Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Trent barbel and the future of angling

River trent big barbel
Biggest of the summer
I kind of slipped sideways into some Trent barbel fishing this summer. It wasn't planned but the nature of the beast, in that it is generally an after dark affair, fitted in with the busy days that had become too common for my liking. The fact that I had made available to me a piece of water with easy access helped greatly in that I could arrive late and not have to worry about either long walks or remaining organised, everything just got thrown into the van which would be parked within spitting distance of wherever I decided to pitch up.

My first trip was shortly after returning from a break in Ibiza. Feeling refreshed and "up for it" I found myself surveying an area of river that I had never set eyes upon before but which right away struck me as being lovely. A mixture of sweeping bends and straighter sections with flow, and therefore depth, varying from rapid to a steady walking pace opened up lots of possibilities and it took me an hour just to decide on a swim. The spot I settled on was just below a protruding tree that forced a little crease into the current and would also have the bonus of acting as a filter for the bits of weed that I could see drifting in the flow elsewhere. My plan was to simply swing out the feeder rigs by a couple of rod lengths and see how things went, after all it was as much an exploratory trip as anything.

A dozen quick casts laid out a bed of mixed pellet and broken up boilies bound together with a little groundbait and then it was time to sit back and enjoy the surroundings. It was something of a revelation for me Trent wise. Previously my fishing had been further downstream but now being on the non navigable water it was much more peaceful, lovely and quiet in fact. Darkness rolled in over the landscape but there was still a touch of light in the sky when the downstream rod buckled over, I wasn't expecting that so soon. The usual spirited tussle followed before a nine ponder was wrapped up in the mesh, a great start. Things just got better from that point and I eventually had to wind the rods in at 2am for some sleep. I'd had four fish including two in double figures, the best one 11lb 13oz.

river trent barbel pellets

I was back two nights later and dropped into a swim slightly further downstream which gave me a brace of fish including another ten pounder. My initial assessment of how tranquil the area was had been reviewed by this stage. Aircraft flying in and out of East Midlands Airport spoilt the peace right through the night while somewhere in the near distance there was obviously a gathered point for some local chavs, seemingly complete with a pack of baying hounds. Fishing wise it was great but blimey it was getting to be exhausting, a toss up between staying up for the chance of fish or turning in and sticking my ear plugs in for some kip! Nevertheless I made one more trip, my third in eight nights, and again landed a brace of barbel including another low double, great fishing by any standards but that was it, I needed a break. So much for that nice relaxing holiday a couple of weeks back, I now needed another!

trent barbel feeder fishing

That brings us to the start of August and I promised my nephews a days fishing on a small pond we as a club have the use of. Hardly fished the place can accommodate maybe eight anglers at a push and the plan is hopefully to use it for coaching kids in the future. This was to be the first time I had visited with tackle and I was assured that it was solid with fish so I was keen to find out for myself. As it turned out only one of the lads could make it after his brother ended up at yet another birthday party or something, they seem to have dozens of them nowadays don't they. Tom's dad came along and I got my dad in on the act too to make up numbers.

I was more than happy with the water. We caught fish all day long and while I got Tom to concentrate on maggot fishing on a three metre whip my dad and Paul fished wagglers. My dad even managed to thrash the competition and land four carp, solely down to having his cataracts done I should say, as this time last year he couldn't see a hook let alone a float! The place is full of small rudd, roach and a fair few ide which are a new species to me, absolutely perfect for kids and fingers crossed we can make good use of it.

The bank holiday weekend saw me at Makins fishery for my third and final Korum Fish Camp of the year. It must be twenty five years since my one and only visit to the place and I didn't know what to expect but  as commercials go I was pleasantly surprised, I suppose being so long established makes a big difference but it was kept in good order too. I have to say that I really enjoy these events but it is disappointing that they don't attract more juniors, though isn't that just the case with angling full stop nowadays? One thing that has become all too apparent since I started coaching is that kids just don't throw themselves into fishing anymore. When we were kids we fished mob handed at times and wherever we went we would more often than not see other youngsters. I now spend more time walking the banks than ever due to my bailiffing duties and I have not seen one junior angler on my clubs water all season, shocking. However there were a couple of youngsters at Makins and one in particular caught everyone's eye. Without putting the lad down in any way he didn't have a great deal in the way of tackle but that didn't matter. He was surrounded by experienced anglers with every bit of kit imaginable but guess who caught the most, absolutely brilliant!

You have to ask yourself where angling will end up in years to come with so few kids coming through. Angling Trust figures, backed up with my own experience, says that there are a large number of what they call returners in the sport now. That is anglers that once fished but for one reason or another, maybe discovering women or having kids, packed it in only to start again when more time becomes available. Of course in the short term that's all well and good but if they don't sample angling in the first place then they can't return can they. if you ever get the opportunity to take a newcomer fishing please do it, quite apart from opening their eyes you'll also find that you will get a lot from the experience yourself.

coaching kids learning fish
Learning the ropes
By luck and good fortune I was contacted by someone I know from way back who asked if I would like to help out taking a group of cubs fishing. Well I wasn't going to turn that chance down. I had actually tried to drum up interest in the local scout groups previously with no joy at all so to get this chance was great. We ended up with twenty kids on the bank, most of who had never fished before. It was somewhat daunting from a coaching point of view but with another coach, a  few parents, plus a number of cub leaders, we managed. And what did the kids think? Well they loved it, not one of them played up or started messing around and in many cases just the opposite happened, they really got in to it. From a personal point of view by far the highlight of the day was a young lad with autism who went from being somewhat withdrawn to happy as Larry once once he had caught a few fish, you can't ask for more than that really can you. His little brother actually cried because he didn't want to go home, result! And so with a bit of luck that may be an opening to introduce more kids to the sport, I'll certainly keep pushing it and fingers crossed we can have a positive outcome.

teaching kids youngsters fishing
That's what it's all about

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