Thursday 26 December 2013

Christmas Tiddler Bashing.

 Over the last few days in between the appauling weather I have managed a couple of short trips out, the first being a quick outing with my younger brother Richard for a spin with our extra light gear and we spent around an hour out and I for once blanked but was shown how to do it, Richard banking two small Pike with the biggest around 3.8lb the other a little jack just over a pound, I did have a couple of knocks and did have a fish on at one point but it was so tentative I didn't strike, only realised it was on when the line zipped out into the bay but it then shook the lure free.

 Since that trip though the weather had turned very nasty and all the rivers are swollen, most of which burst their banks and causing wipespread distruction, over Christmas day we only had a small amount of rain but still didn't help matters, this morning before boxing day dinner I had a short roving session for a Barbel, the river up around a foot and absolutely chucking through, it looked perfect but I had the added task of finding the fish as the deluge probably moved them all about, so as usual I deployed the centrepin and avon spigot 9BB armed with breadflake and small pieces of meat.

 As you can see from the pictures below I did manage a Barbel albeit a small one it still put a great fight and lost a bigger one of around 8-9lbs which was a great shame to have lost it but it does happen and that's fishing, plus also a solitary Chub of a pound and a bit. A good return considering the awlful conditions, let's hope the rain stays away now and allow the systems to drain out the excess water.

Richy's best of the two.

Look's like it should be Pike infested.
4lb 10oz, not the biggest but in pristine winter condition.
Starting to get cold now at 1pm.

Snug as a Bug.

Saturday 21 December 2013

Fortune Favour's the Idiotic.

 This was one of those trips where it could have been hurricane force winds and 5ft of snow and I still would have ventured out, I had one of those feelings that something special was going to happen, call it intuition or just a lucky guess, I was going to make that journey regardless, out of bed at a smidgen past 6am and on the river for a little past 7, the river has risen way up on it's usual winter level and was carrying so much colour for that spells a blank in my books, I didn't realise it had pissed down all night and was raining most of the time that I was out too, my tactic was to bait and wait, not my cup of tea at all but in these condition's it does work.

My flood water Barbel rig for today, yes Stuart, Boilies!
 It was well over an hour of fishing in the same spot and no knocks I thought a change would be good, there was so much debris coming down the river it was causing problems with my bare hook as it kept snagging up on the bottom and also leaves and branches pulling my bait out of position I had had enough, over to the float and put the centrepin to good use for some trotting, I set the float around 6'' over depth so the bait would bounce along the bottom to try and coheres something into feeding, two trots nothing, the third trot down the same happened until it reached the middle of the run and the float stood up and then double backed and headed towards the bank I was fishing, wasting no time I struck and my 2 1/2lb TC rod slammed over, doubled in fact and she rolled on the surface thus briefly showing herself, I became a shivering wreck in a matter of seconds, the fight that ensued made my forearms ache for half an hour after she succumbed, the best fight off a Barbel in a long time, my centrepin was stripping of line on the ratchet so quickly I grabbed the net as I ran down the bank to catch her up, the surge of power is a truly humbling experience, a bloody fish can do that to you. Truly immense indeed.

 In the famous words of John Wilson....."Well I never"......well I had no idea that the fish that prized me out of my bed so early in the morning would be this special, I am so lucky, so so lucky. When I finally netted my Barbel I gave Stu a ring to see if he fancied a journey out to take some photo's and he very kindly obliged.

 When Stu arrived we weighed her and took a few photo's to savour the moment, a special moment.

13lb 12oz was the magic number. What a specimen Barbel.

 That Barbel was the second biggest of all time, it still hasn't sunk in, boilies pfft, stick with proper baits guys.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Winter Stalking.

 Nearly Christmas now and if I'm not working, it's out shopping for presents, today all of that was pushed aside and I grabbed a lure rod for some spinner fishing and the cane rod if we found any other species that fancied playing ball, after a swift journey into Surrey we headed to a club lake of ours in search of a Pike, for my challenge I'm nearly half-way through so only a small Pike would see me move past the 100lb mark. The Pike are not very forthcoming on any of these lakes and the head of Esox is relatively small so it isn't a given that one will be landed but try we did.

At the Dam end of one of the lakes, that's all you need.
 Fishing into a stern head wind that was bloody cold, I plugged and span my way through around half a mile of water without a single knock and the wind had finally got the better of me so we both decided to move lakes, we had only arrived at the next piece of water and watched a nice Pike of about 12lb leap clear of the water and a cracking Perch of what was getting on for 3lb, a new PB that would have been but it stormed off out of view but that made me pretty confident that more of that size are present, after a good hour of lure fishing I finally got some action in the form of a very powerful Jack Pike that may have never been caught before due to the fact that these lakes are 95% fished on by Carp anglers. 

5lb 6oz. Oooosh, piking perfection.

 Finally a Pike......5lb 6oz and in pristine condition too and Dad wasn't to be upstaged either as I was releasing my one he latched into a shorter but fatter one which eventually went 5lb on the nose, just like buses eh!.

Oi oi chunky. At 5lbs, in years to come that will look magnificent.

 Later on in the day we did have a bit of fun, doing a bit of stalking for Carp, "stalking in the Winter I hear you say", oh yes it doesn't matter what time of the year it is, patience, watercraft and the fishes willingness to feed = Carp. Within an hour both James Snr and myself managed a lovely Common Carp and also a slab came out for yours truly which wasn't too bad either, 2013 nearly up, wow how quickly time has gone, just under 3 months to acquire the further 90 odd lbs of Pike to do my target but before the season is out I would love a Grayling of any size.

Dad's Common at 7lb 8oz.

Not to be outdone, my wood-carving at 9lb 11oz.

My Bream at 7lb 5ozs, poor impersonation of a Carp.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Another Fish of a Lifetime.

 Today's fishing was probably one of the hardest days I have experienced for a long time, the conditions were perfect for trotting, but the low dense fog that we had made visibility very poor, so trotting more than 20 yrds was extremely difficult. My target for the day was the Roach, the last few months the Pike have been top of my agenda but I felt today that a change would be good, I started my day before sunrise and when trotting for the day I tend to pack very light and when it is a trip out for Roach and Rudd I prefer to take a keepnet so I can isolate what I catch from going back into the shoal and spooking the remainder, so often in the winter, the redfins often are shoaled by now and if you do screw up a swim it could be a long walk before you find another pocket, so maintaining their confidence and eagerness to feed is paramount.

Light as Possible is best and key to searching out the fish on a very cold day.
At 10 in the morning, the fog was very thick.
Really thick.
 The first couple of swims that I found or managed to create didn't yield any of my target species but did throw up a Chub of around 3lb and a couple of Brown Trout, both wildies and two peas in a pod, the first a shade over 2lb, the other 1lb 15oz, I've never caught brownies off this river but you would expect them to be here as it is a perfect place for them to live, crystal clear water and plenty of natural food to go around.

Almost look like Sea Trout.
The Trout in the picture were only rested on the keep net for a quick snap, both were caught on consecutive casts and were kept in the landing net to revive before swiftly going back to whence they came. Game species, Barbel and Carp I believe shouldn't be put in keepnet's but thats my opinion.

 With Trout in the swim and thrashing it to a foam the Roach will drop down the runs and don't usually feed for a while after that, so it's always good to move on and come back later on in the day, further on up river after a few swims with no joy I found a lovely looking pool that tailed off with a lot of weed still present, I thought that maybe a Roach shoal might be hanging around between the runs of weed but again my trotted bread flake was firstly scoffed by a greedy Chub again about 3lb and then another Brown Trout, this one being quite a bit larger than the previous two, I reckon that she may have gone 3lbs, but I didn't weigh her, a quick photo and back into the pool, a sequence was starting to form here, so true to that sequence I drew a blank for a further 30 mins in what looked like my best chance of a Roach, a Roach of any size, not bothered how big or small, just something to build upon.

A pristine Trout and beautifully marked.
 Evening was fast approaching and now I was getting desperate to try and catch a redfin, I even tried to ledger bread on the creases in the vein hope they were static and bring the bait right to them, but it was so hard, it was definitely a tough day.....maybe they just weren't feeding, as dusk came and went I honestly thought that was my lot, I don't think that the temperature got above a couple of degree's at best, I stuck it out and tried everything I could and I was beaten.....well nearly, an experienced angler always finds a little something and perseverance is key to success, especially when the going gets tough.

 The light had failed almost completely when I found a nice little run that I had visited earlier and ran a bright topped stick float, just enough light for a little glimmer of hope and then it happened, the float stopped and hit the deck and I struck into what was a Roach, the jag-jag fight that is synonymous with the redfin's is such a tell-tale and it felt like a good one but I couldn't see anything and on 4lb line everything feels big so I waited until the fish succumbed and then lowered the net under the fish, when the Roach passed over the lip I realised I had just landed a really big Roach, the sort people dream of.

 I'll let the picture's say the rest, another fish of a lifetime.

Enough said, what a fantastic specimen and a wild river Roach too, 2lb 6oz.

Speechless.....I ran out of superlatives....what a finale.

 A true specimen and my first 2lb+ Roach this season, I have come close a couple of times but at 2lbs 6ozs it has eclipsed anything I've caught so far this season, just goes to show if you keep going what can happen, especially in the winter, angling isn't always straight forward and working for your catches is often the case. The session did though yield one more fish too, as I rested the lump in the net the float went back out for a couple of trots and the float vanished in the same manner as with the first fish, it seems they were waiting for darkness to fall before feeding, another good fight followed which lasted just as long as the other, was it another 2lber?, I soon got the answer and at first it wasn't clear as she looked nearly as big but lacked the thickness and the depth of the first but at 1lb 14oz it still was a big Roach and I was ecstatic with the addition, the night had well and truly settled in and the float was blending into the background therefore no longer able to carry on, what a fantastic end to a very tough day, well and truly worth the effort.

True perfection, a 1 lb 14 oz Roach. A great evening.
Top: 2.6, Bottom: 1.14.

 Winter Roach, they are there, just got to find them, the harder they are to find the more rewarding when you catch and catching Roach of this size speaks for itself.

Saturday 7 December 2013

Thames Recon.

 A brief session on the Thames this morning for a Pike or two had me out of bed at 5:40am, on the bank and set-up with 2 rods baited and out before sunrise, the Thames so far this season hasn't had a lot of my attention and I feel that the river has a hell of a lot to give, with every possibility of a real monster, my younger brother Richard's personal best of 25lb 2oz is a Thames fish and he has seen them larger than that, although it is an enormous system, it has a good head of Pike.

A fantastic trot for a Pike.

 The conditions were the same as they have been for around a fortnight, in Surrey we have been very lucky to totally escape the wrath of the storm that had battered the midlands up and the east coast of England, but there was still the aftermath of the last storm we had last month where there was dozens of downed trees and swims totally clogged up with trees up to 60ft in length, but these hold ups in the current did give me extra places to fish at for Pike, but after a couple of hours of fishing I only had one take which I did hook up to and was in the form of a Pike around 5lbs, it was probably a little bigger than that but I didn't get the chance to weigh it as the crafty bugger slipped in and it managed to throw the trebles into the mesh and flipped out of the tangled net and back into the vast river it came from.

Thames just after sun-rise.

 With that being the only action on the Thames I headed off to the Mole for more of a wander than to fish but having the gear with me it was inevitable I would have a cast but through the mile or two I walked most of the swims didn't look appetizing for Pike so I only fished around 4 swims but in one of the swims I had a follow off a good Pike probably in the mid-double range which came out of the murky water and chased my small perch patterned diver up to the bank where it unfortunately saw me standing on the bank that it rocketed towards then did a 180 straight back to the deep water where I never saw it again, but it was encouraging to see, I may come back for that one or maybe any others that are with it, nearly half way through my winter challenge now.

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Reservoir Pike Part One.

 With my Pike challenge well and truly under way, I decided it was high time that I attempted some reservoirs in my search target species, my search today bought me to North London which for me was only a short journey to the other side of the Thames by tube, the morning rush-hour chaos was what I wanted to avoid but on this occasion I didn't get that opportunity, so I crammed myself on-board, neatly packed like a tin of sardines and off to Tottenham I went.

 I arrived at the fishery to meet my recent piking partner Brian the creator of "Jack's Pike", who was to join me at attempting to bank one of the not so famous Walthamstow Pike, the fishery is vast and houses just under a dozen reservoirs in total, a massive amount of water to find a couple of feeding Pike, the odds of catching were very slim but we gave it a good go anyway, we both started using dead-baits and lures in search of them and we spent over 5 hours of unsuccessful hunting, but we were buoyed by the fact I spotted three Pike in different swims but they weren't feeding, in one of the swims though I did spot a couple of shapes on the bottom so as the Esox weren't biting in that particular swim I thought of changing one rod to a trotting set-up and baited it with bread, the first couple of casts didn't raise any interest but the third cast down and the float buried itself and I was in.

This is just one of them and just over half way up.

 My initial thought was Chub but after 20 seconds it was very uncharacteristic fight for a skelly and it wasn't long before I saw the culprit..........a Rainbow Trout !!, my gosh I have had some surprises in angling but this one has topped it I think, after a very stout fight on pretty heavy gear, a Trout laid in the net resting, fishing never ceases to amaze as to what might come next.

My PB Rainbow, photography by Brian.
 Not to mention it was a Personal Best Rainbow Trout too, I was chuffed to bits as it was one I had no idea I would be breaking any time soon. 3lbs 2oz. Get in!

 That was exciting and it wasn't even a Pike, I kept it in the net to revive it, so Brian could have a look and prepare it to go back and live another day as: one I hadn't paid to fish and take the Trout and second was the fact that I will always release fish unless there is a strict keep what you catch policy, regardless of how nice it may taste for supper. After that strange event we paired up and started fishing adjacent swims to work the best out of each one and we didn't get another sign of life until an hour before dusk.

 I had 1 rod out with a dead Roach fished against the wall and was lure fishing with the other, I was plugging away with my Rapala's for around 15 mins or so and as I finished a retrieve I looked down at my dead-bait rod and couldn't find the float, then I looked hard into the water to see it being held under about a foot, so I wound down and after all our endeavour I had one on, a good sized Esox too, she powered down into the deep water and up to my left for a couple of minutes when she surrendered, a very short scrap so I knew what was coming next and it happened, I got constantly slapped up on the bank whilst Brian tried to unhook her and throughout it's photo shoot too, crazy cow. Brian followed with some cracking photography.

What a peach, perfectly formed but had teeth marks in it's back....possibly food for granddad. 

 Another double of 10lbs 11ozs, she looks a lot larger because of her length but she was very lean but it was the best marked and coloured Pike I've ever banked although that's not many it's improving all the time. Another venue another target fish claimed, I hope this purple patch continues, just like Arsenal's season, as I finish this we just won 2-0 against Hull City, thanks to Ozil and Bendtner??, funny character. Tight Lines All.

Sunset over Walthamstow and London town.

Saturday 30 November 2013

Roving for Winter Barbel.

 This morning I gave the Pike fishing a short break and went trotting for a Barbel or two, the river was low and clear as it hasn't rained for over a week and for me those conditions are perfect as I like to fish for Barbel stalking style, travel very light with the most basic of gear and your not trotting properly unless you are using a centre-pin, it makes life so easy and the direct fight to the fish is second-to-none, the control is also unbeatable.

 I only had a couple of hours on the river and spotting Barbel was proving to be difficult and only saw half a dozen whilst I walked maybe 2 miles of river and on my second cast of the day I connected with a good Barbel, I trotted down about 20 yards to where I scouted out a couple of beards sat on the bottom at the end of a gravel run in around 3ft of water, on the first cast I was fishing a little too much over depth and the shot caught on the bottom and the float vanished but I knew it wasn't a take, so I shortened the depth to around 4inches over-depth and the next cast was soon met by a Barbel as the float confidently buried itself, the fight that ensued was brilliant, the one that didn't want to give up.

 Another good average Barbel of 7lb 1oz, only if every species of fish fought this hard and on a cane rod the power the Barbel generate is relentless, much better than carbon rods but everybody has their own opinion, the only down side is that you are not in control as much as you may like to be, but apart from that, there's nout better. But for rest of the morning I didn't add to my earlier Barbel but it was a nice trip out. Wednesday I may head off out and resume my quest for Pike, nearly half way to my target of 200lbs.
My Barbel trotting setup, 3SSG loafer but I use 5AAA shot to still weigh the loafer float down but allows me to still hold back the float and get the bait ahead of the shot and float, usually very deadly for Barbel but it also works very well for winter Chub too.

Friday 29 November 2013

The Royalty Take Three.

 Since the weekend I've been sat at work clock watching and with good reason too, the last few days Brian author of Pike Blog and myself were planning a trip to Walthamstow reservoir, but as we checked the conditions for Wednesday we concluded the weather was ideal for both a trip to Tottenham or a nice excursion to the lush green of Dorset, it was obviously the latter that was decided on and as soon as I threw the Royalty into the mix there was no other winner, Brian's first trip to this magical fishery and my opportunity to emulate my last trip up here nearly 2 months ago. 2 months already.......... How time fly's.

An early start
 For once I managed to catch my train, Brian already at the station we was all good to go, two hours later we were at Christchurch and with an hour of us starting the session looked bright as my float fished Sprat decided to come to life and wander off, ten seconds after the initial pickup I lent into a Pike, not one that the fishery is famed for but an Esox all the same and it was nice to get one on the board so early on, at 6lbs the fight was fairly poor but it certainly made up for it out of the water.

 After that Pike we decided to stick around a little while longer based on the assumption that if one was on the prowl then more would be, but it turns out after a further 30 minutes nothing else was, so on the move we went, fishing parts of the Trammels and the little weir and its link to the bottom of watermeet, persevering with that stretch of water after a couple of hours we were with
out any indication of life, it was fishing quite hard, maybe Brian's first trip down here wasn't going to be straight forward as we hoped.

The Pike saw that pose and thought otherwise.

 Dusk came and went too quickly for our liking, with the light failing at 355 it was too short to try and influence anything but as night settled in we headed back to The Piles and put out a couple of baits, on the bottom and under float, to try and find out where they were feeding, but as 6 approached we only got one more knock and that was a smash and grab off of a Pike on Brians ledgered Sprat but unfortunately couldn't connect to for reasons I wont divulge, all in all it was a cracking day out as it always is but its a shame that Brian didn't catch one of the resident Esox, but that's fishing, we will both certainly pay another visit come mid-December. They will only be getting bigger.......maybe a twenty pounder, I wish. But until next time tight lines.

Sunday 24 November 2013

Winter Piking Challenge.

 Over the past month or so since the official Pike season started my ambition was to come into contact with a new personal best Pike, Perch and Zander, so far this season I have been lucky enough to have already caught a large Pike, or by my standards as Pike go, a mammoth one. The Hampshire Avon at Christchurch has been nothing short of magnificent, a truly magical venue for me, I will be returning back there at some point this winter to give it another go for maybe something of monstrous proportions, by god it is capable of it.

 I have tried 5 rivers over the last two months and have been successful on all but one of them, 2 lakes have both been successfully targeted as well, although the Esox Lucius have not been large I have gained much satisfaction from catching off the lakes due to the small head of Pike that exist in both, the rivers however possess some enormous Pike and Perch which I may some day catch. Zander on the other hand may prove to be a tougher challenge, selecting venues to find them may take a lot more work than Pike or Perch, so the Zander may be the hardest of my winter targets.

 Tactics for the Pike that I have caught have been a mixture of dead baiting under float and the use of a plethora of lures and spinners, the 2 doubles that I have caught have both been caught on dead baits, but I will hopefully soon be able to apply my newly learned trade on a couple of reservoirs and I may one day manage to get a trip booked to visit the mecca of big Pike, the one and only Chew Valley, but before I do try my hand at such a large expanse of water I will try on some smaller ones closer to home, Walthamstow being one of them.

 I have done a fair amount of research on Pike and Perch over the last few months , trying to put my self in a better position to achieve my challenge, knowing your quarry will in theory help me greatly, as the winter deepens I will be increasing my time on the bank for the predators, whether it be lakes, rivers or canals.

My Avon monster at 19.5 my current PB.
Lake caught 6lber
My largest lake Pike at 8.13

My first double of the season, 11lb 3oz
My first ever lake Pike. 5.2
Another River Mole 5.

A miniature Avon Esox.
A Mole 5lber
 This winter I have decided to create myself a challenge, that challenge is a combined weight of 200lbs of Pike, 5 doubles or over, these fish can be caught off of any water, within England only and using only dead baits and lures, spinners or jigs, the total weight of the Pike will be recorded on a table on my pages list on my homepage.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Four Season's in One Day.

 Today Pike fishing was on the agenda as the weather has turned a lot colder and certainly seems the right time to be targeting them, my destination was the mighty Thames, I was going to use a 6ft spinning with a selection of lures and divers and a second rod was a bit more stout which I had baited with a dead Roach.

Hail storm on it's way.

 I left the house in the pouring rain and the wet stuff persisted for around 2 hours by which time I was nearly soaked through and no sign of any fish and it wasn't until around 2 o'clock that I actually got an enquiry on the deadbait, a slight bob on the float and a short run commenced, I waited for the bite to develop and then strike but it didn't materialize and the fish dropped the bait, it took over an hour to get another sight of a fish, it had been a very difficult day and the sight of the next fish was that of a Pike of around 5-6lbs which followed my Rapala diver on the retrieve but backed off as the lure approached the bank, that follow was the last action of the day as well, my only day-off and I drew a blank in the pissing rain and hail, and not to mention the mercury struggled into single figures before midday, but another time for sure I know the Perch and Pike frequent the areas I explored so, "I will be back".

Nout on the chew.

Thames in Autumn splender

Sunset on a cold day, which heralded the end of the trip.

Blackwater Returns.

   Throughout my teenage years I spent many thousands of hours targeting Barbel in low gin clear rivers and really hammered home my love for...