Big barbel have been some what elusive so far this season. I think my best to date has been 10lb 1oz from the Trent. The Kennet doubles have proven to be even harder to come by. We normally take plenty of big fish from the Kennet. I think my best day was 3 ’12′s’ two seasons ago. A season where I managed 14 doubles from the Kennet. This season has been the hardest start on the Kennet I’ve had in 5 years. It’s strange because everywhere else I go I seem to catch plenty of barbel. I’ve had the best part of 140 fish this season and only 15 have been from the Kennet. Still hopefully it will get better..!
So it was that Geoff, Kevin and I packed up the tents and moved to Aldermaston. We know this stretch well and in past seasons have fared well here during daylight hours. Rather than fish during the day on the other beats, this week we had swapped around a bit. Fishing the evening and night at Dalston and today here at Aldermaston. We hoped that this change in tactics might just produce some fish.
The water was still quite coloured and the river an inch or two up, maybe. The river looked good. We each headed off up river in search of some likely spots. I ventured in to a very boggy swim. Luckily I was armed (or legged) with my Simms waders. So if I did have to wade into a few boggy spots, I could. There is a lovely deep gully in this swim. It’s flanked on one side by beautiful, flowing ranunculus and on the other by lots of overhanging trees and bushes. It looks perfect.
I started off by putting out about 3 pints of hemp and caster. Leaving the swim to rest for half an hour whilst I got organized. The swim was certainly boggy, but I managed to find a firm spot for the chair. Once that was all sorted a cup of coffee was in order and then I tied up a new rig. The previous week I had fished casters on the hair, but due the the colour this week I opted for pellets for bait. Hoping that the additional smell might make it easier for the fish to locate them. A 3 foot braided hooklink was tied up with a 12 hook and 2 large elips pellets superglued to the hair. The feeder was a 3 ounce Andrew Witham cage feeder. This was packed with a mixture of pellets and Hinders ‘barbel bomb’ groundbait.
The bait was swung out into the gully and I sat back to await events. I took this opportunity to nose through the weekly fishing papers. A 4lb 10oz crucian carp had been caught from a Verulam AC water. The picture looked good. The fish, at a casual glance, looked like a true crucian. They are not easy fish to identify. The colour looked pretty good: dark bronze and orange tints to the fins. The mouth didn’t look quite right, but it was open and extended, so nothing conclusive there. I didn’t do a scale count, I think I’ll leave that to the experts. I hope it is genuine and well done to the angler that caught this beautiful fish.
Anyway back to the barbel. At last I had what looked like a persistent chub bite, so decided to hit it. It was a chub, about 3 1/2lbs. Then a little later, another persistent chub bite, so I hit this one as well. This time though it was a chub on steroids, 3 shredded wheat and a tin of Popeye’s spinach. What is technically known in fishing circles as a barbel. Not a big fish, but a really good fight. A fish of about 6-7lbs. Later on I had the full on 3 foot twitch. It felt like a good fish on the other end. It stayed deep and thumped around for a few seconds before snagging me on some unseen obstruction. Steady pressure from numerous angles and plenty of swear words usually does the trick. Sadly though everything went slack and the hook had pulled out. At least I got all of the tackle back and the fish had escaped safely.
The warm weather was having a soporific effect on me and I kept drifting off into a world of naked women and British record barbel. What a combination! Luckily, this was interrupted by the phone going and an excited Kevin on the other end informing me of a very good barbel in his landing net. Assuming it hadn’t swam in there of its own accord, I hurried down ready to do the David Bailey impression, although I was sober!
Kevin lifted the fish out of the water and we were confronted by a very big, fat barbel. It looked about 12lbs and this was confirmed on the scales, as she went 12lb 2oz. A new PB for Kevin and the smile said everything. Well done buddy, great result. It was nice to see a big fish on the bank at long last.
Despite a move, on Geoff and my parts, we couldn’t muster any further action. So we ended the day with 2 barbel, plus the 5 from the previous day. 7 barbel and a new PB isn’t a bad couple of days fishing. Oh and we also stopped by the road side to watch 2 Red Kites and 2 Buzzards sharing the same air space. Lovely to watch such impressive birds glide and swoop just overhead. Ah well, until next time. As Arnie would say “I’ll be back”