Words and pictures by Pat Gillett:
It’s been a strange start to the river season with it becoming apparent (that as I write this piece on the 4/7/11), the barbel are still in spawning mode. I personally think this is down to the unusually cold May that we had. This has lead to everything happening a lot later than normal.
Up to yet I have managed to get out for 4 afternoon / evening sessions. The first of these was on the first weekend of the new season to a stretch on the Upper Trent. The stretch was so overgrown that we had to make a path way to the river before we could even sort out somewhere to fish! I just hope it stays like this as it means we will have the stretch to ourselves. Anyway the river was very low and clear and we spent 7 hours without so much as a knock off anything. Looking back from what I have seen whilst fishing the Dove recently, I am not surprised as the swims we were fishing would not be looked upon as ‘spawning grounds’ and so probably contained very few fish at that time.
The following Friday we were off to the River Dove. A quick walk along the river and I saw a couple of good barbel ‘flash’. I dropped into this swim and after about an hour the heavens opened and never stopped for the rest of the evening. I spent the first couple of hours fishing pellet hook baits over the Quest mini pellet mix without having so much as a wrap. I could still see the occasional barbel ‘flashing’ in the swim so decided to change the hook baits to see if I could get a reaction. Both hook baits were replaced with special crab freezer baits (been in my fridge from the winter). Twenty minutes later and I was into a heavy fish which found a snag. Just as I was placing the rod on the rest to see if the fish would come out of the snag, my other rod was away. This resulted in a small barbel of about 7lbs. Back to the other rod and I managed to free the snagged fish and after a good scrap where I had to take it easy (not knowing what state my line would be in) a much bigger fish was landed. This was a really long (approx 31 inches) spawned out female of 11lb 14ozs. After a couple of quick
photo’s the fish was allowed to recover in the landing net before being released safely. The rest of the evening produced 2 more small males again to the special crab.
The following Friday and Saturday afternoons I was back fishing the same swim for a couple of after work sessions. Three more smallish barbel up to about 8lbs were the result. All fish coming to the special crab fished in various guises. I didn’t see any bigger fish flashing on these 2 sessions so it could be that the females have done what that had to do and have now moved elsewhere.
I have always been of the opinion that pellet hook baits are more effective than boilies in the warmer weather, but these sessions proved the exact opposite with 7 fish to the boilie and absolutely nothing to the pellet. It maybe just coincidence but my mate that I fish with (fishes mainly pellet) only had 1 chub during these trips and as far as I am aware, mine were the only barbel caught on the stretch at the time. Food for thought perhaps!
Further proof of how late nature is this year came on Saturday (2nd July) when one of the anglers on the Dove caught a Bream that still had the spawning tubercules on it. This is something that should be happening in May.
The fish should get back to normal soon and the fishing will no doubt improve on the rivers across the country as the fish will again become more widespread and not just be confined to small areas where they are spawning.