Monday, 19 March 2018

My Carp Challenge.

 For the next 6-12 months I have set myself a 100lb target on the carp front, but this isn't as straight forward as it may sound.

 Between now and the end of the 2018/19 season I have set out some parameters to which I look to  achieve this target, these are splitting the 100lb into three categories and this is where it gets interesting.

 Stillwater Carp target is a 40lb+ specimen.
 River Carp target is a 30lb+ specimen.
 Canal Carp target is a 30lb+ specimen.

 Now I don't doubt for a moment that this will not be easy, but I have had some good fish previously and have quite a few waters earmarked for some campaigns. Whilst the rivers are closed and a large range of my still waters are closed the canal 30lb+ specimen seems to be my first of the three targets.

 Here are my current personal bests for the three different watercourses and the ones to beat!

Stillwater PB @ 35.08

River PB @ 28.03

Canal PB @ 25.04

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Trotting Rocks, End Of.

 Over the years I have not hidden my absolute faith in trotting for barbel and better still the use of bread flake. The use of bread seems to come as a surprise to many anglers I speak to regarding the question as to what are the best baits to use. I look no further than bread on more pressured venues and ones where minnows aren't as prolific, all I know is that bread on its day will out fish any other bait and costs no more than £1, what more could you want?....well, maybe a few of these to make the day complete.

 Before work I had a couple of hours on the river (14th March) to target a barbel, my last trip down didn't set the world alight but after an hour my target was achieved, a really plump barbel around the 4lb mark on my old stick.

 Eight hours later I arrived back at the river and I didn't look back, hitting the ground running could be a good way to describe the first twenty minutes. It was so manic that my first four trots resulted in three barbel and a tree when a cast went astray rather amateurishly, but there was nothing amateurish about the way the barbel were taken, a float set at around 3 inches overdepth with a big lump of flake and held back gently to glance the bottom. When it works its deadly and I can't stress the joy of seeing the float slip under and my split cane rod hoop over under the strain.

 Fish weighing at 3+, upper 4 and 8lb 8oz was great to experience and after moving swim I hooked and landed my best of the day at 9lb 1oz, a lovely clean barbel with one small blemish which really put up a stern fight, which was later followed up by one more youngster probably a low 4lber.

 I will miss these for the next 6 months as my carp challenge is now underway, more of that on another post.

The better of the two small ones.



I worked out that on this particular watercourse for the season

I had the following results:

 Sessions (between 1 to 6hrs): 16
 Blanks: 6
 Total barbel landed: 22
 Doubles: 2 ( 11.00 & 10.05 )

Friday, 16 March 2018

Stunner From The River of Dreams.

 I have had a few pike in my time, but nothing prettier than this one, size means absolutely nothing when they look as pristine as this one did, the fight weren't bad either. Show Pike!

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Number 29: It's Been a While.

 Specimen Roach, something of a mystery. Finding them can sometimes be fairly easy, catching them a completely different story, so on the odd occasion you know you are fishing the right areas but have no expectation that its going to happen. Hey presto! it does, that was just how it went last week.

 After nearly two seasons of not coming close to a 2lb specimen I, at last, got my chance. The location of this catch was something of a leap back in time, as a young man growing up I use to catch awesome bags of Roach with some tipping the scales to the upper 1's and low 2's mark, awesome fishing indeed. So to catch one from only twenty yards upstream of the scene of many a lump bought a feeling of nostalgia.

Simply stunning.

 Starting from the beginning of the day I set my stall out just to trot a mix of maggots and bread flake with the view of just catching some Chub and Roach, no pressure as I'd already had a great season and simply wanted to enjoy some more bank time. I started to catch steadily but nothing big, all fun as plenty of small Chub took a liking to a couple of trotted maggots, practically every trot resulted in a dip on the float. Great little bag builders with a couple of better chub thrown in the mix.

 After a couple of hours, the wading through the small chub began to slow down as the shoal became more wary, not to be disappointed by the slowing down of the sport I decided to head down to an area where a small weir creates a nice crease where often roach, dace and chub sit. For more than twenty minutes I trotted through without much more than hesitant pulls on the float, so I decided to put some flake on and changed my trot. First cast and the float sailed away, met with some force I was convinced I had a chub on the other end, not until the snout came out the water did I realise actually it was a brown trout, not what I was after but good fun all the same.

 For another ten minutes the run was baron, not even a half hearted tug to keep me interested. I changed the depth to which I was trotting at and on the second trot down, almost at the end of it the float stopped and slipped under, as soon as I hit it the pull on the tip of the rod was healthy but the flow certainly had something to do with that, at first I could only think it was a small barbel, not long after the initial surge a large orange dorsal fin broke the surface, I immediately knew what it was....a roach! and a good one too!

 The vice admiral " Brian" was just upstream of me trotting the pools eddy's and creases when he noticed what I had hooked, I'd never seen someone prepare a net so swiftly!. For a couple of minutes my knees jangled uncontrollably as a redfin which looked to be approaching the two-and-a-half pound mark was wallowing around in the flow, with the net handle at its full extension Brian scooped her up and the rest was history. Number 29: 2lb 2oz.

I think I am a little happy with that!

 The rest of the trip went by with no hint of pressure or fish of note, it was a just a matter of days away from being my second season without laying my grubby palms on such a stunning specimen.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Itchen Grayling Best.

 A week or so ago myself and Brian hot footed it down to the Itchen with Grayling in mind. Our 75 mile trip typically takes around an hour and thirty minutes on a good run, our destination? unknown. The plan was to park up where we could on a part of the river where free access was granted and fish our proverbial tits off. The only issue with that was the snow had already began to melt as we set off into Hampshire, we were certainly up against the clock because once that melt/runoff begins to enter the river it's practically game over.

 Knowing we had possibly a couple of hours we decided to get some fish on the scorecard, however, this wasn't an easy task either as trout were posing as a real nuisance, fly boys I apologise in advance, but they were eating everything before the grayling had a chance.

 I think I began fishing around 8am and took me nearly 2 hours to get my first grayling to the net. It wasn't the sort of response I was expecting to tell the truth, sub zero nights for possibly 7 or 8 consecutive nights really should have had the grayling feeding hard but I failed by and large to get a head of steam, problem was myself and Brian were having a grayling comp' and he was already pulling away.

 The hours ticked by fairly quickly and I slowly chewed into the early pace setter with a couple fish here and there, most were around the 10-12oz mark but as the day drew to a close I hit a heavy fish at around 40 yards downstream and I dare not push it. All day I was hoping to get something half decent but it never materialised, this was my chance so I played the fish cautiously as for most of the fight I thought it was a very good Roach.

 Roughly ten yards from where I began my trot a large dorsal fin cut through the now cloudy water, the unmistakable beauty of a large grayling came into view, just what I came for. It looked a two-pounder all day as she crept gingerly over the lip of the net. Weight in truth means very little when something this awesome has just graced your net but I am a stickler for facts and figures so I couldn't go without knowing.

1lb 13oz 8dr

 My day was complete and my desire to continue fishing ebbed away after that, I proceeded to watch Brian pull further ahead to complete the scoring at 15-11 by the close, a good day had all around. Not to mention that was my best river Itchen grayling to date.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Snow Chub Madness.

 Post number 500! where has the time gone.....not a bad post to take 500th spot!

 For us "southerners" a decent drop of snow seldom happens, we get a light dusting and that's our lot. Last week that certainly wasn't the case, we finally got something worth whining about, not that I do of course. I'm happy to drive, fish and even been known to lye naked in it, so the -4c forecast did not deter me at all, infact I relished the fact it was going to be challenging.

A lovely sight for us southerners!
 How challenging? I had no idea. The roads were very bad, no grit down, the snow was compacted on the roads, everyone driving stupidly slow and to make matters worse the numerous crashes made my progress slow. Thankfully a break in the traffic allowed me to get to my chosen venue about 8am.

 Deciding on how to target the Chub was also bit of a tough one, fish static and build a swim which the feeding fish would eventually find, trickle bait in little and often, or lastly, lump in the loose feed and hope plenty of mouths were there to fill! I went with the latter and never looked back, from the very first trot on my new Greys Toreon 15ft tactical float rod I had almost non-stop action, at least for thirty minutes or so. It was the sort of session you'd hope for whilst hitting the snooze button and questioning your sanity. So glad I did as I haven't had a proper days chubbing like this in a few years at least.

 The average stamp were good too with numerous 4's and in the end four over the 5lb barrier, on a great day thats a tall order, not to mention I was dodging sheets of ice coming downstream whilst playing fish in the pacy waters. However, it wasn't just chub which put in a good show but I also managed to wangle out, rather fortuitously it has to be said, a stunning common carp in all its winter glory, splendid looking fish.

Best of the day at the bottom of the trio.

A surprise in such cold conditions. 
 As sessions go, trotting for chub, this was about as good as I could have dreamt up, the four best weighing 5.08 and two at 5.06, the fourth was over five pound but it flipped as I was unhooking it and made its way back into the icy water. These things do happen.

 So here are some fishy shots which would warm the coldest of hands, it did mine.....albeit momentarily. Also a Snipe at the end of the trip gave me my first ever sighting, nice to see.

Some of the best, I love that shot.

A lonely Snipe wading through the mud.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

The Wessex Trio.

 As we approach the crux of the season my brain usually goes into a state of overdrive to try and fit in any snippet of time on the rivers before the closed season, however, for the first time in living memory I am actually not that sad to see the season off, I have had some good spells but with less time on the bank and targeting more specific fish my returns have certainly tailed off slightly. Maybe over the last four or five seasons I have fished so hard that it's the inevitable ebb and flow of angling taking hold.

 One achievement that I want to achieve is a Wessex Trio, this for me is a 3lb+ Grayling off the Frome, 20lb+ Pike off the Avon and lastly a 7lb Chub off the D.Stour. Now I have come fairly close on all three and would love to push the limits just that little bit further and achieve what I have set out to do. All of the above aren't easy, but certainly feel that they are within reach. Time is what is required to try, so with the weekend just gone myself and the vice admiral made the 120 mile trip down south for three days.

Sunrise on the Frome.

 The first day was spent trotting the pacy D.Frome in fairly typical winter conditions, a little more colour than I'd like, creases pushing just a little too hard and the wind made fishing a much less comfortable affair than perhaps I'd have liked. Having started at dawn with the rising sun illuminating the surrounding countryside I looked to put my new 15ft rod through it's paces with an early Grayling.

 By the time my rod had it's first taste of action the sun had covered 70 odd percent of the horizon!, a sharp thump on the tip as the float vanished was a very welcome feeling, one I was beginning to wonder if I'd feel at all, within seconds the culprit revealed itself on the surface, not a grayling, but a trout.

 Great fun on the extremely light gear but not my target.

 London buses usually come in two's right? or so the saying goes, this trot (the very next one) the float sailed under in very much the same position the last did. This was no trout, the first ten seconds of the fight were a dead giveaway and this was my reward after a nervy couple of minutes. Some excitement at last.

2lb 3oz, my second largest grayling ever.

 Seeing a big grayling in the flesh is always a pleasure, this one behaved for a quick snap and went back into the river without any fuss at all...why couldn't they all do it! next trot through another tug on the rod, another fish and another grayling. This one of half the previous ones size but a pleasure to see.

 That's when my day became un-intresting again, I spent the rest of the day staring at a float waddling downstream without a tap. A nice curry and few beers to wrap up the evening, next up, a day on the Royalty.

Sunset on the Frome.

 What more could an angler look forward to than a day on the banks of such a fantastic fishery. Well, feeding fish would have been one thought, seems as if they didn't read the script. -4c overnight temps for three nights on the bounce and harsh easterly winds pulling the air temp well below freezing meant the conditions both above and below the waterline made for grim reading.

 The sport reflected that, one small Chub off the Trammels and a Salmon Parr made up the total for the days catch, unfortunately that could have been so much better if the dodgy chub I hooked in Mugs Hole had not done the dirty on me and parted my hook link on a snag just as I was inching it toward the net and just before dusk too. Not cool!

3oz lead barely holding in the middle crease.
My only Chub of the day.
 More beer and pizza, although I probably shouldn't have been so hasty with the pizza.....

 I just hoped that the ever faithful D.Stour would turn the trip around for both of us on the chub front. Maggots, bread, meat, boilies and cheese were all the arsenal, the sort of dream team you'd think a chub simply couldn't resist? well the sods had clearly had their fill before we arrived as my baits remained completely untouched for practically the whole day (apart from two liners which crapped the life out of me), tough going indeed.

 This is pretty much why I don't feel the same this season in regards to how quickly the end is upon us, yes I have had some very good fish at times but the away days this season have really kicked me in the plums. When will the stars align? Guess I just have to keep going until the magic happens.

Rather the Deer than me, that river was damn cold, good swimmer though.

 Maybe this weekend coming I locate those golden balls I keep getting told I own.

 The bird life was pretty cool though, so not all bad, I saw over the course of the trip, Oystercatchers, Buzzards, what looked like a Little Owl, a wader (pictured below) which I have never seen before, Kingfishers and all the other predatory birds the wessex rivers are unfortunately inundated by.

One very efficient Kingfisher on its teasle stem. 

The mystery wader.

A hungry Wren which ate its body weight in maggots in two hours it would seem!

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Boat Pikeys.

 It's been nearly three months since I last took the boat out and my god it does feel like it, with slightly poor circulation of air in my fishing den it had a little mould beginning to form on it so the intention was to go for a gentle motor up the Thames to wash it off. Hmmm, I had visions that the river would be at its normal winter level, it is safe to say I was wrong!, the ample rainfall has the Thames pushing nice and hard with a distinct colour to it which I thought would make it very tough for Pike fishing.

Glad I and the vice-admiral don't suffer seasickness!
 Brian and I got the boat set and we hit the high seas, it really did look and feel as if we were on the sea, plenty of power in the flow, decent chop and that crisp sea-side feel out of the sun. I have to be completely honest that my confidence was not high, typically trips out in search of Pike in coloured waters have not been successful, I could only try knowing that we had six hours on the water. We both set up and put out a bait each, the piking pirate turned briefly after casting out to pass me his sandwiches to put in the dry bucket, within twenty seconds the bait was cast out and taken, the float had vanished before he turned back, now that's a confidence booster, a jack within a minute of anchoring up!

 For me that early fish filled me with an early optimism, as the hours ebbed by and the tide came up to it's full volume my confidence had wained away entirely, then out of nowhere my float finally bobbed and slipped away as if to keep my focus on the job. That was the take I'd waited for, a good pull on the end was all I wanted, so that's what I got.

Not quite a double, but hooray its a pike!

 I did earlier in the day suffer a couple of dropped runs and a lost Pike but not to cry over spilt milk I continued to see if something would finally come good.

A Beautiful winters sunset over the tidal Thames. 

 On something of not such a good note I found this horrible little rascal hunting on a local river of mine, something I've never seen before and had the displeasure of witnessing it catch a gudgeon of around 1.5oz which it had broadside across its snout before disappearing into some overhanging bushes to eat its breakfast, not good to see at all!