Thursday, 30 July 2015
Thursday, 23 July 2015
This season I had a plan and one I wished to stick to, that was to target barbel on the Blackwater. Time spent watching and building up a mental image of various stretches of the river over the last few seasons whilst targeting other species had helped a lot, that said on the couple of occasions I did try to tempt one during last season I felt that I approached it half heartedly and lacked the single minded focus it required.
So this season I decided to do evening trips, fishing till midnight hoping with the dry weather that the cover of darkness would help combat the low water levels. Three trips in I was beginning to scratch my head and stare at a piscatorial labyrinth with which to become lost in. The barbel were still spawning and that was definitely making it tricky, thoughts about leaving it till a bit later in the season did cross my mind.
During the fourth trip I had settled into a perfect looking swim, dense streamer weed giving way to dinner plate sized gaps where a bait could be gently lowered and presented, it was a lovely warm evening and there was signs of fish on the opposite margin, the tell tale signs as the foliage was being vigorously nudged back and forth, a sure sign that something was engrossed with spawning activity. Around 10pm a fish in my marginal swim spooked and a trail of bubbles was all that could be seen, I was starting to think that things were not going to go as I hoped. Half an hour later and a mink paddled by, not the best sight in your swim and it followed it up by passing by yet again on its way upstream. This scenario was set to repeat itself and in all honesty it could have done a backstroke on its next lap past my rod, it would not have surprised me had that happened!
I really should have moved swims, as I have always found when fishing its larger sibling the Loddon that you may have a good spot which can produce some very special fish, however once the mink become active you are sometimes better off relocating. Alas I stuck it out and this furry critter that seemed like it had overdosed on energy drinks just kept on going (could well have been powered by Duracell). I headed home with a bee in my bonnet about furry critters that might make nice coats!
On the evening of my fifth trip there had been a welcome sprinkling of rain, conditions were very humid, with plenty of cloud cover and a welcome breeze. It felt right, but would the river agree? As I made my way to a new spot I passed by a few swims that showed obvious signs of angling activity the Himalayan balsam and reeds trodden down, enough room for an opportunistic cast up or downstream. Tempting as they were I had one area in mind and was hoping the extra depth just might give me a chance.
As evening drew in I had placed some birdseed via bait dropper slightly upstream and lowered the rod into position, a scant amount of free offerings were placed round the hook bait, the last thing I wanted to do was over feed fish that seemed to have an abundance of natural food.
Every fishing trip I am a fairly excitable angler but this evening you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife, for some reason I was like a tightly wound, chubby spring sat on a landing mat.
An hour later and the rod nodded once and tapped a couple of times before the clutch started ticking steadily, not the usual manic bite you would associate from a barbel, oh no that was to come when I lifted the rod and boy did she awaken, tearing off downstream and trying to take me for a tour of the weed bed, as I walked to the limit of my swim to gain some control over her I could feel every surge and with it the attempt to make for the sanctuary of some nearby snags.
My headlight caught her flank as she broke the surface, words tumbled out my mouth regarding her length and build, along with a slight helping of expletives. The net seemed to take an age to slip under her, but once it had and she lay recuperating I punched the air with joy, daft as it may seem but I don't think I have ever felt such a feeling of contentment.
|A dream realised from one of my favourite Thames tributaries (12.1)|
I was over the moon, I don't think there is a much better feeling than adrenaline combined with knowing that groundwork had culminated in such a reward, if only she could have known how much she had gladdened my heart. As I released her it was with an emotionally choked goodbye.
Part of the key had been unearthed, but this waterway has so many more special secrets that it withholds and has fought its way back from the brink of death by pollution in 1995, long may it continue.
Friday, 3 July 2015
Such a simple question, yet one which I feel some anglers totally miss the point of and dare I say end up disappearing down a tunnel of blinkered thinking and a necessity to catch.
Let me explain why I enjoy fishing.
I enjoy the escapism and peacefulness, the latter being very much venue dependent admittedly, but that first look at a river or lake as you make your way along it, be it a new venue or one that has been inextricably linked to your childhood memories is akin to fresh wind filling the sails of a boat.
Granted we all like to catch the odd fish, after all that is part of the reason we go, but as I look more and more at social media I am seeing anglers comment with "I want big fish" , this along with other comments saddens me in more than one way.
The lack of being able to enjoy what you are catching, because angler A,B or C on facebook, twitter, instagram etc have been out and caught bigger. I am seeing a mentality that this creates amongst some anglers and is very much a seemingly one way ticket to having a certain outlook. I feel they allow it to then encroach upon their enjoyment of their own angling and dare I say go off on one predetermined path.
I like to catch and target (loathe to use that word too) the odd larger fish, but at the same time still get as much enjoyment catching smaller fish no matter the species. If you cannot find that enjoyable I think you need to question if you really do get the same evocative feelings from this pastime any more.
There is also a lack of thinking outside of the stereotypical venues, this saddens me probably the most of all. Granted one of the rivers I fish is the Loddon and you could very much say that makes my statement a bit hypocritical, as it is an oversubscribed river on some club tickets due to the popularity of barbel angling. But I enjoy fishing other rivers which have had and still do have a tendency to be ignored, in some anglers eyes they are deemed not worthy of any attention.
One of my older articles touched on this very lightly "more river and peace for yourself Mark" I hear you say and that may well be true but at the same point the ignorance and one track thinking fills me with a non comparable amount of dismay and it would be nice to see more anglers looking at some of these little places as a goldmine in terms of enjoyable fishing trips and that they do contain some absolute monsters, some of which can rival rivers of a grander scale.
This is not a rant or me trying to crow from some illusionary moral high ground and I do realise that I obviously enjoy using social media to upload and share my fishing vlogs (youtube & facebook). It is just me simply trying to say go out there and enjoy your fishing, don't read into too much on social media, avoid it skewing your thoughts and sending your angling and with it the essence and reason why you enjoyed it in the first place into a downward spiral.
Wednesday, 1 July 2015
Opening day of the season beckoned and it was fairly evident that quite a few anglers had commenced with a midnight cast, something which I have never been that fussed about, I have to be honest that most of the time I would probably prefer to skip the 16th and let the dust settle.
One thing I did want was my first barbel on the pin this season and so on opening day when I really should have taken the quiver tip rod I instead headed off to the river with the barbel tackle and Marco Cortesi mk2 in tow. On reaching the river it was nice to find some swims had not been crushed down by the usual June 16th stampede.
I decided to fish a few swims using a simple link ledger and trundling bait along some likely undercuts and gravel runs. Sure enough it was not long before a group of barbel came into sight right beneath my feet and all were rather preoccupied with only one thing on their minds. I considered my options. 1) Phone home and try to get the quiver tip, possibly risking a verbal ear battering. 2) Crack on and see if I could tempt some chevin.
The latter won easily, besides hardly fair on mum or my ears. I planned to fish a few swims and started off in a shallow area that gave way to some depth along the opposite bank, a few free offerings of slick sense boilie barrels were placed upstream before trundling finally commenced. It became evident early on that the water clarity combined with sunny conditions would make for a tricky affair, so a change of swims was made and I moved slightly downstream to see if I could perhaps tempt some from under a bush.
A few minutes had past when I received a very confident bite and I was soon playing a chunky summer chub.
The first fish of the season and I was rather cheerful about it, a good scrap considering the barbel tackle. The day was speeding by, the air heavily laced with pollen, it was a hay fever sufferers nightmare, that said the bees were having a jolly good time filling up their pollen baskets.
By evening I had added a few chublets and a couple of greedy brownies that had taken a liking to the bait. I pondered a move back to the shady swim that had produced the larger chub and perhaps another couple of swims further downstream, one of these a rather debris strewn, shallow run with enough cover for a fish to have some welcome respite from the late evening sun.
Making my way back upstream to my first swim I decided to roll the dice and see if there were any more chevin willing to feed, a bite came quite rapidly, the rod tip thudding round and I found myself playing a chub that was putting up a really good tussle in this pacey water. A nicely formed fish with that dappled enamelling that makes them look like they have been given a fresh coat of gilding.
After a light snack and some welcome rehydration I decided to fish a couple more spots, one of these I had planned to leave and head home, after all I was fairly spent, but the allure proved too much and I found myself wetting a line in a deeper swim in hope of a barbel. Forty minutes later and the isotope moved in one direction only, before the pin crackled into life, a lively scrap from a feisty whisker ensued, this fish powering off downstream in an attempt to put me into the nearest reeds and flotsam that it could find.
A perfectly conditioned six pounder and my first barbel on a pin. I must admit I wholeheartedly enjoyed it, that said I am still not a fully converted pin user for them and certainly won't be ditching the fixed spool reels just yet.