The last week has been an improvement in as much as I’ve finally started to catch fish again, that said I lose them as well, it went like this.
My tench fishing had all but been a total failure and I had decided that with the rivers opening on the Thursday I would miss the 100 mile trip to the tench lake and go after the sturgeon instead, at least that was less millage. My previous visits had always been just for the day and I had had considerable success with fish to over 40lb but I knew there was larger sturgeon to be had. Also many of the fish come out at night so a 24hr session was planned for Tuesday into Wednesday.
My tackle is similar to that used for pike, 2,75lb test rods with 15lb line going to a Safe zone leader that the fishery owner insists on. A size 4 hook is tied with a suitable hair rig to take one of the many types of bait that are acceptable to the sturgeon. Bacon Grill, Chopped Ham with Pork, luncheon Meat, Salmon chunks or liver, the list goes on.
As you will no doubt be aware the midlands and the south of the country had a fair bit of rain over the week and I got wet more than once. Fortunately it did not affect the fishing and shortly after I arrived I landed my first fish, a beluga sturgeon of about 18lb, shortly after it was followed by a diamond back sturgeon of about 25lb. These fish fight with a power that has to be felt, I put them as the best battle pound for pound of any of our coarse fish, I’ve landed a good number of them as mentioned and no longer weigh those that appear to be in the 10lb to 20lb+ range. The next strike I hit into something different and this fish had the real power that left me standing.
This went straight out and I realised my mistake in swim choice, there were two islands in the lake and My swim choice gave the fish the chance of going between them and then I would be in real trouble. Tightening the clutch I applied severe pressure and managed to turn the fish and he proceeded to come back towards me then he went off to the left. Here I made my second mistake and I continued to play him from my current position. In hindsight, which is always perfect, I should have followed him to a position at the end of the lake, as it was he came back and again headed across between the islands. This time when I clamped up with the fish already past the left hand island the 15lb line snapped with a crack that could have been heard several hundred yards away and my hoped for prize had mad his escape. Without a doubt that was the near 80lb fish known to be in the lake and even with over 50 years experience I had mad those two fatal mistakes, but I will not make them again and possibly this blog will help you avoid making the same mistake as well.
I went into the dark with those three chances and shortly after the full darkness came I was playing another good fish although not in the same class as the one lost. Eventually the net went under a beluga sturgeon that proved to be 44lb-6oz. My thanks go to the two lads fishing just along from my position that came and helped with the weighing. An hour later I was back asking for help again and one of the lads came down and we got a weight of 46lb-10oz a very pleasing brace of fish. I got photos of the first 40lb but with it raining I decided to release this one straight away. About 3.00am I got my last fish with another 20lb+ diamond back sturgeon to round off a very successful session only spoiled by the lost chance, but I’ll be back!
Then the rivers were open again and it was time to get a barbell fix. I had been making swims on a section of the syndicate Upper Avon and I chose one of these for the first day. The river itself looked perfect, about 3ft up and a light grey in colour with perhaps 1ft of visibility.
The day was mild but very wet, showers were going through at regular intervals and some of these were very heavy. The end result was a disappointing blank though I’ve had many of those before. The following day I was back again but this time I went onto a lower section of the river since there was a new member travelling up from Devon for a few days and I thought it would be good to meet up. The river level was dropping and I felt it was still perfect for barbell fishing and I dropped into a swim that had produced for me over the Christmas period.
The river was showing a very different look to it’s winter dress in that there were numerous rush beds all along the length. My chosen swim was clear immediately in front of my position but a long line of the rushes ran along the bank just downstream. As usual I had two rods in action, one bait down the inside line, this being MAD baits Pandemic, the second rod went out into the middle of the river and this carried a Dynamite Crave self life boilie. I bait dropped an amount of hemp on each line along with a few sample baits in the hope the flavour trail would draw the barbel upstream.
The day’s weather was a repeat of that experienced yesterday, showers with some heavy, of course when the barbel bite finally came it was right in the middle of one of those heavy spells. This was a very powerful fish and with the extra help of the flooded river he had got alongside the rush bed and this gave me considerable problems. The outside edge of the rushes was some 15ft or so away from the bank and the fish would not leave the rushes so I was constantly pulling in a direction that got him snagged on the rush. I tried various tricks including slack line and pulling from a position level with him in the hope he would move out, all to no avail. By now I looked like a drowned rat and that gave me the clue, I couldn’t get much wetter so I stripped off to underpants, put my shoes back on and went into the river.
Unless you have a fair idea of the depth this is definitely not recommended, I did, and I also allowed for the extra water the river was carrying. Using the landing net handle I slowly went into the water, unfortunately this meant going through a bed of stinging nettles, with bare legs that gave me problems well into the following day. Slowly I made my way to a point where the water was heading towards my chin and there I stopped. Now with the rod held straight out the line was being pulled away from the rushes and I was in better control. It’s not easy to use a landing net that is level with your face but eventually I saw a large barbel slide over the rim into its waiting embrace. Now it was just a case of getting back to the bank and up onto the top section; not an easy task bringing the net and rod along with me, but eventually with the help of grabbing the stems of big bunches of stingers I got out, then I made the fish safe still in the landing net but in clear water.
13lb-4oz Nice way to open the season.
I gave a quick phone call to Brian fishing just along from my swim to ask if he would come up for photos once the rain stopped, then a quick dry off and a change of clothes. The fish was obviously a double but it would wait being quite safe in its current position. Eventually Brian turned up and we got the fish out having already got the scales and camera ready, I said ‘definitely over 11lb’ but Brian just said ‘look at the shoulders, it’s bigger than that’. As Brian lifted the scales I looked over his shoulder and saw that the reading was at 13lb-4oz, a great start to the new season.