Archive for June, 2013

It feels like a long time since I last heard that intoxicating sound of water running over rocks and stones and shallow riffles bubbling and burbling in an almost hypnotic rhythm.   I guess Lord Tennyson put it far better than I ever could:

The Babbling Brook

 Alfred, Lord Tennyson

I come from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally,
And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down a valley.

By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorps, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.

Till last by Philip’s farm I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I chatter over stony ways,
In little sharps and trebles,
I bubble into eddying bays,
I babble on the pebbles.

With many a curve my banks I fret
By many a field and fallow,
And many a fairy foreland set
With willow-weed and mallow.

I chatter, chatter, as I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I wind about, and in and out,
With here a blossom sailing,
And here and there a lusty trout,
And here and there a grayling,

And here and there a foamy flake
Upon me, as I travel
With many a silvery waterbreak
Above the golden gravel,

And draw them all along, and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I steal by lawns and grassy plots,
I slide by hazel covers;
I move the sweet forget-me-nots
That grow for happy lovers.

I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,
Among my skimming swallows;
I make the netted sunbeam dance
Against my sandy shallows.

I murmur under moon and stars
In brambly wildernesses;
I linger by my shingly bars;
I loiter round my cresses;

And out again I curve and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

My first opportunity to fish in this new season was on the Monday, about mid to late afternoon.  A very small river beckoned.  This is a lovely wild and intimate stretch, heavily overgrown and unkempt.  It almost looks like the Teme and the banks are somewhat similar too; sheer drops in many spots, down to the river.  A rope and dog spike are pretty much mandatory equipment here.  Early on John and I had to cut our way through thick Himalayan Balsam and nettles to try and find the bank.  After several hours of toiling we eventually cleared about 4 or 5 swims for future exploration.

We spent some time fish spotting and soon discovered a few fish showing on a gravel run, one of which looked about 7lb and the other two around the 4-5lb mark.  They didn’t appear in a feeding mood and we both wondered whether they were getting ready to spawn.  Still it was encouraging.

Lovely gravel runs

Lovely gravel runs

I lowered myself into a nice swim.  It was an area below some shallows and the river then deepened and slowed into a long run overhung with trees.  This area seemed to lack clean gravel but I persevered nevertheless.  Unfortunately all to no avail.  The highlight for me was hearing a loud commotion in the undergrowth behind me, reminiscent of a bull elephant charging, and then seeing two badgers run across a small wooden bridge.  I could hear their heavy, scampering paws on the bare wood of the bridge before finally sighting them.  Prior to that a small deer had also darted into the undergrowth just across the bridge.  When you tuck yourself away into the bankside vegetation, its amazing how much wildlife appears from nowhere, quite oblivious to your presence.

John ended up with a couple of nice chub but despite seeing a few barbel none took the bait.  Perhaps they were too preoccupied with spawning to even think of food.  A few days later we were back.  This time I settled into a small gravel pool.  Fast shallow water entered a few yards upstream of it and then the river narrowed and was funnelled away into another long gravel run. It looked perfect and we had seen a few fish here previously.

Tactics were to be very simple as these barbel are rarely fished for.  I was using a 2’6″ hooklink and a small leger weight of around 1oz.  I decided to use a couple of elips pellets superglued on a long hair.  However I also used some soaked pellets and had one or two other baits with me that could be used if I felt like it, including a couple of good quality pastes.  After baiting the swim lightly with mini pellets and leaving it for about 30-40 minutes I tentatively cast out.  Within minutes the rod top was yanked round and I grabbed the rod.  It felt heavy, in fact a bit too heavy!  I was snagged.  I kept the pressure up and suddenly it gave.  There was still a fish on and I was gob smacked to see the culprit was a chub of maybe 1lb.  It must of had 3 shredded wheat that morning because it almost dragged the rod in.

Other than nearly being knocked senseless by a Kingfisher, which came past at about Mach 3 and quite literally buzzed my nose, nothing else happened of any consequence.  Well I say that, except for John spotting half a dozen barbel in a tight group, which appeared to be just exploring rather than feeding.  Again it at least means we know there are some barbel there.    So the campaign continues in earnest.

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What a shocker of a closed season!  The weather was pathetic; cold, windy and wet oh and cold.  Did I mention cold and the wind by the way?!  Only kidding, but it was tough going.  At times it was difficult to find the enthusiasm to get out on the bank to be honest.

Still at last the weather did improve.  Temperatures picked up to mid to upper teens although the nights were still a little chilly.  Between Geoff, Kevin, Dan and myself we did manage to do maybe 3 or 4 sessions over the last 4 or 5 weeks.  I decided to have a little bit of a bash at Johnsons with Geoff.  Only two sessions but very enjoyable.

I decided to give the method feeder a go.  Fishing two rods out around 30-40yds.  This produced some reasonable action, although far from spectacular.  I think I ended up with about 7 or 8 tench and lost a few unfortunately.  It seemed the crucians were preoccupied  with spawning and then recovering, as few seemed to get caught by anyone whilst we were there.

Then we had our last pre-season session on Harris and we were joined by Kev’s brother Steve.  The weather was pleasant and the fishing pretty good but frustrating.  Kevin and Steve got off to a roaring start, catching almost from the off, although their catch rate severely dropped off later.  I started slowly and then improved later on, however I lost several crucians throughout the evening and missed countless bites.  I think I ended up with 7 or 8 tench and a couple of crucians to just on the 2lb mark.

Geoff also started off badly but then had a hectic spell and I think ended up with 6 tench and 4 crucians.  Steve and Kev were also around those sorts of figures, taking some stunning crucians up to 2lb 13oz.  Dan had a few tench including one decent one pushing 6.  All in all a pleasant enough end to the traditional closed season.

Kev and Steve

Kev and Steve

Now of course its time to start thinking about the rivers once more.  I have managed to go through all of the gear, sorting out the bits and bobs and accessories, rods, reels, floats and leads etc etc and I think I’m just about ready to rock and roll.  So I will be out on the 17th on a very small and quiet river in search of one of its elusive barbel.  Its incredibly wild and overgrown on this stretch, so I’m looking forward to a very peaceful session, well except for lots of rod creaking, water thrashing barbel action that is.

Good luck to all of my river fishing brothers and sisters.  May your rods creak and your lines sing. 🙂


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TF Gear Thermo Tex Gilet

With the somewhat chilly conditions of late I was rather pleased to get hold of the TF Gear Thermo Tex Gilet recently.  The daytime temperatures have at last finally risen, thank goodness, and it’s been pleasant to sit in the sun and feel some much needed warmth.  However the mornings and evenings are still chilly and with that constant northerly/NE wind, if you’re in the shade it still feels distinctly autumnal, if not downright cold.

I have been on the odd crucian and tench session over the last couple of months and although generally the full winter thermal suits are unnecessary, you definitely need some extra clothing to keep the chill out.  There are times when you can feel weighed down by thermal clothing but not so with this recent addition to my fishing wardrobe.

The Thermo Tex Gilet is remarkably lightweight when you take into account its tremendous thermal abilities.  It’s extremely comfortable to wear too and allows plenty of freedom of movement, which to me is a real plus point.  There is nothing worse than feeling like you’ve got a straight jacket on, even if you do need one!

On several evenings when I’ve been wearing this gilet, I haven’t felt the need to pile on the usual extra layers of clothing.  The gilet is superbly warm, which for some reason surprised me.  I guess mainly because it feels so lightweight but that definitely belies its impressive thermal abilities. It appears to be well made and I like the fleece pockets, they keep your hands much warmer when that cold winds blowing.

Overall I’m impressed with this product and feel that it does exactly what it says on the tin, to coin a phrase.  It will be coming with me on all of my summer and winter sessions in future. It will be ideal on those summer evenings and mornings when you just need something extra over a shirt and in the winter it will make an excellent under layer when it gets really cold.

TF Gear Thermo Tex Gilet

TF Gear Thermo Tex Gilet

What the Manufacturer says:

TF Gear Thermo-Tex Gilet

An absolute must have addition to everyone’s fishing wardrobe.

Filled with the latest insulating fibres it will provide comforting warmth during those fresh early spring days, take the chill off cool summer evenings, and give life saving heat on the coldest winter nights.

  • Incredible performance with a modern street wear design
  • Perfect all year insulation
  • Luxury hand warmer pockets
  • Lightweight and so comfortable to wear

For more information on the TF Gear Thermo-Tex Gilet see the FISHTEC WEBSITE

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