A January Barbel - Baldwin’s Blog
With very little chance to fish in January Lewis Baldwin manages to get the timing right and make the most of his one evening on the river.
The month of January has been and gone and February is nearing a close so that must mean its blog time once again!
I knew at the beginning of last December that my fishing time was going to be extremely limited in January, to a single short day session at best, due to having to have a small operation. So, from 08 January I would effectively be out of action for two to three weeks with no chance of fishing whatsoever.
It seems an age away now but New Year’s Day saw me on the banks pike fishing with friend Paul Garner. The original plan had been to fish a river somewhere but the rain put paid to that idea as all of the rivers were bank high and unfishable but Plan B was soon put into action and we headed to a reservoir a short distance away.
Upon arrival things didn’t look good, the incessant rain and wind had stirred up the silt and sediment on the reservoir bed and coloured the water. Now I don’t know about others but for me coloured water and pike fishing tend not to go together too well, especially on waters that are normally clear. By early afternoon we hadn’t seen any fish activity and after having a chat with the bailiff he recommended we try another water a short distance away. We didn’t need much persuading and duly packed up and headed off.
Arriving at the next venue, only a short distance away, we were faced with a much smaller, sheltered water that thankfully was still clear. The rods were soon cast out and we sat back to enjoy what was left of the day. After a couple of hours of putting the world to rights and having had no indications of pike, or indeed any fish feeding, we packed the gear away and headed home.
That New Year’s Day session was supposed to be it for me but at some point, somewhere, I must have done a good deed as the day before I was due in hospital I managed to get the night off work. I was over the moon to have an evening off, the weather was extremely mild, the rivers had dropped and more importantly barbel had been caught over the previous two days by a couple of mates.
Finishing work at 14:45 I raced home, threw enough gear in the car for a short session and, just as dark was falling, I found myself hot footing it along the sodden even sludging through ankle deep mud didn’t slow me down as my spirits were high, as was my confidence.
Arriving at the river I had a simple plan of attack: there were four swims I wanted to fish so breaking only 16 boilies in half I introduced eight halves into each swim then planned to fish them in rotation for 30-45 minutes each, repeating the process if necessary before heading home.
After baiting I quickly put my rods together and settled into the first swim. Fishing two rods I had one close in to the nearside margin and the other mid river. As I had already introduced a small amount of bait I fished with single 16mm boilies on the hair and a small stringer of two half boilies just so there was some extra attractant in the vicinity of the hookbait. I like to break my baits in half on the river as the uneven shape prevents them from rolling away downstream.
Within ten minutes the margin rod had wrapped around twice resulting in two nice chub of about 3lb apiece but after those I decided not to recast the rod as I didn’t want to create any more disturbance as the mid river rod was well-positioned and I was confident of a bite.
That bite duly came just a few minutes later when the rod top nodded slightly before slamming over and springing back, lifting into the bite the fish tore off downstream using the extra flow created by the foot or so of floodwater to its advantage. It took a few minutes but I soon had the fish plodding around in front of me, unfortunately the barbel had other ideas and carried on upstream! Now I’ve always found that when a barbel does this after the initial burst of power you’re into a good fish and it took a while before I could gently coax her towards the waiting net. I hadn’t switched my head torch on until this point but with the fish about to hit the net cord I did just that and realised from the size of the mouth that there was indeed a sizable barbel now sat resting in my landing net.
Getting the necessary readied she was soon unhooked and the moment of truth was upon me. Lifting up the weigh sling the Avons settled on a very healthy, and very welcome, weight of exactly 12lb. I was elated, I hadn’t caught a barbel since late September as time had been limited and conditions less than favourable and my first of 2013 was a double.
I had only been actually fishing about 45 minutes and, as I had baited three more swims I sorted my gear and moved onto the next one. I spent 30 minutes in each of the next three swims to no avail and with the clock ticking down towards home time I thought ten more minutes in the first swim could produce a bonus fish.
I approached it in the same manner as earlier in the evening and sat back to enjoy the short time I had left on the bank for my January’s fishing. The smallest of knocks on the margin rod had me on alert and just as I was thinking it wasn’t to be the rod slammed over and barbel number two was on. It was soon on the bank and figuring it to be in the 7lb or so bracket I rested her in the net before releasing her and that brought to an end January’s piscatorial adventures.
Towards the end of January, and after much deliberation with friends, I decided that as from June 2013 I will be doing guided river days. It is something I have been approached about a number of times and always declined the requests due to time restraints. Should anybody reading this be interested please see my website HERE and feel free to contact me.
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