Friday, 8 July 2011

Gimme a Break!

Buoyed by the success of that syndicate lake bream I expected to catch more, and bigger! I didn't of course, another three nights produced nothing more than a 5lb 7oz tench, well spawned out and rather tatty and I had a five pound jack that grabbed a boilie on the way in. Three nights on your own without actually speaking to another human is quite hard going even for an antisocial sod like me and at the end of it I decided to give the syndicate lake a miss for a while.

The plan was to spend a couple of nights bream fishing on an easier water where the fish run to 14lbs or so but that soon fell apart because the other water involves a long walk. Now I don't mind long walks too much, even though I've got dodgy knees but the weather forecast showed that it was going to be a wet wet week. Fishing overnight in heavy rain demands that you carry a fair bit of gear in order to make it bearable so my plans to travel light and fish just one night at a time were scuppered. I had to make the choice between travelling light and going home wet and miserable each morning or taking the kitchen sink which would mean staying for several nights if it was to be worthwhile.

In the end I chose neither, preferring to spend a bit of time barbel bashing on the Ribble instead. Getting a break from the bream fishing could only do me some good anyway and at least on the Ribble I could pretty well guarantee getting some fish on the bank. The first trip was to be an afternoon/evening session on a stretch I knew well and i was surprised on arrival to find that there were no cars in the car park. I chose a swim near the bottom of the stretch. Experience has shown that when the river is low, as it was, the fish didn't move up too far from their hidey hole and so fishing close to their home was the best option.

It was a day of heavy showers, making me glad of the light umbrella I'd carried along and I was soon into fish. I packed pellets into pva mesh bags and attached one to the hook on every cast and it soon got the barbel going. I used the same boilies I'd been using for the bream and the barbel seemed to like them a lot. By the end of the session, as it was getting close to midnight, I had put together a catch of two chub and eight barbel. No really big ones but a brace of eights and a brace of nines featured in the catch with the biggest fish going 9lb 2oz, a really pleasurable evening.

Session two was to be to a stretch I had never fished before. I started a little later this time, arriving at the riverbank at around 5pm and as I walked along the stretch looking for a likely area I bumped into a salmon angler who was just leaving. He was very helpful and put me onto an area where he often saw barbel so I set off to find it. I was a little disappointed when I got there to discover a number of anglers already fishing from the opposite bank but I managed to squeeze into a likely looking spot sufficiently far away from them not to cause annoyance to them or to me.

The current ran along the far bank and the water looked quite deep but I reasoned that I wouldn't need too much lead as the line would be mostly passing through dead water so I clipped on a three ounce lead to each rod. This proved to be just right and I set about casting in with those little bags of pellets in order to lay down some feed. I soon discovered a problem however, this was a very snaggy swim and I steadily lost leads and hooks in amongst the rocks.

The first bite came after about an hour and I had a real tussle on my hands with a very hard fighting fish. On the bank it looked like it just might scrape ten pounds but it missed by the narrowest of margins and i recorded a weight of 9lb 15oz, not a bad start. Twenty minutes later the same rod was away again and I pulled in a plump eight pounder. At this point I was quite taken with the stretch despite the snags which continued to claim my end tackle but things were about to change. More anglers arrived on the far bank and yet more. It was clear that most of these people knew each other and while they didn't interfere with my fishing at all, keeping a respectful distance from me, they were pretty noisy.

A sudden violent squall almost caught me out. The wind blew and the rain hammered down for ten minutes or so before it passed over and I found myself having to gather in the tackle and hang onto the little brolly throughout. The squall passed and I continued casting - and losing tackle. Hours passed and yet the rod tips didn't tremble again. Indeed I didn't catch another fish, nor did any of the anglers on the far bank and as darkness fell, one by one they packed up and left. Eventually my turn came and I reeled in the rods, snagged again, and packed up. I had no more leads left and I was down to my last hook!

All in all, I won't be visiting that stretch during the summer again. There is clearly a lot of pressure on the fish there and the snaggy nature of the riverbed only serves to complicate things further. I was pleased with the result though, a near ten pounder on the first trip is definitely a success.

I suppose it's back to blanking now then!

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