This morning saw me heading down to the tidal Trent hoping for a barbel or two, and what a session it turned out to be.
Since starting on the Trent a few weeks back I hadn't yet managed to catch a barbel and I have been playing around with various rigs as well as trying to perfect my own groundbait mix as the price of shop bought stuff is now a joke.
I have been using Drennan super specialist barbel hooks since they came out but when I last did a fair bit of barbel fishing I kind of fell out with them, I still had a few left so stuck with them until I got hold of some of the new Korum xpert power hooks this week. The main reason for change is the Drennan's have a straight point that seems to dig into every rock and stone they can find, these from Korum are in turned and I only managed to knock one hook point over today.
Next up are the running rig kits from Korum, I had been advised to use running rigs and long hook links up to 6 feet when clear and I have been having trouble with the hook link tangling around the feeder on the cast even with a stiff rig boom fitted. The specially shaped bead in the Korum kits makes the hook link sit away from the feeder and with a 6 inch silicon sleeve added I had no problems all day.
And lastly barring my groundbait mix I made a massive change to my actual hook link material. For years I have used various braids in all lengths but after been given some advice from a well respected big fish angler I made the leap over to combi links and also went old skool and tried a simple mono hook link. The combi's were tied using E.S.P. 15lb ghost fluro carbon with a foot of E.S.P. gravel braid (another change as I have used Drennan sink braid for years). If the water was holding more colour I recon I could get away with normal mono rather than the fluro. As for the mono I was again trying something new, and yes you guessed it from those guys at Korum, this was the xpert power hook link mono in 12lb. I swapped and changed hook links and baits every cast to see if the fish had a preference and all I will say is that the new stuff worked, I tried one of my old hook links a couple of times and never had a knock!
So then, that's enough of me babbling on about rigs and stuff onto the fishing. I arrived around 11am and found a nice looking swim with some deep fast water right along my own bank and decided to start fishing right away rather than wait for the tide to turn. With the river not holding much colour I decided to hold back on the groundbait and used just enough to hold the mixture of hemp and pellets in the feeder, both rods were out and so was the sun. Not exactly what I wanted with a clear river and it felt so warm. The tips remained still until around 12.30 when, with the river stood the the down stream rod hooped over without warning. The fish put up a good fight even with lack of flow and it took me a while to actually land it. First fish of the day and it went 8lb 12oz on the scales.
By the time I had rested the fish and let it go on it's way the river was running off and on the very next cast I had a pb rocking barbel of 9lb on the dot to the same rod followed on the next cast by a 3lb splasher. Things went quiet for a couple of hours then and I was thinking that was it for the day until it clouded over and the down stream rod was almost ripped from the rests. I picked up and the fish carried on heading for sea. The fish was allover the place and took some beating and I was surprised to see a smaller fish of around 6 or 7 pound roll into the net. As I watched it swim away the other rod almost smacked me on the head as the tip was dragged downwards, this one been the new 2lb tc barbel rod I was using for the first time.
This one felt in a different league, slow, heavy and no stopping it when it wanted to go. The battle went on for a good while and tested the new rod and hook link to the limit, I though I had it beat on a number of occasions but each time I managed to get the feeder clear of the water it surged off again. Eventually after a good 10 or 15 minutes I caught a glimpse of the beast and knew there and then that yet another pb was on the cards. I just couldn't loose it, for so long I have been trying to catch a double figure barbel and up my pb. Well after a couple of hairy moments with the fish trying to get into the near side reeds it rolled into the net and was mine. I took one look at it and just un hooked it in the net and staked it our for us both to catch our breath. Self takes are never easy let along with the adrenaline pumping but here it is, my new pb.
11lb 10oz Trent barbel
A good hour passed before I had another sign, a 3 foot twitch that resulted in nothing. The sun was starting to dip and it felt cooler so I decide on that lucky last chuck, the rod's weren't out long when the down stream one slammed over again. Yet another good scrap and another barbel at bang on 9lb. This forced me to stay on a little longer but after a biteless hour I called it a day.
What a day it was and if ever I needed proof that my rigs and homemade ground bait work then surely this has to be it.