End of June and It’s Time for Barbel

The last day of the month had arrived and an early start found my brother-in-law Ber and myself heading along the M4 motorway for a days fishing on the River Wye. Our chosen quarry today was Barbel, with some Chub thrown in if we’re lucky.

View on arrival

Arriving at our destination in good time, we selected just enough tackle, bait and refreshment to keep us going for the day. Choosing a feeder fishing approach meant we would leave the float gear in the car just in case we needed a change of tact later in the day. We traced the path down to the river and found it coloured from the previous days rain and with enough flow to offer us encouragement.

Walking three fields down river to the end of the beat, our idea was to work our way back up during the day until we found the fish.

Tackle for the Wye needs to be strong. On the day we chose a 1 3/4 lb test Barbel rod each, 4000 sized reel, 12 lb line and 3oz feeders packed with Groundbait and pellet. Ber started on hair-rigged boilie and I started with hair-rigged pellet.

It wasn’t long before Ber started getting line bites indicating that fish were in his swim and eventually he had the bite that gave him the first fish of the day; a nice Chub of about 4 pounds to get the session off to a great start. He was obviously on a roll as his next fish was a nice Barbel that didn’t want to be photographed for the album. This was his first ever Barbel, and well, needless to say he was a happy man.

A great Barbel for Ber that wasn’t camera shy!
Ber with a nice Chub

We stayed on our spots a while longer but the bites dried up so we eventually decided it was time to trace our steps back up river to find a more productive area.

The banks on this river are steep in places and it can make them quite treacherous at times especially after rain. It does make you ask questions about safety and if the river was flowing faster then it would be wise to wear life preserves in future.

Ber found a spot

Eventually finding a spot in the church field offering access to some deeper water we settled in and cast out baits towards the far bank. Ber was instantly into another Chub and this was the signal for me to change from hair-rigged pellet to boilie wrapped in paste. Quickly I landed a Chub to kick start my session. This subtle bait swap made all the difference and is a reminder to change things up when the going gets slow. 

A lovely Chub kick-started my session

From here on in it was non-stop action with Barbel and Chub coming to almost every cast. Ber even mangaged a couple of quality Roach that made his day. We managed nine Barbel to over seven pounds and sixteen Chub to just under five pounds between us, reminding us why we love fishing the Wye.

Non-stop
We kept catching
Playing last fish of the day
 We called it a day at 5:30pm and could have stayed longer and continued to catch but the fishing Gods had been kind and we wanted to keep something in the bank for when we return later in the season.

December 2016

It’s been difficult to get out on the bank this month which is not unusual at this time of year.

I have however managed three short sessions on the river which have been very enjoyable.

The Blackwater was again the choice as is often the case in the winter and when time is short.

Taking the float rod and pin out on the first two occasions was great and it always produces the goods with simple maggot tactics and occasional bread flake.

Winter Roach are always welcome
Winter Roach are always welcome

As the Christmas celebrations passed I found myself with some spare time and spent them on the river trying out my new fishing rod, a Drennan 1.25 Specialist Avon Quiver, with a couple of Chub obliging.

I was impressed with the rod which is a shorter 11 foot model especially chosen for the smaller rivers I fish and with Chub the target species.

The new rod handled a bread flake caught Chub impressively
The new rod handled a bread flake caught Chub impressively
The magical Blackwater in late December
The magical Blackwater in late December

My last fish of the year reflected my first back in January, a Chub, when the light was fading.

4 Hours To Spare?

Dedicating time to our ‘hobby’ is easy when you are young and single, but more difficult when you are juggling family commitments with a busy work schedule. If you fall into the young and single category, good for you, enjoy it while you can!

I however fall in to the latter category and must grab opportunity when it presents itself. So, before the wife books anything else in I have 4 hours to spare.

I have decided, with limited time, to take the trotting rod over to my local River Blackwater.

This river never ceases to amaze me. Its natural beauty alone is enough to gladden your heart and soul. If I’m not fishing it, as time does not always allow, walking the dog along its banks is always a good way of keeping tabs on the changes seen as we move through the seasons. It is this time of year, when the abundant weed is dying back, that I find myself being drawn to the chance of presenting a float and angling out a fish or two.

The Blackwater here is not too far from its source
The river is rich in wildlife and my target was to be Roach and Chub. The small stretch that I settled in was no more than 4 metres wide but long enough to run a float down and show something for it. Air temperatures were dropping, although be it to the average for this time of year. The recent rain was needed, but was only enough to add a little colour to what had been a very low clear river.

My bait was simple; sticking to the trusted white maggot, I also added hemp to feed. Bread was also carried as a backup if needed.

A simple bait approach
While setting up the tackle, I loose fed maggots, maybe 10 to 15 every 30-40 seconds slowly building up the swim with the view of gaining the fishes confidence and working up their appetite. This process of feeding continued for a further 15 minutes. Normally I like to feed for a little longer, but time was against me, and anyway, I was keen to find out what was beneath the surface.

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My first trot was halfway down the stretch before the float dipped and I connected with a half decent Roach. This was to continue with good Perch and Roach coming to almost every trot. The feed was continued after every cast, albeit with half the quantity previously mentioned.

Perch

And Roach turned up
The Chub did not show up this time, but I was not disheartened, as I knew given more time or another opportunity the river would not disappoint.

Although time on the river this time was short, it was long enough for the fish to feed and the mind and body to unwind, this is after all why we go fishing, isn’t it? So, it was with a smile that I finally decided to pack up and head for home, as the next family function was only an hour away!