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.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Stour Chub: The Mission Part One.


 Chub. A species I have burning desires of catching in their most impressive form. 7lb and above is the ultimate goal for this species, locating a river capable of such a feat is hard enough and possibly could count them on two-hands, but one of those rivers that has a proven track record for such immense specimen's is of course the Stour. With the Stour being Dorset's premier river the Chub are probably the most prolific species throughout it's 60 miles from source to sea.


 For those who have not had the pleasure of fishing it are missing out, it is a lovely river set in beautiful surroundings, my only problem is that barring the last trip I've managed to hit the river when it's been up 4-10ft and rafts of debris coming down the size of houses, fishing in those condition's with little knowledge of what's below the surface is very tough indeed, needless to say I blanked for Chub on all those sessions. Learning the hard way is often the best, but those sessions were from last season and consigned to the past, this season I have my relentless hat firmly in place and between the Fenland Rudd and here I have two distinct objectives, first of all, to achieve my challenges that I've set myself and secondly, most importantly is to enjoy every single minute for that is what fishing is about.

 Exactly where I'll be fishing will be impossible to pin down as the condition's will possibly dictate where I'll try for a big-rubber-lipped Chevin, tactics will vary too and likely to swap between various methods in pursuit of a hat full on every visit, a 208 mile round trip is quite an undertaking but worth it. I have visited already once this season, the evening before I phoned Tom Aldous who is an avid Chub angler for a trip to the Stour, seeing as he lives en-route to Dorset that it would be good for him to get out in glorious countryside.

Ever seen such weird cloud formations?
 Tactics were different as I opted for a very mobile approach whereas Tom looked to get a shoal of Chub feeding and take them on a hair rigged bait, for daytime Chub fishing I always like to move around but everyone is different, it was interesting to see how the varying tactics worked during the course of the day. I didn't fish until I was spotting fish with the polaroid's, some areas were empty but shoals of large Chub are never far away and it just takes patience and guile to outwit them, so with that knowledge I managed to get fish in three separate areas feeding, managing two out of each swim was a major step in the right direction, the average weight being around the 4.8-4.12 mark was pretty good but the largest which was the final fish as dusk settled in.

A proper Chevvy at 4.14
 Tom did atone for earlier missed inquiries and banked a long summer Chub of 3.10 but that was to be all for the day. My best of day tipped the scales at 5.11 but a certain six-pounder come the winter, all of which were in great condition and the colour of them is second to absolutely none, never seen Chub look so pristine and considering the Otter problem the seven fish we had were all in perfect nick. Can not wait to give it another go, itching to get back down.

Best of the day at 5.11.

Chalkstream Barbel and Chub.


 Between my target fishing of Rudd on the Fens and Chub fishing on the River Stour and Avon I have targeted Barbel when snippets of time crop up, time is tight but when a two or three hour window of opportunity arises it's hard not to bow to the lure of Barbel, over the last month I may have done four or five trips out and managed a few fish ranging from young Barbel to 10lb 2oz.

 The double came on yesterdays trip as did a fighting fit 6lb plus Barbel, the ten was in a poor state and was very underweight, typical summer condition, but even in the state it was still fought very well and the swim it was tempted in was so confined, photography was almost impossible, nevertheless I rung a couple off and got covered in crap that stank for my troubles.

6.04
4 plus

10.02, best so far.
 Not only Barbel have been caught on these trips as a number of Brown Trout and Chub have fallen foul to my preferred tactics, Trout to 6lb 4oz and Chub to 5lb 6oz, not too bad eh!

This one went around 4.08
A real stocky 5.06 Chevin (unspawned)

Fenland Rudd Part One.


 When someone mentions the word "Rudd" my ears prick up and I listen intently, any snippets of info, any ideas on waters where they reside are keenly sussed out, but this region in particular needs no introduction, it is hands down - the place to go if big Rudd are you're target. For years I have toyed with the idea of driving up or jumping on the train up to the River Cam or one of the many Lodes that hold Rudd.

Looks good and ideal Rudd territory.
 2lb plus specimen's are very common and down where I live this is almost unheard of, 8oz fish are about as exciting as it gets, specimen's are deemed to be as rare as rocking horse dropping's but the Fenland area makes up for our short fall, catches of monster Rudd are reported in the angling media practically everyday of the traditional river season, 3lb Rudd as big as that sounds aren't uncommon, the very thought of being able to cradle another monster bar of gold was getting too much to bare, so it was high time that I made some arrangements in order to catch one.

 But before we get to my inaugural trip to the picturesque setting of the river Cam I had a little something else I wanted to test out. For a few weeks after work I was doing lots of research on a boat, calculating horse power of engines suitable for potential vessels to do fishing in, having a boat for the Fens makes life so much easier and access from most banks are limited due to private farmland and/or poorly kept banks due to wild vegetation, so it was a no-brainer that a boat was needed. With plenty of hours spent looking and recommendations form various anglers who have already dabbled in this field I finally settled on a complete kit.

 The boat that I settled on was a Seaco 2.65m inflatable boat with a solid transom and hull, the construction of the boat is pretty good and setup I found was very straight forward, the engine I ended up purchasing was a Minn-Kota Endura 30, completely electric so it runs very quiet even at full power, this aides me to sneak up on unsuspecting fish to within yards of them. The engine is hooked up to marine 12v battery and is easily charged, I got a whole day out of the one charge and still had over 60% of life left, clearly a good choice.

So here it is, ready to go.
 Now, on to the fishing and it did not disappoint, I made the journey up in the dead of the night with an arrival time of maybe 6am, for the day I was meeting two fellow Rudd anglers, Giles and Kevin. These anglers know the water's around that area very well so I was going to learn a bit I thought.

A good un'

 The river was a lot more coloured than I envisaged but you can only fish what's in front of you, it took me a while to catch my first fish but at 1.13 I was very very pleased and although I fished for 14 hours large swathes of the day were spent searching for fish, the day yielded six Rudd and a Roach and the weights of my Rudd were 1.01, 1.10, 1.13, 1.11, 1.13 and the biggest at 1lb 15oz, so close to a 2lber but unfortunately wasn't quite there, the fishing was great and the company was great too, both Giles and Kev managed 2's which was great, it nearly was a hattrick!.

1.13
1.13
Back she goes.

Best of the day at 1.15.

Aren't they just stunning creatures.
 I'll be back for certain for parts 2,3,4 and so on.


Fenland Rudd Part Two.


 A couple of weeks ago I headed back to the Fens with big Rudd in mind, the river hadn't lost much of it's colour upon arrival but with a 160-mile round trip I was going to make the best of it. With the usual 20 minutes to set up the boat and prepare for my days fishing out of the way it was time to seek the golden wonders.

 Fishing for Rudd isn't hard at all but the location is paramount, the Rudd are very mobile on the Fenland rivers and take a fair amount of time to find, once found and feeding confidently they pretty much hang themselves, great fun on such light gear.

 As the morning started the wind was fairly light and fishing was much easier, bites were easier to see and presentation of the trots were better too, within the first hour I had five Rudd to 1.13 and thing's were looking very good, by 10am the wind started to get fairly stiff but it didn't kill of the fishing immediately, on the one trot where I managed to get the flake to glance the bank-side vegetation a real hard pull on the float was followed by a fair weight on the other end kiting across the river whilst coming slightly upstream, the fight was very good and what I have come to expect from these wild river Rudd, the scenery is second to none for it's rawness but the sight of a large Rudd in all it's glory cutting through the water's surface 10ft from the boat is magnificent.

 Within seconds the beautiful Rudd below was resting up in the net, no hesitation in putting it on the scales and confirmed what I had thought, at 2.04 I was very happy, all I was hoping for was for more to slip up as this beauty did.

My best Rudd of the season at 2lb 4oz.
  Conditions as midday approached started to deteriorate very quickly, heavy showers started up and the wind increased in strength which made fishing extremely difficult and the Rudd became very hard to locate and catch, over the course of the afternoon I became more and more disenchanted with it all and at 1630 I gave up, very rare that I throw the towel in but I'm crazy not insane, although that is also open to debate. Back this Friday for them with a Rudd nut, so it promises to be a cracking day or two.