The season so far

Well, according to the Barbel Catchers Club catch returns I have so far had nine sessions this season, and have caught seven fish.  Not a bad return I guess, particularly as I mainly fish the Goyt, and occasionally the Dove.  The river’s have been low recently, however my last session on the Goyt on the 13th August yielded two fish – the latter not quite a double at 9lb 8oz.  Still, my return for the whole of last season was only nine fish – thus at two months into the season I think I’m doing well enough.

The smaller fish – just over six pounds – came from another swim and using a hair-rigged boilie:  The first this season on anything other than pellet.  I was beginning to lose faith in boilies, generally, so it was good timing.  P1000628This is particularly true given that AC Baits have stopped making bait and I’m going to have to find a new supplier.
Getting back to the day itself; well, I wasn’t hugely optimistic as the river was very low for the time of year and the weather was sunny and hot, around 24 degrees.  I arrived at the river at around 2.30pm and, to my surprise, there were no other anglers.  I settled into a spot Bill and I refer to as the Bacon Butty #2 peg and baited up with a few of the Quest Special Crab boilies. Although, again, I wasn’t that optimistic I was determined to give boilies a good go, for the aforementioned reason.  I cast to a deep section just about halfway across the river and waited no longer than 45 minutes before the rod crashed round.  I was into a fish.  After a good battle the smaller of the two fish was landed.  What a triumph!
Having disturbed the swim to the extent that I doubted if another fish could be tempted I moved to a different swim – one not far from a weir and just downstream of a section of f2016-08-13 9-8aster water.  I remember reading, Trefor West I think, that a swim adjacent to a fast stretch, particularly when the flow slows right down will be an area where natural food collects and, thus, a good spot for fishing.  There aren’t any obvious features above the water but there is at least one deeper hole, and this is where I cast.
Using glued salmon pellets on the hair I waited for a good hour before the bait was snaffled.  A terrific fight ensued and, when I saw the fish, I was hopeful that it might reach the magical 10lb mark.  At 9lb 8oz it didn’t quite.  But no matter – a lovely fish in tip top condition graced my net.
My other session have been a mixture of staying local on the Goyt, or driving further afield to the Dove.  The latter give more of a chance of a fish, though this is entirely dependent on conditions.
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June Update ’16

The new fishing season started just under a fortnight ago and, despite having had three sessions, I’m still awaiting my first barbel.  The first took me down to the River Dove where I was feeling pretty optimistic as a couple of lads on Facebook had done well on opening night.  One friend, in particular, Grazy Roberts, had already surpassed his personal best.  What a start!  Anyway, I arrived and parked the car, only to the told by a couple of lads from the kennels (I don’t want to give too much away) that the gates were being shut at 7pm, much to my dismay.  Whatever, I was there now, so I determined to give it a couple of hours before driving to another area upstream.  The levels were slightly up and the conditions, generally, were excellent.  Alas, it proved to be a short and barren session as there were absolutely no signs of any fish.  So, as 7pm was just a couple of hours away the lure of finding a swim I could spend a few hours drew me back to the Disco for a drive upstream.

My second favoured swim looked nicely overgrown and a great prospect.  That was, at least, until I heard a shout and looking round spotted a chap fishing the far bank. Protocol suggests it’s bad form to fish so close without an invitation, so I was on the move once more.  None of the other swims in the vicinity looked particularly ‘fishy’, so I jumped in the

20160619_174037

River Dove

car once again and move to another spot.  It’s a bad habit, I know, but I keep getting drawn to areas where I’ve caught before, especially when time’s marching on and the session end is approaching.  My third a final swim, was one I’d fished a couple of times before, though not since the end of last year.  Suffice to say I was also fishless there.  The Dove’s a long way to drive for a just a few hours on the bank – the potential of the river keeps me going back, however.

Tackle-wise; my cane rod’s going to have a few outings this summer as I feel I badly neglected it last season, in favour of the Hexagraph.  That together with the Fred Crouch Jet, braid mainline and a braid hooklength (around 18″) seemed just about right.  For bait I had a choice of pellets or spicy boilies – I’ve not caught on the latter yet so my confidence has yet to reach a level where I can fish just one rod with that on the hair.  My go-to bait is a couple of pellets with a flat side shaved off, glued to the hair.  And that’s what I went with, switching to the boilies later.  Neither, however, had the desired effect.  It might seem a little one-dimensional to use pretty much the same tactics time and time again; though I believe fish to be simple creatures.  To be a successful angler, location is of primary importance, followed by bait presentation……and, last but not least, bait.  Some manufacturers would have you believe that they’ve produced a magical bait that will snaffle a fish every time.  If you get the first two right, the bait makes very little difference.  I say very little, not none.  Certainly a good quality bait will conquer a lower quality bait.

Once the fish have been found – and in this the angler is confronted by different factors on different rivers; very much dependent on size and other characteristics – the second piece of the jigsaw is presentation.  Again, much is dependent on aspect such as water clarity, depth, underwater features, etc, etc.

Anyway, I digress, and will perhaps revisit those subjects again in the future.  I shouldn’t forget this is a blog, though..and will get back briefly to my second the third 20160626_201853sessions:  The second saw me on the River Goyt.  The levels were also slightly up with plenty of colour in the water.  There were no reasons to use a long hooklength so I stuck with 18″ again, and again fished the two glued pellets.  The cut a short story even shorter (the sessions was only two hours) I had about three casts and managed to catch a small trout.

The last session of the trio again found me on the Goyt, though upstream of the previous visit.  The swim had very different characteristic and is one I’ve caught many big barbel from before (my pb included).  This time around I had to settle for three chub, albeit two were around the 4lb mark.  Not bad, even if not the intended species.

At this point I should also add that in stark contrast to the first week of last season, the Goyt is fishing very poorly.  It can only get better…..or can it.

Pre-season Musings

It’s now the thirteenth of June and in a few days the new season starts – and I cannot wait. I keep on saying that I’m going to keep on top of my blog, and I hope to live up to my word this coming season. The 2015/16 season was very much a damp squib, even taking into account the two doubles I caught around new year; one from the Dove on the 28th December; the other from a rising Goyt on the 3rd January.

The first probably gave me greater satisfaction as the fish is the biggest I’ve caught from the River Dove. Furthermore, the fish was one of very few caught from that particular stretch November to the end of the season (so Jim Ufton told me one evening in December).  Another interesting fact is that it was caught at 1.30pm. People often refer to the Dove as being a night-only river, in that it’s hard fishing during daylight hours. I can see how that conclusion has been reached, however, as when low, the water clarity is exceptional. It’s paradoxical, then,, that the vast majority of my fish have been caught during the day. It was the first and only bite of the session and, I think, my first cast.

2015-12-29 11-14 #2

11lb 14oz

Having arrived at the swim at just before 1pm I set out my gear and threw a handful of pellets just at the top of a nice crease. The level was fairly high after rain the day before,, though eminently fishable, particularly close in. Having then set up my chair, bank sticks assembled the landing net I pulled a little braid off the ‘pin and glued two half pellets to the hair. The rig was a running leger with a 2 oz lead, which seemed just about right for fishing on a crease close to the bank.  I then cast in….and didn’t have long to wait.  Bang!  My ‘pin screamed and the rod time whacked around.  Not wanting to give the fish much line I quickly picked up the rod.  The fish surged towards mid-river and it felt a good size.  After a couple of minutes I managed to turn the fish and bring it to the net.  Once weighed – at 11lb 14oz – I quickly set up the selfie and returned it to the water.  I love the way the adrenaline flows when a big fish is hooked.  Exhilarating stuff.  She turned out to be my last fish of the session and, indeed, of 2015.

2016 started off in a similar vein on the wet and mild afternoon on the River Goyt, just outside Stockport.  A substantial amount of rain had fallen and the river was swollen.  Most of my first choice swims we almost unfishable as the was steaming through.  With that in mind I decided to check if the weir swim was free – and it was (I think the high level had deterred other anglers).  The only way to fish this weir effective in high water is to fish

2016-01-03 10-5

11lb 05oz

off the wall, in an area of slack just off the main flow, so that’s where I set up (brolley included, for a change).  It was late-ish afternoon and I wasn’t all that optimistic of catching, however just as dusk was approaching I heard splash to right,in the aforementioned slack water.  Initially I couldn’t figure out what it was as the noise of the water flowing over the weir is loud enough to mask any subtler noises.  Still, there is was and to my mind must have been a fish.  I threw a handful of pellets in the general area and cast my bait on top – thinking there’s no way the pellets wouldn’t have dispersed already.  Within five minutes the rod wrapped around and the reel screamed…..and I was in.  Whilst it didn’t take me long to get in control of the fish, the flow made netting the fish extremely difficult.  At last I managed it.  After weighing – 11lb 5oz – and a quick photo, I returned her to the water via my landing net.  Wow, two doubles in the space of a week from different rivers.  I was elated.

The remaining two and a half months of the season were a disappointment.  Firstly, because I only managed a couple of sessions; secondly, because I caught no more fish (barbel, at least).  I had one good session with my good friend Jerry Gleeson on the Dove.  No fish, however.

Time doesn’t equal reward

Well, three sessions and only one fish over the past couple of weeks. Not a great return, though having said that, I’ve fished a couple of unfamiliar swims and mostly kept away from where the circus congregates on an almost daily basis. The stretch I refer to was, until recently, much less busy – but with reduced access due to parking and more anglers on the bank because of someone’s misplaced view that a prolific stretch should feature in the angling press (more of an ego problem, if you ask me!), I haven’t been able to get to any of my old favourite swims. Paradoxically, the most amenable stretch in the area is free and, thus, not under the control of any angling club.

My second most recent session saw me visit an area of the Goyt I hadn’t been to for more than 7 years.  It’s a stretch that belongs to a small club and doesn’t see many anglers.  One of the very first swims is a rather nice looking weir, quite wide with gravel run-offs and one which holds barbel.  For a change – and I’m not keen on using two rods unless in very exceptional circumstances – I had one rod close in and one mid-weir; in the white stuff. And in another departure from the norm I decided to leave the pellets in the bag and use and boilie and pva approach. It was a bank holiday and I was blessed with a longer than usual stint on the river. With that in mind, I guess I was fairly confident as I know the weir holds a decent head of barbel. What I didn’t take into account (and if I’d thought it through it was bleeding obvious!) was the large number of dog walkers and stick throwers that would, over the course of the day, appear on the opposite bank and disrupt my peace and harmony. After a biteless day it would
almost be clutching at straws to solely apportion all the blame to the dog-lovers. I should probably also point to the sunny conditions and the extremely low levels were currently experiencing, as well as the bait I chose over the usual pellets. I purchased some Dynamite Baits Crave boilies (from Amazon, of all places) and they smell rank, literally. The long and short of the day is that I returned home fishless, and with my tail firmly between my legs.

The next session saw me on a familiar stretch, and even though I’d only fished the swim twice, I’d caught a six pounder last time out. It was only to be a short session – 6.30pm to 10pm – and a Wednesday night so a good chance that my good friend Mark Roberts might be around later on. Furthermore, there had also been a touch of rain over the previous night, and the water had a bit of colour (something that often gets barbel feeding). There were a couple of lads fishing the first swim I passed, though they were fishless at the time. Hoods up and fags hanging out of their mouths; they didn’t look completely enthused with their lack of success thus far. Within the hour they were to go home, offering me the remains of a tin of luncheon meat. I politely declined as pellet was, for me, the choice for the day. Since Hinders (and everyone else) have given up selling elliptical elips pellets they now sell only round elips pellets (now there’s a contradiction), so I have to use a knife to create a flat section on each pellet, before gluing. It works well enough. I’ve also started using Gorilla superglue, rather than the Loctite variety – the latter’s dispenser always seems to get bunged up.

9lb 4oz

9lb 4oz

Mark arrived around dusk and took the swim the two lad had vacated. Within five minutes, and before Mark had a chance to cast out, my rod time slammed hard round and a fish was on! From the initial resistance, it felt like a strong fish and perhaps my first double of the season. After a few minutes of rod-bending satisfaction Mark (who had scampered up in the dark) slid the net under an ever-so-slightly deformed barbel. After resting the fish for a few minutes it was weighed, photos taken, then rested again before being gently returned to whence it came. 9lb 4oz. The first double can wait.  There’s not much to say about the third session other than to comment on the weather, which was wet, and the fact I’d had the forethought to take the brolley. In terms of fish a solitary chub proved to be my
saving grace. Just after dark.  I’ve booked a half day next week to try for another fish or two. Now, should I try the Dove (which isn’t fishing well by all accounts) or try one of my favourite Goyt swims?

First fish from new swim

Well, not exactly a new swim.  I’ve probably fished it four or five times over the years but no barbel have fallen to my rod until last week.  I’m still using the Hinders elips pellets; using a small knife to create a flat section on two pellets, then glueing them together.  Seems to work!

I managed an after-work session, leaving the house at around 5pm.  Unfortunately, I then had to negotiate the rush hour traffic on the M60, thus slowing my progress and adding 30 minutes to the journey.  Arriving at the river, I found all my favourite swims taken – not something I’d experienced before.  Bloody social media!  I got back in the car and drove over the road to the free stretch and, lo and behold, not a soul to be seen.  Do people really think there

5lb 4oz

5lb 4oz

are more barbel in one stretch because one has to pay for the privilege?  In this case, there definitely isn’t, particularly as there’s no weir or any kind of barrier between the two.

For a three hour session it was fairly productive, at least as far as bites were concerned.  The result; three chub and a barbel.  Luckily for me, I took the brolley.

Now, I’m not finding many opportunities to get to the/a river this season and so I sincerely hope to put this right before the end of 2015.  Having two young daughters can be severely limiting fishing-wise, even if parenthood brings other pleasures – and I really wouldn’t have it any other way.  My point being that I hope my blog doesn’t get too boring, with inactivity.  Perhaps I should broaden the perspective into other facets of barbel angling?

August update

So far this month I’ve only really found the time for two sessions; one on the Dove and the other on the Goyt.  Those were interspersed with a trip to Bournemouth (with the family) to see my dear mother.  Despite my bi-annual (or more) trips to the south coast it’s been a few years since I managed a session on the Dorset Stour – but what a river!  I often refer to the Dove as the ‘Stour of the North’ as it’s very similar in depth, width and other general characteristics such as weed growth.

The 8th August saw me travel down to Derbyshire for the eagerly-awaited (and my first) BCC fish-in.  I arrived at the river early, just to get a few casts before the appointed meeting time.  The night had seemed pretty warm and the skies overcast, however the forecast for the day ahead was bright sunshine, and so it proved to be.  I had a tap first cast though nothing came of it.  Despite moving swims nothing more fish-related took place before packing away and driving to the The King’s Head to meet my BCC chums. (Note: the bait referred to in the previous post had finally arrived and, whilst the Hinders pellets seemed fine and as I expected, I was disappointed (and sDove & Goyt 001till am) with the boilies from The Hookbait Co.  They don’t seem to have any smell.  Whilst I don’t fully understand the science behind a barbel’s olfactory organs I thought a slight aroma (at least) would be required.  I guess I’ll just have to try them from time to time over the season, if I get a chance to use a second rod!

So back to the fish-in:  on arriving at the pub at the arranged time there were very few people about so I ordered a pint and found a seat.  Fifteen minutes later no-one had turned up.  Oh, (I thought to myself) this is a really great start.  I watched the kick of between Manchester United and Tottenham (the first game of the season) and, thoroughly disheartened, drove back to the river to resume.  I later found out via the BCC forums that the day had been cancelled, and that I hadn’t been informed.  That last point seemed obvious, particularly as I turned up.

Notwithstanding the fact that I was alone, I was determined to have a fish-in, though I was unsure how to go about such an activity, being by myself.  Thus I just settled in for an afternoon session on the lovely River Dove.  With the conditions as they were, I didn’t really think I stood much of a chance, and moved swims two or three times more in hope than expectation.  Eventually settling in a swim I know, I had a look around with the polaroids and was surprised at how shallow it was; barely two feet.  Mind you, a barbel angler ignores shallow swims in the summer at his peril!  The problem was; how to present a bait in gin clear shallow water without spooking the fish.  A long hooklink is the sDove & Goyt 004lightly obvious answer, thus I settled on one of three foot.  Sure enough, I was soon reeling in a nice chub of 4lb 10oz.  The lively little beggar put up a very good scrap.  Only thirty minutes later another lively fish caused my rod to slam round in a way only barbel can – and true to the style of bite, a barbel it turned out to be – 6lb 7oz.  I wouldn’t normally weigh a fish of this size, however the BCC site has a catch report section.  In the fullness of time, an historically detailed record of all the fish caught by BCC members; river, time, size, bait, tactics, etc might well prove useful.

It was a hot day and, as usual after a day on the Dove, I thought I’d leave reasonably early for a last cast on the Goyt en route to Manchester.  Lucky I did really as, arriving just before dark, I found ideal conditions and caught a nice barbel on my first and only cast.

Late July on the Rivers Dove and Goyt

The best laid plans of mice and men……..

Well, the bait didn’t turn up for my assault (for wont of a better word) on the Dove last week.  I emailed the supplier, Darren, who said he’d been away and would deal with my order this weekend.  Hardly ideal, based on the fact that I’m at now at home.  I do, however, have a BCC fish-in this weekend (also on the Dove) so the boilies will be put to good use after all.

As a result of the non-delivered bait I was forced to rely on my few remaining elips pellets, or some pellets I procured from AC baits.  I’m yet to catch on the latter, after a few sessions, thus my confidence cannot be said to be sky-high.  I’ll persevere, however, as they’re reputed to be from the same recipe as the old T7 elips.  Sorry to keep harking on about bait; it’s true to say that I relied rather too heavily on the elips.  My old pal, Bill Jackson, has no such qualms about changing baits, and seems to do rather well, be it pellets, boilies, meat, worms or prawns.  And I’ve always been so open-minded.  Why not with bait, I wonder?Dove 011

My day on the Dove was pretty unspectacular in the main, though I bagged a fish at 9pm, which brought a smile to my face.  It put up a good account for itself too, so I had (naturally) all sorts of ideas about it being a whopper.

I saw another couple of anglers later in the BMAA car park and they’d not had a touch, so I guess my single should be seen as a success.  Of course it should!

The following day was spent on the River Goyt, legering luncheon meat in fast(ish) water.  Three chub were my reward.