Monday, 28 June 2010

two nights at the pads

 found myself with a clear weekend and decided that I would make the most of it with a 36 hour session on the trent. I had picked a swim during the week and had baited it with a bucket full of goodies ( a few kilos of corn, kilo or two of 10mm tutti frutti boilies, 10 and 22mm halibuts padded out with a kilo of so of vitalin) on the tuesday, wednesday and thursday evenings, trekking to the river after work each evening to try and establish the swim as a feeding zone for the patrolling carp.
 A river carp was the key objective of this little mission, the area had good form at this stage of last season, the weather was good and I was feeling confident. So confident in fact that in my mind I was going to be doing a hat-trick towards my T&T A-Z, my baitbucket contained a couple of pints of maggots, intended to produce a bleak, carp would be the next on the list after being seduced by the old skool tutti boilie and a common bream was bound to show up abd snaffle the fishy pellets... of course the reality was somewhat different.
I hadn't long set up before the alarms bleeped for a drop back and I turned to see the bobbin jiggling about, this was on a rod baited with a 22mm "donkey choker" halibut pellet, hair rigged to a size 4 on a 10lb 12inch hooklength. A quick strike led to me reeling in a fairly manky bream, not my target but an encouraging start...
so 6:30pm and already a fish in the bag, I was still optimistic as I settled back into my seat, though by half past seven I was becoming a bit suprised that the floatfished maggots that the bleak were supposed to be scoffing were yet to yield a bite - this is one of the first summer Trent swims that wouldn't at least throw up a consolation perch from a regularly maggot fed swim. By eight o clock the onslaught of mozzies forced me back to the sanctuary of my shelter, one rod was now on tutti frutti boilie, the other went out with two 10mm halibut pellets, both rods were fished about a rod length out in a deep margin.
  The trangia stove had produced countless cups of tea and steamed a defrosted ready meal for tea without a pip out of the rods, and a couple of bottles of beer finished off my evening.  I had settled down for the night before i had to spring up for another halting bite, the jigging bobbin was answered with a strike and another bream. by the time i had rebaited it and recast it was heading towards 2am, still plenty of time for the carp to show up, and after all, i wasn't even a quarter of the way through the session.
The night was short, and before 5am I was back up with the float rod, feeding maggots and trying desperately to find the elusive bleak. Everying about this location looked "bleak'ey", almost no flow, overhanging trees for insects to drop out of but no small fish...until suddenly the waggler dipped and 4 inches of wriggling fish was swung to my hand - not a bleak though, this was a baby chub, the next cast produced another, but that was it, they were gone as soon as they appeared.
by 6:30 it was feeling like i was flogging a dead horse (or feeding an empty swim) so i went back into carp mode and after a cup of tea and a sausage sandwich crashed back in the shelter for another few hours kip.
Saturday was spent watching the wildlife, a pair of kingfishers spent their time shuttling to and fro feeding their brood of fledged babies, a tern provided entertainment with regular dive bombing of a fry shoal on the opposite bank that was also harried, presumably by a pack of voracious perch. A heron observed all from above and the damselflies danced between the bankside foliage, seeking a mate in the summer sunshine. On days like this is really doesnt matter that the fish wont join the party, just being on the bank with so much going on is enough. My main challenge of the day was attempting to photograph the kingfishers. Such small fast moving targets were impossibly hard to frame, let alone focus. the pics below are some of my better efforts of the day

Sunday, 20 June 2010

B is for Barbel

They say there is no such thing as a free lunch... however today is the exception which proves the rule. In the interests of customer service (following a lost booking for my birthday and some effective complaint correspondence from my wife!) the management of the Priest House at Castle Donington offered a complimentary meal, and being fathers day we met the inlaws there to take them up the offer. The food was fabulous and the service (this time) excellent. One of the reasons I have been so keen to come here was to take a gander at this stretch of river. It looks like fishy heaven, with a deep pool on a bend of the river and a steady downstream run. Despite its great looks the polaroids revealed a riverbed thick with streamer weed... I dont think that there was a single sq metre of gravel visible between the swaying foliage.  Needless to say at this time of year fishing here would be almost impossible. Perhaps with heavy enough gear a bait dropped into one of the tiny gaps might bank a fish, but its not a style of angling that suits me.
  Anyway after walking this bit of river in the sunshine my appetite was whetted and since I seemed to have a free evening on my hands I gathered up my fishing gear and headed back to the same stretch that I had fished on wednesday.  It was early evening as I made my way towards the river. I passed a couple of guys loading up their car "catch anything?" I enquired, "just the sun!" came the reply. Yep, once more it was a hot and bright sunny day and deep down I was expecting a repeat of wednesdays (lack of) success.
The river was much quieter than earlier in the week, I couldn't see anyone fishing my bank, although another angler was 30 metres ahead of me walking downstream carrying his gear. I was watching him like a hawk thinking "dont turn left! dont turn left!" as he approaced the spot where I'd be cutting through the undergrowth to get to barbel alley. Thankfully he pushed on downstream, and as I pushed through the foliage I could see that the top spot I missed out on last time was free.
The first rod was tackled up with a 2oz running bomb and a hairrigged size 10. I baited the hair with a 10mm halibut pellet balanced with a chum mixer,  the hair was a couple of mm shorter than I'd have liked making it tricky to get the pellet stop into the loop, after several attempts and some cursing I though about retying the hooklink, eventually a pair of baiting needles made enough space to wrangle the extender stop in). I set up the landing net and flicked the bait out onto a crease to my left, the crease marks the edge of a steep drop into much deeper and faster water when the river is at this level. I flicked the fightin drag on my reel to the left and balanced it against the force exerted by the flow, then turned my attention to tacking up the second rod...
The bait can only have been wet for 30 seconds before the clicking of a slack clutch giving line signalled a take. Using my index finger as a brake against the spool the rod doubled up and I was confident the hook was in as the fish charged downstream on its first run. Tightening the clutch, with the rod was fully loaded up the fish turned and drifted across the flow, before it stripped another 10 metres of line with another downstream run. "decent fish" I thought to myself as I pumped it back upstream towards me in a three steps forward, two steps back fashion. I was therefore disappointed, but perhaps not suprised once the fish was close enough to get a look at it that it was just a young un. I didnt weigh the little blighter, I guess 3 1/2lbs or so but they do fight well at that size!

Still, I'd reckoned on blanking again so this was an encouraging start, and my A-Z quest was now underway. The fish went back and the hair was rebaited with the same combo and dropped back into the same spot while I resumed tackling up the second rod. This rod was given a 3oz running lead to hold bottom closer to the centre of the flow and a size 4 hook baited with a ragged piece of bacon grill. As the sky clouded over I felt a little more optimistic and I didnt have to wait too long before my next bit of action.
 At about 6:45 the meat rod hooped over and another fish was on. This time there was the characteristic deep slow dogged fight of a big barbel. I got very excited as i saw a big golden flank turn deep down in the crystal clear water. "it's huge" I thought for a minute or so, until I got it onto the surface. It wasnt a bad fish, long and lean it will certainly make double figures in the autumn, but the scales would only give me 8lb 9oz but I was happy enough anyway.
Unfortunately the auto settings on the camera didn't do a particularly good job at either focusing or exposing the pictures correctly - There is a tendency for fingers to tap the touchscreen on the back while positioning the camera and since I usually put the fish back before checking the pics.... this was the best one.
I settled back into the swim and repaited and replaced both rods, switching them this time with bacon grill dropped into the downstream crease and the hair rigged rod moved to fish upstream in the middle of the flow, this time with two 10mm pellets.  After half an hour I switched the pellets for a 10mm tutti frutti boilie, and it wasn't long before at about 19:30 the rod tip lurched over and I was into another fish, again the fight was deep, slow and strong, but it didnt take long to get the last fish of the session into the landing net.

 This one weighed 8lb 5oz .I fished through the rest of the evening without any further bites, switching the locations of the baits around and alternating between pellet/biscut, double pellet and boilie on the hair-rig. Packed my stuff aweay and headed home at 21:15  just as the sun was setting.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Rivers are open

Managed to snatch a couple of hours on the Middle Trent to celebrate opening day. It was a scorcher of a day - clear blue sky and 23 degrees with no wind. I didn't fancy my chances and decided that the only real chance of a fish was late evening. At 7:30pm I arrived at the river to find it fairly busy with half a dozen anglers still fishing this popular stretch. A quick chat to a couple of these confirmed that the going had been hard with no fish and not much in the way of bites. The winter had rearranged the bank, and combined with new tree growth it took me a few seconds to orientate myself - however a couple of rodtips poking above the undergrowth confirmed that the spot I wanted to be in was already taken so I dropped 30yds downstream, flattened the 5ft high grass to make some space before folding back some of the curtain of foilage which remained hiding the river...
 Despite trying meat, pelllets in several sizes and boilies i couldn't win a bite, though the guys on the opposite bank breaking branches from the trees to light a fire and shouting at one another and into their mobile phones may not have helped my chances (though they did still catch a few silver fish). Reeled in at half past nine without having a single bite...I'll be back