By Andrew Kennedy
new personal best
Since the start of the river season, I have focused mainly on barbel
- trying to 'up' my personal best - and on my second session I managed
a new P B with a barbel of 7lb 13oz - beating my old PB by five ounces.
Obviously I'm thrilled by this, but I'm still hoping for a double-figure
barbel before the end of the season.
new personal best barbel for me, at 7lb 13oz
Most of my summer fishing sessions are restricted to weekdays after
work, so when I got a day off, I decided it was time for a little
variety and visit a new venue, noted for its tench stocks. Tackling
up for tench I also took along my light spinning tackle and a barbel
rod just in case I fancied a change later on.
Arriving at the lake there was a large tent erected near the water,
with recent campfires, disposable barbecues, a bow saw, a rubber mallet
and loads of litter nearby. It literally looked as if someone had
taken up residence. But there was no-one around! Very odd.
Then when I looked into the crystal clear water which was only three
feet deep, I noticed the pond was over-run with weed. Walking around
the lake with my polaroids, I only spotted a few shoals of roach and
two good carp, but no tench! Nevertheless I was quite excited about
the carp - and as I had some micro pellets and worms with me for the
tench, I baited up a few marginal holes in the weed and left them
for a few minutes. When I returned the smaller of the carp (around
17 - 18lb), was feeding on the pellets.
Not wanting to take any risks in the weedy pond, I ran back to the
car to fetch my barbel rod, it being the strongest I had with me.
When I got back to the swim the fish was still feeding, but as I crept
up, something spooked it and it disappeared. It must have spotted
my net because I was camouflaged head-to-toe! The fish returned about
10 minutes later but fed only for a few seconds before moving off,
never to return. The next three hours were spent trying to lure the
fish and its friend (which I think was over the 20lb mark), back into
my swim, unfortunately I didn't manage it, so I decided on a change
I headed down to the river to try and salvage the day with a barbel.
I first tried trotting with grayling and chub in mind, but got nothing;
so I moved onto a barbel swim. One rod was set up on an alarm while
I tackled up the other rod - and within two minutes a fish tore off
with the bait and I landed my smallest barbel of the season - at 4lb
4oz. I followed this with a 3lb 9oz chub and then lost another, before
something caught my attention upstream.
The barbel which tore off with my bait within
minutes of me arriving at the swim
a deep slow pool, a large fish, presumably a chub, was repeatedly
rising for flies, seemingly eating everything that landed in the water.
Out came the lure rod!
At this point the day improved (in a way). In maybe 20 casts over
the same area with a tiny Rebel Ultralight Jointed Minnow, I had two
takes which I didn't connect with, then a very big chub of at least
5 pounds had a go at the lure just as I plucked it from the water
With a further cast just in front of the surfacing fish, all hell
broke loose! With lightning speed a fish swam upstream and hurled
itself from the water - it was no chub - it was a massive wild brown
trout of at least 4 pounds! It dwarfed the chub I'd caught earlier.
The trout made a good eight or nine leaps from the water before I
had it subdued. What a scrap! It was at this point that I realised
I'd left my landing net out of reach! I'd been slowly creeping closer
to the surfacing fish with each cast and I was so involved with the
pursuit that I forgot about keeping the net to hand. I had to resort
to the hand-landing approach.
The fish was hooked in the "scissors" with the tail treble,
leaving the front treble dangling loose. As I grabbed the fish, it
squirmed and slipped through my fingers. The loose treble went into
my finger and the fish shook violently before the hook bent out -
releasing the fish and leaving the lure stuck in my finger! I'm glad
that I crimp the barbs down on all my lures or that could've been
a very nasty situation!
So, I landed a spectacular fish which any fly-angler would be proud
of, but I didn't get chance to admire its beauty properly. A wild
brown trout of this size really does look amazing. I'm really disappointed
in myself for not having my landing net within reach. My first trout
on a lure and no photograph to remember it by, which is a great shame.
At least the fish went back unharmed with the minimum of stress.
After the explosive fight from the trout, the lure fishing went dead,
so I concentrated on the barbel swim once more. A couple of hours
passed with nothing until I managed to lose a good barbel in a snag,
last cast. I had the fish on for a few minutes, before it bolted downstream
and left me connected to a chunk of iron mesh which I struggled to
move! A fitting end to an eventful, but overall frustrating day. I
did get a PB out of it though. The trout was easily 4lbs, probably
more, so I'll call it a 'four' because I didn't get chance to weigh
it. With the 20lb carp and the unknown size of the lost barbel - the
new personal best tally could have been three in one day! It just
shows that taking a versatile approach to your fishing can often pay
Zander at Night
On my next day off, I went on a zander night session on the Old River
Nene, near Peterborough and blanked.
I missed my only run, at 6am through a schoolboy error, (after staying
up all night until 5am), I was generally having a dire time.
When the sun came up properly, I spotted a jack pike amongst the lilies
and cabbages - so I had a try with the lures for an hour. Still nothing.
after a quick snooze I decided it was time to give up and pack up,
but on my way home I decided to stop at a favourite spot of mine -
a drain which holds both my pike and perch PBs. It was weedy, but
I decided to give the lures a throw for half an hour, trying to catch
a pike and avoid a blank.
clipped on a small floating Salmo Slider jerkbait in perch pattern,
cast out and gave it two or three twitches. As if by magic, first
cast, there was a big swirl around the lure and a loud "schhhluuuurrp",
which I assumed to be a pike. However - reeling in I saw a deep, round
flash and realised it was a good perch. Learning from last week's
mistake with the trout, I had the landing net by my side and netted
a beautiful, chunky perch. It went just shy of 2lb - at 1lb 15oz,
but I was thrilled! My first perch on a jerkbait and my biggest in
almost two years!
Success at last! After 20 blank hours, I landed my biggest perch for
casts later, I had clipped on a jointed Rapala Shad-Rap - again in
perch colours. On the first cast I hooked another good perch which
weighed in at 1lb 6oz.
casts with various lures gave me nothing else big, so I packed up
shortly after - a happy man. Three casts had been more successful
than the whole previous 20 hours! Once again, lures had saved me from
an inevitable blank and provided me with some beautiful fish.
Perch on lures
Following this success with lures for perch, I decided to have another
try - a little closer to home in a river swim I'd discovered. On my
way to this pool, I stopped for a few cast above a gravelly run and
on my third cast, I landed a pike of around 7lbs using a Masterline
Muskie Maestro spinner. Then 5th cast I landed a perch of over a pound
and a half (this time I forgot my scales - but I did get a photo).
Moving up to my chosen swim I had a feeling there would be some big
perch lying in ambush. It was quite a hike to this swim, but it was
worth the walk. In 25 minutes, I caught a further 2 perch over a pound,
along with 4 tiny ones.
Standing by the swim, I spotted something from the corner of my eye,
and looking up I saw two barn owls swooping over the other side of
the river! One flew off upstream and the other flew over the river
and hovered above my head for a second - as if to check me out! What
a cracking end to an extremely enjoyable and productive evening.
So - in these three sessions, I'd proven just how vital lure fishing
is to have at your disposal. A full days lure fishing in the right
conditions can give you constant sport. It's always worth having a
few lures in the car, in case you spot a feeding predator or your
other methods are failing to catch.
Lure fishing is easily one of my favourite methods of catching fish.
The lures, methods and species you can catch are all so diverse that
you could lure fish all of your life and never be stuck for something
new to try.