Thursday, 22 September 2016

Flashback: Specimen Barbel on the Float.


 Catching Barbel on the float is an awesome way to target such a majestic creature, I have for many years caught this powerful species in all kinds of conditions and throughout all the seasons, trotting bread or meat during the summer to trotting in the coloured waters during the winter floods, it is a great tactic that does deliver plenty of Barbel. If I targeted Barbel thoroughly during a season I'd like to think that catches would be consistent.

 The best Barbel I've caught on the float was a stunning 13lb 12oz specimen, here are my memories of that fantastic day.

 It was a very chilly December morning, the sort that when you open the front door you realise it's even colder than the condensation on the window suggested, I remember it taking me quite a while to pluck up the courage to finally leave, the sun still hadn't broke the horizon and I was already on my chosen venue. After a short time in trying to setup my rod battling the frozen hands I managed to get a bait out, to start with I put out a ledgered bait in the margins as the river was thundering through due to overnight rain which put a very healthy tinge to it. I felt very confident that I would muster an enquiry but after an hour or so in a couple of swims the quiver-tip remained motionless.

 By the time I decided to change over to the float it was daylight and I decided to put a huge chunk of meat on and run it down a crease off the far bank, it's a tactic I love to use as Barbel often sit just off of the flow and intercept food that comes through on the current, the first cast went through with no enquiry but the second cast was a different ball game, the float moved through swiftly and it got just past half way down, then it happened, the slip of the float that would change my Barbel fishing for good. The take was unassuming but as soon as I made contact I immediately knew it was a big fish, for over five minutes there was a very healthy bend in the rod and the centre-pin melted on a number of occasions where the fish I was attached to had no intentions of surrender, I on the other hand had other ideas, bearing in mind I still hadn't seen the fish all I could do was prepare myself and no sooner I put the net in the water in readiness she broke the surface and was met by the frame of a very big fish.

 Once I got the large head into the net I struggled to get the rest in but after three attempts I had bagged myself a very good fish, a quick phone call to Stu was made and he was only to happy to come along and witness such a good Barbel, this beast is still my best on the float, it was a fantastic experience and one I look to emulate time and time again.

Immense.......

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Summer Barbel: Rumble in the Jungle.


 Stalking Summer Barbel has to be one of angling's greatest aspects, locating fish gliding across sand/gravel runs and playing hide & seek in the numerous clumps of weed really brings the hunter out in an angler, walking miles before seeing the unmistakable shape of a big Barbel is part of the thrill, still there is always a nagging feeling in the back of your mind you know you've probably walked past two or three dozen fish before seeing the one, isn't it fun?. Before the rains come in late September to wash away the already dying off weed the Barbel have so many places to remain out of sight.

Butchering my way to the river...it's there somewhere.
7.9, little sister ;)
 I have over the course of the last two weeks moved house so things have been a little up in the air whilst we get sorted out but I have managed to do a few scouting sessions, armed with a rod I've got myself in a couple of swims and fishing has been pretty good, to date since I started back in early September five Barbel have come to the bank in six trips, two of which came yesterday in the form of a stocky 7.9 Barbel and it's slightly bigger sister of 9.11. Not bad for 1-3 hours flying visits but it's clear that not much else is needed, when the rains do come I fully expect catches to improve and I will make a concerted effort to be knocking about when they do come, coincidentally talking about the weather, the two Barbel I had yesterday came as the mercury broke the 31c barrier, 31.2c to be precise which is crazy! it's mid-September.

Bigger Sister at 9.11, lovely dark fish.

 I have my eye on some big fish over the coming month, I have seen them so I hoping they slip up. Only time will tell........

Ready to melt again........

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Quiver-tipping For Barbel.


 On the Barbel front I have tried a couple of new areas when the opportunity has arisen, recently I have had them to 10lb 2oz but since that fish things haven't been plain sailing. The new areas that I have been targeting haven't really provided me with the outcome I was hoping for but it's still early doors, I can only hope that as the night's draw in and the temperature drops slightly will the Barbel really come on and catch rates improve.

 Tuesday evening I fancied a jaunt up river to target a couple of areas that I don't usually fish as access is very poor and when the rains come the banks are treacherous beyond belief, seeing as the conditions were mild and clear it was all good to go, Mr Barbel joined me for my short session for a little bit of moral support, really the idea was to have a good cameraman/ghillie on hand should he be required. We glanced over a couple of likely looking areas with the intention of fishing and proceedings looked good quite early on as I had a decent take off of a far side glide, the culprit at first felt like a small Barbel but as it approached the tell-tale lips of a Chub came up, not the target but at least it wasn't an Eel.

 Seeing as the Chub were active I thought it was time to move, recent cutting of weed and trees has made some areas fairly clogged up where they hadn't been removed yet so certain places were out of reach but this gave me the perfect opportunity to try a couple of other areas, so bait and wait was the aim of the game and after a quick response on the first cast I was confident that a fish would fall foul.

 I didn't have to wait long either, twenty minutes or so had passed and then out of nothing the rod slammed over and down the bank, had to be a Barbel and the beginning of the fight suggested it was although when fishing at night it's hard to put a size on it, I was thinking that it wasn't a big fish due to the flash of it's underbelly in front of me but then it lunged again upstream for a bank of weed and I was powerless to stop it which is one of the reasons why I love to target Barbel, when she finally gave up and it slipped into the net we both revised our predictions north of 9lb, she was a decent fish and looked pristine.

9.12 of stunning summer Barbel.
 After a couple of photo's and a ride on the wheel of fortune she sat in the net getting her breath back and then slipped off into the night as did I, all done for another trip, great fun.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Stour Chub: The Mission Part Three.


 It has been a fairly quiet time for me of late on the fishing front, with a culmination of moving into a new house, alot of work currently on and spending a little more time with the Mrs time to head out on the banks has been very limited indeed. But when a gap the size of a day comes up then a road trip was immediately called upon, destination was of course, the mighty Stour.

 Usually for long distance trips I'm up before the sun, this time however I didn't fancy hitting the tarmac at 430am so I opted for a more leisurely pace and left home around 7am. On the river just after 9am it was time to find some fish, I initially started on the Avon stalking runs in the weed for the camouflaged Barbel and Chub but no matter how hard I looked the fish were nowhere to be seen, it didn't take long to head over to the Stour and I had a couple of sections that I fancied.

 Great thing about this river is it is big and lots of places to hide, but I know where some hide so it was a case of trudging to said area, at first I didn't fancy fishing straightaway as I wanted to build up their confidence. twenty minutes or so had passed when I started to see big sets of white lips just downstream, it was time to get going and the bait didn't even get to the bottom! the rod lurched over and I was in, the fight was half decent but I was more worried about the landing net up the bank and just out of reach, with my rather long reach I just managed to grab the end of the pole and drag it down the bank, luckily this Chub didn't fight very hard and it looked a good fish, once it slipped into the net and started to hoist up the bank it clearly was a weighty fish, once on the nice wet grass I could see it was a big Chub. It didn't disappoint either as she registered 6lb 1oz and a season's best.

Howazat! That's none too shabby.
 I was very chuffed by that Chub and for a summer fish it was pretty big, the ultimate target is a 7lber but 6's aren't to be shied away from, good fish and just the sort of fish I'm happy to travel 103miles each way for. The fishing wasn't easy after that as they became very aware of my presence so it was time to leave them alone for another time, I did try a good few swims but fish were proving difficult to catch, the Chub were committing but I could not connect to them which proved very annoying, this set of circumstances continued throughout the day and I struggled to focus after the constant misses earlier in the day. As dusk came I was in position and baited up but I could only sit and watch a pair of Otter's chasing a mid-double figure Pike around my swim which certainly wouldn't do the Chub fishing any good. Over and out for another day.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Grass Carp in the Netherlands.


 It has been quite a while since I last posted, this is owing to a mixture of being really busy with work and when I have been fishing things hadn't exactly gone to plan so they have more often the not ended up being blank sessions, recently I have been targeting Barbel on an unfished stretch of river but access at the moment has been difficult as has the location of the Barbel, I'm sure they are there just a case of dropping in on the shoal or the baiting programme is found.

 On Thursday last week I flew out to Holland with my partner to visit some friends who we met when we were in Asia, so the plan was to spend three days over there to catch up and the plan was to do a little fishing too, of course. The target for us on this trip was Grass Carp and having never caught one it would be a whole new chapter to my angling career, here in England there isn't many places that I know where this powerful fish inhabits but after my success in the Netherlands I will certainly make an effort to locate some over here.


 During our three day stay in Leerdam myself and Yannick headed out before the sun was thinking about rising, on the water for around 530am the mist just started to rise off the fields as the sun crept up on the horizon, both morning's were bound with stunning sunrises and the increase of light values got some of the resident Grass Carp on the surface, but these weren't the only species patrolling the surface, Asp are a species of fish I think I've only heard of once before but never seen a picture of one, so I got one, well a couple which was a definite bonus and fought a little better than I thought too.

My host with his early morning energy.
  Before we really got the Grass feeding very confidently we had a few Asp taking off the top and couldn't resist catching one, it didn't take too long either as this perfect conditioned fish of around 3½lbs, the Grass Carp were certainly milling around and at a little before 8am the unmistakable lips of my target appeared from the lily pads and engulfed the bait, after allowing the line to tighten slightly I struck and the area we were fishing was torn to ribbons as the Grassie ploughed through the thick pads to try and escape, that thankfully didn't happen and after a powerful scrap of 5 minutes or so Yannick slipped the net under a scale perfect fish of around 14lbs ( Europeans don't weigh fish, all done in measurements ) which was just perfect.

A typical sunrise.
My first Asp, pretty chuffed.
Boooooom!! absolutely immaculate Dutch Grassie.
The swim I caught it from behind, not for the faint hearted.
 Catching a Grassie was the plan it had been achieved so I thought I'd hand the rod over to my host to have a crack at one, understandably the swim was a little quiet for half hour but they did move back in and a couple were really big fish, when the time came a precise cast was made straight into a little gap in the pads, the lips ghosted in behind the bread and the fish just sat there staring at it, not that they are under any pressure, it simply is that they are shy fish but the take was anything but shy, the bread vanished confidently and as the fish turned a huge flank arched over and tore off, Yannick was into a very good fish and in a swim as tight as this there is always a danger of losing fish, after a good five minutes into the fight and the fish went solid, we both feared the worst and after another a few seconds of trying to release pressure the line parted and his prize was gone, the swim does unfortunately come with that hazard.

 Onto day two now as that was the last action of day one and we spent the rest of the day away from the water. We decided to repeat the morning before and get up early to get back on the water for another shot at a Grassie, the conditions were similar so we hoped the fish would be feeding well again, the Asp were on the rampage as they were the day before and fairly quickly I bettered my best from yesterday with a very decent fish around 4½lbs which I was very pleased with.


 Our target did make an appearance but unfortunately it was all too brief and never had the chance to bank it as after a minute or so the line gave out as the abrasion from the pads cut me off, that fish wasn't as big as my first one but it would have been nice to hold another one, the fish didn't feed as well as the day before but we had a very good time fishing and it was so exciting watching the pads shimmer as the fish made their way through pads across the swim and then seeing the flanks cruise around with the occasional set of  lips sucking in freebees, it's something that I will certainly go back over for and it was great fun and our hosts were good fun. Cheers guys! bedankt jongens!

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Stour Chub: The Mission Part Two.


 Chub, this species is probably the greediest of all that swim within our waterways, much of the time they are the bane of Carp and Barbel anglers alike. For me this species represents a very good challenge, there is Chub and then there are big Chub, I want to get amongst the big ones and I'm targeting no river better than the one I'm currently on and with a track record that it has if I were a betting man then it would all go on the Stour to produce for me what it has done for scores of some of the best anglers ever to step foot on it's banks.

 I know what I'm doing when it comes to Chub fishing but I have adopted a tactic that not many would have thought of, that will remain a secret for the foreseeable future as I want to maximize the impact of such a simple but seemingly potent method.

 Last Sunday I had a two-day trip to the Stour planned and after a energy sapping 48 hours on the Fens I wasn't really up to making the 210 mile round trip but something was telling me it had to be done, so I did it. As I'm getting older (28) I am finding it slightly more difficult to crawl out of bed at 4-5 in the morning for a fishing trip which is something that needs to be addressed. The drive down south went fairly smooth but for a 45 minute hold up around the New Forest I was edging closer to the river and I could feel the excitement building as the smell of the river got stronger. If I could smell the river from my house then I would certainly have more about me to get up early doors, I believe it's the prospect of a two-hour drive ahead of me each way which dampens my appetite slightly, nevertheless I arrived to find a low and clear river, just as I did last time out, a little colour would be better but in these conditions I can spot my quarry.

 I went through my club-book and flicked through my pages to land on a section to fish, whichever came first was my destination. The basics dealt with I opted to use my new Fox Royale 12ft 1.75tc rod, this rod is a little stronger than I'd usually use for Chub but the amount of weed and snags that line the river pose a threat and need to make all of my opportunities count when they come knocking, spooled up with 8lb line it was rock and roll time, the search was on.

 When I fish for Chub during the day I never stay long in a swim and if I don't see any movement then I tend to move on and come back later on to see if anything had moved in or trickle in a little bait to create some investigative action, it didn't take long either to find some, 3 decent shapes weaved in and out of the weed at the tail end and these were the sort of fish I was looking for, all of them looked at least 6lbs in the water, I wasted no time getting some offerings out and they didn't last long. The smaller two seemed a little weary though and slowly backed down but the largest remained in position and on the first cast the bait was engulfed and I leant into it to set the hook and the swim erupted as the Chub went absolutely mental, every single piece of weed and reed it could find was aimed at, it was a nightmare of a swim and how I squeezed my arse in it I'll never know but I did and after a good few minutes I managed to just get the net to it as it was stuck on small raft of sticks and wouldn't come free, I had to use the net to pull the sticks towards me in order to get the Chub to a nettable distance, finally though after a minutes madness I breathed a sigh of relief, it was in and not bad at all.

Not bad. 5lb 10oz it was shy of 6lb by quite a bit, very nice all the same.
 It wasn't a six pounder but probably will be later on in the year, good fight though which I did enjoy thoroughly, just wish they wouldn't fight so dirty!. That swim was ruined though and the remaining fish bolted downstream when I latched into that one, I headed on up to locate more fish although they turned out to be very few and far between, walking long distances to see very little meant a change of plan, so I opted to tackle another stretch in the vein hope for more action.

 As I got further down I met up with fellow all-rounder Simon Daley for a mooch around, the Chub again were very hard to locate, we both had a nag for a while and decided on changing over to a static approach and wait it out until dusk and fish through to last knocking's, unfortunately though it was only the Bream that were on the feed where we both managed one each, the Chub however were difficult to persuade and remained elusive. I had decided though not to do the second day as I had got soaked in the evening and needed a b'n'b but at £69.95 for a night whilst fishing is a lot of money so I thought better of it and made the 105 mile journey back home, wet, tired and a little perplexed as to how either of us didn't manage something else, but the Stour can be very moody and trips like this are going to be experienced before I can finally say I know what I'm doing. Until next, tight lines.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Fenland Rudd Part Three.


 It's been nearly a week since arriving back from the picturesque backdrop that is the Fens, for all the species that live in the multitude of waterways in that region it is the Rudd that I have my eyes firmly locked onto, my previous sessions this season I felt were a success, but the real task was slowly becoming more apparent.

 Locating the Rudd isn't the problem as I thought at first might be the case, the sheer size of the shoals are fairly impressive, getting through to the bigger fish has proven to be more of a challenge, even Rudd of 1.08 to 1.15 seem to plentiful and after a dozen or so around that weight you start to wonder whether the "bigger" fish are present, the answer is almost always yes but getting them to commit before the smaller fish is the conundrum that has to be solved to ultimately achieve the target, mine?, that would be a fish of 2.12 or larger. A specimen fish for sure but I would dearly love a 3lb plus Rudd, rare I know but where else is it possible but for a handful of waters?.

 On my last trip up to the Fens I managed Rudd to 2.04 and I wanted to better that again for the third successive trip, the more I fish it the more I'm learning, this trip was a little different though, we planned to use the boat and also walk the banks. I say we as I was joined by Russell Fitzpatrick (Predator nut) and later on in the day we were joined by the Rudd man himself Matt Rand. If there is anything to learn on these waters then Matt knows it. I am getting ahead a little too here, myself and Russell planned the day by setting off very early from London, I was at he's place by 5am as I was very eager to get up there, we started fishing at around 7am with the idea off fishing all the way through to dusk. During the daytime we both managed multiple Rudd to high 1's and I trotted out a corking 2.04 Rudd at around 2ft depth on flake, the fight was very good and what I have come to expect from these wild and wily creatures.

2.4, I'm pretty happy with that one!
Nearly the length of my forearm and hand. 
 The evening was spent in the company of Matt and Russell where we continued to target the rising fish, then came Russell's turn: a lovely stalked PB of 2.05 which he contrived to slap me with, a slimy ear and hair for the pleasure of seeing a stunning fish that meant a lot to the captor was okay by me, just glad we had a shower to use at the end of the day!.

New PB of 2.5 for the Piking Pirate.

 The evening concluded with not much more by the way of action, so we retired for kebab's and burgers before calling it a night. Could the next day bring more action?.

 The second morning we decided to have a lye in as we felt the sport was pretty slow until the mid-afternoon the day before, we felt this was a good call as we were scratching around for only a few smaller fish until around 2-3pm, then by that sort of time a few more fish would start showing on the surface which is exactly what we wanted to see, to keep them up we had to keep feeding the hoards of porpoising Rudd, we however unfortunately attracted the unwanted attention of a juvenile Swan which was as thick as cow s***, every time we would cast out it was heading straight for our baits, everything we did to try and shake it off didn't work, we even moved downstream in the boat just for it to follow us.

 It wasn't all doom and gloom although I wholeheartedly felt we would have done very well on the second evening as we found a very good head of large Rudd, the lack of feeding that we had to adhere to so we would avoid being wiped out on every cast by the Swan meant fish would only sporadically rise and these were the fish we were aiming for, Russell wasn't too bothered as he had caught what he really wanted so it was myself that remained focused and I got my chance which came in spectacular fashion, my crust drifted it's way downstream at less than walking pace and as it got around 20 yards or so down the run 10ft off the far bank it was intercepted by a big Rudd, a bow wave appeared from the middle of the river and headed straight for my crust, just like a missile locked onto it's target the fish made up the 15ft in no time to the bait and smashed it with some considerable force, I needed no invitation to strike and within a minute or so it was over, Russell and I had both witnessed the lead-up to the take and it was amazing to see such tenacity unfolding in front of us, truly brilliant, more of that please!!

Lump alert!
Epic creature, 2lb 6oz and a new Fenland PB.
 She certainly will go bigger in the winter but I was chuffed to bits with a corker like that!. Thing's unfortunately didn't get any better than that as the weather turned pretty much after landing that peach, the wind increased in strength and the sun would disappear for half hour at a time, but it wasn't the end of the incredible takes off the surface as I managed a couple more just shy of the 2lb mark and in immaculate condition, can not wait to get back, I think a session will be on the cards very soon!. I thoroughly enjoyed the company and must do it again.

Another stunning river Rudd.
Russell with his PB and myself with another beauty.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Old as the Hills.


 There's Bream fishing and then there's stalking Bream, this is something that I have started to really enjoy when I've got the chance to and most of the trips at first are born out of the lack of Carp spotted whilst walking the miles of canals, as I've said previously the stocks are very low through most of the network around London, through many many hours of walking in all conditions and seasons I have painted a picture of roughly what each section of each canal has to offer, although I don't pretend to know everything I know enough to be moderately successful.

 The other morning I headed out for one of these exploratory missions and the Carp as usual were very elusive with only one spotted after two or three miles of walking, the Bream however were fairly visible and clearly feeding as half a dozen were ploughing through the bottom, I felt it would be unsporting to not try, three casts it took me to get it into the right spot, when it got there the flake disappeared. Slimer on!, shame the fight wasn't very good, within 20-30 seconds it was nestled in the net. She weighed 7lb 10oz and this fish must be as old as God's dog, never seen a Bream so black it looked ancient, such awesome colour.


 The Bream were true to form though and became very wary once one of their gathering was hooked, time to move again....more walking and alot more baron water, it took well over twenty minutes before I found more fish, again these were Bream, a little more obliging than their friends downstream as two came out in quick succession, neither were as big (5.15 & 4.10) but happy with the technique catching fish. The Carp continued to be elusive until I reached one specific area, it looked good for them and it didn't take me long to clap eyes on a monster, easily a high twenty pounder, possibly even a thirty! it wasn't the only one, joined by another three fish I only had designs on the monster, short story I didn't manage to tempt her although I will get back out for them, if I can find them again of course, canal fish are notoriously nomadic which makes my task just that bit harder. I will keep at it though with the chance of bagging a real corker.