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Barnton and Frodsham Angling Club

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THERE’S MORE TO FISHING THAN CATCHING FISH

We all like bagging up but it’s not the be all and end all of fishing. Nature is always busy and there’s always something going on to tantalise the senses especially in those quieter moments. Just keep your eyes open and your ears pricked!

Very tiring but highly satisfying

Somehow Gareth, my successor as my local club’s junior official and I had got ourselves roped into a fishing teach-in on the junior pool (all ages welcome) as part of the  Saltscape Festival in which all sorts of local attractions and pastimes were on offer for free. A special one day rod license was obtained to cover anybody taking part and we were all set to go. I had made up half a dozen extra pole rigs and we had obtained the necessary bait, three very generous pints of maggots (i.e. more like four pints) and a box of feed pellets to which Billy at the tackle shop threw in three ready-made pole rigs and all for a tenner!

Rising at seven thirty on the day, blip number one soon manifested itself, a mass escape from one of the maggot boxes saw the outhouse floor covered in multi coloured wrigglers which took a good fifteen minutes to round up with a yard brush so when Gareth arrived to pick me up I wasn’t quite ready. Further time was lost trying to squeeze all my gear into a vehicle already loaded to the gunwhales. After squeezing myself into the front seat, a holdall jammed in my neck and knees pressed painfully against the dashboard we set out on the mercifully short trip to the venue.

After putting up a few direction signs we set about setting up the elasticated top three sections of a pole along with a couple of three metre whips and a rod and almost as soon as we were ready the first of a steady stream of eager young punters arrived ready to set the angling world alight! Bites were encountered from the off and soon the first fish of the day, a gudgeon of maybe half an ounce was being swung in.For the next hour or two bites were more or less none stop, mostly gudgeon and very small perch with the occasional monster two ounce perch for additional encouragement. Smartphone cameras were wielded by parents taking photos of their offspring clutching their prize catches with both hands so that practically none of the fish were actually visible but it didn’t matter, they were catching fish and enjoying it! Once they had caught a fish or two they were sent to the back of the queue so that the next in line could have his turn.

Untitled-1Constant feeding with maggot eventually brought better fish into the swims taking the grubs on the drop. Roach and rudd of two and three ounces were added to the catch tally often hooking themselves such was the savagery of their takes. A six ounce rudd was lost when the lad was too eager to bring it to the bank. It was immediately declared to be MASSIVE! By the disappointed but excited youngster. Still the fish kept coming  with rudd and roach reaching to around twelve ounces and the best two captures of the day, a couple of crucian carp which were weighed at one pound nine and one pound seven. Inevitably, with all the disturbance, the bites began to tail off so it was much harder work to bank a fish for one latecomer but eventually he managed to hook a couple while his two year old sister played happily at his feet with the maggots in the bait box.

Our last two punters were a couple of blokes who brought along one of those totally useless starter fishing sets in a blister pack. A five foot ‘rod’, cheap reel loaded with very thick monofilament, a huge bulbous float, half a dozen mackerel hooks and three very small and shiny split shot were displayed and disapproved of before Gareth set up his kit and tied one of the donated pole rigs to the end of the line to make it just about useable for the guy’s four year old son when he took him out fishing the next day. The bloke himself had a go with our gear and missed three good bites before we told them that it was time us to pack up (I had told the missus we finished at half four and by now we were overrunning by an hour). His inability  to catch was our only failure of the day but overall the event had been an unqualified success.'

I’D ALMOST FORGOTTEN THE THRILL OF A HOOKED BARBEL

The hoped for late afternoon and early evening assault on the Wye barbel hadn’t panned out as we had hoped. Alg and I upstream on the stretch with Rodders and Paul staked out on the downstream end, all in touch via walkie-talkies. I was fishing with 10mm frankfurter boilies on a fairly light leger rig, the river being very low and bereft of significant flow. All the usual ploys of taking a drink or having a pee had failed to stir the barbel to offering a carefully timed bite at an inconvenient moment.

With dusk rapidly closing in I decided it was time to pack it in and get the gear up to the top of the bank before the failing light finally failed! I was just pushing my tackle box into the rucksack when a muffled clatter drew my attention to an alarmingly bent rod top and a butt see-sawing off the ground and back as an angry barbel dropped downstream. Dropping the rucksack I snatched the butt and felt the glorious first surge of a hooked barbel as it ripped yards of line from the clutch. I really wanted this fish as I hadn’t banked a barbel for over two years, so the thrill of the fight was tempered with anxiety.

new-1There followed a to and fro battle, I put a few yards of line back on the spool only for my adversary gain more than half back. Then there were the sulks with the fish, seemingly unmoving, hugging the bottom, once for long enough to convince me that she was snagged. Gradually though I gained the upper hand and brought her slowly across the river. The first glimpse of the fish through the gathering gloom suggested that she would make four or five pounds. The second time she rolled I thought that she might be six or seven and when finally I drew her towards the waiting net I hoped she might make eight. Contrary to my usual barbel netting experience she went in first time and as I struggled up the bank, the width of her belly told me that she almost surely would. After a bit of faffing about, unhooking, photographing in the net, I finally got her on the scales which registered nine pounds six and it was a very pleased angler who spent the next five minutes or so resting her in the net until her feistiness told me she was ready for release. With the fish safely returned I decided that I wouldn’t fish on in the dark and hauled my stuff in stages out of the pitch (thank heavens for the rope anchored to a dog spike).

Back at the cottage the others had no notable fish to report but Alg had identified a swim that he reckoned was relatively easy to get into and, more importantly, thought would produce a fish or two. Rodders and Paul planned to fish a swim a little further upstream the next day and I, perhaps unsurprisingly decided to drop back into the same swim. The following morning my plan quickly unravelled when I found two guys fishing directly opposite and etiquette dictated that I would need to think again. I opted to try downstream a little, from a concrete groyne that protruded out into the river. I had no takes and eventually packed up after two consecutive casts resulted in the loss of my end tackle on hefty snags. Alg was the main man on the day with an 8-15 bertie which, in the light of the difficulty in getting any bites at all, he was delighted with. Rodders too reported just one fish, a 3lb plus chub but Paul suffered another blank apart from a few small fish taken on trotted maggot.

Some overnight rain had raised the river level a little for Tuesday’s session but disappointingly for me the same two guys were in position opposite again. “Should have got out earlier!” I thought. I did however make enquiries about their previous day’s success and found that they had one barbel each, again an indication of small rewards being regarded as something as a success in the river’s current mood. Alg was back on station on his banker swim which he invited me to share but, feeling that somehow, that would make someone else the architect of any success I might enjoy, I declined the kind invitation and opted instead to hone my trotting skills down near the fishing hut. Unfortunately the information we had received in Woody’s Hereford tackle shop the previous year proved to be, sadly, correct, that is the smaller shoal fish migrated from Ross-on-Wye to Hay-on-Wye in the autumn months. Most fish it seemed were on their winter holidays! All I had to show for my efforts were a dace, a bleak and a couple of Kylies. Rodders and Paul had pre-booked a session on a Wye and Usk Foundation stretch elsewhere on the river but an unexpected walkie-talkie communication told us that they were back at the cottage, having been plagued by loose weed and constant snagging problems which made them decide to call an early halt to proceedings and head back to base (£20 each well spent there then!). They their hastily convened a plan B and took themselves off to the downstream end of our own stretch where Rodders managed some action with three chub, the best of which weighed in at a very pleasing five pounds two ounces. The fishing Gods once again turned their faces against Paul awarding him another Cheque book and pen!

Wednesday dawned with a little brightness but gathering cloud promised the forecast rain. Paul had set off early from the cottage but was soon back with a tale of woe. One of his Grey’s Prodigy rods had been hauled from the rest and into the river and although he went in after it, could only watch as it was towed out of sight. Hopefully with a barbless hook the fish would eventually manage to free itself. Either he forgot or accidentally knocked of the baitrunner lever on his reel but I think at this point he might have begun to suspect that this wasn’t going to be his week! After getting changed Paul and the rest of us set off to resume our hunt for the fabled berties.

new2Collecting my gear from beneath the fishing hut, I set off in the hope of reclaiming my swim, third time lucky. I then noticed three anglers on the opposite bank walking briskly with a fifty yard head start but with a wave of relief I saw them press on along the river and eventually out of sight. The water was up another few inches and I hoped that the slight change would prompt the fish to feed and, hoping to maximize my chances, opted for two rods, one cast downstream baited with an 8mm spicy sausage pellet, the other was cast upstream with double 10mm frankfurter boilies on the hair. The rain descended, drizzly at first and then steadily and finally torrentially with thunder and lightning, making me regret my decision to leave my brolly behind but, on the plus side, barbel bites were coming with first the downstream producing a seven pound plus fish and then the upstream rod providing three fish in quick succession of between 5 pounds 10 and 8 pounds 2. Then, as suddenly as they had started, the bites ceased, I only wish I could say the same about the rain! By the time I decided to call a halt just before darkness fell the rain had found the chinks in my waterproof armoury and I was beginning to feel distinctly chilly. The climb out of the swim was extremely greasy and care was needed to avoid taking an unintentional swim. Alg was coming out of his swim too having added three barbel to his tally all seven and eight pounders. Earlier Paul had radioed to say fortune has finally decided to favour him with a barbel of six pounds odd. Rodders had to declare a blank having parted company with a good fish, his line apparently cut on a sharp rock.

Rodders had to leave the next day to look after the dogs while his missus visited their daughter and her family in Ireland and in view of the fact that it was bucketing down again, he decided to leave early rather than fish through day and have to drive home in a drenched condition. Not long after the rest of us decided to follow suit, not fancying the by now treacherous bank. Paul had initially declared he intended to fish but reconsidering the safety aspects of fishing on his own in such conditions, eventually decided to call it quits himself. Jokingly I asked him what made him think that, if we had stayed to fish, that either of us would have jumped in to save him if he had ended up in the drink! So after a clean-up in the cottage and packing and stowing our gear in the cars we headed back up North two days earlier than intended aware that in our old age, safety had overtaken the fishing prospects in our priorities. I claimed the Isaac trophy for the biggest barbel of the trip for only the third time in the many years of trying. Rodders laid claim to ‘The Tracey’ for the biggest fish of any other species with his 5 pound plus chub. Maybe if we had stayed a bigger barbel may have been banked but then again if, maybe one of us would have ended up in The Wye, lost and gone forever!

 

There's more to fishing than catching fish' is an often quoted truism by the angling fraternity and sometimes it manifests itself in spectacular fashion. This story tells of one such occasion on this year's fishing holiday on the River Wye.

 

WOWED ON THE WYE!

 

 

wye1

 

Iwye2t had been a very pleasant day. I'd had a rewarding session of much needed trotting practice with a centrepin. It had yielded many dace with a smattering of bleak and a single chub of around two pounds which gave my cobbled together spliced tip trotting rod (an old DAM Quickstick with a splice fashioned from a disused pole flick-tip and fitted with rings taken from another old rod). It really shouldn't have worked but it performed beautifully and I resolved to do a bit of refurbishment on it when I got back home. First job would be to renovate the handle and winch fittings because halfway through the session the reel fell off, bounced once and plopped into the river. Bob fished it out with his landing net and a few turns of sellotape around the fittings secured the reel for the remainder of the week.

Now, as the day moved into it's relaxed evening mood, a bit of   legered pellet fishing was called for in the hope that a Bertie barbel might put in an appearance. Bob the builder fishing from a jetty thirty yards upstream was into action first when a tidy eel snaffled his luncheon meat bait. Let's just say this was a not exactly welcome episode!

wye3Soon after his rod was bending again and this time it was a barbel that was putting a bend into his rod but at about a pound and a half, not exactly a big bend. Still, it was a barbel and a target had been achieved. His next bite saw him attached to a much bigger fish but his mainline braid parted and subsequent testing showed it to be pretty rotten. Should have tested it before the holiday Bob!

News from Rodder's downstream pitch told us of his capture of a 7-14 barbel to lead the race for the biggest barbel. It was early days yet of course!

Buzzards wheeled high above surveying their Wye valley home, green and great spotted woodpeckers put in regular appearances on the opposite bank. kingfishers fizzed streaks of brilliant turquoise and orange up and down the river and periodically a common sandpiper would lift from the stony banks and on languid down-turned wings flit away in search of food to stoke its journey back to a winter in Africa.

wye4Sunlit white wings betrayed an unexpected little egret crossing the river before turning on a downstream course to settle amongst a large flock of swans on gravel shallows. Flowers decorated the both banks of the river.Himalayan balsam glowed in shades of pink, purple and white, wind movement periodically popping the seed capsules scattering its fruits far band wide in its bid for total domination of the river bank. Here and there tall spires of purple loosestrife acted as proud standard bearers for the native flora. The yellow and orange snapdragon-like flowers of toadflax colonies established on the banks and riverside shingle, glowed in the late afternoon sunshine.

A suddenly lurching rod tip broke my reverie as a barbel ploughed through the heavy streamer weed. This time it was my turn to taste the bitter disappointment of a lost fish when the hook link knot broke at the swivel. Soon after another bite resulted in a spirited tussle from a barbel in the three to four pound bracket, not as big as I may have hoped for but my first of the holiday and I felt content.

It had been a very pleasant day. I'd had a rewarding session of much needed trotting practice with a centrepin. It had yielded many dace with a smattering of bleak and a single chub of around two pounds which gave my cobbled together spliced tip trotting rod (an old DAM Quickstick with a splice fashioned from a disused pole flick-tip and fitted with rings taken from another old rod). It really shouldn't have worked but it performed beautifully and I resolved to do a bit of refurbishment on it when I got back home. First job would be to renovate the handle and winch fittings because halfway through the session the reel fell off, bounced once and plopped into the river. Bob fished it out with his landing net and a few turns of sellotape around the fittings secured the reel for the remainder of the week.

Around half past six my eyes lit upon a heron flapping along the course of the river towards me but then, as it neared, it magically metamorphosed into something entirely different.

"Osprey!" I excitedly shouted as I pointed it out to a bemused Bob. Barely thirty feel above us the magnificence of the brown and white fish hawk continued unperturbed on its upstream course. My eyes followed it until disappeared behind the trees. The thrill of the osprey remained throughout the remainder of the session which yielded nothing else to stir the soul.

Back at the cottage for the evening meal, a very tasty chicken casserole in a white wine and cream sauce expertly prepared by Al. In the kitchen, where the meal was being plated, Rodders had hatched a mischievous trick to play on Phil who had managed to have two major maggot escapes in the bait shed earlier in the day. He slipped a couple of rubber maggots onto his plate beside the boiled potatoes and we all eagerly awaited their discovery by the victim and the subsequent reaction. Phil blissfully unaware however, proceeded to pour extra sauce over the meal and polished it off, rubber maggots and all, in double quick time! Quips about Phil enjoying his grub were cracked and there was much mirth around the dinner table much to his bewilderment. Rodders however was mortified that his joke, as he saw it, had backfired and guiltily owned up, swearing never to play a practical joke again. Phil it has to be said didn't show any ill effects during the rest of the week.

The day had been splendidly enjoyable and I knew that even if I didn't have another bite for the rest of the week, the holiday would remain in my memory for a long time to come!

wye5

 

The night fisher's equivalent of jet lag plus the need to buy a new suit for a wedding (do you know that one retailer now describes me as 'Man Size' which is just a polite way of saying fat bugger), has prevented me from recounting my latest trip until now, but better late than never

 

Top Two, Hook, Line and Sinker

Late Sunday evening was the only chance for me to go fishing, so I decided to make it an all-nighter on the club's stretch of the River Weaver and my first crack of the season at its bream shoals (you carp men who despise slimy slabs can move on now if you wish). The happy sighting of a kingfisher, the numbers of which have been badly hit by two vicious winters here in Cheshire, I greeted as a good omen

new-1Starting at around eight o'clock presenting corn on a pole rig at six metres over a bed of ground bait, it took the best part of an hour to elicit any interest when the float moving sedately downstream in the flow suddenly changed direction and sank serenely below the surface. The strike saw the black hydro-elastic  emerge from the tip and I felt  the ponderous thumping of a bream and soon the first fish of the night, around three and a half pounds, nestled in the landing net. Three more followed over the next hour with the best marginally over four pounds in weight. As darkness fell bites became frustratingly intermittent but when they did come the sight of the starlight atop the float sinking beneath the dark obsidian surface was bewitching. By a quarter to two the tally had risen to eight bream and two roach. A flurry of unmissable bites followed two of which I missed! The others resulted in two bream coming adrift and a further three pound plus fish landed, giving me a bag of around thirty pounds.. It was then that I managed to tangle my rig irretrievably and it took nearly an hour to set up again in the dark (I hate making rigs so I rarely have any suitable spares in my box). I'd just got the depth right after some careful plumbing when disaster struck! For no apparent reason the top two sections fell off my pole into the river. Attempts to retrieve the errant sections eventually resulted in the top two sinking out of sight and with the pull of the current the illuminated rig eventually disappeared from view too. At this juncture I decided to call it as night, packed up the gear and set off on the mile and a half walk home.

I grabbed a cup of coffee and waited for it to get properly light before heading back to the river armed with my weed rake on a rope. I figured that there was a serious risk of damaging the pole sections even if I managed to locate them but I had to give it a go. First chuck in and a slow retrieve saw the pole float wedged between the prongs of the rake followed by the pole sections and then even the plummet appear from the depths and soon the top two was strapped to the bike's crossbar and the amazingly undamaged pole rig stashed safely back on the winder. I had just time to put all the gear away and then have a bath to wash away the considerable coating of smelly river silt and even smellier bream slime which the missus finds, strangely, a not very attractive aroma, before she arose from her slumbers.

A strange night, I thought. Act one was pretty good, act two a bit of a disaster and act three could only be considered as a triumph and all in all the whole episode was definitely memorable!

 

 

A story from last year's fishing holiday with a gang of mates known collectively as the Magnificent Six where I seemed to be afflicted with Attention Deficit Disorder!

 

 THWACK, SPLASH AND FEELING FOOLISH!

Like a tightly coiled spring I was. Alright then, the spring might have benefited from a little winding. Okay, okay the spring had bust, but come on, we were on holiday! Having spent a carpcouple of frenetic hours on the upper lake the day before, hauling in bucket loads of fish up to four pounds, I was now on the specimen lake, reputed to hold fish up to twenty pounds but in truth the bulk of carp population were very much smaller than this, however were a little more savvy to the whiles of your average angler and were therefore a more ultimately satisfying target. I  was employing floating bait tactics fished in the margins but was being distracted by a couple of modest carp picking off the odd freebie from a patch of scum further out. I was contemplating whether it was worth a cast to them when, THWACK! SPLASH!  the rod shot forward, the reel crashing into the front rest with and the tip smacking violently on the surface of the water. Grabbing the butt I struck but felt nothing before noticing that the bail arm was disengaged and line was frantically peeling from the spool. Of course! On a purely nostalgic whim, I was using an old Mitchell Match with a bail arm that opened with a dab of the finger and also apparently, when smashing against a rod rest. A turn of the reel handle re-engaged the bail arm and some frenetic reeling put me in touch with the fish just in time to prevent it gaining refuge behind the island. After a spirited tussle I netted a beautifully proportioned, scale perfect common carp of between eight and nine pounds not big maybe but a welcome capture nonetheless.

 

carp2Monday found Alg and me on the ‘Talbot’ stretch of the Teme. To cut a long story short, I blanked on a swim that looked a dead cert for barbel. Alg banked a seven pounder inside the first fifteen minute (or more accurately, I banked it for him because he had neglected to set his net up!). We later celebrated his capture and my expert netting, seek consolation where you can, with a pint in the aforesaid Talbot. Of the three beers the pub’s own micro brewery produced, Alg chose a brew named ‘This’ and I elected to sup a pint of ’T’other’. You all know what the name of the third bitter was but did anybody try it?

Eastham bridge was the chosen venue on the following day and I fancied a crack on a swim that had produced well for Spartacus a couple of years back although to be honest the flow appeared to be a bit on the slow side on the day to be a promising barbel swim and Alg decided to fish a pacier swim a little further downstream. I decided to explore the fastest of the water directly opposite with one rod baited with an 8mm pellet and with a second cast downstream presenting a chunk of meat close to a far bank tree that looked distinctly ‘chubby’. Seconds after casting in the meat rod gave a promising nod and my hand hovered over the butt for a couple of minutes as I gazed intently at the tip. My concentration was broken by a loud THWACK followed immediately by a splash as the upstream rod leapt from the rest into the river! Fortunately the rod’s progress into the flow was hampered by a clump of flag iris but was inching inexorably away from the bank. In a complete kerfuffle I dropped onto one knee and reached for the butt while trying to avoid tumbling, backside over apex, into the river. I was just able to clamp the last inch of the cork between my thumb and forefinger and ease it back sufficiently to be able grasp the handle and raise the rod. Immediately I felt the power of a fish surging below the surface. A dogged if not spectacular battle ensued before I eventually persuaded the barbel to the top and my heart missed a beat as what looked to be a sure fire double thrashed its tail ad plunged away. It wasn’t long before she succumbed once more to the power of the rod and this time she slid over the rim of the net. She looked a very big fish indeed. I rested her in margins within the confines of the net before radioing Al to tell him that I was almost certain that I’d caught a double.

carp3The digital scales were zeroed with weigh sling on the hook before slipping the barbel into the sling for the weighing of what I was certain was going to be my third double. I was more than a little dismayed therefore to see a weight of eight pounds nine ounces indicated. Flaming digitals! They was quite obviously wrong! I hastily dug out a set of Weighmaster dial scales but was disconcerted to see them register 8-10!

Highly embarrassed, I got on the walkie-talkie with the news (should have kept my mouth shut until the weighing had been carried out). I was gobsmacked on how far out I had been with my estimate. I nearly always underestimate my catches. Still, it was a decent barbel and a picture was taken before returning the fish. Alg decided to move back to the car park swims, where he was rewarded with a single bertie, while I carried on in a fruitless bid to add to my tally.

The rest of the week yielded only the odd barbel and chub for all the party except of carp 4course for Paul who ended the week with a total of eleven berties, snaring at least one every day. Well done that man, but again having sold his soul to the devil, he'll be sorry on the day of reckoning when Beelzebub is finding interesting places to insert his red hot poker! Phil and Rodders had a couple of forays to a nearby Prince Albert pool which yielded some good sport with wild carp and the on-site lakes provided some light relief from the hard slog on the river for the rest of us. As we all know, both trophies 'The Isaac' for the biggest barbel and 'The Tracey' for the biggest fish (the same barbel) were won by Spartacus.

As usual the company was excellent, the beer enjoyable the food good nothing burnt this year) and all in all, a thumping good holiday. Twice though, I lost my concentration and got away with it, next time I may not be so lucky. Have I learnt my lesson?. I doubt it!

 

 

 

BLIZZARD CONDITIONS

bliz1With Barbara, my wife, on holiday we decided to get out on the Junior pool for her first fishing trip of the year and it turned out to be a strange rather than spectacular expedition.As we drove through the gate a glimpse at the pool told us two things. Firstly, there was nobody fishing and secondly that most of the surface was covered in a layer of crack willow seed fluff, the stuff that is almost impossible to remove from your line. This, of course, was the reason for the firstly! There were however, a couple of swims where the covering was not quite as prolific so it was here that we decided to give it a go.

bliz2To cut a long story short, we were both seen off twice by large carp. Barb had a couple of tench, her favourite fish, five ‘crueys’ up to one pound ten, a couple of quality roach, plenty of rudd and a gudgeon. The ‘highlight’ of her catch came however when she hooked something that gave a fight somewhere in between that of a bream and a sunken branch. That turned out to be a terrapin neatly hooked in the scissors. He proved to be quite a challenge to unhook, pulling his head into his shell every bliz3time I got the forceps anywhere near him! Eventually I managed it though, thank goodness it was a barbless hook, and the reptile was returned.

Me? Well in between constant re-rigging, removing fluff from lines, dealing with alien animal life and pursuing a bit of wildlife photography, I managed a paltry haul of a single crucian carp, a few rudd and roach and a some gudgeon which plagued me all day despite using fairly substantial pieces of meat on the hook. To round off a memorable day a red kite glided gracefully over the house, just after we had arrived back, barely ten feet above the roof. You could plainly see the bird’s eyes without binoculars. Regretfully, I was unable to grab my camera in time to record the event

 

Another trip to the Dove with my mates Rodders and Alg yielded a great result thanks to an enormous slice of luck!

 

A LUCKY BREAK!

Would ‘peg 18’ produce this week I wondered? After last week’s blank it was with some relief that I struck into a half pound grayling with my first chuck on the maggot feeder. I swung the fish in, grateful to have tasted action so early. A few casts later lucky1and the tip jagged again and a much better lady was hooked. Uh – oh, I’d forgotten to set up my landing net, sirry pirrock! I ended up beaching the fish a little downstream, a lovely fish of one pound six. I quickly corrected the oversight before sending out the feeder again. Checks over the walkie-talkie revealed Rodders with a decent grayling and a brownie of around two pounds and Alg with a solitary grayling in the half pound bracket. No blanks today then!

Every one then found themselves in a quiet spell with nothing to do but feed, cast and enjoy nature on an increasingly warm day. A kingfisher flew past before steepling high over the trees, a small fish dangling limply from his beak. A dabchick dived repeatedly in the margins, hoping to find a similar lunch and all along the bank the willows shone green and gold like a terrace full of Brazilian supporters.

lucky2It was some time before stabbed into action again signalling the start of a lively tussle with a short, thick set 4-6 chub, seeking refuge under the far bank bushes and twice finding sanctuary in weed beds before being guided over the rim of the net. Rodders had another smallish grayling before deciding to do a bit swim hopping with his float rod which yielded a few more grayling and a further trout. Alg too decided a move was in order, his new swim quickly yielding two more grayling. Early in the afternoon the rod tip pulled decisively round but I felt nothing on the strike and after winding in found the hook length was missing. It had snapped close to the swivel where the line had kinked after a few tangles round the swivel. I substituted good old fashioned 6lb Diawa Sensor monofilament for the high tech stuff and was soon back fishing again. As it turned out that breakage was probably the best thing to happen to me all day!

After a leg stretching mooch along the bank, I was ready to settle into the final hour or of the session. I noticed that the hook length had a knot in it. Really I should have changed it there and then but reasoned that as there was not much of the day left and with bites few and far between it probably wasn’t worth the hassle. Ten minutes later the tip pulled round and stayed round and the strike net with a sullen resistance that lasted a few seconds before some determined pumping on my part got the fish moving slowly but surely towards me. It felt like a really good chub but then suddenly the fish decided to belt off back from whence it came, dragging yards of line from the reel’s clutch.

“Oh no, it’s a bertie” I thought “I’m going to lose it on this set up”. 

I grabbed the radio and yelled “Bertie on!” into the handset.

More pumping had the barbel moving back towards me but predictably more line was torn off the reel as it headed under the bushes. I dropped the rod low to avoid snagging the branches, applied as much pressure as I dared and waited for the line to part. Incredibly the fish turned and came from beneath the bushes but immediately dived into a weed bed from which I extracted it a few seconds later. “At least it can’t be that big” I thought “or I would have lost it by now”.

A minute or so of impasse followed where neither I nor the barbel gained any advantage and then suddenly I could see it between the weed beds and grudgingly it came towards me. It looked to be about seven pounds. Sinking the net I tried to coax the fish over it but that only served to bring about the usual “Oh no you don’t” response from the fish and it took several attempts before it was finally engulfed in the mesh. As I lifted the fish onto the bank the walkie-talkie crackled into life

“What did you say Pete?” asked Alg.

Talk about delayed response! I outlined the news and just as I’d removed a pretty nearly straightened size 16 hook from the barbel’s mouth, Rodders appeared offering assistance.

lucky3Using my digital scales Rodders declared the fish to be ten pounds on the nose and turned it round for me to see by which time it read 10-1. I settled for ten dead, elated at only my second double. Photos were taken, the fish was returned and congratulations were gratefully accepted. It was only when I came to bend my straightened hook back with the aid of forceps when I rediscovered the wind knot in the hook length. God! I’d forgotten that. If I’d remembered it I would have eased off the clutch and in all probability lost the barbel in a snag. Why the line didn’t part, I have no idea. I have to admit that I deserved this fish a lot less than many I have lost in the past. I guess the river gods were feeling particularly sympathetic on the warm last day of October!

P.S.  I hereby tender my resignation as President, Vice-president, Chairman, Vice-chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and ordinary member of the Bl***dy Awful Barbel Anglers Society.

 

 

 

I’ve just returned from our little group’s annual fishing holiday feeling somewhat downcast. Here is the sorry tale!

 

THE BL***Y AWFUL BARBEL ANGLERS SOCIETY ANNUAL REPORT

 

The society convened at Brobury House in pursuit of the noble Bertie although of course, we were trying to fulfil the main aim of the society by miserably failing to actually land the lauded target. The society members consisted of Mr P. Leicester (President), Mr R.M. Van Winsum (Chairman), Mr A. Coste (Vice Chairman), Mr P. Dean (Secretary) and Mr P. Hogan (Treasurer).

The first evening, quite naturally, was devoted to quaffing at the local hostelry after a hearty meal at the cottage. The following morning all and sundry departed across the meadow to wet our lines in the Wye for the first time, hoping fervently not to set our hooks into the mouth of any of the river’s barbel. Sadly, I have to report that on this very first outing, the secretary and vice chairman were forced to resign from the society for flagrant breaches of the rules by the landing of the forbidden fish, Particularly disappointing was the conduct of vice chairman, who banked TWO barbus, one of which was found to be a personal best of nine pounds five ounces. The chairman was not blameless in this incident and had to be warned as to his future conduct, having been found guilty of assisting by landing the said fish for Mr Coste.

The president was disappointed in the behaviour of the guilty parties but selflessly volunteered to take on the roles of the expelled members in order that the societies business could continue.

The following day were joined by Mr M. Dean who, while only fishing for the one day, was admitted as an ordinary member. Sad to report, the new member almost immediately disgraced himself by netting a five pound Bertie requiring his immediate expulsion! The resignation of the treasurer was also received on this second day with the landing of another golden flanked adversary. Once again the president agreed to take over the roles of the guilty parties.

Over the next few days, the disgraced members continued, quite shamelessly, to flaunt the rules ensuring that they could not be readmitted to the society on appeal. Despite the added pressure of the extra duties, the president continued to fulfil the aims of the society admirably. The chairman, obviously anxious to avoid exclusion from the society, manfully declined to land a barbel although two five pound plus chub were a worrying indication that he may have been cracking under the strain and so it proved when, on the last day of fishing, when he landed no fewer than three barbus and became the latest member to leave the society under a cloud. So ashamed was Mr Van Winsum of his conduct that he immediately took his leave from the Wye, heading home with his tail between his legs.

Mr Leicester continued valiantly to uphold the aims of the society but, under pressure from the heavy burden he had taken on, asked the society to accept his resignation only to be informed that he would be required to catch a barbel for this to happen. Unable to comply with this scurrilous request, the president continued to carry out his obligations to the society and was able to leave Herefordshire with his head held high having ensured the survival of The Bl***y Awful Barbel Anglers Society.

Reported to be a true and correct record of the week’s events by Mr P. Leicester (a.k.a. Old Whiskers), President, Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and Ordinary Member of the B.A.B.A.S

 

 

A BRISK OPENING DAY ON THE JUNIOR POOL

I was amazed when arriving at the Junior pool at six in the morning to discover not a single bivvy or indeed any other angler on the bank. For the first time ever the club had opened the water on May 1st in a bid to beat the increasing problem of close lad1season poaching. I was expecting the venue to be heaving but, for the time being, I had the place. Afforded such luxury, I decided to do a quick tour looking for signs of fish activity and relieving the banks of the odd bit of litter, before eventually electing to fish  alongside a substantial bed of reedmace from the ‘apple tree peg’. More than an hour after my arrival, I finally lowered a size 16 hook baited with bacon grill into the water below five sections of pole. Before any action accrued a blur of vivid cobalt and tangerine announced the arrival of a kingfisher which posed prettily atop a fluffy reedmace seed head giving me the opportunity to fire off a series of shots with my camera. Unfortunately due to the shade of the nearby trees meant most of the pictures were blurred and only this one was remotely usable.

Steady baiting eventually drew in the fish and after missing the first three bites I eventually struck into a substantial fish which then proceeded to find refuge in a sunken branch before unhooking itself, leaving me to draw in and dispose of the offending tree limb. Action was quickly resumed with several tench between two and two and a half pounds testing the elastic punctuated here and there with the odd rudd. Then a ‘crucian’ of about a pound graced the landing net, probably not a true hundred percent crucian as there are a good number of F1 carp hybrids in the pool which have freely interbred with the original crucian stock.

tn_lad2Every so often I had to break off from the sport to check the permits of anglers who had at last started to arrive at the pool. Eventually there were five of us, including a dedicated carp angler. By now, as sport had slowed on meat, I had switched to corn which had brought a flurry of  ‘crucians’ mostly over the pound mark, a solitary tench and a good few more rudd along with a couple of roach. All the while I was being serenaded by a male blackbird from the trees above and when he departed to attend to some other task he was replaced by a more restrained but equally accomplished songster, a male blackcap declaring his right to the territory of a few square metres of tangled brambles and nettles below. When the bites on corn also waned, a final switch to expander brought me the biggest tench at three pounds nine and the biggest pseudo- crucian taking the dial scales round to two pounds fourteen. The picture below clearly shows that parentage other than crucian carp is evident in this fish although many would claim it to be a ‘cruey’. The fins are a dull rather than bright red, the scales brassy rather than bronze and the body shape is wrong. The dorsal fin to is the wrong shape although that is not evident in the picture.

Soon it was time for me to pack up and I estimate the session had yielded a catch of between forty and fifty pounds. The carp angler had only had a solitary fish of about eight pounds but everybody else seemed content with the level of sport they had enjoyed and for me this had been my third consecutive good bag.

Footnote: The next trip to Heesom’s pool saw it all go pear shaped though with only two smallish crucians to show for my efforts. You can’t win ‘em all!