BARBEL JOY BEFORE MY BED CALLS...
Avon hunch pays with a two fine fish
HAPPY New Year! Just like the centre forward in a football team, I started the year with a clean sheet – but fortunately that didn’t last long and I caught some nice fish right from the off.
With the air temperature up a bit and a welcome injection of warm rain, I saw a small window of opportunity for a decent barbel in water which would now surely be coloured.
The plan was to go over to the Trent, but that river was on the rise and to be honest I don’t know it well enough to fish there under such conditions.
However, the Warwickshire Avon rises from a different area of the country and word was it was nice and steady, so I changed my plans – and I’m glad I did.
Once I got there, I spent an hour feeding the swim with ‘golf balls’ of soaked pellets with a couple of 12mm Scopex/Squid boilies, putting one in every 10 minutes just to get the swim primed. I then fished a 20mm boilie on the hair.
Lots of anglers are afraid to feed in the winter, believing that whatever they put in will be left lying on the bottom, but I have no worries about this. I know that all my bait will be taken down the river or eaten by other species.
Tonight I fed from about two hours before nightfall and I saw the odd rap on the rod-tip showing there were fish present. Then on darkness, as usual, the swim went dead. But I knew that a couple of hours into darkness any barbel in the vicinity would start to have a look around.
On this part of the river they swim between two weirs more than a mile apart, so your nearest fish could be a long way away from you at any given time.
At around 8.30pm the rod was nearly pulled off the rests and as soon as I picked it up I knew I was connected to a decent barbel. After a short but powerful fight it was sitting in my landing net and the scales confirmed a lovely winter double of 11lb 12oz.
I fancied another one, to be honest, but the rain came, it went cold and as soon as thoughts of a warm bed entered my mind it wasn’t long before the gear was packed into the car and I was on my way home. I arrived about 11.30pm and my wife was still up, although fast asleep on the sofa. We had a quick coffee while she listened to my story of how good a barbel angler I am. Well, at least Margaret believes
me even if no-one else does...
Will anti-Walter Mitty earmuffs be needed on my next perch fishing trip? I hope not...
Conditions were too good to ignore so it was off to the Avon again, this time a bit earlier and with a maggot feeder rod to accompany my tried-and-tested boilie rig.
I wanted to stay until around midnight because the river looked so good. I expected the maggots to produce but I had nothing except for a chub of about a pound that took the rod over as I was talking to Kevin Wilmot at Angling Times.
But at 8.30pm the boilie rod bent over again and another double – 10lb 3oz – soon hit the landing net. A double each trip at this time of year – what a result! Again, I fancied another take but one was my lot. If I’d stopped all night I might have had another take but I had a meeting with a fishery owner the next day so I needed to get some sleep.
Perch-fished a new bit on the river where a carper mate had seen big perch striking fry a few days earlier. I started by drop shotting but the perch were up in the water, hitting the fry just like my mate said – they were jumping out of the water to get out the way! So I changed to a small Mepps spinner and I had a take every chuck for about an hour.
Then they went off for a couple of hours which is when I changed back to drop shotting and caught them again. No big fish – I had them to just over 2lb – but loads to about a pound and great sport.
A bloke came down while I was fishing and said he had caught a 6lb perch from there. But after an hour, when he told me he had also caught eels to 9lb and barbel to 17lb (a river record) but never taken photos because he couldn’t see the point, I thought ‘here we go again!’ and took no further notice of what he said.
I would have stayed longer but he got on my nerves. Hopefully he will not appear every time I’m down there, or I’ll have to wear my anti-Walter Mitty ear muffs!
“At around 8.30pm the rod was nearly pulled off the rests by a decent barbel”
Next day I followed up with this 10lb 3oz fish.
A lovely 11lb 12oz winter barbel from the Warwickshire Avon.