Monday, 9 March 2009

The Ribble - Tackle Graveyard of the North

Judy had to go see her mum in Blackburn Hospital on Sunday, and because I would have been an awkward spare in such a delicate close family matter, but was also required to accompany her on the round trip, had to figure out some way to idle away the hours of the whole day
, productively. The Ribble was, with just a few days of the season left, and just a few possible river trips possible before that ever looming date, the only answer.

A call to Carters of Preston opened up a wealth of impromptu possibilities, both day ticket and free. All credit to the guy who answered my call, his info was both accurate and thorough, and after a quick Google Maps search based upon my hastily scrawled notes of his detailed local knowledge, settled upon a Ribchester ticket (purchased from the towns Spar supermarket) after a late season barbel, or one of the big Ribble chub.

We stayed over at a relatives house Saturday night and in the morning made the journey across the hills to Ribchester. Up high it was sleeting, not a heavy fall, but the hills for miles around were shrouded in a grey pall and I thought it would be quite enough to mean a rise in levels at some point, but just how soon, I had no real idea. The stretch was bleak, broad and rapid, beautiful in its way, but certainly not the kind of Constablesque beauty you have with lowland rivers. This was altogether a wilder, more changeable place, an impression reinforced by the multiple river level gauges staggering down the grassy bank to the river which today, I thought looked to be normal.

The Ribble at Ribchester

I set up at the bottom of the beat, in a swim above a near bank slack, cast a worm rod and a pellet rod into the fast race and allowed the current to bring the leads round and settle. I put the rods in the rests and settled back only to notice that the line was entering the water at forty five degrees even though I'd put the baits out twenty yards plus. Deep then!

I also noticed that it was rather snaggy...

Well, that was it! One bootlace (a real nuisance on the Ribble, apparently) fell to a bunch of small red worms dug from the bank with a broken stick, a few missed bites earlier in the day on the few lobworms I'd taken along, and these could have been from anything the river contains including the sea trout that were leaping clear of the water all day long, and in the evening, just before I had to go of course, a big barbel rolled, its fins clearly visible, right over the bed of groundbait I'd patiently created downstream of the peg.

Slippery customer...

Next time, and there will a next time, I will fish with plasticine weights because the Ribble is a proper hardcore tackle graveyard, and I might try trundling baits through the swims and adopt a one rod mobile approach because I reckon, on reflection, that this might well be the best way to catch fish, and stay warm...

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