Sunday, 6 June 2021

It's Been a Tough Spring.

  I can almost count the amount of fish caught this closed season on two hands its been that tough, I hoped with more stable and favourable Tench weather that I'd really get amongst them in the numbers that I'm used to.

 To begin with things were slow going and considering the bottom was being ripped up in sections of the lake I was expecting action fairly quickly, unfortunately this didn't happen right away and had to wait a good a hour or two before the first Tinca slipped up. A good solid fight as usual ensued, with most of it under the rod tip I was always within touching distance. Once its resolve was broken I slipped a lovely mint conditioned Tench into the net. A pleasing 6lb 3oz on the scales and what I hoped to be the beginning of a catching spell.


Also when netting that Tench a Smooth/Common Newt was in the folds of my net, rolled up in the clay!



 But, much befitting for the last 3 months of fishing I only got the odd knock and a couple of missed bites on the float, man this has been tough going. So around 11am I decided to give it a break and head off to do some walking in the forest to get some exercise. With the camera in hand I also got some great shots (improvements on last years attempts.

Wood White

Male Adonis Blue

Female Adonis Blue

 After a 4 hour rest I got back to the Tench fishing and annoyingly I could see numerous fish moving around in the upper layers of the water column and wasn't until later on in the day and observing was glaringly obvious that the Tench were beginning to group and no doubt spawning was firmly on their minds in the coming days. So for me the Tench fishing is over before it had barely begun! 

 I AM FIRMLY LOOKING FORWARD TO THE RIVERS OPENING UP! 

 It has been diabolical and thats putting it mildly, lets hope that fortunes improve and I can get off to flying start on the double figure Barbel challenge where I begin the season on 5 rivers.

Thames, Wandle, Sussex Ouse, Hampshire Avon and Trent currently ticked off my list, if I can get up to 10+ by the end of this season I will be ecstatic to say the least. Fingers and toes crossed.

Friday, 28 May 2021

Slightly off Topic.


 It's no secret that I have enjoyed the miniature beasts hunting since last April and I have continued from where I left off. Wanting to photograph Adders, Common Lizards and keep adding to my Butterfly count which will hopefully culminate in collecting images of all 59 of the British Isles species.

 I began on 45 species and have since added to that total with the successful tracking down of the "Pearl Boarded Fritillary". It is now time to get a Marsh Fritillary ( Battlesbury in Wiltshire) and Small Pearl Boarded Fritillary ( Park Corner Heath ), plus a better shot of a "Wall", then calculate emergences of different species with fishing trips to kill two birds with some one stone.

 Large Heath is Lancashire, Large Blue in the SW, Swallowtail in Norfolk, Large Tortoiseshell in Portland along with the Lulworth Skipper, Black Hairstreak on Epsom Common, then it really starts to get serious in terms of travel.

 4 species can only be found up in Scotland and requires a large slice of luck with the weather when making the journey up, but that will be for another time. 

 Here are some images of the "PBF" and some other butterflies and Lizards/Snakes.


A male and female Orange Tip.

Green Hairstreak.

Freshly emerged Small Blue.

Dingy Skipper.

Female Orange Tip.

Glanville Fritillary.

Pearl Boarded Fritillary. Species no:46.

Duke of Burgundy with abberation.

Grizzled Skipper.

Common Lizard posing for me.

Morning Adder warming up.

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Finally Something to Write About.

 

 I have to be honest, this spring ( if you can call it that ) has been piss poor and find myself constantly wondering when the sun is going to come out. With a failed Tench session under my belt, a 21.3 mile hike across the London canal system for a blank has pretty much summed up my efforts. Not expecting much more I scraped together enough get up and go to get back out for the Tench. 

 An early start on the roads saw me, Brian and my brother Richard try our luck out once again. Brian and I after tinca' and Rich after Catfish. A nice overcast morning greeted us, if not a little cold still my confidence was still higher than it would have been just a week ago. Cooler water temps than usual for this time of year meant I wasn't looking to put a bed of bait out, more like a sprinkle, if only the swans would leave me alone.....which is rarely ever.

Motionless for far too long for my liking.

 I started out on the feeder to see if a passing fish could be persuaded into picking up a bait, fishing close to a set of pads that were just starting to spread, which is no surprise given the frosts that have only stopped since May 7th. Plenty of ideas were bounded around between us as it became glaringly obvious the fishing was going to be very hard, again. Given our lack of alternatives we decided around 11am to head over to another farm pond to see if the Tench had woken up on there.

 But, our hopes of a prolific change in fortunes simply didn't happen, apart from the odd small G.Orfe coming to the net I really struggled, that was until my float dipped and sailed away. Met with more than a  little weight it was clear something else was attached, however in true Golden Orfe style the fight was non-existent and a decent fish of 3lb 5oz rose to the surface and was duly netted, a "bright" moment in an otherwise drab day.


  But the Orfe wasn't to steal the day, as we approached 4pm I finally got a few Tench feeding as plumes of bubbles started to come up in their hundreds, having plummeted the depth at 6ft+ I knew there wasn't much room for error. A gentle lift followed by a confident pull under was what I was hoping to see, but after a succession of Orfe coming from a similar depth I was more than hopeful when I finally hit it. A good weight behind it there was no doubt in my mind a Tench was hooked. 

 Given the delicate tackle I was using I couldn't bully it so the fight did last a good couple of minutes, zig zagging around the bay, short busting runs for reeds meant I wasn't far off landing it, thats when it popped up. I quickly realised my net was maybe a bit small. 

 Nevertheless, I did what I could and slipped this old warrior over the rim. Finally, something to be happy about! 

 7lb 7oz on the Avons, I was certainly a lot happier by this point. But after releasing this gem our day was practically over as my float/feeder rod lay dormant until 1930 when we hot footed it home.

 A tough day but very glad I stuck to my guns and gave it the best I could, god spring, hurry up and start!

Final Scores for the 2020/21 season.

 


Barbel - 
15lb 12oz PB
Bream (Common) - 
8lb 14ozs
Bream (Silver) - 

Catfish -
39lb 9ozs PB
Carp (Common) - 
17lb 8ozs
Carp (Mirror) - 
14lb 4oz
Chub -
6lb 4ozs
Crucian Carp - 

Dace - 
10oz
Gudgeon - 
1oz 14dr
Ide - 

Roach - 
7ozs
Rudd - 
2lb 5ozs
Grayling - 

Eel - 
1lb 8oz
Brown Trout - 
3lb 2oz
Perch - 

Pike - 

Zander - 

Tench - 
7lb 5ozs










Monday, 12 April 2021

Fluff Chucking 2021

 

 Last year with the full nationwide lockdown I didn't get my 2020 instalment of what is now something of a once a spring trip. I always have immense fun with the fly rod, however most other disciplines take president and find myself neglecting it after a trip or two. So with our freedoms re-instated to an extent I decided this afternoon to pop out for a couple of hours to one of my old haunts. A wonderful section of urban chalkstream.

A typical run on this majestic little river.


 The target of course was Brown Trout and having been snowed on in the morning ( maybe 2inches ) the sun was beaming and made for a pleasant afternoon, armed with the polaroids I set out to catch me a fish!

 My fly of choice was hotly contested but fell back on this ( I don't know the name of the pattern ) but was devastating on the slow retrieve. Watching Trout queue up behind the fly as I worked it through the upper layers was a great sight, I could have had more than my impressive tally of 11 Brownies.

 So here are a few pics of my 3-hour trip.....

Tight, but with experience and light wind I could make it work.

Typical stamp of fiery juvenile Trout.

A slightly better one.

Another Juvi.

 I decided after reaching 10 that I my fun was done, great as it was it lacked the sight of anything big, apart from a fish around 2lb that I landed (but foolishly let it swim out of my net before photographing it) nothing showed nor presented itself to catch...as I began walking back to the car I ran a fly through the same pool I had the 2-pound fish from. A few good casts off the fast water provided nothing which I thought was probably due to the lack of fish in it, for me though that gave me more confidence as smaller Trout won't tend to hang around in areas where big fish are in residence, so I gave it a few more casts when a massive screech from the reel woke me out of my mid afternoon slumber!

A serious battle ensued as the desire to go over a weir seemed an ever present threat, on a 3.2lb Turrall's leader to a size 16 fly it was always going to mean the fish would constantly have the upper hand on me, mercifully she kept to the fringes of the deep pool and slowly tired herself out, I couldn't have been happier with my prize when the net bulged. All 4lb 4ozs of her!


Until 2022.....

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Adder Time!

 

 Sadly I have barely mustered a cast since the end of the season and with not much time to hand of late I have found myself planning trips when the weather warms up, so with that I thought I'd set a slightly different target. Last spring I got into Lepidopterology as I noticed a couple of different species flying past that I'd never taken any notice of before hand knew very little of them. 

 By the end of the butterfly season in early October I had successfully documented 47 species and photographed 45 of them, quite an achievement which was wholly driven by my thirst for completeness. Now I know I'm short by 14 species ( to photograph ) but accepted that given the whole lockdown/covid-19 scenario I think I made a great go of it.

 This spring however I have factored in something a little different and that being reptiles, one that escaped me last year was the Adder, but after a bit of research and luck I soon put that to bed with over a dozen individuals spotted amongst the Gorse in just two short afternoon visits with the camera, as time goes on I'm sure the images will get better but these will do for now!

 






 The Butterfly photos will be posted on a separate post this weekend as I hope some of you may find them interesting!

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Autumn and Winter Barbel Challenge River Colne 2020/21

 

 Now I had massive plans for this winter with plenty of plans cemented and targets set, that was until the travel restrictions were put in place to ruin it all. Alone on a bank in the middle of nowhere, travelling at quite times to avoid traffic, travelling on safe routes etc seemed to matter not, so my thoughts of targeting an Itchen, Medway, Kentish Stour and Lea Barbel were all thrown out the window, my only one saving grace is that I'm working a lot around the Colne Valley and what runs through it? 

  The mighty and hard as nails, River Colne. A river I don't know particularly well but last season managed two in my first visit, both 8lb+, how hard could it be? Early November I went down for my first outing and did half a day in search of a fish, fast forward to the 3rd of March when I finally got a savage wrap that given the fact my rod/s had remained motionless for almost 11 trips I wasn't expecting it but bloody happy I did as I was severely questioning my approach, my timing, my chosen venues, basically everything and knowing the Colne through other avenues I know time is a commodity that is very much required to be successful here, probably more so than many other rivers where Barbel are the chosen target.

 So when that Barbel savagely headed downstream I automatically had visions of a huge fish that had evaded capture for years and had achieved biblical proportions and now I was tussling with it, trying to outwit a fish in its own backyard which was littered with numerous downed trees and submerged obstacles to avoid, with plenty of power still clearly on display I tried to get its head up in the torchlight reveal was I was connected to and determine whether I needed to play with more caution or throw it to the wind and mug it! Given the lengths I had gone too to get this far and be connected with one both those thoughts were vying for number one spot. 

 After a good 3-4 minutes she finally came upstream gently and into view, I have to admit, I thought she was a lot bigger given the show of power, but didn't fight erratically like most Barbel of that size do, my heart did sink a little bit, I thought my target of a Colne double had been achieved, not long after I saw her she was resting in the net and my first Colne Barbel of the season was on the chalkboard. 

 Not the monster I hoped for at 7lb 14oz but a welcome sight for certain. I spent another three trips after that fish for nothing but the occasional quiver, hard work indeed as 14 trips comprised of 64.5 hours of hard graft for 1 Barbel, 1 Bream and a lost Carp to something sharp.

 I will be back in the new season with a new sense of vigour and hope to put this difficult river to bed, it will happen, just when....

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Time to Search for Silver.

 
 A season bound by endless restriction saw very little angling of note taking place and what with a constant stream of work surrounding my garden and paid work coming in swathes to keep things afloat in the Denison household I had barely found the urge to fish beyond the odd hours after work in search of Barbel. So around valentines day Brian and I took an afternoon off from the mud-pit ( my garden project ) in the hope of finding some Dace as the females begin to put weight on in preparation for spawning around mid-April.

 We began by trotting the head waters where sometimes they start to congregate around mid-Feb but after 15 minutes of running the 6g stick float through with a generous lump of bread flake was ignored it was time to get moving, which is strange as late season can often see shoals of 100 fish plus, but recent heavy rains may have displaced the shoal so we headed downstream, fortunately for us we know roughly where they will be and chances of monsters 12oz and over bracket are certainly possible and I have achieved fish over the 1lb barrier from these very swims, so if there was ever a reason to remain focused and fired up for a trip that would be the tonic.

 Clear and cold conditions were order of the day and have been very successful when shrouded in mist, low pressure and cold, its something like this just seems to get the Dace feeding, but now after three swims it seemed like they either had other ideas on feeding or we simply hadn't found them. The game of cat and mouse is always a thrilling one and after a good two hours of searching I peeped over a hedge and could see 30-50 fish including Dace, some of which were real corkers and the sense of excitement went through the roof, like a little child unwrapping a desired toy at Christmas, we couldn't wait to get fishing for them and in the crystal clear water we could see them hovering around mid-depth, flashing on the gravel, turning at objects coming down in the water and darting in and out of the numerous beds of ranunculus. This was the chance, so I gave Brian the rod and hoped to be on camera duty for a big Dace.....


 Unfortunately for Brian, Trout and Chub decided to scupper his efforts, but I got lucky with two Dace on the alternate fish, one was around 6oz, then this one which was a welcome sight and a beautiful winter "Silver Dart", praying it didn't come off in the brisk current were answered as I got to cradle another chalkstream beauty.


 Then as the light failed the mornings rain started to affect the river and clarity was lost and then the fish started switching off. That was it for us, not a bad result for an off-the-cuff afternoon visit. Locally!

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Getting Prepared.

  As new season is just a little over 4 months away I am beginning my plans for proper assaults on the country's Barbel stocks as I look to turn the screw on my new challenge.

 So far my BAA ticket has arrived giving me access to some pukka sections of river and at £40 for a full membership that enables fishing on reaches of the rivers ; Severn, Anker (albeit very limited), Mease (again, only a small beat), Teme and a section of the Wye. Having done a bit of reading I am quite tempted to start my season on the Severn and if I get lucky quickly I'll move on to the Wye as they aren't too far away from eachother, or the Teme, Thame etc. God the list of rivers to target are endless.

 However, rivers closer to home such as the Kentish Stour, Rother, Arun, Medway, Lea ( which I acquired a Fishers Green Consortium ticket for ) provide good fishing whether its a couple of hours after work or a days fishing when I have the time available. Then not to mention other rivers like the Colne and Itchen where work often takes me for which I have dabbled on over the last 4 months with not much success it has to be said, not that it surprises me of course!.

 Summer and Autumn 2021 I hope will throw up a few surprises and that a few of my targets are achieved. In the last week or so I have learned my youngest brother is moving up to Bolton-upon-Dearne in Yorkshire from London which will put me on the doorstep of another river or two that are on my radar, hopefully I can grab a couple of hours kip in between days on the river as I stalk my targets out of the lush weed infested rivers, those days can't come soon enough, hopefully this situation we find ourselves in will have blown over and life can resume on the banks as normal and I can make up for lost time. 

 I live in bloody hope! By this time next year I hope to have chalked off a few rivers and been firmly in the double figures. I currently stand on five rivers. 

 Here are a couple of shots of sections I have available to fish from June 16th onwards.

 Already dreaming of it all.

River Teme, Lindridge.

River Wye, Stacklands.

Monday, 4 January 2021

2021, Master Blanker.

 Since kicking off my Barbel fishing in mid October last year I had as most of you know a good start to the campaign, as November drew closer my rod has remained practically motionless, all manner of conditions have been fished, some I would really feel confident in. Alas I have only mustered a couple of bites in some 15 sessions in that time leading up to yesterday where I got back on to the Colne having been close for a prior commitment.

 With the mummers of another full nationwide lockdown I can count myself fairly lucky that as a mobile engineer within the M25 I have to be on the road regardless of what restrictions are in place, these callouts and jobs will often bring me close to waterways and with a selection of gear always in the van the opportunistic couple of hours can often be taken advantage of.

 Given the fact temperatures down here have struggled to push the mercury beyond a couple of degrees the river temps have also in turn been very sluggish and knowing Barbel in cold conditions their feeding spells are very short and I suspect will often go days without feeding as their bodies acclimatise to the cooler water before searching for food once again. Guessing it was going to be tough I thought what the hell, I'm here lets get on with it.

One rod either side of the river, targeting the margins.


 As usual I adopted a light roving approach and moved between swims on a 250m section (not to spread myself too thinly). One rod was fished with G.Nimrod 15mm hookbait shaved down to around 10mm and a small rounded off piece of Prince's luncheon meat (these are getting harder to find as time goes by).

 Any spots that looked worth while targeting I did, but as the swims changed and the hours ticked by I found myself looking at a very distinctive outcome, one I am hoping to change sooner rather than later. I know it's not really a good time to be on the Barbel but they have to feed at some point, I just hope to be there, in the right place at the right time as I am sure the areas I am targeting will provide me with what I am searching for.

 21 trips so far since mid-October and 19 blanks across 7 rivers, all of which I have never fished for Barbel and I am learning most of this in the dark with most of my visits being for just a few hours after work.

Thursday, 31 December 2020

A Round Up of 2020.

  2020, the year that if I could, start all over again, roll the dice and hope for a much better outcome!

 January: Very little of note was caught apart from a superb brace of tiny chalkstream Chub, four pound fish are still considered good fish. After plenty of searching myself and Brian located where there were some fish, a steady stream of maggots and dollop of patience was enough to take three super fish, topped off with a 6lb 3oz brute which was braced with a 5lb 4oz fish that in itself was good enough to walk away feeling a great sense of achievement.

 February: Was even more difficult as I only went fishing once, Whilst away in the Caribbean I did get some fishing done but as they were caught in March they don't really count, so this lovely marked Brown Trout will have to do! Oh and I had a lovely Barbel the evening before I flew out, 10lb 7oz.


 March: Once I got back to Blighty I fancied a trip out after Grayling and ended up having a great day out, with numerous fish to just under 2lb and also a lovely brace of Roach which again just missed out on the two-pound mark but were amongst a shoal of much larger fish, one of which I did lose.

 April: Owing to the pandemic sweeping the globe our freedoms were stripped to protect the elderly so we were told to stay at home, so thats exactly what I did, the fish could breath a sigh of relief and my house got a lot more attention than I thought it would. No Pics, apart from copious amounts of Gin!

 May: Well, what can I say, most of it again was spent at home until restrictions were lifted slightly, with that I decided the Catfish needed a good seeing to, so Brian, my brother Richard and I did just that where I landed fish to 39lb 9oz and my largest UK caught fish ever. Plus I had some beautiful small farm pond Tench that ranged from 5lb to nearly 8lb, everyone a worthy adversary as all of them battled tirelessly for freedom amongst the thick pads.


 June: Opening day of the new season Brian of Navareth ( formerly Brian of Sreatham ) came along for a 48hr session out in the boat after Rudd....3 hrs later we came in, hole in the boat we decided we'd stick to dry land, I managed a nice old warrior of 2lb 5oz, not bad for a session that was littered with poor decisions (mainly weather related)

 July: July looked to be my 2020 turning point as I went out in search of targets and got close to some and achieved others, a big chub of 6lb 4oz (early season) slipped up during a short morning session on a small chalkstream, then a canal march was decided upon. Although no Carp were located a big Bream decided a lump of slow sinking bread flake was too good to ignore, 8lb 14oz. Then I made my Wrasse debut where I had a few stunners off of Portland west side, a great experience and one I will certainly go for again.



 August/September: These were both very lean months in terms of angling and found myself scratching around for the odd Chub and Barbel, all of which weren't big therefore not really worth mentioning! Not that that is the criteria of course, just this is a highlights!

 October: By the middle of October I hadn't managed a trip, then I gave myself something to think about that put a foot up my arse, as my fishing was going stale and quickly losing my mojo. The plan isn't necessarily a short term goal but will give me a sense of direction for my angling. That target is to achieve a double figure Barbel off of forty different rivers across the country, some obscure and some alot more obvious. I started off with the not so secretive (Trent) and blanked then went off the radar and banked a huge 15lb 12oz Barbel on my fourth visit to that particular river. A few days later, I went back up the Trent and banked an impressive 13lb 9oz Barbel on the first evening, two rivers checked off in 5 days I think it was, not mention beating an 8 year old PB (originaly 14lb 6oz from the Hants Avon).


 November: The blanks started to mount up at an alarming rate but one I could have foreseen as temps started to fall away, the only thing that was good about November was a chub session I had on the float, 16 fish teased out of one pool where the remainder of the river seemed empty, glad I found them!


 December: The blanks continued on at the same rate, but for another session on the float for silvers it was fairly dead, on the float was great fun and to finish off I managed a beautiful mirror around 6lb on 2lb bottom, size 16 hook and a light float rod.

 Lets hope 2021 is a darn sight better in many respects, although 2 PB's isn't a terrible return I must admit.

 I wish you all a very happy new year in blogland and wish you peace and prosperity for the year ahead. Tight Lines all.

 James.