Words and Pictures by Pat Gillett:
A bit of a frustrating time for me recently, after having the ‘old closed season’ break and not fishing for 3 months, I was really looking forward to getting out on the river for some early season fishing, especially as the Dove and Trent were carrying some extra water and colour (which would almost guarantee some good sport). However circumstances conspired against me for a variety of reasons and it was 28th June before I could make my first trip.
28th June – River Dove
Typical of the way things are going at the moment, I had booked the afternoon off on the very day that the Midlands saw the most freakish monsoon in living memory. I was at work in the morning when at about 10.30 it went so dark that the street lamps actually came on an incredible sight and something that I had never seen before. There then followed an incredible monsoon that lead to severe flash flooding in many areas (our factory shop floor had almost 8” of water on it in places because the roof and guttering could not cope) so a trip to the river seemed a bit dodgy. Still I had booked the time off and so decided to go anyway.
The Upper Trent had already burst its banks in many areas so it would be a trip to the Dove, which would probably be just about fish able (as it was carrying much less water to start with). We arrived at the river at about 4pm and could see that in certain areas it had already come over the top of its banks. A 20 minute walk downstream and we could see that there were one or two areas that would be fishable as long as there wasn’t too much rubbish coming downstream. My mate dropped in by a sluice and I fished a crease swim where the current ‘backed up’ on the inside, which should give me the best chance of a half decent presentation on a fast rising river.
It soon became evident that with the amount of debris being washed downstream, the fishing was going to be difficult. 5 oz was only holding for 20 to 30 minutes (max) on the very edge of the crease. Still with every session being a round trip of 100 miles I would just have to stick it out and try and make the best of a bad job.
I fished the Rahja Spice and Mini mixed pellet feeder on the upstream rod, with the downstream rod carrying a straight lead and a 20mm Rahja Spice boile wrapped in paste and carrying a 3 bait stringer.
The river continued to rise and I spent the evening clearing rubbish from my line and watching all matter of stuff coming floating past, at one point there was even a dead calf come through my swim!
Not really a very enjoyable first trip but I did save a blank when a barbel of about 9lb took a liking to a 16mm pellet hook bait just after 10pm, quickly followed by another bite which was pulled out of almost straight away.
Packed up at 11pm, hoping conditions would be more favourable for my next trip.
Fri 6th July – River Dove
Was due on the Dove and Trent again this weekend but continuous rain on Thursday and Friday again lead to the rivers rising very quickly with the Dove being at a recent record high of 2.46m. Now I really like fishing in flood conditions but
you have to able to time it right, being there at the peak of the flood and then when it starts to fall. A fast rising river in the summer (with the amount of weed and debris that will flow down) can be very difficult, and with this in mind I was forced to cancel.
Really frustrating has with the continuous fairly high levels and good colour in the water the Dove has fished its head off. Ridiculous really when you consider the absurdly low water levels of most of last year. Why is the flooding always worse at the end of the week? LOL ?
Fri 13th July – River Dove
The flooding having subsided I was off to the river for the evening. The air temperature was only 12 Deg. C when I arrived at 4pm, it was also chucking down with rain with a cold easterly wind blowing, as Jim Royle (from one of my favourite comedies – The Royle Family) would say :”Global warming – my arse!”
Fished through till 11pm with only the odd chub knock to show for my efforts and to be honest I wasn’t surprised given the adverse weather conditions.
Sat 14th July – River Dove
Undeterred by yesterdays blank it was back to the river for another evening. The level was rising slowly after heavy overnight rain and once again it was chucking down when I arrived at about 4pm. Although with the wind having changed around to a westerly and with an air Temperature of 18 Deg C, the conditions were much more conducive to catching a barbel or two.
The usual spots were all full of anglers and so I made a fairly long walk to another area of the river which sees very little angler pressure.
Both rods were set up the same, fishing with 15mm Special Crab baits in conjunction with the mini pellet mix. This area has a lot of streamer weed, and as the water was quite coloured I couldn’t see where this was. I had a few casts to make sure where I wanted to fish was clear, and was then set for the evening.
At about 7pm the upstream rod jerked back, which resulted in a nicely conditioned barbel of about 8lb.
All was then quiet until at just after 10pm a slow ‘jabby’ sort of bite was met with a very solid resistance from what was obviously a good fish. The fish fought extremely hard in the strong current and was continuously getting stuck in the
streamer weed, which lead to me having to walk 50 yards downstream before I could get it safely in the net. The fish was very long and weighed in at 12lb 3oz. A couple of quick photo’s over the 36” net and it was safely released after being left to recover for 10 minutes in some quieter water, behind a reed bed.
Packed up at 11pm with no further action, but was well pleased to catch a good fish from another different area of the river.
Fri 20th July – River Dove
After catching the 12lb 3oz last Saturday I was keen to give this area another go. Arriving at about 4pm I could see that the usual spots were all full with anglers again, so was hopeful that “my area” would be free.
The level was also the same as the previous trip (0.88m), I was set up and fishing by about 4.45pm. This time however I opted to use a 16mm pellet hook bait on one rod and a 15mm special crab boilie on the other. Both these were fished with feeders containing the mini pellet mix.
I hadn’t had so much as a knock until at about 7pm the upstream rod started nodding. Once again the strike was met with a firm resistance and after a good scrap a lovely conditioned fish of 11lb 2oz was soon in the net.
Nothing else at all happened until 10pm, I then had four barbel in an hour, with the biggest being another double of 10lb 5oz.
Of the 5 fish, 3 fell to the special crab (including the 2 biggest), whilst 2 came to the pellet.
I packed up at 11pm (with the fish still feeding hard), well pleased with the evening as it is the first time I have ever had 5 fish in an evening from the Dove. Interestingly the 5 guys fishing the usual spots together had only caught 1 barbel between them.
Sat 21st July – River Dove
Back to the same spot to see if last nights sport would be repeated (don’t usually fish the same spot after a good catch – especially on a small river).
I was set up and fishing again for about 4.45pm and once again was delighted to find not another angler within half a mile of where I was. I set up the same as yesterday and once again had to wait till 7pm before anything at all happened. This time it was the downstream rod that went first, producing a barbel of 9lb 13oz.
The next 4 hours were pretty hectic and produced another 4 good barbel plus a bream. The barbel weighed 9lb 6oz, 10lb 12oz, 12lb oz and a lovely immaculate fish of 12lb 12oz.
So that was 5 barbel for approximately 55lbs ! Good fishing in anybodies book.
The only disappointing thing was that the 12lb fish was clearly the same fish as the 12lb 3oz of last week. 10 barbel in a couple of evenings is a pretty rare event on this part of the river (usually fishing for 1 bite). Quite a few of the fish had marks
on them, which could mean they have again been late in spawning and are therefore shoaled up in numbers. This area is ideal for spawning being a nice clean bottom and shallow with plenty of streamer weed. Alternatively the fish could have moved away from all the angling pressure, I guess only time will tell.
Interestingly the biggest 3 fish again came to the special crab boilie with the 2 nines falling to 16mm pellet, both being fished with the mini pellet mix.
I have fished this area before, but later in the season and had never had a barbel bigger than 10lb 14oz from it, so it will be interesting to see what the rest of the season brings.
Another quick point, having used up my supply of Korum S3 hooks (and not being able to get any more in time), I have just starting using the Drennan Super Specialist Barbel Hooks. These hooks have a slightly longer shank and are really razor sharp. One thing to note however is that after four of the fish I had to change the hook length has the hook point had turned over quite badly, even though only one fish had been caught on each hook. Something to check for, if you use this hook pattern.
Tues 24th July – River Dove
Booked the afternoon off work, with summer arriving at last, an evening sitting by the river was very appealing. All the extra water had run off leaving an EA level of 0.7m, the nice tinge of colour had also gone, and with temperatures of up to 27 Deg. C and a blazing sun, conditions were far from ideal. With this in mind I went back to the recently productive area to see if it would still produce. I didn’t really fancy it, as it is very shallow with virtually no tree cover, but I always want to try and build up a picture in my mind, and the only way to do this is to fish areas even when you don’t particularly fancy them, just to see what happens.
Started at my usual time of about 4.30pm and for the first 2 hours or so I struggled to keep a bait on the hook, because of the huge amount of minnows that were attacking the bait and even impaling themselves on the hook. This is something you get more of in the Dove as the water clears. I was thinking about moving when at 7pm I drew both rods in to find the baits in tact, so I decided to stay put, really wanting to see if the swim would still produce.
The river was really quiet with no fish movement at all and I was thinking the session was going to be a blank, when at about 9.45pm the upstream rod tapped a little and the ensuing strike was met with something which was obviously not a barbel. The fish turned out to be a bream of about 8 1/2lbs which was also badly marked from what I would say was un-seasonally late spawning. So at least something was feeding.
No more bites and I had packed everything away, when at about 10.40pm the downstream rod showed a really slow pull round (like a weed bite), which I struck at any way, to by met by a fish which raced downstream at a rate of knots, this was no bream. After a really good fight of about 10 minutes, another good barbel was in the net. This one weighed 11lb 10oz and judging by its fat chest had obviously been feeding heavily during the coloured water. A quick photo on the mat
and that was the end of another quick trip. This fish fell to a pellet wrapped in the special crab paste (run out of the boilies now – order on the way Shaun).
Thurs 26th July – River Dove
Booked another afternoon off work (I could get used to this) and arrived at the usual time to find the river back to normal summer level (0.67m on the E.A. site) and virtually crystal clear. Didn’t really fancy the area I had been catching from in these conditions, but decided to give it a go just to see if it would still produce.
It was another great evening to be out, with an air temperature of 20 Deg C. when I packed up at 11pm. The river was deadly quiet with no fish movement or any indication on my rod tops. I tried various different presentations, but to no avail.
Everything was packed away except my downstream rod when at 10.55pm the baitrunner started to sing. A short fight resulted in a bit of a tatty looking barbel of 10lb 3oz being safely netted and released. This fish fell to a ‘whittled’ down 15mm Special Crab boilie in conjunction with the mini pellet mix.
With the colour dropping out and the ‘duffer’s’ period coming to an end, the barbel on the Dove will probably feed later and later. I have seen this happen in recent seasons, if this looks like being the case, I will have to start to look elsewhere for my evening sessions.
Sunday 29th July – Upper Trent
We had supposed to be on a ‘barbel catchers club fish-in’ on the Wye but a mix up in the booking of the stretch lead to this being cancelled at the last minute. So with the Upper Trent level being back down to 1.1m, it was to be an afternoon on there, for the first time this season.
The area we chose is very lightly fished, so much so, that although the season is 6 weeks old, we had to fight our way through the vegetation to make a couple of swims.
A totally uneventful evening, with the river appearing like a graveyard with no decent fish topping at all. Packed up at 11pm with not so much as a knock on the rod tips.
So there we go, a very productive first month, less than 50 hours actual fishing time, producing 15 barbel, with 8 doubles and some decent back-up fish. This won’t last, and I predict that the fishing will now be slow on our rivers for a while, has the colours drops out and the barbel having full stomachs after feeding hard for a good few weeks.