Although it has only been a few weeks since I last wrote a blog, I am happy to say that in that time I have done a lot of fishing that consisted of a nice mix of fish and many fishing situations!
Barbel Fishing in Belgium
Let’s start this blog with my favourite species; Mr Barbel. I was fishing on my local river; the Grensmaas which has certainly changed since the major flooding. The river banks have been washed away and the bed of the river has changed completely. A few fishing sessions have told that the fish are no longer in the spots they were, and the work begins to find the new places they live, and hence they can now be caught.
I am not one to give in to a challenge so easily though! I decided to try for a barbel even with the river still running above normal for the time of year. I settled on a swim on the Belgium side of the river. For most of its length, the Grensmaas forms the border between the Netherlands and Belgium with essentially the east bank being in the Netherlands and the west bank Belgium. A Belgium fishing licence is required but it's very easy to obtain from the internet or a post office. Well worth the few Euros to obtain as Belgium like Holland has lots of varied fishing.
Like no other river I have ever fished the level of the Grensmaas can change very quickly, 2 metres extra water level in the space of just a few minutes, with this in mind it is very important to make sure wherever you fish its possible to make sure you and your fishing tackle remain safe should that extra surge of water suddenly arrive. I have seen anglers who are not prepared for loose tackle and get very wet whilst retreating.
With the river just dropping after a surge of water had gone through, I arrived at just the right time and the third cast of the day produced the desired result a superb condition early autumn barbel. A few casts later and a second barbel for good measure. That was the last action of the session as within a few minutes the level rose quickly with nearly an extra metre of water making it almost unfishable and experience tells me it's not usually a productive time as the extra water normally means a temporary drop in water temperature as well.
Autumn Coarse Fishing around Holland
Autumn really is a great time to fish. Since I joined the carp lake syndicate this year, I have had some great fishing, plenty of carp in the twenty-pound class, which are great to catch, and luckily most sessions end up with one or 2 nice fish. Since I last wrote I have managed a few more nice carp from the lake with the carpfeeding well to put on weight for the upcoming winter.
One of the rules of the fishery is that any form of electronic alarm is not allowed, the fishery owner is not happy with the noise some anglers make with volumes up high and the disturbance that causes. When I first started fishing for carp, I couldn’t afford alarms so we used a system of balancing coins on the spool and when the fish picked up the bait and a run developed the spool would rotate and the coins drop into a strategically placed tin, the noise was enough to alert me of the run via a simple but effective bite alarm.
Luckily, we own a camper van so if ever we fancy a few days away it doesn’t take long to load the van and away we go doesn’t matter if it’s the other side of Europe or a few miles from home the first thing packed is the fishing gear. We hadn’t owned our camper long when it became known as the barbel bus as we were as away as often as possible somewhere or other barbel fishing mostly. We have been all over Europe in search of barbel and the camper just made that easier with many camper van stops close to rivers or lakes a camper is an angler’s dream.
Our latest camper adventure took us to the north of Holland, this area is an angler’s dream with so much different fishing from small drainage channels and ponds to huge canals and lakes along with the coastline, harbours and estuaries it offers so much potential. We decided over the ten days or so we would stop in 5 or 6 different places ideally with some fishing close by.
I had planned to take some light sea fishing gear but decided against it, however, I was soon regretting that as we walked along the seafront in Den Helder. Watching local anglers catching bass and flounders I decided that I need to make plans for a return visit ASAP! There is plenty of coastlines, a freshly caught fish on the barbecue sounds perfect to me.
As we traveled around over the next few days I had some fantastic catches of fish, mostly bags of bream and roach, simple pole and feeder tactics accounting for some super fish in great surroundings. There are lots of small inland marinas, usually a few camper van stops in the marina make these a perfect spot to stop and fish. For me fishing is about enjoyment, simple tactics in nice locations, fish for everything, sums it up.
Tench Fishing in North Holland
One species I have never caught in Holland is a tench, back in the UK I fished for tencha lot, especially in springtime. Fishing at dawn on a tench lake with the sun rising and tench bubbling in the swim has to be one of the most iconic scenes in fishing and certainly something I miss.
During this trip whilst fishing for roach in a small marina, my pole elastic was suddenly put under far more strain than the hand-sized roach I had been catching. After several anxious moments of an elastic stretching tug of war the culprit came to the surface, my first Dutch tench, not a huge fish 4 or 5lb, size didn’t matter though! It was safely in the net and was another milestone fish!
The time we spent in north Holland fulfilled that and more, high on my list for a return visit, for us its only a few hours’ drive and from the UK it's only a Ferry journey and a couple of hours drive. I will post a more detailed article in the near future regarding holidays in the Netherlands.
With a fishing trip to the UK planned in the next few weeks, hopefully, some local fishing catches will be shared with you soon!