Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Snakes alive

Yesterday I went for a look at a stretch of the Ribble I hadn't fished before. There were four anglers fishing who had caught a couple of barbel between them. The river level was about normal with the colour well dropped out. After walking the banks I plonked my gear in between the anglers, there was plenty of space, and started a slow setting up.

Not having a clue what I might find in front of me I cast an unbaited rig out to see if it would hold. Three ounces didn't shift, so that was okay. It felt like there was a bit of a channel, so casting to the far bank didn't look like it would be worth the effort. The angler downstream of me was casting just short of mid river, and he landed a fish shortly before dusk. I put my baits out a little further to what looked like a change in the flow pattern - although the upstream wind ruffling the surface might have fooled me.

The chub taps started when it had gone dark. By half past nine the river was just the way I like it - deserted. More chub bites came to the pellet snake. At ten thirty another chub bite developed and kept on developing, turning into a small barbel of four or five pounds when I wound down to it. Five 8mm Crab flavour Pellet-Os fished as a 'snake' did the job.

Success for the 'snake'

The evening turned damp, with light drizzle hissing on the brolly, but it was still mild. The swim was quite comfortable for the Ribble, being grassy and almost flat. My boots soon had it turned into a mud slide though. Still, you can't have everything.

By now the bats were out and it looked like I was getting a few bat bites on the downstream rod. Just before eleven one of them turned into something more positive and I was attached to a fish that felt a bit bigger than the first one. There was a weight on the end of the line all right, but it wasn't doing much fighting. Straight in the net it was a pleasing fish for a first session on a length of river. A little bit lean, and judging from it's mouth a regular visitor to the bank. The drizzle stopped briefly and I took two quick snaps.

What big hands you have Grandma!

I fished on until just before midnight. The air was dry so I put the brolly away, packed up the rucksack, and then started to get wet as the rain returned. Picking up the 'snake' rod I got an instant reminder of one of the many 'pleasures' of fishing the Ribble. I could feel the writhing of a small 'snake' of another kind. Sure enough there was a bootlace eel, foulhooked in the middle of its back, on the end. Over the years I have foul hooked numerous eels of all sizes on hair rigged baits on the Ribble. Almost always they are just there when you wind in, invariably following a few 'chub bites' and a period of inactivity. I have no idea how they manage to hook themselves half way along their slithery bodies, but they do.

With the slimy mess sorted out the second rod was wound in uneventfully and I headed home with the windscreen wipers on all the way back.

A quick addition having seen a link to the following clip which might be of interest on Barbel Fishing World.