First of all Happy New Year to everybody, I know it's belated but better late than never as they say and I have never been known for my punctuality it has to be said anyway.
So, pressing on with the post now, I have gone through the last 12 months of my angling catches and picked out some of the highlights to what was a productive year again, good bye 2013.
During January it was mainly dominated by my then unhealthy obsession with Barbel, during the cold weather I caught a number of good Barbel to just under 12lbs and my little brother Chris managed a then PB of 9.11 under my guidance, but the month of January was surely won over by the capture of not just one or two 2lb + Roach but THREE of them in a short winter session with the specimens weighing in at 2.7, 2.3 and 2.2, a truly magnificent feat especially in this day and age off of a river.
|A stunning barbel at 11.9|
|Christopher with a 9.11 whisker, his biggest of last season.|
|What a brace, this doesn't happen everyday.|
|Last season's biggest at 2lb 7oz, a truly big Roach.|
February was one of those month's where nothing really worked I tried a few things but nothing seemed to pay off, with the season approaching it's finale and the Chub packing on the weight I targeted them in the vein hope of catching a big one 6lb +, but for all my efforts including my first of two trips to the Great Ouse in Buckinghamshire after some of there resident large Chevin's it all ended up with a blank and only managed a few Chub closer to home around the 4.8 mark, nothing big but better than nout. Also a lovely river Carp showed itself which more resembled a rugby ball than a fish of nearly 14lbs.
|A pristine winter Chub of 4.5|
|The swimming rugby ball of 13.12, it was quite a surprise it has to be said.|
March though was in stark contrast to February and almost everything I did turned to gold, a real purple patch and those are the days that you savour, my second trip to the Great Ouse unfortunately didn't yield me any Chub again, but it was inevitable that it would take more than just two trips to extricate the treasure it is harbouring, I did finally get 2 Chub closer to my target of 6lb, on the same day, all the sessions put in for some good Chub and then caught two in half a day, typical isn't it!, apart from the Chub I did have a great days Barbel fishing the day before the season closed, with my capture of a perfectly formed beard of 12lb 6oz, big Barbel are absolutely magnificent creatures the strength they possess is nerve wrecking, especially when you've seen it and know what your playing it becomes even more terrifying, on that day I did also manage 4 other barbel two of which were 8's too, a fantastic days fishing. Special.
|Angling perfection, what a creature, I'm sure you agree.|
|The first of two 5lb Chub, not quite a 6lber but good enough.|
As with all April's you contemplate on what to do now most of the moving wetness is closed for three month's, the canal's near to where I live are open all year so they were briefly visited for Perch and Pike but I couldn't muster a single bite, the Tench fishing wasn't productive either with just one caught a shade under 6lb, the Trout on the fly were main target with nearly a dozen caught on various patterns mainly dry fly's.
|A typical chalk-stream Trout.|
|5.13 Tinca Tinca my best in April.|
May was much the same in regards to target species, the Trout on the fly were starting to get me hooked and I was enjoying my time out catching them on extremely light tackle, fly fishing was something of a mystery to me before March I hadn't really gave it a go seriously, fairly entertaining indeed. But May did also include a trip to the fantastic Marsh Farm Fishery in Milford, the target was the Crucian Carp, it was a species that I hadn't caught in over a decade and on my first trip I managed to catch one of 1.13 not one of the monsters that it's renowned for but a step in the right direction.
|A Richardson Cru at 1.13, there be 4's in here somewhere.|
|4.9 was my biggest Trout banked in May, a proper wildie.|
June is always a month where plans are made for the imminent start of the new coarse angling season and I was no different, I was enjoying my fly fishing so much and it was great fun but other species were to be targeted, I did catch a few more Trout but when the 16th arrived Barbel were back on the agenda but this time not as much as the season before with a couple 7's and a nice 5-and-a-half lb Chub, I had a few Roach to 1.10, although a very good Roach I knew bigger existed, but June's best catch was that of a 4lb 13oz Roach-Bream Hybrid, a massive fish and even though not recognised as a true fish and rightly so it was fairly close to an English record, not far off at least.
|A lovely Chub of 5.6|
|My monster Hybrid of 4.13, fairly rare at that size in English waters.|
Throughout July I didn't really manage anything specimen size of the larger species but the smaller species I did, enormous Minnows, Gudgeon and a Roach an ounce shy of 2lb, with a 4.14 Brown Trout thrown in for good measure and also a few Carp to just over 20lbs. I did have a few Roach during July but I did also catch a Rudd, which happen to be one of my favourite species of fish and so rare for me, I don't catch many.
|A specimen Minnow, the biggest I've ever clapped eyes on.|
|A big Gudgeon just for good measure.|
|Lump of a Trout and young specimen too,|
that could grow massive in the future.
For August I had a couple of trips planned and one of those was to try my hand at the Warwickshire Avon for some Barbel and Roach with Jeff Hatt the author of Idler's Quest, I caught a few of the latter but nothing over 12oz and the Barbel hid from me, the other trip was to Marsh Farm again and although i didn't catch my target Cru's I had a few fish which included Roach over a pound and a beautiful Rudd for Christopher who joined me for the trip Godalming. A few more Barbel to 9lb made an appearance with a good 5lb + Chevin, on one of my trips I had a 3lb 1oz Roach-Bream Hybrid which I thought was a pure Roach while it was charging through the murky Thames water, but was soon deflated when I learnt it wasn't a true Roach.
|One of my favourite species, not hard to see why.|
|A 8lb+ Barbel, immaculate condition.|
When the season started I set myself a challenge to try and catch some Pike and other predators, so September arrived and that time had come, with the chilly nights creeping in and air temp dropping the Pike were now on my radar and by the end of the month I had caught five of them including a nice river Pike of 11.3, during that month I had banked more than my entire fishing career, it was only going to get better too, but it was a brilliant for more than just that fact, I caught my largest chalk-stream Chub of 5.11 and last but not least the capture of a personal best Carp of 35lb 8oz, an immense catch, a fight that I will never forget for more than one reason, dreams are made of evening's like that!!
|PB chalk-stream Chub of 5.11.|
|Unbelievable, what an evening, a shocked brother behind the camera, |
taking snaps of a shocked me.
|My first double of the season 11.3.|
|Oh and some great Roach too, a 6 bag = 9lb 1oz!!!|
October is birthday month so I treated myself to a jaunt down to Christchurch on the Royalty fishery and it didn't disappoint me when I landed a personal best Pike on my last cast and what a battle, 15lb line and a 2-1/2lb TC rod and it made me look and feel as wet as a sponge, what must a 30 feel like!, if I'm lucky enough I may find out, also a further few Pike were caught and I made another trip up to Warwickshire and ended being a spectator but learnt a lot and will no doubt help me, a nice 10.9 Barbel a day after my 26th birthday was a nice touch.
|Fighting fit, wow she was bigger than the photos suggest, so heavy and no give,|
after a 15 minute duel she still gave it good on the bank too. ( 19.5 ) PB.
November I headed off to the Royalty with Brian Roberts author of Pike Blog for the Pike, just wanted to see if the first Pike of 19lb 5oz was a fluke, it turned out to be tough and with just myself banking a 6lb Jack, Brian unfortunately drawing a blank, a few more Pike did come to the net with also two of which were lake Pike the biggest just under 9lb, with a few more obligatory Barbel.
|Half the length of my rod!, 8.13, my biggest lake Pike to date.|
Now December, where do I start I think my best month of the year and it's hard to disagree, although I have caught some fantastic fish of a range of different species this has to be the best.
A personal best Rainbow Trout of 3lb 2oz, caught from Walthamstow as was this beautiful Pike of 10lb 11oz (below), a tough day and the wind was freezing, again Brian managed to blank but that isn't hard here.
A clonking great Roach of 2 lbs 6ozs, in this day and age I consider it a fish of a lifetime, so rare to catch these and I believe there are bigger too, I will catch one, one day. A 1.14 was also caught the same evening.
|Need I say anything?|
A monster of a Barbel too, at 13lb 12oz it was something that I did not expect, a fish of a lifetime too, 2 in a week?? can it get better than that, I doubt it, a little bit.........in fishing anything is possible and nothing is impossible, that Barbel was a true specimen and a proper lump, what a clonker.
Many thanks to everybody who has been dropping in to have a look about and I look forward to sharing my angling journey's with you all during 2014......now where are those pesky Grayling........
Ps; Special Thanks to the photographer's of the last year, Stuart Woods, Brian Roberts, Chris Denison (little brother) and the ever useful tripod, be lost without it.