fireworks-LOTI

No! I didn’t plan to burn down the House Of Lord’s and the only plot I was interested in was my local River Trent and how I would go about catching the (almost) mythical 16lb barbel that supposedly lived there.

Regular readers would know I set about a quest to catch a middle Trent sixteen some two seasons ago. As I quickly discovered however this wasn’t going to be easy as I first thought, in fact it’s been a real pain the arse to be blunt…

Of course, the Tidal Trent offers some comfort in knowing that if the worse come to the worst I could always sit there for a few days and try and make my life a little easier.

The middle Trent is not an easy river – don’t be fooled of the many stories regarding barbel paving the bottom, this is simply not the case. It can be as moody as any other river, and although the barbel do average a good size, 16lb barbel do not grow on trees. The middle Trent sixteen in my opinion offered a realistic but more difficult challenge than a tidal one. My spiritual home where it would be fitting to have that sixteen, a tidal one would feel like cheating on my wife and feeling guilty afterwards.

You may have noticed, I speak about a 16lb barbel in a past tense? Well…on the night of November 5th 2015 my two year long wait ended, which ultimately defined my barbel angling career forever.

Something that will entrench my mind, consume my thoughts and my memories for as long as I shall live. Sometimes it means more than just a fish. To me (apart from meeting my wife and having children who matter more to me than anything or anyone) this would be my proudest moment.

The experience which has took me through gales, frost, floods, thunderstorms and sometimes snow ended on a calm, warm and overcast night in November, ironically a day of commemoration and traditionally for us Brit’s…fireworks!

No I am not a huge fan of things that could almost perforate your ear drums, so a night’s fishing was perfect wasn’t it (tongue-in-cheek)?

Well, I thought so before setting off but on arrival I quickly established that I was setting up quite close to a firework display that echoed through the sky like some kind of hellfire mission on an apache helicopter. I wasn’t best pleased I can tell you.

The previous night I caught a lovely 13lb 9oz barbel and an aborted take soon after… the catalyst for this was prebaiting that was obviously working.

This consisted of a 3 day baiting plan that every part of what I used had a reason to be there.

The distance of the area I wanted to fish was around 65 yds next to overhanging tree on the far side of the river so I decided that the best course of action was to use a large spomb.

Baiting

A spomb is attached to your line (in this case a 40lb braided Whiplash main line) and a strong rod. I used a spod rod 5lb test curve, fill up the spomb with the contents of what you’re feeding and is cast out into the river which then opens on impact and drops the feed. I used a line clip for distance so I could cast to the same spot every time – very accurate!

A spomb is an excellent piece of kit to distribute bait on a slow moving river

A spomb is an excellent piece of kit to distribute bait on a slow moving river

My baiting plan was to simply use halve boilies (chops) 500gr and lower oil halibut pellets (15% oil) in 10 and 16mm 1kg = 1.5kg. The mix was doused in winterized salmon oil that was left for 3 days prior to use to allow the oils to penetrate through. This mix was used for 2 days.

On the third day I decided that I would add 6 pints of hemp to that mix as I was fishing it the next day.

Let me explain why I did this…

The chops were used simply to make more of the bait, a different shape, allows easier leakage through extracts used within the boilie and leakage of the salmon oils. The other advantage is that being an half shape it would not get carried down the river too quick. Not a problem here as the depth is very uneven with boulders that hold them up, but something to bear in mind if you decide to use them yourself. The mix was formulated with our own boilies at 3 F T – Bounty, Furter and Dubby. The pellets were there for attraction, although doused also in winterized salmon oil and left for 3 days they would break down in running water after 4 – 5 hours where the leakage would be quick (10 – 15 mins) and the breakdown of the pellet, reasonable. This would be a pellet where the oils wouldn’t congeal, nor fill the fish up too quick, even during the winter months and colder waters.

So…within the mix the only element that will stick around, until eaten is the boilie chops. Important, as that will be my line of approach, boilies.

The hemp used on the third day was to simply keep the fish there and rooting around until I return the day after.

The Venue

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I have largely spent my time on one particular stretch on the middle, indeed this is where I started off the season and did relatively well, with less time. My summer experience was that of the previous season, lots of double-figure barbel coming to the net but without any real substance to the catches.

It sounds awful to retract from what were great captures but I just felt that I always knew what to expect and that’s not what fishing is about.

This coincided with the local hoodlums pitching temporary homes on the bank with tents where drunk and drug infused teenager’s were making a nuisance of themselves.

This brought about a change to a place I was told about. You often hear it don’t you, people talking about places they’ve spent time fishing and what they’ve caught? It was one such day that during the back end of last season I was walking around the stretch with a once regular on the stretch.

A carper by nature but not your secret squirrel kind, who told me about what he’s had on this stretch. As he walked with me he told me about the carp and barbel he’s had and stories of the fish he’s caught. What he said didn’t necessarily fill them voids I am missing from the previous stretch, a bigger barbel. However, it went some way to reassuring me that they were here at least, if not bigger. Walking up and down the stretch what struck me was its sheer size and volume of water passing through, not pacey but nice gravelly areas. He assured me that I would catch barbel here and that a sixteen was possible, although he only had them to 15lb.

I did further digging and found out little bits and pieces from others who had fished it. It seemed that the general consensus was it was pretty much the same as where I had come from in terms of size of fish. I was told that it doesn’t see a barbel angler on its banks. I could see why, very slow current and lily pads cladding the nearside margins in the summer, certainly not your typical barbel stretch. Looks can definitely be very deceiving, two years ago I would’ve probably dismissed what I was told, believing the answer lay in my stretch I was already fishing.

So this would be my home, at least for now until the hoodlums had buggered off and got bored from the other stretch…

The first night I dropped into a swim, blind I didn’t know what was there I just saw some extra pace on the far side as it came around a bend and thought I’d try it.

Casting 65 yds or so was somewhat of a novelty but I managed to place my rigs somewhere where I imagined the barbel to be.

At 1am I get a proper bite and an 11lb barbel come to the net. I was absolutely chuffed to bits, my first from this new stretch and this gave me every reason to stay here.

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An 11lb 2oz barbel on the first night of the new stretch

Since then I have wrestled with the swim as I lost lead after lead, something I didn’t seem to realise on that first night as I didn’t snag up once. Little did I realise that this was a tackle graveyard, with big sharp boulders that cut you off if you get caught in them and vast weed that paved the bottom in-between.

The nights after were more of the same, interrupted by the odd decent barbel. This was the place, I knew it but I just needed to find some consistency and be able fish efficiently without worrying what I have cast into, or onto.

I lost 20 leads in all, but eventually found a clear(ish) area that I can fish efficiently, lead in-between the snags but not losing them on the retrieve.

The last six sessions have been excellent for me, catching barbel consistently and having a new PB chub of 7lb 3oz

A fantastic new PB chub of 7lb 3oz

A fantastic new PB chub of 7lb 3oz

Some absolutely stunning barbel that looked rarely caught, if at all

One of the stunning barbel caught on the new stretch

One of the stunning barbel caught on the new stretch at 12lb 2oz

A stunning carp of 15lb 14oz also made an appearance

A stunning carp of 15lb 14oz also made an appearance

What else would this place throw up? I was convinced that my PB barbel would also go here due to the variation in depth which was why it was snaggy. Feeling the lead down I could feel that it would sometimes take only a split second to reach the bottom, others it would just keep falling and take a few seconds.

Dreams Do Come True

Six sessions fishing effectively on this peg was not a lot and it already produced a fantastic PB chub.

Waiting for a bite on the 5th November it seemed like the fish didn’t like fireworks either as I didn’t have a touch for several hours, making one or two casts more than usual until I felt confident it was in the right spot every time. Casting to a far bank tree and feeling it down I knew I was in sort of deep hole as the 4 oz lead took a good few seconds to reach the bottom.

I was beginning to feel that this was all a waste of time as the noise was horrific and sploshing of moving fish synonymous with what was happening above.

I decide that I would leave the rods out and browse Facebook and watch a few angling videos on YouTube (as you do) and a good few hours had past when I hear a beep on the alarm, quickly followed by another. At this point I had almost forgot about my rods and for a brief moment I was a little confused of where the noise was actually coming from, until I realised it was my right-hand rod. By the time I had realised I was greeted with a thumping of the rod as I scampered down the bank. As I got there the line had gone slack, indicating the fish swimming towards me or upstream (or come off).

I quickly struck and felt immediately the resistance – a very good fish. I knew that I couldn’t let the fish have its head or play the fish as I would normally choose to as snagging me up was a huge possibility. I walked backwards with a tight clutch and just dragged it away from the area, although it pulled back I couldn’t afford to let it have any line.

Eventually, I had got this fish into open water and only exerted more pressure when I felt that I needed to as I regained smooth control over the fish.

In close it made for some nearside marginal growth and again I bullied it away (that’s the great thing about braid you can immediately try and stop a fish doing something without any elasticity). I saw a huge swirl on the surface and thought that looks a big fish!

My dim head torch could hardly show a fish on the surface as I slackened my clutch and placed my net under it as it came to the top. It was in the net and as I did that a firework with all the colours of the rainbow lit up the sky (you couldn’t make it up). On inspection I honestly thought it was around 10lb, not overly exited I set up my camera bits & bobs and let the fish recover in the net.

Only when I unscrewed my net from my landing net pole and began to lift did I think, oh my god this is a big fish as I struggled up the bank.

Laying the fish on the mat I could clearly see this was bigger than anything I had caught in the past so I weighed it first (usually take photos first) and I subtract the sling and weigh the fish which read 16lb 14oz, I couldn’t believe it!!!

I get out my spare set of scales where it read 16lb 15oz so I will gladly take it at its lowest weight of 16lb 14oz.

Sometimes in angling things happen in the most obscure circumstances and bizarre ways, never in my wildest dreams did I actually think it would happen on a night like this, lots of noise (but by this time it had calmed a little) like thunder and not a fish to be seen or heard.

A dream fish that took my breath away on sight, a fish that has changed my angling, for those 5 minutes of heart-stopping, pulsating and nerve-rendering moments it will never get boring and singularly the one reason I’ll never stop being a barbel angler.

For me now, I will concentrate on some articles for the blog and do a few videos as I do try and help if I can. I will also never stop trying to catch one bigger as I know they’re there but I’d definitely like a big carp and beat my UK PB on the same peg, watch this space!

The quest for a Trent 16 is over and whilst it is met with a little sadness, the relief and moments that will live with me forever, memories that can never be replaced by anything that happens after and no doubt my proudest angling achievement.

Here’s a few pictures and of course a video of that very special night.

My new PB at 16lb 14oz

My new PB at 16lb 14oz

And again!!

                                      

YouTube Video

Click Here And Watch In HD!!!

Of course I will remember the 5th November, but not for the fireworks that lit up the sky but for the ones that took place on the banks of the middle Trent!!

New article coming soon, but until then tight lines,

Richard