Friday March 2nd – Upper Trent After the disappointment of losing a big fish a couple of weeks ago, it was back to the Upper Trent for another go. The little bit of extra water had run off and the level was now no more than summer normal, water temperature was excellent though at 9.8 Deg. C. I set up in the same swim has I had hooked the big fish from previously and fished the exact same spots. Both rods carried the Rahja Spice hook baits in various guises and this time they both carried feeders filled with the mini pellet mix and crushed up Rahja and Ghurkka Spice boilies. Started fished at about 4.40pm and didn’t really expect anything till dark, this was proven correct when at about 6.30pm the upstream
rod signalled a short ‘jabby’ sort of bite that upon striking was met by a very solid resistance. As is the norm for the Upper Trent barbel, it fought like its life depended on it (really think these are the hardest fighting fish I have ever caught). This one turned out to be quite a chunky fish of 11lb 2oz and fell to a trimmed down 10mm Rahja hookbait
covered in a very thin paste wrap. The same rod was away again at about 7.20pm with what was obviously another good fish, the same hard fight ensued with this one making a couple of long unstoppable runs.
Once in the net I could see that the fish was longer than the first one, but hadn’t really got much depth to it, it was still a good fish though and weighed in at 11lb exactly. A nice brace in two casts!
That proved to be the short feeding spell for the evening and no more bites were forthcoming before I packed up at 9.40pm when the air temperature was about 7 Deg. C.
Whilst packing my landing net away I noticed there was something stuck in it. On closer inspection with the head torch I could see that it was a tiny little dormouse, that was getting its legs more and more entangled in the mesh the more it panicked. I spent a while gently untangling it and had just about got it free when the little bugger showed it’s gratitude by biting my finger (so much for my good deed for the day). You wouldn’t think it looking at these tiny little animals but they pack a fair bite!
Saturday March 3nd – Upper Trent Went back to the same spot to see if that big un’ may still be about. I fished from 4.45pm till 10pm on a crystal clear night where the moon was that bright it was almost like fishing in daylight (never great conditions). Had two bites, one ‘bream’ like bite on the upstream rod which turned out to a barbel of 9lb 10oz which unusually for the Upper Trent also fought like a Bream! The other bite was a slow pull round on the downstream which resulted in the first ‘bite-off’ I have had in years. That was the only movement on what was a very quiet evening, but at least the Rahja had again saved a blank!
Wednesday March 14th – Upper Trent I had the afternoon off to have the last evening on the river before the season finished at midnight. Conditions were not great with low clear water, bright sunshine and high pressure, but I was
hoping for some action after dark as the water temperature was still showing a very positive 9.4 Deg. C. Just has it was going dark it went really foggy, this turned out to be a freezing fog and by 7.45pm the rods and everything else were white. Carried on till 9.30pm but with only a couple of sharp chubby type raps I decided to call it a day. The air temperature was now 0 Deg. C and I guess it had been for a while. So a disappointing end to the river season (I’ve never really done much good on the last day), but looking back it has been quite a productive season for the relatively small amount of time I have spent on the banks. Also thanks to Shaun I have added another excellent barbel bait to my armoury, that is the very successful Rahja Spice, which has proved to be an excellent barbel catcher on several different rivers and in many different conditions. Roll on the next three months before the new season starts.
Saturday March 24th to Friday March 30th – Le Monument Lake – France. For the first time in nearly 2 years I had a week off work, really needing a break, and a trip to France would be just what was needed to ‘chill out’ and recharge the batteries. To get the most out of a French trip it is always important that the venue you pick meets the criteria that you are looking for. This was to be a trip with 2 work colleagues and the venue needed to meet the following : 1. We wanted exclusive use of the lake for the week.We wanted a food package provide 2. We didn’t want to have to drive too far when we reached France. 3. The lake needed to be in a nice quiet location. 4. The size of the fish was relatively unimportant as long as the above 4 points were met. After trolling through various websites we finally came upon a lake which I thought looked perfect, the lake was Le Monument on the Angling Lines website. It is a 5 acre lake in the middle of the Brittany countryside, that did a full food package
and was only 165 miles from the port of Caen, with the added bonus that the little feedback that was present suggested a decent average size fish of 25lb +. Choice of bait wasn’t really a problem has I have always found the Rahja Spice to be pretty instant in all the lakes I have fished in France. So I took a mixture of 10mm, 15mm and 20mm shelf lifes with a couple of Kg of the Magnum White to try if needed. Arriving at the venue at about 11.30am we were met by Mark Walsh (the owner) under cloudless skies with an air temperature already of 23 Deg. C. Mark gave us a quick tour around the lake and left us to it. I then spent the next couple of hours walking around the lake with a marker rod to see what I could find. The lake was more or less split in half by a large central island. It proved to be relatively shallow with depths ranging mainly from 2 to 5 feet with the odd deeper area.
The first night I just fed about 20 boilies over my 3 rods (all in different spots), not wanting to put much bait in until I had more idea of where the fish were feeding. Apart from a couple of bream, nothing else happened, but I saw a couple of fish roll in the area between 2 of my rods so I was happy enough where I was. After seeing these fish, I introduced some more boilies, plus hemp and lake pellet. With the really high pressure and high temperature I would keep 2 rods tight to the island (in 3 feet of water) and try my third one in more open water and at 6 ½ feet deep.
My first fish came at about 7.30pm on the Sunday (a mirror of 24lb +), and was followed by 2 more the same night, all the fish coming to one rod tight to the island. The same thing happened the following night and so a feeding pattern was beginning to emerge. With this in mind I decided to reel all my rods in at 12pm, introduce a bit more bait and then not recast the rods again until 5pm. This ‘rested’ the swim for a good while
but also meant that I would be making no disturbance before the start of the first feeding spell.
This worked well through the week, and by feeding the 2 island rods consistently I got them both producing well, whilst the open water rod only produced 1 fish all week. The whole week was ‘wall to wall sunshine’ (with temperatures of over 30 Deg. C) and amazingly for the time of year, I never saw a cloud all week.
I ended up with 20 x 20lb + carp (with 6 x 30lb +) and a catfish of 26lb. All the fish being caught on the Rahja Spice shelf lifes (first time they had been used at the venue), and all between 8pm and 8am.
The 2 guys I went with were really new to French carping and so found the fishing a lot harder and ended the week with 4 & 5 fish respectively. Coming back on the ferry, this seemed to be the norm for the week, with a lot of anglers struggling for 2 or 3 fish for the week at a wide variety of venues.
The week was just what I needed, we were very lucky with the weather, the lake was set in lovely surroundings where all you could hear for the most part was the sound of birdsong and the food package was superb.
I came back totally ‘chilled out’, and hopefully I will get back there in the future.
“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.
Cheers, Pat Gillett