Monday, 22 July 2019

The Art of Catching Barbel.

 Is quite simply put in other words, to understand the art of catching chub!. This is true throughout all fishing in our wonderful and enchanting rivers. Where barbel reside chub are almost certainly close by.

 This season I have chosen to invest quite a bit of time on a neglected stretch of river off the beaten track and away from my usual haunts. Revisiting somewhere I haven't been for some time, I spent in the region of fifteen trips a few years back attempting to cross paths with an elusive monster, one that I had the pleasure of seeing with my own eyes holding steady in a fast narrow stretch of river. Chocked with ranunculus, just as it was then. I am almost holding out hope that she may still be alive or another specimen of her calibre hidden amongst the large healthy beds of weed that could quite easily conceal such a creature, the unknown for me is tantalising yet nervous at the same time, my efforts may not be rewarded in such glorious fashion.

 The very sense of being there, on that stretch of water fills one with such excitement that even with my continuing health issues that I shall not bore you with enable me to find the strength and ability to pick my way through the maze of towering stinging nettles for the first time as I look to nestle myself along with my B James Mark IV Avon 10ft split cane rod and a little bag of bait in a nook or cranny that looks fisherable. As I approached the last three to four feet of the bank I can just make out through my steamed polaroids the tail of what looked like a good barbel.

 I crouched back down behind the slightly less dense bank side foliage and wipe the condensation from my glasses whilst gently wafting some cool air up my light jumper. As I regained my viewing position I could see with clear vision a barbel of at least ten pounds holding at the tail end of a bed of ranunculus that stretched possible forty feet! This unfortunately meant I had probably entered what would be the area I would pull fish up from, so I beat a slow retreat after admiring such a glistening creature for a little longer. Confident my cover wasn't blow I slipped my way upstream to roughly where I thought the ranunculus would start and my prediction was spot on as I stumbled upon a large clear gravel patch with the beginnings of the roots of weed arching up and waving in the flow.

 This was certainly earmarked as one of my spots, so I underarm threw out a healthy helping of 6mm pellets and broken 15mm dumbbell boilies, kindly made by Darren McCann of the Hookbait Co. With the dinner bell rang this was not for fishing in mind on this occasion, yes I knew one very good barbel lay forty feet downstream and possibly more between her and the bait, but I wanted the bait to settle and allow whatever was there to feed confidently until such time that I felt the swim was ready for me to start fishing.

 In the back of my mind the fast glide where I saw, 'The Monster",  we shall just call her for future reference and wondered was there anywhere to possibly fish what is a very pacy swim. A further venture upstream through what appeared to be virgin jungle was energy sapping, sweat pouring from every pore on my body, the sound of the faster water was getting louder and this spurred me on to continue! As I got closer visions of "The Monster" crossed my mind again and almost peered through the water expectantly. This time though there was to be no initial mirage followed by the realisation of a 14-16lb barbel sitting in the flow just a rod length from me.

 Rewind those few years I just remember thinking to myself, one: how could I not have bought a rod along knowing I was looking for areas to fish and potentially have a chance at fishing for something, but secondly: why, knowing the potential of the water did I not give it more of a chance. I think the reason this campaign has come about is simply I want a challenge, away from other anglers and fish the good old fashion way, whether its stalking at close quarters or playing the long game, fast forward those years and I am here. Hoping that my chance of something special hasn't passed me by.

 The swift glide has more weed on it now than it used to but looks in fine fettle and although I didn't see a barbel I did spot the odd chub drifting around at the tail end of the weed runs. The section I am fishing is possibly half a mile long, no weir pools to keep me occupied and I feel the fish don't move much, I only think this simply based on my knowledge of barbel, yes they do move a lot and know to be transient but there is a whole host of overhanging bushes, marginal trees in the water, not to mention the very healthy weed growth which provides masses of cover. Natural food here is not in short supply either as I bait dropped out a few batches of the bait I came back with fresh water shrimp and even watched a dragonfly larvae climbing out the river in front of me as I watched that barbel.

 Knowing that competition food wise is going to be hard I felt that it would be good to get around five patches in total ticking over with bait and maybe adopt the forty-five minute rule, this is if you've had no bite in that time move to the next swim, or if you catch, move anyway to manage the swim in a way that doesn't put pressure on the shoal if indeed one exists. It's all about swim management. So over the last week including last Thursday I managed to make the journey down to keep the bait going in. Driving all that way just to bait up!...the saying "effort = reward" I'm hoping this rings true and on the 16th of July I made my first journey down to the river with the rod all set up.

 The previous evening, instead of watching the tripe on the television I sat down and started tying a few rigs that should see me through the season. My main approach is going to be bait and wait ( unless stalking becomes an option ) so I made a few rigs using the Gardner gravel coloured coated braid and by stripping around six inches of the coating off allowed me to give the hair/hook a lot of flexibility, in time this small design may pay off. The hooks I use are wide gape hooks, always use wide gape for barbel, regardless if I am rolling meat or static fishing, the pattern is something I have absolute faith in. The size of the hook I want to relatively match the size of the bait so I am settling with a size 8 for now which is also coated in a gravel coating so that when fishing in the sunlight it doesn't glint which could put feeding fish off.

 The five swims I have chosen to get feeding all look fairly similar in terms of weed growth and cover, but the pace is different throughout the stretch and I am keeping an eye on a sixth possible location when in flood conditions during the winter as it has a fairly large back eddy that no doubt will be somewhere fish, especially barbel and chub will seek refuge come the cooler months with the higher likelihood of rains. On the 16th I dropped into a peg I really did fancy right from the off but with the bright sunlight I could still see some of my broken boilies amongst the gravel which was a good indicator to me that the fish in the time I had been feeding that spot weren't on it often enough to clear it off. That did open up a few dilemmas in my head as to whether it is a feeding area, or an area just the odd passing fish grubs up on and goes off elsewhere.

 I'll leave myself to ponder on that another time. Having gathered my gear I slipped off back down my little trail, shrouded by the annoyingly tall nettles, getting stung on my neck and face (which wasn't pleasant) I got to my next port of call, a nice swift run in the middle and an inside crease that I felt may well hold a fish or two. With my 1.5oz gravel coloured lead I gently placed it twenty feet downstream and a rod length out, sat back and waited for the tip to slam round and the centrepin to spin!

 The tranquility experienced on the bank in such wild surroundings is a huge part as to why I love angling so much and at a time where there is so much negativity, I can safely say that there will be (hopefully) none of that on this quest. As a pair of Kingfishers chased each other up and down I almost missed just the tiniest of taps on the rod, only subtle, but enough to get my attention as around fifteen minutes had passed by now and I was just soaking up the atmosphere, as you do.

 Then, like a shark had just taken the bait with rod lurched healthily downstream and line tore of my nearly sixty year old reel, I was sure that in just a short time I had caught a barbel, after finally gaining control of the rod and I gingerly got upright I began to gain quickly on what turned out to be a modest chub of around 4lbs, not my target, but it was a fish. After a quick snap of actually what was a stunning looking fish I headed downstream and rested the patch I'd just caught from.

 This peg was one of the wider ones and in truth quite tricky to fish but I chose it as a potential area of interest is that the gravel was spotless the whole way across, only a couple little bits of weed and I felt this was a peg at night that the barbel and probably chub would come in and feed on, thus giving it a go. Again, I opted to put on a small PVA bag and underarm casted the bait out with minimal noise as I am not sure yet whether the noise turns the fish on or spooks them, only time will tell on that one.

 I sat in this particular patch for around half an hour whilst occasionally standing up to stretch my back and legs, but, to also have a peer through the polaroids to see if there was any activity on the gravel for which there was none on each of my checks. After half an hour I decided to make my way back to the swim I had the chub from and hoped that any other chub in there would have spoked off and any barbel in the peg would have a feed.

 Same as before I inched my bait into position and just laid back, daydreaming of what could be, questions and scenarios constantly running through my mind. The fact I am trying is enough for me, I believe I have caught enough barbel over the years to say I am competent enough to achieve such a quest, should my target still be swimming these waters. An hour passed by in a flash and said to myself I need to pack myself away for 9pm, that gave me time to get to the motor and get home without waking up the mrs. As nine o'clock came, I packed my bag away and folding the net away and into it nifty little sleeve, just leaving the rod out, as you do, just to eek that last opportunity out of the trip and it worked!

 A single tap was followed by a ferocious slam of the rod which took me by surprise as there was no precursor, a sturdy fight ensued out in mid flow and dived into a small bed of weed which gave me the impression it was a chub, now it felt heavier than a chub so I was a little curious, a few seconds later the fish finally came out the weed and rolled on the surface, a large chub turned and all the while the landing net is getting scrambled back together again!. As the chub turned it went deep in front of me to the bottom and showed no intention of coming in, but with such stepped gear owing to the abundance of weed the chub was swiftly bought back up to an awaiting net.

Pleased with that!

Caught at 2108, measuring 21.6 inches in length.

 Home time delayed by a little while but when its a chub of 5lb 8ozs I am sure nobody minds. In fantastic condition and in the winter it will certainly tip the scales over the 6lb mark, it certainly was no barbel, but the art of catching barbel is the art of catching chub, so it's inevitable. 

Friday, 12 July 2019

Unabled Bodied, Able Minded.

 Over the last couple of weeks I have really struggled with my health and the recent results of an emergency MRI scan have determined that a pro-lapsed disc which is pinching the nerve that runs the length of my left hand side of body through my buttock right to my toes has rendered me at times completely bed ridden. I can tell you that it has been extremely difficult to contemplate.

 For those who know me well will know spending any amount of time at home more than what is absolutely necessary is very difficult for me to accept, but feel that I am more at home away from home if that makes sense, my senses immersed in nature, whether it be in the deep Fenland spaces or the confines of the urban surroundings I live in. With my impairment fishing has become impossible and only since the first day of the season have I managed any time out fishing. With such a lack of angling opportunities available I decided to give my mate Brian a call and wondered if he fancied a wander around a section of our urban jungle.

 Knowing that the early summer roach fishing can be easy pickings the tackle was geared towards them. A 15ft Grey's Toreon float rod, Okuma centrepin loaded with 3lb line and a light 3BB float setup fished with a size 12 narrow gauge micro-barb hook was just perfect. I chose a nice deep pool that offered a near side and a far side eddy where roach normally reside, sure enough within a couple of trots the float slipped under and a fish powered upstream in the strong flow. Expecting to see a roach and a modest gudgeon appear is always a bonus and although it was not the sort of size that would get the blood pumping it was still great to see. I often wonder what a 6lb gudgeon would fight like if they grew to that size, per ounce they are very willing fighters.

 It didn't take long before my target finally came along, a roach of possibly 4oz followed by a procession of eight more in a little over an hour before the swim went strangely very quiet so myself and Brian went for a wander towards the bus stop. Before heading for our transport home I decided that a quick half a dozen trots under a favourite oak tree would yield a roach or two to add to my tally. What happened next I did not expect. As my float hit the crease I usually find roach sat a barbel shot out of the far bank cover and nailed my thumb-nail sized piece of bread flake.

 Needless to say the battle was awesome and on numerous occasions I felt that I was going to lose it. Having navigated the thick, lush runs of Ranunculus and overhanging tree branches Brian managed to slip a big barbel into a rather small net! Just goes to show, even on such light tackle with snags present you can land fish way bigger than your tackle is designed to "tackle".

 I was chuffed of course! 8lb 11oz of chalkstream muscle on light match trotting gear.

 Tight Lines all, enjoy every minute, I know I did, but since then my back has got worse and I am really struggling physically so it will be some time before I find myself out on the bank once again.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

The Ever Faithful Roach.

 Fishing for Roach on the surface is not something you'd initially associate as a go to method for them, that said, I was feeding some crust on the surface to see if any chub or trout were present and within a short space of time I had roach well over a pound, a couple close to two pound confidently taking large lumps of crust just downstream of me. I was in awe at just how many were at it.

 Needless to say I got myself ready fairly quickly and within ten minutes I had built up a little bag of Roach before they got weary of my presence and they backed off downstream. A quick mat shot of the ones I had coaxed to the net, nothing big mind you.

 Once I released those guys back I tracked the trail of curst going down and could still some very big roach taking pieces of crust off the top, first cast had a large specimen of possibly 2lb swirl at the crust but didn't take it and continued down the run unhindered. A couple of free-bees went out and this large roach once again showed itself as the third piece of crust went down, so it was obviously being selective and for some reason wasn't confident in my offering but would wilfully take others.

 A slightly smaller piece went on just covering my size 8 hook went out and the same big roach came up and again swirled at the crust and I struck thinking it had taken it, but immediately it was obvious that it hadn't and the crust came off and was eaten by a roach further down the run. I felt my chance had passed me by and tried again after resting the run for a couple of minutes and feeding a couple of pieces of crust every thirty seconds or so to get them competing.

 The swirls started to increase in appearance and hoped this was my time, third time lucky I thought and as my crust went by the lair of the big one with no response I guessed that strike irritated it enough to drop away from that spot knowing now that it was certainly being targeted, five yards down the run a healthy swirl appeared as my crust carried on down the crease and then vanished, the line pulled tight and roach on!

 Not the biggest I'd seen surfacing but a roach all the same! Around a pound in great nick.

 After that one, two more roach did also fall foul to the floating crust but the prospect of a big roach seemed to end pretty quickly after that first miss. Another time I guess. When I back up and running.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Opening of my Account for 2019/20 Season.

 Having recently joined a syndicate for a shot at some good barbel and chub I was all excited for the arrival of midnight of June 16th. I had the car loaded and the gear prepared before dusk had settled in. With a little light still hanging around on the horizon I trickled a little pellet into the edge of a drop off under my feet, I then awaited the moment when I could get my bait into the water and when the clock struck four minutes past midnight my Match Aerial screamed into life and the MarkIV registered its first River Colne Barbel.

 A good solid fight under the rod tip ended in the familiar fashion of a bulging net and I was very happy to have opened my account so quickly, not that I expected that to happen so easily everytime.

8lb 1oz and off the mark.
 With that barbel making a right racket I decided to move down stream a few pegs and kept little handfuls of 6mm "HookBait Company" Nimrod pellets going out in the margins and it didn't take long for me to become successful again as I received a brutal rip around on my split cane as another barbel made off with my Nimrod hookbait, first trip out with them and I was picking up fish and hoped this would be one of the bigger specimens that this section holds. 

 In the torchlight it became clear it wasn't to be, but another "eight pounder" to add to the account and I can't say I was disappointed. A nice deep hole in front of me allowed this fish to fight well and occasionally it would head over the far side to a gravel bar but with such good control of the fish the result was never in doubt!

8lb 3oz and getting marginally bigger.

Time to go home!
 As day broke I got confident that I'd catch at least one more but fish became very skittish in their appearance and trying to tempt another became tough going although three Chub and two Bream obliged. The best Bream went 7lb 14oz and the best chub went 4lb 6oz although the shoal I was targeting had fish well over the 6lb mark, typical I'd catch the smaller ones of the shoal!

 I will be back and it was a great start to my fishing on a river I'd never been on before.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Foreign Adventures 2019.

 Back on Dutch soil for the first time in a year and it felt good! The last time I was over it was exactly the same time last year, uncanny that the dates and times almost matched exactly. Not necessarily an interesting fact for most but I found it spooky. Meeting with my good friend Yannick once again we spoke at length to work out what would be our best plan of action and given the battering the Netherlands had just received prior to my arrival last minute provisions had to be made.

The rain didn't hold off when it came!

 In a year a lot has happened, my fiancee went from being six months pregnant to us being parents for the last 9 months, a house that we hadn't even seen before now within our grasp of owning, giving up the flat we have called home for nearly three years all seems crazy, amazing what can happen in such a short space of time. All I know is that time is tight and my yearly trip to Holland was in serious doubt for a few reasons, regardless of those reasons I managed to make it happen. Yannick and I met up on the friday afternoon and headed straight over to the Waal in search of Ide and Asp.

 Both of the species I have been successful in catching previously but had desires to better both
personal bests. For Ide we wanted bright sunshine and light winds to get them on the top and feeding avidly, problem for us was that there was very little sunlight as the Netherlands was suffering with some pretty poor weather and with rain forecasted for all four days I was over it cast doubt over whether I'd get the chance and I think it was safe to say that blanks were inevitable, our first two days were a massive struggle and we managed one Asp between us and two Zander, all of which were below our target sizes, although for Yannick those two Zander represented the first of the species for him so he was delighted to have finally got that monkey off his back. Mind you, he doesn't target them much.

A small backwater where Ide were present.

 On Sunday however and conditions did improve a little beyond our expectations and by 10am the sun was out and stalking the Ide became a viable option. Half an hour of loading up crust finally got the fish rising and amongst the average size of 2/3lb the odd much larger shape broke the surface as they gained confidence. Within twenty minutes of the first rise we had scores of big Ide slurping crust off the top and then it was a case of having a bait in the right place!

A 2.5kg specimen, over 5lb and a new personal best!!
  Right place and right time accounted for this peach of an Ide, in the water it didn't look massive at all, but I guess looking down a 10ft embankment to a fish in cloudy water played a part in that! in the net and lifting it out clearly suggested otherwise and boy was I happy! Not quite in the 3kg club but I can save that for another visit.

 Conditions between the sunny spells were fairly brutal as we were hammered by winds between 45 and 55 mph and at times we had to stop fishing as I couldn't cast a lure further than five feet into the wind, plus it made for traversing the cribs even more difficult than it normally is.

 As the conditions didn't look to abate any time soon we headed inland and south to a canal system where we have had previous successes and this time was no different. A few Asp were taken off the top and a new personal best for me of 2.5/2.6kg was caught among quite a few other specimens averaging 1.75/2.25kg plus a stunning 16lb Grass Carp that managed to charge out of my hands as we prepared to photograph her in the water. Can't have it all :)

 It is very safe to say I will back!

Grass Carp heaven.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Carp Fest in Bandit Country.

 Back to the wild west for more carpiness, carpiness that is sure to get you out of bed at 430am and not think about the lack of sleep that night yielded. Gear more often than not is in the van ready to go so its a case of showering, getting dressed and out the door. With my pre-dawn ritual complete and on the road the brain switches to carp mode and constantly praying the wind isn't scuppering my plans!

 Having breezed through the normally busy streets of London I got to my chosen water, a nice clear morning with a gentle 3/4 mph wind SW it was almost perfect. 2 hours to get the business done. To begin with I simply fished freeline tactics and within half an hour I came across a decent common grubbing up in the margins, two foot behind it went my squeezed flake, a minute or so later the common turned 180 degrees and inhaled the flake, easy as tying your laces.

 With very low battery I decided to not photograph this one as I hoped for something a little bigger. 14lb 3oz on the scales she went, then swiftly back to the lake.

 That fish seemed to then kill off any further sport in the margins and walked a section of the lake with the view to picking off any other carp that were unsuspecting of my hatched plan. Problem was that as the sun got over the trees the fish seemed to be moving out into 6ft+ of water and at a range of 25/40 yards, as good as I am at casting only the controller would get me there, so on it went.

 The results of that change over were almost instant, a decent set of lips came up at distance and as the crust disappeared and the controller took off I got that feeling through the rod that I was connected to something fairly larger than the first carp. A good battle at distance played out as the first run stripped forty yards off and spent the best part of a few minutes gathering the slack back, as she got within netting distance she rolled and clapped eyes on one of the prized fish in the lake.

23lb 2oz and a proper mint one!
 Not many carp get the double sided treatment but she was a cracking mirror and the battery died after three shots of the other side! 

 The smile was certainly genuine and I hope to catch the remaining fish of her ilk. As the early morning wore on I got another shot at a carp and slipped a mint common of 16lb 5oz, which again was good sport but can't photograph everything I catch, especially when it's dead. Then it was off to work.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Fluff Chucking Madness!

 Canal carp have taken up most of my angling time this spring, well, a trio of tench trips have possibly taken up the rest, so any time targeting trout has had the kibosh put on it. Why after all this time that I finally decided to dust off my 4wt was because the preceding evening I took my daughter for a walk along the river to just see if the river was in good condition and generally just to do my bit to let out-of-season anglers know they are not supposed to be fishing.

 With the sun out and a pleasant evening and armed with the DSLR I hoped I'd get some photo opportunities and how glad I was that I did. I was treated possibly the best taking of flies ever in my life, the Trout didn't care about me and I snapped a good few pics off. This show of fish got me thinking. The next evening after work I shot off home briefly and grabbed that 4wt and a couple of boxes of flies, it was game on!.

Just a couple of about twenty keepers!

 Not wasting anytime I drove up to where I saw this healthy group of trout. Now I know there are few through this river but stocks seem to proliferate in the upper reaches and I only needed three casts at my first sighting and a stunning cock-brownie around a pound was in the bag "so to speak", only catch and release in my mind.

Strike One!
 The "Daddy Long Legs" falling victim to this awesome looking fish and it didn't take long for this deadly fly to claim another spotty!

Strike Two!
 Then, after a lull of possibly twenty minutes where I had to go looking for more fish as those in that pod became very spooky and its not hard to see why!

 When the stream is just over a rod lengths wide! But what an awesome place it is and that wasn't all either as I crossed paths with a big trout, so big I didn't know what do in terms if I got the chance to tempt it! Surely any inclining that it was in trouble would have me going berserk, now, that fish after a few casts did come up and stare at my fly, a take looked likely and on the very next cast I got the line just to sit straight and the fly was slurped off the top by a large cock-brownie, in water nearly as deep as it was is mind blowing and my fly rod started to piss line as it screamed off. Just ten seconds into the fight all of a sudden my line went completely slack and he was gone.

 On closer inspection as I retrieved the tippet the fish had cut the line above the fly! I was gutted and rightly so, that would have been an incredible fish from this diminutive stream.

 With my heart rate still through the roof and my Polaroids still steamed up I got off the bank and gathered myself to go again. Even after just ten seconds any other fish there would be long gone in the crystal clear water. I pushed on up above a small weir roughly 30 yards upstream where I hoped the commotion wouldn't have put the trout off feeding. Having chilled out for a few minutes I got the fly rod back out and retied another DLL size 10 on and began to stalk the water again.

 Tight against the far bank margins I could see a shape of a fairly large trout, just under the overhanging ivy, having only tasted defeat so soon I only decided to flick a fly out and allow it to drift when I felt confident that he or she had come away from the foliage for me to stand a chance at being successful, five minutes later and my pain was replaced with elation as my little trout pan was filled with a monster male!

 That will quench my fluff chucking thirst for another year! What an evening it was.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Carp Fest at the Park Lake.

 I couldn't call this post anything else. The last couple of morning's that I have actually not attempted to throw my phone at the wall on the 430am alarm have been great fun, ample chances and whether it be tentative slurping of the crust or mis-calculation of my strike has seen me achieve much less but a good return nevertheless.

 Even early on in the morning, long before the sun breaks the treeline the carp are all over the top, probably mopping up Daphnia and bread from the day before from the bird feeding public. The fact it is a public park puts some people off, for me it is a massive bonus, simply because the fish see bread and other foods like rice, chapatis etc all the time. This is effectively matching the hatch!

 Though these carp aren't afraid to eat bread there is more often than not a boundary within which they will have it no matter what, inside of 20 yards they are wary that it may be a trap, get past that invisible line of confidence and the takes can become much quicker and bolder, for me to achieve this distance I use a controller float ( at the moment these are the Korda Intercepter 15g ).

 It took a little while mind you to get my first take and it was in the shape of feisty 14lb+ common which was a nice start. That start didn't take long to get better either as I then managed on the second attempt a pristine common of 16lb 4oz, glistening gold in the early morning sun.

16lb 4oz

 Not long after that carp a breath of wind crept and made presenting a bait at distance became a little bit more challenging. The pieces of the jigsaw fell together quite nicely after fluffing my lines on three occasions in just twenty minutes leading up to my last two fish, before I packed away and headed off to work for the next 11 hours.

A nice old mirror of 18lb 13oz

My best of the morning weighing in at 22lb 2oz
 Not a bad haul for 2hour and 20mins :) 

Monday, 3 June 2019

Canal Carp, The Hunt is Still On.

 I couldn't not do a little bit on this trip. As tempted as I was to go against my feelings to go off Tench fishing again I fought those ideas and got my act together and gathered the stalking gear for my sixth visit to the canal for this campaign. A bright sunny day in the offing and lightish winds for most of the day presented too much of a good thing to go elsewhere. En-route I awoke sir Brian from his recovery from the night before and wondered if he fancied coming down for a go at finding a carp.

 On my last visit the carp were congregated in an area quite difficult to target. Plenty of boat traffic was likely so we got on the water earlish to give ourselves a fighting chance. A brisk hour later and we were in position and ready to go!

 Loaded with the least amount of gear possible we set off on foot and went hunting! As I've said many times before these canal carp are very transient and pinning them down takes a vast amount of skill. That said, just locating one was proving tough for us as it took well over two hours to finally get our first sighting. That sighting being a very large Mirror that we both put in the upper twenties bracket and one I would dearly love to catch! As she marauded up and down the margins I set about offering crust in front of her, followed by slow sinking flake, then allowing it settle, all which seemed to only spark one glimpse of interest.

 The more we tracked her, the least likely it would seem that one of us would become successful. As she came back into view at one point another carp joined her, a common, possibly an upper double and a lovely chestnut brown colour, certainly kept in keeping with all the other canal carp. Not one that I've caught has been ugly!

 The common however showed immediate interest in the flake as I lay the trap for the mirror, a quick bit of thinking had me retrieving the flake out the way of the common so not to spook the bigger one, the common really wanted it too as she followed the flake towards the marginal weed! crazy thing she was and once the bait had come out the water she turned away and vanished momentarily. In the clear water they are easy to track down until they use the boats to slip away and on one occasion they both did this and by this point I was kicking myself. Had I actually prevented myself from catching a canal carp? The bigger picture was certainly in mind and I had clearly weighed up the fact a bigger fish was better than no fish, such thinking on this canal to be fair is rather ludicrous knowing I could go another handful of trips without an opportunity so clear cut.

 Twenty minutes or so passed by with only a tench offering itself for viewing with the carp now doing a complete disappearing act. This is so typical and now I was starting to already regret my actions. Myself and Brian stared into the crystal clear water just hoping to see one or both of them. As I headed further along the canal wall I spotted a shape heading toward me and as she got closer the common became clear to see, working the weed line under my feet, this time with the mirror gone awol I flicked a slow sinking piece of flake in front of the common and awaited its reaction.

 Well, the reaction was that of a very confident and hungry carp! she hoovered the flake up with gusto and a powerful yet rather short battle played out in front of a few surprised onlookers on the towpath, much to my delight it was as pretty out the water as it was in, I could see it was a proper looker and I wasn't disappointed. 17lb 14oz. Carp number three!

 With that peach released home myself and Brian gathered our bits and continued to search out another carp as the mirror had gone missing completely. As we already know, location is everything and between us we have quite a vast catalogue of information that we have gathered and we used this to get us a little closer to some more carp, some of which were pretty big! Only problem was....they had other things on their minds and in the heat of the mid-afternoon it was clear our attentions needed to turn elsewhere and yes, we did find a couple more carp on our loop back to the car. These didn't want to know either as Brian was expertly inching baits right into their paths with hardly a glimmer of interest. Part of me thought these two carp were a splinter of the spawning party just a few hundred yards away and were on their way back to join in the festivities.

 Six trips, three carp and all awesome, it's not been easy but 50% catch rate so far, I'll take that!

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Carp Glut.

 With this sunny weather we are experiencing my mind is firmly set on carp, ignoring the three trips after Tench over the last four weeks I have only targeted carp, plenty opportunities presenting themselves with most being taken. Stalking the downfall to most.

 Armed with the very basic of gear which is left in the van I am ready to go whenever a gap crops in my schedule or on the way to work or home. A 9ft 2.75TC Nash Dwarfs (Gen2), Shimano XD5500 loaded with 12lb Diawa "Hypersensor" line and a 6ft leader of 10lb Fox "Illusion" tied to a size "6" wide gape hook which is hand sharpened to make sure there is no room for error in terms of poor hook-ups. Oh and a loaf of bread! What else.

 These catches were taken over the space of four days, a couple off stillwaters and one other off the canal. Plus a big canal Bream which was taken on a quick hour last week too.

9lb 7oz, my largest canal Bream this season so far.

19lb 14oz

22lb 1oz

My third canal carp of the spring, 17lb 14oz

A lovely mid 16 off the top.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Tangling With Tench, The Final Return.

 My previous two trips have been an eye-opener it terms of showing me what I have missed all this time. The battles are something I have now really looked forward to. It took over two weeks to get back down but between trips I couldn't think of much else. I had to go back.

A taster of what was to come.

 A quick drive down last Saturday and I was ready. Knowing by now that mornings are a little slow I knocked up some hemp and bread crumb so that when the Tench passed through I'd have something to keep them around long enough to get a bite.

 Like the previous mornings low cloud gave way to bright sunny days and light to medium breeze, in this case the conditions were spot on for fishing on the float. Midday came and went with very little to show for my efforts in terms of numbers, just two tench ( 5lb 8oz & 5lb 12oz). The next two tench showed me why my decision to keep on this venue was justified, the first when I hooked into it felt really heavy and used the depth in front of me to do everything it could to escape, with a good hookhold however it was just a case of staying in touching distance and it would be mine.

7lb 9oz, getting bigger!

 The second of the two big fish fought completely different, a gentle scrap was over in a matter of a minute or so. On the mat for the photographs it wouldn't stay still and made life difficult. So much so I snapped three shots on the camera and watched her slink back into the depths. One thing I noticed is that when you catch one fish typically within 10 minutes or so I get another shot, usually landing them.

The very next cast it got a little better! 7lb 12oz.
Real chuffed with that.

 The theory above played out time and time again throughout the day as the lull that is the first 2/3 of the day gave way to a manic final five hours where I landed 12 tench, all of which were over 5lb 15oz.

Another high quality Tinca at 7lb on the nose.

 It is an incredible place to go fishing and if you saw the lake, you would be surprised I would guarantee you that. For me its a brilliant place to have in the armoury for a time when I feel like getting a few fish and quality fish at that.

 As the last three trips went so well I have been plotting another visit, but I think this maybe my last trip this season, unless by some miracle a day goes begging.

Tench session 3 18/5/19

5.8 0822
5.12 0831
7.9 1252
7.12 1319
5.10 1459
6.11 1513
7.00 1531
6.15 1802
6.6 1845
6.14 1851
6.8 1910
6.7 1924
6.5 1927
6.6 1941
6.0 1944
5.15 2001


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