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 August diary entry…
Thursday 1st August 2013 – River Derwent
This was to be the second trip of the season to the Derwent. To be honest I didn’t really fancy going. The weather forecast was for temperatures of up to 34 Deg. C. (the hottest day of the year so far) and I really don’t like the very hot weather! Add this to the fact that I had transport issues and it was the first day of the the third test between England and Australia and I could quite easily have stayed at home. However after a quick telephone call with my good mate Geoff Dace, he sounded keen and persuaded me to give it a go. A quick call to the garage and they confirmed that my new tyre had just come in and that if I got round there quickly they would fit it and balance it for me while I waited.
After looking at the various EA sites for the different river levels, it looked as if the Derwent could well be the best bet (it was dropping, but not too quickly). We arrived at the river at about 4pm and upon stepping out of the cool of the car it was like walking into an oven, with the air temperature now being around 30 Deg. C. There were anglers already present in the area that I had the 12 pounder from last time out, so I ended up picking a likely looking swim (that I had never fished before), a good half a mile away.
The river was carrying a nice tinge of colour and looked good for a bite in daylight. The swim had some nice streamer weed to it and also a nice gravel bottom on the inside, with a depth of about 4 feet, ideal really for the present weather conditions. I started fishing at about 5pm with both rods carrying the successful ‘whittled down’ 15mm Quest Baits Special Crab boilies in conjunction with 4oz feeders with the many varied pellet mixture. One rod was fished around 6 feet out from the near bank with the other being fished about half way across on the edge of the streamer weed.
The inside rod was fed ‘little and often’, whilst the other rod was just recast roughly every hour. I never had a tap until about 10.15pm when the rod fished at halfway gave 2 sharp jabs which I struck at (I always sit right by the rods) and what was obviously a big fish was connected with. The fish put up a slow ponderous fight and I had a ‘right game’ getting it in the net because of the quick flow on the inside, but after what I suppose was about 7 or 8 minutes the fish was safely netted. It turned out to be a barbel that was not only fairly long but also had a massive girth (more like that of a carp than a barbel). The Avon’s confirmed what I thought (it was a really big fish) and went round to 16lb 7oz. I was over the moon and once again and in such a short space of time the Derwent had been really good to me!
This story for me really illustrates how luck can sometimes play a ‘major’ part in the capture of a big fish. As I said in the first paragraph I could quite easily have stayed at home (if Geoff hadn’t persuaded me or the garage hadn’t had my tyre delivered that morning). Also although I had planned on fishing this particular swim before I may not have chosen today if there hadn’t been anglers fishing where I did on my last trip. Anyway if it is luck I hope I get some more of it in the future!
Sunday 11th August 2013 – River Dove
This was my first trip of the season to the Dove and it was actually lower than on any of my trips last season. With this in mind, knowing that the fishing was likely to be tough, I picked a quiet stretch which sees little if any pressure from other anglers has I wanted everything in my favour with little chance of me fishing on top of other peoples bait from the Saturday.
I was joined on this trip by my brother David who after sampling some French carping with me earlier in the year was keen to see what the barbel fishing was like on these ‘smaller’ rivers. He had fished the middle Severn with me some years ago, but fishing rivers like the Dove are totally different really.
We arrived at about 4.30pm, with me pleased to see not another car in sight. The river was crystal clear and after having a good walk along the stretch I was disappointed not to see a fish of any sort. When it’s like this all you can do is fish where you think they should be. I know from previous knowledge this stretch does not hold many barbel and so picked what looked like a classic small river barbel swim. This was at the bottom of a shallow pool where the river ‘deepened off’ under some far bank trees, the main flow was also under these tree’s, so it was perfect really.
The upstream rod carried a trimmed 15mm Special Crab boilie, whilst the downstream rod was fished with a pellet hook bait. Both rods were fished with feeders carrying a mix which is slightly different to Shaun’s. My mix is made up with equal amounts of the mini mixed pellet / naked hemp / crab micro feed and 6mm halibut pellets. A few crushed up boilies (crab / rahja and ghurka spice) are added. The whole lot is mixed and then scalded. Once I have the consistency required I will later add a few dry pellets and chopped boilies. I don’t like to have too many boilies in the mix for clear water conditions but will add more if there is colour in the water.
We were fishing by about 6pm and one or two knocks on the rod tips showed there were fish of some sort in the swim. Just on sunset the downstream rod bent round slowly and after a really good fight an immaculate barbel was in the net. This one had a particularly large tail and anal fin and so you could see where it had got all it’s power from. It weighed 11lb 1oz and made a real impression on my brother with the explosive nature of it’s fight.
The rest of the evening saw a few knocks and plucks with David landing a couple of nice chub, both around the 4 1/4lb mark. These fish also falling to the downstream rod. In fact the upstream rod never produced a knock all evening. This can often be the case when fishing 2 rods on a small river. It was nice to spend a few hours out with my brother and he commented on how nice the ‘atmosphere’ was and on the power of the barbel he had seen.
Thursday 15th August 2013 – Upper Trent
Back to the ‘new stretch’ again for another trip. Once again there were no other anglers present and another short evening session produced two barbel, both around the 8 1/4lb mark and both to the special crab.
I have had quite a few fish from this stretch now but have yet to have double, it makes me wonder if I am chasing something that isn’t there. Then again with the ‘Upper Trent’ you just never know, the biggest fish are definitely ‘travellers’ and don’t seem to stay in any one area for any length of time. A lot of area’s seem to produce numbers of fish up to around the 12lb mark, that will stick around for a while but has I have already said the very big fish just don’t seem to stick around. I have fished one particular area ‘on and off’ for quite a few years, the biggest fish we have caught there is just over 12lb and yet I have lost one fish (which I got a clear view of) that was at least 2 to 3lb bigger. Never seen or heard of one that size in that area before or since. The same thing happened even further upstream where a couple of barbel of truly huge proportions were caught one season but again have not been seen since.
Wednesday 21st August 2013 – River Derwent
Once again, Geoff and myself were the only ones on the whole length. With the bright clear and hot conditions I chose to fish in amongst all the streamer weed. A very quiet evening with little sign of fish activity which saw just the one bite from a barbel which powered off downstream when the hook pulled out after about ten seconds. When you consider the average size of the barbel I have had from the river so far, you can understand me feeling a bit gutted! Once again the bite came to the trimmed down special crab.
Thursday 22nd August 2013 – River Derwent
I fished the swim where I had the big fish from on the 1st of the month (a good half a mile away from yesterday’s swim). A totally ‘dead’ night on the river without so much has a ‘wrap’ on the rod tips. As I have said before, I don’t believe there are many barbel in this area, but they are of an excellent average size and do tend to move around a good deal.
From 9pm until 11pm (when I was expecting to catch) I was continually wiped out by great big rafts of weed (every 15 minutes). This was something which I found hard to understand has the river was really low (about 0.6m on the E.A website) and was falling. Anyway, whatever was causing it, it definitely ruined the evening.
Friday 30th August 2013 – Upper Trent
This was another short evening trip, but this time to a stretch of the river I hadn’t fished for years and in a swim I hadn’t fished before.. With the river still being really low and clear, I chose a swim with a good flow on the inside, some weed beds and about 30 yards above a nearside bush, hoping that with the clear conditions there would be some barbel taking refuge under the bush and in the weed. With steady feeding I was hoping to draw any fish present up to me.
A really strong ‘facing’ wind made the fishing uncomfortable and almost impossible to detect any knocks on the rod tops. Also once again the loose wind coming downstream was a pain in the a**e leaving the rods constantly bent double. This is often the trouble on the Upper Trent, half the time you are struggling to fish properly. When the weed is a problem, I use long hook lengths (up to six feet) to try and ensure that bait isn’t being ‘masked’.
A very quiet night with no fish movement but some tremendous colours in the sky and just has it went dark the sky went really black and I was praying it wasn’t going to rain has the swim I was in was too tight even for my little 45 inch brolly. Anyway the rain kept off and I had just the one bite, which came just before packing up at 10.45pm. After a good fight a nice long lean barbel of 10lb 2oz was in the net to save a blank. This fish fell to the special crab.
So not many hours on the bank this month, but a variety of venues and doubles from three different rivers, lets see what next month brings!
This article first appeared on the Quest Baits Blog & is reproduced with kind permission