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.

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.

Sunday 17 August 2014

The Barbel Society Barbel Challenge.

When Jerry Gleeson asked if I was up for round two of the Barbel Society Challenge in aid of the Army Benevolent Fund I of course answered ‘yes.’  Then he said ‘well I changed it a bit, we’ll go for 2 doubles of each river but over 10 days this time.’   The man’s an idiot and I told him so, no chance but we’ll give it a go!

                                                               The three musketees

I had agreed to do the northern leg of the challenge along with Jerry Gleeson and Paul Floyd, There should have been a fourth angler, Mark Dutton, but unexpected events meant he could not do more than the first 24 hours with us and it was the intention that occasional guests would come along as a fourth angler and do a stint of 24 hrs or so at each venue.  The third angler on the southern leg who would be my replacement would be Dave Chambers; this would complete the anglers that did the same event last year.
The six rivers I would complete would be the Dove, Derbyshire Derwent, Soar, Trent, Nene and Warwickshire Avon.   Then the Jerry and Paul would go south and complete the challenge on the Lea, Lodden, St. Pat’s Stream, Thames, Colne, Kennet and Hants Avon.  In order to complete the 14 rivers in ten days some of the rivers would only have one, or maybe two anglers on it for the session, such was the case with me on the Warwickshire Avon which I fished alone.  The reason for this change is fairly obvious, it is a killer doing 14 continuous days along with hundreds of miles travelling between venues, Paul and Jerry did it last year, but would not do it again.

It started with a meet in the cafĂ© at Tutbury where Mark, Jerry, Paul and myself had a full English breakfast to start the day off on a good foot.  Following that we set off to the chosen section of the river and we soon had tackle in place in each of our swims.  The river was low and clear, but with the session lasting until mid-morning Saturday there was plenty of chance that the fish would feed at some stage of the session.

                                                  River Dove in its glory.

We each used our own methods and tactics in the attack on the Dove barbel and on their day we know that each of us can catch barbel.  Early results came in the form of chub and it was well into dark before Mark caught the first of this year’s barbel.  At 9lb 6oz it was below our target, but welcome never the less.  The night was quiet after that and a near full moon looked down on our efforts until well into the night when I got word that the first double had hit the net.  Paul was the fortunate angler and his successful swim from last year had produced the goods again in the form of a 12lb 2oz specimen barbel.  First bit of the challenge done, but could we get the second double we hoped for.  Jerry hooked and lost two barbel, Paul landed two more nice fish that fell short of the mark and that was the final result as I failed to hit a barbel at all.
Once dawn comes I try a get a little sleep rather than the dozing done overnight, I have a recliner chair I brought for last year’s effort and although not as comfortable as a bed chair it does the job to allow a few hours sleep before the next move.  That move was to the River Derwent where two clubs had been good enough to offer their waters for the 24 hr session, Derby County AC and The Earl of Harrington AC.  Having walked both lengths we discussed swim options and decided to try the Harrington side having completed the Derby side last year with good doubles caught.  The forecast for the next 24 hrs was quite wet, so by mid-afternoon we were all in place with a good shelter over our heads.

                                                              12lb-2oz Dove Barbel

                                                          Atmospheric scene

At this point I should explain my approach to the swim which would be similar to that I used at each venue.  As always, my rods are the 12ft 1.7.5lb test Drennan Specialist Barbel, Shimano 5000 RE bait runner reals loaded with 12lb breaking strain main line.  The hook link is 15lb Stren braid with a size 8 Drennan Continental hook in place.   This rig would be used with open-ended swimfeeders loaded with mixed size pellets and hemp, whilst the hook bait would either Elips pellet or Dynamite Source boilies.  I bait dropped a pint of hemp into the swim and all was ready.

                                                                  Bait in use.

With the boilie cast to the baited area and the pellet cast some 10yds downstream of that baited area I could sit back and wait while recasting every 30 minutes or so.  Nothing occurred through the rest of the afternoon but the rain started as forecasted and I was glad of the shelter with sides rather than just the umbrella I would normally use.  About 10.15pm I got a powerful run and the strike was good.  I was fishing a section with quite fast water and this fish took full advantage of that to help it resist my efforts, but eventually he had to come and I gave a cheer as he went into the net.  A nearby angler had come along and he helped me get up the wet steep banks with the fish and then to weigh him.  My usual guess had been 12lb + and indeed he proved to be a new river best for me at 13lb-5oz.  I returned to rest in the water while I phoned Paul and he came up for photos etc., another river double done but could we get the second here?

                                                            13lb-5oz  Derwent Barbel.

                                                           11lb-12oz  Derwent Barbel

We all settled back into our respective swims and the rain continued to tip it down but that was forgotten when about 1:00am the same boilie rod went again with the fish giving another battle royal before being netted.  This fish weighed in at 11lb-12oz to give a brilliant brace and our first pair of doubles off a single river.  Paul was to loose what he thought was a very good fish when it swung into the roots of an overhanging tree downstream of his swim becoming totally snagged, just bad luck and something you can do very little about.  After that little kip after dawn it got to the time to move, it was still raining very heavily but with it forecasted all day we had to pack up.  For this river we had been joined by Jon Preen who is a local angler and he fished through to around midnight before going home.  He had extended an invite to his house for breakfast and a shower, with both the lads soaked through to the skin it was a welcome chance to change into dry clothing.
That afternoon, dry, clean and well fed we made our way to the Trent as the next port of call on our odyssey.  As expected the river was rising and the only question would be ‘how high’ would it come.  It is a well-documented fact that barbel feed better in a rising flood, closely follow by a falling river after a flood, we were to take advantage of this over the next few days in spades.  For this river I changed my 2oz feeders for one of Fisky’s 6oz heavy duty jobs and along with this change I decided to fish both rods on the Source boilie.  Fortunately the rubbish coming down on the flow remained within reason and casting every 15 minutes seemed to keep the tackle sound.  The Trent is a very snaggy river and if the rubbish on the line builds to a point where it moves the feeder then look out for trouble.  The advantage of this recasting was that it did build up the feed in the swim and by the time dusk fell I was very confident of catching.
I had taken a chub in the afternoon spell, but the first barbel came just after 10:00pm and it weighed in at exactly 10lb, I phoned Paul and reweighed the fish for him to confirm that weight.  Have you noticed how you feel guilty when a fish weighs exactly the target weight, 2lb roach, 10lb bream etc. but some must always do so.  Fortunately the rain had stopped and throughout the night at regular intervals I caught a number of barbel mostly between 6lb and 7lb though one very fat specimen did go 10lb-14oz to give me a second brace of doubles.  My total for the night was 7 barbel and that really was pleasing and the flood stopped perhaps 2” below my swim before starting to fall again, unfortunately the other two lads did not get a bite for some unknown reason.  Four rivers down and at least one double off each, this is as good as we could hope but would it continue, I’ll let you know in part two.

                                                                        10lb Trent Barbel

                                                            10lb-14oz Trent Barbel