Pat Gillett is a real all-rounder when it comes to angling, and having spent 40 years doing it, he certainly knows a thing or two. Pat’s in pursuit of barbel in this September diary entry…
Sunday 1st September 2013 – River Dove
This was only my second trip of the season to the River Dove and I was accompanied by my brother David. Checking the E.A. River level website showed that the river level was only 0.45m (this is lower than at any point last season). With this in mind it was back to the quiet stretch that we fished on the first trip in August.
Arriving at about 4.15pm, it was nice to see that once again there wasn’t another angler in sight. With this stretch being lower than I have ever seen it before I decided to have a good walk along the length to try and see if I could spot any fish. This proved to be very worthwhile, has although I didn’t see any barbel, I did see some features on the river bed that had been hidden previously. What also struck me was how cold the strong wind was, hardly ideal barbel fishing conditions! (especially after two cold nights.)
With the lack of any fish being spotted I opted to fish a swim where I had had success before. I dropped 4 handfuls of my feeder mix in at the head of the pool along with a few Quest Baits Rahja Spice boilies in both 10 & 15mm sizes. One rod was fished upstream at the head of the pool under some bushes with the second rod fished well downstream again under some bushes. The session really mirrored the first one, the upstream rod once again not producing even a tap. The downstream rod produced 2 chub, both of exactly the same weight at 4lb 12oz and both falling to pellet hook baits fished in conjunction with the pellet mix. It would seem that the fish in this particular swim only favour the downstream area. More valuable information learnt for the future! The fishing was made difficult by the amount of blanket weed that was being swept downstream and clinging to the line, it was almost impossible to wind in at times, this is something I have never seen on the Dove before.
We packed up at 11pm and made the long walk back in the increasingly cold wind arriving back at the car at about 11.20pm. This is when the fun started! Living in Wolverhampton as I do, each trip to the Dove, Trent or Derwent includes a long trip up the A38. As soon as we got onto the A38 we came to a standstill, nobody was moving for has far has you could see and there was no way of getting off the road. This is how it stayed until 2am when the traffic finally started to move. There was no sign of any traffic accident, so it was a bit of a mystery. Anyway we finally arrived home at just before 3am! Three and a half hours to do a journey that normally takes about an hour on a quiet Sunday night. Looking on the internet the next day the cause of the delay soon became apparent. The Police had shut both carriageways due to there being three horses running loose on the road! I wish these rivers were a bit closer!
Monday 8th September 2013 – Upper Trent
Well we seem to have gone from Summer into Autumn almost overnight. It was so much cooler today (14 Deg C.) and with the strong northerly wind and threatened heavy rain showers, it really did feel like Autumn had arrived.
The Upper Trent had been up to 1.35m at the weekend and was now down to 0.93m. With this in mind it was off to the stretch where I blanked three times earlier in the season. I have always caught barbel here at this time of year and so was keen to see if any fish were in the area now, especially as the level of 0.93m was absolutely perfect for this particular stretch.
Arriving at about 4.30pm it was nice to see that, once again, it appeared that nobody had fished the stretch for a long time. With the masses of streamer weed on the decline, the flow was noticeably quicker, which always gives me more confidence. With the fast drop in temperature I opted to fish with the Rahja Spice on both rods (always done well with these in the cooler water). One rod was fished about 3 rod lengths out and about 5 yards upstream, the other being fished about 25 yards downstream and just 8 feet from the bank in a deep hole.
Before I even had chance to set the first rod up the dark clouds started to send down their deposits. I ‘bait droppered’ some boilies and feeder mix into the deep hole before fishing. This downstream rod would be used as a ‘sleeper’ rod and only recast every couple of hours. The upstream rod was fished with the usual feeder style and due to the large amount of loose streamer weed being washed downstream, was recast roughly every half an hour.
As on the previous 3 trips to this area I never even saw a single fish top, even as darkness was descending both rod tips remained totally motionless. At around 9pm I started getting some sharp knocks on the upstream rod that just wouldn’t develop into a hittable bite. This could have either been from chub or from a barbel that just wouldn’t feed properly. I shortened the hair right down on the next cast and after about 15 minutes the same rod was away in an unmissable bite which was obviously a barbel. A cracking fight ensued from a barbel which had the length of a 12 pounder, but absolutely no body to it. I would say the fight lasted a good 10 minutes and the fish once landed turned out to be a barbel of 9lb 10oz. These Upper Trent fish really do put up a scrap!
Nothing else happened and I packed up at 11pm, but at least I had caught from this stretch after 3 blanks in the summer.
Wednesday 18th September 2013 – River Derwent
This afternoon really summed up fishing for me. You just can never be sure what is going to happen. We had had a couple of days of much colder weather, down to 10 deg.C after being around 20 deg.C for a few days and with the biting Easterly wind conditions were hardly conducive for catching barbel.
I was with my good mate Geoff Dace and was set up for fishing by about 4.45pm. Within 2 minutes of casting in Geoff was into a good barbel, this turned out to be an absolute cracker of 13lb 5oz and was caught on the Quest Baits Special Crab. Just going to show that even in poor conditions you only need that little bit of luck to capture a big fish.
We fished on till 11pm with the moon being as bright as I can ever remember (as with carp fishing this is never a good sign), but to no avail
Saturday 21st September 2013 – Upper Trent
I couldn’t get out this weekend but Geoff went one better. As I have mentioned in my previous articles we have been concentrating our efforts on a ‘new stretch’ of the Upper Trent. Up until now the barbel caught had been a smaller average than I had become used to on the Trent, with just one scraper double out a number of fish. But all the time we have been going there, I have had a ‘gut feeling’ that it would produce something special. This was proved right by Geoff catching an absolute stunning fish of 14lb 2oz, a big fish for any area but an absolute whacker for the Upper Trent. This fish again falling to the Special Crab.
Thursday 26th September 2013 – Upper Trent
After Geoff’s success with the 14 pounder it was back to the new stretch for another go. We started as usual at around about 5pm with the river still low (about 0.9m) and clear. What was surprising was the amount of loose weed being washed downstream. I suspect it was being caused by swans upstream grazing on the weed. Whatever it was, it was making the fishing really difficult and it was impossible to keep the feeder / bait in the water for more than about 15 minutes.
After not having a bite for the best part of 2 hours I wasn’t happy with the way I was fishing and so had to come up with something different as I was far from happy having to cast in so regularly. I thought about trying to find another swim but my mate was in a much steadier swim and he was having just has much trouble with the weed has me.
The loose weed coming downstream all appeared to be in the upper couple of feet of water. With this in mind if I could pin the line down from the rod tip I thought may have a better chance of fishing properly. I don’t carry back leads with me whilst barbel fishing, so I ‘cobbled’ one together using a snap link from one of my swim feeders and a 1 1/2oz lead.
I recast one rod about 12 feet upstream and about 3 rod lengths out. I then tightened up to the feeder slowly paying out enough line to enable me to clip on the back lead. The back lead was then dropped right in the side under the rod tip. Because of the nature of the swim I couldn’t do this with the downstream rod and it was really interesting to see the contrast in the way the two rods were now fishing. The downstream rod was still having real weed problems whereas the back lead rod could now be left in for up to an hour (much better).
Anyway, I had my first bite at 8pm and then proceeded to take barbel of 10lb 12oz, 10lb 5oz, 9lb 4oz and a chub of 4lb 12oz. All these fish fell to the back lead rod and Rahja Spice with not so much as a tap on the other rod. Something for me to bear in mind for future sessions where the weed is a problem.
Friday 27th September 2013 – River Derwent
Another evening session (5pm to 11pm). After fishing the Upper Trent the evening before, the Derwent was an absolute doddle with no weed or leaf debris being washed downstream at all. In fact I bet I could have left the rods in for 6 hours without recasting if I had wanted to!
Two bites, once again to the Rahja Spice, produced barbel of about 8lb 8oz and another of 9lb 14oz. So six bites in two evenings all coming to the Raja Spice (2 x 10mm) and not so much has a tap on anything else. They can be really contrary creatures at times. Really goes to show that you need a variety of baits in your bag and don’t be afraid to cop and change, until you find the right combination for any given day.
This article first appeared on the Quest Baits Blog & is reproduced with kind permission