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Angling for Health?


Most non-anglers have a perception of fishing as a sedentary sport, where fisherfolk sit motionless for endless hours, staring at a float or a rod tip.  Is this a realistic view of the UK’s biggest participant sport?

 

Well as an angler, I would, of course, dispute this belief.  There are branches of our beloved sport, or pastime if you will, that do fit this image of a non-physical activity. However, there are other fishing pursuits that fully embrace the physical side, generally associated with the term ‘sport’.

 

I can only speak of my own passion for angling and what it gives to me.  I’m lucky to be in a position that allows me the opportunity to pursue my chosen pastime pretty much wherever and whenever I want.  I travel throughout England and Wales in pursuit of my chosen quarry and I’m very lucky to have some like-minded friends to share those experiences with.  That’s a big thing for me and my fishing; good friendship.  To socialise and share experiences with good friends, or like-minded people, goes a long way to ensure that our wellbeing is being catered for.

The greatest pleasure derived from my angling experiences is being out in the great British countryside, breathing in fresh air and enjoying the sights and sounds of nature.  Whether it’s summer, autumn, winter or spring, each season brings a change in the flora of our surroundings.  The changes in lushness and colour. Changes in the luxuriant growth of summer to the crisp, frosty mornings of winter, where the ice sparkles in the sunlight.  Being outside offers a chance to escape the mundane, day to day chores that life throws at us.

I particularly enjoy river fishing.  I love the wildness of a river.  It’s unmanicured banks, thick foliage and unpredictable nature.  The sounds of flowing water are enchanting.  It’s therapeutic and almost spiritual.  It offers an escape, a cure, a tonic perhaps, from the day to day harsh realities of everyday life.  Walking mile upon mile in search of the right swim, the right spot, with the right flow, whilst carrying a backpack, rod, chair, net and a plethora of barely-used tackle, can only help to keep one fit and healthy.

Summer and winter can see me in chest waders working a float through numerous swims, testing the flow and depths and searching out the fish.  It’s an active method and a day stood in the river can leave the body aching and tired but with a feeling of being alive and being almost part of the river itself.

Even fishing with a static bait can involve covering much distance.  I’ll still wander the stretch of river, trying likely looking spots and if nothing materialises, I’ll move on again until I find the right one.  This way many miles can be covered as I wander up and down stretches, dropping into likely swims before moving to the next.  Sometimes I’ll tuck myself away amongst the bankside vegetation and sit quietly watching the world go by.  It’s at these quiet times that nature simply comes to you.

I’ve been very lucky to see otters frolicking in the river just feet from me, the flash of the iridescent blue kingfisher as it hurtles past, or sits perched on a branch waiting to dive into the clear waters.  I’ve even had kingfishers land on my fishing rod as I’ve watched quietly, in awe.  I’ve been within a few feet of barn owls, fallow, roe and muntjac deer.  I’ve watched enthralled at the antics of stoats and weasels as they tumble and frolic together in a frenzied dance.  I’ve seen mighty red kites swoop down at prey within spitting distance of me and buzzards, peregrines, harriers and kestrels.  I’ve heard the captivating sounds of ravens as they have made their deep, gurgling croak hidden in the trees.  I’ve watched birds of prey circling high above, riding the thermals and listened to those haunting cries echoing through the skies.

Fishing offers escapism, breathtaking scenery, nature and wildlife, exercise and a feeling of wellbeing, that only the countryside and maybe the concentration of fishing can offer.  I have yet to mention the fishing itself….well perhaps that’s for another time.  However, needless to say, it’s the instinct buried deep within us; to hunt.  To track down and tempt our chosen quarry.  For me, the greatest sight of all is seeing that fish, that we’ve worked so hard at to catch, swim strongly away and back into the flowing waters, where it may never see a hook again.  There is a beauty in each fish and each species of fish that is hard to define but any angler would smile at the mere description of a magnificent roach, chub, grayling or barbel.

After a day on the river, I feel healthier, more alive and more enriched than I can describe.  If that’s not good for the body and mind, then I don’t know what is!

For further information on promoting positive health and well being please visit: https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/

 

 

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Hurricanes and Barbel


As Hurricane Ophelia slammed into the shores of Ireland on Monday, Geoff and I headed to Robin Hood country to try and locate some late Autumn barbel.  We targeted a couple of Worksop stretches and another club water.

The forecast was pretty good prior to leaving but the imminent landfall of Hurricane Ophelia meant that the forecasters didn’t really know quite what to expect.  As we arrived at our first port of call, we were greeted by a dark and brooding sky.  It had an almost surreal look to it; ash coloured but not really cloudy.  It looked almost like a vast dust cloud.  Peeping through this gloom was a blood-red sun, almost malevolent in its appearance.  Was this the end of the world?  Only time would tell.  As we set up the rods, the winds gained in strength and gusted to over 50mph.  Although there appeared to be little threat of rain, the wind was causing more than enough problems.  Huge waves lashed at the banks and the rod tops bounced around in the gale like conditions.

It was a chilly day until at last, the winds pushed away the dark dust and the sun broke through, gently warming the air.  Apparently, the dust was, in fact, Saharan sand and was further flamed by the smoke of the Portuguese forest fires. Armageddon would have to wait it seemed.

We fished a very deep bend, possibly 12ft deep.  The river bed was clear gravel and promised much. For the first 90 minutes, I kept casting every 5 or 6 minutes to get some bait out. A 4oz feeder was ample to hold bottom and a 3-4ft hook-link with double 12mm caviar pellets finished off the set-up.  Sadly nothing materialised that day, not even a twitch on the rod top and as the wind had battered us throughout the day, we decided to call it an early night and headed off to the hotel for some dinner. Steak and chips soon improved the mood, along with a pint of Kronenberg!  The wind, it seemed, hadn’t quite died down and had somehow moved indoors!  However, it turned out to be Geoff!  He had obviously eaten something which was reacting in an unsociable sort of way with the environment (and me).  The next day he was long trotting, to coin a fishing analogy!  Luckily it soon passed and he was back fighting fit.

The next two days proved fruitful, for me at least.  I managed to bank 12 barbel to a new Trent PB of 11lb 10oz and around 8 or 9 chub to probably 4lb+.  I also had another double of 10lb 3oz and several 9s to 9lb 11oz.  All in all, not a bad few days.  The fish were taken on fairly standard feeder tactics; long hooklinks and double 12mm caviar pellets.  The barbel fought like stink. Some of the hardest fights I can remember ever having.  I lost another good double right at the net, as it powered away for one last dive and the hook pulled, despite a well-set clutch.  Gutted!

11lb 10oz

Geoff didn’t fare so well but still managed barbel to over 9lbs and some chub and bream.  We seemed to have struggled recently on the Trent and we’re not quite sure why.  Perhaps maggots may have been more successful in the clear water conditions?

We have done a number of trips up to the Wye this year and found that sport was also slow there, generally speaking.  I think between Geoff, Kevin and myself we have had the odd good day, taking upwards of a dozen barbel to one angler.  However more often than not we’ve been scratching around for 2 or 3 fish.  This is rather unusual for the Wye, to say the least!  Again it could be the conditions; apparently, the Wye has had the lowest oxygen levels for the past 70 years.  I don’t know how true that is but it obviously would have a severely detrimental effect on the fishing.  The other reason being a lack of ability!

A recent Wye fish

With the winter fast approaching the barbel rods will be hung up for the remainder of the season.  There may be an occasional barbel session if the weather proves to be mild enough.  Now I’m looking forward to some grayling fishing on the Frome and some chub and roach fishing on the Avon.

The Avon

 

 

 

 

Early Spring Gold


March 15th…..A sad day for any river angler, as the 15th signals the end of the river season and the start of the closed season on flowing water.  I enjoy the break and I’m sure it does the rivers and foliage good.  That’s not to say I entirely agree with it but that’s another story.

So with the 3 month break now firmly in place, the weather has turned into glorious sunshine with warm days and nights.  With thermometers peaking at around 17 or 18c, it really is a sign that winter is over and that summer is just around the corner.  Let’s hope that’s not too premature and winter doesn’t make an untimely comeback!

As the weather was so delightful and work had stopped me from getting back onto a river in the last couple of weeks, I wanted to get bankside somewhere.  I decided to head to Bury Hill and my thinking was that with such mild conditions of late, both during the day and at night, the crucians might be active.  I enjoy a few sessions at Milton Lake, although I prefer it when the bankside vegetation has emerged a bit more and the reeds and lily pads are mature.  I would think another month of this weather and most lakes will look completely different.  The trees, hedgerows and water plants will be in full bloom and growing like mad.  It transforms that rather grey, drab look of winter into a spectacular mix of colours that makes spring and summer in England so special.

I was armed with several baits at my disposal.  Maggots, casters, luncheon meat (small cubes) and hooker pellets would be my choice of hook baits and I had some of my trusty Lone Angler Ocean Pride groundbait to get the fish rooting about in the silt.  I tend to add in a good mix of my hookbaits to the groundbait and keep a steady trickle going in all day, particularly in these warmer conditions.  Tackle was pretty standard stuff; 14ft float rod, fixed spool reel loaded with 4lb line, a small insert waggler and a 16 hook to 3.6lb hooklink.  I could use all of my baits on that one size of hook and the tackle was sturdy enough to deal with just about any size fish that came along, even the odd rogue carp, if one materialised.   As always, it is essential to plumb the depth and make sure, as near as possible, that the bait is just resting on the bottom.  Crucian’s are the trickiest of biters, at times frustrating and infuriating and can lead to serious bouts of tourettes!!

Today was no exception!  Some bites were barely discernible. The merest twitch or dip.  They were so cautious and so tentative you could easily pass it off as a fish brushing against the line.  However a few strikes met with resistance, as a crucian put up a very spirited fight.  Often though they signaled either a missed bite or a bumped off fish.  I lost around 10 crucians and missed probably 30 bites.  I started off with maggots and they produced an almost instant bite.  The result was a beautiful golden crucian of around 1.25lbs.  After that I couldn’t buy a bite on maggots.  I switched to caster; nothing.  I switched to small cubes of luncheon meat…nothing.  Small green hooker pellets….nothing.  Small 6mm white hooker pellets…..bite!  It was these small white hookers that they seemed to want and I managed to tempt 11 more crucians before it went dead, around 3pm.

It’s strange how they just seem to want one bait and will ignore all else that’s presented to them.  I decided to try the 6mm green ones after a long hiatus and this produced the odd fish, a few bumped off and a number of missed bites.  I had hoped that as the day wore on and the light faded, the roach or even crucians, might switch on.  Sadly they didn’t.  I ended up with 15 crucians or brown goldfish.  Yes all that glitters is not gold.  A number of my crucians appeared to be hybrids or brown goldfish.  There were no big fish, so it really didn’t matter what they were and it was fun to catch them.  Had they have been 3lb or even 4lb+ then that would have been a different matter all together.  There are many a big ‘crucian’ that turn out to be something very different.

Still, I had a pretty good day in glorious sunshine and even got a touch of sunburn!  Not bad for March.  I’m sure I’ll be back again soon and hopefully I’ll track down some of those elusive big roach that reside in Milton.

Hampshire’s Finest


The title is certainly not a description of me or any other angler, but the fast flowing rivers that make Hampshire such an iconic destination for any river angling enthusiast.

Day 1 saw me treading those hallowed banks of perhaps Hampshire’s most famous of rivers; the Avon.  The Avon cuts it’s way through Wiltshire and Hampshire before entering the sea at Christchurch, which is now part of Dorset.  At times the river meanders it’s way through open fields, with barely a tree in sight and in other parts it cuts through heavily tree lined banks where thick foliage offers the angler some much needed cover.  Much of the Avon where I fish is lined with dense reeds or rushes.  They stand tall and shield the angler from the quarry.  They also offer plenty of cover for the fish, with deep undercuts to provide sanctuary to chub and barbel.

The Avon

The Avon

Today I was primarily after chub.  This area holds chub to over 7lbs, although they are a rare beast indeed.  Of course the Avon is also famed for it’s roach, however some much needed reconnaissance is required before I target these most beautiful of fish.  A great deal of my time will be spent fish spotting throughout the spring and summer months.  The river will be gin clear by then and the ability to see the fish will allow me to start to log where roach are and where they might be come the winter months.  Hemp and tares will be used during those warm days, so hopefully a roach or two will succumb to my float tactics during the summer.  Hopefully come next Autumn I will have built up a much better picture of fish holding areas and give me a much increased chance of some big roach.

However today, as I said, I was after some chub.  Tactics were very simple.  A 12 foot Avon quiver tip rod (3oz glass tip), fixed spool with 6lb mainline, size 6 hook and a cage feeder.  The only bait used was breadflake, which is simply a deadly bait for chub.  Of course it’s also a deadly bait for roach too and I’ve even caught a few barbel on bread, so anything could turn up.  The hooklength was around 3 feet.  I use liquidised bread in the feeder and a pinch a flake on the hook.  It makes for a cheap days bait at around £3.00, which makes a pleasant change.  Maggots in Kent are now around £3.50 a pint and casters £3.90, so a few pints is the best part of a tenner these days.

My plan was to fish a swim for an hour and move on.  The only downside was the forecast.  Originally it had been really good for today, however the day previously it had changed to 2-3 hours of heavy rain.  This meant I was taking my umbrella and a few extra items of clothing.  I find fishing in heavy rain rather tiresome and I therefore fish less effectively.  Today I was fortunate to be fishing with good mate Jez Brown and he even treated me to breakfast, what a good chap he is!  So the plan was to leap frog swims downstream looking for good chub swims.

The Hampshire Avon

The Hampshire Avon

Jez was into a fish almost instantly, a nice fish of a few pounds.  Soon after I was netting a nice chub too.  I had found a lovely swim just below some sunken bushes, with tall rushes lining the bank.  A few yards downstream were a number of partially sunken trees and it just screamed chub.  The depth was good at around 4ft.  Soon after the first, the tip tapped for a second time and arched round. The result was a slightly better chub nudging 4lbs.  They were in immaculate condition and fought quite hard.  Sadly the rain had started by now and was pretty heavy.  I headed back to the car to put my thermal waders on to keep warmer and drier.  We lost around 2 hours fishing.

Avon Chub

Avon Chub

I worked my way downstream, although nowhere near as far as I’d hoped.  I simply had too much gear to carry for traveling any great distance.  Despite this I did fish around 4 or 5 swims.  They all looked superb and I ended the day with 5 chub to around 4lbs and a couple of trout.  I missed two absolutely unmissable bites too! Jez had headed off early and so I packed up around 5.30.  I would have liked to have stayed a bit longer but I was off to the Itchen the following morning and had the long drive back to Kent to contend with in the meantime.

The following day saw me on the lower Itchen Fishery with Peter Bentley, a fly fishing friend who came with me last year to trot the Itchen for grayling.  That was his first foray into float fishing and grayling fishing and he managed to catch a few fish.  This time I thought the LIF gave us a bit more water to tackle and hopefully a few more fish.  We didn’t arrive at the river until almost 11.30am and we were looking to pack up around 4.30, so we had around 5 hours to get stuck in.

We were soon tackled up and ready to rock and roll.  The tackle today were 2 14ft float rods, centrepins loaded with 3lb line and either a 2g Avon float or chubber.  Bait was sweetcorn and maggots.  I always look for some smooth water, regardless of depth.  We were soon running floats through swims and the fish were biting.  Peter was in first and landed a spirited little grayling.  Others followed.  We stopped around 2.30 for coffee and a sandwich before exploring a bit more water downstream.

The Lower Itchen Fishery

The Lower Itchen Fishery

Most swims produced a few fish and I think between us we ended up with probably 20 grayling and a dozen trout.  As always, almost as many were lost as we caught, but that’s often the way with grayling.  On our way out of the fishery I bumped into Danny who had caught a nice barbel from the bottom end.  It wasn’t a monster but more than welcome.

 

Dorset Dazzlers


I’m not sure if the ‘dazzlers’ are the Dorset grayling or Geoff, Kevin and myself, although I think I know the answer!

A three day trip to the Dorset Frome had been planned and the forecast a day or two before indicated pretty favorable weather conditions, however it turned out to be tougher than expected. So the three Musketeers headed off in search of those legendary Frome monsters.  As usual we stayed with John Aplin at the Dairy House.  He looks after us really well and having the annexe gives us plenty of room.  There’s even a tackle shed where you can store your wet gear if needs be.

The sitting room has a lovely open fire

The sitting room has a lovely open fire

The first day of our adventure saw light winds and a reasonably overcast day.  The temperature was mild and conditions seemed ideal.  The river is still a little low and could probably do with a good flush through.  That should clear some of the remaining weed and push the levels up a little for the winter.

I opted to fish several swims, rotating them frequently throughout the day.  First up was a nice bend ending with a shallow riffle.  The depth was around 3 feet and all gravel.  There appeared to be very little weed here.  A few trots through determined the depth and I opted for a 2g wire stemmed Avon.  They have a nice bulbous tip which can still be seen clearly at 20-30 yards. I decided to fish the shot in groups of 2 spaced out up the line with a No 6 dropper shot 6-8 inches from the hook.  The hook was a size 14 Kamasan B983 and is a great grayling hook.  Bait was a mixture of bronze and red maggots with sweetcorn as a backup.

After a few trots through the float buried and a nice pound grayling came to the net.  A few more followed but nothing big.  I went for a recce upstream and soon found a swim I really fancied trying.  I would have to wade to be able to fish it due to the towering waterside reeds here.  I managed to slip into the water and was wading in around 2 1/2 feet.  I was trotting down the reeds in maybe 3 feet of water.  The float soon buried and a really good fight ensued.  The fish was twisting and turning and the gun metal grey flank indicated it was a grayling.  After a couple more sightings of the fish during the fight I could see it was a reasonable fish.  After a few heart stopping moments I eventually landed my prize. It was a lovely 2lb 2oz fish.  Another smaller fish followed and then after a short rest I landed another fine grayling of 2lb 4oz.  The swim died after that and by now the wind had really picked up and made fishing here very difficult.

2lb 2oz

2lb 2oz

Due to the strengthening wind I chose to fish below the road bridge.  Again wading provided me with the best opportunity to fish this swim and I was soon into another grayling.  The fish here were not big, averaging 10-12oz but there were plenty of them.  There was also a good head of dace too and some right little crackers; probably a few were around the 6-7oz mark.  I ended the day with two dozen grayling and maybe 8-10 dace plus a few trout.  All in all a pretty good day.  Geoff had managed 15 grayling and Kevin 12 but nothing particularly big.

2lb-grayling

2lb-grayling

Day two saw 40mph winds and some spells of heavy rain.  We managed a handful of fish between us but it was a testing day and I was glad when it was over.  We enjoyed a great meal and a pint of ‘Proper Job’ at the Wise Man in West Stafford that night, which helped improve our moods!

Some of the locals

Some of the locals

The last day was also rather testing with high winds and the occasional blustery shower.  Not too many fish found the net today however I did manage to find and tame another 2lb grayling and also had a right old tussle with a salmon which looked around 5-6lb.  I think I had 3-4 grayling, a few trout and the salmon.  We packed up early with Kevin being the top rod today with 8 grayling.

It was a tough few days in Dorset but it did produce some lovely fish and I’m sure we’ll be back soon chasing those legendary monster grayling.

The best brace of the trip - courtesy of John Aplin!

The best brace of the trip – courtesy of John Aplin!

Chalk Stream Redfins


I might be wrong but roach seem to be making a bit of a comeback, despite the odds.  In particular there are quite a few rivers that seem to be producing good numbers of red-fins including the odd clonker over the last season or two.  Good news for us river anglers.

It's quality roach like this that keeps me coming back for more!

It’s quality roach like this that keeps me coming back for more!

I headed to Hampshire for a spot of chalk stream roaching.  There is a good mixture of water here; from deep pools to shallow, gravel runs, and long glides to tackle.  We started off in a deep pool that shallowed up and ran off onto fast flowing gravels of just a few inches deep.  A large piece of breadflake and a feeder packed with crumb was the tactics of choice.  We picked the edge of the crease.  Casting needed to be precise, a little off the mark and the roach didn’t want to know.  We both managed a couple of nice pound plus roach, quite a few grayling and the odd trout.

We decided to move and I fancied a go on the float.  Light tackle was set-up and a spot chosen.  The area just below an island offered up a nice long crease to fish.  The depth was good; probably 5ft of mainly gravel with the odd spot of weed.  A few trots down sorted the depth and just holding back the float slightly allowed the bait to trickle down the run.  The swim looked perfect but it does hold a few pike and once a few small roach and dace started to come to the net the pike moved in.  Despite this the biggest dace was probably around 10oz and finally the float buried and that tell tale jagging indicated a better roach.  After an exciting fight, with a big pike following the roach almost to my feet (I was wading to just below the waist), I finally netted my best roach of the day.  At 1lb 7oz it wasn’t headline news but was a belter of a fish.  It certainly made my day.

By now it was 2pm and so we decided to head back up to the mill pool.  Again targeting a particular area with flake and breadcrumb.  More grayling, dace and trout followed but eventually a nice roach fell to my fishing companion’s rod.  It was 1lb 10oz and made a nice accompaniment to his earlier fish of 1lb 9oz and  several more 1lb+ roach followed that one.  I managed to tempt a nice fish of approximately 1lb 4oz.  By now the light had faded and it was almost 5.30pm.  My quiver tip bent right round and on striking a large roach broke the surface.  This was followed by raised and rather excited voices.  Things like “please don’t come off” and “don’t go to hard on it”, “Oh God please don’t come off”, “watch out for the weed”, “walk back, walk back” and “come on, come on, get it in the net”!!  We both sounded like a couple of excitable school children catching their first ever fish from a local pond.

Eventually the fish was coaxed into the net and hoisted out to the wonderment of our eyes.  It looked simply huge.  It had a massive frame and we slipped it into a carrier bag to weigh.  The scales were zeroed and it was that time.  We both looked at this magnificent, pristine roach and both thought it looked 2lb 8oz – 2lb 12oz.  Well it didn’t quite live up to those ambitious estimations, however at 2lb 4oz it was a new PB and an absolute minter.

2lb-4oz

2lb-4oz

My hands were still shaking during the photographing of this magnificent specimen and the smile will last for a very long time.  We slipped her back and with a powerful kick of her tail she disappeared back into the dark pool.  We carried on for a while but only big sea trout seemed to be present.  We had managed to tempt lots of roach with around 10-12 over a pound.  Not a bad days fishing really! 🙂

 

 

 

Notts Bound


At last the opportunity arose to get up to Nottingham and return to the mighty River Trent.  It’s been a long time since we cast into the murky depths of this amazing Midlands river. Geoff and I headed to our first of two destinations on a Worksop stretch.  This area is a little narrower and in places, fairly well tree lined.  Last time around and in my absence, Kevin managed to entice a stunning 12lb+ fish from this stretch.  Not bad considering Kevin’s health prevents him from fishing very much.  In fact this was possibly his first trip of the season.

Kevin's 12lb Worksop Barbel

Kevin’s 12lb Worksop Barbel

The level close in is deep, and I mean deep; probably 12 feet just off of the rod top.  The downside is that in places it’s strewn with rocks, so a bit of a tackle graveyard.  There are some clear spots though and it’s nice to be able to fish close in for a change.  On this occasion I wanted to head downstream to an area that I’d looked at before.  Although slightly more open, it just looked fishy!  I was hoping that the level would be more in the region of 6-8 feet and with a gravel bottom.  In fact it pretty much matched what I was hoping for.

Geoff set-up his stool just downstream of me and by now it was probably 5.30pm.  We hoped to fish through till about 1am or so.  During the evening I started to see quite a few fish topping, including some sizeable fish.  Both Geoff and I also started to pick up a few bream, which this area is known for.  I think Geoff weighed his biggest bream in at over 6lbs, not a bad fish.  We both had around 6-8 bream apiece throughout the session.

Luckily the upstream rod hooped over and at last a barbel surged off into the depths.  This felt a decent fish and after a protracted fight I eventually landed what looked like a scraper double.  I was delighted with the scales’ result at 10lb 2oz.  Geoff offered to take a photo and whilst I was resting the fish in the landing net the other rod whacked round and that resulted in a 9lb 2oz barbel.  Not a bad brace really.

Geoff had by now caught a barbel as well and I followed those two up with fish of 8lb 14oz and 9lb 8oz.  Overall I was pretty chuffed with the results in an area I hoped would be productive.  I’m sure we’ll be back here soon.

The next day saw us head to a far more famous stretch of the Trent; Gunthorpe Weir.  We went for a recce first and then lugged the tackle up to the weir itself.  I fished pretty much opposite the wall of the lock, just downstream of the weir.  The flow was good and favoured our bank and the depth appeared to be around 6/7 feet with a clear gravel bottom.

The set-up was probably typical Trent stuff; 2 x 1.75lb Torrix barbel rods, 12lb mainline, 3-4ft Suffix Camfusion coated braid hooklinks and size 12 hooks.  I fished double 8mm caviar pellets on both rods.  I also used 3oz cage feeders packed with Ocean Pride groundbait with added 6mm and 8mm caviar pellets mixed in.  I also put in a glug of liquid anchovy extract for good measure.  As always I cast every few minutes to start with, gradually extending the period in between casting.  The Trent is a big, powerful river and in my opinion you need to get a good carpet of bait out to pull the barbel in.  I keep casting every few minutes for at least an hour to an hour and a half, before extending the casts to maybe every 15 minutes.  This seems to work well and gets the barbel grubbing around in the swim.

The Mix

The Mix

We arrived at Gunthorpe at around midday.  From 3pm onwards a procession of anglers arrived on the opposite bank, all armed with carp porters and an abundance of tackle.  By 6pm I would think 15 anglers had set-up with bivvies and rod pods.  By nightfall it was like Blackpool illuminations on the opposite bank with bite alarms screeching out occasionally followed by cries of “barbel! That’s a barbel!”  and the frantic sprint from the bivvy 30 yards away to the rods.  Sometimes it took people so long to get to the rods, the fish had gone by the time they picked the rod up!  Yes it’s barbel fishing but not as we know it.  Down here in the south, fishing the much smaller and more intimate rivers, it’s not a style of fishing I’m used to.  However on the Trent it’s the way things are done and I’m honestly not knocking it, just having a bit of a jest.  I’m just not used to that style of approach.  Each to their own of course.

Throughout the afternoon and early evening I was getting lots of taps and pulls, some that were obviously hooked fish.  I ended up with around 6-8 nice roach and a similar amount of small skimmer bream.  As the evening wore on it looked less and less likely a barbel would put in an appearance, despite one of the regulars assuring us that after dark the fishing comes alive.  Of course that’s always the kiss of death and I’m sure it can be incredible fishing on its day.  Sadly today wasn’t that day.  I did manage one barbel of around 6-7lbs and Geoff tempted 2.  By 11.30 all was quiet.  I was knackered and so we opted to call it a day.  I’m sure we’ll be back for another go though before winter sets in.

 

 

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