Blog Posts by Michael Wickens
Live and let learn
As June the 16th grew closer, my
excitement also grew. Come Friday evening (15th) I was ecstatic, so
with all my gear packed, rods tied to my bike, and the alarm set for 5am, I
head to bed to dream of lean, hard fighting Barbel...
‘Beep beep, beep beep!' Hmmm, perhaps it wasn't such a good idea, but once I had woken myself up, I was once again raring to get going, and by 5.30 I was down the river, happy with how the conditions were. By 6.00am I had baited 3 swims, which for the past 3 evenings I had baited with a mix of halibut pellets and chopped boilies, in hope that it would pay dividends on the opening day. Leaving the swims for half an hour, I cast into the first one, but nearly an hour went by and I only had a few little taps, so I decided a change from luncheon meat to halibut pellets might pay off, and it did! I had banked my first fish of the season, being a chub of 3lb 4oz. The start of many I hope…
Since the Sussex Ouse is so small, it's often
best to leave swims to settle and move onto the next, so I was soon settled
into the 2nd baited swim, and within 10 minutes I had what to me is
one of my favourite moments in fishing, when the rod doubles over, often
referred to as the ‘three foot twitch' that Barbel are so renowned for. With
the rod in full curve, the clutch ticked away, but any tighter and the line
would have snapped, so I had no choice but to hold on and pray, but the fish
just kept going, got into the full flow, then the hook pulled. A few
‘selective' words were said, but not to be beaten I sat in the swim trickling
in pellets upstream for 20 minutes, then once again cast out. 15 minutes passed
this time, then the rod hooped over once again, but the fish had managed to
snag me on an underwater branch instantly. Perhaps third time lucky? Almost
routinely, the rod went again, but disaster struck and the hook pulled again!
What on earth was happening?
I decided to leave the swim, to allow it to rest, but also partially due to how frustrating it was becoming. The third swim produced nothing other than yet another hook pull, so it was back to the 2nd swim to see if I could finally land one from it. Repeating the procedure of casting my feeder tight to the bankside cover, I had to wait a lot longer this time for signs of life, but within an hour I could feel small plucks coming down the line by touch ledgering, but after a while of the plucks not developing I reeled in to find some of the pellets had been pulled of the line. There was only thing for it… Time to put on a chunk, matching my Smokey Herring groundbait! As the feeder hit the river bed and I tightened up to the weight, I felt the line getting pulled through my fingers and rod slowly bending! Finally, another fish on, and it was going like a steam train. In all honestly I thought it was a Barbel, but after a cracking scrap full of dodgy moments a chub broke the surface. Despite not being a huge fish, it was a great way to round the session off, particularly after losing so many! It was slightly bigger than the first, weighing in at 3lb 7oz.
After thinking hard about why I lost so many
fish, I have put it down to two things that I am adamant made a huge amount of
difference. Firstly, I fished my feeder fixed, where as I normally fish it
running. What this did was to make the rig ‘bolt rig' style, meaning the fish
were hooking themselves against the weight of the feeder, but since it was only
light, they weren't getting hooked properly, whereas I normally set the hook
when lifting into the fish when the feeder is running.
The second flaw in my set up was fishing a
light feeder rod, which although I have previously landed Barbel to 8lb 2oz on
and is fine in normal conditions; it wasn't up to the job handling fish in the
For my next session I am ready, so beware all
you river dwellers!
I hope this article proves that in angling we
are always learning no matter what ability we are, which is one of the main
reasons I love it. Live and learn!
The Sussex Ouse certainly hasn't seen the last
of me, and these next 3 months I will be down there weekly.
Tight lines… Michael Wickens