A move of swim and scaling down of tackle produced a result which was satisfying, a barbel of 5lb and a couple of hours with bites including a dace and roach.
The rain had been constant for a while now and it was lunchtime, time for a different river. The roads all across the midlands were chaos with closures and floods but when I eventually got to the next river I knew the conditions were fine for barbel. With rain now hard and constant and the banks like ice rinks, and the river rising before me, I dropped a line. The bite did not come instantly, but when it did it nearly took the rod too! Playing this fish in the pouring rain had seen me soaked through quickly, a decision to catch a few and then head home was made. My pictures were taken with the camera under the brolly and only essentials staying dry. So, trying a couple of swims, I landed 7 barbel to 8lb by 7 o`clock, and it was time to leave the river to rise some more while I went back to the car to dry off and change. Believe it or not, my last cast saw me catch……………an eel! It is crazy to think that this time last year we were able to watch barbel onto the hook and this year all our river pictures are of swollen rivers.
It has been a week now since going out and I was hoping to have ended June with a fish or two to report, but circumstances are conspiring against even getting out now for an early July fish!! I have unfortunately just lost my second grandmother in as many weeks, I know I have been lucky to have them for so long but still its a blow, and I am very busy with organising and things.
I hope to be letting you all in on some fishing stuff soon.
Tight Lines All.
Wednesday 27th June
Four rivers, lots of walking, eels, broken tackle and those were the good things! (Yea right)
After 2 separate big diversions because of road closures, and more miles than I would have wanted, I ventured out and tried to catch the river before first light. I thought that the best way to start this day would be on the Warwickshire Avon. I spent 4 hours biteless, dropping into several swims. I did manage to find a bank stick and a baiting needle belonging to my friend who was there the night before. I then headed back to the car for some well needed sleep and a rethink on where to go later this morning.
I decided I would travel across to the Teme, but on the way passing the river Arrow I could not resist a try. The first cast produced an eel, the second cast another eel, and then the third cast after 10 minutes or so, a big pull and a scrapping fish, which before I could see it – had shed the hook!! I am sure this was a small/medium sized barbel. There was debris on the hookpoint and this must have stopped the hook from holding properly (bad luck or bad angling)? Onwards and upwards!
I arrived at the Teme about noon(ish) with the sun shining and warming all below. The river looked great for bites and I tried all my known holding areas. And low and behold 2 chub and this lovely sea trout later, still no barbel. Upon returning the sea trout to the murky depths, my landing net wanted to follow and fell off the end of the handle! (Something else to fix)! Others on the stretch were struggling too. But at teatime, I did manage to witness someone’s 11½lb, beautiful big framed barbel. After helping weighing etc, I headed back to the car for tea, to regroup and to plan the last few hours of the evening. Very tired, I made the decision to try yet another river, instead of staying for the evening on the Teme.
So, to the Lower Severn and homeward bound. I dropped into a few swims, which produced success for me last season. And as the sun set, the rod pulled over hard and I thought that my persistence had paid, only to find the distinctive fight of yet another eel was upon me. So after untangling the line and one more cast (just one more cast) it was 10.30pm and time to get home to bed. In this final part of the evening, I lost a feeder, a rig and noticed a big crack in my new head-torch – as if anything else needed to go wrong!
In this beautiful game of ours, there are good days and bad days, and for many different reasons (not just the fishing) the good outweigh the bad. This one is one that I shall certainly remember for various reasons and learn from.
So with the season upon us, we set off for our camp in the Wye valley, we usually start the season from midnight on our camp, having set up tents and organised things on the 15th. Not so this year as we could not start until the 17th, so by late afternoon we arrived and got set, with the river just within the banks and looking very good for bites. After a lovely feed of chicken and chorizo “special” none of us could resist a start of season cast, so we sat in a line along the river and awaited what we thought would be the inevitable bites……
After an hour or so and not a bite between us, a move was in order, so I broke our line and set off for the next slack upstream. It proved to be a good move as eventually just as dark fell, a pull beyond doubt set into a fish of 7lb14oz, and the next cast with the last fish still resting in the net, the lead had barely hit the bottom and another fish was on! At 7lb12oz it was another good one for the start of our camp. Darkness now upon us and 15 minutes without a bite, time to get back and light the fire!!
Day two started at an easy pace as we all decided who was going where, and once it was decided, (Colin and I the Teme & the 3 others would try the Warks Avon) we set off. Upon the Teme conditions looked great with the river 8 or 9 feet up and coloured, but this would prove to be a deception. So travelling light and dropping in several swims with smelly baits was the chosen method, and after several swims and likely areas not a sniff. Then having spoken with another angler, we decided that, the up and down of the river and the disruption this had caused during spawning for the fish, was to blame.
Anyhow, unperturbed we headed back to the car dropping in swims on our way and our efforts paid off with this fish of 8lb having a go, it looked pale for the time of year. And then just before the car on the gravel shallows (under 6 extra foot of chocolate) another instant bite and a fish of 5lbs. A good result for an “out of sorts” river. With the heat of the afternoon upon us we stopped by the Severn for a fruitless hour, though I managed 40winks with the rod in hand!
The evenings bbq and beers told that the Warks was out of sorts too and a decision to all stay on the Wye next day was made. Colin and I set off for a beautiful stretch of the river where we were sure he would have his first of the season, and after an uncertain start this fight ensued and this fish resulted! We went on to have a relaxed afternoon taking it in turns to catch fish, and make tea and coffee. After 6 fish a piece it was off to the pub to meet the others and watch the match –England won the group – (unbelievable).
Next day was “pack up day” all good things must come to an end. (Or must they)? After talking to our wives John and I obtained a stay of execution, so camp was not to come completely down until tomorrow Hooraah. We went for a leisurely fish and social, catching a few each and having an enjoyable relaxed end to a very successful trip.
I must admit I was so relaxed, but also overjoyed to see my family again. Until next time……
Hi all, just back from a lovely few day`s camping and fishing, we had the lot weather and river levels wise….And of course, lots of fish. A more detailed account will follow very soon!
Well after watching that wonderful display of England`s domination, ha ha, I was off for the river and a chance to see the season in with a bend in the rod. Arriving an hour or so before light (the words to a Grease song, “Those summer nights” in irony in my head) I decided on a roving approach, only having a few hours before family committments. The river was well coloured and pushing through, so meat was the bait of choice and after a couple of wrong swims, seeing the river better and better, I had a great pull after the distinctive knock knock as the fish – picked up – and tried to engulf the bait.
A spirited fish of 3lb 8oz joined me on the bank, he would have struggled to get the meat in!
Then an hour or so after that fella, along came this one nearly twice the size and fighting hard as ever!
It was a struggle to pull off of the river as the fish were going to feed all day for sure, so all the very best to those venturing out this weekend.
My next trip is our annual start of season camp and fish, it is great to be with friends and share our passion for fishing and all things outdoor. Lets hope the weather just stays fair for a comfortable camp!!
Welcome one and all!
Well here it comes, only 5 days to go and the rivers will be open for us river fishers. I shall be having a little trip away to write about in the first week of the season!!
My targets & plans at present are to enjoy all that this seasons Barbel fishing has to offer, and it looks like the opening will be a coloured river affair. There is lots to plan and prepare and little time to do it.