A NEW BOOK NOW OUT. Targets set and achieved.

My third book, 'Targets set and achieved' is now complete and ready for sale. As the title suggests it reflects the past seven years of my fishing. Twenty different rivers where double figure barbel were caught, crucians and roach to near record size, perch, chub, tench and bream to make the mouth water. All will be in the pages and well illustrated with lots of colour photographs.



There is a 1000 copy print run of the hardback edition and a further 40 leather bound copies for the connoisseur.



Copies available from myself just email phlpsmith9@aol.com or ring 07980 394864 for details



Still a limited number of leathers available.





Alternatively use the web page http://www.philsmithangler.co.uk/ where you can order by Paypal or credit/debit card.





Friday, 26 December 2014

2014 A review of the year.

 January.
As with last year I had a number of trips abroad organised and the first of them was a trip to Surinam in South America.  This would be my first venture to that country although I’ve been next door so to say in Guyana; this fishing would be very similar being a wild river running through quite dense jungle.  Although we would be wild camping on the bank we see very little in the way of animals etc., you hear them, but the trees are too heavy to see very far and we are too noisy trying to get close.
The main target was a catfish known as a Lau Lau by the locals and the river we fished gave an excellent chance of catching them.  That was indeed the result and numerous 100lb fish were taken with my 175lb being the largest of the trip although 200lb fish had been caught on previous trips.  The fight off the Lau Lau has to be experienced to be believed, a 50lb class boat rod bent 90 degrees for 20 or 30 minutes and you’re almost ready to pass the rod to someone else, but you don’t.

                                                             175lb Lau Lau

February.
This month gave me a very good result off the local Warwickshire Avon, conditions for barbel held near perfect for some weeks and I managed a string of good doubles with fish of 11lb-6oz 11lb-7oz and an 11lb-13oz fish that I caught a second time from a swim well downstream of its original capture. 

                                                                 11lb-6oz

                                                                      11lb-7oz

                                                             Caught twice at 11lb-13oz

Even better than this was the capture of an 6lb-5oz chub from the upper Avon, a comparatively rare event when even 5lb fish a noted as very good.

                                                            6lb-5oz Avon chub

March.
The overseas bug came on again and this month I travelled back to Guyana.  Although the countries and rivers are next door to each other the fishing is totally different.  This difference is in the range of fish in Guyana, it is very wide in scope with three or more different species where a 200lb plus fish are possible and dozens of smaller species are also available.  This adventure is at the extreme end of wild fishing, that being indicated by the fact that when we finished the fishing holiday at the furthest upstream we ventured, it took four days to get back to the hotel in the capital, Georgetown.  The holiday was a big success with all anglers catching their share of fish, my personal bests for the trip was a redtail catfish of 59lb and the largest of the jau captured at 106lb.  Piranha can be a big problem here and you can see bite marks out of the jau’s fins where the piranha attacked the fish whilst it was being played, often the damage to the fish you’re trying to land is far worse and they can be lost as the main line is bitten through as they attack.

                                                          59lb Redtail

                                                         106lb Jau.

April.
I missed out on the crucians this year, taking fish to short of 3lb on the one trip I managed before they spawned.  Good size fish can be caught post spawning but I felt that I would leave it and try for a big eel.  I did catch, though the very big fish eluded me and the best in this month was a brace one night of 4lb-2oz and 4lb-5oz, pleasing but below my target.

                                                       2lb-3oz, 4lb-2oz and 4lb-5oz.

May.
Off to Spain this month for the roach fishing.   Wells Catfish are the main target here with the large carp a close second, but I along with my companions are happy to fish for the big roach that live in both the Ebro and the Segre.  Fishing with Catmaster Tours at Mequinenza we can travel about trying different areas of both rivers and over the previous trips we have built up a list of spots that produce consistently.  This trip was no different and amongst a lot of 1lb plus fish, I took ten over the 2lb mark to a best of 2lb-10oz.  We have not had a 3lb fish yet but Pete Reading came close with a magnificent 2lb-15oz specimen.

                                                         2lb-10oz Spanish roach

                                                               Pete with a 2lb-15oz specimen
                                                                       

June.
As always I try to fish on the 16th opening day and most times it is a disappointment, this time I caught four barbel with two over 9lb to make it a good start to the season.  Other barbel would follow, but that starting day is still worth a mention here.
I also had a few days after sturgeon a fish that fights as hard as any in our waters and a favourite of mine.  The best I took out a number of 40lb plus captures was a giant of 44lb, well pleased with that although the bigger fish in the lake still evade me until another day.

                                                            44lb sturgeon.

July.
A few barbel and eels but overall a fairly quite month with the most notable specimen being a 4lb-8oz eel.

                                                                   4lb-8oz eel.

August.
Yet again I had agreed to do the northern leg of the barbel challenge arranged by Gerry Gleeson and accomanied by Paul Floyd.  Last year was a very limited success for me with just one double off the six rivers I fished, this year was different.  Starting on the Dove I feared the worse when I blanked while the other lads caught barbel including the hoped for double to Paul.  We move every 24 hours so the next day saw us on the Derwent and this time I was smiling by the following dawn with two doubles of 11lb-12oz and 13lb-5oz, time to move again. 

                                                            13lb-5oz  Derwent

                                                           11lb-12oz  Derwent

This spell was on the nearby Trent and yet again I got a brace of doubles in a catch of seven barbel, these went 10lb and 10lb-14oz.

                                                             10lb Trent

                                                            10lb-14oz Trent

The following move saw us on the Soar and I fished a swim that was new to me though it proved a good choice when I landed eight barbel.  One of the early fish in the spell looked good but when Paul gave his comment it was at 9lb-10oz.  Later in the session my grin returned with yet another double at 10lb-11oz.

                                                                  10lb-11oz  Soar.

Now we moved across towards the Nene near Peterbough a river I had been targeting for a new river double, so far without success.  Now riding my luck I put a fish of 10lb-14oz on the scales and the local bailiff Mark Smith was delighted to take the photos for me.  He was even more delighted when Paul took the largest known fish on the stretch at 14lb for a new pb for himself.

                                                          10lb-14oz Nene pb

With five rivers down it had been agreed we would split up, Paul and Jerry going onto the southern leg while I went onto the Warwickshire Avon to try for the double off that river.  With the way things had been going for me it was almost a foregone conclusion and sure enough amongst other barbel on the session I took an immaculate 10lb-6oz specimen to end my contribution. 

                                                             10lb-6oz Wark Avon.

I had fished six rivers with a brace of doubles off two of them and a single double off another three rivers.  Add to this that the Nene double was my 24th different river double and you can see why I was a happy lad. 



September.
I continued to catch barbel through this month and a couple of highlight were the capture of four doubles with a best of 12lb-8oz off the Trent.  This does seem to be the inform river and it will be interesting to see the results from it over the coming months. 
Coming up to yet another trip abroad I took the chance on a 200 mile round trip to the Goyt since conditions were perfect and even though it was only for the day I just felt the need to go.  That feeling proved true when I slipped my net under the 25th river double, this one going 12lb-6oz.  Saying I was pleased just does not do the feeling justice.

                                                                     12lb-6oz Goyt pb.

                                                          12lb-8oz best of four doubles.

October.
In a year where I travelled abroad far more than usual it will come as no surprise that yet again I was overseas, this time to Canada.  As mentioned, I love sturgeon fishing so it stands to reason I would have to try the Frazer River for the monsters that live there.  I did fall ill with some bug for three days but never the less the guides looked after us and we had 21 sturgeon between us.  My best was one inch short of the five foot mark which gave an estimated weight of 110lb, each fish gave a tremendous fight and I’ll definitely be back there next year.

                                                                      110lb Sturgeon

November.
Now I was off to Spain but this time it was a two pronged attack.  Catfish and roach were the target and since it seemed the cats had been mostly caught at night it fitted in with our plans quite nicely.  One of the reasons for my trip to the Goyt just two days before the Spain trip was the severe drop in temperatures that had been forecast, sure enough just one day after we arrived there was a ten degree fall in temps and it did us no favours.  Unfortunately there were four groups of anglers for this week and only three baited swims, it worked out that we missed out on fishing the baited areas and foreseeably the cats would not move too much resulting in an almost total failure for our group to catch.  John was first on the rods and at the end of the fourth night he took his chance and landed a 214lb cat, the largest of the week.

                                                               John's 214lb cat

The roach played a little better and even though our time was limited to between 9am and 4pm we did catch a good number of fish.  I managed five over 2lb with a best of 2lb-12oz so it did save what would have been an inglorious blank week.

                                                          Best of the trip at 2lb-12oz.

                                                        Caught on the last day 2lb-9oz.

That was at the beginning of the month and was followed by three days on the bank of Chew Valley Res, unfortunately for one small jack pike.  Then the weather picked up and I decided on a trip to try for yet another new river double, this time the River Mole.  I had already been down for a single day where a local lad was good enough to show me how to access the water on the club ticket I was to use.  Unfortunately many clubs produce maps for their waters that almost defy your ability to find the water and then the access, this was such a case so a big thank you goes to that lad.  The trip was for two days, I’ll sleep in the van overnight and with the M25 to negotiate I either leave home very early or after 9am to avoid being in the traffic jam at peak times.  I decided on the 9am start and arrived about midday without too much traffic hassle.   The river, when I finally settled into my chosen swim looked perfect and I could not believe that at the very worse I would at least catch barbel off this new river, at the best one of them would be a double.  The write up of this trip comes immediately before this update to the blog so sufficient to say that over the two days I caught two doubles of 10lb-9oz and 10lb-14oz, river 26 completed!

                                                                              10lb-9oz

                                                         26th river double 10lb-14oz.

December.
December seemed to fall off a little and while I caught fish there were none of particular note.  I have highlighted some of the more noted fish and of course there are many I’ve left out.  With 21 doubles off seven different rivers I’m well pleased with the season.  Add to this there were three new river doubles among those numbers and I can increase that to very pleased.
A big advantage of my style of fishing is that there are always new horizons and targets to be met, next year will be no different and I’m already set with trips to Surinam, Canada and Spain, add in UK and there is no shortage of places and species to set my eyes on.  I hope your year has been as enjoyable as mine and I wish you all the very best for the next year.


Sunday, 23 November 2014

A new river double - The Mole, number 26 in my target list.

Having watched the weather forecast over the last several days I could see a window of better conditions for barbel coming up on Friday and Saturday when the temperature could go up by 8C or even 10c on the Saturday, time to go fishing.  Next question I ask myself is where, fish locally on rivers I’ve already caught my double figure barbel off, or spread my wings and try for another, easy decision, I’m all for new ground.  The three main rivers in my sights at the moment are the Ribble, the Wey and the Mole.  The forecast had shown colder conditions in the north as usual so it left the southern pair and having already looked at the Mole I decided that would be the venue for this two day session.
The internet and TomTom are brilliant aids to the travelling angler, one gave me my route at about 120 miles, and the other gave me the river conditions as falling to almost normal winter lever following a flood.  A trip to Alan Lanes tackle shop saw me top up with casters and maggots, although I would still take the usual pellets and boilies as back up baits. Now I was ready to go and I only needed to decide what time to leave.  For my last trip I had left at 3.30am in order to miss the traffic jams on the M25, this time I decided to leave at 9.30am in order to arrive and be fishing for midday on the Friday.
The journey went as planned and as I approached the venue it was with the anticipation of at least catching barbel, conditions were perfect.   The river section I was on held a number of good looking swims with deep glides, pools of steadier water, along with eddies where the flow had been deflected by bankside contours or debris.  I chose one of the eddy swims with an old tree stump sending the flow into mid-river and a nice deep pool under my own bank.  There was a nice crease in the flow and this gave an obvious target for the bait-dropper to unload its feed of hemp and casters, one pint of each going into the swim as the first task before even getting my fishing gear ready.  I would initially fish with a hair-rigged caster set up, the bait being placed torpedo style on the hair to avoid small fish attention.  These would be used until about one hour before I would be finishing the session for the day, then I would put hair-rigged Elips pellets on with my usual open-ended swimfeeder loaded with mixed pellets and hemp.

                                                                  Dinner for barbel.

Sitting and waiting for that first bite is exciting, but it was a bit disappointing when a bream of about 3lb made its appearance though it was the only one I caught over the two days so not too bad.  Time seems to pass slowly and a kingfisher kept flying up and downstream to keep me watching for that bite, but the bait change over time came and went without the hoped for barbel making its appearance.  The pellets went on and after perhaps 30 minutes the rod bent over as the line was taken faster than the bait-runner could give it, the strike was good and I was now playing what I thought would be my first barbel off this river.  I say thought since I had seen three carp of about 8lb moving about on my previous visit and there was just a chance this was one of them.  No need to have worried and in the fading light I could see the shape of a good barbel coming to the net and safely into its folds.

                                                               A very fat double.

My mind gave a mental leap since I was sure this would be a double figure fish and so complete my target of the 26th different river double.  Weighing confirmed my thoughts and this very deep bodied fish came in at the pleasing weight of 10lb-14oz of immaculate barbel.  Nothing more happened and I retired from the river to decided how I proceeded, stay on this river for the following day or move over to the River Wey which was not too far away and on my list of rivers to complete.  I decided to stay and leave the other river for another day so off to the nearest pub for a meal, then to a suitable area where I could get my head down for the night in the van.

                                                  The 26th different river double at 10lb-14oz.

Being on a new river I had already decided to fish two different sections on the Saturday.  I would arrive at the first before dawn and fish through to about midday, then move over to the same venue that had produced the double for me.  I woke up to a wet and miserable morning although the temperature was well up as forecast.  Following a cup of tea and cereal I got the flask ready and set off through a very muddy path to the swim I had chosen on the previous visit.  A deep pool following a fast glide it looked perfect and local knowledge had advised me that it was known to produce fish on a regular basis.  That may well have been true, but they managed to avoid taking my offerings for the hours I had allocated to them so yet again I made my even muddier way back to the van since the rain had kept up most of the morning.
Fishing is one sport where the individual needs to be an eternal optimist, the next bite is just minutes away and of course it will be your target fish. This in in my case that means it will be a barbel, not a bream or carp and so it was to prove to be.  A big advantage of the second venue is that it was over a grassy field that although quite wet was at least clean and more easily walked over.   This time I decided to fish the pellets right from the start although I still bait-dropped the swim with the remainder of my caster and a balance of hemp.  The rain had eased off to a gentle drizzle and it was now almost warm enough to have sat in just my shirt sleeves, very pleasant and made even better when yet again I was playing a powerful fish in the flow on the far side of the river.  This one proved to be a barbel of 10lb-9oz, longer and far more slender than the previous specimen, but welcome all the same.

                                                               The second double at 10lb-9oz.


My time on the river was almost over but it still had an extra gift for me in the form of a 7lb-13oz barbel as a going away favour.  Having caught my hoped for double it is unlikely I will return to this river, it’s just too far away for such an indulgence but it does go down as one of the more attractive rivers I’ve fish and one that will stay in the memory for a long time.

                                                      A parting present at 7lb-13oz.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Barbel with a touch Spanish roach and catfish.

I’ve not done any blog updates for a while, but recent trips had me wondering just what makes a successful fishing trip?  With a Spanish adventure arranged with John Found along with two other friends, the target would be mixed fishing, John and I would try for roach along with the catfish whilst the other pair would try for carp and catfish.

                                                      Catfishing on the River Segre

The weather as we approached the holiday was fantastic and we even had a record Oct 31st temperature of 24C.  During this period I was aware that friends fishing the River Goyt at Stockport were catching quite a number of barbel including doubles, with time running out I decided on a last minute trip for just the day, at 200+ miles round I could only hope it would prove worth it.
As is often the way I had already decided on the swim I would fish if it was vacant and having the advantage of arriving while most anglers are at work it proved to be available.  This swim was a good favourite with the river narrowing down after the run-off the weir, a narrow gulley and fast water made it perfect for the trap I hoped to set and indeed my river best came from this swim.
I had come with a two prong approach, both with my usual open-ended feeders but one rod would have Dynamite Source boilie whilst the other would be baited with Elips pellets.  The boilie was placed into the upstream end of the swim on top of a couple of pints on hemp that I had bait-dropped when I first arrived.  The pellets were cast well downstream to fish on their own and out of the way should I hook a fish on the boilie.
The hours past and my time were running out, but just on dusk the boilie was taken and a terrific battle ensued.  The fast water certainly gave the fish more power and I wondered just how big he was as I could see him in the clear water as he held station in the flow, determine not to come to the waiting net.  As with these situations there were only two possibilities, he either got landed or was lost, fortunately I landed him.

                                                                 12lb-6oz River Goyt beauty.

There was a lad fishing just downstream of my position and having confirmed the weight at a very pleasing 12lb6oz he took a couple of very good shots that show up as in darkness with the flash in use.  This was my 25th different river double figure barbel so you can perhaps imagine how pleased I was with its capture, now two days later I was off after some Spanish giants.


All through the previous weeks I had been following the Catmaster Tours site as numerous large cats were caught, many over the 200lb mark.  Now I was looking at a weather forecast that showed a 10C drop in temperatures, not good.  We arrived on the Sunday afternoon and it was still quite pleasant but the following day the predicted fall could easily be felt.  Fortunately we did not get the rain that was supposed to fall but those temps plummeted.
The catfish had mostly been coming out at night so that fitted in with our plans quite nicely.  We would fish for the cats from 5:30pm up the midnight limit, then fish for the roach from about 9:30am through to 3:30pm; this would allow us to go the cafĂ© for our evening meal.  On the first morning John and I made our was to the same River Segre swims we had fished in May and although we caught a few roach to over the 1lb mark it seemed slow compared to what we hoped for and the follow morning we moved out onto the River Ebro.  Meanwhile we drew for turns on the Cat rods and John was first on the rods though the night saw no action at all, I feared the worse!

                                                         Ready to cast out.

                                                       Roach fishing tackle and bait.

Going down to our favourite swims on the Ebro we found the locals and visitors were out in force and all the normal swims were occupied, fortunately John Dekin our guide knew other areas where we could get down to the water’s edge and we were soon in such a place.  The lads would fish out from the slight point we were now on for the carp although John did advise it was a snaggy area, we would roach fish from the swims slightly to the side and of course we could easily fish that bit closer without a problem.  As it turned out we all had chances, both the lads hooked carp but the warning of snags proved all too true as three of the hooked fish go into a snag and the fourth chance was missed.  On the roach side both John and I caught at a steady rate, quite a few 1lb plus and a number going over the 1.5lb mark, but the jewel on the crown came to me as a magnificent 2lb-12oz immaculate specimen roach fell to my soft pellet offering.

                                                          2lb-12oz best of the trip.

The next few days continued on a similar vein, blank on the cats, odd chances for the carp and plenty of roach with the 2lb fish showing occasionally but not over the weight of that first beauty.  The fourth night came and John was still on the rods when at 11:53pm one of the rods finally showed fish activity.  This rod was out at perhaps 200yds on the far side of the original river bed and John had quite a battle to bring it back over that distance, when it finally came within torchlight range we could see he had definitely got his hoped for 100lb+ catfish.  With years of practice John Dekin soon had the fish safely in the weigh sling and out over the waiting tarpaulin to be weighed.  First the measure and it came in at 8ft-5in, a new best length fish for John D.  The weight came in at 214lb and although very good John D did say that at that length he would have expected at least another 10lb on its weight.

                                                       214lb and 8ft-5in length.
                                                 Now that's a mouth.

That was it on the catfishing side, and although we caught a fair number of roach the trip was a bit disappointing but down to the weather change and we can do nothing about that.  The final tally for us was carp to 36lb-9oz, the 214lb catfish and I took five roach over 2lb while john caught just the one.  I think he used his luck on the big cat.

                                                             2lb-6oz for John.

                                                                2lb-9oz Specimen


So back to the original question, what makes a successful fishing trip?  The Goyt trip gave a long awaited personal goal, the Spanish trip gave both John and I good fish, good company over several days and lots of anticipation of that extra big fish.  I did see a nearby carp angler catch what appeared to be a very big roach on his carp gear but he had returned it before I reached him.  There is a well-known saying ‘there is more to fishing than catching fish’ and I feel in retrospect that it applies here.  Will I go back to Spain, too true if only to catch the roach that the carp angler had!

                                                            2lb-6oz

                                                          2lb-2oz.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Barbel reflections

As we come to the seasonal change I thought a short review of my barbel efforts so far could be interesting.  It has been quite a trying time as far as I am concerned with long spells of very high temperatures and low water conditions, along with two quite serious faults on the van that took a couple of weeks out of my fishing and also a lot of money out of my wallet, very painful that!
As I usually try to do I fished the opening day of the season and for a change I actually caught, all too often this day is a disappointment after the anticipation prior to its arrival, and a barbel blank is more than often the result of the day’s effort.  Yes I would catch a chub or bream, maybe even more than one, but the target is the power of feeling the barbel on the end of the line.  This time it was four barbel with two over 9lb, I’ll take that result any time.  All four of these barbel fell to the Elips pellets and they are proven bait on any river, but I was to try and check how often we catch on a bait because that is what we are using rather than it being anything special.  Having been at this game for a very long time I’m convinced that the main ingredient in any bait is your confidence, ask one hundred successful anglers what bait they favour and you will probably get a list of more the fifty different answers.

                                                              One of many bait selections.

I think it is obvious that the highlight of my barbel season so far is the success on the Barbel Challenge; I fished six different rivers and caught seven doubles, with at least one off five of them.  Now that makes me a fantastic angler, or does it?  Last year on similar challenge I caught one double off the Trent and failed on the others.  I think this is one of the aspects of fishing that is so good, you just begin to think you have it sussed and it kicks you in the teeth and you are back on the ground again.  Fortunately it works the other way round as well, you can be in the doldrums with blank after blank and then that magic spell of catching comes and your spirit rises with each capture.  In between these highs and lows it is just a case of ticking over with a mixed bag of results.

                                         Challenge best at 13lb-5oz off the Derwent  [Source]

This season I’ve fished on eight different rivers and caught on six of them, blanked on single day trips on the Dove and Wye.  I actually fished 25 days; many of these would be half day sessions going for just the afternoon and evening.  Of those days I blanked for barbel on 11 where a chub or bream would appear but no barbel.  My total of doubles came in at a pleasing 14 out of 57 fish which is probably about the normal on many of our rivers where smaller fish are in decline.

                                                            12lb-6oz off the WAvon.  [pellet]

Going back to the bait confidence theme I have been using Dynamite Source on one rod and Elips pellet on the other for many of the trips, though on more than one occasion I’ve ended up with either one or the other bait on both rods as the fish seemed to show a preference.  I think that maybe one important aspect as to which, if either, will be favoured is whether one or the other is used frequently where you’re fishing.  It seems to me that pellets work almost anywhere, but boilies do need an experience of them even if they are of a different flavour.  Once the fish realise that round blobs of bait are good then you are in with a better chance.  Of course if you actually introduce your own flavour so much the better, but don’t go over the top you only need six or so baits in each swim when you visit, not half a kilo.

Regular readers of the blog will be familiar with my tackle but those new to it I’ll give a quick summery.  12ft Drennan Barbel Specialist 1.75lb test and matched with Shimano 500 Re baitrunner reels loaded with 12 line.  Although I’ve tried the latest vogue of long hook lengths of four foot or more I’ve not found them necessary and I’ll continue to use the 18” that has served me well for many years.  Most often I use a combi link of one foot of 15lb mono tied loop to loop with 6 inch of 15lb braid going to a size 8 or sometimes a 6 Drennan Continental Carp hook.  Boilies are fished a standard with a bait stop on a hair rig while pellets are superglued onto the hair, normally two, but sometimes I’ll increase this to make a larger bait especially when the river is in flood.  I almost always use an open ended feeder on this rig and load it with a mix of pellet sizes between 2mm and 8mm; these have themselves been mixed 50/50 with hemp where the liquid had been allowed to drain off.  As an additional attractor I load this mix with either Halibut oil or Dynamite Source Stick Mix depending on which rod it is being used on.

                                  12lb-8oz best of four doubles on overnight session  [All Source]


That’s it then, some thoughts for you to consider but the main thing to remember is barbel fishing is easy, we sometimes make it difficult ourselves.

Monday, 18 August 2014

The Barbel Challenge Part 2.

Having completed the double of barbel doubles on the Trent we are on a roll, two out of three rivers with the challenge target completed, more than I expected and I know it cannot last.  The next target river is a Trent tributary, the River Soar, small and plenty of character with a number of very good barbel waiting to be caught.  With the Trent falling we were hopeful the Soar would be in perfect trim and yet again we could fill our boots in ideal conditions.
The swim location on this venue involves quite a walk and in the now blazing sun I was totally snookered by the time we got up to the area to be fished.  Having done quite well so far I left the two lads to take first choice of swim and then located myself in one of the remaining choices.  The three swims had done us proud last year, but I quickly realised that my choice was no good.  The overhanging branches had grown well down towards the river and now once darkness fell it would be a mine field of snags on each cast; I had to move further down the river.  Although I am a member of this club and have fished here several times this would be a new area for me since I had always stayed towards the weir run, now I was well out of its influence.

                                              The foam from the weir shows here still.

With the tackle set up and hemp dropping done at the upstream end of the run on the far bank I could relax and I expected to wait for dark since all the fish so far had been taken at night or very early dawn.  That’s when I found out the swim was full of chub, mostly small but two or three would have been about 4lb or more.  Then I added a bream of about 6lb and finally a daylight barbel of 6lb-10oz.  As dusk fell I took another two barbel of 6lb-11oz and 6lb-15oz then about 11:00pm I thought I had the double, but it proved to be slightly under at 9lb10oz, pleasing and at least the barbel were feeding.
                                                         Not quite the double at 9lb-10oz.

Following that I had a short wait but then another 6lb type barbel was quickly followed by the hoped for double with a fish of 10lb-11oz.  I phoned Paul to take photos and he came along with Jerry, some of their comments about jam and luck and things like that could take up quite some time, but it did hold some merit since lady luck was definitely on my shoulder.  It was now just coming up to midnight and by the dawn I had caught 8 barbel with the last one going a pleasing 7lb-7oz.
                                                               
                                                              10lb-11oz  R Soar

Meanwhile Paul had lost two fish, one with a cut off and the other broke him when his main line snagged on a grommet on his alarm and the fish broke his line before he could clear the snag, that’s bad luck again.  Jerry had tried hard but his result was a disappointing small barbel, last year this venue had given him a 10lb plus fish along with a 12lb-10oz specimen, lady luck was not with him at the moment.
Yet again we hit the road, this time towards Peterborough and the River Nene on one of its many backwaters.  Thanks go to Peterborough and District AA for allowing us to fish their water during the challenge.  I have a book but neither Paul nor Jerry travel to this area and hence needed the permission.  The river is still up and slightly coloured from the heavy rain we had Sunday night and I’m sure this was having a very positive effect on the barbel fishing.  Mark Smith the local bailiff had been in touch and with the river very low and clear the fishing had been very patchy.  Now we were hopeful and when we met up about midday he told us that a lad had already caught a double of 11lb plus, one less for us to catch, but a positive sign.  I set up in a swim while the lads went to a local tackle shop with Mark for a few bits.  Whilst there they were given a nice contribution towards the fund on behalf of the club, a big thanks for that as well.

Meanwhile I had caught a nice chub of 4lb-8oz and just as the lads returned I hooked into a barbel.  I was fishing close to trees and not being sure of the snag situation I hung on to the fish giving him no line but for no apparent reason the main 12lb line snapped.  Very unusual that and it definitely should not have happened, somewhere along the way I had got damage on the line that allowed him to escape, annoying to say the least.
The general idea had been we would rove round for most of the day but settle into our main choice of swim for the dusk session.  I made a move into a swim on a slight bend and put the two rods out, one under the nearside bank and the other over the far side alongside the cabbages that were showing just under the surface.  Both banks had a good stand of bulrush beds which are always a good indicator of a gravel bottom and the suggestion that barbel might be in the area.  After what seemed to be a very short time my nearside rod sprang into action with a screaming run and yet again I was playing an obviously good fish.  Playing a big barbel does remind you why we fish for them, power and speed with just the occasional flash of bronze as the turn near the surface; this is certainly why I love them.  This time the tackle held and I landed a big fish that was to weigh in at 10lb-14oz, lady luck was giving me full measure for this trip.  Having made the fish safe to recover I moved out onto the path that runs behind all the swims and there was Paul right on queue moving from one swim to another.  I knew he had been right at the far downstream end a little earlier so yet again just that touch of luck for him to be here when I needed him.  That fish was my first double off the River Nene and it took my different river doubles total to 24, an extra bonus for me.
                                                                    
                                                                     10lb-6oz  Nene pb

Having done 6 doubles off 4 rivers just missing out on the Dove, I had decided that I would not stay on too long and well before dusk I bid the lads good luck and headed home.  I would be on the Warwickshire Avon the next day as planned, but a night in bed would be nice.  It was pleasing to see the lads results in that Paul caught the largest fish on that length of river at 14lb witnessed and photographed by Mark, while Jerry finally caught three barbel up to a useful big 8lb fish but better was to come for him.
Next day saw me on my local river the Warwickshire Avon and although you can never be sure I was hopeful of at least catching barbel.  The swim I intended to fish allowed two totally different methods to be used at the same time, although all my fish so far had fallen to Source boilie I was going to fish one of my rods on casters fished over a bed of hemp.  As soon as I arrived I loaded a pint of caster into a pint of hemp and proceeded to bait drop the mix into the swim.  I did not intend to fish this line until three or four hours had passed though I would be bait dropping at regular intervals.  This is of course the classic ‘bait and wait’ method and I’ve caught numerous barbel on the technic.   In the meanwhile I would fish both the rods on Source out in the middle to far river and we’ll see how the two methods compare.

                                                                 Caster rig for barbel.

I did have to wait a little while but you never know if the swim has been fished the previous day still at last I got the screaming run and when I struck the fish had already reached a bed of streamer weed and he was well stuck.   I pulled, moved position although I could not get past the downstream bush, I gave it free line and eventually I just put the rod back on the rest with the bait runner on.  Nothing seemed to be working so I resorted to the last tactic of lifting the rod in a series of sharp jerks hoping to break through the steams of weed that were holding him.  All the time the rod is held as high as possible and fortune smiled as the fish came clear and I could play him in the normal fashion.  Just out of interest I did weigh him and he went 5lb-15oz, if I had lost him I’m sure he would have been larger.  Again quite a long gap before the next bite and it was on the caster bait producing yet another 6lb type of barbel, I’ve had a good number of those on this challenge.  When I hit the next bite, again on caster, I knew it was a better fish and it trundled round the swim refusing to come to the surface.  Eventually of course I did get him into the net and turned round to find a fellow angler who had stood watching the battle.  The fish was weighed at 10lb-6oz, pleasing for me as it completed another river, and pleasing for the other angler who had only just joined the chub and that was the first barbel he had seen.  
                                                     Warwickshire Avon  10lb-6oz.

The challenge has been just that, success and failure in equal measure and my challenge ended shortly after that with my last capture on the boilie with the fish going 9lb-4oz.
Meanwhile Paul had got the real cherry off the River Lea at the King’s Weir Fishery when he caught yet another pb of 15lb-2oz.  The lads will carry on and I’ll keep watch with interest but that’s me done for this year.