Right from the very start of this project, locating the barbel of The "Kentish" Stour, has been a major headache. There is one, very well known and heavily pressured, swim where Benno and I have both taken a "double" each. Away from this hot-spot, fish location is extremely difficult and has more to do with watercraft and experience than actually seeing these elusive creatures. In the middle reaches, where we concentrated our efforts last season, this river is an intimate venue full of character and challenges. As I made mention, yesterday, the floods of the previous winter have changed that section of the river beyond recognition and, so, we are starting out again in another area.
|September 1985 - this River Thames 9lbs 2oz barbel remained my (joint) PB for 28 years!|
Taken on maggots, fished on a size 14 Drennan Specialist hook in conjunction
with a feeder - how tactics have changed!
|The essentials - as I see it|
No. 1 - An LED head torch - the pursuit of these fish is very much a nocturnal pastime and, as such, a head torch is required
No. 2 - An example of my rig - in line flat pear lead, 18" Kryston hooklink with two blobs of tungsten putty to a Korda "Wide Gape" with a hair-rigged 16mm Halibut pellet (tied knotless knot)
No. 3 - Bait dropper - complete with my own mods. Fred Crouch first demonstrated the vital role that this item of tackle plays. I've never forgotten it.
No. 4 - Hooks; of whatever pattern and size suits the occasion
No. 5 - Super Glue - only an idiot would go fishing without it?
No. 6 - Kryston "Silkworm" hooklink material. It was good enough for carp and catfish in the 1980's; it remains a quality product to this day, all of my R.Stour barbel have been taken on it.
No. 7 - A simple baiting needle for threading pellets.
No. 8 - A selection of flat pear, in line, leads from 2 - 4 oz in 1/2 oz divisions
No. 9 - Flying back lead - just to keep that extra 24" of main line pinned to the river bed
No. 10 - Insect repellent - probably the most important item in my bag?
No. 11 - Rubber beads for protecting my knots
No. 12 - Snap Lites
No. 13 - Halibut pellets; 16 mm on left and 22mm "donkey chokers" on the right
No 14 - Quick link swivels and sleeves
No 15 - Nail clippers; my teeth ain't as good as they once were!
|Enterprise Tackle adaptor, as endorsed by Frank Warwick|
|Probably the best £30 I've invested. |
I got three Optonic alarms which have never missed a beat in four seasons - why spend more?
|My rather tired-looking Match Ariel - what a joy to own and use.|
I purchased this reel from Fred Crouch, for £25, way back in the early 1980's
It has seen some action, and abuse, since then and is still a fantastic piece of kit.
To ensure that my captures are as enjoyable, as they are hard earned, it is my choice to use centre-pin reels. The modern bait-runners do a fantastic job but, in my opinion, cannot compare to the experience of playing a decent fish on a reel which "comes alive" when a fish is hooked. I still own, and very much treasure, an Allcock's Match Ariel (Fred Crouch copy) which is a delight to use, however, I have also purchased three Matt Haye's "Limited Edition" Centre-pins (No.s 54,55 & 56) which have already provided me with some fantastic fun. Not quite the build quality of the original, yet plenty good enough for the treatment I dish out and robust enough to stay the course.
Sorry if you were expecting to read about swim choice and baiting strategies - maybe another day; after I have discovered that my tactics are delivering the results I seek. Tight lines!