Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Big River Trent barbel - mission accomplished

Although I had made a conscious decision to do more barbel fishing on the river Trent this season circumstances had until recently limited the time that I had available to devote to that plan. Although on paper the Level Two Angling Coach course takes up six classroom days over four weekends there is also the need to spend some considerable amount of time at home and on the bank carrying out practice sessions and planning. In theory I could have got away with spending less time on this but as the course went on I found myself revising my ideas constantly and in effect I went over the same ground a number of times which in hindsight was the right thing to do and is actually a fundamental part of the principles of coaching. The upshot of this is that I didn't really get stuck into a fishing campaign over the summer months. Short barbel sessions fitted in well but the Trent fish are much more cooperative after dark and short summer nights meant a lack of sleep which was too much for me to handle on a regular basis. A few outings for other species have broken up my time but effectively I've been down to one, or at the most two, sessions of only a few hours per week for a good while and that wasn't helped by me catching shingles, it never rains does it! The start of October saw me complete my course and it was time to snap out of the doldrums and get stuck in to some fishing proper once again, with the nights now drawing in fast it was prime time to get back to the Trent.


My Trent sessions earlier in the season had been dictated by how long I could keep my eyes open for. When it got to bed time I packed up and retreated to the van for some sleep before heading off to work in the morning. I considered doing the same this time around but in the end decided that I was actually better off just stopping on the bank, I'll be honest, I thought that I might get more sleep. Everyone kept telling me that shingles was bad news and could really knock you off of your feet but I was feeling pretty good after a week off work and shrugged those comments off. I'll now fully admit that I was wrong. I'm typing this over three weeks later and I'm still feeling the effects, fine half of the time and virtually dead on my feet the other. The sensible thing would have been to have left the night fishing alone for a while but I'm also of the opinion that being stuck indoors does you no good either and I thought that if I dug out the carp barrow instead of carrying my gear all would be well. Or to but it more plainly I'm a stubborn idiot!

First session back and I had decided that I wasn't going to head for the swims that had produced for me previously, partly as I had come to the conclusion that they fished better with some extra water on and partly as I wanted to start to build up a better picture of the stretch. It was pleasantly mild as I loaded up the barrow and started to push it downstream and in fact I stopped after a hundred yards or so to take my jumper off. The first swim that I had in mind to check out was already occupied by a couple of pike anglers and so after a chat I carried on downstream and almost by fortune ended up finding a likely looking area just as my legs started to buckle beneath me. I pushed my way through the undergrowth and dumped my kit in a heap before plonking myself down next to it for ten minutes rest.

The flow seemed to be pretty even across the width of the river in front of me and I made the decision to fish two thirds of the way over and to put a reasonable amount of bait in straight away, by alternately casting two rods it didn't take too long to get thirty feeder loads out and then I could collapse once again. As usual dusk saw an increase in activity with several good fish rolling further downstream and the rod tops bouncing now and then just to prove that my spot wasn't devoid of life either. I had decided to fish short hair rigs in the knowledge that a big chub was a distinct possibility. Normally I avoid hooking chub as far as possible whilst barbelling but I wouldn't shake a 6lber off and in my opinion on a river of the Trents magnitude you are less likely to spook feeding fish than on a more intimate venue. The short hair did its job and hooked me a chub fairly quickly, only it was the smallest of its kind that I had caught for a long while, typical eh! Around 11pm I turned in for the night determined to get some much needed rest and I was out like a light for a full two hours. I'm not sure if it was the noise that awoke me or whether I was already stirring but in a very groggy state I was aware of something making a right old din and though it had stopped my the time I was fully awake I'm 99% certain that it was an otter. Now whatever you might make of the otter situation I can tell you that three hours later having not had one more second of sleep I was less than amused with the noisy swine! The best made plans eh, why me? I did nod off for a while before it was time to break camp at half past six but it was one incredibly groggy Rob that headed off to work that morning I can tell you.

Incredibly I was back the next night for another go but this time I managed to get in the nearest swim to the van which is actually quite a nice looking spot. Well it would be a nice spot if the morons that obviously frequent it took their crap home with them. The day that someone comes up with a satellite that targets litter louts with quick blast from a photon canon I'll be a happy man, disgusting behaviour. This time I was fishing a mere underarm swing out from the bank as the flow cut across the river into my margin which made things a little easier particularly in avoiding the drifting weed which is the bane of the Trent anglers life at times. Several times in the half light I jumped up to try and spot where something sizeable had rolled on the surface but could never quite pinpoint them however I was left in no doubt whatsoever when two great big disturbances broke the water right between my two baits, now it was getting exciting. A bite ten minutes later would normally have had me expecting good news but yet again that two pound chub had come to visit which left me thinking that maybe I should have stuck to the long hair rigs after all. If anything I think I had even less sleep than on my last visit. A bream of sizeable river proportions, 8lb plus I would have said, had me up and about in the early hours as did several wads of silk weed that dislodged the rigs. If I was knackered `at work on Tuesday I was like the living dead on Thursday.

A weekend of rest was required but Monday evening saw me once again Trent bound though I had extra baggage, a guilty conscience. It was committee meeting night for my angling society and though I never miss a meeting I just had a feeling that I should be on the bank. I'd spent most of the day arguing with myself over it but in the end I just had to fish and that was that. A drop of rain had pushed the river up slightly but the Environment Agnecy website didn't give me much hope of it still being pressent, nevertheless I first drove down to the bottom end of the stretch to check those swims out. Within seconds of stepping onto the bank I knew that I was in the wrong place and so I turned round straight away and drove back upstream. The barrow was soon loaded up and I pulled up in the spot that I had last fished. The bank showed where the few inches of extra water had been and gone and also where more bank tramps had done the same. Empty egg boxes, chocolate bar wrappers and other assorted rubbish adorned the swim, how delightful. Nevertheless it seemed worth another go after I had seen rolling fish last time and so I lowered the kit down the steep bank bit by bit. I stood there looking at the water for a minute or two and then my gaze drifted down to my feet which were surrounded my a carpet of groundbait. In a split second I made the decision that I wasn't stopping there and so I hauled the whole load of kit back up the bank, reloaded the barrow, and headed off. Next in line was the first swim that I had fished the previous week but I didn't fancy that one again and I ended up in a spot that was more than a little dodgy to be honest, A nasty little drop to the water would be fun in the dark and the brolly would have to be rammed in any which way I could but it was a more or less untouched swim, no rubbish and no worn bank, great.

Once again an underarm cast was all that I needed to position a bait in the flow and a dozen casts of the feeders plus twenty five boilies were my starting point, a recast every half to three quarters of an hour would top the swim up. More often than not I feel a bit on edge when I'm fishing, always on the look out for signs of fishy life and reviewing what I'm doing in my head but this time I was content just to kick back and gaze at the rod tips silhouetted above the far bank tree line, the isotopes gradually taking on an alien glow as dark fell and the whole world changed around me. As single bleep on the upstream rod snapped me to attention and the isotope nodded back and forth gently, only an inch or two but constant, a fish had pulled the feeder downstream causing the line to go slack. On striking the rod assuming the right sort of curve straight away, that is a big one! The weight on the end just felt heavier and ponderous and my first impression was that I was into a carp. As the fight went on and the fish remained within a sensible distance from me I changed my mind to barbel, a carp would most likely have shot of one way or another at express speed with not much that I could do to stop it. I somehow negotiated the mini cliff between me and the water without joining the fish in the wet stuff and pushed the net out in front of me. I soon got my first glimpse of my prize and it certainly was a barbel and it looked to be a double. A few more attempts to shoot off down the inside margin were put to a stop and I got my chance to show it the inside of the net. Leaning the rod against the bank I slid the net handle back through my fingers and peered into the mesh, blimey, that was a big girl. In fact that was the biggest barbel that I had ever clapped eyes on which really makes it pretty difficult to guess a weight but I had to have a punt, was it a 14? I was shaking a bit at this stage, I've had a few nice fish in my time but this one really hit the nail on the head. It's probably quite fortunate that I was alone actually as I'm sure I had a very silly grin on my face and could well have been talking to myself. On lifting the net up the bank I was more convinced about my original estimate and when laid out on the mat she looked even bigger, time to find out for definite. Out came the Avons and I hoisted the sling from the ground, blimey I really was shaking it took a few seconds to get a decent reading, 14lb 12oz's! Bloody hell! Now that is one fish that I didn't see coming, absolutely blew me away that did. I had to settle myself down a bit before attempting to take any pictures and so I let her rest in the margins for a few minutes while I sat back and repeatedly said "bloody hell" to myself!

Big Trent barbel

With the pictures done and the fat lady released back into her home I just sat back and tried to take it all in. I very nearly packed up there and then but it was gone nine o'clock and by the time I had sorted everything out and got home it would have been too late to start on the beer anyway and so I decided to stay. Nevertheless it still took me the best part of an hour to recast the rods and I really didn't feel the need to catch anything else that night, it would have just felt a bit odd sleeping there with the hooks in the butt rings!

Funnily enough I had a great nights sleep and bounded off to work the next day with a spring in my step, can't think why that should be can you? In hindsight it was by a strange set of circumstances that I had caught that fish. Firstly I never miss a club meeting, whatever made me do it on that occasion I don't know but I just had to. Then after struggling to carry my kit down into that first swim something just snapped and made me move on which to be honest with the way I was feeling wasn't easy. Sometimes it's just meant to be isn't. God bless the Trent and all that swim in her!

13 comments:

  1. Awesome result Rob and worth the suffering. Hope you're feeling better now.

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    1. Cheers mate, still not 100% but apparently it can takes a long while to clear up, I'll have anything that's going free!

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  2. Cracking Barbel there Rob, nice one

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  3. Well done Rob, it might be fate or maybe a fishing 'six sense ' but always makes the capture extra special when your least expecting it.

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    1. You're not wrong mate,those ones that turn up out of the blue and catch you off guard are the best

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  4. As ever Rob, great entry and a superb fish too, hope your back to normal now , Cheers Ian

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  5. Rob, that is a fantastic Barbel, what a clonker!, I do know how your feeling and do you still have that grin tattooed on your face, I did for weeks after mine, the Trent is in phenomenal form at the moment no better time to be there. Well in.

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    2. Cheers James :) I sais that I wouldn't go back after them on the Trent this year after that but I did have a session this week. Looked spot on but bar one chub it was tough going

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  6. cracking fish Rob, well done mucker.

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