I have been reading all of the past entries in Phil Smith's angling blog for the past couple of days (www.barbelblogger.blogspot.com) and in one entry he notes that one of the differences between an angling blog and an article in a fishing magazine is that the blog will often note blanks while the articles generally won't. He makes the excellent point that one of the positives of noting blanks is that less proficient anglers will therefore realise that "experts" are also fallible and frequently blank, indeed they may blank more than regular anglers as they are set up for the biggest fish, not just to catch anything. I found this when I read 30 issues of Course Angling Today back to back. Stef Horak's articles often present a steady procession of huge fish, with little indication that anything bad ever happens. They are good though.
That said, Phil also notes that describing blanks in an interesting manner might be quite hard - "I did this, I didn't catch anything" isn't compelling reading.
The overnight temperature was 11C last night and the temperature gradient in the river must now be up. As I noted in the last entry, my plan is to move away from crust over mashed bread, which is catching me loads of good chub, and instead try bait combinations that might, and I emphasize might, also attract a barbel. So today's plan was to bait some swims with hemp, corn, meat and boilies, then fish corn till around 5:00, switching to meat afterwards. The boilies are a modest pre-bait for some time next week.
The chosen swims were the inside crease swim where I have had lots of chub recently, the two deep swims (one of which has produced just one 3 lber and the other produced the brace of 5's the other week), plus a new inside glide further downstream and a raft swim just beyond this glide. First baiting was around 12:00, second at 2:00 and the third around 4:00. I fished each swim in rotation for half an hour or so using corn but didn't have even the slightest hint of a bite. Of course I have taken two 5 lb chub on corn in the last week or so, but that was single grains on a size 14 hook, 4 lb line and a float. Today, with barbel in mind, I was back to 8 lbs line and a size 8 hook. Maybe that dissuaded the chub today.
Around 4:30 I had my first excitement of the day when there was a big swirl as I wound in my tackle. I cast out again and the same thing happened, a tiny jack pike of maybe 2lbs taking my lead (not the meat bait). I did briefly flick a piece of meat down to it, but didn't have a proper take.
Around 5:30, I was down at the raft swim, the furthest swim downstream that I'd baited. I hadn't fished this with corn at all, but instead dropped a "cocktail" of Spam with garlic (a new, limited edition spam) with an added piece of hot dog sausage. After a few minutes I had a nice slow take, but felt nothing on the strike and retrieved a missing hook - a bite off! Next cast produced another bite that I missed. Third cast another slow take which I connected with this time. But then a problem. Line was being taken from the reel - I had forgotten to adjust the drag from when I was float fishing with 4 lb line. As I manually applied pressure, the line went slack and I retrieved another missing hook. A very confident chub (or barbel) could have caused the bite off, but given what happened earlier, perhaps it was another pike? I will never know.
Back to the first three swims and two more hours hard fishing produced no bites anywhere. So a blank for today and not looking good for my decision to abandon bread. But the weather forecast now says that rain is due for much of the next week (showers at least) and maybe this will cause meat over hemp to bounce back. The little bit of pre-baiting I've done might help also.