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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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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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