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.

Thursday 26 July 2012

A barbel session on the River Ribble.

The sun had finally came out but for me it went from one extreme to another, the 14c or so that we have been getting along with the rain is definitely on the low side, but 30C in bright sun is too high for me.   I was pleased to note that the north of the country would be under cloud and as a consequence it would only reach the high teens for temperature.  That was the deciding factor and I soon arranged for a trip to the River Ribble in order to renew my attack on its mighty barbel population.

Midday Monday morning saw me heading the 120 miles up the M6 towards Preston and areas upstream of that town. The motorway traffic was reasonably mobile and a couple of hours later I was on the river bank looking at a low and settled river, time for some serious fishing.  This is my third trip to the river and the previous two were made in the colder months, would the warm weather favour my efforts, time would tell.

I’ve been fortunate in that a number of local lads have offered help in the form of conditions and sections of the river that have been on form, obviously it has been bit of a lottery this season with floods seemingly coming every other day.  A local bailiff, John Monaghan has been a real help since he lives right by the river and obviously has his finger on the pulse of local conditions and results.  With a new addition to the family he has not been out quite as much this season but even so when I met up with him he was a mine of information and I had soon decided on my swim for the next 24 hours or so.

I would be fishing off a pebble strewn bank that extended into the river and without the help previous warnings this could be a situation waiting to give problems as you will read later.  Travelling anglers like me are not aware of local river conditions and the lower end of the Ribble has one bite in the arse that would catch me out every time, it is tidal.  You’re sitting there looking at your rod tips high in the sky and before you know it your feet are no longer on dry land, the tide has come upstream like a silent assassin waiting for its target.  The rise can be from a few feet to several feet and obviously it happens twice a day so if you are fishing at night it can be even more of a problem.  Following John’s advice I had arrived just after the tide had turned in the mid-afternoon so when I settled into my swim I could watch as the water level receded back to its normal position. 
                                 A glug for pellets to help flavour and time in the water.

I bait dropped the hemp and soon had two rods out, one on a 14mm halibut pellet and the other on a boilie.  I would be using a dip for the pellets and this has a twofold effect.  First it obviously increases the pellets attraction with all the extra flavours that will leak out over the time it is in the water, second it also extends the time it takes to break down and hence it can be left in place that little bit longer.  I did not have to wait too long before I hooked into my first barbel of the trip, at 5lb or so it was not big, but even so it still put up a reasonable scrap on its way to the net.  It did not take too long to realise the school holidays had begun and I was not alone on the bank!  Kids of all ages walked, ran, some took the dog along sometimes on a lead, but most times not, you name it and they were there.  Being on the exposed pebble bank they left me alone, but those fishing the main bank had lots of problems mostly from the dogs in their tackle and bait.  My next fish really had me thinking I’d got the double as it powered back and forth in front of me and even as it came over the net my eyes still saw a potential double.  Unfortunately I had the same problem as often occurs and the scales knocked  1lb-8oz off my eyes and gave a weight of 8lb-8oz still a pleasing fish being in summer condition, long, lean and full of fight.
8lb-8oz of Ribble powerhouse.

Two more fish followed that one although I lost one when I got cut off on a rock, easily done on this river.  All these fish had come in daylight and even though I fished towards the midnight hour no more pulls occurred, so I retired to the van quite pleased with the afternoon’s results, roll on tomorrow morning.

With not enough sleep I was up early and on the banks again but throughout the morning nothing happen, not a knock.  With the tide due at 3.30pm I would have to move back off my swim and I wondered if perhaps it was the after tide effect that had given me my results of the previous day, but then with an hour to go the fish turned on and I took four barbel in quick order before I needed to move.  Two of these came together and to anyone watching it would have been a little bit of a comedy.  The first fish was being played and giving quite a good account of itself, during the netting I knocked the second rod off the rest when I swung the net around to put the fish on the landing mat and I had to leave the rod lying there while I dealt with the fish.  Having removed the hook I put the net and fish back into the water’s edge whilst I got the scales ready to weigh him and I thought to put the other rod back on its rest.  As I approached it I could see it was wrapped in a curve and line was being taken off the free spool.  In the time it had laid there a fish had taken the boilie and was making its way downstream, fortunately it had not snagged and I went on to land a second barbel into the net to join the first.  At 7lb-13oz and 8lb-4oz they made a fine brace and I took a quick shot of the pair before I’d weighed them since I returned each as soon as the weight had been confirmed.  Another advantage of the lower temperatures up north was that all the fish went back without any hesitation rather than the extra care needed on days like we are having now in the south.
                                                            A nice brace of barbel.
With the way things had gone I decided that with no plans made for the rest of the week I might just as well stay here and so with the intention of trying another swim I went back to the van for yet another night.  One very useful advantage of a nearby trading estate is the use of a wash room for the toilet and a quick clean up, not always easy on the bank but nice when it can be done.
                                            The last day's swim on the Ribble.

The following day was fairly quiet with a few small chub that broke the hours of waiting for a barbel, then a 7lb fighting machine appeared that saved the day before I packed up at 6:00pm.  There was an interesting event in that there was a salmon angler fly fishing about 200 yards above my swim and he had left his tackle on a similar beach to that I had fished the previous day.  Standing right out in the river with chest waders I was sure he would be aware of the incoming tidal surge but he made no moves.  At this time I was chatting to a local lad who had come along to see me and we watched as the level came up and then went nearly over the beach that held his gear.  In the end I shouted at the top of my voice and indicated for him to look at the bank and he seemed to acknowledge the call but still made no move so I assumed he had all in hand.  Ten minutes later he was wading through the water along the nearside bank in order to retrieve tackle that was being washed away.  Strange, since I would assume if you’re up to your bollocks in the river you are well aware of the rising levels, it seems not!
                                                            Last day specimen to save the blank.

That was it for the session in the north and with eight barbel landed and one lost it was an acceptable result, there is always another day or days to return and try yet again for that different river double, this target has been set but not yet achieved, but it will be!

Friday 20 July 2012

Blank sessions and talks.

Following my trip to the Goyt I've had a further two afternoon trips after barbel, one to the River Severn and one to the River Derwent, unfortunately neither lived up to my hopes and I left with no fish caught but as always there is always another day.
                                                  Severn in flood with 16ft of extra water

I have two dates in my diary for arranged talk/slideshow where I am the guest speaker.  These can be great fun and a good way to meet potential new friends and contacts so it could be worth your effort to attend.   My problem is that I need to sort out a new Powerpoint presentaion to give to the guests that come along, not too much of a problem once I've decided on the theme.  Since it is a Barbel Society evening I will use barbel as the subject, I'll go into how I approach my fishing when travelling to so many different venues all over the country in the search for double figure barbel.  With 22 rivers now completed it should be interesting to say the least.

The first date to put in your diary is 2nd Aug 2012.

Details as follows.

guest speaker will be
author & all round specimen hunter

Phil Smith

there will be trade stands on the night
confirmed are
fff fiskys fantastic feeders
Chris Lythe centerpins
Barbel Society merchandise hoodies polo shirts etc
also there should be a local tackle dealer attending

there will be the usual raffle with some great prizes to be won

doors open at 7pm for a 8pm start
come early to get a seat

members £3 with your card
none members £5
oap,s juniors and ladies free

Wetherby social club
Sandback Way

The second event is near Tamworth so more local for me and it is on 14th Sept 2012, I'll give details nearer that date.

Monday 16 July 2012

New river barbel.

I think I just went through the summer and nearly missed it.  I travelled up to Stockport to fish the River Goyt on Saturday and from then until late Sunday when I returned there was NO rain and the sun shone for much of the time.  Of course as I got back towards Birmingham it started to rain again just to remind me what it looked like.

The river level was well down on that experienced recently and it was falling all the time I was there, but the fish were at least willing to have an occasional go.  My first choice of swim looked brilliant though soon after starting I realised it would probably be too shallow to give a chance in daylight.  When I began it could have been perhaps two foot but with that dropping level it would have been around one foot by the time I left.  I did not spend too long in this swim before I moved for one that would be slightly deeper, perhaps three foot or so.  The section of river I was fishing is generally quite shallow in normal summer conditions and more than four foot would be classed as a deep hole so fast shallow runs are the order of the day.  Another problem I found on the river was that of a snag ridded bottom, the river’s, not mine!  To my eye it seems that the land surrounding the river is made up of rock and sand, within the river’s course the sand has been washed away and in many areas and you are left with the rocks and pebbles that remained behind.  It was quite noticeable from my trips at the back end of last season how sandbanks and pebble strewn sections had moved in the floods, gone from one area only to appear elsewhere.  The problem was that within these rocky sections your lead or feeder would be trapped more often than not when you came to recast, a real tackle graveyard.
A pebble strewn shallow area can been seen on the far bend
I’ve not mentioned my tackle for some time so for the new reader of the blog here is a brief description.  As a general guide I use a pair of 1.75 12ft Drennan Power Barbel rods only going to the 2lb test model for big rivers like the Trent or Severn in flood when I might wish to use several ounces of lead to hold in the flow.  The reels are a pair of Shimano 5000’s loaded with 12lb line; I never go below this strength when barbel fishing since there seems no reason to do so and every reason not to.  I use a dual form of hook link made up of about 12 inches of 15lb Pro Gold mono to act as a stiff link and using loop to loop method [each of these tied with a figure of eight] I attach about 4 inches of 15lb Stren Powerbraid.   For the hook I use the size 8 Drennan Continental Carp and this is tied using a knotless knot to leave about a 25mm hair to take the bait.  If chub are being a real pain I would increase this hair length by 5mm or more in order to reduce the number of times the chub get hooked.  I always use the bait runner system on the reels since I would always wait for a positive take with line being stripped of the reel at pace.  The only posible change to this would be fishing next to a snag, but even then I would still prefer to sit away from the problem, then I would attempt to bring the fish out of the snag to my baited area.
                                                                        Barbel feed.

Enough of tackle, let’s get fishing.  Many times you will have read that the first order of the day is to lay the table, so after setting up the rod I bait drop perhaps 12 or more droppers of hemp and a few more drops with either broken boilies or pellets.   This trip I intended to use both so I loaded the dropper with both in order to give the fish a choice.  I have seen it said that you do not mix the baits in the swim, only using what is on the hook; I’ve not found this to be the case and will often use several different hook baits over the course of a single session and catch on two or three different offerings.  Try to keep an open mind since the playing field is forever altering.

Once this was done I could sit back and relax in the unusual sunshine beating down from above.  The water was still quite heavily coloured, looking more like weak tea than clear water so I was still confident that the barbel could be caught throughout the daylight hours, but I waited in vain.  As the light disappeared I finally got my first Goyt barbel and at 8lb-3oz it was worth waiting for.  It fell to a 10mm meaty type boilie and that accounted for two of the three barbel I caught on this trip, one of about 4lb followed this one and then another of 7lb-10oz during the following afternoon.  I also lost a fish that ran upstream and snagged on a rock just waiting for my tackle to arrive at that point.  That was it then, three barbel in 36 hours, not too bad but I’ll need to return in order to try for that double that will eventually fall to my rods.
                                                                    8lb3oz Goyt first.

                                          Second day, different swim but feeding in daylight.

Friday 13 July 2012

A big barbel target achieved again.

Just in case you did not notice it has rained most of the time since my last blog on Sunday.  Barbel wise this is not all bad news since they will feed in any conditions a flood can bring; hence we can then catch them as long as a fishing spot can be found.  Tuesday saw me back on the banks of the River Soar in Leicestershire trying for the new river double that is one of my targets for this season.
The river had fallen back from the very high levels of last Saturday and although still high it was very fishable with a little care on those very slippy banks.  I settled into a swim that was fairly confined by bushes on both sides, but still gave every chance of a fish, the only problem was the fish I caught were bream and small ones at that.  A couple of lads had been fishing just along from this spot and when they left I dropped into that swim since it gave a far clearer view of the river and more room to play a big fish should I hook one.  The local bailiff came along and while he stood talking to me I got a take that stripped line off the reel at a great rate of knots before dropping the hook.  I did make a comment about it probably being foul hooked and when I eventually got my rig back there was a quite large carp scale impaled on the point proving my guess to be right.  The bailiff dropped into the swim I had vacated and although I had a barbel blank he caught a fish of exactly 10lb but then you can’t win them all!
                                                        A small bream off the R. Soar.

On Wednesday I returned to the River Severn and although it had fallen by three or four feet it was still high and I suffered yet another blank.  All too often the writers of articles and books do not relate the number of blanks that are suffered in the pursuit of big fish.  It is easy for the comparative novice to believe that these anglers catch fish almost every time they go to a fishery, not true – they blank just the same as I do and you will have the same fate as well.
                                       Severn in flood, water should be 16ft lower and in front of the tree.

For the Thursday the weather forecast was the best of the week and I decided to try and make full use of the warmer conditions.   I left home that morning with the intent of going to the estate lake after the tench and I also took my river gear just in case the fishing was not going well so I could transfer across to the River Soar for the barbel.   On the lake the weed was beginning to show and when the angler next to me hooked a smallish bream of just over 4lb he had to pull it through some quite extensive weed beds before he could land it.  Fortunately the weed was of a very soft nature and broke quite easily with gentle pressure so no harm done to the fish, just no sport in playing it to the bank.  I was using maggot feeders whilst the other chap was on method feeders with corn as his bait.   He caught three bream but I never had a touch by the time I decided to move at 5pm, not too disappointed since I was after the tench.

The ten mile run was interesting in that I had forgot to allow for works traffic coming out at that time so it took a fair but longer than expected, I’ll remember that next time hopefully.  Still by 6:30pm I was in place and setting up tackle for the evenings fishing.  The river had dropped back another two or three foot and it was now not far off normal level although it still carried lots of colour.  I bait dropped about two pints of hemp along with a small number of 10mm Dynamite Monster Crab boilies and then set up the tackle to fish straight leads on a running rig system.  I had been using the feeders with mixed pellets but decided a change is a good as a rest and hence the different method.  Regular readers of this blog will by now have realised that I do not favour just one method, there are many ideas to try and on their day they all can work, don’t get blinkered in your approach, you will probably lose out if you do.

The few hours before dark passed by with just a rude interruption by a small 4lb or so carp that scrambled all over the swim on a tight line before coming to the net.  The bailiff turned up just before I landed this carp and gave me a mild warning about the lack of a suitable unhooking mat – quite right since I had left it by mistake in the van as I changed from tench to barbel and the only mat I had was a poor excuse that I sit on when fishing.  As he left to continue walking his dog he commented that I had another 30 minutes or so before it was dark enough for the barbel, not strictly true, but sure enough at about 10:00pm I got my first barbel take while on this section of the river.  I landed it and thought I had my double, but before I could do more than just unhook it my other rod went and quickly replacing the fish in the edge I played the second barbel to the net to join the first.  It was by now raining quite steadily and I set the camera up under the umbrella and soon had this second intruder weighed and photographed then returned.  It went 6lb-7oz and that first fish had dwarfed it in the net so with baited breath I set about getting that fish weighed as well.  Digital scales are brilliant, but when they settled down on the numbers 9lb-15oz without a waver I did give a little curse as to their accuracy.  Still it was a river pb and a very pleasing fish even though it missed my target weight by that single ounce leaving the target still to be achieved.
                                                        The 6lb-7oz part of the brace.

                                                          A 9lb-15oz near miss for the double.
I had thought to fish until the 11:00pm struck on the church clock, but with that success I decided to extend that by a further 30 minutes or so.  That stills means that it will be gone 1.00am before I got home and that’s late enough for me.  The rain was quite steady and extra-large drips were falling on the umbrella as they came off the overhead braches.  Those people who wonder why we fish could have learned a great deal just sitting there in the dark with all the sounds of the countryside around my position.  Then with perhaps ten minutes left to the self-imposed deadline this calm was interrupted by the alarm indicating a bite.  Barbel are brilliant fighting machines and this one played that part well but eventually he came to the net and was engulfed in its folds, safely mine and it was again a big fish.  No interruption this time as I got all the gear out after I had stowed it all away ready for departure while he recovered in the landing net.  Scales ready and camera again set up under the umbrella I finally got down to weighing him.  At 11lb-1oz he met the target with plenty of room to spare.   A dodgy tail but that is the price so many of our specimens pay for the attentions of the predatory otters that occasionally fail to make good their hold on the rear end of the fish.
                                                              11lb-1oz Target Achieved.

I packed up well elated at that success bringing my different river doubles up to a total of 22 and it seemed fitting that as I walked back to the van the rain stopped almost as though in celebration of the capture, though that is just wishful thinking on my part.  As with all my targets I now move on to the next river, and the Ribble or Goyt double will hopefully be joining this fish on the list at some time over the next few months, I’ll let you know of course!

Monday 9 July 2012

Floodwater barbel fishing.

   With the rain we have had this last few days all the rivers are now very high and some had been heading towards record levels.   This seemed a good time to check out the local tench to see whether they are still carrying spawn, if they are I could perhaps catch that prize of a double figure fish.  With this in mind I contacted Leo Heathcote and we made plans for a 6:00am start on the Saturday, going to the estate lake where I had taken a brace of 9’s just before the trip to Scotland.    Conditions seemed quite good for tench fishing.  A slight ripple to break the surface of the lake and it was very mild although rain had been forecast for the afternoon.  I had arrived to find one other angler already fishing, but he reported no action so no help there.  I would be using an inline maggot feeder with a short hook link and a couple of maggots on a small hook, I had been thoughtful about the possible weed that might have grown since my last visit, but it was still fairly sparse so no problem there.  

Being a social to catch up as well as fishing, it did give a chance to chat about past events and future plans, this passing the blank hours as the tench declined to cooperate in out attempt to catch them.  Another angler who we knew came and we invited him to fish in the immediate area but although he was using totally different tactics he got the same result, a blank.  He did advise us that as of the previous Wednesday he had been catching tench still carrying spawn so there is every possibility  there is still a big fish about and this was just one of their moody days.

The rain came as promised and not long afterwards we decided to call it a day and we left the sole remaining chap who was going to fish until the 7pm sort of time, I hope he was rewarded for his efforts.  Depending how things pan out I will return later this week to try again, you never know what fate has in store.

Last week I had made plans with Ryan Tippet to have an afternoon fishing the River Severn on the Sunday, I checked the local conditions with him when I got home after tench fishing and he said that although the river had broken its banks in many places it was still fishable so the trip was still on.   I arrived about 2:00pm and set off on the walk to the swims that were still fishable in flood conditions.  Many of the normal fishing spots I passed were well under water with the river coming way back behind the normal tree line.  Bearing in mind the normal level would be many feet below the bank and it requires the angler to climb down to the swim, it gives credit to the EA river line that gave the height at 5.21m above normal level.

 With a river in flood you have two main options, use a very big lead and cast into the main flow trying to hold out there, or use a lighter lead and cast out with the intent that the lead will swing into the base of the bankside and hopefully some barbel will be searching for food there.  In extreme conditions you can even take this approach one stage further and cast onto the bank that is now under water, here you may well find fish out of the river taking advantage of this new area of food supply.   I chose the lighter lead option and put on a 2oz bomb to hold the meat offering down at the bottom of the 16ftplus of water that now rushed past in front of my position.

Next time you are on the river bank give some thought to these conditions, put a flood into your mind and try to figure out where the river will have moved to.  Find a high spot where you can get close to the normal course of the river and look for the bankside snags that would now be under water.  This way when you arrive in a flood you know exactly where to fish with the least amount of hassle, it is annoying to think afterwards what you could have done to make life easier.                  

Fortunately I was familiar with this section of the Severn and I could choose a suitable swim with the best chance of no problems when I retrieved the tackle after each cast, and I began fishing very hopeful of success.  The river at this spot was literally with two inches of the top of the bank, but that is as good as a mile and my feet were dry rather than many of the swims where I could be in a foot or more of water.   The sun was shining as it should in mid-July and the top coat, hooded top and jumper all came off as I roasted in the afternoon sun but those fish refused to oblige in taking the meat offering.  The rain came in short, heavy showers that would have drenched me if I had not taken the umbrella along but they soon passed and the sun was out again.  I noted that a lad on the opposite bank had caught a couple of barbel and when he caught the next one I decided to follow his example and cast further out into the flow. 

                                           Long and lean at 8lb-15oz off a flooded R. Severn.

Unfortunately not expecting to cast into heavy flow I had reduced my tackle down for the long walk up to the swims and hence I had no big leads with me.  Never mind, a 4oz and a 3oz were clipped together and these were cast out more towards the middle.  The difference was obvious, now the rod bent over with the power of the flow against the line.  Then as the small amount of rubbish coming down the river built up on the line and soon over-powered even the 7oz of lead and a recast was needed.  A lot more effort than previously required but when the rod finally gave the lurch in response to a taking fish it was all worthwhile.   Not a tremendous scrap but a very long fish finally went into the net and my first thought was it could be another double to follow the one from last week.  Then as I opened the landing net to give a clear view of my prize I could see how slender this one was and doubt came into the equation.  That doubt proved to be well founded as the scales gave a weight of 8lb-15oz, but this fish will certainly go well into doubles at a later date, hopefully I’ll catch it again at that time.

I left the river later that evening with just that one fish, feeling I had somehow missed a chance and equally thinking to return in a few days as the river dropped a foot or two.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Friday 6 July 2012

A new fishing van takes to the road.

After 3 years of faithful service I decided it was time to change my van.  Fully fitted out for fishing it had a bed and all mod cons [except running water].  The van is the Peugeot Expert 1.6d H1 registered Aug 06 with 96000 miles on the clock and it is now up for sale at about £3000 with no VAT.
                                                  My old version just waiting for your tackle

The new van is again the Peugeot Expert but now the 09 plate 2.0 Hdi H1 with appropriate mileage to suit.  I’m well please with the vehicle having driven it down from Liverpool where it had been for sale.  After a couple of days I have now completed the transfer of bed and other items that will suit the fishing needs and I’m ready for anywhere in the country again.
                                          Carpet fitted, now for the bed conversion to suit.

For the serious travelling river fisherman this seems the perfect answer to the fuel cost that can make distant venues so expensive for a single daytrip.  I can fish to whatever time I want at night and retire to the van where I sleep as comfortable as at home on 4 inches of high density foam made for the job.  [Brollycamps do not belong on the river bank].  Rain or shine there is room to move about and cook or prepare food before setting out again the next morning at a time to suit you not that required by the boarding house or lodgings.
                                                          Side door veiw

                                                     Job done - have van will travel.

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Another big barbel hits my landing net.

With all the rain we have been suffering it seems that there will be no summer for those going on a normal holiday, but for the barbel angler it is a permanent holiday.  Every day you have perfect conditions with high water and no rubbish, since that has been cleared by the constant high levels.  I had been sorting the new van out and missed a few days, but those conditions demanded that I fish so I made my way to the River Severn to sample what that lady luck had in store for me there.

It rained, no surprise in that since it seems to have rained every day since I came back from Scotland.  At least the river level seemed to be falling since the banks showed signs that the level had been at least 4ft higher, the problem that gives is the muddy silt it leaves behind over everything.  Swim selection on the big rivers like the Severn is mostly by chance or previous experience.  I used the second choice and dropped into a swim that had previously given me catches of up to ten plus barbel on the day, but that was in bygone times and now I would be happy to catch any barbel.   My plan for the day was to use a mix of both my recent tactics in that I would use the bait dropper to load the swim with hemp, and then use the big feeders with a mix of hemp and pellet to attract the fish into my feeding area.  Casting about five rod lengths out into the powerful flow, I had a 5oz feeder in use since it is important for it not to move once it has landed.  At other times I might want the bait to roll round into the side but normally in that situation I would not be using a feeder since I only want my baited area to be in one spot, not an arc such as would be left when it rolled around.  The hook bait was to be a boilie John Found and I had made up a couple of seasons ago especially for barbel.  The last fish I caught on this was my River Lea 14lb-10oz beauty and for some reason I did not really use it after then and it has lain in the freezer waiting to see the light of day.  One rod would carry three halves of a 15mm boilie, the other would have just one 15mm wrapped in a paste of the same flavour.

Right from the off I was getting knocks on both rod tops.  There are numerous bream in the section and I felt sure one of these was responsible, but then the rod slammed over and the bite was definitely not off a bream, they cannot move that fast.  As soon as I struck I knew this would be a better than average fish, it bored deep and ran the line off the clutch as it made its way downstream.  I have mentioned previously that for me the most exciting part of fishing is the fight I get off a specimen fish be it a roach or a sturgeon, this one gave full value.  Many of the rivers I fish are comparatively small and they do not generally have much depth, this of course dictates the type of fight you experience.  The River Severn on the other hand in this region is quite wide and has depths of 12ft or 15ft sometimes even more, and that produces a totally different battle.  Even with the extra floodwater the fish had gone upstream and I had to battle it back in front of my position, great and then it tried to get under the fishing stages that were now under water, it all adds to the excitement as there is a chance to lose a monster that has not yet been seen.  Fortunately I got it away from that danger and at last it went into the net and it was safely mine.

Very carefully with all that mud and silt about I made the fish safe in the landing net while I went back up the bank to comparatively clean ground above the flood level and got the gear ready for weighing and photographs.   Only my second barbel of the new season and I thought it would go into double figures again truly an exciting time.  The scales confirmed my thought when it came in at 10lb-10oz, a great welcome back to this mighty river.
                                                      A 10lb-10oz welcome back.

I could not help than reflect on an odd fact that within the 2012 year I had only caught three barbel at this point.   This 10lb-10oz fish, the 12lb-4oz fish off the Dove as related in the previous blog and of course the River Anker record of 15lb-4oz I caught in January.  Three bites off three different rivers giving three doubles, you cannot ask for better than that!  Of course that average could not last and I was brought back to reality with the next capture a couple of hours later when a 6lb barbel came to the net.  I had lots of knocks during the session and although I thought it was bream there is just an outside chance they were off roach.  Lot of swirls had been seen along the inside edge of the river and Curtis, Merv’s grandson had taken a new pb with a 1lb-14oz roach from this section just last week, next time here I will try tactics more suited to catching them to see if they will respond.
                                                    Only 6lb but the hook hold was good.

Sunday 1 July 2012

The first barbel of the season & it's big!

Following a week’s fishing in Scotland there was no big rush to get out on the rivers, but by Tuesday the urge was too much to resist.  For my first river visit of the new season I chose the Derbyshire Derwent since it had treated me so favourably last year, hence by midday I was well on the way up to the venue.

There was just one car in the car park, and when I finally came upon the angler he reported that he had caught just one barbel of about 5lb, not big but at least they were feeding.   I settled into my swim and with the river carrying about 3ft of extra water decided on my usual Dynamite Monster Crab boilie on one of the rods, while the other had a couple of pellets, hopefully to entice the barbel to feed.  I had a chance when the line ripped off, but the fish did not stay on the hook for long enough to allow me to be even sure it was a barbel.  I left the river that evening thinking that almost every year my first trips have failed, so this was no different.

With a couple of things to sort out I did not go fishing on Wednesday, but I planned a trip to the River Severn on Thursday, then weather interved in a big way.  Very heavy rain and hail stones capable on writing off a friend’s car made going a no-no.  As it turned out the rain in Worcester was horrendous, and there were roads blocked all over the place so a good decision to cancel the idea.

Friday I was ready again and very undecided as to where to go, the River Severn as previously planned, the Derwent to try and rectify that blank, in the end I did neither and chose a trip to the River Dove to try for a big fish.  As expected with yesterday’s rain the river was well up, but not as bad as I thought it could be.  Again with all the recent rain the rubbish that might normally have come downstream on the flood had already been moved on, now the river was comparatively clear of that problem.  For this trip I intended to use swim feeders, these along to be loaded with mixed pellet and hemp, my hook baits would be a well glugged Monster Crab Boilie and a chunk of garlic flavoured meat.
                                                     A rainbow lays over the Dove.
It seemed a reasonable day and night for fishing, mild though windy with a little rain that gave a brilliant rainbow, it did go cooler after dark but I thought the rods could have had a bite at any moment, they didn’t.  A lad fishing a couple of swims away caught two barbel with one an 11lb double, but I blanked again and left feeling I had missed out on a fish or two.  The next day, Saturday, I returned about 3:00pm and was surprised to be almost alone on the bank since this is a very popular stretch.  This time I was going to leave the feeders off and bait drop a tin of Dynamite Chilly Hemp, not sure if the chilly bit makes a lot of difference but it certainly does catch barbel.  The water level had dropped by a couple of foot, and it was now perhaps a foot over the normal level one would expect, a good colour for barbel and yet again I was hopeful of a fish.

The hours ticked by and anglers came and left, but nothing was happening until I began to wonder if I would have yet another blank.  The radio was on, and I was listening to the tennis match with Murray in a very tight finish coming up to the 11:00pm deadline when it must end with the remaining games played out on the following Monday.  Then with about 10 minutes to go I got my hoped for bite and the strike hit a solid resistance.  The ever faithful boilie had got me the take, now all I had to do was land it.  Three times I got the fish to the net and each time it powered off in a run that demanded I gave it line.  There is often a fine line between holding a fish or letting it run, the timing of this comes with experience and fortunately this time I got it right and a big barbel slipped over the net cord.  The usual delay was there as the camera and scales were prepared whilst the fish was left in the landing net to recover.  I had seen it was big as I landed it, but that was just a fleeting glance, now as I lifted it out I could see it was a very pleasing fish that proved to be one of 12lb-4oz.  Fat as a pig it had obviously been gorging throughout the floods, and had made the mistake of picking up my single boilie lying amongst the hemp I had laid out to attract him into the area.
                                                     12lb-4oz Opening barbel of the 2012-13 season.

I had missed the end of the match which Murray had won, but my prize was far better than his though he might disagree.  I gave it until midnight hoping for a repeat performance but as I packed up I was well content with the start of the new season and I’m sure that more and bigger barbel will follow.