Autumn Redfins

I’d booked 3 weeks off work in September and October and this was the last chance of some big roach action. I had hoped that by now the weather would be cooling down and perfect for either still water or river redfins. In the end it had been very mild and wet which had led me to fish for barbel and bream. The high winds had also had an effect. I didn’t want to be driving 200+ miles to try to control a float in 40mph winds. I just had to have a day after my favourite species, so despite mild temperatures and high winds, I headed for Sway Lakes, my favourite roach venue.

On arrival I was the only angler there. I spent the usual pre light period walking up and down the lake looking for rolling roach. I didn’t see much showing, so I settled into a peg at the end of the lake that would shelter me from the gusting winds. It was a peg I’d never fished before, but I was hopeful of a good fish or two.

I set up a simple, slow sinking waggler rig that would be used with casters as bait. After 20 minutes bites were coming every cast, but they were roach of only 2oz or so. This wasn’t in the script, the cooler weather usually puts the smaller fish off the feed, but the weather and water was just too mild. I had 2 options. I either tried to wade my way through the small stuff or try a larger pellet on the hook. Luckily, I had some pellets in my car from earlier barbel fishing sessions so I went to fetch them. I thought I’d try this tactic first rather than keep disturbing the swim.

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I banded a 12mm pellet to my size 16 hook. It was nice to be able to sit and relax a little more. If I was going to keep fishing on casters I’d have needed my seat box to be more efficient. Now I simply relaxed, ignoring the bumps and knocks on the float, until it finally went under in a positive manor. The culprit wasn’t what I’d hoped for, but at 6oz, the roach was larger than the others.

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About one hour later I had another good bite and this time I knew it was a decent fish. The roach didn’t fight too hard though, coming in with no dramas. I thought the needle on the scales would settle in my favour and at 2oz over the magic 2lb barrier, it did just that!

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After that fish I missed a couple more bites and also bumped a decent fish. My hooks were simply the wrong size to be stuck on the side of a rock hard pellet. I started using some softer 8mm pellets that I could mount on the hook, almost like how I hook a caster, with the hook point exposed. This brought me some more good roach, with a couple at 1.10 and 1.13. I also had a few around 6oz, but missed more positive bites. Still, it was a lot better than using the hard pellets.

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If I’m honest I’d been caught out by the small fish. If I’d known about them I would have brought the right hooks for fishing large pellets, also I’d probably have used some small pellet feeders on bolt rigs. I know it’s not traditional roach fishing, but you have to adapt at times, and the roach certainly seemed to like the pellets.

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As the afternoon wore on, a lot of good roach were rolling in the area I was in, but I’d probably have been better fishing the next peg up from me. The only trouble with that was that the wind was so strong I would have struggled to get any decent presentation with anything other than leger gear. I knew they weren’t far away though, so I carried on feeding 4mm pellets with the odd 8mm one, hoping to draw them in. My persistence paid off when I hooked another roach of 2lb 2oz. It was a different fish from the first, just the same weight. Again, it was a nice steady fight. Give a little line here and there, but safely going in the net without those last second ‘thrashes’ that lead to sickening hook pulls.

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As the light faded more roach were rolling in my peg. I bumped a good fish and missed a couple of good bites. I knew I was going to get another chance, and it came while I was talking to the lakes owner. This fish pulled a little harder and felt bigger than the others. When it was safely netted, I could see it was probably an older fish. Longer in the body, but also leaner. I estimated 2.4, where’s the owner said 1.15. I let him do the weighing and the needle settled on 2.3. He then announced ‘he couldn’t see without his glasses’ but said 2.2! I wasn’t going to argue. A trio of 2lb 2oz fish was a cracking days roach fishing in anybody’s book.

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I think I could have snuck at least one more big redfin out, but I decided to end the day on a high note, not straining my eyes before a 4 hour drive home. The lake shuts for maintenance now until January, so hopefully there will be less small fish activity then, and more chance of catching one of the 2lb 8oz+ big girls. The only downside to the day (Being a Yorkshire man) was the 5 pints of unused casters!

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After Work Succcess

At last some rain has fallen so I decided it was time to head out to the tidal Trent. This time last year I couldn’t fail to catch a barbel, so I took along a mate who’s recently returned to fishing after a break of 20+ years. I promised him a barbel, his first of the species, but despite some extra water on the river we remained rapless.

Most of the other anglers also struggled, so when it rained again a few days later, I shot straight back after work. I knew they had to switch on and feed soon with winter around the corner. Tactics were the same as most of my after work barbel angling. 2lb test curve rods, 10lb line, a heavy feeder with a 5ft length of 9lb fluorocarbon as my hook link. Hooks are always very strong and the size will depend on what bait I’m going to be using. Also, a quality, strong, reliable baitrunner style reel is advisable, unless you want to loose your rods!

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This time I could see the river was up by a couple of feet and there was a bit of colour to it. I knew I had to catch this time. Baits were 15mm fishmeal boilies, shaved down a little to release more flavours into the water. In the feeders went some dampened pellets, crushed boilies, the same as were on the hooks, and a little fishmeal groundbait to hold everything together. This should create a scent trail down the swim leading the barbel to my hook baits.

The stretch was deserted so I dropped into my favourite peg, which is a nice smooth gravel glide. A few feeder fulls of bait were cast out, then I sat back ready for the action to begin. There was a bit of weed and leaves coming down the river and fouling the line, but not enough to make things too difficult.

Just on dusk my rod lurched forward and the first barbel was on its way to my net. I’d forgotten how hard they pull and was shattered by the time I was weighing a 7lb fish, weighed purely to get my eye back in with regards as whether to weigh or not.

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Soon after this I was playing an 8lb fish and then a small bream. Later on I had another barbel estimated at around 6lb, that I popped straight back. It was nice to get a fish or two, but time was ticking and the temperature was falling so I headed back home.

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On the way back the A1 was closed for roadwork’s causing me a fair delay. Because of this, I decided on another area of river for my next trip.

Everybody was moaning about the heavy rain that fell the day after my last session. I wasn’t bothered though. I walked through it smiling, because I knew the extra water would switch the barbel on even more. Sure enough, when I arrived at the middle Trent this time, it looked perfect for a fish or two.

I fished a peg I’d always fancied fishing. Still water under the rod tip, but a deep steady glide 2 rod lengths out. A perfect crease swim when there’s a few feet of extra water in the river. Due to traffic I arrived right on dusk, but because my rods are always made up, I could cast straight in.

There were only 2 other anglers on the stretch. I reckon they were peeved that I dropped in 40 yards downstream of them because they started casting all their rods every 5 minutes. I don’t like to fish too close to other anglers, but I had a feeling that this was the perfect peg in the conditions. I also knew a lot of their feed would be pulling fish up from below me, where there were no anglers as far as the eye could see, so I just plugged my feeder tightly with goodies then sat it out, rather than keep working the swim.

After 30 minutes my upstream rod started bouncing as the baitrunner yielded line. I played the fish steady as I was fishing close in and there were no snags. It didn’t feel too big and it only took a couple of minutes before I was landing it. I let it rest in the net for a while where I could see a very wide, fat fish. I wondered how big it would go. When I lifted the net out of the water I knew it was a decent fish by me struggling to get to the unhooking mat. Once there the scales said it was 13lb 1oz, but I’d hoped for more.

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Despite it’s girth, I think it was a little short in length to be a real 15lb+ monster, but it was still a cracking barbel.

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After a few self takes, I rested her again before lowering the rim of the net and watching her power away.

Half an hour later I was into another fish, but this time the culprit was a bream around 5lbs. I unhooked it and rested it in the net, wondering whether to take a pic or not. My decision was made for me when the other rod tore off in a way that meant this fish had to be a barbel. Sure enough, after a similar fight to the first fish I was soon taking the photo of another double, this time at 10lb 4oz.

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With the river in perfect condition for barbel and 2 good fish landed already, I thought I was on for a real red letter day. That was until a narrow boat powered its way upstream in the pitch black. I was just thinking how tricky it must be to navigate in the dark when there was a large crunch and the boat shuddered to a halt. They’d ran aground bang opposite me! I didn’t realise the river was so shallow towards the other bank, and obviously neither did they! After 30 minutes of banging and thrashing the water to a foam with their engine, I decided it was time to leave. As I went to drive off they were still stuck, though their pleasant tones, trying to solve their predicament, had turned to throwing insults at each other. It was a bizarre end to a top evening session.

Day Breaming

This week’s trip is a bit like the last weeks. A planned day after big roach with my mate Martin gets cancelled, which leads to me catching a big fish of another species!

Again, we’d both bought our bait for the trip, but a last minute check of the weather forced a change of plan. In the morning, heavy rain was forecast across the south of England. As the weather map changed from 6am, to 9, then 12 and so on, the heavy rain never moved. I didn’t fancy float fishing in that all day. When I rang Martin he’d seen it too, so we agreed to postpone the roach trip for 3 weeks. We discussed potential venues to fish together, but Martin fancied catching roach, though of a smaller size, where I fancied a day after bream. In the end we went our separate ways.

I arrived at my bream lake at around 7.15am. There was a heavy mist and the weather seemed perfect for a daytime slab or two. I selected a peg where a carp angler told me he’d caught a few decent doubles over the previous week. With the lake being over 120 acres in size, it’s always a confidence boost to know your chosen quarry has been around in recent days. I set up my tackle and started to bait the swim.

I spodded in around 8 loads of particles at a range of 45 yards. The particles were pellets of various sizes, plus corn and casters. Into this mix I placed a little groundbait to add a cloud to the water. I didn’t want to put too much bait in because I didn’t know how many, if any, fish were in my area. Gently gently was my tactic!

On both 1.5lb test curve rods, I fished 40 grams flat method feeders. These were cast out on 8lbs line to which I had 2 different hook links. One was made of 8lb braid to a size 14 hook. The other was 4lb mono to a 14 hook. Bait in both cases was corn, though the braid had artificial corn, the mono had the real thing. I just thought I’d cover more bases. Most anglers have been using braid links with popped up artificial corn. I just thought I’d fish one rod a little different, just to see if it made any difference at all.

After a few hours and a few more spods of bait I hadn’t received or seen any signs of action whatsoever. It was about this time the forecast rains hit the lake forcing me to take shelter under the brolly. The rain steadily got heavier until it reached a point when I thought to myself ‘I hope I don’t get a bite in this lot’ You can guess what happened next!

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The right hand bobbin, attached to the rod with real corn, started to jump up and down by no more than an inch each time. I knew this was the classic bite from a bream that had hooked itself and was shaking its head on the spot. I lifted the rod and eased into the fish, I couldn’t rush things with light gear. The fish didn’t feel very big, coming in very easily, thankfully, because I was getting a soaking. When it came into view 15 yards from the bank it looked like a good fish. It put up some resistance near the net, but I made no mistakes and netted what seemed a pretty heavy bream.

I rushed to put my waterproof coat on while I rested the fish in the margins. When I lifted her out onto the unhooking mat I was thinking that it would go over 13lbs. Alas, my guess was slightly short as the needle on the scales spun round to give me a weight of 12lbs 9oz, a new PB by 7oz.

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A few tricky self takes in the pouring rain followed, my camera remained under the brolly while I carried on getting soaked. The new camera with the flip around screen helped loads while taking these, though it’s very tricky trying to hold a big slab and work a remote at the same time! Clutching the bream close to my body doesn’t give the best view of how deep and fat this bream was.

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Still, it was a cracking fish that brought a big smile to my face. Despite my high hopes, that was the one and only bite of the day. I can’t complain though and I think a return trip is in order before the frosts arrive.