As I described in the last blog, sadly my dream house by the river is no longer, and I have moved to the Limburg area of the Netherlands. Although there is no longer have a river flowing through my garden, I am spoilt for choice with a wide variety of fishing venues all within a few minutes of my home.
Dutch anglers are very lucky with such a huge variety of fishing venues and types of fishing all over The Netherlands be it small intermit lakes to huge rivers, harbours estuaries and beaches it is all there for the angler to choose!
Barbel Fishing in the Netherlands
With Barbel being my passion then it was only right I put them at the top of the list and after all, I had a record to maintain. I had managed to land a barbel every month for the previous 49 months so this month if I could catch one it would see the half-century milestone reached.
The river Grensmaas or Border Maas is well known as a river that has a prolific head of barbel but can also be a very difficult river to fish in the colder months. Essentially, it’s the same river as flowed past my French home but at this point, it forms the border between The Netherlands and Belgium.
Sadly, over the last few years, there has been a negative effect on fishing due to flood alleviation and the surroundings of the river has seen massive changes, leading to most of the river unfishable in the winter months due to high flow rates. To prevent flooding further upstream in France and Belgium the river has been changed to get the water from the river and into the seawith minimum disruption to the flow, however, the effect this has on the rate of flow of the fish, and nature within the river is not great.
River Fishing on the Grensmass
Luckily, a Dutch friend of mine, Peter has fished the river since he was a child. With Peter having lived his whole life just a 5-minute walk away, he was happy to share local he has picked up over the last 50 years of fishing The Grensmaas. Peter and I spent the best part of a day looking at known spots and deciding on a shortlist of places to try in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, the travel restrictions kept us out of Belgium and the still high river level meant quite a few spots were still un-fishable.
A week later we met up for our first trip, the river level had risen again after quite a bit of rain so with that in mind we found an area with a much deeper and steadier flow and had a nice day fishing together, armed with a flask full of tea and a head full of fishing chat. At the end of the day we had managed a few big river bream but no barbel.
By the time we met the next week, the river had dropped and the weather had improved, so we tried another area from our shortlist. Again, a most enjoyable day but nothing to show for all our efforts, although the weather had improved it was still unseasonably cold and the river still higher level than normal.
We arranged to meet again the following week and with the river level up again returned to our original spot. The weather was now much warmer with a nice warm spring day we enjoyed a much more pleasant day made better when my rodsignalled a small indication and then a savage bite as what could only be a barbel felt well and truly hooked as I picked up the rod.
I must admit to feeling a bit nervous as I played what was a decent fish but also an important milestone barbel on 2 counts. I carefully played the hard fighting fish and Peter joined me to slip the net under a decent barbel. Peter did the honours with the camera, and I think he was as pleased as I was.
Meeting Angling Targets
The day concluded with no more fish, but to land, a barbel for the 50th consecutive month was for me a great achievement! This was something that took a lot of hard work, especially in the winter months over the last four years when barbel can be very difficult to catch with their reluctance to feed in cold water conditions. I will stand to be corrected but I would guess it's an achievement very few if any other anglers have completed!
During the time it took to achieve this, I have landed over 2500 barbel from countless different rivers and countries around Europe. Here is to continuing the challenge to catch a barbel every month.
Fishing in Spring
The difficulty with Spring fishing can be the diverse weather conditions often faced, to prove my point, I fished with Peter again the following day as we thought we had located the fish, but other than a few bream and spotting a shoal of river carp we had no action from barbel. The day was like a summers day with a 25-degree temperature and bright sunshine all day. Three days later we had planned to fish again but the forecast of snow called a halt to the plans and with over 15cms of snow and arctic cold air blowing any hopes of decent days fishing away, I stayed indoors in the warm!
I had every plan of fishing this week but, the hard work of the last few weeks has caught up with me and as I write this I am suffering from a strained back. The weather outside looks much better but we are still suffering cold winds, night frosts and high air pressure, none of which contribute to a decent days fishing.
I did manage to get out for a walk at the weekend and with the help of another local friend I have located a couple of nice lakes for some spring carp and tench fishing. I haven’t targeted tench for a few years so it will be nice to get out in the next few days and see if I can catch a few along with some carpwould be nice.
I will keep you informed how it goes, in the meantime do not forget Angling Direct retail shops are now open again and it's time to stock up on everything fishing.
A big thanks to Peter for his help in finding some good spots and especially for helping me get my 50th month of barbel.