With the river season well underway it looks like plenty of fish are being caught and the encouraging signs that lots of new anglers. It's great to see families going fishing together, especially around the beginning of National Fishing Month. Fishing is a great way of getting some recreation time in as well as being able to social distance and staying safe.
We can all agree that getting youngsters into our sport is essential for its future so I feel its all of our responsibilities to encourage them off of the sofa and onto the river bank. You can check out AD’s Get Into Fishing deal that is to start in stores on the 25th July for under 16’s. Personally, I certainly know in a few weeks time, restrictions permitting, both my granddaughter from England and my nieces and nephews from the Netherlands will we joining us out here in France and fishing will be high on their to-do lists!
As I have had to do a fair bit of travelling over the last few weeks, fishing has had to take a little bit of a backseat. With a trip to the Netherlands on business, I have to admit I did sneak the barbel rods in hoping for a day on The Rhine! That day turned into a fishless 4 hours, however, it was great to be fishing on one of my favourite rivers in Europe. It is not for the faint-hearted as there are 5000-tonne ships to contend with so 180 to 210-gram feeders and heavy barbel rods and big reels required.
I have over the years be rewarded for the efforts with some huge barbel from The Netherlands and met some anglers along the way that have since become good friends. It is no secret I met Tjitske my wife whilst barbel fishing in The Netherlands so some great memories and not just fish! I did have an enjoyable few hours but was fishing a stretch that gets very little angling attention so didn’t expect much, but great to be there again. The Rhine is high on my list over the next few years that’s for sure.
We arrived back from the trip mid-afternoon and within an hour I had the rods out and a barbel in the net, I finished the evening with half a dozen decent barbel all taken on sweetcorn, a very underused bait when barbel are concerned, I have a favourite sweetcorn which has caught me loads and that’s Sonubaits F1 corn, that sweet creamy caramel flavour is irresistible to most fish.
The river has been kind to me with plenty of fish every time I have managed to get the rods out. Having been very busy, I have only managed a few short sessions, but I am lucky to be living 5 metres from the river and having the tackle ready and waiting to go in the garage. If I have a spare hour or 2 I can be fishing in a matter of minutes!
The river here is low and very clear like many rivers all over Europe. This calls for a much more refined approach and often means fishing early and late in the day as this will always produce more fish. When I have got out in the evenings, the barbel have been feeding, with up to 10 possible in a few hours! Barbel are not usually hard to find on any river in low clear conditions, simply they need areas of flow and plenty of oxygen in the water.
Sadly, as many anglers may also find this time of year, mosquitos have a fondness for my blood. I find using insect repellent coils and citronella candles help along with wrapping up as much bare skin as possible, not great on warm muggy evenings.
It is not just yourself you need to look out for during summer but the importance of fish care in theses hot conditions needs stressing. Once a fish is in the net, whatever the species just give it a minute or 2 in the net held in the water to regain its normal breathing pattern.
Once you lift the fish out of the water, use a good under hooking mat which is soaked and kept wet throughout the day. Placing a fish on a hot dry mat will almost certainly destroy its mucus membrane and leave it open to disease and infection. Make sure you return the fish to the water as soon as you can and support it until it swims off strongly.
I haven’t had a chance to spend time fishing for the river carp, although, I did manage to land one carp around 10lb whilst on my river session after barbel. I have been baiting my normal spots and looking for fish but I have spotted very little since they only spawned a few weeks ago. As always, I will keep feeding and watching and maybe there will be a biggie with my name on!