Sunday, 24 August 2014

A tale of tench, carp, and brick walls - blog update

Remember the Pringles advert, once you pop you can't stop? Well when you stop blogging it's a right job getting started again. Blimey it's well two months since I put finger to keyboard, a poor show indeed. Truth be known work has been busy and I am also in the process of slowly winding down my gardening business and moving into another enterprise, meanwhile it's a case of balancing the two which is far from easy. Add a few Korum Fish Camp attendances into the equation, other coaching commitments and a considerable amount of time spent on club business, bank maintenance and bailiffing, and in hindsight it's not really a surprise that I fell out of step with my writing. But at the end of the day I do this because I enjoy it and I don't want it to fall by the wayside so let's get back on track. Feel free to give me a good kick if I lapse again!

My tench season came to an abrupt halt on the 9th of June when it became obvious that they were about to get stuck in to spawning proper. Numerous fish could be seen travelling along the margins when I arrived and as the afternoon progressed more and more activity in the weedbeds in front of me told me that it was time to leave them alone. I had enjoyed one last trip a few days previously with a number of fish to 7lb plus but with the weed now becoming thick it was a case of inching fish back to the bank rather than enjoying a good fight and so a lot of the enjoyment was lost. The fact is that is probably the last time I will fish the water. I've had great fun over the last three or four years but it's become a bit stale now, the same old swims and methods and plenty of repeat captures, so I think next spring will see me elsewhere.

Big midlands tench fishing

For one reason or another I actually didn't fish for the next two weeks or so, completely missing the start of the river season, and when I did finally make my way to the Derwent with barbel in mind I had a frustrating start to say the least. Now I know as well as anyone how difficult it is to run a river club nowadays due to a lack of willing volunteers but having spent a lot of time cutting swims myself on the Soar it came as something of a disappointment to spend an afternoon walking the Derwent to find not one fishable swim, I couldn't even get close to the water for considerable distances. I should have turned around when the farmer stopped to speak to me near the gate, don't see anyone fishing down here now he said, not bloody surprising unless Bear Grylls turns up is it!

Lesson learnt I went to another stretch on my next trip. I knew that I wouldn't find many swims due to the high banks along most of the length but I did have an old faithful in mind and thankfully it was free, and fishable. What was soon apparent was that the balance of species in the swim wasn't as I would normally expect. Instead of a stack of barbel and three or four chub I only got the very odd glimpse of pink fins while there was a ravenous hoard of rubber dubs snaffling any loose pellets I flicked in front of them. I presume that the barbel were elsewhere due to their spawning duties but not to worry these chub were interesting, not particularly because they were big although one or two were of an interesting size but because of the way they were feeding. From my high perch I could easily swing a freelined pellet out into their view and the prospect of watching the reaction was more than enough to spark a bit of excitement. Cue the next arrival in the swim. Now as it turned out he was a lovely chap and we ended up having a good natter but the minute he walked straight into the swim and up to the edge of the bank my heart sank. I didn't even bother setting a rod up I just left. I was taught early on in my angling life that if you approach another angler on the bank you first assess how they may be fishing and take that into account. In some circumstances I wouldn't even go near them, I'd leave them be, but if you do feel the need to have a word you always approach low, slowly, and quietly. Another trip kaput.

My next trip to the same stretch saw me cut out a swim in a big bed of nettles, I did the same last year and caught my first double from the area so I knew the swim would be viable. With the hard work done I tucked my chair down low amongst the foliage and pulled back grass and weeds that I had disturbed on the way in so that I was as good as invisible from the path and could fish in peace.

River Derwent barbel swims
What could of been...
Oh yes it was peaceful alright, for at least an hour, and then they arrived. Now this particular area is quite narrow and intimate and so the fifteen minutes worth of bait dropping with not one but two anglers at it in the one swim, maybe twenty yards upstream of me, was slightly disturbing. The repeated casting of what sounded like 4oz feeders every few minutes afterwards did nothing to calm me shortly followed by a few handfuls of boilies and then when branches started cracking and snapping I could take it no more, yet again I abandoned swim and went home. I really did feel like banging my head repeatedly against the proverbial brick wall.

Now call me chicken but I left that area well alone on my next trip and headed to another stretch way upstream. A pretty lousy day of persistent rain had been forecast so I forgot any silly ideas of work and was bankside by mid morning. Now I have dabbled on this piece of water a few times over the last couple of years but for some reason have never looked at it on Google Earth and it was only when a mate mentioned it that I realised the river swung around in a great big loop and that as I walked up the bank I knew I was actually only a hundred yards or so from the river on the other side of the field, oops! Well me being me that meant I just had to walk the new bit and then some more, as in god only knows how far upstream. I ended up walking and looking for the best part of an hour and got pretty hot and sweaty loaded up with kit and clad in waterproofs, of course I ended up back where I started but that's no problem it's always nice to see fresh water.

I eventually plumped for a swim that I had quite often looked at but never fished. Several trees dotted along the far bank decorated a sweeping bend that just had to hold fish and a bar of clean ground beneath shallower water shone up through the rain peppered surface just an under arm swing from my precarious bankside perch. It was to be an all out feeder attack with a mix of different types and sizes of pellet along with broken boilies bound together bound together with ground vitalin. One rod was plopped out on to that shiny bar of gravel and the other propelled twenty yards down and across to that tasty looking run. The plan was to work the feeders hard for the first hour or so to get some bait in but within sixty seconds of the first cast the downstream rod the hookbait was snaffled by a chub that wouldn't have been far short of 5lb's. I actually ended up leaving the fish in the net for a couple of minutes before unhooking it as the heavens chose that moment to open big time, torrential best describes it, it was like sitting in a drum!

Despite the early arrival no further indications of life were seen for quite some time but then I thought I caught a glimpse of a dark shape over that shallow ground, I wasn't sure though, it just didn't seem to be the right shape and the rain drops made for difficult viewing. I had put the idea to the back of my mind and was idling away the day thinking of god only knows what when the rod placed on that mark sprang back as something lifted the feeder and moved downstream.Whatever I had hooked was obviously fairly substantial but it wasn't fighting like a barbel, which was understandable as it was a carp! So I hadn't been seeing things after all. Well you won't hear me complain at the capture but I was starting to wonder what on earth I had to do to catch a barbel, I certainly seemed to be on a rather bizarre run of sessions so far that's for sure.

River Derwent carp fishing
Erm, you aren't a barbel are you
As June rolled into July I fancied a bit of a change and found myself drawn back to carp though in a more conventional setting this time. Time constraints meant that I could only fish overnight which suits me fine. I spent many years fishing in that style almost to the exclusion of anything else, arrive early evening after work, pack up early morning to get home around seven am, wash and brush up then back to work. I quite often never saw the water in daylight during the winter months. I've heard many anglers baulk at the very thought of such a thing but as long as you are relatively organised it really isn't a problem. Yes I've had a fair few bleary eyes days due to lack of sleep but that means that I've had a successful session which more than compensates. The fact is that if overnight fishing is the only way that you can get bank time then you have to make the effort, anyone can sit in front of the telly moaning that they don't have time to fish.

I was quite shocked on arriving at the lake to find only two anglers present which was a more than welcome surprise to be honest. My usual approach is to have a bit of a walk before deciding on a swim and I first headed off along the bank that I had been thinking about earlier. Twenty minutes of scanning the water from several vantage points gave no clue as to fish present in the area but as I made my way back towards the car park I spotted a splash a couple of hundred yards away that deserved some investigation. Once standing in a suitably located swim nearer to the area I soon saw two more definite carp shows and the decision was made.

I've always been of the opinion that the rods go out first and are wound in last unless the weather is bad when I concede and stick up a shelter and so within a few minutes of pushing the barrow into the swim I was casting out a rig complete with four bait stringer. I get the impression that the humble pva stringer is probably a rare sight on a carp lake nowadays and I suspect that a good few new to the sport don't even know what one is on but that's all the more reason to use them in my eyes. Another rig soon followed and I then set about tying up number three only to be interupted by a few bleeps, the bobbin on the rod that I had just cast out was lying on the ground, blimey that was quick. A right old tussle followed with the carp plunging up and down the margins, repeatedly taking advantage of the deep water right under the rod tip. It even managed to go to ground in some kind of minor snag at one point and I feared the worse but a little bit of slack line got it moving again and eventually it went into the net. Now a lot of people slag off the simmo strain of carp and I agree that some do look pretty pale and bland but this fella wasn't of that ilk at all and at 26lb 8oz was a nice welcome back to carp fishing.

Big carp fishing derbyshire

Well of course I had to go and make a few tongue in cheek jibes about how easy they were to catch after that quick bite and unsurprisingly, in hindsight, I didn't get another bite all night, eh ho!

A couple of days later I was back after a very hectic afternoons work due to trying to beat the rush hour traffic whilst lake bound. Half an hour looking at the water didn't give me any idea as to where I should head and so I made the logical decision to drop into the same swim once again. This time a rather large and very dark cloud was approaching and sheets of rain could be seen on the horizon so it was certainly a shelter up first job. I'd just about got things arranged when a thought struck me, where were my bite alarms? Oh yes that's right, they're next to the back door. There was nothing for it but to pack everything up including the now very wet bivvy and drive home, that's right, through the worst of the rush hour traffic. It was over an hours return trip, oh what joy. I kind of felt that I had earnt a fish after that little escapade but I suffered the dawn of the motionless bobbins I'm afraid despite hearing the occasional fish in the area during the night.

With mid July holiday time arrived and not before time, I'll catch up with what happened next very soon.


  1. Thought you'd taken up golf :o)

    A mixed bag of fish and fortune, welcome back.

    1. Mind your language!

      Cheers Dave hope you are well, I need to start catching up on my reading too but I've got a bream campaign planned soon which will certainly result in many quiet hours to while away :)

    2. Bream eh? I wish you luck and tight slimes :o)

  2. Aye extreme breaming, a bite will be the first target so don't expect to be enthralled by an endless stream of catch reports!