Recent Barbel Diary
I keep hearing people saying how mild a winter we are having, can’t really agree as since the start of the new year there haven’t been many occasions when I have thought the conditions were good for a bit of barbel fishing. I have detailed the few trips I have had below:
Tuesday January 10th – Upper Trent
I finished work early to try and cash in on the small window of opportunity that the current very mild temperatures have presented us with. The only thing I was conscious of was that with the river level dropping 0.6m in less than 24 hours, we may have missed the best feeding spell and the best chance of a big fish. But I was still keen to get out, has at the moment my fishing time is quite scarce and the forecast was for cold weather returning again in a few days time.
I was fishing at around 4.15pm and decided to use the Rahja Spice shelf lifes to see how they fared in the winter (did well on them in the Autumn). I set up with a feeder carrying 5oz of lead which was loaded with the mini pellet mix. Hook bait was 1 and half 10mm boilies totally ‘peeled’ and then wrapped in a thin layer of matching paste.
The river had a good flow has expected, but because of the recent ‘flush’ through there was very little debris being washed downstream, making the fishing relatively easy (a refreshing change on the Upper Trent).
All was very quiet with no fish rolling or topping (quiet surprising given the very mild air temperature), until about 7.45pm when the upstream rod signalled a very strong take. This proved to be a very lean barbel of 6 or 7lbs which at least saved a blank. At exactly the same time my mate had a barbel of similar size. These proved to be the only bites until we packed up at 10pm. So a very short feeding spell indeed!
My concerns of being a day too late were confirmed by a mate of ours who took a cracking barbel of 14lb 11oz from the Upper Trent on the Sunday evening when the river was at its peak level.
Thursday January 12th – Lower Severn
Had a day off work to have my first trip of the year to the Lower Severn. Arrived at about 12.30pm and was disappointed to see that the river level had dropped incredibly quickly. You could see from the tide mark of debris on the top of the bank that a few days previously the river had been carrying about 10 feet of extra water, now this was down to about 2 feet of extra water. This can often mean the fishing will be difficult has the barbel very often will have gorged themselves in the high water.
However the water temperature was excellent for this time of year showing 8.2 Deg. C. With this and the fact that there was going to be a sudden drop in temperature (I am sure the barbel can sense this), I was hoping they may have a bit of a feed.
I have not really used the Rahja Spice on the Lower Severn before so I was keen to try it to see if it would score as well on here as it had on the Upper Trent and the River Dove. I set one rod up using 1 and a half 10mm baits has hook bait and one rod carrying a 16mm pellet has hook bait. Both rods were fished in conjunction with the mini pellet mix. I was fishing for about 1.00pm (incredibly the air temperature was 13 Deg. C) and apart from a couple of knocks nothing at all happened until sunset. Normally I would have moved, but nothing really looked any better, and with the water level dropping so quickly, the banks were treacherous so I stayed put, in what was a relatively safe swim that had produced well for me in the past.
I stuck with the pellet on the one rod and rang the changes in presentation on the rod carrying the Rahja Spice. Just has it was getting dark the pellet rod produced a small barbel of about 5 1/2lbs. This was following by another of similar size almost straight away to the rod on the Rahja Spice. I had scaled this right down to a single ‘peeled’ 10mm boilie with a thin paste wrap.
The temperature really started to plummet under the clear skies and with an early start for work in the morning I packed up at 8.45pm (when the air temperature was 2 Deg C with frost over all the gear). Another 2 nice barbel fell to the tiny Rahja Spice hook baits in this time, these were fish of 9lb 6oz and 10lb 3oz the latter of which moved the rod tip no more that 2 inches.
So quite a productive first trip of the year and another river where the barbel appear to like the Rahja Spice.
Friday February 17th – Upper Trent
First barbel trip for about a month and with the Upper Trent carrying just a little extra water (1.13m according to the environment agency) it seemed the ideal place for a quick after work session.
I started fishing at about 4.00pm on what was a really mild afternoon (12 Deg. C), and with a steadily rising water temperature of 7.4 Deg. C, conditions couldn’t really have been any better for mid February, add this to the fact that there were no others anglers about and it was ideal.
The first rod was fished upstream to the back of a snag and the second was fished only 10 feet from the bank about 30 yards downstream in a 10 feet deep hole (this stretch is averages about 4 feet deep). The upstream rod was presented with a single trimmed down Rahja Spice boilie and the downstream rod carried 2 x 10 mm baits with a paste wrap.
After about 30 minutes the downstream rod signalled a ‘3 feet twitch’, I picked the rod up and everything went solid, leaving me believing I was snagged up, but after about 10 seconds the ‘snag’ began to move. The fish moved slowly out into the river going upstream and right across to the far side with no great speed but immense power, it just felt like a dead weight. Now I was using fairly substantial tackle (2lb t.c. Greys barbel rods and 12lb line), but I was making absolutely no impression on this fish and for the first time in many years I felt totally ‘under gunned’. The only thing I could think of was that I had hooked a big river carp. After 7 or 8 minutes with the rod bent double, applying maximum pressure just trying to get the fish to move I finally started to gain some line literally an inch at a time. After a few more minutes of full pressure (I actually felt the corks creaking) I finally got a glimpse of the fish, it wasn’t a carp but was in a fact a large barbel. This strange fight continued for about another 5 minutes with the fish not really making any runs but still feeling particularly heavy. I now had the fish within 12 feet of the bank but was still struggling to get it up in the water, I had the feeder out of the water a couple of times and could see it was clear and from the couple of glimpses I could see of the fish it was definitely facing the right way, I was just starting to gain proper control when the hook pulled out. To say I was ‘gutted’ would be an understatement.
Its hard to tell when playing a fish but I would estimate that I had this fish on for at least 15 minutes, from the glimpses I had it was definitely 14lb plus (on length alone) but it felt a hell of a lot heavier. It actually gave me the shakes for a while (adrenalin & physical exertion). I am just wondering now if maybe it was hooked in the pectoral or underneath the head so that I was unable to exert the correct pressure, even if it was I would have loved to have got it on the bank just to see what it weighed (I have landed 40lb plus carp on similar tackle in half the time). The fish on the Upper Trent are so nomadic that it is very doubtful I shall bump into it again, which makes it harder to take. If you lose a big fish in a lake you know you will probably get another chance as the fish will still be in the lake, on a wild river like the Upper Trent that fish could be 10 mile away now.
I was ready to pack up there and then, but carried on till 10pm (still 11 Deg. C) in which time I had a barbel of about 8lbs and a bream of a similar size.
Thursday February 23rd – Lower Severn
A strange day this one, had the day off to try and take advantage of the current mild spell. The river was still low but had got quite a bit of colour to it, the water temperature was showing 7.8 Deg. C so there really should have been a good chance of one or two barbel putting in an appearance.
Due to the amount of road works it was 1pm by the time I started fishing but with the really bright sunshine I wasn’t to bothered by this, has I didn’t expect anything till the sun started to drop.
Well a pretty uneventful trip that resulted in just 3 chub (all after dark) by the time I packed up at about 9pm, these all fell to the Rahja Spice 10mm’s. This stretch used to be good for a barbel or two in at any water level, but over the last couple of seasons it would appear that you are virtually wasting your time if there isn’t at least a couple of feet of extra water on.
Looking at the various websites it would appear there was an influx of extra water the next day which really brought the fish onto the feed, once again proving the importance of timing. Still it was a really pleasant day to be out (air temps up to 16 Deg. C) and was certainly better than sitting in the office all day.
“Kill nothing but time, take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints!”
I saw the above quotation under a picture of some guys beach fishing in Africa, apparently they are lyrics from a song. Perfectly sums up our fishing to me.