No unlucky 13 for me (barbel article and video, entry 269)

When we use the term ‘pleasure angler’ we create a picture in our minds of a fisherman who isn’t perhaps that serious, grabs his rods on a nice day, has a couple of hours on his local venue and is happy to catch whatever comes along – and I think that is a reasonable definition. On the other hand, I would fit very much into the category of ‘specialist angler’ as I am focused on my species and will invariably find myself targeting the bigger fish. And my commitment is such that I put a reasonable amount of quality time into my angling. But whatever ‘pigeon-hole’ we may find ourselves in, the reality has to be that we should be enjoying what we do, and so in that sense we should all be pleasure anglers. And I certainly am, and after my visit to the River Dove last week, I enjoyed it so much I headed north again this time round – twice!

My chosen peg was free

On the first session, due to the day and time I went, I expected the stretch I had chosen to fish to be reasonably busy. But when I got there I didn’t pass another soul on the way. Although a couple of anglers came by later, it meant that I was able to drop into the peg that I had wanted. I’m sure most of us are like that – assuming we have been to the venue before, we have in our mind exactly where we want to fish. Sometimes you have to look for alternatives but if you can get your first choice, that’s good.

As I intended to adopt a sit-and-wait approach as opposed to a roving one, I had two rods with me. The swim in question can cope easily with a double rod set-up and so there were no issues as to lines getting tangled. As for the question of whether we should use two rods, as long as the rules allow it then it’s down to the individual angler. There are too many people around who try to impose their views on others.


The River Dove in September

Avoiding the negative side of angling

Whilst I am a big fan of the internet, like anything else in life it has its dark side. And as far as angling is concerned, although it has opened up a whole new world that we could never have possibly imagined in our wildest dreams 20 years ago, there is the inevitable flip side. Particularly through discussion boards, a platform has been created where the worst of fallen human nature can express itself without any inhibitions or restraint. And whilst some people seem to thrive on conflict and argument, I am the opposite. In fact it’s one of the benefits of being a solitary angler. I wouldn’t describe myself as anti-social though just that I prefer to keep myself to myself- there is a difference.

I am happy to say hello to any angler that I pass on the way to where I want to fish and likewise if someone passes me. But I’ve had experiences before where people come and sit down next to you and they bed themselves in for hours. I am quite good at reading where people are coming from but some aren’t and they don’t pick up on the fact that you aren’t really interested in all the latest gossip and chitchat. And that’s why I like to put my umbrella up, even on a dry day, so that I can create a mental barrier and hopefully deter those who will see someone sitting by the riverside and take it as an invitation to join them. I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t want to talk to people, far from it. But when a greeting turns into an hour long monologue where all you get to hear is other anglers being verbally assassinated, that’s not my cup of tea at all.

A barn owl on the way home

The session was like so many of my Dove outings – a one fish trip. In this case it was just a smallish barbel, although that’s part of the thrill of barbel angling – when your rod bends into action you never know whether it will be the smallest fish in the stretch or the biggest. The fish came about an hour into dark and although I stayed until 2.30 am, the rest of the session was quiet. The drive home was very productive though as I saw a barn owl perched by the side of the road. I got a great view for a few seconds before it flew away. Although angling is my number one passion, birding is not far behind in the enjoyment stakes.


Tip of the week

Whatever category of angler you fall into, above all enjoy it. If you’re catching big fish week after week but there’s still something missing, it’s time to step back and find out what’s wrong.

By the time I got home the world was coming alive again after a night’s sleep. I had an easy morning and then it was back to work for me too. Fortunately I have a great amount of flexibility and so can plan my time accordingly. And working from home is another benefit meaning I don’t have to be out at the office, so even though I am working I am still in the home environment. But with a few days away in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne ahead of me, fishing was not going to be possible until the end of the week. My youngest daughter is the bass player in a band and they were in the north-east recording a CD. I have a video of the experience on my YouTube site if you are interested, called My daughter the rock star.


A midnight arrival

Back from Newcastle it was time again to head for the Dove. I run a charity football league and the only way that I could get a session in was to go after the batch of games had been played. Hence, at a time when most anglers have returned home and are tucked up in bed I found myself arriving on the bank at midnight, and so by 12.30 am I was actually casting out for the first time.

It was worth the effort though because at 3.00 am I found myself lifting into what I immediately knew was a good barbel. Even on powerful gear it was a battle in the making as the fish proved a real handful as it did everything that it could to avoid capture. But eventually I found myself lifting the net from the water with it safely in the mesh. It wasn’t as big as I thought it might have been but it was still a good double and so I was very happy indeed.



Another Dove double poses for the camera

No unlucky 13 for me

No more fish action meant that my 3 visits to the River Dove this season have produced just the one fish each time. That’s how fine the line between success and failure is in angling. You can have a great result like I did this week or you can blank, and the difference is just one fish. I noted from my diary that this was my 13th barbel session of 2008 and so there was nothing unlucky at all about it. Not that I believe in luck – good or bad – anyway. But I couldn’t resist taking the opportunity to create a headline.



Click on the icon for this week’s video clip


The week ahead

With more rain forecast for the week ahead, plus the fact that I am enjoying my barbel fishing at the moment, it will be back to the River Dove again over the next 7 days. I will be hoping to increase on the one fish per session ratio but we will have to wait and see! My confidence level is high though and with the rivers also likely to be up then I am feeling positive that I’ll be posing once more with a Dove beauty in my arms.

(Originally published September 2008)


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