At last the temperatures have started to fall meaning Autumn is finally upon us. This should have those classic autumn species starting to feed in readiness for winter. River barbel and roach will be foremost in my fishing plans, especially if we can have a drop or two of rain. After some decent rainfall I headed off to the mighty Trent to tackle barbel.
I was surprised on arrival to find the river only slightly higher and with a tinge of colour. It just shows that we need a lot more rain to fall yet before the rivers are in decent trim. A clearing sky and a bright full moon probably wouldn’t help things, and the temperature ended up falling to a lowly 6 degrees.
I fished with my usual evening into night tactics of feeders packed with broken pellets and boilies, held in place with a little groundbait. Sure enough I was soon into a decent fish that went an ounce under 9lbs.
I followed this with a good double over 11lbs just as the light had faded.
I thought I was in for a prolific night, but sadly the next 2 fish were lost. A snag in front of me accounted for those fish. I’ve had some problems with that snag recently. Maybe it’s because of the lack of water and reduced flow, or perhaps it’s just bad luck. The Trent is a boulder strewn snag pit so these things can happen at any time.
Anyway, that was the last of the action. After much thought I’m thinking of fishing other areas of the river. I’ve caught a lot of double figure barbel from this section of the river including a couple of different 13lb fish. In fact the percentage of barbel over 10lbs is unbelievable, in my case about 63%. I can’t help but think I may have had all of the better fish, especially after speaking to other regular anglers on the stretch. Decisions decisions!
I headed down to Sway Lakes, trying to get my moneys worth this season! Last time I was down there I thought I’d cracked the winning method of catching the big roach, whilst avoiding the millions of smaller ones. Scaled down carp tactics.
This time things didn’t go to plan. I was amazed in the first instance to be the only angler on the lake on a Saturday morning. I chose to fish an area of the lake where a lot of big roach were rolling, so far so good. I was supposed to be fishing for at least two days so I was thinking a big hit could be on the cards. Sadly, all the action on the first day was a lost carp. All wasn’t lost however, as on my last trip most of the action had been after dark.
This time during darkness I received 2 bites. Both resulted in a broken hook link without putting much pressure on the fish. I’m sure they were roach and not carp. The hook link was 2lb Bayer Perlon, not my normal Shimano Exage. I couldn’t find my Exage and threw the Bayer line in thinking it’d be fine. It has been in a garage drawer for some time and I think it’s past it’s best. A silly mistake to make. Just before dawn, I received another chance and played this fish very carefully to the waiting net. It went in with no problems so at least I’d caught a decent roach. I placed it into my net for a few minutes for the light to improve and me to get my bearings. It’s a shock to the system going from sound asleep to diving out of your sleeping bag to play a fish. It almost feels like you’re drunk!
When I got the fish back out for a photo and to give it a number I was surprised to see it going a bronze like colour already. They do that every time on this lake and I wondered whether they do it anywhere else. I suppose they’re adopting to their darker surroundings, like a chameleon! Anyway, the roach weighed 2lbs 9oz, so it was a decent fish to get off the mark.
The rest of the morning was dead. No big roach rolling, no wind, no other anglers and no more bites! I decided to pack up rather than sit things out. I wanted to check a few other venues out and I thought a clear day with the low river levels we were having would give me a chance to do some fish spotting.
The only venue I went to was a former big roach and dace hot spot. Sadly, where there were once big roach there were a couple of chub. The whole place seemed lifeless, but I did spot some decent fish in an obscure tree covered carrier. They seemed like big dace, but there were a few trout amongst them. The only way I could fish for them was with a pole poked through the trees. After catching a couple of trout I did land a dace around 6oz. This was good as it meant they were dace and there were some big ones amongst them. The action unsettled them though and I didn’t have the appropriate gear to fish for them properly. I’ll return when I do, because I do like big dace.
I don’t do too much predator fishing, but I do enjoy it. One aspect of predator fishing that I rarely try is lure fishing, in whatever capacity. I thought I’d give it a bash on a few waters and see what turned up. The beauty of this kind of fishing is you just need a few lures, traces, scales, sling and forceps in a rucksack. These weigh nothing at all, then you just need your rod and net and you can rove any river, lake or canal to your hearts content.
On my trip to a local water I took out a few lures of all sizes. I could see fry exploding out of the water so it wasn’t hard to locate the fish. It just remained to see what and how big they were.
I started off on small rubber jigs to try and replicate the size of the fish that were being attacked. This produced a few lost fish which I never saw. I suppose that’s the downsize of trying to hook a predator with just one single hook. I did eventually hook and land a long lean pike of around 9lbs. Interestingly it had a set of huge teeth marks across it’s flank, telling me there was probably a very large pike in the water. I took a quick photo of it in the net to show these marks, but typically, it flipped and turned the other way just as I pressed the shutter down! Not wanting to keep it out of the water any longer I never tried to turn it over, but just put her straight back.
After this fish I caught and lost a few jacks . I also lost a couple of perch that looked very big. I was starting to get a feel of what I’d hooked just by the fight in the water.
After I’d stopped getting any takes I put a large orange jig on to see if I could force any kind of response. On my second cast, as my jig was coming through the margins it was taken by another pike. This one didn’t want to give up and fought very hard. As I finally won the battle and slipped it into my net I also realised it was larger than I had thought. Again, it was a long lean pike, that when weighed went 17lb 10oz which wasn’t a bad start to my predator season.
I think come February this fish will be over 20lbs, let’s hope our paths cross again!