Another season draws to an end and all too quickly. The years seem to fly by. I remember, as I’m sure we all do, when in my younger days the adults would always proclaim that years pass far quicker when you’re older. At the time it seemed a silly notion but I’m beginning to see the truth of that statement.
Geoff and I decided to see out the last session (for me anyway) on the Trent. We have been fortunate with the weather over the last week or so; much better day time temperatures often reaching well into double figures and not too much rain. The downside seemed to be close to zero night time temperatures which would obviously keep the water temps down too. Despite that, a river like the Trent always gives you a chance of a fish or two.
I particularly like using maggots at this time of the year, providing the water isn’t too coloured. A few pints of maggots with a liberal spray of Ocean Pride or Sausage Sizzle, can really produce a mixed bag; roach, dace, chub, bream and barbel love em too. If you can keep a good steady trickle going in, it won’t take too long before the barbel move in and start hoovering them up. To do this successfully you do need 5 or 6 pints though. Down here in the south that would cost a small fortune. Maggots are around £3.20 per pint at my local shop, compared to Nottingham where you’ll only pay about £1.50, less than half price.
I intended to fish one rod with a big maggot feeder with 6 or 7 maggots on a size 12 and on the other rod a double caviar pellet and groundbait feeder. During the winter months I would introduce less groundbait than I would in the summer, however where maggots are concerned I tend to pile them in, so regular casting with a big feeder will start to pull the fish in. In my groundbait mix I will put in 6mm and 8mm Lone Angler caviar pellets which I just mix into the dry groundbait and then add water creating a nice sticky mixture. This stays in the feeder a bit longer and that way I don’t need to cast as much, perhaps every 20-30 minutes. In the summer I would be casting every 5 minutes for the first hour and then down to 15 minutes after that.
My first choice of swim was between some trees, which offered me shelter from a very strong, chilly wind. The temperature today was actually pretty good; around 12-15c but the wind chill made it feel much cooler at times. Sadly this first swim was very tight and on a steep slope. With heavy rain forecast for that afternoon I decided to move into a safer swim. I moved upstream into an area I’ve done well in before. By now it was around 1pm and with rain predicted for about 3pm onwards I thought I would quickly pop upstream to another stretch where pals Danny and Pete were fishing. After a good chinwag, I returned to my swim to get some bait in and hope it would produce a fish or two.
On the way back I could hear the sound of a hunt horn sounding. It seemed the hunt was on the other side of the river and I stopped to watch the dogs in action. Several large stags broke cover and headed across the meadows followed closely by the pack dogs, which were by now baying like crazy as their excitement reached a crescendo. The huntsmen were furiously blowing their bugle and eventually the dogs returned. It certainly added a bit of excitement to the afternoons proceedings.
I returned to my swim and cast out both rods. The noise opposite had died down and I watched what looked like a red kite flying just over the tree line. I had a good view of the bird and I’m 95% certain it was a kite. Geoff only caught a brief glimpse and he also felt it was a kite. If so, it is the first we’ve seen of them here. (we saw a further one on our way home but not far from where we were fishing, so it makes it likely that the first sighting was indeed a kite). Suddenly the left hand rod banged and the tip started dancing. This was the maggot feeder rod and I pulled into the culprit. It was a very spirited fight and resulted in a small barbel. A couple more followed and they seemed to be getting a bit bigger. Geoff reported that he too had caught a couple, one of which was 8lb 15oz.
It was great to catch and we hoped for maybe one or two more before the end of the session. The forecast was not good, with heavy rain predicted between 3-6 pm. However we were lucky, other than some steady drizzle and showers we passed the session more or less dry. Suddenly my maggot rod whooped over and as I was playing the fish, the other rod went too. A double hookup, always a bit of a commotion when this happens. I lost the first fish in a snag, for a while I could feel the fish and then the fish was gone but I was still caught up in something. Eventually it went solid and I pulled for a break. I did however manage to land the 2nd fish.
I finished the session on 8 barbel, with the best two going 8lb 7oz and 9lb 6oz and a couple of 4lb+ chub. Geoff managed five barbel to 9lb 10oz and chub, roach and bream. Quite a mixed bag. By 8.30 it was raining steadily but certainly only a heavy sort of drizzle. We headed back to the car fairly pleased with the results. Danny had tempted the only fish on the upper section but at 10lb 14oz it was a good ‘un at least.
After a hearty breakfast where fellow guest Dave aka Meddy Man joined us, we headed back to the river for just a couple of hours before heading off. We were doubtful of catching much but thought it was worth a go for a short time. The weather was good and the temperature at 9.30am was already around 12c and rose to 15c later in the day. Out went two rods and I pinned my hopes on the maggot feeder. I soon had a couple of roach and dace landed when my next strike connected with something much stronger and angrier. After a really hard fight I landed and released a lovely 7lb 8oz barbel. A couple more promising bites failed to produce a fish and it was time to go.
We attended Keith Speer’s funeral on our way home. Keith did a huge amount for the Association of Barbel Fishers and both Geoff and I wanted to say our farewells to this great man. We were astonished at the number of people attending, it must have been several hundred. That really is a fitting tribute to a much loved and admired man.