This weeks blog update see's me hitting the bank for my first ever session just aimed at catching barbel, we then jump into a pole session on the canal in a swim with plenty of features and we finish it off with a bumper session for carp where believe it or not i catch my 50th carp of the season (still shake my head as i type that as i can not believe i have actually caught some carp on this blog lol) in a session where it certainly was quality rather than quantity.
Sit back, grab a brew and a chocky biscuit, its what i do when i read blogs and lets get right into this update...
First Barbel Session.....
At the start of the week i had decided to get my act together with the barbel fishing and as with all aspects of fishing preparation is the key. I knew evenings would be the best time for a bite but i also knew that such a session was never going to happen after work as it stood right now as i had no hemp seed prepared and no meat hook baits prepared either.
There was always the option to go to the tackle shop and just buy loads of tins of hemp seed and pre prepared luncheon meat but come on have you seen the price of these products?? Yes they are convenient and i wont argue in the fact the missus wont kill you for using her best pan to cook your hemp or for turning the house air green with the smell of boiling hemp, but, when you do the sums you realise just how much money money is added to the price of the raw product of hemp seed when you buy it in this form. Maybe I'm just tight but doing the sums a 20kg bag saves you at least the price of a new fishing rod and on the odd occasion i have bought a tin of hemp i found these tins don't even contain a pint of hemp! Well in a blog with no introduction we snook a rant in somewhere ha-ha.
So with the hemp cooked in 2 pint bags and the luncheon meat happily marinating in my spicy mix it was a simple case of getting the bait out of the freezer before work so i could hit the bank right away that evening. A quick check on the EA levels at 4pm showed the river dropping and about foot max above summer levels, this was at 2pm on my break. I rushed home at 4pm grabbed the gear and then fought my way through rush hour traffic finally arriving on the river banks at around 5.15pm.
Opening the farmers gate i could see the river, odd i thought as you can not normally see her till a little more along the field. Getting closer i could see she was well up and very very coloured. I walked the banks to find most of the swims unfishable due to the bottom of the peg being submerged. The only bit of the stretch that was fishable was the peg i fished the opening week on the stick float where the risen bank i was stood on had created a slack on the inside. Down the middle it was bombing through with all types of stuff coming down.
I fed the inside heavy with hemp seed trying my best to judge the flow so the hemp was staying in the swim and nog getting washed away. I set my stall and in went a big pieces of smelly meat. Sat back well up the bank i was fishing my first ever barbel session on a rising river and although the text books say this is the best conditions, for me, it was a baptism of fire and i was using all my watercraft to try and read a river rising fast, i felt i was in the right spot. If i was going to get one it would be here.
Bot long after casting in i began to get a few taps on the rod tip, then a few more and the excitement levers rose, i was at least in a spot where fish where holding. The taps continued until the tip tap round and remained round, i stuck and there was a fish on!! in the flow it felt ok but soon up came a slimy slippery eel! Not the species i was after but the blank was saved and i felt i was in the right area.
The next few hours i really questioned my sanity as zero taps on the rod and the sight of whole trees coming down the river really did have me thinking of packing in and calling it a wasted trip. A stick in the water was my marker and the river had fully submerged this as was the rise. 9pm and the flow on the river seemed to change and settle and the streams of rubbish had stopped coming down. Being a stick float angler i rarely see the river in this state so i imagine this was when the river hit its peak and leveled off.
Thew light levels began to go and calm was all around me, it felt right it felt bite time and as soon as i thought that the tip wolloped round, a bite like nothing else i had ever seen, grabbing the rod i was bent into a fish that felt massive in the flow yet it went from one side to the next effortlessly before coming into the middle of the river and again making hard runs, i felt sure it was a barbel. It certainly was not a chub,too strong. Holding in the flow and the fight i felt getting into the middle stages the line come flying back at me as the hook pulled!! Writing this now the feeling i felt then comes flooding back, i was gutted, i sat there and in short was amazed how the fish had gone on such hard runs but when seemingly under control in the middle of the river the hook pulled. Fished on into dark but nothing came but the extra time saw me reflecting on the situation.
"my first ever barbel trip on a new river in flooded conditions and i had read the river, fed a swim and got a bite from a barbel. Yes i was gutted but there where more positives than negatives to take form this session."
Early Morning Canal Session - Bridgewater Canal
A stifling day midweek in work and i decided to escape the beige brick wall i face in work and escape for an opportunistic hour lunch break. A short drive and i was soon heading down a narrow road leading to a humpback bridge. A tight turn and i was literally along side the canal looking at a swim that was to die for reeds lined the far bank and all along the length there was sunken trees and surface lillys. It screamed fish but alas my destiny that day lay back at my desk dreaming of the swim i had just been eating my sandwiches in.
Saturday morning arrived and in the dark i loaded the car and made my way to the swim. I loaded in my MAP TKS 101 2G pole with two top kits and bait for the day would be ground bait and red maggot. As regular readers will know i follow a set routine with my canal sessions and the first thing to be done was mixing up the ground bait, this is my opinion, when prepared in the right way, is the key to success on the canal.
I fed the far line just off the cover heavy with two big balls of ground bait loaded with hemp and castor and introduced one ball on my near side line just over the inside shelf. The inside line was good from the off with skimmers and small roach and perch coming regularly. Whilst catching these fish i kept the odd pouch of maggots going over the far bank line.
This really is a game of patience on the canal and judgement as the longer you leave that far bank line before fishing it the better the fishing will be but you don't want to leave it too long that the boat traffic starts not long after feeding it. I think the beauty of this far bank line is the face its settled with no disturbance and there is a bed of bait on the bottom for them to settle over.
With canal sessions i think you get the best results early morning so i get out of the mindset that i will be fishing all day, all my canal sessions are form first light till around 10 to 11am max, earlier if boat traffic is really really heavy. Early on the inside line fished well but as bank side disturbance grew i knew the fish had backed off and it was time to go over to the far bank.
The far bank line was instantly a bite a chuck and it was not a surprise with it being so close to the cover. Bites would come on the drop mainly but a better fish was always the result should the bait settle on the bottom, a caster session on this canal is well over due.
Keeping the bait going in saw fish coming regular to the net and at times some quality roach would nip in and these are of course the jewel in the crown for any canal angler. The session was the relaxing session i had craved in the week, a polar opposite form the beige wall i stared at all week long in work. A 12lb net was the end outcome of lovely silver fish.
As with all fishing we should leave the banks how we find them, foot prints, spilt bait and the depression from my basket the only sign the bank had been visited.
Doubles Doubles and the Hidden Jewel Of the Lake....
There was no escaping at this point that early morning quick sessions for carp where flowing through my veins. The sessions where both fun and whats even better, cheap, some sessions costing as little as 35p for a loaf of bread. The tackle costs where just as minimal with one packet of hooks still going strong with a few left from a pack of ten.
To this point i had been taking two rods with me with one on the bait alarm on the bottom and one on the top with bread, never fishing both at the same time, but alternating between the two. As the sessions went on it soon became noticeable that fishing a bait on the bottom was just too easy. I don't say that in a cocky way but once i had found a clear spot, near cover, i found the fish would come and come and come and it was getting a little silly. I had broke my personal best and i felt that i could possibly break this again with one big fish spotted but i was at the stage where i didn't want to plough through runs to catch one fish i wanted to go for a few hours and have some fun.
That said i started just going with one rod, a net, a bucket with my loaf of bread and unhooking mat in and my licence of course. Free lining bread on the surface was what i wanted to do and it was such fun. On this session the morning was very dark and there was plenty of cloud cover as i arrived and i doubted whether i would get the carp up on top at all. Had i bitten off more than i could chew in taking up this fun challenge.
A few free offerings put in the margins and some in open water i waited with bread in hand ready to make my first cast. Time would tell if the fish would come up on top. After what seemed an age....Slurp! and then another Slurp, it was like music to my ears. The fish was taking right close top a big snag but it was taking the bread down well so i knew if it saw my offering i would have him. Sure enough up he came and with such a gentle take the bread disappeared, line tightened and i was into my first carp, a nice small common to open my account.
This fish was fish 48 of the season for me and i was hoping for the morning to bring me over the 50 mark. The carp released i could see a carp taking some bread right on the edges of my baited area. Using braid certainly caught me this fish as this fish came and looked at the bread and moved on but being able to quickly lift and mend the line as it turned I'm sure the better presentation fooled it as it had a second look.
A 10lb 9oz Carp was the reward and what a reward a stunning double figure ghosite.
I had been drip feeding some bread under my feet for a while and the natural tow of the lake was taking the bread over to the far bank just off a overhanging tree. To this day i don't know how on earth a damp free lined piece of bread one, managed to stay on the hook after the cast and two managed to land inches off the over hanging tree on the far side.
Land it did with an ever so inviting plop and no sooner had it landed than a huge set of rubber lips rolled on the bread and nailed it. No strike was need as the rod was nearly pulled out of my hand in a run of pure power! The line cut across the surface as the fish bolted for open water and keeping deep i was luck it did. Had it headed for the big snag i would have been in all kinds of trouble.
The rod hooped over it was a fantastic fight that i enjoyed, i don't think i would have been so relaxed had it been my PB a few weeks earlier, now i had a few doubles under my belt i was enjoying the battles more and there where little nerves. Sliding the net under the fish i peered in and she was a nice common carp. On the mat peeling back the mesh revealed a stunning fish and i mean stunning she was fin perfect. Her mouth was clean and her scales immaculate, lifting her dorsal fin revealed, well i will let the pictures below do the talking.
14lb 8oz of pristine common carp, what a fish to bring up the 50!
The fish admired and returned safely back to the water i had a quick coffee break and while i did i fed under my feet again. All this bread going in i had acquired myself a little pet carp under my feet, i don't think she knew i knew she was there, but i did. She was there taking the odd piece of bread thinking she was getting one over on me and i hadn't seen her, unfortunately i had. It was time to cash her in.
Coffee drank i stopped feeding bread for a few minutes allowing her to mop up the bits as they went passed. The next one down was the one with my hook in and good as gold she came out of the bank side reed cover and took the bait. Now bear in mind i had seen this fish quite a bit taking bread but what i had not realised was she was quite a bit carp. In fact she was one of the better specimens in the lake and she made me know it with a bruising encounter all under the rod tip.
Sliding her into the net i felt like my arm was going to fall off, another common and my third double of the morning at 16lb 10oz.
Two smaller carp got in on the act after this fish and i had noticed when these whipper snappers move in its a sure sign the better fish have moved out. A quick change of swim i dropped back into a swim close to the car and just before leaving a managed a final double of the morning in a 10lb 6oz mirror carp.
I left around 9am having caught a few fish and certainly had my string pulled. Home in time for the family to be waking up and ready for a day ahead spent relaxing with the family. My mind occasionally drifting back to the lake that morning and that magical 14lb pristine carp, the hidden jewel of the lake.
Till next time