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Posts Tagged ‘Elips pellets’


Sonnet I. To the River Trent

by Henry Kirke White

Once more, O Trent! along thy pebbly marge
A pensive invalid, reduced and pale,
From the close sick-room newly let at large,
Wooes to his wan-worn cheek the pleasant gale.
O! to his ear how musical the tale
Which fills with joy the throstle’s little throat:
And all the sounds which on the fresh breeze sail,
How wildly novel on his senses float!
It was on this that many a sleepless night,
As lone, he watch’d the taper’s sickly gleam,
And at his casement heard, with wild affright,
The owl’s dull wing and melancholy scream,
On this he thought, this, this his sole desire,
Thus once again to hear the warbling woodland choir.

Couldn’t have put it better myself, I must say!  Anyway the Association of Barbel Fishers were holding their annual AGM at Newark on Saturday 12th and as an Officer of the association I intended to attend.  It seemed pointless driving all of that way just for a meeting and so Geoff and I decided to go earlier in the week and do a spot of Trenting or more precisely; barbelling.  I booked some day tickets for Tuesday through to Saturday and hoped that the weather would hold.

We arrived on Tuesday evening.  During the afternoon it was an amazing 22c, however by the  following morning the temperature had dropped to a rather cool 14-15c and the wind was fresh to say the least.  A northerly had sprung up and it was blowing at 25mph and gusting to well over 35mph.  Wow what a difference and what a bloody shock to the system.  We’ve had a terrific summer really and September and early October have been outstanding.  So I won’t be complaining.  I might add the rain stayed off, at least whilst we were actually fishing.  And thank goodness for that.  Persistent rain and high winds really don’t do it for me I’m afraid.  That’s when its time to head to the pub. 🙂 and then things get really wet and windy, particularly after a few picked eggs……!!

Tuesday evening was very mild and so we decided to grab a couple of hours on the river.  Geoff and I shared a swim and Geoff was soon in.  The chub were active it seemed and Geoff ended up with a couple of nice fish.  I managed a bream and then a nice feisty barbel of 8lb 5oz.  We were both tired and the action was pretty slow to be honest, despite the seemingly ideal conditions and so we headed to our pits for some much needed sleep.

We don’t often start early if we are going to be fishing into darkness and these few days were not going to be any different.  By now the wind was blowing a hooley and the temperatures were dropping.  Still its nothing that a full English wouldn’t sort out.  We headed to Waitrose (we’re posh don’t you know)  and had the works in the restaurant (that’s cafe to you peasants) and grabbed a few provisions before heading back to the caravan to load the car and get off fishing.  Flasks made, food packed and we were on our way. After a good walk checking out a few spots Geoff and I finally decided on a couple of swims.  Although a bit cooler today the temperature seemed to have stabilised at around 15c, so not too bad considering the time of year.

The Bondi Beach of the Midlands

The Bondi Beach of the Midlands

Fortunately for me I seemed to find a swim with a few fish in.  By now it was around 3pm.  I had decided to fish two rods; one for barbel and the other a Drennan quiver tip and fish for roach or bream.  This was set up with 6lb mainline and a flurocarbon hooklink of 5lbs.  Bait was sweetcorn and maggots with maggots or hemp in the blockend feeder.  Regular casting of both rods would get a bed of bait down and hopefully attract some interest.  It was the barbel rod that hooped over first and a small barbel of around 3-4lbs was soon returned.  At this time of the year the barbel seem to fight particularly hard.  They really do give it their all, which is great fun.  Meanwhile the quiver rod registered the odd twitch but otherwise nothing much.

The barbel rod did the old three foot twitch routine again and a similar sized barbel was subdued.  The light was fading fast and I decided to change the bait on the quiver rod to a single banded elips pellet.  The theory being that the roach and bream are used to seeing pellets here and therefore that’s probably what they mainly feed on.  The plan worked but not for the aforementioned species.  As the quiver tip bent round at an alarming rate, it had to be barbus barbus on the other end.  After a great fight another fine barbel was returned and a short while later round it went again.  I ended up with 7 barbel to 9lbs and a few good bream to around 6lbs.  A pretty good result as far as I was concerned.  Geoff managed a couple of chub but couldn’t find the barbel.

The following morning (late of course) found us at the farm shop where the breakfast is first class.  The garden centre and shop are full of interesting bits and pieces and with a great selection of cakes, biscuits, sausage rolls and other consumable paraphernalia to keep you occupied.  Once again we headed to the river around 2-2.30pm and picked a couple of swims.  The wind seemed even stronger today and the sky was dark and foreboding.  Rain was a distinct possibility but we hoped that with such a strong wind it would keep pushing the rain away and so it turned out, as it remained dry throughout our session.

This time Geoff found the fish taking 4 barbel to 10lb 9oz and a few chub.  I only found one barbel, some chub and bream.  However one chub was probably over 5lbs and bream to around 6lb.  Eventually the temperatures dropped to just 7c and so at around 9pm we called it a day.  We returned for our last session the following day having tried out Morrison’s breakfast first of course.  Not at all bad by the way.  Plenty of food and good value.  The rain had put us off going too early but eventually we arrived at around 2.30.  It was still threatening rain and the forecast was pretty grim.  We decided to stay put until the rain started and then we’d beat a hasty retreat.  Luckily for us the rain never materialised and we remained dry but somewhat wind beaten.

Geoff's 10lb 9oz

Geoff’s 10lb 9oz

This time I enjoyed some really good action.  The rods were whacking round quite frequently and throughout the entire session.  There was the odd quiet moment but otherwise steady action from the barbel, chub and bream.  I ended up with 7 barbel to 10lb 7oz, 8-10 chub to over 5lb and a couple of nice bream (if such a thing is possible!).  Sadly Geoff struggled a little but I think had 1 barbel and some nice chub.  we ended the few days here with over 20 barbel between us and with two doubles and a bucket load of chub and bream, we felt pretty satisfied with events.  It’s been slow going this season so to get this much action was very rewarding I must say.  As ever thanks to Geoff for his company.

10lb 7oz

10lb 7oz

On the Saturday we attended the Association of Barbel Fisher’s AGM.  I guess there were around 16/17 of us there and we had a very good and worthwhile meeting.  After the usual formal procedures and votes we were able to discuss what the ABF should do next and this created a very positive and lively discussion.  Lots of sensible ideas were muted and some good action will result.  I am certain that over the next few years the ABF will go from strength to strength.  We have some great people on board now and with Steve Richardson as our new secretary, I personally feel we are in a very strong position indeed.

 

 

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The fishing seems to be particularly tough for us at the moment.  We are struggling on the river in Berkshire and I have yet to secure my first barbel on my local small river too.  There is some comfort in chatting with anglers bankside who are also reporting similar results to ourselves.  At least we know its not just us.  However I think we need to adopt a different style of fishing to try and beat the current doldrums.  I guess what I mean is perhaps a more roving style, targeting more swims and  using different baits in an attempt to make things work in our favour, rather than hoping that eventually things will improve anyway.  I have used a roving approach on the Medway and Kennet in the past and it worked extremely well.  If you know the stretch really well you can continue to rove throughout darkness too, although there is always the option of then sitting it out in one swim after dark and hoping the fish are present.

My latest trip with Geoff was a continuation of current form.  The Thames tributary we are fishing this season is proving very difficult.  However others are also struggling as I said, so we have to take some consolation from that fact.   We fished until midnight on Tuesday but staying in just one swim apiece.  Either the fish were not home or we didn’t fish the right baits/tactics because neither Geoff or myself had so much as a knock.  Throughout the evening and night I never head a single fish turn on the surface, which always disheartens me to be honest.  I like to hear movement because it signals life and activity.  You at least know that fish are on the move.

At one point a stamping noise behind me awoke me from my thoughts and when I looked round a roe deer was running away from me in the direction of the trees.  I could see its white tail bouncing up and down as it hurried off to find cover.  That was about it for me that night sadly.  Tiredness finally won the day, and at around 11.45 I packed up very much disillusioned again.  So a re-think needed for future trips.

The next day we decided that a change of scenery was in order and so we agreed after breakfast to head to the Kennet.  We popped into Tadley Angling so Geoff could pick up a night permit for Reading and District Angling Association and whilst there I bought some block-end feeders and some hemp.  Tadley is a well stocked and well run shop and the owners are very friendly and helpful.  It’s well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

There was only one car in the R&DAA car park and we decided to have a recce first.  We then loaded up with gear and headed off downstream to explore.  We walked some distance downstream, spotting lots of decent looking spots to fish on the way.   The level looked good and the river had a decent pace to it with a good tinge of colour.  In fact it looked perfect.   I decided to bait up a couple of swims with hemp and then fish a block-end feeder with hemp in and fish elips and paste on a 4′ tail.  By the time I cast out it was probably 3.30pm.  I had decided to fish this swim for a couple of hours and move if nothing happened.  I could always return later.  At about 5pm the rod top slammed round and my heart jumped into my mouth.  A three foot twitch never fails to get the adrenaline flowing and the pulse racing.  I pulled into what was obviously a barbel and it used the strong flow to full effect.

I could tell it wasn’t a big fish from the fight but a very welcome sight that fish made when I managed to slip it into the waiting net.  I hoisted it out and admired the colours and sleek, muscular form.  I would have taken a quick snap of the fish on the unhooking mat, however senile dementia has well and truly set in because the battery for the camera is still sat on the table at home after being charged up last week.  Doh!  Anyway the fish was slipped back and I opted to move into the other baited swim.  Geoff was also on the move, opting to fish further downstream from his original position.

A large tractor turned up in the field behind me and started to move hay bales from a huge stack onto a trailer.  The farmer had assistance from another guy in a car and two small dogs.  I could hear their excited yapping as they were let loose in the field.   They were tearing around the stack of hay bales, I guess looking for rats maybe.  At times they were almost in a frenzy of excitement and it at least proved a distraction from the fishing.  As darkness fell I wished the dogs were with me as the rats started to appear.   Several large rodents scampered through the undergrowth and out into the open, searching for food.  They could obviously smell my bait as despite my best efforts to scare them off they would soon return even more brazen.   I think those dogs would have made short work of disposing of the rats.

However despite another move on my part no further action ensued and Geoff had remained fish-less also, so we decided to call it a day around 10.15pm.  We both fancied a coffee at the services before the long drive home.

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It was that time of the week again; at last two days were available for me to visit the Thames Valley in Berkshire chasing those rather elusive barbel.  Not having fished for two weeks due to work commitments, I was really looking forward to getting out again.  The really hot, searing heat of the last few weeks had eased off and thunder, lightening and downpours seemed the order of the day.  It was still incredibly humid but at least we wouldn’t be roasted throughout the day as temperatures dropped to around 22c.

Kevin and I were on our own Tuesday evening.  Geoff would be joining us Wednesday morning.  We arrived in Berkshire to find huge puddles everywhere, some very deep.  Now we began to wonder what state the river would be in; high and coloured maybe?  We made a quick stop at some local stores for provisions before heading off to the river.  It was still warm but so much more comfortable than it had been of late.

We drove over the bridge and stopped to look at the river and surprisingly it looked no different from our last visit.  So all of these torrential downpours appeared to have made no difference to the level whatsoever.  There was a slight tinge of colour in the river but that was about all.  We pulled into the car park and made base camp.  I toiled away with my 18 year old bivvy which was like putting together a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle!  Kev kips in the car and so doesn’t have to go through this palava, he can just sit back and chuckle by my pathetic efforts at erecting this antiquated shelter.  Still it didn’t take too long and the kettle was soon whistling away, indicating a cup of coffee was on its way too.  A coffee does seem to help when your huffing and puffing over something a little challenging, it just seems to calm the rather frayed nerves a little.

We soon finished off the camp and grabbed the pile of tackle that seems to grow ever larger on each visit and headed off to find some swims.  The river looked perfect.  It was possibly up a fraction but if it was, it certainly wasn’t a lot.  There was definitely a touch of colour in the water and the flow looked very good.  After a good recce we settled on a couple of swims to fish for the remainder of the day.  It appeared we were the only ones fishing and I only saw one car leave the car park when we packed up at midnight, which is unusual for here and perhaps a sign that the fishing is a little slow.

I had opted for a deep marginal swim.  The depth was around six feet over clean gravel.  The area directly under my feet appeared to be a foot or two deeper than the area just a yard or two downstream of this position.  With overhanging trees to both my left and right it seemed to offer excellent cover and a deep channel for the barbel to travel both up and downstream in.  As far as I was concerned it looked perfect.   As always casting a lead around the swim will soon tell you what the river bed is like and what sort of depth you have.  Ten minutes doing this is invaluable to start to build up a picture of the topography of the river.  Of course it will also tell you where there is weed and even snags, often at the cost of tackle unfortunately, but at least you know for future reference.

I then bait dropped some very small pellets and left the swim for about 45 minutes.  We were in no real rush to start fishing as we both felt that things would be slow during the daylight period.  However having cast out I almost immediately started to get a few knocks and taps.  Shortly after I had a couple of really savage knocks and suspected chub to be the likely suspect.  It didn’t take much longer when the rod top jagged round and whatever was on the other end wasn’t going to let go.  On picking up the rod I was certain the culprit was a chub and it felt heavy too.  The fish boiled on the surface and it was indeed a very good chub.  I called Kevin and we soon had the fish in the net.

It was an immaculate, big chub.  I rested the fish and then weighed it at 6lb 1oz.  I grabbed my camera only to find that the battery was missing.  I then remembered I had put it on to charge and it was still sat on my table back home!  So my plans of taking a few scenic and hopefully fishy photos were soon shelved.  Silly boy.  So Kev did the honours with his camera and after a quick photo I popped it back and watched the bulky frame swim off into the streamer weed.  I love big chub and was over the moon with that capture.  It was a real bonus as far as I was concerned.  So it was back to the rod and this time hoping for maybe a barbel as the light started to fade.  I had opted for quite a large Andy Witham feeder packed with hemp and halibut groundbait and some mixed sized pellets thrown in to the mix for good measure.  Due to the amount of streamer weed I decided against a back lead and instead opted for a 4′ hooklength and a size 10 Gardner Target hook with two elips pellets glued onto the hair and a decent amount of paste wrapped around the pellets.

6lb 1oz

6lb 1oz

I love to just sit back and soak up the sights and sounds of my watery environment.  There is something almost hypnotic about streamer weed wafting gently in the flow.  I wonder what treasures lie beneath this mysterious waving and fluttering canopy?  Perhaps a few barbel concealed on the gravel runs underneath maybe?  Who knows?  A flash of iridescent blue brings me out of my reverie, as a kingfisher hurtles past.  The shrill and unmistakable yaffling from a green woodpecker breaks the peace and quiet and the ever present magpies and jays add to the cacophony of harsh noises that can be heard from time to time, although never enough to diminish from the tranquillity of this particular venue.    At one point we counted at least 12 Red Kites circling high up on the thermals and no matter how often I see these magnificent birds I just can’t get blasé about them.  I find them an awe inspiring sight and they always enhance my visits to the countryside.

As the evening wore on I had the odd tap on the rod top but nothing serious until around 10.30 when the rod tip slammed round and the baitrunner screamed.  If I’m getting tired or I stand up to stretch my legs, I always make sure the baitrunner is engaged.  If feeling sleepy, I will always touch leger so I can be alerted immediately to any bites.  I grabbed the rod and it took on its fighting curve and then went slack.  The fish had gone and I had no idea whether it was a good chub or a barbel that had taken the bait.  I think I may have sworn a little at this point!

That was the last of the action for me that evening and Kevin reported pretty much no indications at all for this session.  So we packed up and headed back to base camp and pretty much straight to sleep.

Geoff arrived early the following morning and both he and Kevin opted to fish on his arrival.  Me being a lazy git, stayed festering in my pit for another few hours.  I eventually surfaced and packed away the bivvy and enjoyed a coffee or two to kick start the brain into some sort of activity, which is never easy.  Geoff then turned up with a big grin on his face.  First cast and he had a 3 foot twitch.  A nice barbel of about 6lb resulted and the first for this river.  Well done Geoff.  Again Kevin had suffered with a motionless tip, although I believe you can get tablets for that sort of complaint now 🙂

The cafe beckoned and after a hearty fry up (oh the blocked arteries) we made our way back to the river.  We had thought of moving onto the Kennet but decided to stay put.  I opted for a swim where another small stream enters the river and fished under the overhanging trees.  After a couple of hours of a motionless rod top I opted to move just prior to dusk, for the last few hours.  Neither Geoff or Kevin had anything to report.  As the light began to fade I heard Kevin’s dulcet tones ring out in the quiet of dusk.  Words that cannot be repeated here wafted over the still night air.  He had hooked a barbel, only for it to shed the hook after a minute or two.  He was understandably gutted.

The night wore on and I had lost the will to live.  I was tired and ready to head off home.  It was now 11pm and we had a long trip back to contend with.  Geoff then reported he had landed a good chub and it was another stonking fish of 5lb 15oz.  However Kevin and I had had enough and we all three, decided to call it a day.

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After a little bit of late summer crucian carp fishing at Marsh Farm I was looking forward to a new challenge.  I had been invited by a good ABF pal to fish his local stretch of river in Berkshire.  Its a beautiful, small, intimate river.  Quite narrow and rather pacey.  At each turn there was loads of overhanging trees and bushes and lots of thick reeds and vegetation.  The water was thick with cabbages and ranunculus which swayed in the fast water.  Underneath this exuberance of growth was a great deal of lovely clean gravel, which the barbel love to feed on.

We took a good walk along the stretch and each swim looked better than the previous one.  It was absolutely mouth watering and I couldn’t wait to get started.  We both opted for a swim for the duration of the session.  Mine had overhanging tress opposite, a thick raft to my left and a deep marginal run down to more overhanging trees to my right.  It just screamed barbel!

I set up a brolly as the weather was still quite unsettled.  The river was up a little with some good colour after the recent heavy rains.  It really looked spot on.  Tackle would be quite simple.  A running rig incorporating an Andy Witham cage feeder.  This would be packed with mixed pellet and plugged with groundbait.  I didn’t intend putting out a great deal of bait and would probably only recast every hour to an hour and a quarter.  I fished two rods.  One baited with elips pellet and the other boilie.  Around both baits I wrapped some of the Sonubaits barbel and carp hemp and spicy sausage paste.  This had been recommended to me and I have to say my initial impression was that it looked and smelled very good. Hooklength was around 3 feet and as always I like to use Sufix Camfusion in 10lb breaking strain to a size 10 hook.  I also incorporated 2 flying backleads to the downstream rod, just to make sure that the line was pinned down as much as possible.  I also tried not to tighten up too much to the rig.  Hopefully all of this was less likely to spook any foraging barbel.

To me the downstream rod would be my top pick to produce a bite and this is the rod I pinned my hopes to.  I very rarely fish two rods and I only did today due to the low density of barbel in this stretch.  Mind you if it did wrap round it was likely to be a decent fish at least.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable day where there was no real pressure to start fishing.  I chatted with Paul throughout the afternoon, enjoying a cuppa and a natter.  Several times I wandered back to the car and soaked up the scenery and atmosphere of this beautiful spot.  It just looked so good and my confidence was high.  Paul was great company and he’s such a good bloke that it was just a pleasure to be out enjoying a fishing session with him on his local water.

Eventually the light started to fade and out went the baits.  It didn’t take long either.  After 30 minutes the downstream rod arched round viciously and on picking up the rod, a big barbel pulled back.  This felt really good and the fish just hugged the gravel bottom in the fast flow.  I eased the fish upstream but every now and then it would surge back downstream.  After a few minutes the fish turned on the surface and both Paul and I knew it was a decent fish.  After several heart thumping minutes Paul slipped the net under this magnificent fish and after resting it hauled her out for unhooking.

A magnificent bronze flanked fish lay in the folds of the net, glistening in the torch light.  We quickly unhooked her and weighed the fish.  It went 13lb 11oz and was a new PB by 7oz.  A few quick photos and she was put back safely.  After being rested for a while she swam away strongly and I felt ecstatic. What a tremendous result from a stretch I had never fished before and within spitting distance of another spot that had once produced a previous PB of 13lb 1oz a few years before.  I could have happily packed up and gone home grinning from ear to ear but we had agreed to fish until midnight.

13lb 11oz

13lb 11oz

I hoped that Paul would also soon be onto a good fish but it wasn’t to be unfortunately.  However at around 11pm with my eyelids feeling like lead, my baitrunner screamed as a fish tore line from the spool.  This fish also stayed deep and went on several short runs.  It turned on the surface a few times before I eventually slipped it into the net.  I called for Paul and we weighed this second magnificent bronze beast.  It was absolutely mint condition and weighed in at 11lb 5oz.  I was so over the moon I decided to pack up and was going to sit with Paul.  However I don’t think Paul could cope with my inane grin any longer and so also opted to call it a day.

11lb 5oz

11lb 5oz

It’s been a fairly slow season barbel wise for me, so this was a real highlight of my year and one I will never forget. My thanks to Paul for his great company and advice.

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The last few weeks haven’t produced much opportunity to fish due to work commitments.  So I’ve had to do the work thing and the family thing, visiting numerous family members (which is certainly no hardship) and basically be Mr Grumps due to the lack of fishing.

I did manage an afternoon and evening trip a couple of weeks backs on the Kennet, which produced just the one bite and resulted in a small barbel of about 5lbs.  After that I did a short evening session on the Lea and despite the river looking very good and the swim also giving me those vibes that make you think you’re definitely going to catch, I only managed one bite which turned out to be a chub of about 4-41/2lbs, a small one for the Lea.

Again this week I found my usual two day session truncated and only managed to get out on the Wednesday.  I had planned a trip with Kevin and we decided on route to try Rainsford Farm on the Kennet.  As we pulled into the car park we realised we had a problem.  There were already 8 or 9 cars present.  We decided however to at least go for a recce and see where people were fishing.  The river looked stunning it’s summer finery.  Rich colours adorned the banks, as thick foliage offered an abundance of cover to wary fish.  The river was relatively clear and through the flowing ranunculus  we could see lovely, enticing gravel runs.  This was the first time we had seen this section in it’s summer regalia and we were very impressed.

However having walked the banks and discovered around a dozen people fishing, we felt a move elsewhere would be better and so we headed off to the Reading and District Angling Association’s controlled section of the Benyons.  We arrived around 2.30-3.00pm and so I decided to fore-go the meat rolling and find a couple of swims to feeder fish. Kevin found a nice spot quite quickly but I carried on downstream for some distance.  Oh for a pack horse in these circumstances, especially with this hot, sticky weather at the moment.  The sweat was pouring from my brow and stinging my eyes as I headed off to an area I had seen previously.  Luckily Kevin had offered to help, otherwise I might still be there in a heap on the banks.

I found a lovely swim on a bend.  The river flowed in from my right and under an overhanging tree and cut a deep marginal gulley right through in front of me and as the bend straightened out it ran under numerous overhanging trees down to my left.  There was a good flow and depth and I felt very confident.

The Kennet

The Kennet

I decided initially to cast downstream and let the bait swing in under the tress.  I used a light feeder and hoped that this would present the bait where and how I wanted it, or more importantly how the fish wanted it.  As I pushed in the rod rests I started to feel stinging on my legs.  I brushed the feeling aside but the stings were getting worse. “Bloody stinging nettles” I thought.  As I looked at the swim I started to realise two things.  Firstly there were no stinging nettles and secondly my legs felt like they were on fire.  It then dawned on my what it probably was and yes there they were-red ants.  I was covered in them and the ground was swarming with the little red blighters.  I had to whip my trousers off to get rid of them (fortunately no women were present, otherwise they may have swooned beyond the point of recovery) and move right back out of the way.  Eventually they calmed down and by moving across I manged to avoid them for the remainder of the day.  My legs were a constant reminder for some time that red ants are not to be messed with!

The downstream rod never produced so much as a twitch, so throughout the remainder of the day I tried numerous positions in the swim.  At one point I dispensed with the feeder and put on some swan shot and flicked the bait upstream of a huge overhanging tree opposite me.  The bait swung right under it and I thought this would give me a good chance of a fish.  However it was not to be and despite trying several other things, I seemed unable to tempt so much as a rattle on the rod top, let alone anything resembling a barbel bite.

As usual I found myself captivated by the scenery and wildlife.  I heard and then spotted a beautiful Red Kite soaring overhead and an array of other bird life.  Then a scrambling sound in the tall grass to my right drew my attention and out popped a stoat.  It stopped to look at me and with total disinterest carried on with it’s foraging.  A few minutes later more sounds of a similar nature pulled my attention to the left and I spotted two stoats running up the path about 4 feet from me.  They were squabbling in the way stoats do and springing into the air as they squealed and screeched at each other before disappearing into the thick tall grass of the adjacent meadow, never to be seen again.  Well by me at least.

Coxless Fours?

Coxless Fours?

Several times throughout the afternoon I was treated to the spectacle of swans plowing through my swim at breakneck speed, as they seemingly chased each other up and down the river.  I was amazed at just how fast they would swim upstream, let alone downstream.  Then a mother and 5 cygnets passed by.  I was convinced in the end they had been watching the BBc’s coverage of the Olympics with Claire Balding (I know how she feels!) and were all fired up for some canoing or kayaking of their own.  Still we have all gone Olympic mad, so why not I say?

As the evening arrived the familiar sound of a hot air balloon being fired up could be heard somewhere behind me.  Eventually the culprit appeared larger than life and steadily rose silently into the sky.  Just the occasional burst from the burners could be heard as the balloon soared high into the evening sky.  With barely a breath of wind it made slow progress through the still evening sky but eventually disappeared from my viewpoint.

Up, up and away

Up, up and away

Earlier on Kevin had contacted me with that delighted sound in his voice that indicated some action and indeed it was.  He had just caught his first Kennet fish of the season, a lovely 8lb+ barbel in near mint condition.  He was overjoyed and I was delighted for him. I wish I had been a bit closer to Kevin, so I could have seen the fish.  Nothing else happened and we had to depart by 9.30pm and head for home.

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Monday 25th June dawned somewhat overcast but dry at least.  More heavy rain had fallen over the weekend and we wasn’t quite sure what to expect on arrival in Ross-on-Wye for our 5 days annual pilgrimage to this stunning part of the country.  We always look forward to our visits to the Wye both summer and winter but I do particularly enjoy the summer months here chasing barbel (the local girls are just too damn quick for me!)

After the usual tedious drive up, we finally arrived around lunchtime.  After setting up the caravan and awning and sorting out all of the paraphernalia that one seems to take on holiday, it was time to see the river.  It was as expected, up and coloured.  We were used to it, so it wasn’t going to be the end of the world.  We soon settled into some likely looking spots and after a few preliminary casts around to check on the river bed, we started to fish.

Spamalot ready for action

Spamalot ready for action

Things were a little slow but I felt I was in a good fish holding area.  It was just a few yards below a salmon croy, which was now submerged under the heavy, coloured waters of the Wye.  However after a couple of biteless hours, it was obvious that either no fish were present or they just were not interested.  I opted to move upstream and soon Kevin (who had headed upstream from the off) was reporting landed barbel.  Upstream the river is deeper and slower.  The margins offer enticing deep runs and it was to be these areas I was to target next.

Dan soon reported a barbel, shortly followed by Geoff.  I remained not only fishless but biteless too.   Still I was really happy with a new swim and decided to sit it out for the remainder of the session.  I was fishing a fairly standard Wye method: a 3oz open cage feeder (Andrew Witham’s from cagefeeders.com) packed with pellet and groundbait, a 3 foot Camfusion hook length, 10 hook and double elips pellet (either medium or large).  Mainline was 11lb Kryton Snide, which so far has proven to be very reliable.

Wye Barbel

Wye Barbel

It didn’t take too long for the rod top to whack round and the first Wye barbel of the new season graced the net.  Two more were to follow, but after receiving some rather sad news on the Sunday night, my heart wasn’t in it and so as the light was beginning to fade I opted for an early night.  So I packed up and wandered back to the caravan for a cuppa with Dan who had already called it a day.  Geoff and Kevin arrived back a short while later having had some pretty good results.  Kevin had 8 barbel and Geoff 7.  We enjoyed another cup of tea and a chat before tiredness overwhelmed me and I headed to the pit known as my bed.  “To die, to sleep.  To sleep, perchance to dream: ay there’s the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come……..”

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I didn’t find Sherwood Forest on my last trip to Nottingham, or the Sheriff for that matter but I did find a few fish in the Trent.

Its a big river and with a bit of extra water on, it can be pretty daunting, especially when you are used to fishing small southern chalk streams.  The level in itself is not a great problem.  The weed on the other hand is a pain in the proverbial! It just seems to be everywhere when the river rises.

On a recent trip with Geoff we found the river as described: high with just a touch of colour.  Things looked good and we couldn’t wait to get started.  However on casting out we found we had got a problem.  A big problem.  The weed was a nightmare.  Within a couple of minutes the rod tops were dancing as the feeders were being pulled round in the current by the weed.  Tons of the stuff, all over the line, feeder, everything.  Oh dear, now what?

Well the answer was simple; fish in a bit closer and out of the main flow.  Here the weed problem was better.  Not cured, but better.  At least like this it was fishable.  So setting up with a decent feeder and 4 small pellets on a hair, I swung out the bait, just off of an overhanging tree.  It was slow at first but at least the bait tended to stay in position, at least for a while.  After a few casts of getting some bait down, the rod tip slammed round.  A hard fighting Trent barbel was attached to the other end.  After a spirited fight I managed to coax it into the landing net.  Not a big fish but a real confidence booster.

Well the action kept coming.  By around 10pm I had taken 10 barbel to about 6 or 7lbs.  The action really started to hot up and by the time we packed up at around 2am, I had taken 23 barbel to just over 10lbs.  Wow what a session.  Most of the fish were in excellent condition and fought well.  Lots of good, rod wrenching bites too.

Geoff was just up from me but found it slow going.  I think all he was achieving was to bait up my swim for me, so the bugger moved.  Typical.  Once he was far enough away, he started to catch and ended up with 8.  Of course he wished he had taken the decision to move earlier.  Had he have done so, I’m sure he would of had twice as many.  Luckily he didn’t 😉

So after visiting the local boozer for lunch the next day, we headed back to the river.  I was stuffed after having fish and chips and just fancied a snooze.  However it was time to fish.  The river level had dropped and the water looked clearer.  The weed problem had lessened, which was a relief.

Sadly though, the fishing was pants.  I managed a couple of smallish barbel and then we decided to pack up, as we had a long drive back to Kent.  It was a very enjoyable visit and I hope we can return soon.

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