Monday, 21 August 2017

The Search for Monster Chub.

 This is actually part four of this seasons quest and my second season of seriously trying to achieve the milestone of a "Seven" pound Chub, I have travelled many miles and pumped in countless hours in the vein hope that I will one day become lucky enough to experience the pure elation of such a big specimen resting in my net.

 However, it isn't just Chub that inhabit these waters, a small head of Barbel also exist amongst the thick weed, location is absolutely everything and with the constant pressures of the Otters it is often difficult to pin the Barbel down. The tactics and bait that I use on the H.Avon and D.Stour are tried and tested Chub and Barbel catching methods I feel ultimately confident in, just a case of right place, right time.

 This particular trip a couple of weeks ago provided me with a tough start, hours of walking, peering through glasses at endless miles of gravel and weed made for exciting fishing, unfortunately I couldn't catch any of the fish seen, a few really big Chub were spotted near a bank of onion reed but these fish were not in a feeding mood at all, so after 9 hours of trying I decided to change tactic and uncharacteristically opted for a static approach, high sun, low and clear river this didn't seem to be a great idea but I had no other options.

 After walking so much with countless swims visited there was a couple of I thought may prove to be successful, good cover, fairly deep and a couple of fish were spotted floating across the gravels prior to my first cast, the wait began.....

A day of pure sunshine, perfect for stalking.

......Over an hour passed without a touch, then my outside rod which was fished tight to the far side sprang into life as did I, the resistance on the other end didn't feel substantial and on 1.75tc tipped rods the fight was fairly short lived, a nice, typically dark Chub slipped into the net, happy days I thought, just a shade over 4lbs, then before I got the chance to do anything with it my other rod slammed over, I was quickly into another fish which turned out to be another Chub of 4.09, things were getting better!

 I thought it was quite amusing that I'd nothing to show for my efforts for 10 hours of fishing then two Chub in as many minutes, I let them both get a breather and photographed the bigger one, then slipped them back, baited up my two rods and got them both out on the spots. I sat back in my chair with a justified grin as my gamble had paid off to sit behind baits and allow any feeding fish to find me rather than chase them, maybe five minutes later my far bank rod went again with another dogged Chub towing me around amongst the thick weed, partly the reason for using stronger rods is to nullify the Chub's antics and snags, with the extra power I often got the upper hand fairly quickly and prevent losing fish to the vast banks of weed which often end up my enemy.

 Weighing just a little more than the last I really thought the game was hotting up, I left the fish in the net to get it's breath back and cast out my rod to the very spot I'd quickly nabbed two Chub off of thinking they were on a feeding frenzy, I kept the bait going in to hopefully keep that frenzy going so I could take full advantage. I rang Brian who was upstream struggling like I was and just let him know that at least 3 Chub on the river were feeding when out the corner of my eye the inside rod went berserk, no precursor, the rod absolutely went for it, it bounced off the rod rest and proceeded water ward, I threw the phone to the floor and grabbed the butt of the rod as the slack clutch didn't even have time to engage such was the ferocity of the take, this was certainly no Chub, as I caught up with it and set the drag properly I got a glimpse of a Barbel's tail out the back of a weed raft which was held up by a horrible looking snag, I feared the worst immediately and could hear the line grating through the sticks and weed, after all the trips I had made and not crossed a Barbel I really wanted to land this.

 With lots of weed causing a problem I couldn't gain anything on it, soon after Brian arrived and he kindly took over net duty so I could concentrate on trying to pull the fish through and then letting the tension go, after doing this for a couple of minutes the Barbel found a hole in the weed and my line cut through most of it, I breathed a huge sigh of relief as it came into the clear water but I still had to tease her up towards where we were perched, with the net handle extended to its maximum Brian shipped it out, mugging it in the process!. Both of us thought it was a double, short but very thick and deep I thought I had nailed it first time around.

 That was a battle I won't forget in a hurry, what a result, now I was very very happy!

9lb 9oz, not quite a double but I was so damn happy !

 The rest of the day passed by without a hint of action, I couldn't have cared less!

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Canal Bream: Three in a Bed.

 It seems to be all I see now during my trips to the canal, until this particular trip when I finally found a Carp, a Mirror roughly 20-22lbs and looking rather mobile which didn't help me to try and persuade it take a piece of flake, twenty minutes of trying I gave up, I could have possibly followed it all day with no response.

 The Bream were up for it however and it made for a brilliant 30 minutes on the free-lined flake, a total of five casts resulted in three fighting fit canal slabs, once upon a time I used to struggle for these elusive creatures, now the learning has come full circle I am reaping the rewards and it's great fun indeed.

Best of the day at 8.03

8.03 & 7.14 brace

Another good "seven" 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Chalkstream Roach: The Big One That Got Away.

 Summer Roach have to be one of the most gullible species when the conditions are right, location I find is often the main stumbling block, over the last couple of months I've made a few short trips down south to hopefully get amongst some leviathans that I know live within a mile or so stretch, over my recent trips to locate Roach I had found the very specimens I wanted and some beyond my wildest dreams, now a summer river Roach is probably not far off of being at bottom weights having only spawned a couple of months ago (roughly mid-April) but these were massive.

 I finally got the chance to fish for them and after plenty of working out on how to get them to take a bait without feeling pressure I took four in two trips with the best at 1lb 10oz, a long skinny fish that come December will be a 2lb plus fish I'm certain, the others were all around the 1.04 mark, I did have the very unfortunate experience of finally hooking one of the monsters on my second trip down and that was only after four hours of tedious avoiding of the small Grayling and Trout that constantly nicked my bread on practically every trot, then out of the blue a trot finally came good and a huge redfin came up off the bottom and sucked in my flake, I became a quivering wreck before the bread disappeared, I could see it was a fish close to my PB (2.15) or maybe even bigger, a true fish straight out of my wildest dreams....

My best of the two trips, 1.10.

......The battle was played very cautiously with every judder of the tip made me even more nervous, I couldn't bare to watch it unfold, I knew I had to get the fish out of the main flow and into the margins where the slack would give me a better chance to land her, after a couple of minutes I slowly began to gain the upper hand and honestly thought that I had now earned my chance to land the very fish i've spent years searching for but all that unravelled in a heart beat and I had gone from nervousness to almost pure elation to complete shellshock, as the Roach came up in the water column it hit a swift bit of current and put a lot of extra tension on the line and the fish bolted downstream with the current and the hook pulled, total and utter disaster.

 I tried to compose myself to carry on fishing but I was far too gutted and called it a day, retribution would have to wait for another day, I was in a fit of disappointment, never have I felt so negative about a passage of my angling before. 

Sunday, 6 August 2017

From Somerset With Love.

 A couple of weeks ago my sister proudly graduated from Falmouth university with a degree in English Lit', this was cause for a trip down south, now South London to Falmouth is a long drive so I fancied breaking it up a bit and squeeze some fishing in, why not have a go for a specimen Rudd on the levels I thought, it's been some time since I was down that way and fancied another go at stalking them. I booked the BnB a couple of weeks previously and had a plan all in my head as to what I was going to do.

 Thankfully the Levels are roughly half way between home and the Uni so it made for a good place to stay anyway, two and half hours later I was in the car park of my digs, stalking gear already made in preparation I was raring to go, miles of walking, a pair of polaroids and a couple loaves of bread, what type of fishing could be better, just how I like it.

 The wind was a little blustery as it is now writing this with plenty of patchy cloud that looked like it wanted to rain, thankfully it managed to hold off until the last knockings. The first section I walked looked good for some decent Rudd but the shoals of tiny fish was simply incredible, a handful of crusts that would go out to search out the bigger fish were just getting smashed by scores of hungry fingerlings, actually getting 6-10oz Rudd to the bait was a challenge in itself and I weren't even after them. After a few hours I realised that I had to find areas where the population of Rudd was much smaller where competition wouldn't be so fierce and would hopefully give rise to an opportunity for my targets to get to the bait.

 Whilst walking around I bumped into a local angler who had also been looking for some Rudd but having the same problems I was, after chatting for a while we decided to head down a couple of locks to see if we could get ahead of the cuttings, unfortunately a mile or so down we were still firmly in the thick of it. I had a little mooch around and it looked good for a fish or two, for a couple of hours loads of bread went out and a few small fish were caught ( Pike, Perch, Silver Bream, Bream and Rudd), yes Pike on bread, the Perch came out on a little spinner.

 As dusk approached I noticed a couple of really large swirls around some crust some 70-80 yards from where I was initially fishing and flicking out the bread, I suspected the Pike activity spooked the bigger Rudd down the section, I dropped down maybe 50 yards down and flicked some more fish crust out and waited to see what happened, not fifteen minutes after moving this beauty of a canal Rudd surfaced before darting back down towards the weed beds, I knew it was a big fish immediately as the take was very powerful and the first part of the fight impressive, a small period of negotiating the cuttings and beds of pads and weed she cruised straight into the net and my Somerset trip was now a complete success!

My canal PB, 2 lb 5oz.
The very last thing the bread sees.

Top down, 2.05, 1.06 & 1.01
 I made the journey down just to catch a fish that special, for a canal specimen, they seldom get more impressive! the other two above came in quick succession when they switched off for the night, as did I ! a well earned couple of pints were had, on my own it has to be said.....chin chin!

 That evening we had a huge storm around 2am that kept me awake as I watched the lightning like a child, I've always been impressed by it however it did have a knock on affect to my mornings plans, these were to be at the docks for around 530am, that didn't happen and around 7am 'ish I set up my float rod and got plenty of bait out. This part of the trip didn't really go to plan either as a huge shoal of small fish annoyed me and I couldn't get my bait through to my intended target, the Silver Bream.

My best Silver Bream in years.

Pretty canal Perch.

My first ever Golden Rudd.

Bread munching Esox.

Stunning sunset over the levels.

This was what I had to deal with for time I was there.....

 Fortunately I had a couple to 9ozs the day before but really wanted a good pound plus fish to add to my challenge, this wasn't to be, for now at least as another trip next friday is planned and I hope to do a couple of hours on the docks as I head through to Taunton.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Fun with the mark IV.

 After a long period of no rain we have now had plenty to give a little life to some of our rivers, much needed from what I was seeing leading up to the deluges that followed. Keeping it relatively local I ventured out for some Bream and Chub on Thames, a tiny bit of colour coming out of a tributary gave the waiting fish some cover and a few really comfortably, with only an hour to spare I decided to stret-peg a large lump of bread flake in the margins and hoped the action would be forthcoming.

 I didn't have to wait long, this mint Chub was the first up to slip my peacock quill under and for much of the hour I had available it barely stayed still, this river can do this from time to time and throw you a real good session, the Chub was around the 4lb mark and in great condition, the Bream were ravenous and 13 came to the net averaging 4lb with the best going 6lb 1oz, not monsters but brilliant fun, next time I fish for them I will try to spend longer on them and see what turns up.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Gudgeon Hunt Part Two.

 The competition is hotting up and I feel I'm getting closer, plenty to go at and starting to see some bigger fish in the sandy holes, for now though I'll have to settle for a season's best of 1oz 3dr, lovely little fish.

Stunning little creatures.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Canal Bream: MIA.

 A few weeks back I noted that I had the fortunate moment of hooking a monster canal Carp, within minutes I had the unfortunate challenge of not turning the air blue as I lost the very fish I had spent three years tracking down, now I am generally a very patient man/angler, the amount of hours walking banks just to find one fish is no problem for me, the issue for me recently though is I can't even find one Carp to aim at, where they are hiding is becoming a mystery and now six trips have been embarked on without as much as a whiff of a canal beast.

 Seems as if they are MIA, or am I losing my touch?, the conditions for stalking in truth have been dire due to the constant winds and persistent rain at times, even with this I can still spot Bream in the upper layers of the canal so it isn't that bad, I know to keep at it though, back in November 2015 I had a stunning mid-twenty pound Common so even that late in the year the opportunities will come, just being there prepared is part of the battle though as my last run-in with a Carp proved, it doesn't always go right!

 On to the Bream however, these use to drive me absolutely crazy as I could not catch them for toffee, now it seems to be nailed on to at least bank one, the average weight is insane at well over 7lb with two doubles, a 9lb+, 7 over 8lb+ with all the others between 7.2 to 7.13, I've not heard of a canal to produce such high average sized fish but one or two from the shoal and that's it for the day, during this most recent trip on the canal was no different either as I spent two hours stalking for two more ancient looking slabs weighing at 8.03 and 8.07, the sight of all that snot is a welcome one, blanking on those canals is almost a given, thankfully I have found that little niche where wet nets are commonplace, the stench afterwards isn't as nice.......

Best of the day at 8.07.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Gudgeon Hunt.

 Now this may not warm the cockles of many specimen anglers, however for me this little species represents it's own challenges in catching a specimen, equally as fun minus the arm wrenching battles that maybe the Barbel and Carp may inflict upon you or I. Knowing where to catch big Gudgeon is tough and once location is rounded down to small dustbin lid sized holes in the gravel then you have to wade through the tiny versions of the little fish you seek, as I said before, it's all fun, believe me.

 Over the years I have caught enormous Gudgeon well over the 3oz mark, infact approaching the 4oz barrier, this is a specimen seldom seen on even the most prolific of Gudgeon territories, the River Nadder being the most prominent to my mind. I know a couple of little rivers where big ones do frequent but over the last few years they have become much harder to find. Having joined in the fun of the Blogger's Challenge one target is the "Gonk", from rivers, lakes and canal, so with this added incentive I have managed to get out for a few very short trips touch ledgering bread flake and maggots plus trotting which is my preferred method.

 Although I haven't caught anything to set the miniature world alight there have been some very pretty specimens being caught, my best so far, 1oz it.