As with most weeks it has been a mixed bag, both in target
species and results. On the Saturday
following the Barbel Challenge I went back after the eels, a quick and easy
overnight session that resulted in a total blank, maybe next time. I had arranged to travel down to the Kennet
region to stay with John Found for a three day trip so early Tuesday I arrived
on the Kennet and we met up to give the barbel a hammering. Not to be and even though we were prepared
with casters and hemp just one 7lb fish fell to John, very disappointing and as
with so many of these occasions without explanation.
The following day we were due to go down to Johnson’s Lake
on the Marsh Farm complex, crucians are the target here and at this time of
year a 3lb plus fish is the target weight.
We float fished from about 4pm through to 11:30pm but struggled just two
crucians falling to John’s paste one smaller in size but the other at least 2lb
plus. One of the problems was the large
number of one inch fry that stopped the normal fine tactics we know work. We caught roach, rudd and tench in reasonable
numbers but the crucian bites were probably amongst the dips and waggles that
were occurring all the time, it needed a suicidal fish to show its interest. With two days gone and virtually nothing to
show for it we approached Thursday wondering what it would bring.
These were the target
Choosing two different swims to those used on the Tuesday,
we began the bait and wait tactics that were the order of the day. I’ll run through mine but John would be
duplicating the same with very little difference. My swim was typical of the Kennet in that
much of the river sections are left almost undisturbed and there are lots of
features to fish to. This one had a
large bush going out into the river just downstream and on my bank, the opposite
side had smaller bushes running along the bank these giving about two or three
feet of cover over the river perfect for the fish to feel safe in. There was a slight gap in the line that allowed
me to bait drop across against the bank and lay a trap for fish moving up and
down through the swim. A pint of caster
mixed with hemp went out and the swim was left to mature for an hour or two.
Unlike John I do use two rods and I had decided to fish a
pellet alongside the near bank bush so having chucked half a dozen pellets in I
cast out and could wait for fish to turn up.
Sometimes there is a fish already in the swim and this was such a time,
after just a few minutes the rod top went round and I land a hard fighting 5lb
barbel, nice start. After perhaps an
hour I baited up again with a similar amount as the first time, the hemp is the
attractor and the casters will hopefully keep the fish in the area once they
arrive. If you cast out too early there
is every chance you will catch but the fish you catch was one of the first to
find the bait and now you need another to take the chance. By leaving the area time to mature that first
fish comes into the swim and then leaves, later he returns with a mate and
leaves again. Now other fish are picking
up the signal that there is food about and apparently with danger so they tag
along as well, on clear rivers I’ve seen this happen and when you cannot see in
then your need the hope that it is happening just the same, sometimes it is not,
but when it works you can bag up. Today
was to be such a day and when I topped up the swim again about thirty minutes
later I cast out the baited rig.
The caster rig
This is a running leger and 15lb braid going to a size 10
Pallatrax hook, one artificial caster is threaded onto the hair and then three
or more live casters are glued to that, nice and simple, but deadly.
Superglue shows but the fish don't mind
I did not wait too long before the first barbel made an
appearance, often they take within moments of that first cast but maybe there
are not quite as many fish here as on the Trent or some other rivers. These fish are fit and healthy and the fight
does remind me why I love to fish for barbel.
This one went 8lb-7oz and it was followed through the day by others of
5lb, 6lb and of 8lb-12oz and the cherry on the cake a 10lb-2oz fish that would
not keep still for its photo. All the
time I would just give the occasional top up and break in order to give the
fish chance to return but once they know the feed is there they are reluctant
to give up completely, I’ve even seen barbel continue feeding while I’m playing
one already hooked from next to them.
Pristine 8lb-7oz Kennet barbel
Meanwhile John had been keeping up with my catch rate; in
fact his best fish until near the end was the same as my first one at
8lb-7oz. Then he beat my running total
with a 10lb-8oz fish, his tenth of the session with a bonus? bream. The walk back to the car at dusk was
certainly more pleasing this evening than those previous two, but then if you
don’t fail how would you know you have succeeded?
Lively 10lb-2oz hence too much fingers showing.
Back home and with all the rain being forecast on Friday
night/Saturday I thought the river might respond so on the Saturday afternoon I
made my way up onto the River Derwent with the intention to fish into dark. Lots of people did have significant downpours
but I didn’t and the river was still low and steady. Today I would use boilies and had chosen to
fish Source under my own bank and Crave on the far bank alongside a line of
overhanging trees. It was a nice night,
mild and fairly still only being disturbed by the passing trains that run
between Derby and Nottingham. Trouble
was I was also only disturbed by a single chub of 4lb-14oz and a snotty bream
about 6lb that I did not weigh. Always
better than a blank since for just those few moments when the bite initially occurred
it might have been a barbel and the heart rate jumps up in eager anticipation
only to fall back again with the lack of powerful resistance that is the signature
of a big barbel.
Bait to use for the Derwent
Near 5lb Derwent chub.
Until next time I wish you tight lines and lots of sport
hopefully I’ll have the same.