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Archive for June 21st, 2016


June the 16th finally arrived and coincided with heavy rains and thunderstorms.  Some rivers were 2-3 feet up on normal summer levels and generally heavily coloured.  The biggest worry is for the freshly laid spawn, so lets hope it doesn’t get washed away.  On the upside it does make for pretty good barbel conditions, as opposed to 30c and bright sunshine I guess.

Geoff and I headed to a new stretch of river for the opening day and one that will see us through the remainder of the season, when we are not on the Wye or Trent.  The levels were good, with the river carrying about an extra foot of coloured water.  There was a really good flow.  This particular stretch had loads of bankside cover, with lots of over hanging trees and bushes presenting plenty of cover for wary fish.  We went for a quick recce and was presented with a delightful small river, with varying flows and depths.

The whole stretch presented all sorts of opportunities to drop in and let a bait swing round in the current and under some form of feature or another.  The time spent plumbing the depths provided information on some deep holes and deep gravel runs, which hopefully would prove fruitful. Depths varied from a couple of feet to as much as 7 or even 8 feet in places, even right under the nearside bank.

The weather conditions today seemed perfect; overcast and warm.  The forecast was for the occasional shower but we were keeping our fingers crossed for a dry day.  We had to be off the water at sunset, which was around 9.15pm.  I opted for a mouthwatering swim about 1/2 mile downstream.  There was a tree down across the water to my right (upstream) and a huge leaf covered branch hanging across the river to my left.  The nearside bank also had plenty of cover.  A crease ran approximately halfway across the river and was created by the tree upstream of me.  It looked perfect.  At my feet the depth was 7ft and appeared to be mainly clean gravel.  It had to produce a barbel!

I fed some 6mm and 8mm caviar pellets into the swim whilst I set-up.  As this was a small river my Trefor West 1lb 12oz LA Barbel rod would be ideal.  It has a sensitive tip and a soft action, well until a big fish is on and then it has masses of reserve power.  They really are lovely rods to use for this kind of fishing.  I matched this with a good quality Shimano reel, 10lb mainline and a coated braid hooklink.  Bait was double caviar pellet to start.  I had a number of options with me to fall back on if the pellets failed to produce, although they rarely do.

The weaponry

The weaponry

With a steady trickle of small pellets going in I chose to fish close to the bankside cover in the deep water.  The flow here was reduced somewhat by the fallen tree upstream, so a small lead was sufficient.  It didn’t take too long to get some interest, a few chubby knocks on the rod top indicated life.  Soon the rod top was bouncing around and after quite a surprisingly spirited fight a nice chub was eventually landed.  It was great to see such a lovely fish again after the 3 month break.  Chub are perhaps my favorite fish and at 4lb 9oz it was a good start to the new campaign.

4lb 9oz chub

4lb 9oz chub

The sun came out every now and again and almost roasted me.  I was secretly hoping it would cloud over a bit more to keep from being BBQ’d!  Sadly I got my wish later on.  As the afternoon wore on into early evening the rod tip whacked round and at last I thought this had to be a barbel.  The fish powered off to the middle of the river and then headed towards some sunken tree roots to my left.  As good as this fish felt, my heart was telling me it wasn’t a barbel.  I was right but it was a stunning mirror carp that tipped the scales at 11lb 7oz.  I was more than happy with a fish of that size and Geoff obliged with the camera.

A little later on the rod tip slammed round again and this fish surged off as strongly as the last.  Again it didn’t take long to realise this was probably another carp.  It was, a fish of around 12lbs with a lovely hue of orange to it’s flanks.  Geoff by now had moved down stream of me and had failed to entice a bite.  I had decided to stay put as this swim just looked so perfect.  I would normally move quite regularly but it seemed a good spot and perhaps I was feeling a bit lazy after a busy week at work.

12lb carp

12lb carp

By now it was around 8pm and the clouds had started to build up, they were dark and foreboding.  A few heavy rumbles of thunder resonated in the valley and a sudden flash of lightning illuminated the dark clouds.  This was the witching hour and we were reluctant to pack up early, possibly missing our best opportunity for a barbel.  The storm seemed to be moving away but as often happens in a valley, it was soon heading back as it swirled around overhead.  A massive clap of thunder almost sent me into the river in surprise and a bolt of lightning headed earthbound.  Still we stubbornly refused to go.  However Geoff now reported rain downstream.  I was still dry but felt it was best to call it a day.  Just 10 minutes later the biggest clap of thunder I’ve heard in a while detonated directly overhead and the skies opened.

The rain was torrential.  It hammered down, with great blobs of rain splashing mud in all directions.  Luckily I had already just about packed up.  I threw on the rucksack, grabbed the rest of the gear and beat a hasty retreat to the protection of the dense tree cover.  Despite the cover, I was soon soaked through and stood there sopping wet waiting for Geoff.  He had quite a walk ahead of him but soon appeared.  A bedraggled figure, dripping wet and looking thoroughly miserable.  We were soon back at the car and heading home.

It was an interesting start to the season.  The stretch certainly looks good and probably will present some great opportunities for a mixed variety of fish.  Hopefully next time a barbel or two will put in an appearance.

 

 

 

 

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