Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Welcome to my blog...

I hope you enjoy my tales from the riverbank I intend to update this blog each time I venture out and, as you may have gathered, I'm a keen angler and enjoy getting out fishing as often as I can.

If you've stumbled across this blog then it may well bore you to tears unless you're also an angler in which case please read on and feel free to comment.

Tight lines,


River Dane 18th June 2011 my first ever barbel 3lb 8oz........magic!!

The story so far......

I've written a more historical 'story so far' in my profile but to summarise I returned to fishing a couple of years ago and after renewing my tackle started on day ticket waters within an hour or so of Liverpool. It was a steep learning curve for me and was necessary to bring my angling up to modern day standards, not that I was a complete novice nor was I an expert but somewhere in between. To me fishing is like riding a bike and once mastered is never really forgotten however so much had changed in the past 30 years that I felt it necessary to start from scratch and put the stabilisers back on so to speak.

Of course what has well and truly arrived in the past 30 years is the Internet and much content has been added about angling so being an (ageing) computer user I started researching fishing and found an incredible amount of information freely available to the novice angler.

I still use the web as my weapon of choice whether it's looking for advice on rigs and tackle, finding out river levels or weather forecasts or simply buying stuff, it's an 'always on' resource that shouldn't be ignored.

In the later part of 2010 a chance conversation with a work colleague revealed we where both keen anglers and as such we embarked on a number of fishing trips together which I'm pleased to say guided me back to fishing on rivers in search of chub and barbel.

We purchased a local angling club card with a decent stretch on the river Ribble in Lancashire and set off on our first outing with much enthusiasm and (on my part) little idea of what lay ahead. To be honest I don't think either of us caught, it was early November and the Ribble was in full flow but I remember sitting on our chosen pegs and thinking 'it doesn't get much better than this'

The next couple of months where much of the same, trips to the Ribble, beautiful surroundings.........blank. However a solo trip one cold but bright Decembers morning did result in my first fish from the Ribble and it was a chub weighing in at a respectable 5lb, I managed a self take picture but it didn't turn out too well and I just wanted to get the chevin back so please forgive me for the poor photo below.

Ribble Chub 5lb and a new PB...but bad self take photo!!

We did have one last trip to a commercial just to get a bend in the rod but it was my mate Mr Ward that saved a certain blank with this lovely double figure common we nick named 'half tail'

Rob with a double figure common we named 'half tail'

The last trip to the Ribble in 2010 for me was a Christmas jolly, full of the festivities and itching to get out I headed off after de-icing the car and travelling along very snowy roads I arrived at 7am. The dash displayed minus 10 degrees and I remember thinking 'I hope the river isn't frozen solid' and 'I wonder if my life insurance is up to date!!'

I set off on the half mile walk across crisp virgin snow and bumped into the farmer exercising his dog 'if that car is still there tomorrow mate call the mountain rescue team will yer' I said as we passed, he laughed and said the rivers not frozen solid but there are massive ice rafts floating downstream like something out of the movie Titanic!!

Undeterred I pressed on and setup on my chosen swim, oddly enough there wasn't another angler to be seen on the bank for miles! I moved swims a few times during the day if only to warm up my feet which despite thermal socks became detached from the rest of my body after an hour. A few safety checks via text from Mr Ward established I hadn't yet fallen in but it was very slippy under foot and the banks on the Ribble are steep at the best of times.

In the afternoon I moved back upstream to an outcrop of pebbles we call 'the beach' and setup for the last time, it was about 2:30pm and would be dark in 2 hours so I didn't want to hang about into the night. I realised that the chance of a fish was very unlikely but from that vantage point I took some photos which depict the beauty of a river in winter. I also spotted a deer on the far bank tottering around in the snow looking for scraps of food, you certainly don't see that on a commercial fishery.

Anyway I'll leave the story so far with a few pictures from that great day on a semi-frozen Ribble and pick up the saga with my next tale 2011 - New challenges ahead.


2 rods on the Ribble, far bank is where I spotted the deer.

View downstream from 'the beach' ice rafts drifting

View upstream from 'the beach' massive island of ice mid-way across

Sunset - time to get back to the car for a warm and go home!!

2011 - New challenges ahead......

Once I'd thawed out from my last trip to the river Ribble at Christmas it was time to decide on how I'd approach my fishing in the forthcoming year. After much discussion with my fishing partner, Mr Ward, I decided to look at local angling clubs with waters close(ish) to Liverpool or at least within an hour by car. In the end it was narrowed down to a couple and a few phone calls and e-mails later I settled on Lymm Angling Club which as the home page says below is:

'Where ordinary people catch extraordinary fish' 

Right click and select 'Open link in new tab' to visit Lymm Anglers

Thank you to the members of the 'other' fishing club who advised that as 'I'd only fished commercials you'd better join Lymm cos you're not yet ready for our big fish and Lymm is a good stepping stone!!' My how I now laugh at the self importance of those anglers.....thanks guys you did me a very big favour and I don't think I'll be seeing you or your 'big' fish anytime soon.

Indeed my experience so far of LAC is a very positive one, they have a good (closed to members) forum community, some magnificent waters and believe it or not some very big fish which happen to be of the finest quality any angler could wish to catch :)

So having spent most of January 'fettling' my tackle and grabbing some January sale bargains (well it would be rude not to) I signed up to Lymm via their website and printed off my Paypal receipt as membership cards and the all important club key could take a few weeks to arrive.

The later presented a small problem as I'd read so much about 'the jewel in the crown' Lymm Vale I just had to fish it, even if I blanked my first impression of a Lymm water had to be the dogs danglies or nowt.

Now one of the nice blokes that had spent over an hour on the phone talking about the club and encouraging me to join happened to be the Head of Estates Maintenance (Peter O) and he very kindly offered me an advance copy of 'the key' for two of my English pounds........bargain so off to the Vale I went....

4th February 2011 - Lymm Vale

Lymm Vale - The jewel in the LAC crown

Wow......was the first word out of my mouth after parking up at 5am and looking across the Vale, what a fantastic water!! A couple of over-nighters emerged from their bivvys to see who had arrived early doors and no doubt I'd ruined any chance of a lie in for them. I left all the gear in the car and wandered past the hut walking around the water in a clockwise direction. Eventually I came across the lads in the double bivvy swim and stopped for a brief chat, they'd had a decent tench the evening before but nothing since, a quick exchange of the usual angling conversation and I was back to the car to collect my gear.

I'd settled on the Boat House swim whilst wandering around just because it looked very inviting and would easily accommodate my day shelter (remember the January sales?)

Lymm Vale - View from the day shelter on a bleak February afternoon

Back in the car park and I met another 2 early morning anglers who introduced themselves as father and son Barry and well... Barry which to a scouser in a curly wig and a mustache means Bah and Bah, well dad Barry said he mostly goes fishing with his son to take the photographs of his sons captures to which son Barry (Chequebook you know who you are!!) agreed 'that's pretty much the way it goes!!'

The swans having a nose around in the shallows

Both Bah and Bah setup on either side of me and it was good crack all day with plenty of much appreciated advice freely given (from them, obviously not me!) In the end I called it a day well into dark at about 9:30pm, after my day shelter blew away for the second time, no bites not even a sniff but not before the scream of a bite alarm broke through the howling wind and Barry senior ended his blank run with a famous Lymm Vale tinca from the far bank on a Robin Red pop-up, well done Bah senior. Son Bah junior willingly took the photo and I called it a night, driving home completely knackered but on a high, I couldn't wait to get back to the Vale and hook into my first Lymm fish.

18th February 2011 - Lymm Vale

Undeterred by a blank two weeks previously I set off again for the clubs flagship water Lymm Vale. This time I had an idea on where I fancied trying and headed straight for the swim I had in mind. The Bench swim is at the furthest point from the car park of the 4 acre former quarry pit, it's a decent sized peg with steps leading down to the waters edge.

I was soon setup and decided to cast out no more than 25 yards in front of me, I was fishing for the famous Vale tench so double maggot on the hook and a block end feeder where my first choice. As the feeder landed I heard another angler to my left shout 'Hey mate I've got leads out there on the far bank' Jesus, I thought, that doesn't leave me anywhere to go!! His mate came over shortly after and explained they'd been there since Thursday morning and would be gone by lunchtime, he also told me he'd baited up an area to my right so being a 'newbie' I agreed to fish the area to my right till lunchtime. That situation wouldn't arise now as the club have brought in a very sensible rule restricting casting to the half way point across the lake.

You look familiar!!

The day came and went without as much as a sniff but I could see the carp topping in the far right hand corner well out of reach of the anglers on the bivvy pegs and despite every ones best efforts there seemed to be little or no action happening anywhere.

I decided to fish a few more hours into darkness and when it came time to pack up didn't want to leave so a quick text home and I was back to the car for the bivvy, bed chair and all important sleeping bag, this was to be my first overnighter.

By the time I'd got everything setup it was getting on for 10pm so I had something to eat and set the rods up for the night, I cast the left hand rod straight ahead again about 25 yards out and the right hand rod a bit closer in and over to the corner where I'd baited up in the daytime.

I'd set the alarm for an early start and was hoping the tench would start feeding at first light but despite my best efforts I was to leave the Vale empty handed for the second time. I packed up around lunchtime and headed home, it had been a great experience but I can't help thinking I'd set the bar very high trying to catch on one of the clubs hardest waters.

March to May 2011 - Trying other LAC waters

I decided to leave Lymm Vale for another time and instead set about trying out some of the other great waters available on the card.

With the imminent arrival of closed season on the rivers and a restricted 'over stamp only' closed season on most of the popular club waters I decided to try a couple of the available ‘all year round’ waters in an effort to see out the time until the rivers re-opened in June.

Milton Brook

The club map book describes this water as "this superb fishery offers quality carp action, holding a good stock of fish from a few pounds through to mid doubles and low-twenties. Roach are present too along with rudd, tench and crucian and carp”

Sunset at Milton Brook

My target was my first twenty and I remembered Chequebook and his dad saying how Milton Brook was a 'runs water' so I decided to give it ago and setup to the left of the car park because a previous visit for a look around had told me the venue is typical of a man-made farm water; very flat with little or no features and therefore exposed to the wind which at that time came in from the left so I wanted the wind on my back if only to allow me the protection of a brolly if it was blowing a gale.

The session started off well with a run within the first hour but I lost it on the strike and I kept feeding the swim to try and induce a take again but it wasn’t to be so I packed up in the early evening and headed home. I would definitely return to Milton Brook but for the time being the intrigue of other waters leads me to my next target Grimsditch Mill Pool

Grimsditch Mill Pool

This was to be my venue of choice for the remainder of the closed season for a number of reasons. The venue nestles in the heart of the Cheshire countryside and is easily accessible within 30 minutes of Liverpool and it was recommended by ‘Smiler’ who happened to be the water keeper in more recent times.

It is described as “developed by the club from an area of swamp in the early 1980’s. At just over an acre in size, with small islands, lily pads, and abundant marginal plant life and surrounded by overhanging trees it is quite idyllic and provides fishing to match is appearance. Carp, bream, roach and tench abound and in the summer months sport can be hectic. Orfe and catfish are also present”

Grimsditch Mill Pool

I wasn’t disappointed and decided to make this venue my home until the river season started again in June. In total I spent a number of nights and days on Grimsditch and although I didn’t bag up on each occasion I did have a few good fish along the way. My best carp was a lovely 9lb common and I had tench to 3lb 8oz as well as roach to around the 1lb mark so it remains a definite favourite in my book.

Birds eye view of 'The Ditch'

Well if the fish aren't interested...................

..................I know someone who is!!

Thank you, that will do nicely!!!

A new PB tench at 3lb 8oz..........well pleased!!!!

2 weeks later and on the opposite bank............

............a friend returns for some freebies!!!

Woodside Pool

Woodside Pool is a mixed fishery and provides a base for the junior section of club. In April my young lad Adam attended a free academy teaching session. We had a great day starting off on single maggot on a size 22 hook a rod length out and Adam started getting into the Rudd, only tiddlers but he kept count and announced he'd caught 50 by lunchtime.

Adam with one of 50 golden rudd caught on single maggot on a size 22 hook

The afternoon was spent at the far end of the pool where I managed my first grass carp at 3.5lb and Adam got into the larger silvers.

Dad concentrating with sweetcorn...

A great day was had by all and thank you to the organisers and volunteers especially Nev who taught Adam to bait his own hook with maggot which now saves me having to do it for him!!

River season - glorious 16th......

Well the 16th fell on a workday so it was glorious 18th for me and my first trip to a LAC river. With so much choice it was a difficult decision but eventually I decided on the Daisybank stretch of the river Dane.

Daisybank resident swans..........I'll come back to that later.

18th June 2011 - Daisybank River Dane

I'd set the alarm for 3am but it made little difference to me, last time I looked at the clock it was 1:30am so with the car loaded up I was off for my first taste of the river since January.

I arrived at Daisybank at 4:30am and parked, as instructed in the waters map book, next to the cattle sheds. The (not so) friendly dog emerged from it's kennel and waited patiently for me to pass by. Although I brought my waders it was such a perfect June dawn I decided that walking shoes would do and I'd come back for the waders later...........big mistake!!

Loaded up with all the 'essentials' I headed off for the river at which point the 'friendly' dog decided to lunge at me and have me for breakfast, like something out of a Tom and Jerry cartoon I froze and watched 'Butch' reach the end of his chain only a foot from my ankles. Ha I thought as I confidently carried on into the cattle yard not scared of you matey.

At this point the cows had started to mooch around and I was conscious of the depth of the cow poop as I trod carefully towards the concrete path that leads down to a mid way point on the stretch. After carefully negotiating the electric fence I reached the bottom of the hill and saw the river for the first time. The river was low or at least the drop from the bank was very high and I started to think my idea of baiting 5 swims and returning to the first wasn't really going to happen.

Matt Hayes on the Dane at Daisybank in 2008....note the high banks opposite

I went through the gate and headed to the right hand side to see the whole stretch from upstream to downstream. At was at this point that I started to regret leaving the waders in the car, the cotton pants I had on started to 'wick' up the early morning dew and within 50 yards I was soaked up to my knees, my faithful Karrimor shoes had started to let in water and by the time I reached the start of our stretch I looked like a drowned rat completely wet through and thoroughly cheesed off.

The Dane is famous for being the fastest spate river in the country and can flood without any real warning, when I was there this was evident by the very high banks that looked like the cliff face, you might get down OK but climbing back up is another matter!!

Daisybank in flood..........

After walking the whole length of our stretch I made my way back to the car, enthusiasm was at an all time low, no accessible swims and soaking wet I changed into dry clothing and consulted the map book. Not a chance on here I thought, can't even see where I can land a fish safely and I started to look at directions to the river Severn at Atcham.

It was 6am and another car (well a big truck thingy actually) pulled in behind me, another LAC member I thought as I hauled myself out of the comfort of my car. I greeted the bloke with a very somber 'don't waste yer time here mate you can't even get to any swims down there' at which point he smiled and said 'why's that? I've always manged to find a swim on this stretch'

Oh well I thought best of luck but I'm off to Atcham but he continued to gather his gear and seemed confident of fishing the river so I thought hang on 'sod it, do you mind if I join you?'

'Nope feel free' he said so I quickly gathered my tackle (this time putting my waders on) and set off once again for the river. Eventually we arrived in the left hand field and I settled in a spot I'd noted earlier whilst Indiana Bill continued to beat back the undergrowth further down stream and settled in a wooded area about 30 yards downstream. My swim was on a bend with a deep hole and overhanging trees, definitely going to catch here I thought so with everything setup I started to fish with renewed anticipation.

Within 20 minutes I heard Bill shout 'I'm in!!' so I reeled in both rods and headed off in his general direction. Once I'd made my way through the trees I found a very happy Bill with a chub of around 3lb in his net. The swim had a very sandy bank leading to an opening in the trees and Bill had 2 rods in action, one slightly to the right and the other cast to an overhanging branch to the far left.

I decided to move swims and found a small 'beach' area where I could cast a feeder to the swim on the right of Bill and also wade out and try a bit of trotting using mashed bread for feed and a big chunk of bread flake on the hook.

It started to rain quite heavily and after the downpour a resident family of swans that we'd seen earlier, undeterred by me sharing the river, decided to take a quick bath in front of me.

Daisybank swans having a bath.........

After the bath they decided to have a nap and without any hesitation settled on the little section of beach along side me for the next half hour. I tossed them some sweetcorn and a few pieces of bread and they took them almost as if it was a daily occurrence. The mother swan nestled closely to her 5 cygnets whilst the male swan sat between me and his family obviously guarding them from any danger, it was mother nature in its finest form and, to me, is what river fishing is all about.

...........and then having a snooze

Bill joined me in the swim and we had a chat to a friendly farmer on the opposite bank about a mink we'd seen opposite Bill's swim and the friendly family of swans that had settled on the beach area next to me.

We continued fishing on into the afternoon and Bill managed to get amongst the barbel his best estimated at around the 8lb mark but despite me trying some of Bills famous Hinders pellets I couldn't even get a bite so, being a true gent, Bill offered me the next barbel to take his bait on his rods and in his prime swim............of course I quickly abandoned my swim and jumped at the chance of my first bertie barbel.

I'm not sure how long we waited but suddenly there was line screaming off the bait runner and heading off downstream, I lifted into the run and the rod arched over to absorb the lunges of my first barbel. During a wonderful fight I couldn't believe how powerful this magnificent fish actually is, it seemed to go into many dives for the bottom and under the rod tip it just went ballistic. It's going to come off I thought but next thing Bill had expertly scooped it into the net and I stood looking at my catch.

My first barbel 3lb 8oz...........look at that dorsal !!

Bills fishing partner Cliff had arrived during all the action and we spent the remainder of the session talking about rivers, fishing and all things barbel. I didn't have any more on the bank but I did have a take from a chub which managed to run for cover and dump the hook in a sunken tree but I didn't care I'd caught a barbel and met 2 great blokes all in day so I packed up and went home a very happy angler.

26th June 2011 - Daisybank River Dane

Just a week later I returned to the same swim and just hoped no one had beaten me to it. I arrived at 5am and found the swim was free, I baited up with pellet, corn and hemp. First cast at 6am and barely sat down when 6:01am the rod screamed off and after an exhilarating fight I landed a pristine 6lb 12oz barbel and a new PB.

First cast and a new PB at 6lb early for either of us to smile!!

The swim went quiet after that so I switched to 50g black cap block end feeder and micro pellets and a small mesh PVA bag with hook bait samples and halibut ground bait in. I was deciding whether to move swims when at 1:30pm I was in again, another great fight and I landed a fine 6lb river Dane barbel.

6lb and almost 8 hours since the first.....still can't manage to smile for the camera!!

I had another 6lb er at 3:30 pm and I was hoping the evening would be more productive so I kept the swim topped up with pellets and hemp and sweetcorn.

Barbel no.4 at 16:40 weighing in at 6lb 12oz again, this time with a smile!!!

That was to be the last despite continuing to fish until it went dark around 10:30pm so after a 15 hour session I'd had 4 magnificent barbel and I'd really enjoyed the day.

10th July 2011 - Atcham River Severn

With the barbel bug well and truly biting I was eager to take a look at the Atcham stretch of the river Severn in advance of the clubs Barbel Fish-In on the 23rd July so after seeking advice on swims etc from other club members I headed off to Atcham which is near Shrewsbury.

I arrived at 10am and decided on a peg in the right hand field (well done to all who did the work party a few weeks before crackin pegs!!)

My peg for the day, the river was up and really pushing through...

Started fishing at 10:45am after baiting the swim and had the following result's;

10:55am - First barb of the day new PB 7lb, no photo as the camera wasn't setup and I wanted to get it straight back.

12:05pm - Screaming take but missed it.

12:10pm - Another screamer 5lb 8oz

1:15pm - Another take but weeded up solid so slackened off to give it chance to get free, checked rod after 5 minutes and it had freed itself and spat the hook.

1:40pm - Whilst taking this photo I'm in PB log at 35lb 4oz !!

4:30pm - I'm in once more and it felt like a good fish but again hook pulled.

4:40pm - In again but as above so swapped hook pattern.

5:30pm - 5lb bertie but fought well above it's weight

7:45pm - 5lb and again a great scrap

Scores so far landed 4, lost 5... no more Mr Nice Guy it was time to get even !!

Moody Atcham

8:45pm - 6lb crackin condition

9:10pm - Heavy rain stops one told the barbel !!

9:15pm - 6lb again lovely scrap and I'm starting to think about bringing the second rod in just in case I get a BOGOF deal and 2 on at once.

9:30pm - Just put the above fish back after resting it and I'm in again 6lb.

9:45pm - 6lb I'm......thinking work tomorrow, 2 hour drive home, should be packing up really............not !!!

9:55pm - Lost another snagged in weed.

10:15pm - 6lb and final bertie barbel again just to round off the perfect day.

11:00pm - Set off for home, knackered but with a massive smile on my face and I was still grinning in work the next morning :)

Final scores on the doors 9 barbel on the bank and 5 lost, a total of 14 screaming takes and Jesus do they fight in that flow, it was pushing through and a 5oz fully loaded barbel tunnel had trouble holding bottom but I'm really glad I went. I don't mind if I don't do as well at the fish-in on the 23rd.

23rd July 2011 - Atcham River Severn Barbel Fish-In

The barbel fish-ins runs twice a year and are organised by 'Sir' Cliff whom I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time at Daisybank. Cliff is an accomplished angler with a passion (some might say obsession!!) for barbel fishing and he has organised the fish-ins for 6 years to date.

Cliff (centre) chats with other members

The event is aimed at giving river novices the chance to hook into their first barbel and experience the tremendous fight you get in the flow of a river like the Severn. Each novice is allocated a mentor for the day and the pegs at Atcham are allocated to give them the best chance of a bertie barbel on the day. It's also a great social event allowing club members the chance to meet up and enjoy a chat over the famous BBQ which is expertly run by Bill.

Bill and his famous BBQ

A great social is had by all...

I had my name down for the July event as soon as it was announced on the club website and I was really looking forward to the day especially with my successful session 2 weeks previously.

We met at the Raven cafe 7:45am for a full English breakfast and left for Atcham at 8:15am. Once we arrived at the car park and after a quick introduction to the day by Cliff we headed off to our designated pegs.

I was in the right hand field from the car park on the second to last peg from the, on my right and the last peg was Steve and Phil.

As before I didn't rush to get a rod out but instead baited up swim with a around 6 balls of ground bait. At 10am I started casting in every 20 minutes with PVA stick of pellets threaded on the hook link and an 11mm pellet on the hair.

I positioned one rod to the left about 2 rod lengths out under an overhanging tree the other dead ahead a third of the way out. I repeated the routine every 20 minutes to get hemp out in black cap feeder.

The river was a lot lower than it was a couple of weeks ago as we'd not had any rain worth speaking about and there was a fair amount of streamer weed on the line when reeling in to recast however at 12:20pm the rod that was out a third of the way in front of me started nodding and although I thought it must be weed I decided to strike and bingo I'm into a fish.

It didn't put up a fight so knew it wasn't a barbel but I was very surprised to find it was a decent bream and certainly a new PB. Once unhooked it weighed in at 4lb 11oz and was indeed a new PB and my first river bream. Steve kindly took the picture.

First fish of the day and a new PB bream at 4lb 11oz...

I had nothing further until 7:40pm when I had a small barbel about 3lb which went nuts under the net caught two thirds across first cast as I had been fishing closer previously.

I packed up at 8pm and made my way down to Poachers to join Ash, Phil and Big Dave for the evening. I setup the bed chair on the peg (no room for a bivvy) and after a bite to eat and a chat to the lads I settled in for the night.

I'd set the alarm for 5am and woke up to a fantastic early morning mist rolling across the river.

View from my bed chair, 5am dawn at Atcham...

The view was without doubt a fantastic sight but despite it's promise the river wasn't going to give up it's barbel in this swim so around lunchtime we decided to pack up the over night gear and move back to the right hand field where I'd had my first session a couple of weeks earlier.

Blue skies and a clear, low river...not ideal conditions

The wildlife where enjoying the warm weather...

That was to be it for the afternoon and with no signs of fish I decided to pack up and head off home, very tired but thoroughly enjoyed my first barbel fish-in and now looking forward to the September event where hopefully a few more fish will come out. In the meantime here are a few more pictures from the day...

Eisteddfa Fishery

Eisteddfa is located 2 miles from Criccieth in Wales. It is an established mixed fishery that offers day ticket fishing across 5 lakes located at the complex, they include a pleasure lake, a family lake, a carp lake, a fly lake and a trout lake. They also hire tackle out and have a bait shop on site so it's popular with holiday makers who just want to spend a day on the family lake catching small silvers.

Eisteddfa is located 2 miles from Criccieth...

We always pay a visit to Eisteddfa when on holiday in our caravan in Barmouth some 20 miles south and previously me and Adam had some successful trips to the carp lake which has a good stock of carp to 26lb and only 6 bookable pegs.

Adam on a previous visit...a new PB carp at 18lb 7oz

Dad has a photo with Adam's new PB...

Adam finishes the session off with a 16lb carp and a smile...

Dad settles for another photo with Adam's fish...

Finally dad catches one all by himself !!

2nd August 2011 - Eisteddfa

As before we were enjoying a week away in the caravan at Barmouth and I'd booked a day out to Eisteddfa but this time we took a friend of Adams who hadn't fished much before so decided the Pleasure lake would be suitable during the day and I booked myself in for a 24hr session on the Carp lake afterwards.

The lads started on small hooks and single maggot and soon were amongst the small silvers. They had a great time and soon wanted to target the bigger fish so I set up the tip rod with a single grain of corn on a small method feeder and both Adam and Bradley managed to cast it out and land common carp to around the 3lb mark.

Adam and a lovely common...

Bradley with his prize common...

Bradley concentrating on another capture...

Once the lads had finished they headed off back to Barmouth with Bradley's dad whilst I set up on the Carp lake and settled down for the night.

Eisteddfa Carp lake...

Sadly I didn't get a bite despite my best efforts but it was a lovely venue and the lads had enjoyed their day so I packed up and headed back to the caravan for a well earned shower and a bottle of red wine!!

8th August 2011 - River Ribble

A week later and keen to get back to the river I joined my good friend Mr Ward for an evening session on the river Ribble. We left work and headed up to our preferred stretch only to find the car park was extremely busy so a quick discussion and we changed plans heading for the other stretch on the St Helens card.

This was to be my first time on this beat but I was very pleased to see you could park the car at the riverbank and loaded up we headed off along the river.

The wind was blowing heavily and the river was choppy but we dropped into a double peg and started our session with much anticipation of a decent barbel.

Rob had brought his new centre pin and was soon set up and trotting triple maggot on a size 16 hook, he had a number of chublets and a gudgeon before darkness fell and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

We both had 2 rods out and where keen to see if the barbel were going to play ball when Rob's rod started nodding so he struck into it and it was game on...

A decent fight followed and a lovely looking barbel of about 5lb was in the net, we were both very pleased and Rob took a photo on his phone whilst the barbel rested in the net but unfortunately he later deleted the picture by accident so I can't show it here!!

Early I'd snagged up solid and had tightened the clutch for a break, I re-rigged and cast out again this time avoiding the snag... about half an hour later I had a screaming take but as I lifted into it 'ping' that horrible sound your line makes when it snaps and I quickly realised I'd just lost a 'big un' because I hadn't re-adjusted the clutch after being snagged up earlier, I was gutted!!

That was to be it for the evening so we packed up at 11pm and headed home.

3rd September 2011 - Atcham River Severn Barbel Fish-In (Take 2!!)

I returned from a very relaxing 2 week family holiday in Spain on the 31st August and I was really looking forward to getting back out fishing. The second Barbel Fish-In of the year was once again arranged by Cliff and his band of merry helpers for Saturday the 3rd September.

I arranged to travel down to Atcham on the Friday and spent my 47th birthday with Ash (Brimful) on the eve of the fish-in. Hoping to get a head start on the famous river Severn barbel we set up camp on a double swim in the left hand field straight ahead from the car park.

With the day shelter and bed chairs installed out of the way behind us we surveyed our swim, the river was lower than it was in July and the bay in front of us was full of bright green algae and some kind of pond weed.

Our swim but not our rods... taken the next day occupied by AndyP and guest

The green algae and weed was thick and uninviting to both angler and fish...

It didn't look promising but I started to catty out good sized balls of Hali and Hemp Crush in an effort to build the swim up and generate a bit of interest.

It was dark by 7:45pm and we cast out about mid way not knowing what the night had in store for us. At around 10pm I had a show of interest on my left hand rod and lifted into a very welcome barbel of around the 3lb mark, all wasn't lost and I later managed to take another small bertie and a chub!!

Shortly after Ash was into a barbel and much to our relief we landed it successfully at around midnight.

Ash with a well earned barbel...

We called it a night around 2:30am and retired to bed after setting the alarm for 5:30am intending to try the swim at dawn.

Sadly it wasn't to be and after a hearty breakfast we packed up the over night gear and headed back to the car park to meet the rest of the club members.

As before our swims where allocated for the day and we set off once again full of anticipation. They day passed slowly and know one was catching, unusually for me I managed to get 40 winks whilst keeping one sleepy eye on the rods.

Big Dave arrived for a chat and we talked about the poor conditions, Cliff and Bill joined us and we talked about the poor conditions... to be fair it is almost impossible to arrange such an event in advance and guarantee the ideal conditions but the day wasn't wasted because to me and the majority of the barbel hunters it's about enjoying the crack and meeting other members from the club. Ash and I reeled in around 2pm, had a cuppa and headed off to the BBQ...

Bill tends his world famous BBQ...

Well if the berties aren't feeding we'll make up for it...

Willow0809 keeping a close eye on his burger!!!

All wasn't lost and the lads dug in for the evening session, one or two even managed to wangle out a barbel or three.

Wayne holds his prize proudly for the camera...

Ken looking rather pleased with a pristine Atcham barbel...

Bluesparks stuck it out and shows how it's done...

And finally myself and Ash moved swims around 9pm back to where we'd started and fished through till midnight. After just hanging up a call to Cliff, who had headed off home, I managed a lovely chubbly of around 3lb...

To finish off the evening 'Sir Cliff' had arranged (or so rumour has it) for a fantastic fireworks display which preceded to light up the sky to our right over Atcham bridge!!

The display ended the evening perfectly and we retreated to our cars and headed home, once again delighted by the days events.

The following days saw the announcement that Cliff would retire from organising the Barbel Fish-In's however he was to be commended on the magnificent job he'd done. The club and it's members showed their gratitude via comments on the forum and e-mails to Cliff shortly after.

The event will most definitely continue and I for one (of many) will ensure they live up to their reputation in years to come, thank you Cliff for all your hard work and enthusiasm you've put in to the past six years and for the advice you've personally passed on to me and countless others which I've no doubt has influenced our approach to river fishing, your an angling legend and your event will most definitely continue in the future. We sincerely hope we'll see you there as our honoured guest in years to come!!

'Sir Cliff' with a magnificent Atcham barbel weighing in at 7lb 9oz

16th September 2011 - River Ribble

I was still licking my wounds from a previous visit to the Ribble in August when I lost an almost certain decent barbel to a poorly adjusted clutch so I wanted a re-match. I arrived around 4pm and headed off upstream from the car park, the river was very low and, as predicted, the rain had just started so I dropped into a well defined swim just 50 yards from the car. Having setup in double quick time I cast out and within 5 minutes huddled under the umbrella as the heavens opened and a torrential downpour ensued.

If the weather man says it's raining...

The sun sets on an almost still river...

Eventually the river settled down to an almost perfect flow an I was optimistic for the evening ahead. At 7pm I had a show of interest on the left hand rod and after a short fight I had a lovely looking chub in the net of around the 3lb mark.

A welcomed first fish a lovely chub of around 3lb

It went dark around 7:45pm and I had put the night lights on after the chub so it was now just a waiting game to see if the famous Ribble barbel would come out to play.

There had been just one other car when I arrived so I knew there was another angler somewhere upstream of me. The moon was out and occasionally broke through the cloud and illuminated the river which looked almost like a still water with little or no ripples on the surface, the stillness was broken occasionally by a topping fish so I started to bait up midway across and further downstream to my right.

It was now 8pm and I heard the other angler making his way back to the car park, I turned in my seat to have a chat but he probably couldn't see me and just passed by, as he did the right hand rod screamed off so I spun round quickly and lifted into it at the same time standing up to get a better position on the slippy bank.

It was definitely a barbel and it stripped line of the reel like nothing I'd seen before, this time with the clutch adjusted correctly!! It fought magnificently and I did wonder at one point if it could be approaching a double, eventually it surfaced about 2 rod lengths out and glided gracefully into the net. I always rest barbel in the net before unhooking them and as my head torch shone onto my prize I could hardly believe the size of it.

A new PB barbel at 8lb...looking slightly pleased with myself!!

Solid torpedo shape and almost as long as my 36" net...

It tipped the Avon scales at just on 8lb which was a new PB and after a few self take photos and another rest in the net it swam off strongly upstream.

There was one more take around 10pm when the margin rod almost came off the rod rest but although at first I thought it was on sadly it wasn't and I reeled in to find the pellet well gone, it could have been a good chub or possibly another big barbel but that was the last bit of action and at 11pm it was time to pack up and head off home.

27th September 2011 - River Ribble

Well I've just got back from another mid-week visit to the Ribble (and on a school night too!!) with my fellow Ribble enthusiast Mr Hopking.

We both had a great session and it was action all the way which looking at my fellow Lymm river anglers recent achievements can only mean the barbel are stocking up for winter and are on the feed, the river was low which for the Ribble was about a metre but that didn't affect the action.

We started around 6:30pm and I was into my first barb 15 minutes later, at 7:15pm I was into my second and it went off like freight train taking me right across to the far side before Mr Hopking slipped the net under it and I looked at the big bellied wide boy a magnificent fish and a new PB at 9lb 5oz.

Phil immediately packed away his trotting gear and stopped doing his Mr Crabtree stuff and banged out his barbel rods. We then had a mad couple of hours in which time we netted a further 6 berties between us all around the 6lb mark and stocky.

At one point whilst trying to net one of Mr Hopkings' barbel my right hand rod shot off so naturally I said "every angler for himself" and whilst playing that one had my first double take but unfortunately the hook link snapped and I was left with just the one to land

A great session and I'd love Lymm to get a beat on this river just stop us that live 'up north' from moaning but I will be out this weekend for my first trip to Rossall on the Severn as the big girls have been making an appearance and now I really do want a double figure bertie :-)

Here are a few pics from the evening and at least this time it didn't rain!!

Sunset on the Ribble...

Mr Crabtree Hopking trotting...

View upstream of our swim...

A new PB barbel at 9lb 5oz...well pleased!!

And one more from the other side...

That's it for my first post on my blog (thank god for that I hear you say!) but it's been a great experience writing it and good to look back on some magnificent fishing sessions.

From October on I'll be posting my Ramblings from the riverbank once a month or so as time allows so please sign up for updates or just provide me with your e-mail address and I'll set you up for auto notification (what ever that means).

Tight lines,



  1. Bob, had a brief scan through mate. Smashing job. Keep it up

  2. A lovely read BOB!, I hope to read more soon.
    Peter T


Thank you for your comments, tight lines, Bob