The trip was broken down into 3 x 12 hour sessions. The first of these sessions I was targeting the zander. Initially we had planned to fish a ticket water, but Ben had managed to get us access to a private stretch that we could fish for free, so we opted to fish there.
The stretch isn't particularly large and without wanting to waste time opening up a new peg, we shared the one peg, which was a bit of a squeeze but manageable.
Ben has fished this stretch before catching quality barbel, bream and chub. We hadn't know of any zander to come out of the stretch, but the section is on the navigable part of the river so has some depth and is relatively slow moving compared to other sections of this powerful river.
I spent some time catching bait and within 30 minutes there was enough bleak and roach in the keepnet to see us through the night. I decided on one rod for the barbel and one for the zander, both setup with simple running rigs, the latter with a small treble wire trace.
It was a good hour after sunset before the first bait was taken, a live roach was snatched, as soon as I struck I knew it was an eel. A decent size, unweighted, definitely over a pound, but less than two. This is the first eel I have taken on a live bait, we were both surprised with the capture as the bait was a decent size, not what I would usually class as eel size.
About an hour later a bleak was taken, initially I thought it was another eel, it felt a good size too so I was pleased. Ben caught a glimpse of it and said it didn't look like an eel, I wasn't convinced until it surfaced and those trademark eyes reflecting our head torches back towards us were revealed.
|A first zander - 8lb 14oz|
The rest of the trip could of been a blank, I didn't care, target achieved, a couple of beers were cracked open to celebrate.
The rest of the night passed without any zander being landed. Plenty of runs but they were difficult to hit, the few we did connect with were jacks, two for Ben and just the one on my rod. I also managed a couple of bream on the barbel rod, which probably only just went past the 2lb mark.
The next 24 hours was on a stretch further downstream, much more pace to this section of river so we were going for the barbel. Being a popular ticket water you have to pre-book pegs, unfortunately that meant having to fish a different peg for the day and night session.
The day session was hard, given the low water and clear skies we weren't overly confident in catching barbel during the day. Ben had the only take, on a rod he had scaled down to 6lb fluro and a small 6mm pellet. A pristine 7lb + barbel was his reward. I didn't get so much as a knock all day and I was glad when the evening came.
A new peg, a fresh start, two rods, one downstream to a near bank willow, the second would be cast into open water with a big bait and a heavy lead.
The first hour was spent putting some bait next to the willow, I recast the feeder every 5 minutes, to get a bit of the simple groundbait mix in the area.
The first take came at 19:45 and I was kept busy thoughtout the night, 10 runs and 7 barbel landed.
|A first barbel from this river - 5lb 9oz|
|The largest and final fish of the session - 9lb 5oz|
Unfortunately Ben didn't land anything during the night, he lost a good fish first cast, but that was the only take he had.
That's probably my final barbel session of the year, time to concentrate on the predators.
The capture of that zander means that I have achieved one of the targets I set myself at the beginning of the year. The others being a p.b eel, perch and pike. Not asking for much! Probably unachievable but I'm going to give it a good go.
A few sessions for the eels, leaving me the rest of the year to target the perch and pike.