Friday, 27 September 2013

A week of personal best, but not for me - Weekly report starting Saturday Sept 23rd.

No fishing this weekend and with a christening photography job booked in for Sunday I’ve had to keep of the computer in order to earn a few brownie points.
Monday was all about trying to complete three jobs, an article for a European magazine on colouring and injecting pike deadbaits with oil, sending images from a past wedding shoot to the album designer as well as manipulating images from the christening. To be honest all tasks weren’t completed come the end of the day yet come Tuesday they should all be put to bed. I did manage to get out with the rods, albeit with matchsticks keeping my eyes open, yet apart from one hand hovering moment in a big barbel area the short three hour stint past without reward. Back at home I managed to get some images and answers sent over to Paul at Coarse Angling Today on favourite images for a ‘Hot Seat’ feature as well as quickly looking through the latest issue, blimmy, I’ve just come second in a competition, the first prise I’ve won for years!
Tuesday was a relatively early one as I wanted to complete Monday’s jobs as well as getting the images taken for the pike article, all of which were done by 4pm along with plenty of other little angling related jobs and come 5.45pm I was making my first cast, once again in the hope of a monster barbel. Chris joined me later so I let him try the banker swim whilst I roved around trying to locate some other swims, yet come 9.30pm it seemed as if the river was dead, not even small fish were seen topping.
Wednesday I spent the day in the company of Carl from the Carl & Alex duo more commonly associated with Anglers Mail, yet Carl has just joined Online Fishing so with a hectic schedule we headed to the river Loddon to complete some fillers on specimen barbel fishing. I think Carl was quiet amazed when I introducing some pellets into the river from the bridge only to see a chubs mouth come up from the depths within a split second followed by more and the occasional flash of a barbel beneath. Once the water clears I’m sure this location will give us some fantastic underwater footage. Back on the river we almost completed a task of twenty ‘Hints/Tips’ and ‘New and Abused’ short videos however an old plane doing loop the loop made filming difficult later in the day. I did have a few minutes in a couple of swims in hope of a barbel, yet an over enthusiastic three-pound chub gate crashed the party, but it did give Carl some extra footage for his own website.
Thursday I had a new customer booked in for an introduction on catching crucians from Enton using the devastating Groundbait-Lead method. Meeting at midday we soon had a swim chosen and baits in position and after casting every twenty minutes or so an alarm finally sounded and a small tench was taken. That was the start of a strange session when fish came in small batches and come 10pm when things went quiet, Steve had enjoyed a great session landing seven crucians including fish of 2lb 14oz, 3lb, 3lb 1oz and 3lb 2oz, along with three tench, one rudd and a roach. Fishing partner Chris joined us at dusk and again experienced a short strange session with a few missed bites, yet finally after tinkering with his end tackle managed to bag himself a small tench and the fish he’s been after, a three pound crucian, albeit just an ounce over the magical mark.
I would have loved to have given the Loddon another short morning session, yet with a weddings booked in over the weekend, lots of other things in need of doing as well as very little rain during the week decided to ease my mind and leave things to next week when hopefully the barbel will be a more obliging mood!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Customer finds barbel in an obliging mood - Weekly report starting Sat Sept 14th 2013

Having so many things still in need of completing due to river Wye excursions, wedding images and guiding Saturday was spent getting my teeth into these and come 4pm when it was time to pick the girlfriend up I felt on the better side of these.

After dropping the lady of on Sunday morning I headed to the river with the main aim of introducing some bait to a swim in a big fish zone for later in the week, yet whilst doing so couldn’t resist trying another hotspot. Unfortunately the hotspot was a cold spot and the tip failed to show any signs of life. I only fished for 90 minutes as if a fish is about it will usually show itself in this time, and once back at home it was a case of clearing the desktop of any outstanding niggly jobs ready for article writing come Monday.
After the heavy rains of Sunday evening and knowing that the river was well up and coloured on Sunday arrived expecting to see it bank high, but I was wrong as it was back to its normal level. Once again I primed the same swim as Sunday then tried and old haunt but it was a repeat performance and I left hoping that the prebaiting was going to bring with it the rewards I desire, a fifteen pound plus barbel? On the way home I dropped into Yateley Angling Centre as I needed some waterproof boots and as always they gave me the usual sound advice before ordering me some in. Back at home I downed my second mug of coffee whilst replying to my emails, contacting customers for the next Wye trip and writing up my daily diary piece, before having lunch and starting on an article about targeting carp using method feeders which took up the rest of the day.
The alarm sounded at 5.30am and come 6.45am I was next to the river full of confidence after baiting a swim for the previous two mornings. Twenty minutes later my rig was in position and I sat watching the rod tip. Nothing happened for an hour and I was just thinking whether to recast when what had to be a fish picking up my rig and getting away with it was registered through the rod top. Contemplating a recast my mind was soon made up as the tip flew round, yet on hooking the fish l doubted whether it was a barbel as the fight just didn’t seem right, then the tail of a big barbel hit surface and left me in no doubt. In the net the fish grew and on the scales she went 12lb 9oz, another big fish from a new swim. I noticed a deep red colouration to the barbells tail, obviously sore and this had to be the reason for the lack of power. Slipping her back I resisted the temptation to recast, baited the swim and by 8.45am I was back in the car heading home for a late breakfast and a few hours shut eye. Having the afternoon and evening free I completed the words on the method feeder article.
Wednesday was bliss, a lay-in, the first for what seems ages, yet I was still up and about before 9am. After replying to my emails, one unfortunately being an unavoidable cancellation from a customer booked in for fishing the Wye for pike later on this month, I headed to Frensham Small Pond to try out the Helicopter rig as I had been told some good rudd and roach were showing. As expected a specialist approach is needed here as a pint of maggots lasted no time, an hour in fact as numerous rudd, roach and perch grabbed them, but no monsters. Back at home I managed to finish off a few images for the method feeder article, upload it to Vaclav before picking the girlfriend up.

Thursday morning I had a new customer, Aaron booked in for a spot of barbel fishing and meeting him at my house at 8am we travelled to the river together we talked about all things fishy. Arriving at the river we found we had it to ourselves and quickly headed for a banker swim only for Aaron to lose a big fish early on. Although disappointed Aaron explained how he is somewhat haunted by the lack of barbel and in 18months of searching had only caught one small fish from the river Blackwater, so just hooking one was a bonus as straight away he had confidence in a method. We headed downstream to another good swim but failed to catch so moved to a swim with a past track record and one that comes into its own as the cold sets in. It only took a few minutes for a fish to give itself away but this bite was different, a rattling type that slowly got bolder and eventually Aaron had to strike. A heavy fish was hooked but the fight again was different and as I watched a massive bream surfaced! Now I have fished this small stretch of river for over two decades and know many of the anglers that visit it and I have never heard of a bream being caught, this was truly a first. In the net the fish grew, it was huge and on the scales a weight of exactly 10lb was recorded! Where the hell did this come from or has it just always been here just avoided capture? That was the start of a truly rememberable session as a few swims later the tip signalled a bite and after an anxious battle in a tight swim I slipped the net under a big barbel which weighed 10lb 11oz, a personal best! After the standard high-fives and with other anglers beginning to arrive we headed up stream briefly stopping in a swim where Aaron managed a three-pound chub before lunch in the car park. Heading downstream to a harder stretch we headed straight for a swim where a customer lost a big barbel a few weeks before and after around half an hour Aaron was slipping the net under a four-pound chub. This was becoming one hell of a session, one that was just about to get even better as after settling in another swim the tip flew round and once again Aaron found himself locked in battle with another barbel, one that was to record him with another personal best weighing 11lb 7oz. Wow what a day, without a doubt my best ever result for a customer on the Loddon where getting a couple of fish in a day is classified as a red letter day. A couple of swims later we called it a day. We had been on the river for nine hours starting at 9am
And finishing at 6pm, proof that you don’t have to fish during the hours of darkness, all you need to do is get the conditions right, especially the river then place an effective rig in front of a barbel of two, then leave it to them! I don’t think that the days events had sunk in for Aaron on the way home but one thing I was sure about, the doubts and lack of confidence when it comes to catching barbel was a distance memory.

Here are a few words from Aaron –
I wanted a guiding session because I felt I needed some advise on locations and tactics for barbel fishing. I felt that Duncan with his years of experience was the right choice.
The day was everything I hoped it would be and more! I was given plenty of tips and tactics. 
I cannot thank Duncan enough for the help, resulting in a red letter day!! The results speak for its self 2 double figure Barbel, 2 Chub and a 10lb Bream. 
I highly recommend Duncan's guiding sessions, well worth every penny’.

With the river fining down, l knew that it would be far harder come Friday and although I thought I had a chance of another good barbel wanted to keep in touch with Enton and the crucians, so decided to meet Nash new boy, Chris for a short three hour session either side of dusk. Being Friday we found the lake quite busy and dropped into a couple of swim further away from where we wanted. Casting out ‘The Groundbait-Lead’ I had to wait just ten minutes for an alarm to sound and soon had a good crucian in the net. She went 3lb 8drams, a great start and fortunate as it was still light and crucians don’t photograph that well after dark. Rubbing my hands together I sat back expecting an eventful evening, yet come 9pm I hadn’t received even a single bleep. Chris was fairing the same however a small tench interrupted the session and just as we decided that it wasn’t going to happen, 10pm I had another bite resulting in another crucian weighing 3lb 2oz.

Certainly what you could call a red-letter week in terms of quality!

Friday, 20 September 2013


Popular matt black finish and understated graphics this slim high modulus carbon blank comes complete with six SIC double legged guides, well spaced and ranging between 40 and 15mm. Featuring a quality line clip as well as an 18mm screw style reel seat and Duplon abbreviated full length handle with a laser etched butt cap. A good all-round first time carp rod with a progressive through action and soft tip with a good casting capacity as well as retaining an enjoyable balanced feel when playing big fish under the rod tip.
Features 9
Performance 8
Value 10

Anglers Mail – Best Buy
To be honest all the rods tested were good and it was difficult to pick a winner. Taking into consideration I struggled to tell one rod from another with my eyes closed price was always going to play a major part in what came out on top and with the Stillwater BXP featuring everything needed in a carp rod as well as retaining an enjoyable balanced feel along with an amazing price tag, it just had to win.

I took the Stillwater BPX out to a private estate lake for a few hours and soon found a few carp next to a snag in a corner to where the north wind was pushing. Casting out a PVA bag of crushed Nash Monster squid boilies and mounting a 10mm sample tipped with a buoyant piece of corn so it sat up snowman style soon had the rod pulling round. Fishing locked up and with a breakaway lead the carp surfaced then kitted away from the snag. The rod did everything needed of it in the first instance and once away and in open water the fight from this 17lb common was sheer joy. Four more doubles followed soon after.

Black gloss finish multi modulus carbon blank with understated graphics and built for improved distance casting containing six oversized and perfectly positioned SiC guides ranging between 50 and 16mm all with tip-top whipping. Complete with line clip, quality screw style ergonomic reel seat and full length shrink rubber handle with flared casting grip and a subtle butt cap showing logo. Having a steely, responsive action this was certainly not the slimmest or lightest rod tested, yet its power is incredible, especially in the middle reaches which is ideal for distance casting and taming big carp and even cats.
Features 9
Performance 8
Value 8

NASH H-GUN £49.99
High-performance, slim line ground blank finished in matt black with understated graphics featuring six quality well whipped and ringed for distance, double legged guides, ranging between 40 and 14mm. Quality screw style reel seat and slim-line EVA butt grip and logo showing polished butt cap but unfortunately, no line clip. A good all-round balanced, yet powerful rod with an enjoyable progressive action with a soft tip that allows carp to be targeted at distance and in the margins.
Features 9
Performance 8
Value 9

Stylish lightweight blank finished in mottled matt grey and understated graphics featuring six well spaced quality aluminium oxide guides with tip-top whippings ranging between 40 and 14mm. Offering a Fuji screw style reel seat and soft touch shrink tube handle this rod is extremely balanced yet it has no line clip. Classified as a mid-loading action, the rods is extremely enjoyable making playing fish a joy, however although it has a high compression tolerance and rapid recovery its not an extreme distance casting rod, more of a mid to close range rod but one with plenty of power in reserve to tame big carp.
Features 8
Performance 9
Value 9

Finished in matt black with understated graphics this slim low resin carbon blank comes with six SLIK guides ranging between 40 and 14mm which are spaced for long distance casting. Featuring a quality line clip, 18mm DPS reinforced steel headed reel seat for solid fitting as well as an abbreviated ergonomically tapered butt grip (full cork option available) featuring laser etched butt cap. Being the lightest Warrior yet and offering a progressive through action this rod has plenty of power to cast long distances, yet has a soft enough tip to make playing carp at close quarters a joy.
Features 10
Performance 8
Value 8

This matt black high modulus carbon blank with understated graphics features six well spaced double legged SIC lite guides, well whipped and ranging between 40 and 15mm. Feature packed with quality line clip, a DPS gun-smoked grey reel seat with anodised collars and Japanese shrink wrap butt grip6 handle incorporating a laser etched butt cap. Not the slimmest or lightest rod tested but with its responsive powerful progressive action capable of reaching great distances and taming big carp and cats at distance.
Features 10
Performance 8
Value 7

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Pellet/Groundbait Lead Part 2 - Duncan Charman The Thinking Angler.

I hope that part one of this short series managed to get you thinking on how to approach you’re next session. Let’s face it, most anglers may only get out once a week so even if I’ve made you slow down and stop rushing to a swim without looking at the water first, that’s enough, as just this small step will help you catch loads more fish, why, because now you will be fishing a swim that contains fish.
You may well off even thrown the PVA, boilies and method feeders in the bin and tried using one of the methods mentioned. If so, I hope you have managed to not only save a few quid but managed to catch a few extra fish. Change isn’t always easy, and getting pellets or groundbait to grip a lead, yet still breaking down effectively to be attractive to fish takes some practice and the only way to learn the art is to make some mistakes. In this article I’m going to look at one tactics in more depth, explain how I go about preparing my bait in advance (more shown by means of photo sequences) as well as how I approach a venue with this.

Targeting Carp using the Pellet-Lead’.
The first method is ‘The standard pellet-lead’ which is great for targeting carp on well stocked club lakes as well as day ticket waters which are classify as runs waters. Once again I have to reinforce the issue of locating fish, without a doubt the most important part of each session if catching is high on you’re agenda. Setting the alarm clock half an hour early and arriving at the venue just before daybreak will give you the extra time needed to scan the water. Usually at dawn fish will be spotted, however if you struggle to find the fish then my advise at this time of the year is to head to the end of the lake where the wind is blowing. Fishing with the wind directly in you’re face, especially if its an easterly will be cold during the winter and this is the same for the fish, so move away from this bank and try and fish into the ripple from the side, yet if there is an exceptionally mild period with a warm south west wind, something that’s more and more common these days, then I would risk positioning myself in a swim with this straight into my face. Once the fish have been located and you are in a swim with them in front of you, take time to see at what distance most of the activity is, as this is where you want to be placing your bait. Make a quick cast then place the line in the reels line clip and tie a reference mark onto the line next to this. The best line reference marker is that made from E.S.P Marker Gum. A simple stop-knot is good enough and will not move, just make sure you leave the ends longer than you would think, as cutting these too short will create friction on the line and cause you problems when casting. Once clipped and marked up I simply tie on a Spomb and get some bait out, which is going to be the same as that moulded around the lead and the same size as that placed on the hair. Once I have deposited maybe three loads I simply tie on my rig, place a bait on the hair, mould some free offerings around the lead and cast out to the desired spot. Laying the rod on the ground I repeat this with the second rod then go about organising the swim for the day ahead. Dawn is one of the best periods for a bite so expect one of the rods placed on the ground to burst into life, just remember if doing this to ensure you have removed the line from the clip and that the baitrunner is loosened right off! Being able to get rods out to showing fish quickly is all about being organised, hence why my rods are always made up on arrival with rigs attached.
The reason I call this ‘The standard Pellet-Lead’ is on runs-waters I want the carp to feed on a certain size bait, so if I’m going to mould 8mm pellets around the lead then I’m going to be using an 8mm pellet on the hair, my preference being a Nash 8mm Squidgee Pellet. This is where carp on such waters often get away with things, as if you place 8mm pellets in a PVA bag they will home in on these, feed with confidence on these, yet leave you’re 18mm boilie alone. This is where matching you’re hookbait with you’re feed is so important. Let’s look at it this way. If I was feeding maggots, would I be using luncheon meat on the hook, no, I’d be using maggot! Unfortunately, and I hate to say this, most anglers think they can just turn up on a lake, cast out and catch, sorry you are wrong. Using a PVA bag of pellets and fishing a boilie on the hook will catch you fish, but far less than if you were to work the swim and match the hookbait with the feed. A boilie will last for hours, yet an 8mm pellets, maybe minutes, so if you decide to try my tactic then it means no slacking, just constant casting.
When matching hookbait with feed, an area that needs to be looked at is hook size, as there is no point using a size 6 hook with an 8mm pellet. The way I gauge this is simple. I try to match the diameter of the bait with the diameter of the hook. The best way for me to explain this is, would you use a size 18 hook with a 18mm boilie, no, and all angler no why! A good size hook for an 8mm pellet would be a size 10 or 12 and knowing that I will be scaling down to consistently catch, then I need to also look at the rods I will be using. It seems that 2.75lb rods are sold as standard for carp fishing, but I rarely use such powerful rods, as I’m rarely casting further than fifty yards and rarely targeting fish in excess of 30lb. More often than not I’m aiming to catch plenty of doubles in venues with very few snags, on thought through scaled down tactics where balance rods are called for in the 1.25lb to 2.2lb t/c range. Before you go thinking you have to start buying new rods then don’t, just remember if you take my advise and start bringing my tactics into you’re fishing, all you need to remember is when using smaller hooks you will need to play fish far more gently than if using beefier rods. If you start experiencing hook pulls then its time to rethink rods.
At last, we come to bait. Most day ticket, club waters see the constant introduction of pellets, so to me this is what I have to use to get the best results. Fish love pellets, yet in the winter, although still effective, they do start to loose their appeal, so all you need to do is drop down on the amount you introduce. The pellets I use are Nash Sticky Method Pellets which are fantastic as they can be wetted down once at the lake and are usable within minutes, but be warned, add water on a little and often basis.
An edge that might just catch you more fish is by adding a sight/buoyancy aid next to the pellet on the hair. It doesn’t always work, however if you know fish are in the swim and are experiencing loads of liners then it might be worth trying. I recall one day, when after experiencing numerous liners I added a small piece of buoyant plastic corn to the pellet only to see the bobbin hit the rod blank, time after time.
One other very important point, that many anglers miss, is the sharpness of the hook point. This comes hot on the heels of fish location, as a blunt hook will cost you fish. Place an appetising meal in front of a hungry fish, next to a sharp hook and you have the recipe for success, however a blunt hook is destined for failure. I will check my hook point every time I remove one from the packet, and believe me they aren’t always sharp, as well as after every capture, or each time I find myself caught on a snag. Attention to detail makes all the difference.

My thought process before each session –
Rods rigged up and ready to go.
Alarm set ready to arrive half an hour before daybreak.
Arrive at venue, leave tackle in car (as long as it’s safe) and go find the fish.
Fish located, get tackle from car and into swim.
Remove rig from rod, replace with Spomb and introduce bait.
Remove Spomb, replace with rig and cast to baited area, repeat with second rod.
Arrange swim for day ahead (land, weigh, photograph fish often associated with early start).
Create a casting plan depending on time of year, amount of fish showing.
Cast every 15/30/45 minutes depending on situation.
Enjoy the rewards the extra effort provides!
Go home, fully content knowing you have gone the extra mile and been rewarded in doing so.

Top tip –
  1. Try and match the hook size with the hookbait.
  2. Always check the sharpness of you’re hook. If it digs in my nail, it’s good, if it slides across its blunt.

Product of the Week - Shimano 4000FA Baitrunner DL RRP £89.99

Why I never bit the bullet previously and bought new Shimano reels I don’t know, actually I do, I was made to use inadequate a poor quality reels from my previous sponsors! Fortunately my new sponsor Nash doesn’t do reels so I can now return to what I consider the most reliable reels on the market, Shimano.
I remember as a young angler, using Mitchell reels which I replaced with Shimano reels and with the baitrunner facility found they simply revolutionised my angling. I still have my first Shimano reels and they still work, however engineering, especially the production of gears and bearings have come on leaps and bounds and having no sponsor restraints have just bought myself three Shimano DL 4000FA. They feature my preferred double handle along with providing immaculate line lay, a smooth reliable clutch and something I look for in a reel, a line clip that actually works and one that doesn’t damage the line. The other great thing about these reels is they are affordable and if you shop around you should be able to pick these up for around £65 which brings them into line with companies not normally associated with reels, yet ones that are trying to fool anglers into buying a far superior alternative! I have always said if you wanted to buy a bike then you would be looking for one with Shimano gears, need I say more and if you look after then, give them a yearly service then they will probably last you a lifetime!

Winge of the Week - Holding fish out!

I had to smile a few weeks back when I saw an angler with a massive, record nudging chub in one of the weekly angling magazines. The reason for smiling, as if the fish wasn’t big enough, was that the angler had the fish held out at arms length, why? The first of many questions surrounding this capture I expect. Now I’m not questioning the anglers honesty, if it was the size he stated then I take my hat of to him, yet what I cant get my head around is why push such a big fish out in front of the camera, It just looks stupid.

The reason I never doubt the honesty of an angler is I know, as a photographer, never to question the weight or, opening up a can of worms here, the species, as a picture can drastically alter the perspective of the fish. 

Just take a look at the two images of recent barbel myself and fellow Nash man Chris Petter took. Which barbel looks bigger? To me Chris’s barbel looks far bigger, yet this is just down to the angle in which the photograph was taken. Chris’s barbel weighed 11lb 10oz while mine went 14lb 7oz!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Summer to Winter in the blink of an eye - Weekly Report starting Sat September 7th

Having spent the week on the Wye and with the girlfriend being off on the weekend I felt it best to leave any fishing related jobs to Monday.
Monday came and it was the start of a long and strenuous job of manipulating a friends wedding that I had taken before leaving for the Wye. I was hoping to get things sorted before, yet it never happened and if their was one thing I needed to get out of my head was this specific job. All in all the images took the best part of three days to complete so getting out on the bank just never happened. I did manage to tidy up all the tackle from the Wye though as well as getting my weekly report completed.
Thursday came and my good intensions of heading up to the river for a few hours barbel fishing failed to materialise so I contacted my friend to see if he was up for a bit of late season crucian fishing. Another day in the office going through countless emails finally saw us meet late in the day, 6pm in fact for a few hours into darkness. The weather was on the turn yet we managed to fish to 10pm and although the fishing was tough, probably due to an algae bloom Chris managed a couple of crucians including a personal best of 2lb 13oz. All I caught were a couple of tench plus a rudd even though crucians were rolling. Looking at the crucians they are still lean, being caught all around the lake, albeit not in great numbers so haven’t shoaled up and started to feed heavily for the winter, so I will have to keep my eye on the venue closely in order to time my arrival to coincide with this.
Friday was forecasted to be a washout with a band of heavy rain crossing the country yet its predicted arrival was somewhat premature. Arriving at Harris Lake on Godalmings Marsh Farm Complex at 8am I met up with Chris and Robbie, new members to the club and ones that were interested in the big crucians this complex is renowned for. Not wanting to go straight onto Enton they had hired me for the day to show them the method I use on this complex, the Groundbait-Lead. Setting up half way down the railway bank my mind drifted back to the glory days when this lake was packed with glory seekers searching for a 4lb crucian, yet today it was deserted. Fishing just one rod each and after being shown the mechanics of the rig Robbie was soon into a fish, a crucian. I had told the guys to expect twelve tench to each crucians, yet I was to be proved wrong as the morning session produced numerous crucians to maybe just over 2lb with just three tench showing. Seeing these small crucians gives me hope that they are doing well again, finally getting a foot hold and natural balance against the hoards of tench that have been introduced over the years. More hope came when talking to one of the club officials as he said the club had plans to try and get the lake back to its former glory which if they can do will at least take some pressure of Enton. Come 1pm the lake had died so we decided to head to Farnham and rove the meadows with a centrepin and pint of maggots in search of some quality dace. Starting on the west side of the town we soon found a few dace and chub, the later being somewhat cagey in the clear shallow water along with the odd wild brown trot. Robbie had never used a pin before so it was great to see him soon getting the hang of things, which almost came naturally as these guys are used to casting flies at trout. Moving downstream we finally settled in one of my favourite swims, however looking into the swim I couldn’t make out a single fish, yet a handful of maggots soon had a big shoal of dace showing themselves. I was expecting the guys to maybe catch half a dozen dace before they spooked, yet I was wrong as these seemed seriously hungry fish, as if food had been lacking over the summer and come an hour later at least two dozen had been caught, the best pushing 8oz. It was a great ending to the day and as we said our farewells in the car park the heavens opened and the earlier rain that had been forecasted decided to let rip.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Wye Barbel go Crazy! Weekly Report starting Sat 31st August

Last year you may recall I spent five days on the magical river Wye in Herefordshire during the month of September and although the weather was far from ideal the group of anglers that I guided caught an amazing 65 barbel and countless chub.
Well I have just returned from the first week of my exclusions north and although reports have been that the river has been fishing poorly can reveal that as long as you can locate the fish then catching is guaranteed. Let me progress…

Day 1
Having just one angler to look after on Monday we agreed to leave and meet later than first agreed. In fact it was around 10.30am that I met Barry feeding chub of the bridge at Hoarwithy. Having booked the banker swim we were in no hurry to start and after a trip along the river, revealing possible swims for the future as well as a tactical briefing on why long hooklinks and feeders are needed and as Buzzards soared overhead finally cast out at around midday. The river was lower than I had ever seen it yet an accurate cast downstream bought an almost instant response from a barbel of around five pounds. The weather was far from ideal, hot and sunny, yet although the bites came freely we experienced a few hours of frustrating fishing as fish after fish was lost due to different reasons. Last year I used 8lb mono hooklinks, yet with the water so low these were simply cut off an inch or two above the knotless knot. The swim also contained a big snag that once located could be either avoided or if a fish did happen to find it could on most occasions be released by opening the bail arm, allowing the fish to swim out backwards then tired before rising in the water and bought over the top. I think it was seven/three to the barbel, yet once mastered most fish found the bottom of the net and come the end of the day more than twenty barbel had been landed to over 8lb along with a few chub. A hearty chilli and a beer went down easily bankside before hitting the bivvy at around 10pm to the sound of owls hooting and salmon jumping. To be honest just experiencing the sheer silence of the countryside 24/7 is worth its weight in gold, the barbel are just a bonus!
I was amazed to see the same fish with a distinguishing scale pattern that was caught last year in the same swim weighting exactly the same which goes to show these barbel are resident, its their home and apart from during spawning they aren’t going anywhere.

Day 2 on the River Wye

Having fished the afternoon stint the day before in the Whirlihole, Barry arose far earlier than I expected, 5.15am in fact to start his morning session. I plan to meet my customers at 7.30am and after a dawn rise the first of numerous all-day breakfast was consumed and along with baiting the Salmon Hole I experienced what has to be the best shower in the world, one in the river, before headed downstream in the heavy mist to meet my second customer Mark. By now Barry knew the drill, cast forty-five yard downstream, clearing the big weed bed and hold the rod. Taking Mark upstream we first tried the pre-baited Salmon Hole before dropping downstream to a swim I remember my good friend Martin Farmer landing twelve barbel from last year on the final day before having to make an early exit due to a rising river and five ounces of lead failing to hold bottom! Unfortunately Marks efforts went un-noticed however his fortune was about to change as it was his turn in the Whirlihole. I was expecting Barry to head upstream but having landed an obscene amount of barbel simply needed a break. After learning the swim from an early lost barbel Mark enjoyed his arm-aching afternoon stint but had to leave before dusk due to a broken headlight, yet still went home happy with around a dozen barbel to over 8lb plus a few chub to his name. Barry made the most of Marks early departure taking a couple more barbel before it was time to leave as dusk fell.
Earlier in the day one of my regular customers had arrived, Ron Jackson who at the amazing age of 77 had decided to give bivvying up a go and during the afternoon Barry, myself and Ron had erected his hotel for the three night stay. Looking in Ron’s boot it seemed he had brought the kitchen sink yet one thing that wasn’t packed was a sleeping bag and with the temperature dropping into single figures during the night I was worried for him, yet luckily Barry left his, just in case, thanks mate! To say the hills had Wild Boar in them that night is an understatement as once my head hit the pillow I was well away, snoring my heart out. Previously that afternoon Ron and I had watched, what we thought was a Weasel run across the field, yet was it a rare Pole Cat?

Day 3 on the River Wye

Arising to another misty morning we all met at the river at 7.30am and after a recount on the previous day’s action Mark cast downstream trying to locate water in the swirling fog. Ron declined the offer of fishing upstream and watched as Mark Proceeded to catch a number of barbel before he moved in early afternoon. Unfortunately Ron’s session was cut short as the river-keeper requested that we gave the swim a rest, a request I’ve taken as a compliment due to the amount of fish that my customers were catching. Come 5pm Ron had landed five barbel and a chub and as the sun dropped we sat and chatted whilst enjoying yet another chilli and flicking the Crane Flies away, a sign that autumn is here.

Day 4 on the River Wye

Fortunately the morning mist burnt of early and with the sun shining as it had done all week the temperatures rose to an incredible twenty-nine degrees yet as the day progressed it was obvious things were about to change. Ron filled his boots and proceeded to enjoy a morning of barbel action landing seven to over 8lb from the banker swim whilst Chris, my new customer tried his luck further upstream in the Salmon Hole. The barbel seem to be located in just two areas along the stretch in this low water, the Whirlihole and the Dead Tree in the third field, an area out of bounds for us due to it being booked out all week, yet Chris did manage a chub. A quick visit to Woodies Tackle in Hereford to collect day tickets for the following day as well as getting the low-down on what stretches were producing.

Placing Chris in the banker swim I watched as his jaw hit the floor as I demonstrated where to cast and if placed on the money just how quick a bite comes as within seconds the tip rattled and swung round yet although this swim may come across as easy its what I consider a mans-swim as to find the fish a long accurate cast is needed, then after hooking a fish the power of the current coupled with underwater snags and a difficult land means a hooked fish is far from taken as in the net. Chris finally got his eye in with the casting and come the end of the day had landed seven barbel including the biggest of the week at 9lb 1oz along with the odd chub. Ron was knackered from his earlier session and decided not to stay for the third night as rain had been forecasted, meaning all the camping equipment would be wet. It was a wise decision, one that I also decided against and with everything dry and packed away spent the night in the van but not before seeing what looked like a Peregrine Falcon above.

Day 5 on the River Wye

After an uncomfortable night I drove a few miles to Sink Green Farm where I was to meet Steve and his son Greg for a day’s barbel fishing on a Hereford and District stretch of the river. Another all day breakfast was consumed before they arrived come 8am before heading of to the river. Parking up then walking across a couple of fields finally saw us reaching the river yet disappointment set in as the swim I wanted to place Greg in was taken by an angler on the far bank. Undeterred we headed up river yet after a couple of hours just one chub had come to Steve’s rod. Apart from some holiday fishing Greg had never fished like this so it was pleasing to see that the angler further downstream was calling it a day after taking a couple of barbel. Standing out in the water we went through the casting process and then the playing process as on the second cast Greg found himself playing a barbel yet once again the mono hooklink parted, time for the braid! We took it in turns to cast with a couple of mine landing on the far bank, ones that produced Greg his first barbel, yet I could see it was important that he catch on his own cast and finally after getting the hang of things landed the feeder on the far side. I watched as Steve gave Greg the thumbs up then the tip rattle and bang, Greg was away playing the barbel like he’d been doing it all his life. Steve had moved downstream and had also found the odd fish which included barbel to nearly 8lb, yet after catching two personal best Greg left the best to last and l watched as he cast, hooked and played a barbel which dad Steve landed for him, one that weighed 8lb 13oz. Job done! With the rain clouds building and the lads eager to get back in time for a pint or two before England’s football qualifier started we said our farewells and I pointed the car south with an incredible 100 barbel and around 30 chub landed for the week. Who said the Wye wasn’t fishing well?

I still have a space available on the Monday 30th September if you are interested.
River Wye Barbel/Chub Guiding Days.
Each day l will guide two anglers for barbel/chub. All bait and terminal tackle will be provided, as will the cost of the day ticket (rods provided at no extra cost on request).
Based on two, the cost is £125 per person. 
If you wish to book more than one day then a list of guest house in the area will be provided. 

Barbel fishing on the Wye for 2014.
Watch this space as dates will be appearing soon for two day breaks including accommodation for 2014.