Thursday, 21 August 2014

Personal best barbel vlog

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Pastures new - Part 2

After our recent trip I was chomping at the bit to get back down and properly reacquaint myself with some of the carp that I had spotted on a recce after my trip with Tom.

I was set up and wandering the banks by 2pm and it was another scorching July afternoon, in fact I cannot remember such a settled July in a long time.The river was low,crystal clear and it was not long before I spotted a group of three chub skulking under some marginal cover and acting rather apprehensively toward my bait, a quick change of hooklength material was made as I switched to preston powerline (5lb 14oz b/s).

After a quick trundle with the link leger I had picked up a couple of perfectly formed chevin on worm, not monsters but in great condition and no sign of a gatecrashing trout anywhere, although that was soon to change when further downstream I picked up one from underneath an overhanging tree and another from a glide at the end of a bend in the river, both fish scrapping like bucking broncos, combining a mixture of tail walking and lively runs.

I stopped for a bit of respite under a nearby tree, sitting down to rehydrate myself, gosh it was hot and it was slowly getting the better of me. I carried on downstream trying a few likely looking areas where the river slowed and banks were more undercut, crayfish one a chuck were reeled in, the usual  size one might find on the Kennet or Loddon, a size 8 boot was duly applied, I pondered whether to change from lob worm to a more buoyant bait such as bread, but decided to stick with it and try to see if I might be able to find a swim where the crayfish were not so at ease.

A little further along and I found a nice spot, the far margin covered by an overhanging bush, it looked too good to turn down, a few taps were soon followed by a full blooded bite and I was into what felt a better stamp of chub, it was not long before a lively 4lb fish was sat in the net replete with a stunning brassy sheen, it was probably one of the nicest chevin I have caught 

Small river brassy bar

Come evening time the sun was growing long and the call of a Barn Owl could be heard in the field behind me, the setting was perfect, during this time I had been watching the coming and going of a carp along my nearside margins, the odd large swirl giving away its presence.

This is was my chance, a rapid change was made to more beefier tackle (10lb Yo-zuri) and a size 6 hook with two juicey worms were hastily cast just short of the area that this fish was patrolling, after a few subtle plucks the tip swept round, I knew immediately that I was in for a scrap as this fish bow waved off downstream for the safety of a sunken tree, the only option to apply steady pressure and turn it away from its haven of choice.

A dark common broke the surface before powering off into the weed beds again, by now I had the landing net in position and was beginning to develop a slight foam around the mouth caused by thoughts of losing said fish, thankfully after a couple more runs she was wallowing in the net and looked a good double.

A perfectly conditioned common from a small waterway

Weighing 11.9 she was in perfect condition, with a vivid gold meets bronze coloration,I was most overjoyed that she had picked up my bait and after an impromptu video and stills she was swimming off, leaving a very contented angler in her wake.

I carried on fishing till around 10pm, by which time the crayfish had switched on to manic levels and were doing their utmost to annoy me, but I was far too happy to care, it had been a very good afternoons fishing and one where time spent on groundwork had paid dividends in the long run.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Pastures new - Part 1

A change is as good as a rest, or so the saying goes and I must say that whilst barbel fishing has been whispering to me and lurking in my thoughts, I have been enjoying not targeting them during the majority of this season, in fact I have fished the gentleman's river only twice this season and that has made for a rather refreshing change and allowed me the chance to head to a waterway that I only really started fishing thanks to a friend whom has also fallen in love with it.

It shares many features of my local waterways, beauty, intimacy and a resounding feeling of timelessness, in fact the two trips I have made to this particular river have both sped by far too quickly.

After quite a bit of groundwork and google map pondering, Tom and I decided to head to a new area of the river and do a spot of light roving. The day in question was a hot one, blue skies in every direction and pushing 30c, I came prepared with a nice thick fleece and even though I really did not fancy the idea of baking like a pig in blankets it would at least allow both of us access to the more overgrown areas of the river.

It became evident straight away that the trout were going to be very active, almost suicidal in their attempts to save any of the better chub from picking up our baits, mine especially as I had decided to opt for a mixture of link legered lob worm and maggot as my main approach and it was not long before two trout including a tail walking maestro graced my net.

One of many chub bodyguards that were caught

After a few trout and some very apprehensive chub that really were not in a very forthcoming mood we decided to head downstream, the river slowing in pace and once again crystal clear. By now I was overheating to the extent that you could have nicknamed me chitty chitty bang bang, a welcome bottle of liquid refreshment (thanks Tom!) was downed and instantly sweated back out.

Tom suddenly motioned to me to join him, he had spotted a carp laid up in a sunny marginal weed bed and kindly offered me a cast, a quick flick and the link leger was settling just above said fish, its reaction was one of casual disinterest as it decided to drift off downstream and rest in a shadier area.

We decided to stay in this particular spot a tad longer, Tom deciding to try and offer this fish a piece of link legered bread, the next moments were filled with that tension as an angler waits to see what happens next, all of a sudden the river erupted, Tom shouting "yes Mark I've got her!". The fish bolted off downstream before diving into a nearby weed bed, by now I was next to Tom and wondering if this fish had found a bad snag downstream, thankfully this was not the case and with some steady pressure she came free and was soon resting in the net.

I smiled  "feels like a double to me 10 maybe 12lb mate".  Sure enough on the scales she went 10.15 Tom's first river carp and he was clearly overjoyed. Warm comments were aplenty and a hearty pat on the back was given.

A triumphant and elated Tom with his perfectly conditioned  river ghostie

By now the swim had been well and truly disturbed so we made for another area of the river, both of us really wanting to pick a few of the better chub up along here, but alas they were acting rather wary and not wishing to come out from the confines of snags and bank side coverage, I gestured to an area of the river with a nice bit of flotsam, suggesting to Tom that he might chance his arm there with a piece of bread and after a few wary taps he had slipped the net under a healthy chub of 2lb.

Meanwhile I had headed downstream and made a cast to some overhanging trees, the link leger skimming in underneath them, this resulted in a near instant, full blooded bite and what looked a better stamp of chub, but alas resulted in a hook pull and me letting out an anguished cry of "argh noo!".

We moved on and found this area of river to have denser weed growth, it looked perfect for any chub to hold up in such bright conditions and looked worthy of a cast, so one was made to a tiny gap in the weed, my fingers settling on the line, waiting with suspense for any subtle plucks.

Sure enough there was the odd pluck but this was very noncommittal, so I decided to tweak the bait in hope that the extra movement might tempt this weed bed occupant to take a more decisive course of action, it did and the rod tip lurched round violently with fish heading off downstream, this felt like a better chub and after a healthy scrap resting in the net was a nicely formed chevin and more the kind of stamp we were seeking.

A hard earned better stamp of chub (3.4)

After this fish Tom and I decided to stop and have a bite to eat under some most welcome shade, food was shared and swapped as we recounted the days fishing, it certainly had been a varied and enjoyable trip thus far and with a few hours fishing left we were rather looking forward to what we might uncover next.

The river became shallower, in places no more than 18 inches deep, the water gurgling as it caressed the gravel runs, riffles giving way to deeper pools, the kind of features that gives an angler too many options that he might be tempted to cast to each and every one.

I quite fancied one of the deeper pools along here and whilst Tom was upstream unhooking a trout I decided to roll the link leger through and see if anyone was home, pluck pluck came the positive reply, as I set the hook the events that then proceeded were a bit of a blur as a rather powerful fish simply steamed off downstream, my tiny reel purring in despair as I tried to slow said fish down. Sadly it made for the next bend in the river and across some stoney shallows, the inevitable happened hook and line parted, I had a pretty good feeling that I had just lost a carp and conveyed the news to Tom.

As we chatted about it we spotted another carp moving up past his swim, Tom tried a couple of casts toward this fish  but it became fairly obvious that it was not going to be hanging around, instead skulking along the opposite bank before disappearing upstream.

By now evening had come and it found us fishing a slower reach, Tom and I were both thoroughly exhausted but content, we sat together and chatted as I chanced my arm in this slower area of the river.

A subtle tap here and there slowly transformed into a more positive affair, the rod tip swinging round, little did I know that deja vu was about to strike, I was met with a large commotion as the water erupted, followed by fish bow waving downstream, I had little to no chance and little had just about left town! Within a few seconds of the clutch going into overdrive I was left sans hook and a tad gutted to say the least, a mental note was made to come back with the option of some stronger tackle on the next trip, as it was now becoming fairly evident that there was some larger fish lurking in the shadows.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Opening season trip compilation

Just a short video compilation of my first two trips at the beginning of the river season

Sunday, 13 July 2014

When a river smiles

To rove or be static, move and shake as oppose to sit and wait, I considered my options, a change to single rod was made and I decided to head out for the evening and fish a handful of swims hoping to connect with the first barbus of the new season.

The river was alive, the underwater jungle looking fresh and full of life, cabbage patches dotted here and there, juvenile perch playing hide and seek between the dense green folds. I headed to a narrower section of the river, one I fancied but had not fished as much, with good marginal coverage for chub and barbel alike and some deeper gravel runs, perfect for the crayfish to pay my bait too much attention.

It was a glorious evening and I was entertained by deer on the opposite bank bouncing about with their youngsters and two Kingfishers which kept chasing each other up and down the river, one of which stopped in the third swim that I was in and gave me a resounding lesson in catching fish before calling out its success with a shrill chirp and darting back off downstream.

A crayfish with claws like a lobster was all I had to show thus far  but I was sated, at peace with my surroundings and natures theater had put on a splendid show, I could not have asked for more. I decided to mosey on to my final swim, a slower area of the river, a small bait dropper was filled with seed a couple of times and lowered unobtrusively into the margins, thirty minutes later and a whittled down boilie wrapped in paste was lowered into the same spot.

As an angler watches the isotope so his mind can wander a little, I played out various scenarios in my head, how I would play the fish, what snags it might try to make for and many other little things. It was a clear night and by the time the dew began to patter down at regular intervals I had started to wonder if the final roll of the dice may have been just that,it was at this point that he isotope nudged slightly, not a lot but it had moved, I glanced downstream although I am unsure what I expected to see, but in that moment the warmth of hope was kindled and along with it an anglers chance to perhaps dream.

Time passed by, a vixens shriek faded into the distance, the hairs on my neck standing on end as if to acknowledge and salute this lonesome female. The next sound was of the little rod doubling over and clutch trying to keep up, the bite if it could even be called that was savage as the fish steamed off downstream in search of cabbage patches, sure enough she found them and the safety they offered, a steady amount of pressure was applied and slowly but surely it was free again, this time in mid river and heading back upstream.

I knew from the tussle that I was connected to something a bit special and by now I was more or less done in and nervous exhaustion was rapidly taking charge, had this have been intercourse then I would have in all probability climaxed way too soon, leaving a rather frustrated female by my bedside.

Slowly and surely I gained control, finally a broad flank broke the surface and was guided into the waiting net, I peered inside and jabbered something that was barely recognizable as a language, by now I had been reduced to a state of devolution and neanderthal man was beckoning, I could have honestly just pointed into the net in the dark, started muttering and painting on the nearby trees to describe the fish, as try as I might words were not being formed.

I sat down and recovered somewhat before weighing this fighting fit barbus, the scales settled on 15lb a new personal best, the moment was a surreal one and watching her disappear back into the river is a sight I shall not forget.

Monday, 7 July 2014

A nomadic puzzle

My first trip of the new season on the Blackwater had got me wondering about the carp, resident and the  freshly adopted escapees, last season I had caught a couple of them whilst link legering (both commons) and during the close it had been smouldering away on my minds back burner about targeting them.

So on my second trip I decided to take a couple of very compact carp rods along with my feeder rod and link leger setup, if truth be known I planned to fish most of the afternoon on link leger and switch to the beefier tackle into darkness.

It was another pleasantly warm summer day and the fish were very forthcoming on the link leger setup,vividly marked perch and handsome chain mail, adorned chub falling to worm over maggot and casters.


Midway through the trip at around 6pm a wide, bullish looking head appeared in front of my near margin, a common carp no less and proceeded to paddle by like flipper the dolphin, head right out up to its gill covers, before nonchalantly slipping back under the surface film. It was almost as if it was checking that the coast was clear, it is hard for me to describe it in words it but it was rather comical to say the least.

About an hour later I received an inquisitive bite on double lob worms, nothing aggressive just a steady almost chub-esque bite. I struck and this apparent chevin rapidly began to morph into something that was on a mission to head upriver, the clutch on my reel gathering pace, tick tick turning into zip zip, my hand dampening each run as much as I dared, before gaining some line in return, if fishing line was a currency then the exchange rate was very much erring on the fishes side.
Slowly if not too surely I gained control, "ping" the line clipped the dorsal, but all remained well.

Finally a common with a blunt head broke the surface and thankfully slipped into the net.


I was rather happy to have landed this steam train meets battering ram, as battered me it certainly had, I could have sworn that I had aged a good few years during the scrap.

After this I decided to setup the two stalker rods which at 9 foot in length are both perfect for some of these small river spots, these were both placed along the margins, with a light amount of free offerings inside pva mesh stocking. Within a couple of hours I had a slow and steady bite on my right hand rod, I struck and became instantly aware that this felt a larger fish as it bolted off for the weedbeds, perhaps being on the heavier tackle bred an overconfidence within me, or the fish was not so well hooked as I thought, but after a fair battle I saw the flank of what looked a very portly mirror, perhaps a scraper twenty and then the hook flew out behind me, the fish thanking me with a flap of its tail (almost a two finger fish salute) and it was gone. I looked at the rig swinging behind me and back at where the fish had been in disbelief.

Alas it seemed sods law to land one on the light gear and lose one on the more appropriate tackle and It remained quiet into darkness despite a couple of small chub on the carp tackle that was to be it. Nevertheless it had been a great trip and I had at least managed to locate an area they seem to visit and winkle one out, albeit on the link leger.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Back in the flow

How I have missed your tranquil embrace, cabbage patches and gravel runs looking so sumptuous, but at last the hiatus has finally abated.

Despite enjoying still water fishing, I do feel more of an affinity for flowing water, the sound of  rivers as they makes their way through the landscape is almost a language of its own, plucking at an anglers heartstrings. The heady aroma as mist rises from the rivers on a June morning, deer picking their way through the fields, foxes and their offspring tumbling about together until they rest in a heap on top of mum and dad.

My first trip out of the new season found me heading to the Blackwater in the afternoon replete with feeder rod and link leger in hand, along with a small amount of bait in my bucket (maggots,lob worms, sweetcorn). I was stuck in two minds, fish a few swims or concentrate on one only, the latter was decided upon,I settled down in a rather snug Borneo-esque swim that was alive with the chatter of Dormice and they did take a liking to one of my rucksack straps leaving me with a souvenir in the shape of a tiny nibble hole.

With a reasonably deep margin in front of me I decided to start by lightly feeding a mixture of maggot and corn slightly upstream. Downstream of my near margin there was some perfect coverage that simply screamed chub and it was here that I intended to let the link leger trundle down to.

The first trundle resulted in the first fish of the new season in the shape of a brassy chub (4.4) which gave a good account of itself.

A little and often approach with the feeding and I was soon picking up chublets, gudgeon and perch at regular intervals and a smile was fully cemented on my face. Into the evening the bigger fish started to show and after a very agressive bite and scrap saw a rather short, but deep bodied chub try to ditch me in the marginal foliage, I slipped the net under the first 5lb+ chub of the season, this fish was rather hollow and looked like it would be a good 6 come winter time.

I can assure you I have not knelt in something nasty in this picture, unfortunately my landing net had decided to break, the metal thread coming away from the plastic spreader block, I was not amused to say the least and spent a good hour trying to repair it, in the end I had something that was sturdy enough yet looked akin to a sawn of shotgun meets the mummy from one of those hammer horror films, I was only too glad to get it repaired once home, but I guess that will teach me for buying a cheap net.

I fished on till late evening, switching to sweetcorn in hope of picking up one of the rivers bigger bream. At around 9pm the quiver tip pulled round steadily and I was into what looked a rather wide slab which gave a great account of itself, slipping it into the mummy of all landing nets I could see she was in very nice condition and my first Blackwater bream.

8.9 of healthy river Abramis

Metal thread into plastic what a great idea... not

This was to be my last fish before heading off home,it had been an excellent way to start the new season off on this fabulous little waterway, however back at home a healthy amount of glue was awaiting said spreader block...