Well after three aborted trips I finally made it on to the river and, if the news is to be believed, only just in time because the Warragamba Dam is about to spill over for the first time in fourteen years and that means one thing, more flooding. It’s incredible to think that you journey to the other side of the world just to be faced with the same issues that define our late river fishing at home, floods that is, certainly on the Lower Severn.
In case you missed my last Diary, this feature is coming to you from Sydney in Australia. The fishing was great fun though, well worth the wait, and this is how it came about.
My daughter here has a business acquaintance whose best buddy just happens to be an expat who is really into his carp fishing and who was only too pleased to meet up with me when he knew I was here in Sydney, his name is Joe.
Joe has lived up in the Blue Mountains for the past fifteen years but when he lived in Norfolk he was well into the carp scene. These days he now has his own little piece of carp fishing heaven down under and for a few hours I was going to share it with him.
The journey out of Manly was a real pain, the taxi was late and the traffic around the Harbour Bridge reminiscent of bad days on the M25. I arrived at Central Station with barely minutes to spare before the train pulled in and I embarked on a ninety minute journey which took me well away from the city.
Joe was there waiting when I reached my destination at the end of the line and it did not take long before we reached the river which runs through a private estate where Joe is fortunate to be the only angler on a vast stretch of water.
My first impression was that it was home from home, albeit on a much larger scale, but what really caught my eye was the number of fish rolling right in front of Joe’s swim, there were lots! And it really is HIS swim, he has carefully constructed steps which lead down to a flat area where the rods are set up and there’s the first shock: carp fishing with just the one rod! As Joe explained why bother with two or three when there is more than enough action to satisfy with one, and anyway how many fish do we really need to catch?
Seven hours later and I could only agree.
The reason why there appeared to be so many fish in the area was because the estate owner’s son had been introducing Joe’s prepared feed for the past couple of days, once again a replication of my own tactics when seriously barbel fishing on the Lower Severn.
The fermented maize stunk to high heaven and the aroma filled the air as Joe used his scoop to deposit another bucket load into the target area.The tackle set up was simplicity itself, having been arrived at by some trial and error and also observation, when the water runs clear, of the carp’s reaction to terminal setups – and don’t forget these are pretty much virgin carp.
Joe’s 3lb test curve rod – which I thought might be over gunned but wasn’t – was teamed with a big Daiwa reel loaded with 12lb fluorocarbon. At the business end an Albright Knot connected a very short – no more than 40mm – length of braid to the hook which was baited with two grains of maize on a hair, no lead at all, we were freelining.
Joe proceeded to sharpen the hook, this attention to detail was all part of the fun for him, and I have to say that after looking through the eyeglass I was amazed at the before and after result. The bolt effect in this setup is effectively created by the sharpness of the hook and we were good to go.
The bait was flicked out, no more than six feet from the bank in five feet of water, in a river getting on for 160 metres wide. Line was pulled off the reel to create a big bow and the rod was carefully placed on the alarm. I say carefully for a reason because once again Joe’s attention to detail had come up with an ingenious way of dealing with the savage takes.
The alarm Joe uses is an early Steve Neville model which has a round protrusion on the front that fits perfectly into a 35mm butt ring. So it’s a simple task to ease the ring over so that the rod becomes fixed to the front rest. No matter how vicious the take the rod stays in the alarm and that is exactly what happened.
No more than fifteen minutes after dropping the bait in the edge the alarm was singing and line was pouring out and I pulled into my first Aussie carp!
A lively tussle ensued, the fish have plenty of water to go at and it’s pretty much snag free, but it didn’t take too long before the beautifully coloured and conditioned fish was in the net, we did weigh the fish, although it hardly seemed necessary and 16lb was the satisfying result.
The day progressed and lots more fish came to the net, I wasn’t really counting but we must have reached double figures, and they were mostly all peas in a pod, the largest weighed in at 18lb and was the last one before we packed up around six.
Joe’s largest from here is 27lb and he has had many days when half a dozen twenties have come to the net in a few hours, its good fishing!
There are a handful of expats who take the carp fishing seriously but as Joe told me and proved to me there is no need for the high tech stuff, this is fun fishing in wild surroundings, lizards, snakes and spiders are more likely to visit your swim than mice and robins!
I’m hoping the floods don’t prevent me having another go before I return home, not only for the fishing but the superb company I enjoyed. Joe is planning a trip to the UK this coming summer and I will be looking forward to returning the compliment on my rivers, for barbel!
Two and a half hours after we said goodbye I was back in Manly, tired and wet and with an aching arm but with many memories of a fantastic day in the Aussie wilderness.
Now for part two of I’m a Household Name…Let Me In !
In this installment I want to run through the names I consider to be some of the personalities and household names in the barbel world, apologies if I’ve missed anyone out but the names I’ve included are the ones that immediately spring to my mind, as I said last time no doubt there are lots of others who spring to yours.
So, in alphabetical order here we go:
• Len Arbery – One of the old school, very well respected as much on the barbel scene as in the carp world, check out his excellent book, Barbel For Life.
• John Bailey – Really needs no introduction from me, been around for a long time and in my book would probably be considered one of the very few celebrities.
• Jon Berry – His book, A Can of Worms has cemented his place as far as I’m concerned.
• Martin Bowler – Another who needs no words from me save to add that he too is a candidate for celebrity status.
• Archie Braddock – A great character and with his penchant for bait flavourings more than warrants inclusion.
• Bob Buteux – Bob’s exploits from years gone by and his standing on the scene have secured his place; he is liked and respected by all.
• Duncan Charman – Relatively new but his outstanding captures and writing has made his name known to all barbel anglers.
• Stuart Court – Phenomenal catches at Adams Mill secure his place.
• Graham Elliott – Many anglers have benefitted from Graham’s help and are now seasoned barbel fishers.
• Paul Garner – The Doc! Brilliant all-rounder, well respected and liked by all.
• Tony Gibson – As above and with the added bonus of being the captor of the first 20lb barbel.
• Matt Hayes – A true celebrity angler and top bloke.
• Martin Hooper – His Wessex river exploits are known by all.
• Stef Horak – The absolute master at particle fishing.
• Bob James – A Passion For Angling has secured his place.
• Martin James – Dressing up as Isaac Walton has left an indelible memory!
• Ade Kiddell – His European exploits have only added to a great reputation.
• Graham King – Forever associated with The Traveller, and a record that will last a long time.
• Gary Knowles – North West’s finest, well liked and respected.
• Howard Maddocks – Meatballs, the record and the Severn and just a top bloke.
• Graham Marsden – What can I say? Legendary status is duly accorded.
• Dave Mason – Another top bloke, his conservation work on the Teme has only cemented a massive reputation, get well soon.
• Sean Meeghan – Has built a solid reputation on the Northern rivers and is an excellent writer.
• Roger Miller – The Complete Barbel Angler
• Gary Newman – Angler’s Mail main man, well-liked and respected, a young gun made good!
• Tim Norman – Terry Lampard’s right hand man and equally adept at catching monsters.
• Andy Orme – Abroad now but one of the top guys in the eighties and early nineties.
• Chris Ponsford – Larger than life character, plenty of big barbel to his name.
• Bob Roberts – Even more larger than life! His film work has enhanced his reputation in the barbel world, and the number one blogger as well!
• Keith Speer – Iconic barbel captures in the snow as well as fantastic club work.
• Steve Stayner – There can’t be many barbel anglers who haven’t read one of his books.
• Lee Swords – Now well established and another larger than life character with amazing catches and the tales to tell.
• Chris Turnbull – As well as the captures, the paintings, the work with NACA on the Wensum has made his name.
• Stu Walker – Bob’s right hand man and catcher of many fine barbel and well-liked and respected.
• Ian Welch – RMC / CEMEX Angling established his name, Angler’s Mail enhanced it and Fishing Magic continues a fine reputation.
• Jon Wolfe – An early Yorkshire stalwart and pioneer, a Barbel Catcher through and through.
• Mick Woods – A later Yorkshire catcher, his writings have done much to spread the word for the Northern rivers.
So the above names would be added to the first list I produced in my last Diary and, don’t forget, there are the handful of names I consider to be legends and they are detailed in my legends feature.
Next time out I’ll be adding the young guns who are making their mark, the reluctant personalities and I’ll be talking about the way the Internet has created its own set of forum personalities, the Facebook phenomenon and the bloggers who have sprung up and finally, endeavoring to sum it all up.
Have a fantastic end of the season, I’m more than a little envious reading of the barbel catches being made now the weather has improved but life is not bad over here, although it’s not all holiday, being a Grandad certainly tires you out!