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July Diary

July 26, 2013

Well July’s come round and don’t seem to be at all the same. Last year was damp and cool, this year a ‘Heat Wave’.

2nd July

My first outing of the month was an afternoon trip to the Aisne near my house. The previous time I’d seen a fair few fish jumping opposite, and after studying Google Earth I found a track that might just lead me to a grassy swim on the far bank.
When I arrived a predator angler was already set up on the far right of the peg so I moved about 150 yards to the other extremity of the peg which allowed me to cast downstream and well away from his lines.
First cast was taken almost immediately by a 3lb chub. I recast and the second rod was away, but very quickly it found a snag. It had felt a decent fish, certainly a

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Beware the Ide’s of July

barbel or a small carp. The hooklink broke but I did get the feeder back. The old boy ambled down the bank and informed me of a huge underwater snag to my left… I guess that was why he was fishing 150 yards up stream to the right…

Anyway as I went to reel in the right hand rod it too was snagged up. I had to pull for a break…These rivers are indeed very snaggy.
After these break offs I decided it was a sensible thing to go back round to the other bank and fish one of the snag free swims opposite.
So off I went and set up again in a new swim and cast back out. My first bite saw me land a strange looking fish, like a sort of hybrid between a bream and a rudd. I called my mate Séb up and he told me I’d caught an Ide.
At 3lb 9oz it was a whopper too.

I managed another small chub and an inevitable bream before calling it a day around 7pm.

7th July

Now I’d been looking forward to a trip to the Meuse for a long while and we’d had several cancelled trips for a variety of reasons. I had been certain, though that this was one of the rivers that offered the best chance of a French double.
So I arranged with my mate Yannick to meet up on the banks of the river at a stretch he knew had produced double figure barbel to carp anglers in recent weeks.
We set up in a swim near a bridge and could see it was full of fish. We did though run into a major problem, and one quite common on Ardennes rivers near bridges…  SNAGS!
Or more precisely, the vestiges of a couple of World Wars, where most of the bridges across the river were blown up.
It became virtually impossible to cast out a feeder within 200m of the bridge and not get snagged on a big piece of rubble on the lake bed. So after five feeders were lost it was time to move.
A change of plans was urgently required. So we set off to another sector Yannick had fished & caught well on before, in the town centre, less countrified, but hopefully snag free.

Around midday in blazing hot sun we set up in this rather urban décor. Out went two rods baited with a large halibut pellet topped off by a Quest baits crab boilie on one rod and the same cocktail but with a Rahja spice on the other.
Right away we had activity on our rods, and it was obvious here too that there were a good number of fish present. Despite this we had to wait three hours for the first bite which came to Yannick’s rods in the shape of a 6lb plus barbel.

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A nuisance carp of 19lb

Around 15h30 I had a fast take on my downstream rod and connected to a fast moving fish. I just managed to avoid the buoy in the centre of the river. The fight was fast and furious as the fish charged around the swim. I did all I could to control it on the new 2.25lb barbel rods. Eventually I was able to bring it the waiting net and Yannick got it first go. Not a barbel this but a long lean mirror carp of 19lb 2oz.

Not a bad start.. Nuisance carp!!! Well I had been warned that this area held a fair few carp too.

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First Meuse barbel of just under 7lb

The next two hours remained calm apart from a sharp tug on my right hand rod that spun the reel but didn’t develop.  As the current was fairly moderate here I baited with a few catapults of boilies and pellets. At around 6pm the same rod that took the carp sped off again. And this turned out to be my first Meuse barbel of the year. At 6lb 10 oz, not a double but a nice fish, so I was well pleased.

Again all was quiet for the next hour, and I just let the rods fish, as I figured there was enough bait in the swim and my two large hook baits should suffice. It seemed this tactic was correct as I was soon doing battle with another powerful fish. It really was a difficult one to bring to the net… They just don’t want to go in these fish.
It turned out to be my second barbel of the day and despite the initial thoughts of Yanou that it was the same size as the first one, when we got it on the bank his first comments were

…………“What a lump!”

On the scales it went 9lb 1oz and is the largest barbel I’ve banked so far in France, a new PB in fact.

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New French PB of 9lb 1oz

I fished on for another couple of hours, banking a final small common of 8lb 4oz, before packing up for the long drive home.
After I left Yannick managed a couple more barbel in the 6lb-7lb bracket. Despite the awkward start, and a record number of feeders lost in a day, I was well pleased as I got one step closer to a French double figure barbel.

18th July

I did in fact do a couple of quick afternoon sessions on the Aisne, near my home, where I ran into a French barbel angler, the first I’ve met on the banks here. He’s already taken fish to 13lb on the stretches near my home, so it is possible, even if the average size is small..
All I managed in the two short sessions were a handful of small chub and bream, even on 18mm pellets.
I was though champing at the bit to get back on the Meuse.

In order to get a better idea of the productive swims, I decided to try a new peg on the other side of the town. It looked promising. We had checked it out during a pre-season recce in January.
I set up and fished in the same way as previously.
All was quiet for a good few hours, and at around 11.45 I was just contemplating a move when the rod wrapped round and I found myself battling a strong fish. I eventually got it into the net.. A very fit barbel of 7lb 04oz.

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Another nice 7lb Meuse fish

Dilemma!!! “Should I stay or should I go? “…

I decided to stay and a nice chub of just over 4lb had me believing in a few more fish.
But by 6pm, and no more bites, other than a couple of small bream that managed to take my large hook baits, I decided to try another area for the evening session.

I loaded the car and tried to find the previous swim I’d fished with Yannick. However road works in the town meant I got a bit lost and ended up at a part of the river we had also checked out in January.
It was a swim with a very steep bank, but one I was told was very productive. There were two massive tree trunks that had been deposited nearby during the flooding in the Spring. I was a bit concerned that as it was near a bridge it might also be very snaggy. But in for a penny!!!

Two baits were cast out and I immediately banked a small chub on the LHR. I recast both lines and again fairly quickly had a fast run on the RHR.  It took line fast and found an unseen snag!!! Merde! or words to that effect.
As I was busy trying to free the line, the other reel started spinning. I scrambled up the bank and hit the run, only to find it too was stuck in a snag. My fears had been right; the winter had seen lots of rubbish deposited in the swim… Seems to be the story of my life this year… God these rivers are snaggy.

I persevered hoping not to get snagged again and did manage a few more fish, but not big, two small barbel of 5lb & 3lb and a 3lb 7oz chub.

I packed up feeling very frustrated. I’d spent far too long in the first swim, and had lost the only two decent fish in the second. I just felt I’d fished badly, even though I’d caught fish.

25th July

Well my trip to the Meuse also left me with quite severe sunburn on my legs. I’d made the fatal error of wearing shorts but due to the wind I’d not realised I was getting badly burned. Anyway a doy or so later,  I had an allergic reaction that caused my legs to swell, which on top of the blistering from the burns left me in a sorry state.
What an idiot ! –  I’d have given my kids a really rollicking for that…

I decided that another long day in the sun was not wise just yet, so contented myself to a short evening session on the local river. (Long trousers were de rigueur this time)
I headed for the same swim as previously only to find an absolutely huge mass of tree trunks and branches had been deposited on the bank. It was massive, bigger than my car and cover 80% of the available bank space to fish.

I managed to squeeze in but was somewhat concerned that they’d have left a substantial amount of debris on the riverbed in the central channel. As the current was relatively slow at the moment it would most likely stay there until the next flood.
A couple of tentative casts didn’t see me snag anything to I decided to give it a go. After about an hour I had a very fast run on the double boilie rod. It immediately took line then all went solid. My fears, once again had been founded, and once again I was locked in an unmovable river snag. It was starting to become a regular occurrence. I had no option but to pull for a break as slack lines had not proved any use.

I really don’t know why the tree trunks were removed in such a way as to leave the swim even snaggier than it was before, invisible snags as opposed to the visible and avoidable ones.

I didn’t really want to cast back out here so moved to another sector of the river about 15 miles upstream.

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The river looked very inviting in the evening sun

The new swim was free of other anglers and looked good in the evening sunshine. I knew from past experience it had not produced any big fish, but I just felt I needed a few bites.

Well they weren’t long in coming and in the 4 hours I spent there I managed three small barbel, all in the 3lb bracket. But at least they put a bend in the rod.
During my time at the swim I got a phone call from the French barbel, angler I’d met earlier in the month. He’d been fishing the Oise that day and had managed three nice chub to well over 4lb and had lost two barbel.

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But only produced small fish like this 3lb job!

He told me the stretch was very good and had produced doubles in the past. He invited to take me there soon.
This would be a very good option as I’d not considered the Oise till now and its about 50 miles from my home, so closer than the Meuse, giving me a further option to crack the double.

Anyway the search goes on…

Tight Lines
Gareth

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