Tuesday 27 August 2013

The Holy Grail......Almost.

 Just a quick catch up for a couple of short sessions done over the last few days, first off a went out for a trotting session with my brother Richard, to start with we targeted Brown Trout and were both successful, simultaneously hooking up with Rich's around 12oz and mine at a shade over 1.8 they weren't large Trout but good fun, afterwards we headed down stream where I had a range of silvers, Roach, Gudgeon, Dace on the trotting gear which was good sport, after Rich left me at in the evening I managed a Barbel of 6.11 and also lost a baby Barbel ten minutes before hooking the bigger one, which also faught very well on the 4lb line and the size 16 barbless hook held perfectly.

 Also today I headed off out in search of a Carp and wasn't disappointed either, the split cane rod was dusted off again and put it to task, floating bread crust really did the trick but I couldn't get amongst the bigger fish and I saw them up to around the mid 30's mark but getting them to take the crust was nearly impossible, I had to make do with smaller ones to the 8lbs region but it put the stick through it.

Let me see you bend over.

Typical size and shape.


Some of the Carp were behaving although they were spawning again.

 Later on in the day I headed down to the River Thames and did some trotting with the stick and after a few casts the float slid under and I struck into a decent fish but unsure of it's specie, after a minute or so a good Chub came to the surface, my first Thames Chub for a year or so. But the surprise didn't come too long after the Chub either when I got a take pretty much the same as the Chevin, but the fight was totally different and after a short time a big red dorsal fin cut through the surface of the river and when I saw the size of the body I couldn't believe it, a massive Roach easily 2lb if not a 3!, my holy grail was heading in towards my net and I started to shake with the adrenaline pumping, I began to get very nervous, so when I slid it over my net I was getting extremely excited, but as soon as I got it out the water and onto the mat my heart sank when I realised it was a Roach Bream Hybrid, a good size but I was so deflated to find out it's identity.

 At 3lb 1oz it was a good fish but I so wished it wasn't a mongrel, my PB Roach of 2lb 15oz is from the Thames, which was caught during a Bream session, I know a 3lb Roach is possible on the Thames and it only takes a small amount of luck to be in the right place and at the right time. I would have taken a picture of the R+B hybrid but after weighing it, she flipped back into the river without a photo, if it was a 3lb Roach I would have been alot more diligent and not allowed a rookie mistake to creep in. How a session can change in the blink of an eye, maybe another time, the quest for the holy grail will have to enter another chapter. Such a shame it wasn't a full blooded Roach.

 Tight Lines.......

Thursday 22 August 2013

Floodwater Barbel.

 This evening I had a couple of hours spare so I thought what better fish to go after than a Barbel, but this was no formality, it has been a tough season so far on the Barbel front but it hasn't only been me so I've taken some solace from that.

 All day it had been raining and the river was up around 18 inches, but by the time I got to the river it had dropped to about 6' up but the colour was still in it and there was hardly any debris coming down river, so fishing a ledgered bait would have been possible, so I did. Forty minutes later my rod slammed around in typical Barbel fashion, a three foot twitch to rival all, a great fight ensued for about 6 minutes when a good sized Barbel came to the surface, it was guided straight into the awaiting net, but not before one last dash for freedom.

 A good sized Barbel that weighed 8lbs 3ozs, almost fin perfect and in great fighting shape, felt so good to catch, it's been a while since I banked a good fish, I sat down after that and recast, 15 minutes later the rod slammed over, another Barbel on but unfortunately only had it on for a minute or so when it went through a snag on the bottom and bust me up, such a shame it was turning out to be pretty fast session.
 But I didn't have wait long again, the Barbel were feeding really well and no wonder why, the conditions were perfect, fish number two was soon the bank and it was a small Barbel but it certainly gave a good account of itself even if it was only between 3-4lbs, after that fish I moved off upstream to another swim, see if I could find another Barbel and 20 minutes in the next swim my rod did the same as previous, the three foot twitch as the fish made off with my bait. The latest of the Barbel went just over 5lb, not bad for a couple hours fishing and as I was releasing that fish the heavens opened up again, it was time to head home, happy day's, 3 Barbel in 3 hours and 1 lost aswell which was around the 7lb mark.

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Marsh Farm Re-Visited.

 Crucian's were on today's agenda and within close proximity to London there is no better place to fish than Marsh Farm for it's famous Cru's, the last time I came down I did a heads or tails whether to fish Richardson or Harris lake, Richardson won last time, so I headed off to Harris lake with my brother Chris who also joined me.

 The day started off with a couple of Tench but only small ones to around 2lbs, the day was very slow going and bites came very few and far between, plus there was quite a breeze on the surface making the usually delicate bites nearly impossible to spot, for about 4 hours we both scratched around for hardly anything, Chris was picking up Perch but nothing substantial, so we decided to get some drinks and as we did we passed two match anglers who were tearing the absolute arse out of the place, they had been there 2hours and had more than twenty Crucians's, the largest going 3.6 and we see them bank a 2.14 as we stood watching them in awe, the tackle used was scaled down to a ridiculous level.

 No wonder why we couldn't catch any, we just didn't realise how delicate people were fishing just to connect to them, extremely impressive watching them, normally I do alright on any fishery I go to but I wasn't prepared for it, but after being inspired for a while we both decided to carry on what we were doing and just stick to it and hope that a Crucian would slip up, but as the evening approached and the sun finally started to lose it's heat the fish started to move and a range of different species came to net between us, Rudd, Roach, Tench, Perch but the Crucian's still avoided us like the plague and as 7 o'clock came we had to pack up and head back to London. Greeted with 3 goals from Arsenal as we beat Fenerbache in Turkey, job done boys.

The biggest of 6 Roach at 1lb 1oz.

Typical Tench of around 3lb.

A pristine Rudd of 12oz.

Lovely Chubly.

On Tuesday I popped out for a brief session to locate a Barbel, like the last two sessions it has been difficult to bank one and this session was much of the same, I spotted a couple of Barbel around the 6lb mark but the Chub were getting there before the Barbel could, the first Chub was only a small one but after 20 minutes in the swim I fished a large Chub crossed a gravel bed mid river and headed straight at my bait and as I watched it head closer and closer I picked up my rod and waited for the inevitable and after ten seconds the bait disappeared, the easiest Chub I think I've ever caught.

 The fight for a Chub wasn't too bad either, pulling every dirty trick out in it's effort to shed the hook, but that wasn't going to happen, I swiftly guided it into the net, another good Chub and looked every bit of 5lb and bigger....

..........5lb 4oz, a result, not a Barbel but not complaining.

Warwickshire Avon Detour.

 The last couple of weeks I've been planning a trip with Jeff Hatt, the author of Idlers Quest, in search of anything swimming but my main targets were the Barbel and Zander in the evening.

 After a somewhat turbulent journey up from south London on Monday I finally made it up to Coventry where we had agreed to meet, the weather wasn't ideal for certain species but made it a pleasant day for fishing for us both, bathing in mid 20 degree weather is always good for topping up the tan.

 We both walked the first beat whilst looking for potential spots to fish and I was almost spoiled for choice as just about every swim looked like it would hold everything possible and especially Barbel, Jeff's quarry was mainly the Roach but they proved difficult and very elusive and the same went for me as well, as I rolled meat for quite prolonged spells with only one small enquiry, we stuck at it for a couple of hours until we decided to move down to Stratford-Upon-Avon but before we did that Jeff did manage to pick up a Roach of about 5oz, not large but a start.

Rolling unfortunately didn't offer any luck.

Jeff diligently watching for a Roach bite.

The perfect rolling territory, just a shame nothing played ball.
 After a walk back down to the river we ended up at Lucy's mill, where Jeff and I targeted the Roach and as evening drew nearer I'd put out a Zander bait hoping to catch one, with my PB being under 2 1/2lbs it wouldn't take much to beat it, we both started to get bites and it wasn't long before the Roach showed with a couple for Jeff and I, with also a Roach-Bream hybrid appearing too, as the evening wore on I found a shoal of feeding Roach and managed 7 in the end to around 10ozs, with my hosts rods remaining very quiet, unusually.

Mr Hatt's Redfin.

My biggest Roach at around 9-10ozs.

 From what seems to have been a hard day on the Warks Avon, it certainly was a nice trip out, no Barbel this time but it happens and fishing could have been so different on another day, who knows.

Sunday 11 August 2013

Long Day, But Worth It......

..... in the end.

 But before we get to the end I'll start with the beginning, naturally. The plan today was to track down a Barbel and doing this by my much loved tactic that counts for a large percentage of my past seasons, rolling.

 The start of the session didn't go to plan and I was pestered by the Chub with three coming to the net with the largest going 3lb 9oz but although they weren't my target it was good fun, I headed off upstream to a couple of swims I know Barbel do frequent but after a couple of hours of searching I hadn't caught my target species but I did hook a Brown Trout whilst rolling roughly 3lbs but unfortunately when it jumped I didn't keep the tension and it came off.

A smaller one about 2lbs.

The biggest of the day at 3.9.

 As my time on the river drew to a close I carried on rolling just hoping I would find a Barbel that was feeding and in the last swim that I fished, on the first roll my antique cane rod slammed towards the river as a fish stormed off, the first five seconds of the fight it was evident I had finally hooked a Barbel, too long since my last encounter and what a fight it was too, for a fish around the 5 -5 1/2 bracket it fought very well and it used every bit of water available to it, five minutes of tussling she finally tired out and I slipped the net under it, a big sigh of relief breathed.

Although it's not a lump it fought very well, 5lbs 9oz.

The second one on the second cast. 4lb 1oz.

 But in typical fashion after waiting all day for one and the previous few weeks, next cast out my rod slammed over again, in exactly the same fashion but this Barbel charged off upstream so fast my centre pin shrilled as the line got stripped from it, a very fast fish against the current to, I just held on amazed at the power that these guys possess and it was only a small one, but it's stamina or lack of showed as it was in the net with in two minutes, the old rod performed very well and it passed the test.

Some wildlife seen about on my journey's.

Thursday 8 August 2013

Roach Quest Part One.

 This season I have set out my stall to catch some specimen Roach, the sort of size that I caught last season and maybe catch a larger one than 2lb 7oz, even though it was a very large Roach and a fish of a lifetime for many a Roach angler up and down the country I am still chasing a new personal best Redfin, my quest may take me around the country to some of the most prestigious fisheries in search of large Roach, venues like, the Hampshire Avon, the Dorset Stour, Warks Avon, Itchen and anywhere else I can find them, I'd prefer to catch my holy grail on a river I think for me it would be more of a challenge although I'm not saying that lake big Roach aren't easy, just wild large Roach for me, gives me the biggest kicks.

 On Wednesday I headed off out in search of Roach, the conditions were ok but not ideal for big Roach but not at work for this week it was on the agenda, I donned my waders and travelled fairly light and a keepnet just in case I got amongst a shoal, it took 3 hours for me to get a bite, it was very tough going, I got my first take in I think my fifth swim, plenty of bait went out in the feeder to stimulate the Roach to feed it took a long time to get them feeding but when I got my first take my cane rod bounced a couple of times and then the rod tip pulled round as the fish picked up the bait and headed off downstream with my offering, a typical Roach bite, so when the fish broke the surface I wasn't surprised to see a red dorsal fin break the water, I reached for the net and gladly slipped it in.

 My first of the session and I weighed it before going in the keepnet, 1 lb 2 oz another pound plus redfin, although I haven't had a two pounder yet the stamp of fish is astounding, but I had plenty of time to reflect on the seasons targets because the bites were so few and far between, it was roughly a bite every 40minutes, but when the next one came the rod tip bounced and slammed around again, another typical Roach bite, after a couple minutes I had number two in the net and they were getting larger, the second one went 1 lb 7 oz, I guessed about a pound and half as it approached the net so I was almost spot on, again I had to wait for nearly an hour.

 Then another bite, which was quite violent more so than the first two, at first I thought it was a Chub, but very quickly discovered it was another Roach, much larger than the others, it darted through the weed and straight towards me across the river, about three minutes it took me to get it close to the net when the unthinkable happened and the hook pulled about 3 ft from the net, a fish that was extremely close to 2lbs if not, a large Roach and losing them under such circumstances is always a difficult pill to swallow. Even though I landed two good Roach over a pound I packed up and headed for home feeling quite gutted, such a shame to lose one so close to the net, it would have been a great finale to what was an incredibly difficult day and patience was definitely needed. 

 But as with all specimen hunting, you have your lucky moments and sometimes your blessed with bad luck, today a mixture of both.

My pair of Roach 1.2 and 1.7, hard work these two were.

Wednesday 7 August 2013

River Trotting.

 Over the last couple of days I have been out on one of my rivers in search of Roach on the first day and then on Tuesday in search of the ever ferocious Brown Trout.

 The Monday was spent in a couple of swims with Chris trotting maggots and bread to try and catch some Roach, in between the storms that bought large amounts of rain we both did manage half a dozen redfins between us but not large with the biggest around the 10oz mark caught by yours truly but Chris wasn't to be upstaged by that, with the capture of a good sized Gudgeon, at roughly 3oz it was a specimen fish, the session unfortunately was cut short due to a prolonged storm that caught us two both out and Stuart too, who only came along to see how we were doing, needless to say we all got soaked to the bone.

A pristine Roach and Chris's Gudgeon.

 Tuesday's session was fished in much better conditions with no rain forecast and actually basking in lovely sunshine, just the perfect weather for trotting and the water levels were back to a normal level, the fishing went well and it wasn't long before Chris had chalked up a nice Brown Trout of 1.4 only his second ever Trout, so it was a great coup for him but his day didn't finish there either with a capture of another Brownie at 1.11, he needless to say finished the session a happy chappy.

 I did however also manage to catch a Brownie and a lovely specimen it was as well, it was also caught on my split cane rod and it coped with it brilliantly, with the display that fish put up it didn't even flinch even with the rod bent double it felt although it still had plenty more to offer.

The first of Chris's pair.

My Trout at 3lb 3oz a stunning specimen.

 Later on in the day I did unfortunately lose a Barbel in a bank of weed, the fish was around the 4lb mark but with the Barbel fishing being so difficult even one as small as that would have been good to land, plus Chris missed his chance to triple his Trout tally when a spotty rose and took his bait but he failed to connect to it.

 Up next, a trip to Marsh Farm for their famous Crucian Carp.

Friday 2 August 2013

Where Are They.

 It has been a strange start to the river season in a few respects, but the other day just highlighted how strange it has been, I started the day trotting with some Maggots and managed a single Dace of around 6ozs, with plenty of silvers showing on the gravel beds I couldn't persuade anymore to take the bait, later on in the session I changed tactic and decided to try a static bait just off of the main current in a few swims and it took about five swims before I started to get some enquiry's but they weren't typical Chub or Barbel bites, so I sat on my hands and allowed the bite to progress when I had had enough I struck and was met by a tell tale Eel fight and after getting it up off the bottom it skated across the surface, a good Eel of 2lb 3ozs banked ( in the daylight too).

 The session went even quieter after that fish and it felt that everything has just upped and moved off, I fished some good looking swims where I would have assumed fish would be present but I went nearly two hours without a touch, but some hope was restored at the sight of 2 Barbel and a couple of Chub too.

 I ended the session  early as I didn't think anything would change, just everything feels wrong, I'll leave the Barbel until I feel things have changed, or is it my timing that is wrong, maybe they are feeding late night to dawn and I'm missing them?, who knows.

The trap is set.
The perfect Barbel swim, or so you'd think.

No shortage of these Damsel flies, plus an abundance of Butterflies.

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...