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Autumnal Pursuits Part 2


A two day trip to the Wye had been planned a month or two ago and I was due to take an old mate up for some autumnal barbel and chub fishing.  Sadly he had to cancel but I decided I’d go anyway, albeit alone.  The Wye really does look fabulous at this time of the year and this particular beat is spectacular anyway.  It’s also in the middle of nowhere and you can often feel like you the last man alive, such is the solitariness and remoteness of the stretch.  This of course makes it all the more special and when you’re taking in the beautiful scenery alone, it often seems more acute and one’s senses seem more attuned with nature.

The Wye

The Wye

I had decided to go back to some more simple fishing over the two days.  I’d stopped off at Woody’s and picked up some lob worms, maggots, groundbait and a few feeders.  The idea was to have a dabble with the float and therefore have an opportunity to test out the new reel; a Daiwa 125m with rear drag.  I was looking forward to this.  I’ve owned a few close faced reels but have never really taken to them.  I like to play fish off of a drag and I have found the ABU’s wanting in that department in all honesty.  I love a centrepin and if the fishing is close to you, they are superb.  However when casting a bit father I find a centrepin more restrictive.  So this should be fun to test out the reel.  I also intended to link leger with lob worms, hoping to tempt a few chub and maybe a perch or two.  With so many great spots to target on this stretch I was confident of a fish or two.

So I came armed with a float rod, a 12ft 1lb TC Avon and the usual barbel rods.  First up was the float rod.  Fishing the Ocean Pride squabs directly on a size 12 ‘the hook’ unusually didn’t produce a bite.  Unfortunately the wind had sprung up and was a very breezy downstream affair, which made presentation extremely difficult.  Normally this method scores exceptionally well here and big bags of good quality chub and barbel can be taken.  So a change of plan was in order.  Out came the Avon rod, close faced reel and a simple triple swan shot link leger, size 6 ‘the hook’ and a big, fat juicy lob worm.  The idea was to simply cast around the pools and runs, allowing the bait to bounce around with a small lift of the rod top.  I was hoping it would entice a big stripey but it seemed the barbel had other ideas!

The first three casts produced 3 lovely, golden barbel and oh boy did they fight!  On the light Avon rod and close faced reel the fish fought well but I was never under gunned I can assure you.  After that the chub put in an appearance.  I started to move around and I was picking up seriously good chub in pristine condition.  They were all 4lb plus fish and weighing a few put them close to 5lbs.  By the end of the day I’d taken 15 chub and 8 barbel.  As the afternoon wore on I decided a rest was needed and so swapped to the more familiar feeder tactics.  As always this season I opted for the Caviar Pellets and some of the LA groundbait.  They seem to be a pretty deadly combination and as ever produced the goods with 5 barbel to almost 9lbs being taken.

Cracking Wye Barbel

Cracking Wye Barbel

It had been a wonderful first day back on the Wye.  We’d had quite a bit of overnight rain on the Tuesday and maybe this had helped a little.  The nighttime temperature was up and the rain had maybe breathed some life back into the river.  The following day was another story though.  I was joined by Danny Collins and Pete Robinson for the day.  Having had such a productive day yesterday, I was hopeful they would have a  few fish.  Sadly the fish didn’t comply.  We tried a number of swims and numerous methods and baits.  I took a number of big chub to worm again, including three fish on the bounce going 4lb 10oz, 4lb 12oz and 5lb 1oz.  However there was no sign of any barbel.  However I did tempt a couple of nice perch with the biggest touching 1lb 8oz.  Meanwhile Danny and Pete were struggling.

5lb 1oz

5lb 1oz

They moved swims after lunch and feeder fished a deep run with lots of bankside cover opposite.  Eventually their perseverance paid off and they had a barbel each plus a chub or two.  I ended up with 5 good chub all on worms.  I’d had a lovely couple of days on this wonderful river and in all honesty its a privilege to be able to fish here in these amazing surroundings.  I think the two guys enjoyed the visit albeit in one of it’s less productive moods.  Still I’m sure we’ll be back at some point over the winter for the quality of the chub fishing if nothing else.

4lb 10oz

4lb 10oz

Autumnal Pursuits Part 1


Perhaps September is one of the greatest fishing months in the barbel angler’s calender.  It often produces bigger than average fish, as they start to pack on weight ready for winter.  Added to that are the array of colours on the trees that can make a beautiful place into a simply stunning, breathtaking place.  I don’t think there’s a better time to be on a river for the sheer, dare I say, cornucopia of colours of varying hues and shades.  You just can’t get bored of it.

I had arranged with Geoff to pop up to the Trent for a couple of days fishing.  We wanted to try a couple of day ticket venues, one of which has produced a number of very large barbel.  The first stretch is well known to us but the word on the fishy grapevine was that the fishing was very slow.  The Trent, like many other rivers, was suffering with low water levels and flow.  The river was as low as I’ve ever seen it, which didn’t bode well.

The Trent

The Trent

I headed upstream and found a suitable looking spot.  I like this area of the stretch as it’s a long walk from the car park and therefore lightly fished.  I’ve had some memorable captures here and it rarely fails to produce good numbers of fish along with the occasional double.  Nothing big mind you, they tend to be scrapper doubles to be fair.  I started off in one swim but after a few hours without so much as a twitch, I opted to move into another very productive spot.  I like to get some bait out, so two rods armed with big feeders are cast every few minutes to get some bait out into the swim.  I’ll keep that up for about an hour and then recast every 15-20 minutes, depending on the action.

Well as the light started to fade so the rod top started dancing and soon the rod top whooped over and a nice feisty Trent barbel fought for freedom.  This action continued and I ended up with a number of chub and barbel.  I think 5 barbel in all to nearly 9lbs.  Not a particularly productive session but good fun and perhaps not a bad result considering.  I tried a few baits but the Lone Angler Caviar Pellets seemed to be working the best.  They have proven to be a very effective bait this season taking a large quantity of barbel and chub.  I must say I’m very impressed with them.

Meanwhile Geoff fared slightly less well, although he still took a couple of barbel and a chub or two, plus a few bream I think.  The next day we decided to try a different stretch famed for it’s very large barbel with fish to well over 17lbs reported.  On arrival we chatted to a couple of local guys who had been struggling recently.  Again the low level and lack of rainfall seemed to be the cause.  Perhaps the highlight of the day was seeing a couple of guys with swimming caps and goggles swimming up the river on the far bank.  I guess they were heading to the English Channel!!  Still that’s a new one on me.

It was pretty quiet when we arrived and the fishing was in the deep boat channel close in, just a couple of rod lengths out, which on the Trent makes a nice change.  Unfortunately as with all big fish venues, things started to change as the day wore on.  By late afternoon cars and vans started arriving and it felt like Custer’s Last Stand at the Little Big Horn.  We were slowly being surrounded on all sides by an army of barbel hunters and some didn’t seem to mind about fishing almost in our laps.  We were obviously in the popular swims.  One guy could have almost held hands with Geoff, had he been so inclined, as he was that close.  Geoff of course didn’t take too kindly to those intimidation tactics and simply cast right at the point the other guy was casting.  Eventually the bloke got fed up and moved blow me, luckily far enough away so as not to disturb my fishing.  Mind you not that it made any difference as I never had so much as a twitch.  With all of those anglers there, I think I heard of 1 bream being caught!

C’est La Vie!


What a fine fine figure of a man he cuts!!  Ignore the spelling mistake….it’s me really. :-)

Delighted to be on the front cover.  Thanks to Jez Brown for some superb photos.

 

Coarse Angling Today

Coarse Angling Today


Set in the heart of Kent’s garden of England lays many a Stately home and a castle or two.  I was invited to go and have a dabble at a castle fairly close to home; Chiddingstone Castle in fact.  I’ve never visited Chiddingstone Castle before, although I’ve cycled through the village and it’s a really beautiful English village.  If you do live in the area the village is well worth a look and the pub looks pretty fab too!

Chiddingstone Castle Lake

Chiddingstone Castle Lake

Within the grounds lies a stunning little estate lake.  In typical estate lake fashion there was an abundance of water lilies and the whole lake was lined with ancient oaks and an assortment of other towering trees of varying hues.  It really was beautiful and what a delightful spot to while away a few hours.  The castle looked splendid and offered an impressive backdrop to the lovely lake and grounds which are open to the public.  The lake is available on a day ticket at £10 which is for two rods, not that you’ll need two to be honest.

The Castle

The Castle

On arrival I found Buzz Peacock set up and fishing away.  He’d had a couple of perch and rudd.  I opted to try above him in a clear patch surrounded by lilies.  However on plumbing the depth I found only around 2 feet of water.  I decided to wander down the lake testing the depth as I went.  As I approached the lower end I found 5-6 feet of water and spotted several carp cruising around on the surface or just under it.

The lake holds wild carp, roach, rudd, perch and bream.  I believe it used to hold the British record bream at one time?  Anyway I decided to move down and Buzz joined me.  I baited up an area around 2 rod lengths out with Lone Angler’s groundbait with added maggots, casters and corn.  Soon fish were bubbling up in the swim and at one point there were so many bubbles bursting on the surface I was convinced  Jacques Cousteau was scuba diving in my swim!  I’d set up a simple waggler with a size 14 hook to nylon and fished 4lb mainline.  I had a selection of baits; sweetcorn, maggots, casters, bread and some hooker pellets.  The idea was to keep feeding all afternoon to hold the fish in the swim.  It worked a treat, there were fish constantly bubbling in the swim.

The fishing should have been quite hectic going by the activity in the swim, however I was distracted by the surface activity going on around me.  I’d thrown a few pieces of bread out and they were disappearing with a swirl and a gulp.  Each piece would be sucked in almost immediately by the carp.  I’ve fished for wild carp on an estate lake that a company I used to work for owned.  They had a couple of other smaller ponds as well as the main lake and they were all full of stunning wild carp.  The one bait that always sorted out the better specimens was a piece of floating crust or a large piece of floating flake.  I caught literally hundreds of long, lean and dark wildies up to 8lbs from these lakes.  An 8lb fish really is a tremendous specimen.  I was told it had produced a 10lb fish but I never saw one that big myself.

So I had to set up an Avon rod and a reel loaded with 4lb mainline straight through to a size 8 hook.  What a simple and exciting way to catch these beautiful fish.  A large piece of soft flake is folded over the hook, dunked in the lake and flicked out to where the fish are feeding.  In fact the fish seemed to be feeding everywhere by now.  It didn’t take long before a torpedo like wildie honed in on the bread and the line whizzed across the surface as the fish powered off with the bread.  A good solid strike and the reel’s clutch was screaming!  I like to keep the clutch on the loose side; mainly because these fish power off so hard and also if you are using a lighter setup it will prevent any unforeseen breakages.

 

So the action continued like this all afternoon until I packed up at around 6pm.  Throughout the day thunder and lightning storms had passed overhead.  The thunder reverberated around us and I saw one tremendous lightening bolt heading earth bound which really lit up the dark skies around us.  The rain was almost biblical at one point but then we were treated to a mixture of sunshine and clouds throughout the day.  We had a spell of heavy rain for around an hour mid afternoon but then it eased off and the sun came out and illuminated the lake in a splendour of colours.   What a place to spend an afternoon.

By the end of the day I’d taken at least a dozen wildies to close to 6lbs, roach, rudd and one nice bream.  I alternated between the float rod and the Avon but in all honesty couldn’t resist picking off the carp with the floating bread.  It’s such an exciting way to fish and just really good, simple fun.

A Stunning Wildie

A Stunning Wildie

Then came the highlight of the day; an incredible rumble of engines in the sky suggested something special was approaching and oh boy were we in for a treat.  A Spitfire appeared and the Rolls-Royce Merlin engines were unmistakable.  However what followed was unprecedented in my lifetime anyway; not one but two Lancaster Bombers rumbled past followed by a Hurricane fighter.  I watched spellbound as they flew past and felt a surge of pride for those that served in them during the war.  I don’t celebrate war and what it costs but I do find it very humbling knowing that so many brave men and women fought selflessly for our freedom.  I knew an amazingly humble, gentle man who was a navigator during WWII and who flew well over 30 missions.  He was a DFC and a gentleman.  I just feel so indebted to these people.

The Lancasters

The Lancasters

What a great way to end a fabulous days fishing in such a beautiful, unspoilt spot.

 


It’s been a long month stuck at work for me with no days off unfortunately.  It does drag a bit when you know you can’t get out.  However I decided I could at least have an afternoon and evening out on the river just the once during this period.  I managed to persuade Geoff to join me.  He was freshly returned from competing in Germany in the remote control speedboat World Championships.  He made the final and came a very creditable 6th.

Anyway we arrived bankside early afternoon.  The heavy rains of late had pushed the levels back up around 18 inches and the water had a nice tinge of colour to it.  in fact as we arrived there was a storm passing through; heavy rain, wind and thunder and lightening.  Still the river looked pretty much spot on for a barbel or two and there was a really good flow on the water as well and each swim looked inviting.

Lone Angler's Deadly Caviar Pellets

Lone Angler’s Deadly Caviar Pellets

I plumped for a narrow swim with a very deep gully.  I baited up with a few pellets and settled in to see what was in residence.  Soon the rod top was knocking and it wasn’t long before the double Lone Angler cav pellets were snaffled up by a greedy chub.  That went back and out went some fresh bait and a few more freebies.  Sadly I didn’t have any swim feeders with me or a bait dropper and so it was just a straight leger in use.  Depending on the venue, I often like to just trickle in a bait or two every few minutes to keep a trail of bait going in.  I think under the right circumstances in can work a treat. Suddenly the rod top hammered round  and it looked like a full on 3 foot twitch as Trefor would say.  However once I started playing this fish and despite it being very powerful,  I began to think this wasn’t a barbel.  Indeed it wasn’t.  It turned out to be a mirror carp of around 13lb-15lb.  Very nice too and it certainly put a bend in the rod.

Another chub soon followed and I started to get some sharp tappety tappety knocks.  I often think roach when this happens and so left the pellets out for quite a while to shrink in size.  It didn’t take too long and the culprit soon showed itself.  They were roach bites and a mint 1lb roach was netted and returned.  A little while later a much bigger bite produced what felt like a decent size fish.  The fish zig zagged and that usually means roach.  It popped up onto the surface and it looked a proper lump as they say.  Thank God it never came adrift and a magnificent roach lay in the folds of the landing net.  It looked a belter.  I weighed it in the net at 3lb 1oz so hoped once the net was deducted it would go over 2lbs but I really wanted to weigh the fish in a carrier bag.  I phoned Geoff and managed to get him to pop up with a bag and have a look at this magnificent fish.

Geoff took one look at the roach and agreed with me it looked to be around 2lb 2oz or so.  However the fishing Gods and the scales sadly were against me.  The fish weighed 1lb 14oz.  It was a new PB and an absolute minter of a fish.  I was delighted and I’m looking forward to some serious autumn and winter roach fishing here this season.

Geoff saved the barbel blanking day with a lovely fish of 8lb 12oz so we both went home very happy.


Yes, what a mixture!  I had arranged to meet some of my fellow Lone Angler and Pallatrax team mates on the banks of the Wye for a few days.  However things started to look a little unlikely having suffered with a dire bout of food poisoning a few days before the trip.  Despite feeling dreadful I decided to go anyway and in all honesty suffered for that decision.

The Wye

The Wye

However I arrived around 6pm and there was Lone Angler’s team boss Jez Brown ready to greet me.  Also there was Geordie Ray Pulford and David Lidstone both Pallatrax team members.  David runs the highly successful Emperor Lakes in Devon.  After a quick chat Jez and I headed downstream and we set up the float gear to try and tempt a barbel or two.  This was a two man job to be successful.  Initially I would fish whilst Jez did the baiting.  On every trot through Jez dropped 3 or 4 LA squabs right on the float.  We were both wading and I was casting across to the other bank.  Jez’s catapult technique was a work of art and it soon paid dividends.  The float plunged under and a powerful fish fought for freedom.

I soon had a nice tally of chub under my belt including a number of fish well over 4lbs.  These are big, chunky man’s chub here on this part of the Wye and they really are impressive fish.  It didn’t take too long to hook a barbel which fought like stink, only to find it was hooked in one of it’s pecs!  It was time for a role reversal and so Jez took control of the float rod and I displayed my own expertise with the catapult!  “Well there’s no need to be rude Jez” I said.  Still despite my efforts, he was soon into a few fish including a nice 7lb barbel.

After that I dabbled with a fly rod and then a spot of freelining all with either sausage sizzle, cheese mania or ocean pride squabs.  The squabs can easily be fished directly on the hook with some careful effort and are perfect for float fishing.  The chub and barbel really seem to go for them.  Its a great way to fish and each capture is very rewarding, particularly in the flow.

The following day I was joined by my good mate Danny.  We headed downstream to fish off of a shallow beach and spend some time trotting and then moving on to feeder tactics.  We waded out to waist deep water and were soon into a few fish.  They all turned out to be good sized chub with me losing the only barbel on float tactics.  After a few hours we decided to take a rest and sit down and feeder fish.  It was incredibly warm, although overcast and the humidity was seriously draining me.  I had to retire to my tent for a couple of hours sleep.  The effects of the food poisoning were still leaving me with little or no energy and feeling generally unwell.

After a rest we fished on until around 7pm before heading off to the b&b and dinner.  The fishing had been pretty slow in all honesty.  I think I had 4 barbel and certainly a dozen chub with a couple close to 5lbs.  Danny also managed a few nice fish.  This area of the Wye is stunning and it’s just a privilege to be able to fish here.  The following day we returned and fished the top end of the beat.  We fished into a deep gully on the far bank and my rod hooped over almost immediately.  Two barbel later all went quiet.  By now the sun was up and the heat was becoming unbearable.  I wandered off and tried a few other spots before grabbing the float rod and taking a brace of 5lb chub.

The smile says it all.

Dan managed a few barbel too and a couple of chub but by around 2.30pm the sun was beating down relentlessly and I was still feeling ill, so I decided to call it a day and head the 180 miles home.  We’d had a couple of nice days in good company and I can’t wait to get back but hopefully after we’ve had some decent rain and a drop in temperatures.

 

 


Ah good old Frankie Howerd and Up Pompeii….Pompeii, Salute, naughty, naughty, Up Pompeii.

Up Pompeii

Up Pompeii

Sorry, very self indulgent!  I spent a couple of days on a local river, new to me this season.  Its a small and intimate river with boundless twists and turns, overhanging tress and a great variety of depths and flows.  Having done so well recently on the Lone Angler Caviar pellets, I decided for the time being to stick with them as feed and hook bait.  I like to feed a mixture of 6mm and 8mm, not too much mind, just enough to get a fish or two foraging for them.

I found a cracking little swim below a small weir where the river narrows and flows past lots of overhanging trees.  It screamed barbel.  I opted for a 3 foot hooklength made from coated braid and a size 10 hook, although sadly not my normal make.  About half an hour prior to casting I put out a small handful of the mixed Cav pellets and then set-up.  I crept down the bank and swung out the rig to the far bank, letting it swing down slightly into the flow.  I kept the rod top low to the water and sat back to wait.  “Hmm perhaps a coffee would go down well” I thought.  I turned to grab the flask and heard my ratchet go on the reel!  I quickly turned back to find the rod with an alarming bend in it.  Grabbing the rod I pulled into a very powerful fish.  I managed to keep it out of the trees opposite and it changed tact by heading upstream.  It was a very powerful fish.  Under pressure from the rod, the fish rolled on the surface three times just in front of me and I could see it was a nice double.  As the barbel dived again everything went slack; the hook had pulled! “Oh what a hoot” I thought!

Caviar Pellets

Caviar Pellets

The hook appeared to be OK, although slightly smaller than I would have preferred (I really must re-stock on some decent hooks), but showed no signs of the point turning over or any other anomaly, so I guess it was just bad luck.  I did notice however that there was quite a bit of weed on the hook and bait and as further events unfolded, I began to realise the significance of this problem.  I decided to move after another hour when no more action materialised.   I headed up into a small weir.  I leaded around the swim to check depths and soon found a few areas to try.  Eventually I fished downstream of a large tree in the water and soon the rod top ripped round.  Initially I thought I was into another barbel but sadly not.  It turned out to be a small carp of around 6lbs.  A welcome fish but not quite what I was after.

Soon after that the tip yet again whacked round and this time a barbel was on.  After a spirited fight I drew the fish towards the net when yet again the hook pulled.  This was getting tiresome.  Again the hook was covered in weed, as it often was today when I reeled in.  I realised the weed was probably prohibiting the point from penetrating cleanly and resulting in poor hookups.  It was very disappointing to loose another barbel and I hoped for a final chance as the evening wore on.  Luckily the opportunity presented itself again and this time I succeeded in netting a barbel of around 61/2lbs.

The following day we returned.  The flow of the previous day had eased and the colour from the river had dropped out slightly.  In all honesty it looked less inviting.  Today I wanted to rove a bit more and try and explore much more of this delightful river.  So a few swims were visited throughout the day, which is useful to build up a picture of the river in terms of depth and what type of bottom structure is present.  There appeared to be plenty of gravel which is very encouraging.  The river has lots of deep runs and holes to explore and so much cover in terms of fallen trees and other inviting features to fish.

I dropped into a swim with a fallen tree lying in the water and a really good flow pushing into the snag.  I baited up with a few pellets and dropped in a baited rig.  I started to get a few knocks and then a constant tap, tap, tap indicated something had hooked itself.  I was delighted to see a flash of silver as a fish turned in the water on reeling in. It turned out to be a lovely roach of 1lb 10oz and bodes well for some winter roach fishing.

1lb 10oz

1lb 10oz

A few more swims were visited until I dropped into my final swim of the day.  I soon had a chub of around 3lb 12oz in the net and 3 more followed with the best going bang on 4lbs.  Then the tip slammed round and a barbel tore off downstream.  I managed to coax it back upstream and was beginning to think it was close to netting when yet again the hook pulled!  No real reason emerged for the loss, so I can only put it down to bad luck.  That was three barbel out of four over the two days.  Very careless indeed and how right the Soothsayer was; “Woe, Woe and Thrice Woe”

“Oh shut yer gob” as Frankie would say!

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