On the bank with Dave Binns Angling

Follow my adventures as I travel around the Yorkshire area catching a variety of species from a wide range of different venues, from northern spate rivers to the clearer waters of the River Calder and a few lakes and forgotten ponds inbetween.
I hope you enjoy reading about them half as much as I do fishing them.
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Keep checking back for news of some exciting products that I have in the pipe line!

Friday, 31 January 2014

January 2014

 Firstly I would like to wish you all a happy new year and tight lines for 2014, hope you break a few Pb's this coming year.

 First weekend on the year saw me with a few hours to kill, the kids were off to the panto with their Gran which just so happened to be in the city centre I have been targeting this winter so I offered to drop them off. Once that was done I headed down to an area where the boats sometimes moor up and the water is deeper in a couple of basins, the idea was to work my way up with pike lures and if nothing was showing then work my way back down with some light perch gear.

 As you will know its been hard work on there and that day was no different, I covered quite a bit of water and never saw a pike move let alone hook one despite there been signs of silver fish holding up in the area. I changed the gear around a bit to fish for perch then made my way back. Soon enough I had a take on a Savage Gear 3in soft perch lure, a fire tiger pattern to be exact. Not a huge fish but it was my first in 8 trips and an absolutely stunning fin perfect one.

 I kept moving along but nothing else showed an interest. I wanted to fish another basin the other side of the road but on arrival I was met by two Eastern Europeans already fishing. That just suggests even more to me that this water has been well and truly rapped of its predator stock. I won't be returning to this area.

 The following week I headed to my new pike water for a few hours after my last night shift, my mate Martin had been down in the week and had a couple out on the fly again, lost one and had a few follows so I was eager and full of anticipation at what would fall to my lures. It was still dark when I arrived but this did provide an opportunity for the obligatory dawn shot.

 I spent an hour on the deep water in front of the old draw off tower but failed to interest any pike, then as the light levels grew I could see odd fish drifting along the near side weed beds in the crystal clear water so I swapped lures for something with a lighter jig head and went for a wander. From my vantage point on the high bank I could see fish all along the dam end as I walked along. Frustratingly, like the last time the pike were not interested in anything I chucked at them.

 Fish up to high singles either sat there motionless or spooked at the sight of the lure. Soft 4plays, real eels even 3in kopyto's failed to provoke a response. I don't know why they are sat in 3 feet of crystal clear water in winter but there sure as hell not feeding, sunning them self's perhaps in what bit of warmth there is from the sun.

 The following week I was kid free and on a designated fishing weekend, this allowed for my first proper session on the new water. As it was my first bait fishing trip I wanted to keep my options open so chose a couple of differing methods. Most of the lads I see on here are fishing not too far out in the deep water off the dam so here was the obvious first choice for one rod. This was rigged up with a sliding float stopped by a bead and knot along with a free running bomb down the line so as to float ledger deads.

A - stop knot and bead
B- 50lb powerpro braid
C- fox medium stubby slider
E- wire trace with hooks to match bait
F- rubber beads
G- 1.5oz lead on a run ring

 On my second rod I had wanted to try out the new Fox drifter system I had bought and all week the wind had been perfect, blowing off the dam and down the lake but typically come Saturday it had swung around and was blowing right at me so instead I started on a standard free running ledger rig and decided to try hoof a bait as far as possible. My reasoning was that almost everyone was fishing short and its possible that one or two fish could shy away from the pressure and sit further out. I have not tried to ledger dead baits at distance before and soon encountered a couple of problems.

 Firstly casting fairly large dead baits any distance with an ounce or two of lead on a free running rig lead to the weight sliding back up the line and creating a massive cartwheel effect, I tried up to 3oz and smaller baits but still the effect was there and massively ate into the distance. I have since discussed this with a number of anglers on a Face book pike group and think I may have the solution which will be tried next time unless of course the wind is favourable in which case I'll be sending the drifter out.

 My second problem was the weed, not so thick that it was unfishable but that my baits were coming back masked from trying to tighten up to the bait/lead after they had separated on the cast so to get around these issues a change was needed. Last week I had been watching a video (well 3 actually) on You Tube called The Fox guide to pike fishing with Matt Hayes and Max Cottis and in it they had been using a sunken paternoster rig on a big gravel pit so, as I had the bits and bobs with me I decided to give it a bash even though I had always thought of it as a river or live bait method.

A - 50lb powerpro braid
B - bead and stop knot
C - Fox clear sunken float
D - link swivel
E - 18in wire trace
F - 2oz lead on 2ft weak link
(an up trace was also used between swivel D and the float)

 The videos can be found here
Fox guide to pike fishing part 1
Fox guide to pike fishing part 2
Fox guide to pike fishing part 3 

 Despite only producing a dropped run late afternoon the rig worked well, it cast better although distance was a little shorter than I wanted, it didn't tangle and the bait never came back masked in weed.
The fishing wasn't exactly on fire but I learnt quite a bit about both the water and rigs. Around mid morning the float rig fished 2 or 3 rod lengths over the drop off signalled some interest, the float bobbed a couple of times then just buried and the rod tip was been pulled around even before I picked up. The fish hung deep and I slowly eased it up through the 20+ foot of water before a spirited scrap under the rod tip, soon enough though the fish rolled into the net and I had my first decent pike of the season.

 12lb on the nose

 Again there were numbers of fish drifting up and down the margins on top of the rocks. One thing I don't do when pike fishing is chuck my used baits in the water until home time as its possible for the fish to fill up on these rather than the one with the hooks in but today I decided on a bit of an experiment. As the water is crystal clear and around 3ft deep right in the edge I dropped each of my used baits where I could see them just to see if one of these pike drifting around would pick one up, as I headed home I can report that all the of the baits were still there.

 This morning I was out after work for a couple of hours chucking lures around on the pike water, today for a change though I fished the opposite end to the dam and worked my way around a bay. The wind was freezing and blowing right at me and for some reason I felt unusually tired after work so after a couple of hours with out a sign I called it quits and went to see how one of the lads was doing on another local water.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

December 2013

 Winter piking is now in full swing and by the first weekend of the month I had managed 2 trips and blanked on both. The aim of this winter is just to get my hand back into pike fishing as I've not done much for a few years and seem to have misplaced/lost/sold a lot of the bits and bobs such as floats and traces, as each trip comes and goes I'm stocking up on stuff that I want and need as I discover a use for them. I'm also getting more and more into lure fishing, both for pike and ultra light's for perch and this is set to become a large part of my fishing as I can fit short sessions in after work on a Friday now that I'm working nights.

 The first Saturday of the month saw a return to the Calder system with my mate JD, this time though we decided to target the river although it didn't go exactly to plan. As we were hitting the river I knew we would need to move about more to find the fish so with this in mind I dumped some of the gear to loose some weight. A quick look at the weather and the heavy brolly was promptly dumped from the rod bag, what a mistake that was! Thanks Mr weatherman. I arrived by the river at dawn to be met by a torrential down pour that saw me sitting it out in the car for half an hour or so.

 I had arranged to meet JD by a place we know as 'The Scary Bridge' I say we but it was actually named by JD who is a bit of a girl and not too keen on walking through it. It's an old railway bridge that is still used but rather than walk along or over it there is a specially constructed walkway that runs through the middle of it, a bit like a tunnel. Its dark, it smells and its full of dog shit and graffiti but its the only way without driving a couple of miles to reach known fishing hot spots on both sides of the river.

 I was there way before JD so decided to bounce a bait around a couple of eddy's under the bridge on a simple float rig till he arrived, an hour had passed and I had nothing to show when I saw JD climb the stair well into the bridge on the opposite side. Now for some fun I thought. I waited until I could here his footsteps above me and unleashed a barrage of pebbles at the side of the metal bridge, just then a a train thundered over head too! He came running out the other side like Usain Bolt and spent the next 5 minutes coughing and retching before coming out with some excuse about last nights beer. I almost fell in the river laughing at him.

 Once we had composed our self's we moved up stream to a massive deep nearside eddy surrounded by trees and bushes and all the flow over the far bank. Two swims occupy the area and it looked the perfect place for predators to hold up in. If I have pike fever this year then JD also has perch fever and both of us targeted out chosen quarry in that same area. After a couple of hours things were not looking promising so we upped sticks back over the scary bridge and down to where the canal and a side stream enter the river.

 JD flicked lob worms around the mouth of the lock and I positioned two dead baits in the river, one down the crease from the side stream and one in the mouth of it. Soon though it started to rain again and I was cursing the weathermen. The sun soon came out though and we sat it out till dinner time but alas nothing showed to either of our rods here either and with thick black clouds looming we headed for the cars and some dinner.

 Over dinner we discussed what to do, the fish were not playing ball in the river and at the advice of the weathermen I had dumped the brolly. With this in mind we decided to try a new bit of canal we had both fancied, we chose now to try as it had two low road bridges we could shelter under from the heavy rain showers. As we walked along the tow path and emerged from the second bridge a large swirl on the surface indicated pike were present. Bit of look there then. I quickly grabbed the lure rod and dropped a number of different lures on its head but after half an hour I think all I achieved was to scare it off.

 I chucked one rod out with a dead bait on in the general area of where we saw the pike and was just about to get the second out when I saw JD land a small perch on his light lure outfit, I watched for a while and after 2 more decided to get in on some of the action. Currently my ultralight selection consists of a set of tiny real looking fish as opposed to shad types and I managed to catch a coat, a lump of ply board, an old landing net and bend the hooks on two lures, really you couldn't make it up and when I bother JD for one of his jig heads all I did was hook the bottom! I soon got bored of that and went back after the pike. After half and hour of chucking bigger lure around I managed to loose a brand new Savage Gear real eel to a snag despite using 30lb braid. Feeling deflated I sat it out and drowned some dead fish in the hope of a pick up. Of course after such a day it never came.

 I took the Mrs out on a date Saturday night and with the little one at the mothers I sneaked a quick early morning session in on the Sunday, I headed back to the new length but this time opted to fish the middle of the short section just to see what was about as we had seen pike at one end and at the other is well, lets just say you could put a sign up saying fish here and I will be trying it out over the next couple of weeks.

 As I only had 4 hours I kept things simple with two float fished dead baits, one down the middle and one just off the far bank where there was still 6ft of water. I started with a smelt on one rod and lamprey section on the other with the plan been to try different baits after an hour. I also had with me some herrings and sardines. It made no difference though as I never had a touch or saw signs of fish. On the way back to the car though I stopped off at the far end and my suspicions were confirmed, lots of fish activity both big and small.

 On the following Friday I had planned to fish here again for a few hours after work but the weather was horrid so I retreated to bed for a quick nap before picking Lil up from school at dinner. Afterwards the weather perked up a bit so off we trotted down the cut for an hour. The wind was blowing straight down it though and after half an hour the little one had had enough.

 Friday before Christmas saw me out on another stretch of canal with my mate Martin, ultra lighting for perch. again though the weather was not too good and the strong wind was blowing right down the canal. My shoddy selection proved rubbish as ever as Martin landed the odd small perch, even after begging one from him all I caught again was the bottom, at least I'm consistent and the bits of wood, twigs and leaves save a blank! On leaving though I was gifted a few little bits and bobs that just require jig heads and also a nice ultralight lure rod that I can use just for perching , cheers mate.

Some little perch grubs scaled against an AAA battery.

 Whilst out Christmas shopping I dropped into Bobco in Leeds for some pike goodies too and then paid a visit to Mark Kelly for a large selection of jig heads, both for these and the other bits and bobs I had acquired. Of course Christmas was looming and I had made my list, thanks to the little sister for this collection below which consists of Relax kopyto's, Berkley minnows and a Savage Gear perch kit.

 Saturday between Christmas and New year saw me out for the day, JD was to join me later once his wife had done emptying the shelves of the supermarket like the rest of the fools buying enough food to feed a small army. The Calder was up a couple of foot but only holding a bit of colour so once again I started on the river and again in another area I had not fished for pike. A lock cutting directed some of the flow away from the bank making a large slack on the inside, the crease headed out mid river and the floating barrier which stops the boats reaching some downstream rapids had created a large raft just below my position.

 My first rod was cast out a few rod lengths onto the crease with a float paternostered dead finishing things off and the second rod, a float ledgered bait was dropped into the deep near side slack. I had been fishing half an hour when a couple of Eastern Europeans appeared on the bank behind me, glaring at me in disgust as I was obviously in the spot they wanted. They dropped in below and I scoured my swim for signs of set lines, tethered rigs and nets tied to the bank. All was clear but I did wander why they were taking it in turns to pace up and down behind me! Anyway after an hour they left and went up river.

 The hours ticked by and despite a couple of bait changes I yet again failed to tempt a Calder pike, I piled the gear back in the car, went for some dinner and dropped onto another stretch of canal I have not yet fished although me and JD walked down it last time to fish further along past the next bridge. Right I though, not much happening of late so IL try something different. I don't ever recall me properly ledgering a bait for pike, always having some kind of float or float rig attached so I decided to ledger a bait over to the far side of the basin leaving me free to flick a second bait here there and everywhere on a float rig. JD was due too and I was hoping he would catch me a few lives.

 I cast a mackerel tail over towards the far bank wall just short of some under water weeds I had seen from the bridge above and clipped on the rear indicator with the bail arm open. Having not fished this way before it took me a few attempts to set right in the strong wind. I turned around to get my second rod out of the bag and my alarm let out a series of bleeps and I turned to see the indicator lift. I passed it off as the wind as it had now stopped making any sound and the indicator was still. Two more bleeps made me stop what I was doing and I watched as the indicator pulled up tight and the alarm wailed, the line failed to pull free of the clip though but I grabbed the rod, wound down and struck into thin air! The fish clearly got fed up of my set up pulling its free meal back out of its mouth and dropped it.

 I cast back out with a fresh bait on but this time made adjustments to the indicator to make sure it would pull free and also moved my rod forward so the head was right against the reel spool rather that sat under it. I didn't get chance to test it though as I never had any more interest. JD arrived and I'm starting to worry about his rubber fetish now, I hoped he was going to catch me some lives but rather than a box of maggots he had his box of rubber and some lobbies. We sat it out till dark again but nothing fell to our rods, at dusk though a pike swirled right under my rod and charged around on the surface chasing fry waving its tail about as though it was giving me the two fingered salute.

 That is my short lived Calder pike campaign over with for a couple of reasons. Firstly it would seem that like many town and city free fishing areas it has been done to death by EE's, everywhere you go along the river and canal banks there's empty Fladen lure packets from the local B&M store, piles of Polish beer cans chucked about, the charred remains of BBQ's and the people them self's sat fishing in favoured spots almost every day. Odd trips will be made now and again I suppose but its not a place IL be pike fishing with any regularity.

 Secondly I have been fortunate to find a water not too far from home that would seem to hold a decent head of fish and concrete evidence of 20 pounders along with the odd old rumour of something very special. I had been discussing a number of waters with a well known Yorkshire piker for a while and had intended on giving said water a go anyway and the required club book came my way at Christmas by way of a gift from the Mother. I have been for a wander around a couple of times with the kids over the last few weeks to see if anyone was fishing and on my last visit we spotted 6 pike up to maybe 8lb cruising the shallows so when my mate Martin asked if I fancied a few hours after work on new years eve I couldn't say no.

 Yesterday I met up with Martin in the car park before dawn. As it was only to be a short trip I opted to try out my new Savage Gear pike lures, some soft 4play's and reel eels while Martin messed around with bits of fluff on the fly rod. JD was to join us at first light but seemed to have got lost. It was still pitch black when we made our first casts and on only his 3rd or 4th Martin was in.

 I bet not many people can say they have had a fly caught pike in the dark.

 And as for me, well I carried on like normal. First I landed part of a car bumper that took a soft 4play and soon after a landed a ball of line entwined around some twigs and a really rubbish looking pike lure, it was attached to a wire trace but why some morons pike fish with 8lb line at the most beats me. Luckily it wasn't attached to a fish. On the plus side Martin was happily trying to land half ton boulders on his fly rod. He left me too it after a couple of hours as he went to bother some perch on a stretch of canal.

 I opted to get out of the wind and moved around to one of the other banks and had a bit of a wander around, up the sides this lake is quite shallow and required a fair cast to reach any depth from the bank although wading should put you onto a few fish in the warmer months. I then came to a sizable bay that looked to be a bit deeper. After a few chucks I had a follow from a fish that then just sat looking at my lure, I re cast and brought it past its nose a few times before it slowly sank away again. I moved on but then had a phone call from JD who had dragged his arse out of bed and come for a look.

 As I made my way to the car park end I passed the bay again and saw the same fish poking out from the weed, I put on a reel eel and worked it towards the fish, as it got close a bigger fish of around 8lb appeared from the depths and almost grabbed it, I jigged the eel around a bit and recast to come over the fish again but it spooked and shot off. The first fish was still sat there though. I made a couple of passes then got as bored as the pike did so bounced the jig head right on its nose a couple of times before it sulked off in disgust.
What the hell do I have to do to catch a fish these days????
With that I headed down to JD and had half an hour down the bottom end in the deeps again before heading home.

 Roll on 2014, happy new year and tight lines to you all.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

November 2013

 First trip this month was a short impromptu lure trip on the local canal. It had been my weekend to have my lad but he had a party to attend so I needed to have him home for dinner time so rather than waste the afternoon I grabbed my small selection of lure fishing gear and headed off.

 Now its been quite a while since I have done any serious pike fishing and even longer since I tried to catch a large perch by design and last year I got my self a few bits and bobs, gave them a try twice and gave up. I promised my self I would get out more this coming winter so I kicked it off today.

 I know of an area of canal where the silver fish shoal up so I headed straight there, I fanned the water with my rather small selection of lures for an hour or so and managed just one missed strike, nothing big as I saw it hit the surface as I stuck into it. There were signs of small fish about as quite a few kept topping and some even seemed to be trying to avoid something lurking below. The size of the fish showing though and lack of large swirls on the surface got me thinking, the area is also known to hold quite a few good perch so a slight change was made.

 In my little lure box I also have a nice set of tiny ultra lite rubber lures so on went a roach style one. Soon enough I felt the braid tighten and I hit into a fish, I don't think it realised quite what was going on at first as it just came in as I wound, that was until it got almost to the bank, it then decided to go on a bit of a run. The fish was soon subdued though, the medium strength rod and 35lb braid easily saw to that. After a bit of head shaking on the surface the fish was soon in the net. My first proper lure caught pike, not a monster, 5lb+ or so but much bigger than my only other lure caught pike of around a pound!

 I had been expecting a good perch to show first but I wasn't complaining. Nothing much else came after that so I changed the lure for another of the ultra lites, a tiny pike pattern and moved up towards some over hanging cover, again I didn't have to make too many casts before I felt something. This time the strike met with less resistance and the tell tale feeling of a fish shaking its head told me I was attached to a decent perch. As I got it close (although still not seen) I realised the net was out of reach so I moved along the tow path towards it, once there I also had to extend the handle. The path here is quite high off the water too and as I put the net down it slid towards the water and I had to make a grab for it, this meant the line went slack and the fish threw the hooks.

 I never got a look at that fish so I can't say how big it was, all I know is it put a decent bend int he medium lure rod. I carried on though and soon had my first ever lure caught perch, all 6oz of the little beast. I continued my way up the tow path towards the car and was glad of the warmth of the heater once I got there as when the sun dipped today it felt positively cold for the first time this year.

 My rather small lure selection
The ultralight the pike took a liking too

 My next session was to be a bit of a guiding trip, now I don't claim to be any sort of pike expert but my mate JD has been wanting to try for a pike for ages but kept putting it off as he had no idea how to handle them so I offered to go with him, set him up and hope we got a fish or two out of the local canal so I could demonstrate how to unhook them.

 I had arrived earlier than planned so decided to pass the time on till JD got there chucking an ultralight around. I had a couple of follows off small perch before landing one around 6oz again. JD arrived just after I had chucked a float ledgered smelt out into the boat channel. I set his rod up for him and offered some guidance on hitting takes and what have you before we sat back to discuss the day ahead. Things were slow going but soon enough JD had us a roach on his light gear which was promptly attached to my second rod and allowed to wander around the canal basin we were fishing.

 By dinner time things were getting a bit desperate so I suggested a move further up the canal to the remains of an old lock, there's also a couple of far bank bushes that over hang into the water and a wide, reed lined bay that provides plenty of cover for the pike to hide amongst. One rod was fished over towards the bay in some quite shallow water, it may have cooled off but it just looks 'right' for there to be some fish hiding in there. And the other was fished just short of the over hanging bushes in line with the edge of the old lock wall.

 We had not been fishing an hour when the float on my rod fished near the lock disappeared from view. I wound down and connected and after a short scrap I eased the fish over the net JD had sunk for me. Now though the fun began. You could call this unlucky or in a way lucky but the fish decided to do the dreaded roll of death in the net and made a right mess with the loose treble and the trace quick link getting snagged up and the fish tangled in the mesh. The perfect opportunity then to show a new comer to pike fishing how to sort it out.

 Once on the mat the first thing out and in use were the wire cutters and I just cut the trace off above the fish between the two sets of trebles, cut the top of the trace away from the main line to get the rod away and within seconds the fish was laid on the mat and the mess was sorted. It was then just a case of showing JD how to run his fingers under the gills, open the mouth and pop the hooks out. The fish was soon back in the water and resting in the net before weighing. On the dial she went 9lb 12oz.

 My lure collection has now grown a little, I even have a proper lure box! There are one or two more pike lures but also quite a few ultralights for the perch. Main reason for this is I have got my long awaited transfer at work which puts me on a new shift with more time for fishing, yey. It will open up opportunities for short sessions before having to collect the kids from school, perfect for nipping down the local canal for some predator action and come the warmer months a bit of carp stalking on a couple of local ponds.

 Anyway, last week was my last on my old job and as I am due to start the new one Sunday night I blagged Friday off and headed to a local river in search of some monster perch that have been showing. Now as anglers we all have our strengths and weaknesses and my down fall is the complete lack of been able to travel light and rove around the banks. Call me lazy or whatever but I just cant seem to get into it and I'm much happier plonking my bum down in a spot for a few hours and filling it in.

 Maybe my rods are too long or my net too big but all I ever seem to do is spend my time freeing my self from jungle of undergrowth rather than fishing. Then for me there is the comfort issues, after half an hour crouched, knelt, sat under some usually prickly bush my knees and legs are killing me. However I fear if I am to get into some of these local big fish it is something I'm going to have to over come.

 So anyway Friday, ermmm to put it bluntly it was crap. I got snarled up in the trees and bushes resulting in setting up 3 times, it was blowing a gale, the leaves were a menace then it started to rain. After an hour the tip flew round only for me to land a 6 inch trout that took a liking to my lob worm that I had managed to flick right under the bush after 17 failed attempts. After two hours my legs were killing from me been sort of sat on them, I got monk on and sloped off home. But hey ho I might go and do it again next Friday.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

October 2013

 Welcome to what is my last blog in it's current format, although this one is a bit half and half shall we say. Due to a number of things I will now be updating on a monthly basis rather than after each trip, mainly due to sneaking short quick trips in then not having the time to sit and babble on about them but, to make up for the lack of reports I will try to add in more technical info about my rigs, methods and the gear I use.

 So first up is a couple of bits from the start of the month. At the back end of September I fished the yorkshire fishing autumn social at The Oaks, Sessay. 24hrs on a puddle for a pasty was not my idea of fun but a good laugh was had by most and I met some more great lads. Despite the poor fishing I have booked on the next one and will be hoping for something bigger and better when we fish Pool bridge farm's Q lake in the spring.
 I had a trip down to the tidal Trent at the start of the month and made a total mess of judging the weather and river conditions, so much so I sacked it off mid afternoon and went exploring! I went down for a day time tide with half a gallon of maggots, it was hotter, brighter and clearer than forecast and the water was like gin. Had I had gone down to fish into dark I may have stood half a chance. Plenty of small stuff smashed the maggots to bits but two fish did stand out, firstly an eel around 12/14oz. Not the biggest but the first I have caught for a long time, nice to see there are still some around. And next up a cracking roach that fell to the pellet rod, short of my pb by half a pound but still a nice fish and not a mark on it. On the scales it went 1lb 6oz, just a shame it was cranked in.

 The Thursday evening following saw me sat on the Calder in what again seemed good conditions but despite quite an amount of rainfall during the week the river was only around 18in up and not holding any colour. I dropped into a supposedly banker swim and sat it out until well into dark and never had a pull.

 Queue rain dance.
I was now starting to curse the weather, yes it had been one of those rarely seen long, hot, dry summers but it was having adverse effects on my fishing. To put it bluntly it was crap! Well for barbel fishing on my chosen rivers anyway. Then it happened, around the middle of the month we got some of the best weather fronts an angler could wish for blowing warm, wet weather up from the south. It rained and blew and the rivers filled up.............................. Party time.
 Of course I was at work all week and every day when I got home I logged into facebook to see report after report of barbel captures, checking the EA level site also showed things look good for my weekend trip. After a few texts and phone calls to various friends a plan was hatched and I knew which part of the tidal Trent I was heading.
As I crossed the river it didn't look too high and once bank side I estimated there to be around 4 to 5ft of extra water in, high tide was to be around 2pm giving me the best hours into darkness although I had been informed that with the extra water it was unlikely to back up and run up stream which tbh suited me better and also proved to be correct, the colour was spot on and for the first time since about the middle of June I was feeling confident. With the extra water and colour I felt sure big smelly baits would score although I did have a back up plan in place as you never know. I may have been loaded up like a pack horse but it would be worth it later. I had set off earlier that first planned and was there for 10.30.
I followed the advice I had been given by a friend and dropped into a suggested swim, I have fished here before and know the whole area to be snaggy so it was straight out with a big lead as I didn't want it moving around. I was pleasantly surprised though when I found I could hold bottom with 5oz upstream and 6oz down, only an ounce more than is usually required along this stretch. I opted to start on big baits and see if the fish were about and in a feeding mood. The downstream rod was rigged up with 3ft of 12lb E.S.P. gravel braid with a size 6 Drennan super specialist hook, mounted on the hair was a huge chunk of smelly flavoured meat held on with a Fox meat stop. The upstream rod had the same hook link attached but was matched with a Korum Xpert power size 10 hook and baited with a home made glugged bollie and paste wrap. Both rods were fished with Korum running rig kits and quick clips for changing hook links.
 For 3 hours I swapped and changed baits around on both rods, meat, boillies, and big pellets wrapped in paste but nothing seemed to interest the fish. My upstream rod did have a medium swim feeder attached and I had been putting some of my own SBC ground bait but only recasting every half hour or so, the downstream rod was fished with a lead and P.V.A bag of pellets and again cast every half hour or so. There were signs of fish about as I saw a number crashing and some were very clearly barbel, I had to do something.
 The river looked so good I felt the fish just had to be feeding, I just needed to give them something to get their heads down so as the river slowed at the top of the tide (as I said it didn't stop and back up, just filled) on went one of my big feeders and I made ten casts one after the other to get some bait out, quite possibly the best part of half a kilo of mix. I then replaced my hook link with the standard Trent issue 6ft combi link, size 14 Korum Xpert hook and 2 small pellets glued onto the hair. The downstream rod was left as it was to fish big baits as I knew the barrage on the upstream rod would see fish pass over it anyway to get to the banquet I had laid out.
 On only my second cast the rod nodded away like a bream had hooked its self so I was taken by surprise when the fish shot off as I picked the rod up. The fish put up a good fight and after ten minutes I finally got to put my new large Wychwood folding spoon to good use, it easily swallowed what I though would be a double and proved great at leaving the fish to rest in the margins while I readied the scales and camera. The fish was still trying to fight me on the mat and refused to pose nicely for a quick self take. On the scales I was a little surprised at its lack of weight although its been a year almost since I had a barbel much over 6lb but at 9lb 1oz I was happy.

 Next cast and I was in again, this time though the fish proved quicker than me and got its head into the nearside snags by swimming towards me faster than I could wind and saw me having to pull for a break after a while. An hour or so later the heavily baited upstream rod was off again, this time though I cranked for England and headed down into the next swim, I could feel much bumping and banging down the rod and was relieved when the fish set off on a down stream run. Disaster soon followed though as once I started to crank it back towards me the line parted, the fish must have dragged me over something that had cut into the line. On setting the rod back up I had to remove around 5 rod lengths of line that had clearly been damaged.

 It then went a little quiet, I kept casting my feeder rod upstream every ten to fifteen minutes and swapped baits around on the other rod after half an hour or so but that one stayed still all day. The sun had dropped behind the flood bank, the light was fading and I had started to gather the gear together when out of the corner of my eye I saw the upstream rod nodding away again. Thankfully the Korum gripper rests and butt cups held firm although the baitrunner was on anyway. I picked up and the fish set off on a 20 yards screaming run, it felt a good one too and i knew there was only one way I was going to get it out and that was to head down my self so I grabbed the net and I was off. 

 Two swims down it stopped and I started to gain some line only for it to tear off again, next swim along and it decided to hang in the flow instead, it took me a good while to get it close in. The fish had other ideas though and it was off again. As I gained line though I felt some sort of bang down the rod and the tension eased, fearing the worst I wound in what felt like my feeder only for it to pull back after a few turns. It was still on! Now closed in the fish went wild under the rod tip boring down on a tight clutch every time it came up, eventually though in the last light it rolled in the net. I don't know who was more exhausted, me or the fish.

 After a good rest in the net the fish went 9lb 8oz and fell short of what I again though was a double, had it been I would have got the camera back out but as it was almost dark I decided to let the fish have a good rest in the net while I packed some gear away. I was going to have one last chuck as you do but after unhooking the fish I found the rig was trashed from top to bottom and I don't know how it managed to stay on. Can't moan at a brace of nines and  hopefully it will stay warm enough for me to make a return trip in a couple of weeks time.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Cracking the Calder

 Sorry for the lack of updates recently but since the capture of my first Calder barbel I've been having a bit of a lean spell, a lot of which I'll blame on the weather and low water levels in the rivers. A couple of days after that fish and into August I returned to the same area for another evening session, the water level had now dropped a fair bit but it was still holding a fair colour. It was not to be though, one chub around 3lb hit the net and all I could muster at dusk was a series of chub wraps.

 The middle of the month saw me heading southbound on the A1 to the tidal Trent for an afternoon into dark session, the tides were good but again it was warm although not scorching hot and the river was clear. nothing much during the day and as darkness fell the bream came on the feed. No barbel and half a dozen snotties to show for my efforts.

Another evening was spent on the Calder, this time lower down river so far as a different town even and my first down here since opening week. The session was cut short with nothing but a small chub to show as a torrential down pour passed over. Last week I headed out one evening for a bit of surface fishing for some local carp but the weather again played a part. Not the high heat and bright sun that has played havoc with my river fishing but a drop in temperature and a stiff breeze. This sent the fish down to the depths instead of cruising around on the top. Should have gone barbel fishing! And Friday I headed to the same local pond with my youngest for a couple of hours bit bashing finished off with a pedalo ride and ice cream too.

 Yesterday was again fishing day, with small tides and clear water the Trent went out of the window and I decided to stay local. Another reason was I was starting to feel the lack of fish and knowing the barbel were unlikely to feed till later on I decided to take a leave out of a fellow anglers book and spend the afternoon trotting, I would then head back to the car for a change of gear and get settled for the evening.

I made my way out to a large pool below a weir and set about trotting a fast deep run, it soon became apparent though that the wind was going to be a problem as it dragged my 4 gram Avon away from the features. Fish were coming regularly though, dace, roach, the odd small chub and in the couple of hours there I had 3 chub that were well over 2lb. The wind only got stronger though and forced me to move on.

 I dropped down into the next pool where I have done very well from before, this one is right under a road bridge and the wind was even worse as it was funnelled through the arches making it one big wind tunnel.
I persevered for a while and again the silvers were quick to find the bait before two good trout in two trots muscled in and as I had left my coat in the car I was starting to feel that wind. I had a mooch around some other pools but with the water level again been so low and the temperature dropping the fish had clearly started to leave their summer quarters.

 This had forced me to make the change a little earlier than I had planned, I headed to the car and down to McDonald's for tea (there are perks to inner city fishing). On my return I dropped into a swim I have not fished before but always fancied. You adjacent to the weir sill and can drop into the fast water below fishing over the top of a large washing machine like eddy that just screams fish, only down side is there's a humongous obstacle on your right that stops you going or casting any further down stream and it was this that saw me moving again.

 A huge raft of rubbish made up of general inner city stuff lobbed into the river, pallets, beer barrels and broken trees has been building up above the weir for some time and it now looks like its broken free and cascaded down stream. Lots of the smaller stuff is now going merrily around in the huge eddy and due to the huge feature on my right meant I was unable to fish the water I wanted and keep my lines out of all that rubbish. I persevered for a while and picked plenty of small stuff up when I tried maggots including some monster gudgeon.

 I was in my next swim and fishing for around 6pm and after taking advice from my mate JD about small baits on here I was soon into a few small fish, however my feeling was that the barbel wouldn't get a look in while fishing maggots. JD then arrived and told me he never gets pestered down there on maggot! I swapped and changed a bit and at around 8pm as the light was fading with 2 6mm donner kebab pellets I hit what I though was a good chub wrap. I was wrong and my second Calder barbel and first from this length was trying to get into the tree roots, constant pressure soon saw me win though and a splashy almost fin perfect 3 pounder lay on the mat.

 The next hour soon passed and I had baited a couple of hooks ready and packed most of the unrequired gear away to make it easier in the dark later. I wound in and swapped my hook link for one baited with a homemade donner kebab dumbell boillie, I nicked on my last tiny pva bag of pellets and flicked my rig out mid river just above the tree branches. I didn't have to wait long and after a couple of knocks came the 3 foot twitch. This fish gave a good account of its self in the fast water to the point where I was surprised to see its lack of size as it went in the net.

 Anyone that says Calder barbel don't fight needs to get out and catch a few more cos this young fish was well rammed up on testosterone. This been my 3rd of the season now, the target this year been to catch one. My first from this length and also my first caught on a homemade boillie.

Almost fin perfect 4 pounder

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Mission accomplished

 As I touched on before my main aim this season was to catch my first Calder barbel, my first attempts a couple of weeks back in what must have been the lowest and clearest river conditions for years plus the hottest resulted in just a small chub. Now though the conditions couldn't be much better and yesterday I just knew I had to get on the bank.

 Since the rains arrived last week  a few barbel have been showing and with more rain on Monday night the river was spot on by yesterday afternoon, a couple of foot up still and a lovely looking brown colour. By the time I collected the other half from work, dropped her off home and arrived river side it was near on 6pm. I met up with my good mate JD who was already there, just for the sake of it I think as he too knew the river was spot on. We had a quick mooch around before he said he was not stopping much longer so I took the chance to jump in his swim as I did fancy it for a fish or two.

 Tactics had been refined a little from what I have been using over the last couple of seasons, gone were the feeders to be replaced by a running lead and small pva bags were used to feed a small amount of mixed pellet each cast. Tackle too was scaled back a bit to something very close to what I used to use on the Don, 12lb line to a 2ft hook link of 10lb Korum expert mono and a size 14 expert power hook from the same company all finished off with a single banded 11mm elips pellet. This though had been given some attention and had been soaking in my own mix of oils I am currently testing dubbed the 'doner kebab flavour' and wrapped in a matching paste.

 I cast out and sat back to chatter away to JD, soon after the rod tip knocked before pulling steadily round and the following strike met with nothing. I'm pretty sure though that it was just something been washed downstream but after JD told me they don't tear off on the bite I was taking no chances. On the following cast though there was no mistake, the 3ft twitch was followed by the tip springing back and pulling round again before I could even grab the rod and the strike met with solid resistance. The fish hung there for a while before going on a couple of long powerful runs, I managed to crank it back up stream when it decided to go nuts under the rod tip. Soon enough though it was beat and JD scooped it up with the waiting net.

 I don't know who was more pleased, me or him! Anyway I was over the moon with my first Calder barbel and equally pleased that JD was there to see it. After a rest photo's were taken and on the scales it went 6lb 13oz, not massive but a real solid nice looking fish. I was a little surprised no more followed and I never had another knock but I couldn't care one bit, I had what I came for and headed home around 9pm when heavy black clouds started to build in the sky around me.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Not for want of trying

 Sorry for the lateness folks but I just haven't had the time to get around to this, plus it wasn't exactly on my list of priorities with nothing much to shout about again.
Anyway I had last week off work on what has to have been the hottest week for a long long time and of course this had an effect on my intended species and methods.

 With the week off I had set my self the task of catching my first Calder barbel, with the forecast been for hot bright weather and family life to fit in too I decided on a couple of early dawn starts. Monday was my first and that saw me heading home mid morning after a blank although I kind of knew my tactics were wrong with such low clear river conditions. I had gone all out with big baits, pellets and paste wraps and all I had to show for it were knocks from the little fish ripping the paste off.

 Wednesday I was back in the same spot this time armed with hemp and casters and a small selection of pellets as a back up. Again no barbel but a couple of small bait robbing chub on caster hook baits. The days were getting hotter and the river was getting lower and I felt my best chance would come on an evening but I had things to do at home and it was mornings or nothing so I needed another plan.

 As most of you know I don't do much if any proper carp fishing but enjoy a bit of surface/stalking so looked  in on a local lake after dropping the little one off at school after dinner on Wednesday. I knew the lake held a few good carp but I must admit I was shocked by the number of carp I was met with as  I arrived lakeside and also the size. On talking to a regular most of the lakes carp stock were in front of me on the surface basking in the sun, approx 20 or so fish including a couple pushing 20lb and the resident 'big one' which tops out around 36-37 and comes out a hand full of times a year.

 That was it, I had seen enough and was back Thursday morning at dawn armed with some particles and pellets plus a bucket of mixers and half a loaf of bread. I did a quick circuit of the lake and baited a few likely looking spots with the particle mixture and got the gear out of the car, a 2lb Tc rod matched up to my centre pin, 8lb line and a quill float. I worked my way around the spots float fishing flake and corn for a couple of hours and had 2 pesky bream to show before I saw a group of carp spook on the surface as some gulls flew over head, I knew then it was time to get the floater gear out.

 I soon found the group of fish that had spooked and set about giving them some free offerings, to be honest they were not too interested and sulked off apart from one double figure common. This fish stuck around and kept taking the odd mixer, enough to prompt me to put a bait out anyway. My lump of crust had not been out long before the said carp took an interest only for me to pull the hook and bait clean out of its mouth DOH. This spooked it for a while before it settled into feeding again on some baits that had drifted a little further up the bank. Out with another bread bait and soon enough the carp came slurping along again only for me to the same as last time DOUBLE DOH.

 I moved on and pestered a trio of good fish that were more interested in basking as they drifted off each time I wound my controller anywhere near them. A quick lap of the lake and I found the bulk of the fish in the same place as the day before, including those bigger fish.

 To cut a long story short it took me a couple of hours to get the fish properly feeding and not shying off each time I made a cast, even then they were still super cautious of the bait. Then out of the blue the big one appeared in the swim and set about pigging every mixer and bit of loose bread it could find, my heart was in my mouth as it made a b line for my bait only to miss by a foot! Stupid puddle pig, anyway it did a full turn and came back on it and as its mouth closed around my bait I struck only to see my controller whizz past me and into the tree behind. Gutted I recast only to make a mess of that and almost hit the carp on the head, It was now less than amused and swam off into the middle to sunbath with its mates.

 To try and get the fish to feed again I went around the other side and introduced a shed load of mixers that would drift right over the fish and towards the bottom end but by now the rather large resident bird population was wide awake and decided my mixers would make nice breakfast as did every gull for miles around. This encounter has now got me thinking though and that carp now has my name on it, so in between barbel trips and before winter then possibly next spring I'll be spending some time doing some proper carping.