As I hoped I did manage to get a final session in on the lake I had been targeting for the elusive double figure bream (see my last blog for info).
I arrived at the lake in the late afternoon and as in my previous sessions I kicked off with the method feeder with artificial corn and caster which was cast to a silt clearing just in front of a weed bed. As in previous sessions the fish didn’t want to co-operate in the hours of darkness but at dusk and dawn I did put half a dozen fish on the bank between 5lb 1oz and 7lb 10oz but with nothing anywhere near the elusive double I decided it was time for a rethink. The 14lb bream that had come out of the lake weeks previously was caught by a carp angler, so off came the method feeders and on went scaled down carp bolt rigs with snowman set ups on them both. I created a spod mix of hemp, corn, pellets and boilies and put 25 spods in before leaving the swim to rest for an hour. An hour later out went both rods and within minutes I had my biggest fish of the day at 9lb on the nose.
A little while later I was in again and getting closer to that hard to come by double, falling short by only 4oz, my next fish went 9lb 12oz. I did manage to catch another 4 fish between 7lb 9oz and 8lb 13oz before it was time to make my way home. I was pretty gutted at getting so close to cracking a double from this water and not quite doing it but changing my approach had produced bigger fish, so a lesson learned for my next visit, after all it would be rude not to get back again soon wouldn’t it now I’m getting this close?
This season on the river is going to be different for me, I have decided to not renew any of my memberships to clubs I was with previously and have joined a club that is new to me for a change of scenery and a challenge, therefore I will be fishing pegs that I haven’t fished for donkeys years or that I have never fished before. It’s the afternoon of Friday 14th June and I’m on the banks of the Trent waiting for the glorious 16th. I get my ‘base camp’ all sorted and over the next 30 hours or so start prebaiting. During this time in goes 2 and a half gallons of mixed pellets that I had flavoured and coloured a few days previously with both Barbel Proactive A-tract flavour & Oil that I am field testing for the Hook Bait Company, 3 gallons of hemp and 3 tins of corn accompany the pellet onto the river bed and over the next day and a half I spend my time fish spotting between the periods of excitement and giddiness.
At midnight on the Saturday evening I say a quick prayer to the barbel gods, toast the river with a tipple of beer and make my first cast. Thirty minutes or so later I have my first ‘Prince of the River’, not a huge fish, in fact only a baby at 5lb 1oz but being the first fish of the season makes it special, no matter the size.
Over the next few hours It’s really quiet then just before day break my first double of the season is resting in the landing net, tipping the scales at 10lb 2oz and then just after daybreak I get my first chub of the season, a lovely fish at 5lb 1oz. By mid-morning all I have added is a bream around 6lb so I decide to get my head down and get some sleep. Over the next 36 hours or so (not all spent fishing) I add another 4 barbel between 7-8lb and a bream between 5-6lb before wrapping up the session and heading home. Not a fantastic start to the season but considering I’m fishing a peg that’s new to me on a stretch I’ve not fished for years I’m pretty happy seeing as though the next best catch from the other 2-3 anglers on the stretch is 2 barbel.
Later that week I’m back on the same stretch for a quick overnighter with Bob Beal. I fish a different peg and it turns out that I just have a ‘mare’. It begins with me losing my bait dropper in a snag, followed by 3 feeders and 4 leads. By now I’m pretty miffed and after a few bite less hours and having a ‘head like a shed’ I decide I need to move swims in order to get my head right and be able to concentrate and hopefully catch a fish or two.
I trundle off to the peg I had my season opener on and as the sun begins to set I have my first fish, a chub of 4lb 14oz. During the night I bank 2 small barbel around 6lb apiece before calling it a day.
The following week I’m back again, this time for 2 nights and I will be joined for 1 of the days by my dad for his first river session of the season. I know I’m a bit crazy at times and a glutton for punishment, but with determined mind I get in the peg I had a ‘mare’ in the previous week because now I know where the snags are and I have the mind-set of ‘this peg won’t beat me, where there are snags there’s fish!’ . By late afternoon I’m having my first cast and by the time my dad arrived the following morning I had landed 3 barbel around 7lb apiece, 4 bream to just over 7lb and a small chub of around 3lb. See this peg wasn’t going to beat me! But there was more action to come in both in terms of catching fish and a bizarre incident.
During the day I catch another 6 bream to 8lb 2oz and a 7lb 8oz barbel and my dad has a barbel around 6lb and 8-9 bream but while he is packing up I hear shouts of “Jon quick!!”. I wonder what the hell is going on before seeing a large narrow boat drifting down river sideways! The boat is long, it’s stern just a rod length or two from our bank and its bow almost halfway across the river. Either it has managed to break free of its moorings by accident or someone doing it deliberately or someone has had an accident or died on it. Luckily the bailiff is on hand and throws a rock at the boat to see if anyone stirs and to our amazement this bloke staggers up from below deck. He is asked in no polite terms “what the hell are you doing?” Or words to that affect before slurring out in an inebriated state “I’m tired and have a bad hip”. This guy is pissed as a fart and has decided to sleep it off while letting his boat drift downriver sideways, not only endangering his own life but those of other river users too! If a boat had come around the corner no way would it have been able to stop, especially one of the large gravel loaders that navigate the Trent. Not only this but where we woke him was not far from the top of a weir! He is given a stiff talking to by us all before firing his engine up (right in the middle of where I had been fishing) and taking off downriver, however the bailiff called the lock master at the location where the idiot is heading too and is informed he will be picked up when he arrives there and dealt with accordingly.
Anyway back to the fishing. After my dad has left I settle back down to try and catch a few more and from dusk until dawn I land another 13 fish consisting of 5 barbel to 8lb 6oz, 7 bream between 6-7lb and a 4lb 12oz chub and I decide to pack up before the forecast rain arrives as there’s nothing worse than doing it in the rain and having to dry all your gear out at home. So a great session in a difficult peg with a total of 9 barbel, 17 bream and a couple of chub.
On the last day of the month i manage to sneak in a quick overnight session on the tidal with Bob Beal, once again on a peg I’ve not fished before.
To say it was slow was an understatement, I started fishing at midday and didn’t get my first bite until 1.30am that was a lovely 8lb 1oz barbel. Just after day break before the sun rose over the horizon in a mad 30-45 minute spell I had 3 more, nothing big with all being 6-7lb and that was it for the session. A short while later a hot sun rose and killed the sport, so home I went.
So 2 weeks into the season after 4 sessions my fish count currently stands at:
21 x Barbel to 10lb 2oz
19 x Bream to 8lb 2oz
4 x Chub to 5lb 1oz
So I thought I would add something different this month and talk about the rigs I use, well more specifically the very end of them and how they have evolved over time and the reasons for it. Now what I am about to write is just my opinion, it’s not the gospel or be all and end all of barbel rigs and what you must do in order to catch fish, it’s just how I feel about rigs and why I have evolved them over time. I might be wrong on 1-2 things but I believe that confidence is a massive factor in fishing, if you are confident in your rigs and bait then that is half the battle won and you tend to fish a lot better.
- Number 1 in the picture is the standard mono rig that I imaging the vast majority of barbel anglers begin with when they first start fishing for them. Simplicity at its best and does catch fish, however there can be the odd problem with it such as tangles and kinking, especially when using it in long hook lengths.
- In number 2 the rig has evolved onto fluorocarbon hook lengths. There are 2 reasons for this, the first been fluorocarbons ‘invisible’ properties in the water and the second is that the stiffer fluorocarbon kicks the hook bait out and away from the lead or feeder creating less tangles. Even though the stiffness is great for doing the above I felt it did have a downside, I felt it was too stiff at the business end near the hook and fish could sense that something wasn’t quite right, so my rig evolved again after just a couple of sessions of using this.
- The bog standard combi rig was my next choice as seen in number 3. This did everything I wanted as it had the stiffness and invisibility of the fluorocarbon and the suppleness of the Supanova braid that the hook and bait were on. With all 3 rigs I had used I did suffer a similar problem, I would occasionally get bites from a few taps on the rod tip to whack a rounds that resulted in nothing. All I could put this down to was fish ejecting the bait before the hook took hold, so the next evolvement of my rig took place.
- Now with rig number 4 you can see a few changes in the rig. Firstly the change of braid, gone was the Supanova to be replaced with a more natural looking finer braid. The most important evolvements were the introduction of shrink tube on the hook and rig putty on the knot. If you look at the pictures and the angle of how the hooks sit against the line you will see that in numbers 1-3 the angle of the point of the hook is a lot more acute than in numbers 4-6 and my gut feeling was that fish could eject the bait before the hook point even got near the lip of the fish due to this angle. Now with the shrink tube the angle is a lot less meaning the point of the hook doesn’t have to travel or turn as much before hitting home. At the top of the eye of the hook the shrink tube kicks off at an angle for a reason. This angle means the rig putty makes it act in the same way as say a mini bolt rig if you like, where the fish would suck in the bait and the weight of the putty would mean the hook point would bring the hook down in turn pricking the fishes bottom lip resulting in less bait ejection and the fish just bolting off after feeling the hook take hold. The fact that 95%+ of the bites I now got were 1-tone screaming runs in my opinion backs this up.
- Why would I want to change from number 4? You might ask. Well 2 reasons, the first being practicality and cost and the second being more flexibility and movement in the rig. I keep all my rigs ready tied up on korum rig boards and tubes. This meant if I needed to change a rig then the whole lot got binned right up to the lead/feeder as they are all tied up ready. Now with me being a Yorkshireman I thought to myself “I’m throwing money down the drain here and wasting fluorocarbon when there is no need to, what can I do to change that?” The solution was simple, introduce a micro swivel so all you have to tie up ready now are the braid segments of the rigs tied to swivels which are then stored on boards etc. Not only does this give you more flexibility as you can use any length of fluorocarbon you want before tying it to the swivel on the hook section but also means the hook section has more movement and can turn freely to aid hooking fish even more. Rig putty is still used but I don’t cover the eye nearest the hook as not to impair the movement.
- Finally onto number 6, my current rig. The problem I had with #5 was the rig putty. It was prone to occasionally lifting away from the swivel or fluorocarbon after the swivel and on occasion even came off. This problem was solved unknowingly to him by Bob Beal very recently. Bob uses normal combi rigs like #3 on the picture but was using tungsten tubing to cover the joint on the Albright knot. On seeing this I asked him for a piece to try and it worked a treat. To me this just looks like a bit of stick or twig in the water and doesn’t seem effect catch rates at all. The tubing was something I had never thought of using until seeing bobs rig so as I have said many a time before ‘always observe and listen to others because no matter how much you think you know you are always learning’
The Hook Bait Company
Hopefully next week I will be on the river Wye for a day and be doing some photographs showing my bait preparation both for feed and as hook baits using the barbel Proactive range for an article for the company’s website. Speaking of the website the old one will be defunct to be replaced by a fantastic new one very soon (in the next week or two) that is more user friendly, informative and have all the companies products available to buy. Even the new products such as Barbel Proactive & Worm Krill will be available to buy for the first time after testing on the new site when it goes live.
I’m chuffed to bits to be on board with them as a tester because the future for them is very promising indeed with some of the new products becoming available (Pike & Predator ranges as well as new additions to the flavour range) as well as some other things that I can’t say anything about at the moment. I personally think that these things along with the quality of the baits they currently produce and some of the names associated with them such as Iain Nairn, Lee Swords & Terry Theobald mean that they will grow and go from strength to strength.
Yorkshire Specimen Group
It’s been a stunning start to the river campaign for some of the lads. Lee Swords had an amazing start to his river campaign with the following from the Trent so far: 13lb+ barbel, 12lb+ barbel, 11lb x 2 barbel, 10lb barbel, Bream 10lb 3oz, Bream 10lb 10oz, Chub 6lb 9oz, Chub 5lb 10oz with about 100lb of backup smaller barbel bream and chub. With a catch like that I was gutted for him not even receiving a Drennan weekly award which was more than merited for his achievement.
Wayne Glossop smashed his personal best Barbel with a stunning 14lb 1oz fish from the Tidal Trent during a 4-5 day session.
Jason McAdam had a superb session on the river near Nottingham few days ago landing 12 Barbel with the largest nudging 12lb….. On the float!
In November the group will be having an ‘Anglers Evening’ with the proceeds going towards buying IT beds for Sheffield Children’s Hospital. These beds enable the kids to do schoolwork, homework and play games on etc., basically a computer bed. There are 2 very well-known guest speakers doing talks that I can’t announce at the moment but 1 is a Carp specialist and the other covers all species of specimen hunting but mainly targets rivers. Both are regular contributors to the national angling press and hopefully their talks will attract a lot of people to the event. There will also be a raffle with some amazing prizes; the raffle will be run both online and with tickets sold at the event so even those that can’t attend have the opportunity for winning some unique and special prizes. More details will be announced nearer the time both on my blog and the both the YSG Facebook page and website (See links on the right of this page to both of them).
What Makes Us Go Fishing?
At the recent Barbel Society show Bob Roberts & Stu Walker did a presentation on the ‘Caught in the Act’ series of DVD’s which to be honest blew me away. They are the closest thing to A Passion for Angling I have seen and are a must purchase for all fishermen in my opinion. Anyway they showed a small video entitled ‘What makes us go fishing’ that I think is tremendous, so I thought I would share it with you.
Well it’s all a bit quite on the Rovers front apart from the odd rumour here and there, however we have signed a Spaniard who played for Real Madrid!!!
Welcome to Doncaster Rovers Marc De Val Fernandez
I got told he’s one that the ladies in the crowd might be all gaga over but personally for me I wouldn’t mind a seat next to his girlfriend!
Apparently we have also signed Harry Forrester, Dean Furman & Jean-Yves M’voto and all 3 are to confirmed later this week. Also 1-2 more permanent signings are expected and we will also be looking to bring in a few players from premier league clubs on loan.
All I hope is that we start to play the attractive football we were renowned for before Dean ‘hoofball and soundbite’ Saunders arrived and I have a gut feeling we will under Paul Dickov.
Last night we had our first pre-season friendly just down the road at Frickley Athletic. I was going to go until I was told they wanted £8 to get in! I mean come on it’s a pre-season friendly with unlimited substitutions, missing first teamers, youth players and trialists! Anyway we won 4-0 with Chris Brown grabbing a brace between goals from Paul Keegan & David Syers.
Hopefully I will have a lot more to report on the rovers front in my next blog.
So that’s it for me this month. Next month hopefully I will be telling you about a session on the River Wye and will also do a piece on bait for your reading pleasure. Until then tight lines and wet nets,