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Specimen Fishing

Tim bags a big barbel

July 2015

Every year I look forward to my barbel trip to England. At the end of June the moment is finally there. I’m going to fish on the mighty river Trent for a couple of days in excellent company with Ade Kiddell, Tjitske Bakker and Korum’s media man Adam Firth.

The river is low and crystal clear. We are going to fish a rich of oxygen part of the river. Ade knows a gully which is hardly fished. This is going to be precision fishing. Due to the nature of the river, this time we use the Xpert 2.2lb rods with helicopter rig. The helicopter rig is made of a pin down unleaded leader from Avid Carp with a Korum Carp Heli-Bead. As a hooklink I use 15lb fluorocarbon with Korum specimen hook. To the end I mount a 120 gram Korum river feeder.

Before the rods are put rods in position, I pre-bait the swim with Code Red 15mm boilies and plenty of Sonubaits Cheesy Garlic Halibut Pellets. No one else knows how to fish this swim more successful than Ade. He tells us that we have to be patient until the start of the evening. During day time we managed to catch a number of smaller barbel.

In the evening things turned crazy! We caught barbel after barbel as soon as the feeder hit the bottom! Adam managed to break his PB a number of times and Ade and Tjitske both caught a double figure barbel over 11lb! We finished the day with a tasteful La Chouffe beer and turned into bed at 3am!

On day two we pre-baited the swim lightly to keep the fish interested. The Korum river feeder is an excellent feeder for this purpose. It lets the flavour leak out of the feeder downstream but there is only a small amount of feed for the fish. It doesn’t takes Adam long to improve his PB with a 9-9lb barbel. He also catches another number of fish all on Code Red Hardened Dumbell boilies. I also switched to a Dumbell and it didn’t take long before the rod had a fish on. A heavy fish on the line is trying to get rid of the hook. Fortunately I won this battle and find myself in luck – a 12lb 6oz barbel. I’ve never seen such a short, but heavy specimen.

Adam has only a short number of hours left before he has to say goodbye. Just before he is about to leave, his rod bends double. He instantly notices that this is a very heavy inhabitant of the river. The first time we saw the fish is also the last time! The fish threw the hook.

After Adam has left camp it’s stayed quite for a long time. But in the evening the same crazy situation repeats itself and after catching a large number of barbel, we entered midnight and decided it was time for bed! The next morning we managed to catch a small number of fish before it’s time to head for the long way back towards The Netherlands.

Thanks again to Ade and Tjitske for the hospitality and Adam thanks for the great team work! I’m already planning my next visit.

The quest for Ardennes doubles

Since 2004 I have been frequently fishing the rivers Ourthe and Ambleve within the Belgian Ardennes. Especially the last few years I have made some serious hours to achieve my goal of catching a respectable barbel. By respectable I mean a fish above 70 cm and 9lb. A one way trip to the Ardennes is a 250 Km drive for me. Despite the long distance I try to visit these rivers on a monthly frequency. For some reason these rivers keep drawing my attention so I take the long drive for granted. Together with a number of fishing mates I have scouted and fished miles of river to find good swims. The majority of the fish are in the range 4 – 6lb, with now and then an exception up until 8lb, but we never encountered anything bigger nor did we hear of bigger catches by others.

The Belgian Ardennes is an area with still a lot of undiscovered terrain for me and the long distance makes it hard to make fast progress. Together with my friend Leon Haenen I invested a lot of hours in the Ardennes over the last couple of years. At times when catching fish was poor we stopped fishing and decided that it was better to invest our time in finding new swims. Usually without any result. But there was one swim that Leon had great confidence in and he wouldn’t stop bringing it up to my attention. He was absolutely confident that if there would be bigger barbel to catch in the Ardennes, this had to be the spot. I couldn’t argue and supported his vision. Unfortunately is it impossible to fish this swim during winter time. Therefore we decided to return later in the year.
July 2014
Finally the conditions are in place. At 07.00 p.m. I find myself at the Ourthe together with Leon. As almost always the rig I use today is a Korum running rig with a 12lb Korum hooklink and a size 10 hook. The water level is higher than normal and the water had turned brown so a 90 gr combo feeder filled with a sticky mix of 4,6 and 8 mm garlic pellets should do the trick. On the hair I mount a double 12 mm pellet. This setup is fished with an 1.75lb Expert rod after I catapulted the swim seriously with Sonubaits hemp and pellets.
From the first moment the feeder hits the bottom things start to go crazy. This day starts incredible. After two minutes I hook a fish that crushes my PB of 69 cm and 7.14lb. After measuring the fish the scale stopped at 72 cm and 9lb exactly. It was an incredibly hard fight in a  serious swim with a fish that tested the Xpert rod to the max. I’m absolutely over the moon deciding this fight in to my benefit.
Leon exceeds my achievement by landing a triple PB with each of them monsters for this river. With 75 cm 9.0lb, 77 cm 9.2lb and 76 cm 9.5lb he has the day of his live. Breaking your PB three times on one day is something to dream of. Together we enjoy these magnificent powerful stream machines! At the end of the day the scale stops at 14 barbel on the mat. Before we start the long journey home new plans are made…………the quest for a double of 80 cm.

Sneep success

September 2013

Sneep Success

One of my favorite target fish is the “Sneep”. This fish inspires me because of his strange nose and big eyes but most of all because it’s very hard to catch. I like a challenge and specimen fishing on Sneep is one of them. There is a small population of Sneep in The Netherlands and if it is caught it is mainly a rare fish to catch.

Sneep lives in schools and is very depending on variances in its habitat. It needs clean oxygenated water and large rocks for algae but also clean pebbles. One of my Sneep swims is located in Luxembourg, and since I was already there with Ade Kiddell to fish for Barbel the coming few days, we decided to sacrifice a few hours to target the Sneep.

Once we arrived at the swim we started with feeding hemp and maggots. We enhanced the Sonubatis hemp with the Sonubaits Super Sea Weed shake flavor. The hemp was catapulted towards the swim and the maggots were scoured in order to make them sink properly.

Float fishing is my favorite way to fish Sneep by using a very light float mounted on a Korum CS 13ft float rod with a 8lb Xpert reel line.

After less than an hour we see the first Sneep flanking in the water and my confidence increases seriously after more fish are joining the small school of fish. They look a lot like Barbel but Sneep swim deeper, almost glued to the bottom looking like flashing pancakes in the water. After a number of drifts we fine-tuned the setup to the conditions and not long after that Ade catches his first Sneep ever. Together we enjoy a great catch, a beautiful 4.2lb, 49 cm specimen.

A serious amount of hemp and maggots are fed to the swim again and not long after that it is my turn…..Fish on! My CS 13ft float rod absorbs the escape attempts beautifully and after a few minutes I’m the winner of a short but heavy fight. A wonderful specimen is showing itself off in the 22” Folding Spoon net. A great tool to land fish under these circumstances!

Again we feed a short period of time but the number of flanking fish has dramatically decreased, possibly by a disturbed swim. With both a fish in the net and less than an hour to go, every next catch is to be considered a bonus! 3 Minutes within “injury time” I manage to catch my second Sneep. This time on a cocktail of two maggots and a fake Korum Natural Red Maggot! After an extensive measure and weight session a new PB is lying on my unhooking mat. 5.11lb and 54cm!

I’m over the moon!

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