September has been a pretty hectic old month and it’s no-where near over yet but I wouldn’t change a thing. Work continues apace on the next Barbel Days And Ways DVD, or should I say DVDs because we’ve already enough material in the can to fill two disks, but it has been incredibly hard this time around. When we filmed the first DVD it took us twenty minutes to catch our first fish which just happened to be a double. If only it had been so easy this time.
It’s no reflection on the abilities of our guests, but between them they’ve suffered eight blank days while the cameras rolled. As the UK river levels fall the water gets clearer by the day and catching fish becomes a problem, especially as it has to be done in broad daylight with an angler and two cameramen in attendance. Consequently the blank days are beginning to rack up.
It bothered us at first because we envisaged lots of bent rods and big fish but is that why customers buy our films? Perhaps not. Our unique selling point has been the quality of the underwater footage but this has always been used sparingly in parallel to showing tactics and techniques whilst still aiming to capture the excitement of barbel fishing. It’s a difficult act to balance and how many bent rods does the viewer really want to see when it is at the expense of showing a crucial bit of information or a great tip?
In the second DVD we included a catching medley that Stu and I privately refer to as ‘barbel porn’! It’s all fast action, bent rods, battling fish and trophy shots galore packed into about ten short minutes and it is a fantastic, pulse raising section, but once you’ve done that, where do you go next without repeating yourselves?
We have some breathtaking underwater footage in the can in which we gauge barbel’s reactions to tackle. Deep down we suspect that this is what the viewer wants to see anyway; that and what to do when it happens in your swim, although it must not be at the expense of creating great atmosphere and excitement.
Who’d want Stu’s job, eh, but editing has begun in earnest. That’s the good news. The bad news is don’t expect to see the new stuff before next spring.
A Trip To The Teme
Stu and I spent a few days in the company of Dave Mason on the Teme this month. It’s more than ten years since I last fished the Teme but it still stands out as one of the most memorable days barbel fishing I’d ever had at the time. Included in my catch were five fish over 8lb, all taken on float tactics and a centrepin reel but times change and just lately the river has been quite tricky. Fortunately Dave still managed to deliver.
What a set-up the guy has got (at Camp David…) and if you’re looking to spend a day (or two) with a barbel fishing guide, forget the rest, contact Dave through the Teme Severn web site. You won’t regret it because this guy is really professional and he knows his stuff.
The low, clear river did give us an opportunity to get in and film a few Teme barbel underwater and what’s more we even managed to get a genuine hook-up on camera which was a right old result in the circumstances.
Alas we had to come home but not before we’d shot enough great footage to have made a ‘Totally Teme’ DVD had we any desire to.
But We’re Struggling On The Derwent
The Archie Braddock section is proving to be a bit of a nightmare. We have all the technical information nailed but catching a decent sized barbel in daylight is proving a frustration. Two-camera filming creates a degree of disturbance when you’re setting up and the fish just do not like it at the moment.
I spent half a day with Archie sat no more than ten yards from a shoal of good sized barbel. The fish were lying beneath a fallen tree and although they’d come out and show themselves fleetingly, would they swim ten yards onto out bait? Would they heck!
I’m sure we could have placed a bait close to their sanctuary but the outcome would have been inevitable and no matter how frustrating the situation there’s no way I would condone placing a bait where the outcome would almost certainly be a lost fish. What is the point of that?
So we racked up another blank and decided to put filming on the back burner until rain freshens things up.
True River Anglers?
A call from Ron Clay revealed his mate Mick Lomas has been making some fine roach catches on the Trent. Seems he’s pretty much got them to himself as everyone else who’s fishing there is pointing carbon at the heavens and getting neck ache. Meanwhile he just runs a stick float through and fills his boots.
Food for thought, and at the risk of courting controversy, there’s a world of difference between a true river angler and a Trent barbel angler…
Fired Up By A Curry
A few members of the DVSG got together for an impromptu curry night at Lee Swords’ house, always a good excuse to fire up a bit of enthusiasm when the going gets tough. By the time we’d eaten and put the world to rights we were all gagging to go fishing again, so I did, the following morning.
Destination Tidal Trent, I headed for a completely different stretch to the one Mick Lomas has been doing so well on but by one of those weird cosmic coincidences, as I unlocked the gate barring access to my chosen stretch a car pulled up behind me. “Leave it open!” Shouted the driver, and as I turned round, who was there but Mick Lomas!
We chatted for a while and it seems he’s been getting some cracking roach, several of which have been pound-plus jobs. Apparently the fish are coming to maggot rather than hemp and tares, which surprised me, and I really must have a go at the area he’s catching from because having fished maggot on my stretch several times I’ve caught lots of chub with nary a single roach to show for my efforts. Odd that.
Mick was buzzing about the barbel sport he’s been having on the float, too. Only last week he had one over 12lb which is a pretty phenomenal fish to catch on a stick float. Well done that man!
What A Difference A Week Makes
But back to my story. What a difference a week makes. The water level was down a good five feet on my previous visit and shows what an impact the neap tides have. From high and mighty ten days earlier I now faced low and painfully clear conditions. Where 4 ounces was the minimum weight required to hold last time I could easily now do it with half that.
Now I know some folk get a bit uppity if I reveal how much bait I use but what’s the point in lying to you? Some folk would approach a low, clear river very gingerly, using only a tiny amount of feed. Well that’s all fine and dandy if you are desperate to catch one tame fish from a piddle whereas I’m not. One fish or a blank is neither here or there to me in the shape of things. Indeed I would sooner go all-out, s*** or bust, to catch several fish than to bore just one out, or maybe two (big deal!).
And size really isn’t everything.
So I droppered in four pints of hemp and pellets in equal measures at the outset. To ensure accuracy I clipped up the dropper and then laid this out on the bank behind me. Using molehill soil to put down two markers I established the distance from my rod tip to the dropper was exactly 20 paces which then meant I could position my two feeder-rigged rods on exactly the same line employing a bit of marker braid.
With the bait out and working I then drove my van to the parking area before limping back to the swim – did I mention I think I’ve broken my little toe? I’m struggling to wear a shoe right now and the toe’s an angry purple colour.
Oh well, could be worse, I could be working for a living!
Anyway, by the time I’d tied up a new rig and cast out, a good half hour had passed and it was already 10.30am. I put the first rod ten yards below the feed and then turned my attentions to tying a second rig. The first had been out barely five minutes when the rod hooped over. I still hadn’t got the second rod out!
The fight was dogged and didn’t feature any mental runs so I figured this wasn’t a 5-pounder. When it came towards the net I could see it was a decent fish and it’s at this point that some folk back off a bit, scared they’ll pull the hook, yet in my experience this is the very thing that leads to a lost fish. Except for that brief moment when the fish breaks surface and goes mental I like to keep the pressure on. You rarely lose a barbel through being firm (I’m reluctant to use the word bullying).
Into the net it went and a quick look prompted me to put some batteries in the scales (I seldom bother weighing fish as I’d rather get them back quickly). I had the video camera running as I played the fish and I proclaimed to the camera, prior to weighing it, “That’s not quite a double, probably a nine, but just about as close as you get to one.”
Some folk would have been upset by that but not me. Frankly the weight of a fish matters little to me and if I wanted you to believe it was a double all I would have to do was say it weighed 10-1, or conveniently forget to deduct the weight of the net, but who cares?
I mean REALLY – who cares outside of a bunch of mindless number crunchers who know the price of everything and the value of absolutely nothing?
Three more fish followed before the swim died. I went a long time without any indication that there were any fish in the swim so out came the dropper and I put in another two pints of bait. And guess what? That’s right, I had three more fish in the next 90 minutes before the swim died again.
By now I was feeling peckish and decided to quit. I could be home listening to football on the radio rather than grinding out another fish or two when the light faded. Seven barbel in challenging conditions is not to be sniffed at. They took me past the 60 mark in 6 trips and it would be greedy to go for more, don’t you think?
Interestingly I didn’t have a single chub rap all day. That is unusual. I wonder how Mick Lomas got on. He was fishing a mile or so upstream. Must find out.
Looking back on the day I’ll probably remember it for two separate incidents. Firstly I was treated to the sight of a buzzard riding the thermals above me. That would have been an extremely rare sight on the lower Trent five years ago. I also saw one when I was with Archie and it seems they are populating the Trent valley rapidly.
The day wasn’t totally without mishap as the second memorable incident will reveal. The Tidal Trent below Collingham meanders northwards, twisting and turning as it goes. It’s rare to be too far from a tight bend in the higher reaches and it’s quite easy for boats to sneak up on you. Even when you see them coming you’re never quite sure what line they’re on and I do not like to reel my rigs in unless forced.
Normally the boats will see you and steer a reasonably wide berth. We all accept the heavily laden working barges have little choice but to follow the deepest channel whereas cruisers can be a nightmare – boats equipped for seagoing missions, big enough to fish for marlin and often steered by a complete prat-in-a-sailors-hat who totally ignores speed limits, causing an almighty wake as they overtake all in their path.
The boats I’m most comfortable with are the canal barges, prettily painted, decked in flowers and chugging along at a respectable plod, plus they have a very shallow draught. They seldom cause any problems but today I met my nemesis.
Around the bend a barge loomed into view. I stood up to indicate where I was to give him plenty of time to avoid me which almost every bargee respects. You must bear in mind that I’m looking at him sideways on because he’s not swung round the bend yet. As he straightens up I indicate my rods and lines hoping he’ll push out five or ten yards but the idiot starts indicating that the river is only 18 inches deep and sets course directly towards me.
With no time to reel both rods in I’m left with no choice but to take a rod in each hand and lower the tips to the water hoping he’ll clear the lines and that the feeders won’t dislodge and snag up. He clears the first line but as his propeller passes the next the rod is almost ripped from my grip. Trust me, 10lb line takes some breaking but when it’s attached to a barge moving downstream and tide assisted and you had better point the rod at the boat or carbon splinters will be flying.
I was fuming. This guy could have sailed past me another thirty yards out and still had plenty of depth. Instead I’ve lost a Fisky feeder, shredded ten yards of line and left a baited rig in the water. The boat, I noticed, was named ‘Comfortably Numb’, presumably after the Pink Floyd song. If I find it moored up it will be getting a new paint job – Comfortably DUMB! Or maybe ‘Careful With That Axe Eugene’ would be more appropriate.
A Few Musings On Presentations
Just a few musings on this latest trip. Having lost two fish to cut-offs on rocks I switched from a long braid link to a combi-rig and a slightly bigger hook (from an 8 to a 6) so I could afford to give the fish a bit more stick. The link comprised around two and a half feet of Kryston Mantis to six inches of Drennan Sinklink, joined with a four-turn water knot wrapped in a bit of rig putty.
That I had less bites than on previous trips came as no real surprise due to the clarity and level of the water but I didn’t have a single chub rap. That was odd and has left me wondering whether they were avoiding the stiffer rig or that they simply weren’t feeding. After all it’s a pretty hefty rig for daytime chub fishing, isn’t it?
He’s Only A Little C***!
Oh dear. My number one fan continues to hang around like a bad smell but he’s even exceeded his own scummy standards by rudely abusing the veteran Ron Clay. I’m sure he believes he’s charming, erudite, witty and amusing when he writes his drivel but he’s not. What he demonstrates is that he has no class whatsoever and I can barely contain my contempt for such a loathsome individual.
If he must express his insecurities by having a prod at me then so be it, but he clearly owes Mr Clay a humble apology. I doubt Ron is holding his breath though.
During the recent curry night his blogging behaviour was raised, not by me I might add, to which someone commented, “He’s only a little c***!”
Well, never having met the guy, despite the fact he frequently lurks in dark corners when I put on a slideshow, I could not possibly comment on his stature. However I’d have to concur with the second part of the description, more so if he fails to do the honourable thing where Ron’s concerned.
17th And It’s Getting Nervy
I suppose I’d better mention the football as we slip into the bottom half; only five points away from a play-off place and just five points above the bottom club Plymouth. The Championship is a nerve wracking league and right now things can still go either way for us. There are no easy games for anyone in a league where Blackpool can beat the league leaders Newcastle while Barnsley, with just one point on the board, can win at Derby.
A defeat to West Bromwich Albion (away) came as no real rurprise but it was nice to see the comments posted by Albion fans on the Championship message board:
“Jesus, how did we win that game, Doncaster played brilliantly well I thought.”
“Went to the match tonight and was very impressed by Doncaster they are a very good side who play the game the right way and were unlucky not to come away with a point… “
“Good luck to Donny for the rest of the season and I can see a top half finish if you continue to play like that.”
“Donny played fantastic in parts last night, you’re a right little cracking team. You pass the ball immensely and opened us up at times, your movement was class.”
“Sharpe caused us none stop problems. Stick a decent striker up with him and I honestly think you could make the play offs. I wasn’t expecting them to be as good as they were to be honest.”
“We were 2nd best for long periods but we seem to have the quality to kill teams off.”
“Good away following by Donny as well considering they aren’t the biggest of teams. Put Ipswich and Plymouths away support to shame.”
Having taken four points from the last three fixtures, all games I fully expected to get nothing from, I guess things are going pretty well but despite these kind comments from opposition fans we haven’t got our passing game going properly yet. Trouble is we’re earning the respect of everyone at the expense of giving away points.
Oh well, it”s the Tractor Boys next and Roy Keane’s luck has to turn soon. Just hope it’s not at out gaff.
See you next month.