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Posts Tagged ‘Feeder fishing rivers’


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

 

 

 

 

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Hot, sticky nights aren’t too good for sleeping.  Add to the mix a cool box that sounds like a jumbo jet taking off and Frank’s regular trips to the loo and the sound of the light cord being pulled; ching,ching just when you feel at long last sleep envelope you.  Fortunately I’ve got the sort of feet that in extreme temperatures can stop a charging bull elephant at 30 yards, so I manage to get my own back.  Still a couple of hours broken sleep never hurt anybody….well much.

Luckily Frank being a Landlord and all, is a dab hand at knocking up a very tasty breakfast at 4am!  Thank God for that, cos they would have got bugger all out of me except for a load of abuse.  Apparently the older I get the grumpier I get…hmm well maybe.  Still I was in good company; Frank who does a great impression of Blakey from On the Buses/Victor Meldrew/Adolf Hitler/Basil Fawlty and then the professional alcoholic and bon viveur that is Alex ‘The Chin’ Watson certainly made for interesting company.

Frank doing an almost convincible impression of an angler!

Frank doing an almost convincible impression of an angler!

It was day two of this trip and we were heading off to a delightful day ticket section of the Wye near Aramstone.  We arrived around 5.15am and it was slightly cooler than the previous morning.    In fact a jacket was needed to keep the chill air out, however it was most refreshing not to be baked alive.  We were going to fish the first swim and take it in turns.  This was a spot that is well known for producing big bags of fish and I was hoping it wouldn’t let me down.  There is something nice about sharing a swim with mates.  It’s more sociable and it’s also great to share in the experience of catching, casting and the general day to day antics of fishing together.

Barbel O' Clock

Barbel O’ Clock

This is a very interesting swim.  The river narrows considerably here, with an area of very shallow gravel commanding most of the swim.  However on the nearside is a deep, fast gravel run.  The water is almost a torrent as it’s pushed into the bank on a sharp bend and then runs off downstream.  Thick weed abuts the channel and an area of still water lies to the right of the fast, boiling and swirling deluge of water forced down through this narrow channel.  It’s an ideal spot for barbel to hole up.  There’s loads of oxygenated water, cover and food and all in one fairly small and concentrated spot.

A feeder was loaded with bait, two elips glued to the hair and the whole lot cast to the exact spot required.   If you get it right, keep hold of the rod, because it won’t take long.  A few sharp bangs and the tip rips round….fish on.  Soon a nice barbel of around 5-6lbs was recovering in the net.  Once unhooked and released it was time for the boys to have a go.  It was interesting to note that the barbel here almost pulled you in and when recovering in  the net, very nearly pulled that in too.  The only difference was the speed of the water and the amount of oxygen this gushing torrent produced and it allowed the barbel a very healthy environment to live in during these extreme temperatures.

The Stunning Wye

The Stunning Wye

Throughout the remainder of the morning Frank, Alex and myself continued to hit the spot with the rig and fish after fish came our way.  We lost a few here and there, especially Frank who’s as adept at loosing fish as anyone I’ve seen.  I have to say in his defence though that the barbel here are particularly good at throwing the hook.  They either bury themselves in the thick weed or twist and turn and just throw the hook as regular as clockwork. They all put up tremendous fights and all went back with gusto.

The time wore on and by around 11.30am we thought we ought to have a look at the rest of this lovely beat.  We drove up to the remains of the old railway viaduct, it’s stanchions straddling the river.   There are a number of really nice, pacey gravel runs up here but all were taken.  By now it was blazing hot again and we decided to call it a day, however as we arrived back down at the start we saw the swim we had been fishing was still free and Frank wanted one last try.  So for maybe an hour we had a final fling.  Both Frank and I had a couple more out and I think the final tally was me on 7, Alex on 6 and Frank on 5 and we probably lost 6-8 fish too.  So pretty productive with all things considered.

My new house...er well one day...maybe

My new house…er well one day…maybe

It was time to call an end to this Wye adventure.  We were hot, tired, thirsty and hungry and so it was about time we headed off back to Kent via the Air Balloon pub for a spot of much need sustenance.   I had thoroughly enjoyed myself.  The company was rubbish of course but at least the fishing had been good.  The chauffeur was a little suspect and the chef had a habit of getting his manhood out a bit too often to take a pee, with absolutely no discretion whatsoever but other than that it was in fact great company with lots of belly laughs and just a little bit of good old fashioned pee taking.  Love it. 🙂

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The final stages of our annual Wye trip were drawing to a close.  With two more beats to fish we were still hopeful of some serious action.  The next session was on a beautiful day ticket section downstream of a WUF water.  It was an interesting beat.  The top end was fairly fast flowing over gravel and streamer weed, with some nice deepish runs.  Then as the river flowed downstream, it slowed in pace and became almost still but very deep in places.  Still lots of weed throughout the stretch and finally the river shallowed quite considerably but there was a very deep gulley on the nearside bank which caused the water to gush down in a boiling torrent straight into a bend before smoothing out again below the beat.  Thick weed seemed to completely cover the shallow gravels here and was a popular spot for the swans, ducks and a few drunken canoeists!  Yes it seemed that the hillbillies from Deliverance were alive and well and canoeing for a new hobby.  Cue banjos, squealing and pigs.  Luckily the vast majority of canoeists on the Wye and thoroughly nice, decent and considerate people but you do get the odd numpty but then the same could be said for anglers of course!

A drunken Wye Canoeist

A drunken Wye Canoeist

We started out at the top end of this very picturesque beat, having met and been shown the stretch by the river-keeper Stan.  There were horses all along the stretch and it seems that the owner is a famous race horse trainer and even had the Grand National winner a few years back.  The horses were fairly skittish until we made friends with a few and then of course they don’t leave you alone.  They were magnificent animals and added to the charm of this delightful beat.

I ended up on a croy, fishing out to some clear gravel set amongst thick streamer weed.  There is something very satisfying about feeling a lead or feeder hit clean gravel, especially if its amongst some thick weed.  You just feel so much more confident of a bite.  I had a reasonable depth and it was one of the nicest swims I think I have fished on the Wye.  The croy crept some way out into the river and I had unimpaired views both up and downstream of this amazing river.  With buzzards screeching overhead in that haunting way that they do, as they whirl high above on the thermals, kingfishers hurtling past and a vast array of wildfowl, it proved to be a pleasant distraction from the fishing.  That was just as well because despite the simply perfect looking swims that we all fished, we couldn’t buy a bite.  This was of course pretty much the theme of the week, so we wasn’t put off by the lack of action.

We kept moving and trying different swims, even the deep and sluggish water of the middle section, but all to no avail.  Stan was on hand a number of times throughout the day to lend a hand but even three regulars had struggled to get any action, with just two fish between them.  That at least made us feel a bit better, we weren’t as useless as we thought…?!  I decided to take a stroll, well hobble really, as I had done my big toe in.  It wasn’t gout, just where I had been pushing the toe up against my shoe for a long period of time and it had started to swell up and became very painful.  I’ve had this before where its actually gone sceptic and I’ve been forced to take a hot needle to the swelling and drain out the….well you get the picture.  So anyways I hobbled down to the start of the fishery and discovered a chap in the boiling, fast water swim.  He’d had 11 or 12 fish.  It was interesting to just chat and watch him fishing in this torrent of water.  He missed a few bites and then lost a barbel, so I left him in peace, especially as he’d had to put up with the 10 or so drunken youngsters in the canoes peeing and drinking on the shallows just in front of him earlier.

I wandered back up to the boys and we decided to call it a day, fishless once again.  The guy below appeared to be packing up too and by the time we had loaded the car, he had gone.  It was too good an opportunity to miss and so we headed down to the swim.  We shared a rod and were soon into our first barbel, which unfortunately snagged me and came off.  I then caught a lovely fish of about 6 or 7lbs and promptly lost another 4, all shedding the hook.  Kevin managed two and lost several and Geoff also got in on the action with a 100% success rate; 1 cast 1fish.  We decided to call it a day as food and drink beckoned.

The next day was hot, the sun beating down in a relentless blaze of heat.  Hats on and shade very much the order of the day.  We were heading to another new beat and looked forward to some exploring.  On arrival we walked the stretch to see what was what.  Shallow, weedy water seemed to be the mainstay here but with a deep near bank channel in places.  The channel had a really good flow and looked very tempting.  I found a nice spot but soon discovered that the gulley wasn’t as deep as I thought.  Still, it looked enticing and so a few bait droppers of hemp and pellet went out and the swim was rested for an hour.  Four and a half hours later and the tip hadn’t registered a single tap, let alone anything that closely resembled a barbel bite.

Kev waits for the wrap round - Wye June 2013

Kev waits for the wrap round – Wye June 2013

So it was time for a move.  I headed upstream and dropped into a slightly shallower and less pacey swim with a weedbed in front of me and overhanging trees just downstream.  It looked pretty good and I thought well worth a go.  However again a couple of hours passed and the lack of action and heat forced me to go and sit in the shade for a while.  Geoff had also just moved into a swim and both Kevin and I helped him with his gear.  I can’t believe I had missed this new swim because it looked absolutely perfect.  It was around 5′ deep, clean gravel bottom but with weed 3/4 of the way across and a lovely smooth and fairly pacey flow.   One look said ‘barbel’ .  Geoff was soon set-up and the feeder and bait were out mid-river.  The knocks and taps started straight away.  I think this is always a good sign and these sharp, quick bangs are often barbel not chub.  Soon the rod wrapped round and a beautiful, immaculate barbel was in the net.  Several more followed.

I headed back to my swim for a while to give it one final go.  Not long after casting out, the rod tip banged and dragged round.  The culprit put up one hell of a fight.  After several attempts to get it near to the net, only for this powerhouse of a barbel to surge off on another amazing run, I began to realise this was a really good fish.  It looked long, long enough to be a nice double.  Eventually I netted my prize and left it resting in the net for some time.  It had fought so hard it needed a good rest.  Then I weighed her in at exactly 10lbs, despite looking nearer to 11.  These fish are so lean and muscular, which is why they fight so hard.  So my first ever Wye double had been secured and I was over the moon.  It was a stunning fish and looked freshly spawned, so was soon returned and I’m delighted to say that it swam away strongly.

My first Wye double

My first Wye double

After hearing that Geoff was still catching and that he had now been joined by Kevin, I thought it only fair to share my vast experience with them by poaching their swim!  So it was a threesome, which won’t surprise our families,  as we are often refereed to as the ‘Brokeback Mountain’  brigade!  I mean, how very dare they. 🙂 So there we were like peas in a pod, all three in a nice neat line fishing this lovely run.  Soon we had all caught fish and I have to say it was an unusually sociable and entertaining way to fish.  I managed to persuade Geoff into float fishing the run for barbel and soon had the Drennan Power Float Rod in action.  However due to the wind, it was proving awkward to fish the right line on which the barbel appeared to be feeding.  Still it was great fun and Geoff managed to tempt a few chub whilst I blanked of course, well I may of had a small chub but can’t actually remember.  Damn this Senile dementia.

Peas in a pod

Peas in a pod

So we left perhaps a little disappointed with the slow fishing, but in all honestly the scenery, stunning beats, wildlife and company is what makes these trips so enjoyable and long may they continue.

 

 

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