River Severn Atcham Barbel Fish-In 05-10-13
I always look forward to the barbel fish-ins, they are great events for river ‘newbies’ and it’s always nice to catch up with fellow river rats. The weather was unusually warm for October and the recent rainfall had put around a foot of water on the river which was running through at a nice steady pace.
After the meet and greet in the car park we settled into our swims and I started fishing around 4pm. I put a few droppers of hemp and caster out in the main flow hoping to draw them over from their far bank retreat, I also pitched a few very close to Bill’s swim downstream and it took three attempts before he hurled abuse at my obvious wind-up!!
I trotted bread flake through the near bank swim letting it settle just before an overhanging tree and continued with the new bait I was testing on the other rod which was cast to mid river over the hemp and caster. There was a fair bit of weed coming down probably as a result of the extra water.
I was joined by Mark who was reporting on the event for the clubs Blog and we chatted the hours away whilst patiently waiting for something to happen. At 8:30pm I still hadn’t had any indications and Mark decided to head home. At 9:30pm Ash rang to say he’d had a chub so off I went to take a photo and weigh it for him, when I got there he had the chub resting in the net and was playing a barbel which had decided to take off with his other rod!! We had no choice but to land the barbel in the same net but it was more than deep enough to accommodate both.
Duly weighed and photographed we rested them again before they swam off, barbel first followed by the chub.
That was the only action for the rest of the night but a couple of the newbies had some success and the full account of the days event can be read on our club Blog here.
Next years events will hopefully see a partnership with the Barbel Society who actively promote barbel fishing and in particular caring for them once caught as this informative video demonstrates Barbel Handling Code.
River Severn Rossall 12-10-13
As the weekend approached I fancied a visit to Rossall and to fish through the night which entailed digging out my brolly and overnight gear, easier said than done and it was gone midnight when I’d finished packing the car.
Arriving at the ‘Lazy Kettle’ truck stop on the A483 at 11am and tucking into a hearty breakfast 10 minutes later is something I look forward to when venturing down to the Severn.
Just on an hour later I arrived at Rossall, the road down to the car park had been resurfaced and they’ve done an excellent job made even better by finding the car park was empty so I’d have the pick of the swims.
I headed for the furthest downstream swim as I knew it would take my oval brolly for the night session. The peg had been rebuilt in the summer and with heavy rain forecast would provide me with a good base should the swim become quiet or I fancied a bit of roving.
Roger arrived for a chat not long after I’d setup and we spent a good few hours discussing all things fishing and in particular how catch rates had dropped on the Severn quite significantly in the past 5 years. We concluded that there had also been an increase in the number of fish with tail damage or scaring to their flanks.
I had the usual rods set up, the centre pin and 2oz tip rod was on the right with bread flake in the nearside margin, this followed a few dollops of mashed bread 20 minutes earlier along with plenty of hemp and small pellet to draw them in from downstream. The barbel rod was on pellet cast two-thirds of the way across with the 2oz grippa lead finally settling around the area where I dropped the hemp and pellet when I first arrived.
Next to join us for a natter was Phil who last month had not one but two club record barbel from the same stretch, the first came out at 11lb 50z and three weeks later Phil smashed the record again with a fish of 12lb 5oz actually caught whilst targeting chub!!
An hour passed and I’d put the margin rod on meat, I hadn’t had any indication from either but to be fair I was too busy talking to Phil to notice the odd pluck or line bite, the next thing we knew the ratchet on the centre pin was singing and the rod bent hard right as something had taken a fancy to a good old-fashioned chunk of meat.
Phil commented on how nice that take was and the how he loved the sound of the ratchet and I said you don’t need a bite alarm with that do you!! There then followed a half decent scrap actually and although it was almost dark we couldn’t be sure if it was a small barbel or a decent chub, either way I was pleased to have a fish on so Phil assumed the netting position and I brought it in to the shallows. Once its head was up we both said ‘chub!’ as it’s mouth was big enough to swallow a tin of meat never mind a cube. Successfully netted the prized capture was rested whilst I sorted out the weigh sling etc.
On the mat it looked a very good fish and my previous PB chub was 5lb taken on the Ribble one frosty winters morning however it was probably weighed on luggage scales so I’d count this one as my ‘proper’ PB if it went to 5lb, and indeed it did with Phil looking on the Avons confidently hit 5lb and stayed there, I was delighted a new PB chub and this time properly witnessed and weighed.
After a couple of photo’s we rested it once more before watching it swim out under the light of my head torch, magic!!
Phil left about 8pm so I rebaited the margin rod and replaced the hook link on the barbel rod, to be honest I wasn’t getting any indications of fish in the swim but a couple of crashing fish an hour or so later confirmed my decision to stick at it. I had a decent meal lined up for tea which consisted of bombay potatoes, tikka curry and pilau rice so it was gone 11pm before I’d settled for the night.
I decided to spend the rest of the evening on my new kindle, the book I’m reading at the moment is Tony Miles Top Tactics for Big Chub it’s a real mine of information covering baits, swims and everything else about catching big chub. My 5lb chub is testimony to the author who has kick started my chub fishing with a new PB caught on very a simple method of plain ordinary luncheon meat on a size 6 hook straight through.
Naturally I can’t watch the isotopes and read a book so I put the bite alarms on and settled into the book. At around 2:30am after just considering whether or not to reel in for the night and get some sleep I had a single bleep on the barbel rod, it had been out for at least two hours so I thought it may well have been weed but as I watched the isotope bury itself to the right and the alarm screamed out a one toner it was game on!!
A cracking fight ensued in almost complete darkness and going against the flow it felt like a really good fish making three determined runs for the hills but eventually after a couple of minutes it was basking in the net.
I could see it was no more than a 6lber, still after the discussions earlier in the day with Roger and Phil, who have fished the Severn for more years than they’ll admit to, I was delighted to have another fish on the bank as well as my earlier chub.
On the mat the first thing I noticed was a scar on its flank and a big chunk of tail missing, sadly an all too common occurrence these days particularly on the Severn. All that aside it was otherwise in top condition and after another rest in the net weighed in at 6lb. A mat shot followed by a release shot whereby it selected reverse and backed out before turning and with a defiant flick of its tail disappeared out of sight. I rarely take a trophy shot of me holding a fish unless it’s anywhere near a nine or a double as I don’t see the point of stressing the fish out unnecessarily whilst I muck about with the camera on my phone however I have a new (to me anyway) top of the range camera arriving shortly and combined with a bulb type shutter release I’ll be taking a good few self takes to improve my photography skills and capture the look of sheer enjoyment on my face.
That was enough for me to decide to take the rods out and turn in for the night. I figured the swim would be quiet for the next hour or more so I put another dozen droppers of hemp & pellet out and went to sleep around 4am.
At the unearthly hour of 7am I was rudely awoken by the sound of a 4 man rowing team going upstream at a rapid rate so I got up and recast both rods. It started to rain fairly heavily so any plans of roving after breakfast were postponed.
I had nothing for the next few hours so, with a brief break in the weather, I decamped and took the overnight gear back to the car whilst planning an afternoons roving for a bonus fish. The first swim had a rubbish raft and overhanging tree and looked like a classic chub holding spot but despite my best efforts with bread flake and then meat it didn’t produce.
I walked to the mid way point where the track back to the car park meets the river simple so I didn’t have as far to walk when I did eventually pack up. The swim was fairly wide and not many features but it did have a sunken tree to the right hand margin and as before I cast the centre pin rod, the barbel rod was cast out into the main flow at about half way.
Again no signs of activity or plucks on the rod tip and once 7pm arrived I started to pack up. looking back I should really have gone home at dinner time, the fishing this season has really only kicked in from dusk and on into dark so why I thought a cold and breezy October afternoon would produce I’ll never know, still I’d rather be out on the riverbank than sat indoors so it wasn’t all wasted.
I’m away next weekend so won’t get another chance to go fishing for another two weeks but a a session on the River Dane at Daisybank is always something to look forward to.
River Dane Daisybank 26-10-13
I was really looking forward to this session as last weekend was spent in Sheffield watching my daughter take part in the European Karate Championships having trained hard for the past year with the AMA Team GB. I don’t mind admitting I was holding back some very proud tears when she stepped onto the podium for a well deserved bronze medal at the Sunday evening awards ceremony, after 4 days of competition it really did finish the event of on a high note.
It seemed a long week in work not helped by the tooth ache from hell which started last Monday night. A visit to the dentist on Wednesday after a sleepless night revealed an infection and a course of antibiotics was prescribed to treat the infection and ease the pain. By Thursday I had a face like ‘Hammy the Hamster’ and was finding it difficult to drink or eat.
Those who know me will tell you it takes a lot to stop me going fishing and I certainly wasn’t going to let this ‘pain in the tooth’ prevent my day on the Dane in fact nothing short of the river bursting its banks would have stopped me so by Friday the fishing gear was fettled and loaded into the fishing wagon.
Saturday morning and I was up at 6:30am after another restless nights sleep but the tooth ‘issue’ had calmed down, the antibiotics presumably doing their thing, so much so I chanced a quick visit to MacDonalds for a breakfast wrap, naughty I know but I was wilting after 4 days of little more than fluids and needed something to carry me through the day!! A couple of bananas and a tuna pasta lunch would make lunch a ‘soft’ affair so at 8am I was on the M6 and heading for my favourite small river in Cheshire complete with a lob sided grin on my still swollen face.
Once in the car park I mixed up the days free offerings of hemp, caster and some 4mm pellets. I was targeting chub but couldn’t discount a barbel taking a liking to my bait so it would be interesting to see if either species played ball on the day.
I’ve already mentioned my new (to me) camera so I had it at the ready to take some shots on the way down to the river really just to see if a photography newbie could turn out some half decent shots at their first attempt, the jury is still out on that one!!
They recently ploughed fields now had new grass growing presumably for grazing as it’s a dairy farm and in the distance I could see the horses in the next field, perfect for a zoom shot.
The river had a very good pace to it, having come right up in the week it was still a couple of feet up on recent levels but was fining down nicely and had a good colour to it.
I’d planned, as usual, to base myself in Shrinkers swim and rove around 5 or 6 swims throughout the day. The river had been up through the week and the swim was fairly slippy as a result, I took my time setting up and put some vegetation over the worst of the mud to try to gain some purchase as well as a storm pole near the water’s edge to pull against should the inevitable happen and I went in!!
I baited up with six droppers of hemp, caster and pellet in two spots I’ve had fish from previously and settled down for an hour before setting the tip rod up and making the first cast, I wasn’t in a rush as I knew my best results have come at dusk into dark but it was great just to be out on the bank with an almost perfect river and a full days fishing ahead of me.
I started on bread flake on a size 6 straight through but used a half ounce bomb instead of the 3 SSG shot because of the increased flow, this still allowed the bait to find its way downstream and settle just under the over hanging tree about twenty yards away. For the next few hours I alternated between bread flake and meat, both baits produced bites some of which were obvious others were a bit more subtle.
Unfortunately every single bite was missed for the simple reason that I wasn’t paying attention and it was usually as I was doing something other than focussing on the tip of the rod. I’m convinced chub have a sixth sense, even whilst taking a mouthful of coffee the little devils would pull the rod tip around sharply and it would spring back, in the end I put the phone away and rested the reel across my lap.
Around 4:30pm I was considering a move or at least a bit of roving around the swims I pre-baited earlier when fellow river rat Paul turned up, it was his first visit to the Dane this season and we chatted about the river and it’s potential for an hour before gathering my roving gear together and heading off downstream.
The earlier rain had stopped and the evening sun shone brightly across the newly seeded grass making it look like a scene from the kids program Teletubbies, all it was missing was a few bunny rabbits and a purple Teletubby called Lala!!
I tried 5 swims before reaching the gate, spending no more than 10 minutes in each one. The final swim was where I’d had a 4lb fish a few weeks earlier with Ash and again I felt confident trundling bread flake down towards an over hanging tree.
Two months earlier the dead tree was wedged 150 yards upstream but the river Dane is known for its sheer power in flood and had shifted it to just in front of my swim. First cast and there was a definite pluck so I quickly recast and sure enough I was in. It was definitely a chub as it came up to the surface quickly, it felt like a good one I had it under control all the way to the net which I’d rested on some marginal reeds when at the last-minute it darted into the reeds and snagged solid. I gave it slack as well as a few choice words but it had long gone and had somehow managed to transfer the hook into something solid because I had to pull for a break.
By this time it was 6:30pm and getting dark, it started raining as forecast by a Norwegian weather site I use called yr.no, why Norway know more about our weather than us I’ll never know but it’s never let me down and even does a mobile app so you can check the weather on the day.
I settled back into Shrinkers as the heavens opened but I’d had the foresight to pack my brolly and remained fairly dry, I changed back onto meat and this time cast to the far bank where I knew two runs of streamer weed lay beneath the surface. I had a few knocks and bangs on the tip but kept lifting the rod and moving the bait around the swim until at 8pm the rain really started to come down making conditions under foot difficult to say the least.
Ten minutes later and just as I’d poured another cup of coffee the isotope made a sharp pull around to the left and kept going, as I lifted into it I knew it was a barbel as it was well hooked, the reel screamed under the strain and I stopped trying to brake it with my thumb, this is a big fish I thought as it peeled line off at a very rapid rate, maybe it was the carp that had snapped Big Dave and myself off in months gone by.
It was an unrelenting fight that lasted no more than about five minutes but the difference this time was in the action of the rod absorbing the lunges and eventually taming the fish, I gained some line back until it was in front of me, the rain was pelting down and I was soaked through to the skin but I didn’t care. I positioned the net ready to land the fish and it took off again this time upstream and into the snags on my right, I was telling myself ‘don’t lose it now’ when fortunately it turned and came back out in front, I couldn’t get it’s head up but at the last-minute it ran straight towards the bank and dived straight into the net at my feet!! unlucky for him but a relief for me.
On the mat it looked a lump and I was thinking 7+ but on the scales it managed 6lb 5oz, by no means a monster but most definitely the best fight I’ve had on chub tackle in a long time!!
Once returned he swam off strongly and, after the days missed opportunities I was really happy to have luck on my side and finally get one on the bank even if it wasn’t the target species. The fact that I’d caught a good few barbel recently on simply meat straight through on a size 6 hook made me wonder do we over complicate our barbel fishing when thinking hair rigged baits and cunning self hooking rigs?
After a good fight like that I knew the swim would need resting for at least a couple of hours so I took that as my cue to move swims for that last few hours and perhaps get a chub on last knockings. The rain had eased off so I attempted to get my gear up out of Shrinkers and onto the top of the bank, there then followed a number of attempts to scale the slippy bankside on my rope whilst balancing tackle with one hand and it served to teach me a valuable lesson in river fishing in that you might easily get down to a swim but you must always be certain you can get back up especially after heavy rain.
It was 10pm when I finally reached the gate swim where I’d lost the chub earlier, the clouds had cleared the wind had dropped and the stars were out illuminating the surrounding area. I set the barbel rod up with pellet and cast downstream between the two trees hoping it would draw a fish or two up to investigate, the last of the hemp and caster went in and the tip rod cast to the far bank allowing the flow to drop it just short of the dead tree I mentioned earlier.
The clocks were due to go back at 2am so I intended to fish until 1am meaning I’d be home early hours and with nothing planned for Sunday morning I’d be able to a much-needed lazy morning in bed. The hours passed and I realised the fishing had died off and apart from the occasional shaking of the bait by an eel the isotope remained still. I packed up at 1am and headed back to the car and then home to my lazy Sunday morning.
That’s it for October and I’m looking forward to a return visit next Saturday so November’s Blog may well be much of the same, the barbel are still likely to be caught whilst the water temperature remains at a reasonable level but chub will be my target species as I endeavour to outwit them on a weekly basis!!
If you want to follow Bob aka Grazy and his mates on their fishing exploits as they unfold I usually put a post up on Facebook when I’m out so click the button below.
Till next time tight lines,