The 3 of us levered in another session yesterday and a check of the water levels in advance showed a good couple of foot rise. On arrival however we had the importance re-emphasised to us, of making the link between what the measured level was and where the level would actually be and its impact on tactical prep.
Whilst remembering of course, this wasn't warm month flood water, always having some larger and smellier baits in the kit proved its worth overall, along with prepping some groundbait to reflect the measured level being well up on a couple of weeks ago. Also always taking up to 4oz leads personally speaking, saw us just able to present and combat conditions and in a chosen change of stretch to reflect conditions, where we had to know what we were presenting on. (A largely consistent area of a near bank gravel plateau).
Even at first light we could observe and hear the increased amount of water on, which saw us head for an area which would represent that better bet, as the day dawned, we could see a river full to the brim.
Despite not having prepped in advance with the leads i have for such conditions; leads in the realm of 5/6oz, due to not making that link between 1m on the graph meaning the water will be lapping at the top slab, i was able to just hold bottom beyond the back eddy and just into some flow and although some debris was still present despite the river having been up for a few days, i was able to hold bottom for long enough i felt.
These sort of conditions always see me excited, even with the cooler temperatures such as we had yesterday. and following my words to NL Jnr of 'be ready for a big fish today mate' and my first put in of a lone but large pellet, my rod hooped over.
The bizarre and kiting fight, Chub like almost with the fish sliding to both bank side features, was explained on landing the fish......foul hooked in the pectoral fin, my smile hiding the fact that i took little pleasure in this one, although some solace in the fact i was in the right place at least.
Nenboy landed his first of the day soon after, then followed it up with a fish of 10-8 later in the morning.
NL Jnr had been tackling conditions well and was initially rewarded with a take later on, then fairly soon into the battle, the disappointment of the fish taking him into a snag, that every tactic in the book wouldn't budge it from.
Undeterred and following his decision to put out a second rod to explore the downstream area of his peg, with a glugged boilie on (a fact he revealed to me afterwards), he landed a new PB for him of 11-8.
Well fished Nenboy and NL Jnr, i'll take half a point at most today
Well done mate, cracking Barbel. I was only just speculating in another thread about what kind of weight lead the Trent needs when it's up as I have only fished it once and the river was low and 50g was enough.
Cheers Zerks, much depends on where and across the rivers width you want to fish. Whilst holding bottom at distance can be achieved with sufficient lead, bows in the line, rod higher and attention to the diameter of line etc etc, to this day and when mid to right across is a raging torrent, i find there is simply no need to be across at all and i do apply that in low levels too if you can find yourself fishing on the outside of a bend as your near bank. I have used my 2.2 tc tops once in 6 years since i brought the twin tops, when 8oz was required in the nearest flow, aside from that 1.75 is plenty, i just don't buy into the need for anything more.
Back eddies can of course vary in width, but in such conditions as long as you fish just beyond it, you can catch Barbel a rod length from the bank if there is some flow. I don't profess to know more than some others mate, but imho, avoid slacks and certainly back eddies and find the nearest point across where this is a glide of flow. Depth of course plays a part, but with increased water level, the colour is the factor and finding the first run of flow may mean you are fishing in 2 feet of water or 8 feet, but Barbel will happily feed in as little as the former.
Starting as always with the lightest lead you can get away with (be careful using that principle if using small feedsize hookbaits and matching the hatch as it were though as the fish don't always bolt and may try and continue to graze)....
Trent wise wherever i have been on it:
2-3oz in lower levels and working up to anywhere between 4 and 8oz from rising beyond low to about to break its banks, beyond that the session doesn't happen.
The last hurrah of the year Barbel wise on a first time on a new section to us.
After some wise shuffling and jiggling the planned session around with Kev, we looked to exploit the better temperatures today and headed for Fiskerton today for a meet up.
A typical yet mild late December day greeted us as we headed to the river bank and a river that had fined back down in recent weeks flowed before us.
Although largely an out and out pellet angler for the Barbel and year round at that, the recent cold temperatures and the affect they would have on the clarity and possibly on the Barbel's enthusiasm for a feed, had me mulling over a maggot approach in recent days. I have done this in the height of summer too on occasion, but every time brought home more maggots than i had managed to feed.
So despite the December driven caution on the feed amounts, i decided to go for a winterised version of baiting heavily with maggot then waiting, then fishing a lead over the top with triple maggot hookbait. The only downside to this approach, was going to be having to regularly head up down the steep bank to the waters edge in muddy conditions, if, as they say 'everything takes a maggot' meant i would be hooking a range of fish and in varying sizes.
Taking four pints of maggot with me, i weighed up on arrival the factors that would influence, how much to get in as a starter; Whilst it was a day i would be happy with anything, winter roach or obliging chub, i was targetting Barbel primarily still. Due to this i do know it can take quite some amount to trigger a feed and that many can get picked off by those other species and that remembering another saying, probably due to all species liking them-'you can't overfeed maggots', although with any mass baiting approach, i do also know that you can create scenario where fish can get away with it, particularly when matching the hatch with hookbaits. So two pints it was as a starter, after may be over thinking the whole amounts thing! Its just such a commitment and with an early start when we are Barbelling, that i would feel any trip wasted if i hadn't thought things through until the drive home when it's too late and a blank session to mull over being all there was to think about.
A few chublets kept me busy for the first hour or so, reminding me why they are my second favourite species, one of which i managed to get away from a pike that had taken a brief grip of it. no real size to them, but on another day and with a lighter set up, would make for a decent net.
The keenness and initial regularity of the chublets had me thinking, that a change to the bait and wait approach may be needed to try and guarantee some feed in the swim, so the lead was switched for a black cap feeder, whilst maintaining a three foot hooklength.
In terms of the swim today, a clear three varying paces of water, was evident across the width of this wide stretch. Near bank shallow and slow flow was out, far bank and fastest flow was sacrificed on the grounds of not thinking the Barbel would want to expend the calories this time of year to sit in it for too long, so a steady more central glide was the spot and counting down the feeder told me there was a decent depth i was looking for.
Given the good response from those early chublets, it was a surprise somewhat to find that the switch to the feeder saw the action dull. Two possible reasons came to mind, one, i was now overfeeding, or two, some Barbel had moved in, so ever the optimist and looking down at the clarity, it felt like one of those moments for a longer hooklength, to see if it was reason number two and in the knowledge that a wise old Barbel would sniff at a feeder in such clear water and a hook bait close to it. I say 'felt like one of those moments' and i am thinking here that many a Barbel angler will get what i mean here, you just feel it sometimes and also that your strategy, particularly when a single Barbel is your main aim, you are almost building up to that point of making something happen in your decisions and in trying to cajole a take.
First cast with the longer hooklength resulted in my target and at 11-7 made the reward even better.
Having mentioned my liking for chub i don't adopt the longer hair policy and in the knowledge too that i am convinced this (longer hair) can also cost you Barbel on occasion, i felt had used the response of the chub to influence a change to the initial chosen tactics; had these fish not been caught, then i would be limited to working out what the occasional bangs and pulls would have been.
On the subject of chub and proper ones this time, i observed NL Jnr later in the afternoon maintaining his faith in his pellet and boilie approach and when he got this chance, i was praying for it to be a Barbel, as he had taken another 5am start in his stride, couldn't wait to get to the river and happily sits there and thinking about his fishing. it wasn't a Barbel on this occasion, but was rewarded with new PB chub for him and at 4-1, surpassing his previous by a pound.
Good to meet up again Kev and thanks for introducing us to a new area, pork pie nice as usual too mate
Well that was enjoyable until bit of a disaster at the end.
There is always something special about arriving at a venue car park and find it empty, just one of life's simple pleasures, but always welcome when it happens. Following some good advice from Chris @Northantslad I was on a different peg to the banker barbel peg.
Used to be able to park behind the majority of pegs, however given the number of people parking on the flood bank (not allowed) or turning around in the field, this has been stopped and all cars now have to be left in the car park. Isn't it always the selfish actions of a few that spoil things for those that abide by the rules. Knowing that it was going to be a bit of a trek to the peg, the first thing in the car was the Rigger XL Platform Barrow. It is a bit of a beast, but I can't fault it for build quality and carrying capacity. Today it also doubled up as a seat, bait & rig station.
Sgt Scribe on a Barbel Mission.
The river was high compared to normal although it had dropped since Friday.
Upstream rod set up using the heaviest cage feeder I had at 6 Oz loaded with assorted pellets, mixed with a bit of hemp and a 15mm Kril pellet that had been soaking in some extra Krill dip. the plan was to get just into the flow a couple of rod lengths out rather than into the main flow 3/4 across that was barreling through. Whilst setting up the downstream rod when the tip sprang round. There is no mistaking a Barbel bite is there. I was expecting the fish to kite further out into the main flow, but it did the opposite and came closer in downstream. It took a while to land and given the way my arm was aching I though it was going to be a good double, however the strong flow obviously doubled the effort required to land the fish.
No record going 5.7 Lb but very welcome none the less especially early on as it gave me confidence I was in the right area.
Next one fell to the downstream rod on a 7 Oz lead and PVA mesh bag and one of @rd115 Boilies that had also been soaked in Krill, but with a disc of salami just for good measure. Again only 5.2 Lb but the fight was certainly a see-saw event.
Whilst playing the second the upstream rod tip sprang round. Beggar I thought, never had that before, although I haven't been at this Barbelling game long. Nothing I could do about it other than let the baitrunner do it's job as the second was far from being landed. After safely returning the second, I picked up the upstream rod to find it had been taken into a snag and left there.
Both rods re-baited and back out and I was thinking it's time for a cuppa, thinking was about as far as I got as the upstream rod went again, Obviously fish were favouring the pellet today. Slightly less a 4.6 Lbs,but any barbel is always welcome.
The next cast fell shorter than where I had been targeting, so I left it there, just to see what might happen. The next bite did seem non-barbel like as the tip twitched the sprang back, twitched and sprang back again, Again the flow was magnifying the fight even from a 2.2 Lb Bream.
Next cast back out to where I was before and this time an unmistakeable Barbel bite. I was managed to draw the fish in, with the net ready and had slacked the clutch ready for any last minute run when the fish saw the net, when ping the hooklength snapped. I can only blame the hooktier and as that was me I gave myself a righteous rollicking, Last Barbel came about 2 PM to bring the tally to 7 hooked and 5 landed,
I couldn't resist one last cast as I packed up and I really should have as the rain came and it was a slow slog back to the car park to find I hadn't locked my car, which was odd as I am usually a bit OCD about it, in a way it's a good job I didn;t as I couldn't find my car keys anywhere. Despite turning the car inside out checking every pocket and even emptying the ex-Army Bergen rucksack I still could'nt find them. Time to admit defeat and phone the good lady who wasn't best pleased as she had just sat down to have dinner. Couldn't find a grumpy emoji so those will have to do. Bless her she did bring the spare key so I could get home and dry out.