Ellis and I planned another trip to Cundall farm fishing for Barbel. The Swale Barbel was still eluding me and with winter approaching, the time seemed right.
Chris Gaines, predominately game fishing member of big elbow was joining us for a few hours to whet his coarse fishing appetite.
The track at the farm was dry, so I braved driving down to the river, we can park right behind our swim, it is great to have a mobile tackle box a few steps away for leaving rods and bulky tackle in. It means you can bring more stuff but not necessarily have to carry it far, win, win!
To tempt these Barbel we were well armed, pellets, boilies, meat, worms, hemp and deadbaits formed our arsenal. "Deadbaits?!" I hear you cry, yes, Ellis decided at the 11th hour to add deadbaits to the list in case we decided to target Pike. I did tell him we were Barbel fishing!!
We settled in a swim where all 3 of us could comfortably sit. We covered a large bend, with deep and shallow areas. Soon the bait was going in and our traps were set. I was on the far end, a little way from the other too, and I soon heard Chris laughing and fishing chatter. It was great to be on the bank again.
With little action coming from the water, Ellis took to the sky. His drone quickly spanning the river and fields. No Barbel spotted.
Soon it was time for Chris to leave, he will have to come another time as he left hungry on this occasion, his coarse fishing appetite not met!
Decisions had to be made. Did we stick or twist? We twisted. We upped sticks and moved swims, opting for a section of river heavily tree lined on the far side. Feeling that here we could bait to the trees, and draw fish out from this feature.
Soon we had new traps set and Ellis's trap was a dead bait. I did tell him we were Barbel fishing!
It was not long before Ellis's float twitched and sailed away. He was in to our first fish, not a Barbel, but a blank saving Pike! I know!! I did tell him we were Barbel fishing!
Unfortunately the hooks pulled at the net and we were still fish less.
So far the Barbel had not put in an appearance, we had laid down another carpet of hemp and smaller mixed pellets and had meat and pellets or boilies on the hook. At one stage I even had a boilie and pellet cocktail, but nothing seemed to work. As Ellis started on the Bar B Q, I was watching his float, mesmerized by it's stillness. Suddenly it gave a twitch and a bob and was gone. Ellis was back on the rod, and this time I netted it. A nice pike to get Ellis off the mark, I did tell him we were Barbel fishing!
The time soon came, to sit back, open a beer and have a chat. Discussing new trips on the canal and possibly Trent to target Zander. This was Barbel fishing at it's best!
The rods were all re-baited and cast to the perfect, but not always snag free position and we sat down to eat. It seems Ellis is a dab hand in the kitchen, but only when it is bank side and can include a blow torch! The bar b q coals never stood a chance, but the resulting perfectly cooked chicken, sweet corn and salad really brought the day to a delish end.
As the light was about to fade, we cast again and sat waiting. The night lights and bite alarm taking over from float watching now. Soon we we were reaching for the Whiskey and one last cast to a position for the night.
Now, most of you will appreciate casting to a tree lined bank in the dark is not easy. It's a simple job of casting, probably a little bit under your normal throw and hearing the splash to confirm it's in the water. Ellis stood ready, his bait perfectly mounted. The rod over his shoulder. I saw the throw, waited for the splash. But all I heard was bush!!! The loud rustle of lead hitting leaf, quickly followed but a roar of laughter from me and an expletive from Ellis. This really was Barbel fishing at it's best!
Soon, all the rods were in, and we sat to watch the night lights. As bats started to fly over our heads, the moon rose from above the trees and gave us a little bit more light. The rods did not move, so we decided to reel in and have some kip, deciding to get up early and put the rods back out before light.
Forgoing the bivvy this time, we opted for car seats to be our bed. Ellis opting for the warm, heated seat of his car, me for the cold back seat of mine! After not a lot of sleep, and a chat at 3.30am, I had my rod back on the spot well before any light came up. Ellis opting for a few more hours warming his bum!
As the light rose, there were fish topping everywhere, it was a beautiful start to another day Barbel fishing. When Ellis got up, I had 2 rods back on the perfect spot ready. Ellis joined me by baiting with meat, pellets and dead bait! Yes, I did tell him we were Barbel fishing!
It didn't take long before Ellis was rushing to his rod, striking and playing another fish. "Was it a Barbel?" You ask. No, no another Pike! I netted this one and after taking the pics, I got back to the Barbel fishing!
Ellis then had about 4 or 5 fish all in the space of an hour, unfortunately he didn't land them. The fish picking up the bait, then throwing the hooks. Yes, all Pike! That was it, I gave in and joined Ellis for a perfect days Pike fishing!
Swapping one rod for my pike gear, I soon had a sardine, float fished in the slack water and the Barbel rod perfect in the tree line. Suddenly we both saw it at once, movement, a fish was finally here. A twitch, strike and I was finally into a fish. Playing it whilst Ellis got the net. Joy on my face as I finally pulled the fish over the net. Bringing it on the bank, unhooking and some nice pics followed. I was off the mark on this Barbel fishing trip with, yes, you've guessed it. A Pike!!
It was time for Ellis to get back in the kitchen, this time emerging with sausages, bacon and beans.
I was going to shamelessly plug Ellis's spool bands again, but I don't need too. After seeing how easy he got line from a spool in strong winds with no tangles or line blowing about, it seems they plug themselves!
With the strong winds taking over from the snores of Ellis, and even staying till the Dave Jones 2pm, it was finally time to pack up and head home. A quick walk at Topcliffe bridge and a sneaky view of Billy's boards from the back (that's not easy to say) showed no fish in the aquarium swim. It was definitely time to admit defeat on this Barbel trip.
Another great Barbel trip, will always be remembered for the pike, Ellis's "bush" cast and the quote that sums it all up, "let's fish in this swim, it looks a lot more social".