From one extreme to another (barbel article and video, entry 271)

With the rivers bursting their banks and well into the fields, I decided to fish a local canal for pike. I sorted my day out so that by lunchtime I was driving to a stretch that I knew had the species (always a good start!) knowing that I would still have the afternoon and early evening before it began to get dark. Upon arrival though at the venue, I found that it was extremely busy. Not with anglers’ cars, but construction workers and their vehicles. The reason? There was no water in the canal! What had happened was that the adjoining river had spilled over and the force of the flow had caused the structure to collapse. With the rivers in the meadows and the canal dry, it was a case of one extreme to another.

A genuine all-rounder

Limited to where I could go for canal pike, I decided to return home and write the day off. Still with my focus on canal predators though, the next couple of sessions were on a different venue but after perch. I find myself thinking ‘I like perch’ but actually I like all fish. One of the great benefits of being a genuine all-rounder is that there is not a single fish that I would not set my stall out to pursue. It means that I can be totally flexible, and come winter when the fishing gets harder it is to my advantage that I can switch species to suit conditions.

As I have written before on numerous occasions, I have nothing but respect for those anglers who pursue the same species week after week, month after month, year after year. That is the great thing about angling, we can do what we want. For me that means that I am more flexible and am very happy having a few weeks after barbel, as I have done, and then changing tack completely by putting my pred-head on.


A small perch caught on spinner

The thrill of spinning for perch

As well as genuinely appreciating all fish I also enjoy the various tactics that we employ to catch them. Whether it be the excitement of watching a rod tip for barbel, the thrill of the first tremor on a pike float or the unmistakable sign of a big bream moving the hanger up and down, they all get my piscatorial juices going. And to that list I can add the thrill of casting a small spinner into a water that holds perch. From the moment the lure breaks the surface till it is finally lifted out at the very edge, the anticipation of knowing that you can get a take any second is a great feeling.

As you are in direct contact with the lure every step of the way you can feel the very first lunge that the perch makes. Sometimes though, for reasons known only to the fish, that initial interest is not taken further. Perhaps instinct told it that something wasn’t quite right, maybe it wasn’t really that hungry anyway and couldn’t be bothered. We will never know, but it happens often, one snatch at the spinner and that’s all you get. But of course there will be times when one lunge is all that is needed and the fish is on straight away. Or as is sometimes the case you get several before the perch is hooked, as it is obviously following the lure and lunging at it.

Chub are predators too

I caught a few perch on both occasions as well as a couple of small chub. I was talking to one angler who when he asked me if I had caught anything and I replied the latter, was very surprised. But we shouldn’t be because chub are predators and will readily take a small spinner intended for perch or even a larger lure when after pike. And they are just as partial to a deadbait as well, so if we fish for the more traditional predator species then we have to accept that, providing they are in the water and the baits we use are chub-sized, that we will catch them too. Not that I am complaining though.


Tip of the week

Before attempting to fish a new venue, spend some time walking the bank.

It’s better to spend an hour in the right spot than a day in the wrong one.

But after a couple of very short sessions on the local canal, with a whole day to myself, I finished the week off on the River Dove and was fishing by noon. I went to a stretch that I have never visited before and what better way to get to know a new venue than by walking its banks on a sunny day when the river is running at normal level and is reasonably clear. And to get full benefit from wandering up and down, a spinning rod in hand meant that I also got to fish as well. I intended to test the perch potential but of course pike and chub would also be likely to take the Mepps Aglia that I was fishing with.


My brain is roasted

However, I didn’t get a single fish, not even the encouragement of a snatch to let me that that at least something was out there and sort of interested. It was a scorcher of a day though and by 4.00pm I headed back to the car for a drink and in the heat of the day, I unintentionally fell asleep sitting in the driver’s seat with my feet on the grass outside. Waking up an hour later after having the full force of the sun magnified through the windshield, I felt like my brain was roasted.

Having brought barbel gear for the evening, as I headed back to the water it was with a totally different set up to that which I had started out with earlier in the day. The venue didn’t look like it gets much attention and so with dozens of pegs to choose from I settled on one that looked reasonably ‘barbely’.



The Dove is back to normal level

Calling it a day

My intention was to fish till at least midnight but as the evening wore on my roasted brain became even more heated. I normally carry paracetemol with me but having switched angling bags it was one thing I didn’t transfer. I’m not a headache sort of person anyway so it wasn’t something that I put on my list of priorities. But in the end I only managed 10.30pm before I called it a day as it felt like a woodpecker was banging away on my skull. But although my visit was fishless I certainly enjoyed it and no doubt will return again. I ended up seeing a pair of goosander preening themselves at the water’s edge and occasional views of a common sandpiper in flight low over the river, so even if I didn’t catch any fish, the bird life was interesting. I also ended up taking a lot of photographs during the week which you can view via the video clip that accompanies this article.


Click on the icon for this week’s video clip


The week ahead

Away from the bank I need to get my tackle room at home tidied up. It looks fine from the outside but once the drawers are opened it’s a bit of a mess. So that’s a job that I will do over the next week.

As far as the fishing is concerned I am not totally sure yet what I will be doing, so as they say, watch this space! But I’ll be out somewhere that’s for sure!

(Originally published September 2008)


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