Sunday 29 September 2013

Autumn Pike Part Two.

 As time edges much nearer to my trip to the Hampshire Avon for the opening day of the Pike season on the Royalty I've managed to get nearly everything prepared and with a day spare, but today I did get an unexpected morning on the river, always nice to be out on the banks, even if I'm not fishing. My girlfriend headed off to Oktoberfest with the girls, so I naturally headed off out fishing in search of Pike and Perch, Chris and I travelled back over to the River Mole with some unfinished business.

 The sun was out in full beam for a majority of the day and that's not usually conducive for Pike to feed and we found that out today for large swathes of our trip out but there were flashes of what is possible when we turned up in our first swim, that didn't exactly look text-book but it provided me with a storming take as it latched onto the Sprat and made off down stream with it.

 My first Pike of the day, a jack just under 5lb. I was fortunate to catch this Esox as I had fished the swim for about five minutes and not a sniff, I deepened up the bob 3inches and with 10 seconds the float went, such a small discrepancy but it obviously was the difference to luring it in to feed and it laying dormant on the bottom awaiting food to come to it at it's desired depth, such a fickle species and I was finding that out.

End of September, but you'd believe it was mid July.

Some parts of the river looked picturesque.

 With Chris and myself walking the banks in search Pike we came across a range different fish and none more innocent than this little Pike around the pound to pound n half mark, absolutely pristine and so spirited for such a small fish, such a pleasure to catch, I did ask for it to summon it's grandparents but unfortunately for me they didn't appear, but nevertheless I was happy with the two, it was a very pleasant day to be out, all that was missing was Chris to get a bit of action and he had to wait as he usually does but gets there in the end, better late than never I suppose mate!!

 Chris latched into a good solid take and it led him a merry dance in the 7ft of water in front of us but after a good five minute scrap he had a jack of his own, a shade over 4lbs it fought as if it was 10lb!!!, crazy fish these, it seems the smaller they are the more erratic the fight becomes and the larger ones stay down and fight hard as I found out about ten minutes after we photographed Chris's Pike, my float barely moved but it started to ever so slowly head up into the current so I slowly lent into and then a powerful Pike headed away down the river, it felt big, very big, not one of these fast fights, the rod was bent double and I started to tighten the clutch up on it as it was stripping line, the fight was totally different and in the deep water I couldn't see how large it was, then the unspeakable happened, the Pike had found a snag and even with 9lb line it went through it and snapped me up just above the trace, so gutted to have lost it and would never know how big it was, a good double, a twenty or even bigger??, it will remain a mystery.

A wee-Perch in lovely Autumn colours.

Chris's Pike, the bigger of the two.

 About an hour after that unfortunate loss Chris had one last roll of the dice before we packed up and come up trumps with another jack Pike of (3.8), another good day out but hopefully it will be time to catch some substantial Pike on the ever impressive Hampshire Avon.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Autumn Pike.

 Today presented itself as a good opportunity to go off out and try dead baiting for a Pike or two, my brother Chris deciding last night that the offer to join me was too good to pass up, so we organised ourselves at 7am this morning and headed off into deep Surrey.


 The river was in good nick and was perfect for spotting Pike in the shallower water, with a few small Pike proving easy to spot but not easy to catch, nearly every slack for around the first 100m had a Jack Pike in, good to see a healthy population but none over 3lbs so we carried on walking to try and find more hideouts where more substantial fish may be held up, awaiting it's moment to pounce on it's unsuspecting prey.

 On a couple of the beats we found a few more Pike but unfortunately they weren't feeding, but the scenery was nice and it felt good to be out of London, no noise of traffic or sirens, just piece and quite, with the constant chirping of the Kingfisher's as they worked the river, we did however stop up in a good swim around 2 miles up from where we started, first of all I spotted a Pike around 7lb sat in a slack behind some vegetation but only moved to eat my bait once it had come off during a cast which annoyed me a little but these things happen, but I was to get a break when I moved around the large swim and ran a Sprat along the far bank, the bait was out around 10 seconds and the float had barely settled when it buried itself and headed for the overhanging trees on the far bank, allowing it a couple of seconds to take it properly I then lent into it and a solid fish tore off downstream, a Pike was on at last.

 With the very small amount of Pike I have caught in my lifetime I had forgotten how dirty they fight, every piece of tree or bush it could head towards with the priority of busting me up, it headed straight for it, with fairly sturdy tackle knowing the specimens that are possible I managed to turn it's head away from it's lair, a short time later I had a good sized Esox on the bank.

11 lbs 3 oz of Autumn River Mole Pike.

 I was a happy chappy with that fish, not a monster but for me it was my second biggest ever Pike, I have a feeling though that this winter is going to see me bank more of these and bigger, but for now it is good enough, a fine fish and almost pristine. 

 After releasing her back to it's watery home I put my rod away for a while and tried to help Chris in catching one, after an hour passing he still hadn't managed one but had three takes and missed all of them but the Sprats were coming back with lumps missing out of their stomachs, very odd indeed but we were to find out what the culprit's were soon enough when the same thing happened so we left the take to develop and see what it may bring, cue the Crayfish, bloody thing was hanging onto the Sprat as if it was the last morsel of food on the planet, I never knew they were in the Mole but we found out they are and some massive ones too, me thinks a crayfish salad should be on the menu soon, as they do taste great when fresh and alive, the meat is a lovely fluffy texture and tastes very good, but enough of the culinary talk back to fishing.

 The Pike proved very tough, so we headed down a few miles to another part of the Mole, the Pike population is again fairy strong and they don't mind showing themselves but we headed to a deeper area at the tail end of a weir pool which screams Pike and it certainly showed it's credentials with another two Pike for myself and Chris on the last cast of the evening managed to achieve the full house with the capture of his own Esox Lucius, after many opportunities he finally got his most clear cut chance and made it count.

5 lb 3 oz long lean but surprisingly weighty.

A little terrorist of the silver stocks.

Some serious dentures, I'd hate to be a 4oz Roach sharing a river with that gob looking for me.

And Christopher's skinny 5 lb 2 oz and heavily scarred.

 All in all it was a good day, a long one but nice to spend time out of London and we both came out with the plan to catch a Pike each and we did, happy days.

Autumn is definitely upon us, with tree's starting to turn and the evening's bringing cooler weather. 

Saturday 21 September 2013

Roach Quest Part Two.

 As the Autumn is upon us now and the predator season draws nearer any spare time will be used on trying to catch a double figure Barbel and a 2lb + Roach, two specimens of two species that are not easy to catch but I like a challenge and being out on the bank fishing is good enough for me but it adds a little more adventure to it and all things fishing, like water craft and using the knowledge I have of the venues to extract the best from them.

 My most recent trip out was in search of latter, the Roach haven't been as forthcoming this season, for reasons unknown but I have managed over a dozen 1lb + Roach to an Ounce under two pounds, so the objective was to snare a Roach over that specimen mark, and the session started off very quickly with my second cast drawing a good solid tug on the 1.5oz quivertip, a typical Roach fight followed with the usual jagging on the rod tip as it fought in the current but with a short battle over the first Roach of the day was in the keepnet and at ( 1.6 ), it was of an average size here, amazing to say that a pound and a half Roach is of the usual stamp!.

 My next four casts into the swim loaded with a feeder of white crumb presented me with another three Roach of ( 1.5, 1.8, 1.9 ), all of which were in perfect condition and taking on a paler colour as the rains are colouring up the water and so the sun isn't penetrating the water to change their flanks to that lovely golden colour they take on during the spring and summer months.

 Unfortunately I must have just started fishing as they were finishing their feeding as I struggled to connect with the more timid bites I was receiving, some of which were still Roach knocks but they weren't as clear cut as they probably felt a bit more cautious but the majority of the bites I feel were Gudgeon and small Chub whittling the bait away, I had to wait nearly 90 minutes for my next opportunity and when it came I made no mistake, with a cracking Roach on the other end, I could tell it was larger due to the fight it seemed a lot stronger compared to the others and after a short while I had a large Roach in the net but I felt it was going to fall just short of the 2lb barrier and my thought's were confirmed as she went ( 1.13 ), a good fish all the same, an above average Roach.

 The swim did produce one more Roach of ( 1.9 ), but that fish came nearly 2 hours after the 1 lbs 13 oz Roach, the swim still had the Roach in but I felt they were intimidated and they shut up shop, which was a shame but six and all over a pound and a quarter is good going I feel, maybe one more session for Roach now before the winter Piking starts, the session did however at the end turn a sour note when I lost my scales in the undergrowth, only bought the Salter Bracknell's a few weeks ago and already lost them, it took the sheen off a tough day but a successful one, I was in the end made to work for the Roach I caught but that seems to be usual with southern chalk stream Roach, they're never easy quarry.

My bag of Roach totalling 9 lb 1 oz, mostly perfect bars of silver.

Pick of the bunch at 1 lb 13 oz, a proper Roach.

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Early Start To The Predator Season.

 This season I have decided that the cooler month's of the fishing will be dedicated to the pursuit of the predators that inhabit our waters, Perch, Pike and Zander will be my targets and hopefully I'll be successful in my quest, my quest will probably take me to rivers, canals and lakes, maybe even a reservoir of two.

 In all the years that I have fished I have never spent a prolonged period targeting the likes of the Esox Lucius, which for me is a very impressive species of fish and some challenges I would like to achieve is the capture of a 20lb Pike, a Zander over 5lbs and a 3lb plus Perch, obviously anything over that would be fantastic, I would love to be as dab handed at catching predators as my younger brother Richard, who has PB's to his name that are to be envied, Pike over 25lb, Zander at 9lb 9oz and Perch over 4lb 8oz, catching one of these species at that sort of weight would be target achieved, but I'm not expecting it to be an easy task.

 Although the typical predator season doesn't start until October 1st I decided to start my campaign early and I wasn't disappointed when I arrived at one of my local lakes for an early morning spin before work and had a take on my fourth cast and it reminded me as to why they are a great species to fish for as the take was fairly powerful and a good fight followed but after a short period of time I realised it was a Pike and I was fishing with out a trace so I expected it to bite through the 6lb line easily on their very sharp teeth, 4-5 minutes passed though and the jack was resting in the net, with just some pictures and weighing to be done.

 1st Pike of the campaign, at 5lb 13oz not a beast but great fun on my 6ft Shimano spinning rod.

 After I had the Pike and released my spinning reel jammed so I had to quit using it, so I went over to the cane rod and put on a waggler baited with a dendrobaena worm in amongst the overhanging tree's that line the lake, the ideal Perch hideout's and classic swims that I would expect to get enquiry's from but after two hours of trying the bright sunshine must have put them off of feeding as the sun was getting higher as the morning progressed but I was happy with a Pike, a good start.

The swim that never materialized a Perch, surprisingly.

Sunday 15 September 2013

Bars of Silver.

 After a short while off of the bank due to work mainly and other commitments, I managed to get a small session in this afternoon, due to the constant rain I knew it wasn't going to be a long one either, whilst walking the banks I did see Barbel in a few swims and also some Chub knocking about but nothing really wanted to feed, quite surprisingly aswell due to the amount of rain, as I thought it would spur them into a feeding frenzy but after four hours it never really happened.

 But thanks to the silver's population on my local river, it provided me with the only sport of the day, a mix of Roach and Dace were to be the only species caught, a couple of years ago the silver fish population was at a very low level due to the over predation of the Cormorant, but over the last 12 months only a handful have been sighted, much to the relief of anglers like myself.

 Unfortunately the rain persisted and got heavier and heavier, after an hour of the rain it was time to call it a day, next trip hopefully the Warks Avon with Jeff Hatt weather permitting.


Saturday 7 September 2013

Chalk Stream PB Chub.

 A few hours spare, I decided to grab a trotting rod and headed down to one of my local rivers, the aim was simply to catch whatever I could find, I fished a few good swims and with in the first hour or so I caught a cracking Chub of 5lb 11oz, a new PB for this river and my third biggest ever Chub, also in the same swim I hooked and landed a crazy Barbel that gave a good go at showing me why even small specimen's are worth catching.


Only a little guy, say 4lb or so, but great fun.
 During the winter this fish could easily go 6lb and it's the second 5lb + Chub from the same swim in two weeks, it certainly showing some pedigree, is any larger ones lurking there? only time will tell, later on in the session I caught a few small Chub, an Eel around 2lbs and a couple of pristine Roach.
Both 5ozs or so, from the same batch and absolutely pristine, scale and fin perfect.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Capture Of The Year So Far.

 Specimen Carp banked, but keep reading the post to find out more about the fantastic capture of a truly magnificent fish.

 The day started off in a more subdued fashion as Richard (brother) and I donned a rod and some light gear for some Roach and Perch and a heavier set up with the view to maybe finding an Esox, it was a lovely day to be out fishing, Rich had a few Roach and a couple of missed takes off of the small jack's, but nothing really appealed to me so I held off from the fishing and stood and watched the million's of small silver's mainly Roach devour his bait before it even got through the water column to the required depth, one of the only places that I know where an abundance of small silver's exist in the vicinity of London, due to Cormorant predation and poor spawning over the last few years due to the out of sorts and unpredictable weather.

 In the summer, this river just looks so good, just lush green vegetation everywhere, further downstream we did see some good Roach to just over a pound and a couple of small Pike to a pound, doing their best impersonation of a terrorist, charging after the baby Chub and Roach constantly, one Pike was about 5' in length, probably the smallest I've ever seen.

 We both decided to have a change of venue and head over to one of my ticket waters in search of a Carp and Rich went on the hunt for some Rudd and Perch, early on he was very successful in catching the Perch catching a couple of dozen in quick succession but the Rudd remained totally out of sight, I on the other hand had issues in trying to connect with the Carp, on about 8 different occasions the bread flake vanished down the old bin chute and I contrived to miss every single one, it took about two hours of stalking before I finally hooked into one and it was probably the best one out of a shoal of 10 Carp, around 5 minutes the fight lasted for and my old cane stick done the business again, I love fishing with it, so satisfying to use it and land fish on it, a Common Carp of 11lb 7oz, normal shape and size, long, slim and very powerful.

 Just after I had that Carp we were greeted by some Deer, all 3 of which were taller than I stand including their antlers, fairly unnerving but a great sight to see and we both got quite close to them as they lay in a mud bath to cool down.

 Amazing creatures and considering their size they are very graceful, so after a few photo's we just left them to it and we carried on with our fishing, but as the day wore on and the evening crept in we headed around the lakes and searched for more fish as it was prime time, the searching didn't take too long either when I spotted a very pale looking Bream cruising in the shallower water of one of the lakes so with my free lined bread flake I cast out and within 30 seconds the Bream sucked in the bait and stormed off out into the bay but the fight was fairly short lived, a nice big snotty lay in my net.

A nice two-tone Bream of 8lb 2oz.

 Not a bad snotty either, it made my net rather stinky it has to be said but Rich was soon to make it even worse when he fancied a go at the Bream as we found a shoal of them feeding on some ground bait another angler had thrown out, it wasn't long before he had a one which went 5lb 15oz, after that we decided to pack up and head for home. we had both packed up and headed past the last of the lakes on our way, I noticed a couple of Carp feeding on the surface and one pair of the lips I saw were enormous, they certainly belonged to a massive fish, my stalking instinct kicked straight in and pulled out my Chub Outkast 9ft Carp rod and my Shimano Exage 4000 reel, which I had loaded up with 9.7lb line and the bait was a simple piece of free-lined bread flake on the top, the Carp though were very weary and wouldn't stay around very long, plus there were a group of Coots fighting and they constantly spooked the Carp out of the swim, which was infuriating as the fish kept getting closer to casting distance they would cruise back out into the open depths where they just vanished, I knew if I got one chance then I had to make it count.

 An hour went by and the light had almost failed completely, the fish came in sporadically, every time it went quiet for 10 minutes I kept thinking about calling it a night, then one would show a bit of interest again and re-kindle my desire to stay and try to catch one, a Carp did cruise back in and just with-in casting distance so I flicked my tasty offering out in amongst the vast banks of weed and hoped whilst it was cruising around the top it would find it, with the night coming in and the sun nearly gone over the horizon I couldn't tell how big it was, and then everything went quiet for a few seconds as the fish obviously found my bait and eye balled it to check if it was okay..... then an enormous pair of lips opened and my bread vanished but I waited for the line to tighten ever so slightly before I struck and then all hell broke loose, I had hooked a monster of a Carp, it rolled almost immediately in front of us both and I started to shake straight away as the adrenaline pulsed through me and the heart rate quadrupled, I had on the other end what can only be described as a swimming breeze block, the fight was very dogged and it played very smart by heading through every weed bed it could find on it's 70m run along the bank, but then I started to feel concerned as I could feel the weight of the weed on the line and I feared it would dislodge my size 6 barbless hook, I didn't want to risk losing it as I had no idea whether I had a good twenty on or one of the resident 40's, anything is possible here.

 After 10 to 12 minutes of a good hard scrap she started to tire and I had to wade out into the lake as she was to deep to bring into the margin's, I had hooked a real lump and as I managed finally to outsmart her and get the net under it's immense body I breathed the biggest sigh of relief, I had landed my biggest ever Carp.

 I looked at Richard and another 2 anglers who came over to witness what I had caught as they could see the battle from the banks further down the lake with the biggest of grins as I hoisted the Carp out of the water and walked her up to the awaiting mat, everyone taken back by the sheer size, at first it looked like it could go 40lb!, truly immense, what a fish it is, totally bamboozled by it and with all that focus and persistence I believe I deserved to catch her, as she laid spread out on the mat everyone had a go at guessing her weight, with guesses come in from 35 to 38lbs, so we put her on the Ruben Heaton's and she went 35lb 8ozs after the net was taken off, what an amazing fish and she was as pure as a Leather Mirror Carp as you could get, not a scale on her and she was a beautiful strawberry colour, with deep flanks and so wide across the stomach and back I could barely hold her. Time for the photo shoot.

A truly beautiful Leather Mirror Carp. 35 lbs 8ozs. Amazing. 

 Not to mention it is a new personal best for me aswell, a truly momentous day, and Richard reckons I'm a jammie git, I have to be honest a bit of it was luck, if we hadn't seen them feeding on the surface we wouldn't have stayed to catch her, sometimes I believe in fate in the sense so many other combinations could have come about for our session to end differently but it finished like this.

Last but not least, she was returned to the weedy depths to make somebody else an extremely happy man, as she did for me.

Monday 2 September 2013

Chub, Chub and more Chub.

 Barbel fishing recently has been a success, with a few Barbel coming to the net just over 8lbs, so a couple of days ago I headed off out in search of another Barbel, as I made my way down and joined up with Stu, we decided to head to a swim I have recently found them in and as we headed into the swim a Barbel of around 6lb flashed up, that was the only invitation I needed, out came the Barbel grub and cast straight out, but instead of it trotting down towards the fish, it caught on a bush and in trying to flick it off it spooked off the Barbel and the swim was dead, but within 20 minutes a Chub was on and it wasn't long before it was netted, around about the 3.4 mark.

 As the day went on the Barbel frustrated me and was only met with one other take which was in the form of another Chub, which weighed 4lb 3oz, a good Chub but not a massive, only one other Barbel showed itself and it was a good fish, definitely a double but it evaded capture, but I'll be back to catch her.


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...