Sunday, 3 December 2017

Zander March.

 Zedvember was upon us once again and the bi-annual pilgrimage to the Coventry Canal was once again underway, a nice early start on a crisp late November morning bought many memories flooding back, memories of some very difficult sessions. Was this to be a case of deja vu? or a bucking of the trend? by 4pm we would have a better idea.

 A 3-hour drive up the M1 and M6 was fairly smooth and I couldn't wait to get on the bank. First of all Brian, Rikki and myself dropped into for a quick chat and a cup of tea with Sir Hatt before we went for a wander. The trips up here were to coincide with Jeff's birthday so we'd have a nag or a few hours and an excuse to go fishing, however it always seems to coincide with frosts and the Zander are usually hard to find much to our disappointment. First blood didn't take long though when a small blue job was nailed on the second cast, I lost whatever that was but on the next cast it got hammered again, this time I made no mistake, a pristine canal Esox made its way into the net.

Hungry canal Jack.

 I hoped that was a precursor to some excellent sport, a few hours later and I was still scratching around for another fish. A couple of small Perch slipped up but the Zeds were still very elusive until the very last knockings when I struck a decent hit on a little Perch pattern shad, not big but pleased to finally see one!

Eyes bigger than it's belly as the Zed wasn't a monster.

Friday, 24 November 2017

My Day.

 Now when things crop up that you wish wouldn't they often come in three's, I had had my three, what with a lost Zander, a lost Pike (both of which were big) and the damage to my car which some disgusting amoeba caused without as much as a sorry and heres my details....the ideal world that we do not live in, however, the run of bad luck has to end at some point?

End of another day without success.

 You'd think so. Another day on the Saturday (last week) was spent on the tidal Thames in search of a tidal twenty plus Pike and a big river Zander; that didn't happen as I was completely inept at keeping the fish on that I was hooking, roughly eight takes were either dropped or lost during the fights, I was not having a good run of it and the general concesus was that I should bury my head in the silt and wait it out.

 Giving up is not in my repertoire, relentless is more of an accurate description of my approach to angling, with almost the sense of a burning injustice the river was calling me to get back on it, with just five baits I headed back out on the Sunday, what with a lye in and all that jazz I got fishing a little later than I'd usually get out. A chilly start made me feel quite confident, although it's not a nailed on to get some action. I had a little walk around first to have a look in a few swims but I found absolutely nothing, lifeless is one of the ways I'd describe what it looked like, though it only takes one moment of magic to change all of that, this time around that magic was the sheer power of a upper double figure Pike smashing your bait and the confetti of scales is all that's left, brutal it maybe there is better way to target Pike successfully (in my relatively short spell targeting predators) than a livey, the natural instinct of a Pike is called upon, even if it is not in a feeding mood.

 The excitement was followed by the typical nervousness when the fish on the business end is a good one, that bad luck I eluded to earlier proved it wasn't done with me yet! The rod had a healthy bend in it and was certain the hook hold was solid, not 30-40 seconds into the fight she coughed the bait. My mind just went into meltdown, I couldn't believe it, I clearly owed someone a huge dose of Karma, but for what?, this was getting insane. As I reeled my Chublet in it swam off the treble and disappeared into the vegetation beneath me, oh well, at least it didn't feed off the Pike, on went another and out just upstream of where I lost her, not a few seconds later she came back out and my live bait went berserk but the Pike just stalked it for half a minute before dropping off into the cover.

 I had to rethink my approach as I felt my chance had gone by that point, so I went for broke and instead of playing stealth tactics I swung my bait out and it made a decent splash as it broke the surface, immediately after the ripples cleared away from the bait I could see the huge shape sat right behind my live and it was towing the float all over the place, just six inches from the live she charged and with one quick movement my bait vanished and the float bombed under, no mistake this time I leant in hard, I weren't going to screw it up again.

 The battle lasted for a few heart stopping minutes before I got the better of her, she slowly cruised into the net at the second time of asking but it was in! get in! the rotten luck was slowly being banished.

 Not bad eh! 18lb 3oz and my biggest of the season so far, not bloody bad at all.

 But and this is a massive but, it was only to get better too, what better way to top that? how about something bigger? well, I did manage just that, something of a warrior, boy was it awesome too. Funnily enough though I very nearly overlooked it sat in the near bank shelf, I had seen one in this exact area two years ago and never got a sniff. Even though the river was clear I couldn't see anything, my livey made it was around the river nicely, even managed to tease into areas I thought one would be but nothing, as it made its way to near the end of my visibility the livey kept swimming when all of a sudden the float jerked slightly and I could see the fish panicking a bit but I couldn't see anything until a few seconds later when a massive shape rose off the gravels and stalked my Chublet for a nanosecond before engulfing it! This was a better Pike for sure, that bad luck was being put to bed good and proper.

 The fight was pretty awesome, the bend in the rod, brilliant, my mood? greatly improved on the last 24 hours, something had to change, that time was at a little after 3pm on Sunday 19th November. A few more tense minutes was followed by only my second twenty pounder bulging the net, that fish did not want to go in!

 As bad was the days were leading up to it, this feeling was as good, just what I needed. Shall we leave it there?

 A new personal best at 22lbs 15ozs, just a spectacular specimen, one I nearly never saw, fine margins and all that. I was made happier still that the lives I used made escapes and the one I didn't use went back, both Pike were also caught on my home made traces, the trace that tamed these two has now be decommissioned and in the retired tackle to remember it by, because I'm weird like that.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Not My Day....

 I looked forward to a days Piking afloat SS Rudd in search of....ermmmm...Pike, all was supposed to be smooth with no glitches as the last couple of trips have done, well that most certainly wasn't the case, a lack of live bait opportunities owing to the colder nights made catching liveys very hard, I could live with that, but when we left our first port of call and arrived at spot number two I had found that some piece of sh@t had hit the side of my car and obviously driven away without a care in the world, a nasty dent and scratched paint work above my rear drivers side wheel arch meant I was not in the best of moods, understandably so too.

 Well lets just say it got worse before it got marginally better, a hard morning afloat without a knock for myself or Brian got our brains wracked, couldn't decide on where to go in the pool and what depths to fish so I decided just to pick an average depth and stick with it. I stuck with a Dace for the best part of an hour before it finally stopped in its tracks and the float vanished, I wound down and was met with very little resistance, me thinking straight away it was a jack I played it normally to get it in fairly quickly, but the fish was cruising towards me and as the tension was taken up the weight on the end got heavier and heavier, what I initially thought was a small Pike turned out to be an upper double around the 17-18lb mark, in the gin clear water we both got a very good look at her, the only problem was my Dace was only being held in its jaws, the treble actually wasn't set, as she approached the boat maybe ten foot out she coughed my Dace and came hurtling out the water, with one almighty lunge the Pike was gone, in pure desperation the bait went straight back in the area I thought she was but not a peep from my livey.

Right moody evening was in store.

 Could it get worse? good question, much to my delight it did....(a strong air of sarcasm), one days dose of bad luck was already administered the angling gods decided to continue the punishment, after losing that Pike at exactly 1pm the action took a nose dive until the tide had nearly finished running off, then just a little before dark a flurry of activity came our way when my float went, Brian's also went, both of us didn't connect but shortly afterwards mine went again and the rod went, as the tension held a decent fish was playing out deep down, I could feel it wasn't a Pike immediately, so it could only be a Zander and it was one, a really big one of possibly double figures and as it came up to surface it shook its head and spat my little Chub live bait and I was distraught, my day had just got more shit as it progressed, I was having one of them days where I wished I'd stared at the TV and done fack all.

It took a lot to crack a smile, not a good day.

 A little bit later on in the evening my float did go one more time and like an express train too, certainly a Pike and wasn't a tiddler, weighing just under 7.8. Scant reward for the effort put in but it seems to be a re-occuring theme. The Thames is kicking my arse at the moment.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Roach on the Pin.

 Possibly one of the most enjoyable of our species, so easy to get excited about when targeting them, whether or not they play ball often doesn't matter, whether Summer stalking in the shallow chalk streams or lobbing out a large cage feeder stuffed with liquidised bread fished with a large lump of flake on the end during the depths of Winter is just perfect. Sunday morning certainly felt like Winter, the biting north-easterly wind and clear morning sky certainly meant the thermals had to come out, first time this season !

 I had originally planned to go Perch fishing for the day, however with only a few hours available I had to stay fairly close to home. Having got home late after my last trip out which was in search of Grayling my gear was all still set up and with a 6gr large bodied alloy still attached normally would have been overkill, heavy overnight rain persisted and this brought the river up over a foot and just holding steady as I arrived but battleship grey with the run off from the roads I knew immediately that fishing would be tough until it cleared through. If there is one river in this country that I know very well its this one. The run offs are highly toxic to us but the fish seem to be able to ride it out time and time again, the levels of mercury and god knows what else make the water extremely bad, not to mention Thames Waters snide goings on, assuming people won't notice!

 After feeding the run with caster and white maggot for over half an hour the water started to lose a little colour and that's when I began to run my float through, as expected though it took a while to arouse a bite from what were probably very reluctant fish, as the colour continued to drop out the bites became more confident but certainly not hittable, the speed with which the fish were hitting the maggots was incredible, on such a large float in the current (which was needed to hold it back in the flow) seemed like it was working against me, it took nearly 30 trots before I connected with a fish, it was my target though just a bit smaller.

Not the neatest schematic, but you get the drift.
 I was finding in the increased flow that even with my bulked down shotting pattern the maggots were still passing the "hot zone" too quickly and that's why the bites were so quick, in the pacy flow the Roach were not looking to expend too much energy in intercepting the free offerings and indeed my bait, I found that to combat this I began stopping the loose feed and fish my float over depth by around six inches. The plan was to hold it right back in the flow, which would in theory give the Roach more time to find my bait. For a few trots it worked a treat as bagged another two Roach to 12oz or so but then it died again, no matter what I tried it seemed to work for a few trots then nothing again. Nearly two hours of the sporadic sport I decided to move downstream to another swift run, just hoping that these were going to feed better!

Best of the two from the first run.
 The second swim is rather precarious and I always have horrible visions of falling in, thankfully this time around I got in the right way up.....last time didn't go to plan at all and ended up with a pair of waders fall of cold water, not nice as it took nearly a week to dry them out. I pitched up and started feeding maggot into the swim whilst getting my tackle set up so that it was fishing pretty much level with the bottom which is uniform until the end of the run where it actually deepens up by about a foot, this is usually where the main bulk of action comes from.

 Again, just like upstream, indications were slow but inevitably they did come, this run in particular has done some big Roach in the past and I am certain if I get it right it could do more!, it has been a while since a two-pound specimen has graced my net and I would love another this season. When I connected to the first real slip of the float a nice plump Roach of around 10oz cut through the water at a decent rate, they do fight so well for such small fish on light gear. Something wasn't quite right though with the way I was missing bites.

 For possibly twenty or so minutes after the first Roach I had another two of around a pound, but I missed so many takes, so a rethink was made and totally changed my approach on the float, instead of a bulky shotting pattern and a large float, a light 3BB setup was donned and size 14 hook, the success was instant and those bites I was missing now became hook-ups. Within 45 minutes I took a further nine Roach, one of which was a right porker, weighing around 1.4 mark maybe slightly more, it had the potential to be a real lump in the future.

Future is looking good.
 Then out of the blue my float stormed under and as soon as I struck into the fish it was evident I was attached to something a little large than a Redfin, my light gear was really put to the test and getting the culprit to the net was very difficult but after plenty of tooing and throwing a feisty three pound Barbel lay in the net. That was the swims lot, well and truly trashed as I tried for twenty minutes after taking a quick photo for nothing but blank trots.

 It was fun whilst it lasted!

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Open Season: Grayling on the Agenda.

 This time last season I was faced with a very tough days fishing which ultimately came good after many hours of trotting with very little reward, just 30 minutes from the end of that trip came the all important take and the battle that followed was one I'll never forget in all my years ahead, quite incredible as was the Grayling that fell to a single grain of yellow corn, a PB of 2lb 11oz which I was aiming to better this time around.

This seasons benchmark.
 This time around myself and Brian decided on a two day trip down "souf" in search of a big Lady, what better place could an angler tackle than the picturesque River Frome which carves it's way through the Dorset countryside, the drive is long at nearly three-hours but certainly worth it. An early start from South London you'd think would have dragged but it never does, the thought of encountering my target of a three-pound Grayling is enough to keep my thoughts running away into dreamland, in truth all my fishing exploits send my mind wandering, just never knowing what the fishing gods could send your way. Having the correct bait does help immensely though.

 We arrived nice and early into Wareham to collect our books and maggots to find out the tackle shop didn't open until 830! After spending an hour waiting for the shop to open we gazed at the infamous Roach bridge over Wareham Quay, if you don't know about this particular area it is renowned for it's huge Roach potential. When the shop opened we bowled in to get the books and bait, with hands filled with tubs to load up with maggots we were told that they had ran out of stock! ON THE OPENING DAY OF THE COARSE SEASON! complete and utter bollocks, I was completely aghast at what I'd been told, November 1st is the opening to two of the biggest coarse books in the county and he ran out of bait......missing a big trick me lado! As nice enough bloke he was, thats nonsense.

 I run my own business being self employed and if I don't know when my busiest times are or when I can expect large demand then I might aswell sell up and go on the dole!. So for two days it was red and yellow sweetcorn, not that I haven't done well on it in the past but the maggots would have certainly been a strong addition to the feed. After plenty of messing around I think we got fishing around 10am, not ideal considering we left at 5am, but not all plans go smooth as you'd like.

My first decent trotting run.

 First couple of swims looked good but provided nothing in regards to action, then having found a nice double bend downstream I fished the exit of the first turn and trotted fifteen yards on the straight before it turned again on the reverse, this proved to be a good swim for all of 20 minutes, five quick fire grayling to 1lb 7oz and that was it, another 3 hours on that run provided nothing but a couple of bites, not that I felt I wasn't fishing well as on the contrary I don't think there was much more I could do.

Best of the early afternoon @ 1.07.
 Hours passed by with not much to shout about until dusk when I had an aborted run off of a Pike, a little excitement which kept me alive. As the sun began to disappear I switched back to the grayling I managed two in the swim I caught from earlier in the day which were both best of the day (1.08 & 1.11), the latter I was going to take a quick snap of but I got shout from across the field that Brian had caught a Pike so I slipped my biggest Grayling of the trip back without a pic, but his Pike was mint and one I would have been pleased to have caught.

 We finished the evening watching the amazing Jurassic Coast sunset before heading to Poole for Curry, Beer and a kip ready for day two.

 Day two.....what a lovely sight to wake up to, land low clouds and completely eire, perfect for a days grayling fishing I thought, everything just seemed right so we got down to task at hand and I was setup already, first couple of trots down I had a fierce bite on the float which I somehow missed, something was home! I think with a couple more trots I got the line right and the fish began to find my bait. A couple of nice Grayling came to net to 1.08, then I lost a good fish in the flow which felt like a big Grayling but was unsure as it was unsighted, ten minutes later I got a storming take and i was into a better fish, certainly felt bigger, out in the flow it felt really big and played it with caution, I had visions of a monster high 2 or 3lb specimen on the other end, as it got closer to the net she shrank in size but still a good fish.

1lb 11oz Frome warrior with slight Otter damage to its bottom lobe of the tail.
 Not bad at all, that Grayling was followed by a brownie which did its best to pretend I was locked into battle with a large Grayling, my heart sank when it surfaced a few feet from me out in the flow, not what I wanted! but great sport on the light gear. A couple more fish did follow but it was hard going from there on with just a couple more small Grayling and Trout coming to the net, I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon searching for pods of fish amongst the vast runs of weed still present, a large dose of rain is certainly needed to get it shifted, but suspect there will be a lot come christmas time.

 The last part of the trip was to have a reccy at another stretch of the Frome and boy were we in for a treat, arguably one of the prettiest stretches of river I have ever laid eyes on, sadly we didn't catch but it was just an awesome place to see and will certainly be getting some attention before i go off on my travels in early December. I love this place and not even caught a fish there.

 The tally for the two days was sixteen Grayling with the best at 1lb 11oz x2 and four Trout. Not prolific but surely can get better.

Thursday, 2 November 2017


 When going on my travels around the country and sampling the potential angling rewards there are some places that justify the early morning's, the long drives and the expenditure that typically comes with angling, no better sport on this planet!

 The fishing was tough over the two day period but small snippets of the session provided some good fishing, I will try to get a blog done soon.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Autumn Barbel: End of a Baron Spell.

 When I decided I was going to put more time on the bank in the evenings I did for a moment think it wouldn't be easy, but it has been harder than I imagined. Over a kilo of boilies and pellet has gone out in just over a fortnight in a handful of swims which look good for a fish, however no matter how good these swims have looked, most of them have produced nothing, not even a liner. Perseverance is a key factor for sections of river like this, low stock, very snaggy and no info to go on in regards to catches ( so I could try and devise a plan based on other anglers results/blanks ), without this it's all blind, although I must confess I am not a total stranger to this area.

 For nine trips up until tonight I had really struggled, a Barbel a few trips back was the tangible evidence I was in the right areas, five trips later and five blanks threw me a massive curveball, just when I thought I was getting somewhere, this evening I got down the river still with light in the sky which made my life a little easier. A few small handfuls of loose feed went out just whilst the gear got setup, little did I know though, over the last couple of weeks the rains have pushed all sorts into the swim I fished this evening, cast out for the first time and straight away felt the line was really tight, plenty of tugging to free my terminal tackle ended up in the line breaking.....great start !

 Second the spot, perfect.......five minutes later a lump of loose weed pulled the lead out of position and into that unseen snag......setup number two gone......this was getting expensive and also time consuming as I had to tie yet another rig!. I thought to myself I need to get a bait out and keep it out there, owing to the leaves and weed the lead size was increased to a 1.5oz which was swung out, unfortunately for me I over-egged it and into a tree on the far bank.......I didn't think it could get worse, it could of I suppose had I not been able to get it back, composure was needed, I could easily have packed in there and then.

 Finally after plenty of measuring up the cast I wanted hit the spot, a lovely solid thud as the lead hit gravel, just where the bait was going, could I keep the bait in the water long enough now was my worry, I sat and watched the end of my rod to see it sat rather still which made me feel confident the lead was holding in the spot, just to give me half a chance. Twenty minutes or so had elapsed when the silence was broken by two nearly fully grown Fox cubs which were playing just behind me, I sat on my chair with my back turned to the rod watching them when I heard the very sound I have missed, a screaming centrepin! Action at last.

 Obvious from the beginning I was into a decent fish as the slow calculated fight ensued downstream, the first run happened so quickly I could only let the fish go, I nearly paid the price too as it found a large weedbed which it buried its head in, thankfully it didn't take too much to ease it out. A few minutes of charging around in the torchlight I could make out the outlines of a good fish but a foot or so down and thirty/forty feet away it's hard to gauge accurately. The net was shipped out as she finished off her surging runs with a dash for more cover, but with good control over her it didn't take much more to slip the net under my prize, I enjoyed that.

10lbs 7ozs

A real minter!

 Not been easy and started to forget what a proper Barbel looked like, on the scales she rested on 10lb 7oz, on the Trent it's a good fish but not uncommon, here however a fish of this size is far from common! just the size I was after, I know the stocks are low and with this the average size tends to be bigger which is why the decision was made to target it more.

Never ceases to amaze me how good this rod is to use!

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Bit of a Mixed Bag.

 Fishing isn't always about catching big fish, or at least actively, the sight of an autumn Gudgeon cuttings its way through the gin clear river on a crisp morning is just as nice. Catching this morning was pretty slow to start with, the overnight winds culled a lot of leaves along the river bank and the river was full of them, even trotting was made difficult. This particular run has provided me with some great sport over the years, the first hour was poor but the consistent feed got the fish moving off the bottom and into the upper layers where they became more confident, I fished a simple 4BB stick float and fished about 6inches over depth and held back the float in the ceases which produced steadily for the remaining 3 hours I spent there.

 A mix of Gudgeon and Minnows kicked it off with my best Gonk weighing exactly 2ozs on the mini scales, my first over two ounces this season that I have weighed, the minnows were relentless to begin with, however the Dace began to get a look in, three came in a short spell, all of which were over 8oz! the best weighed 12oz 2dr, my biggest Dace from this particular section, something I did not expect. The Roach didn't show up until well into the third hour when a nice pound plus fish made it's way through the swift current and into the net, 1.03 the verdict, a few of them and it would be a good morning's fishing.

Mint Roach.

Clonking Dace!

Little stunners.

 By the close of play I managed a bag of 6lb 13oz of Dace, a Chublet, Roach and Gudgeon mix, the Dace and the best Roach making up the bulk of the weight, not as prolific as I have experienced in the past but a nice few hours faffing around, a two-pound Roach is a possibility so you can never tell what is in store when I arrive on these banks.

 Not a terrible substitute for my failed trip down south as the storm would have made conditions tough, the Avon probably would have been carrying colour thus not ideal conditions for stalking a big Esox, maybe next week.