meta name="verify-v1" content="d7PFNk6IiaDiPnshLwmCM9E/oeJhyyogsTh9thA/Ap0=" /> Lumbland

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Walking the dog down memory lane

The cupboards were bare, the sun was shining and the lawn needed scything. It was time to get my priorities right. Time to go fishing. Carrying on with this season's policy of pioneering. Well, fishing away from the banker swims, I headed for the scene of the capture of my longest standing (albeit unweighed) personal best. I have a very good visual memory but the lane to the river looked different to how I remembered it from what must have been thirty-five years ago (give or take). The dwellings were far more gentrified. However the hedge line angling to the gate, although more manicured, was just the same. The metal gate, though, was gone.

I'm sure the island was further upstream in the 1970s

It was hard to figure out exactly where I had sat on my wicker basket and trotted my float all those years ago. Partly because the river was carrying at least two feet of strong-tea-with-a-dash-of-milk coloured water. I think I found the tree that had shaded me. What was that PB? It was gudgeon. And it was a gudgeon, not a baby barbel. Barbel, even when small, have an aggressive look about them. Gudgeon are friendly, almost cuddly. Not unlike the border collie that greeted me as I stepped out of the car.

The sky had clouded over but it was still warm and muggy despite the wind. I donned my fishing boots and in t-shirt order set off upstream. My new found companion leading the way, stick in mouth. There were two anglers on the bank and they had both caught barbel. Not surprising as the conditions looked ideal. They said the river was falling. That should mean less weed coming down. Now to find a swim to fish.


Being unfamiliar with this part of the river I walked well upstream. Sweating as I went. Stooping to pick up my pal's stick now and then. It's hard to judge a length of river when it's carrying extra water, but a few spots looked worth a dabble. Those further up river would have to wait for another time. I wasn't carting all my gear back up there after my exertions. I turned round and retraced my steps, this time ignoring the stick bearer's pleading eyes. There were two places I really fancied, I might fish one then move into the other. Rain was forecast, however, and that might scupper the plan. As might the falling level which could make one, or both, of the swims a waste of time.

At the car I had a breather. Swigged some pop (unlike some I couldn't run down to the river for a drink on my way back) and had a couple of bites of a Lion Bar - watched droolingly by you-know-who.

My new best mate - for a while

As I did my Sherpa impression through the field I was glad to have shaken off a chest infection that had been slowing me down for over a month. I wasn't out of breath by the time I carted my tackle down the bank between the rank balsam. The furry one had bounded off ahead and was being stroked by one of the other anglers when I passed him by. How fickle dogs are. They'll be anyone's best buddy for a bit of attention. I never saw her again.

My first task was to clip a lead to the snap link on my new dropper rod and have a feel about. The depth seemed acceptable judging by the time it took for the lead to settle. It wasn't pulling out of position when I held the rod steady - it was only 3oz - and the bottom seemed snag free.

I'd selected the swim because the flow was almost a crease. I say almost because there was no defined crease line, but there was a definite increase in pace further out. A rod length and a half from the bank was where I intended placing my baits. That's where I put in five droppers of pellets. The new rod doing just what I hoped it would.

Banksticks were set up, rigs baited, pellet bags added and out they went. An 8mm crab Pellet-O downstream, the feed having gone in slightly downstream of my fishing position, and an Oyster and Mussel boilie upstream away from the feed. After making my camp comfortable I filled some more mesh bags with pellets. After half an hour, just as a light rain began to fall at quarter to four, the downstream rod hooped over and the baitrunner purred its sweet sound. That was a good start. A smallish barbel was quickly returned and the rod recast. I'd managed to get the brolly up just before the fish came along, which was a good move as the rain soon got heavier.

Fifteen minutes later I was in again on the same rod. This time the hook came free. It was quicker to wind the upstream rod in and cast it where the two bites had come from than to rebait and recast because I thought a shoal might have moved in. Then the pellet was cast upstream. The rain had stopped but I left the umbrella up as more was forecast to arrive in the evening.

I was now pretty confident of non-stop action. It was over half an hour later when the upstream rod took off - shortly after I had swapped the two rods round again. A more dogged fish that hung motionless under the rod top at one stage. The extra flow was assisting the fish making them feel bigger than they turned out to be. A nice eight and half pounder, even so.

It was quarter past seven before I had another bite. This time to an S-Pellet on the upstream rod. Another dogged fish, in the seven-plus bracketBy now the rain had arrived in earnest. It was already starting to look like dusk. By eight thirty it was pretty well dark. The river was noticeably lower by then. It had been dropping about an inche an hour. I thought I'd try casting the baits a little further out. At ten past nine the upstream rod, by now back on a boilie, was off again as I was resting my eyes! Moving the bait seemed to have done the trick.

The rain was persistent and heavy. At times it looked like the artificial rain you see in movies as it swept across the river in vertical bands. It was making listening to the radio difficult too! Just before ten, after I'd swapped the pellet for a 10mm Tuna Wrap (I have more confidence in them now), the downstream rod was in action again. Another little scampette.

I was starting to get a bit fed up of the swim now the rain had turned the soil to grease. My tramplings weren't helping matters. It was becoming a bit of a quagmire. Despite the rain it was still quite enjoyable. Apart from the mud. I started to tidy up the rucksack. Almost everything was zipped away when I was disturbed by the unmistakable sound of a barbel making off with a Tuna Wrap. I was able to grab my rods without leaving my chair, so I did just that. I then engaged the gears and pulled into the fish. As I stood up my feet were lubricated by the slimy mud beneath them and I slid down the bank onto my arse. I was on my back like an overturned beetle, being rained on and holding a rod with it's tip bent towards the river as a barbel thrashed maniacally on the end of the line.

Somehow I managed to gain an upright position and regain control of the fish, and my senses. It was another wee one that had used the flow to it's advantage. I think a double might have dragged me in! I put the bait back out while I packed everything else away, then wound in and trudged my way to the car park. The rain had all but stopped, of course.

Quite a pleasing session. Six barbel landed on a first visit. No monsters, but I never turn my nose up at an eight pound barbel or two. Four different baits had caught, further reinforcing my belief that bait is not the most important issue to consider in barbel fishing. No doubt with all that rain the river will be on the way up again, and with the weather predicted to be unsettled that might be the pattern for the rest of the week.

The drive out of the valley was like so many in previous years, along shiny wet tarmac littered with leaves and twigs blown from the trees by the autumnal winds. And yet it was still August. Is this climate change at play?

Before the rain arrived I had a mess around with the video facility of my compact camera. I tried to get footage of me playing a barbel, but failed. I had to settle for some badly framed unhooking and weighing action before the memory card filled up. I don't think Bob and Stu have much to fear. At least not until I get a proper video camera...


I'm sure the barbel police won't like the video. Well, they know what they can do with their truncheons!

Labels: ,

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sitting by a river throwing in pellets*

Although England managed to bat for longer than I thought they would the collapse still arrived before I'd finished whipping all my rods. Nonetheless, despite the day turning cloudy and threatening rain, I stuffed an early tea down my neck, left the brolly at home and headed for the river.

First stop was to look at a new-to-me length and have a walk. Even with the overcast I worked up quite a sweat. Then headed off to visit my feathery friends. It wasn't long after I'd set out my stall that they arrived, milling around in the edge waiting for the pellets they knew were coming. They were the only companions I had as the river was deserted. It looked as if the stretch had seen a bit of stick over the weekend though, with trampled grass in a few places.

With the baits out I sat back to relax with a brew. I was idly watching the rod tips when I heard rustling and a quiet 'peeping' sound in the grass to my right. The feathery horde wasn't satisfied and wanted more. There are two missing from the brood since I first made their acquaintance but the remainder are almost fully grown now. Even so, mum still keeps a watchful eye out for them.


Beware - ducks!

It took me by surprise when the downstream rod sprang into life. It only felt like a small fish but was proving difficult to get under control. When I saw the boilie hanging from a pectoral I knew why - it was foulhooked. With the river low and, more importantly, clear it was vividly coloured. Bright coral fins and deeply brassy scales. A fish for the future.

Dusk still lingers with hatches of flies coming off the river, but the long shadows come earlier. Summer is showing signs of drawing to a close now. Swallows were flying high, far above the wood on the far bank, leaves now turned dark shades of green with hints of autumnal browns in places.

I had pulled the upstream rod out of a snag, fraying the hooklink, and was tying up a second spare one after recasting when that rod was away. A decent fish by the feel of it. A well filled out none pounder as it turned out. Fifteen minutes later the same rod jagged down a few times and I lifted into a fish that felt equally good. Then it fell off. I'm still not convinced by the S5 hooks in smaller sizes for barbel fishing.

Half an hour went by when a sharp take to the downstream rod stopped suddenly, then the tip jabbed again. I expected an eel, so a small chub was a pleasant surprise. A fresh bait was attached to the hair and recast. Barely had I sat down again and the same rod was in action again. No chub this one. Immediately I picked up the rod and bent into the fish it took line. Always a good sign.

Sure enough, it was a cracker. Another solid and chunky fish. The bigger fish have lost their early season flabbiness and with the clear water are looking good.

Throw pellets out, wind barbel in...

When I was returning the fish I noticed that it had a slightly deformed barbel. I'll have to check back through my photos to see if it's a fish I've caught before. [Yes I have and at the same weight. Which is odd as it's on the web at over a pound heavier... Must buy some new scales!]

A closer look

There were some strange noises coming from the far bank woods after dark. The first was a rather loud bark. Just one. Then later there were sounds of things crashing through the undergrowth. This didn't sound like deer, which can sometimes crack a twig or two. Maybe badgers, they can be less than subtle at times. One thing I doubt was causing the noise was the big black cat that I have heard is prowling the valley. It's strange how talk of big cats sometimes spooks you. Last time out I packed up early because I couldn't get the animal out of my mind and kept looking over my shoulder! This time it didn't bother me. Even though I'd had an unexpected feline encounter as I approached the river.

Coming down the bank I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of something stalking in the long grass by the river. It's long tail twitching in anticipation. How amazing that I had only heard of the 'panther' a few days before and there I was, face to tail with..

...a small white kitten that bounded off in fear as soon as it became aware of me!

I was too lazy to fill any more pva bags of pellets, so when the last one was used up I started to tidy the gear away at eleven thirty. Five minutes into this process the upstream rod was off again! Just a small one, but nice to finish the session off. Why low and clear conditions put people off I really don't know. Barbel can be caught, and in daylight too. Okay, the biggest fish of the session came after dark, but I'd had a couple before the headtorch was required. Still, I'm not grumbling.

* With apologies to John Gierach

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Review - Sensas Easy Loop

Some time ago I mentioned a new toy. It was a Sensas Easy Loop. Two of them actually as there are two sizes in a pack. They look a bit like a cross between a small green, deformed, hockey-stick and a crochet hook. How they ever came to be designed I don't know, they are fiendishly clever.

Sensas Easy Loop

The smaller size makes loops that are good on the end of a hair rig and the larger one loops that go well on the end of a hooklink. The instructions are not too easy to follow and there is a bit of a knack to using the tool. But once you have the knack you can tie loops faster than you can by hand - small, neat, 'same size every time' loops. When you get the length of spare line that is required correct you can tie up quite short hooklinks.

I tested a loop tied with two twists in some 10lb braid against the hand-tied figure eight loop I have been using for some time on my hooklinks. I ran the test three times in fresh lengths of braid and the Easy Loop knot survived every time. I was so impressed I bought myself another pair to keep in my stillwater box.

The video below isn't intended to show how to use the Easy Loop, but to demonstrate how it lives up to its name.

Although I used orange Dacron for the video the Easy Loop works well with Spectra braids and, possibly even better, with nylon mono.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Like shelling peas

I'll not give a blow by blow account of my latest barbel-bagging session. No pics either as the fish were mostly on the small side and it was too hectic at times to get the camera out!

It had been a warm and dry day for a change, so I headed to the river in the evening. The river was down a couple of feet and dropping slowly, but still nicely coloured. I fancied a fish in daylight, but with the nights starting to draw in fast it was starting to get dark by eight. It still took over an hour for the first fish to come along. Then it was followed by nine more at regular intervals until I packed up after five hours.

Most takes were coming to the upstream rod fishing a 'snake'. After I lost a fish on the downstream rod while rebaiting the snake rod I swapped them over. This was to see if it was the bait that was successful or the positioning of it. The upstream rod continued to get the most action - even when I put on a Tuna Wrap! I'd only had chub on the wraps last season, but the rod tip had just shown the bait had settled when it started bouncing again. An almost instant take. Followed by another on the recast!

The final fish of the night, and the biggest at a few ounces under nine pounds, came to a snake fished downstream and across. I'm not sure what conclusions to draw from all that. One interesting thing, bearing in mind the video footage below, was one take that started out as a series of 'chub' knocks, then developed into a full blown run. Then again, judging by the way the barbel picks up a double hook bait and drops it the 'snake' shouldn't catch anything. Don't get fooled by everything you see fish do on screen or you'll have a crisis of confidence so bad you'll give up!

This area I've been fishing has been good fun. The learning process isn't up to much though. Chuck anything at them and they'll have it. Definitely time to go exploring new areas - or hunting bigger fish elsewhere.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Snakes alive

Yesterday I went for a look at a stretch of the Ribble I hadn't fished before. There were four anglers fishing who had caught a couple of barbel between them. The river level was about normal with the colour well dropped out. After walking the banks I plonked my gear in between the anglers, there was plenty of space, and started a slow setting up.

Not having a clue what I might find in front of me I cast an unbaited rig out to see if it would hold. Three ounces didn't shift, so that was okay. It felt like there was a bit of a channel, so casting to the far bank didn't look like it would be worth the effort. The angler downstream of me was casting just short of mid river, and he landed a fish shortly before dusk. I put my baits out a little further to what looked like a change in the flow pattern - although the upstream wind ruffling the surface might have fooled me.

The chub taps started when it had gone dark. By half past nine the river was just the way I like it - deserted. More chub bites came to the pellet snake. At ten thirty another chub bite developed and kept on developing, turning into a small barbel of four or five pounds when I wound down to it. Five 8mm Crab flavour Pellet-Os fished as a 'snake' did the job.

Success for the 'snake'

The evening turned damp, with light drizzle hissing on the brolly, but it was still mild. The swim was quite comfortable for the Ribble, being grassy and almost flat. My boots soon had it turned into a mud slide though. Still, you can't have everything.

By now the bats were out and it looked like I was getting a few bat bites on the downstream rod. Just before eleven one of them turned into something more positive and I was attached to a fish that felt a bit bigger than the first one. There was a weight on the end of the line all right, but it wasn't doing much fighting. Straight in the net it was a pleasing fish for a first session on a length of river. A little bit lean, and judging from it's mouth a regular visitor to the bank. The drizzle stopped briefly and I took two quick snaps.

What big hands you have Grandma!

I fished on until just before midnight. The air was dry so I put the brolly away, packed up the rucksack, and then started to get wet as the rain returned. Picking up the 'snake' rod I got an instant reminder of one of the many 'pleasures' of fishing the Ribble. I could feel the writhing of a small 'snake' of another kind. Sure enough there was a bootlace eel, foulhooked in the middle of its back, on the end. Over the years I have foul hooked numerous eels of all sizes on hair rigged baits on the Ribble. Almost always they are just there when you wind in, invariably following a few 'chub bites' and a period of inactivity. I have no idea how they manage to hook themselves half way along their slithery bodies, but they do.

With the slimy mess sorted out the second rod was wound in uneventfully and I headed home with the windscreen wipers on all the way back.

A quick addition having seen a link to the following clip which might be of interest on Barbel Fishing World.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Underwater Ireland

I stumbled across a link to today and found some cracking underwater photos of fish. There are also some good videos of fish in the clear waters of Irish loughs and canals which are most easily viewed on YouTube. Here's one.

By the way if you have Lumbland bookmarked, or have a link to it on your site, please change the address to It's taken me ages (and much tearing out of my remaining hair) to work out how to get the new domain name to function with all the pages displaying correctly, but I think it does now!

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, February 01, 2008

It's better than work....

They say a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work. I'm not so sure when it blows a hooligan, with a sleet shower or five thrown in for good measure! As I wasn't able to get on with any work I set off for the commercial again. To cut a long story short I landed no perch and nine small carp. If I hadn't set up my Aqua brolly I doubt I'd have lasted until four thirty with the day the way it was.

The first eight carp took double red maggot, or double red maggot and a bit of red rig foam cut to a maggoty shape. The ninth took a prawn - which I had put on to avoid the carp.


Although it was a wild and woolly day, and I failed to contact any of my target species, I did enjoy it in a masochistic way. But had I hung on until dark I think that enjoyment would have waned.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A month's a long time

At last I managed to drag myself to the river almost a month since my last session. Now all the leaves were gone from the riverside willows and a flood a few weeks back had cleared away most of the remains of last summer's bankside vegetation. It was truly a bare and wintry scene. But not unappealing. After a couple of days rain I thought the river might be well up and coloured. It was up a little, carrying some colour and just about warm enough to give me hope. Within twenty minutes a chub pinched my luncheon meat. Then things started to go down hill.

The next three quarters of an hour were spent with the bait in a snag. I got the rig back and moved. During the afternoon I fished four more swims without a touch. Although the air temperature was around seven degrees and the sun was shining it felt a lot colder owing to the wind. When a shower came along I risked the brolly and it was quite pleasant sat in its shelter. However I noticed that there was debris starting to accumulate on the line, one or two branches were coming down the river, and it was on the rise.

Walking into the wind to fish a fifth swim was quite a struggle. But once set up again it was fairly cosy with the brolly up. Then the rain set in. This made it all very miserable. The wind also strengthened. This made it extremely unpleasant. Had it not been so wet and windy I'd have stayed later, but I was indeed 'glad when I had had enough'!

So strong was the wind that on the way back to the car I had to stop twice as gusts hit me as I could hardly make any progress against them.

The video clip doesn't do the weather justice.


Labels: , ,

Monday, November 05, 2007

Where have all the barbel gone

My last trip of October resulted in one four pound chub. The water temperature was up on the previous session, but I had missed out on the river rising a bit during the week. That's my excuse. That or poor location. Fished four swims, two I hadn't fished before and learned a bit for the future. So not a total waste.

The same can be said of my first trip for November on a stretch I had been meaning to fish all autumn. Walking the length I found four cracking areas, all different in their own ways. Two look like they'd be worth fishing earlier in the season, but the others have slower flow and more depth. One looks particularly pikey.

The day started foggy but cleared and warmed up. The Trent was plenty warm enough and in the afternoon the chub were active. Only one was caught but I had feared the slower water might be full of the beggars. Just before dark the mist started to rise from the water and hover over the fields. This knocked my confidence as I can't remember catching anything when the river has been shrouded in mist. I fished on until six by which time the landmark I had picked out to use to cut across the field to the gate was invisible! Undeterred I set off to take the long route back following the edge of the river. I hadn't gone far when the mist started to clear and I managed to spot the landmark.

By the time I got to the gate the mist was all but gone, so I dropped in another swim intending to give it a few hours. After less than one the far bank had disappeared from view! So I wrapped up and started the a foggy journey home.

I thought I'd try out the video facility on my pocket digital camera. So here are the edited 'highlights' for your delectation!


Rubbish, innit?

Labels: ,