Saturday, 25 January 2014

Three in a Bed.


 After a fairly disappointing trip to the Hampshire Avon on Wednesday I planned a trip out to get a Barbel, today I was joined by Stu Woods for a days roving, the conditions were perfect and even had a few hours of sunshine, I packed very light and a half tin of meat, my cane rod and centrepin. A good day out was all set.

 It didn't take long either to get a fish, I set up just as Stu was reaching me and hadn't cast yet, my first couple of casts were really on the money and I kind of thought that something would materialize but nothing, the third cast didn't go where I planned it but I let it go down anyway stream as I bounced the bait along the bottom it stopped and got an ever-so-slight tap on the finger not a take of any description but I leant into it as I had a feeling it was a Barbel that had sucked in the bait and I wasn't wrong, the rod bent over double and I was into a very good fish, Stu looked surprised that I had one.

 6lb line on the centrepin it was all good fun mixed with the scare-factor of losing it, a few minutes later a good'en laid in the net reviving, another good Barbel and looked every bit a double, where's that dog turd??.

10lb 12ozs, a great start to the day.

 Well what a start, we left the fish to revive in the net for around 15 minutes after the photos whilst we had a nag then we upped sticks and moved upstream to have a roll through a few swims as that's what I set out my stall for, within half an hour I had another on the bank which went 7lb 14oz, another good strong fight in the extra water that had been dumped overnight as if we haven't had enough already, a solid fish but not very long and looked every bit 8lb so she was a little light but not far off, 2 Barbel - the session was going very well and to plan too, happy days.


 After the second Barbel we carried on fishing and popped into alot of likely looking spots but most of which weren't forthcoming with bites until dusk started to settle in a switched over from rolling to a 6SSG chubber float and a lump of meat, it did not take long before a fish took a liking to it, the float buried itself in 6ft of water and started to charge up river, was never a Chub, so a Barbel or a rogue Carp was the culprit although it was too powerful against the very pacey river for a Carp so a Barbel it was, 6-7 minutes of a brutal scrap between Stu and myself we managed to land it and Barbel like this one is what keeps me coming back for more and the half century old plus cane rod got put through it's biggest test yet, although I've had 2 double figure beard's on it, this one has been the strongest and for such a sustained period too, it's so surprising that Barbel can do that. Amazing and not to mention my arm ached for 20 minutes after too.

Enormous paddle attached to another 7lb 14oz Barbel.

 When this Barbel was heading towards the net it looked every bit 9lb but she was very short but well fed and decided to have a crap all over my leg whilst the photos were taken as a thank you, swine!!, a very good days fishing for sure, 3 Barbel - 10.12 and two 7.14's great fun, great pics too mate.

 But I packed in very good timing because as we headed downstream to speak to an angler we know very well, the weather turned real nasty in a matter of a minute, the birds stopped singing just before it started and then we were buffeted by winds of probably more than 50mph and vicious lightning and projectile rain and hail that stung my hands for hours after and penetrated my waterproof cagoule and within 10 minutes it was gone, later on when I got home I was to learn it was a tornado that touched down in Cobham in Surrey just a matter of 10 miles away, which explained alot, a very unsettling experience.

 So after a good days fishing, myself and the better half went out for a Curry down my local, mmmmmm.


Thursday, 23 January 2014

Avon Piking.


 During the weekend I had a trip to Dorset organised for Wednesday in the vein hope of catching some Pike, with only a shade over 90lb left of my Pike challenge I hoped that I'd locate some and chew into that sizeable weight, I was up and early as usual at just gone 4am and on the Royalty for opening, the sun was just starting to rise and was met by a pair of Owls hunting the flooded plains behind the fishery, in the mean time I tackled up and cast out, the Piles was my first port of call, the river was up about a foot-and-a-half and the Piles offered a big back eddy with a slack against the inside bank where I thought I would find one but nothing doing.

Sunrise on the Avon.

In flood well and truly.

The Piles at dawn.
 With the river up the amount of choices were limited even with me donning my thigh waders due to the force of the current, the Pike would be easier to find you would think, if anything it was totally the opposite, although you would expect to find them in the slacks and almost all of this water was fished and I only had the one run but as I was getting ready to bear down on it, the bugger dropped it, my only inquiry for the entire day, until right at the end of the day when I had my ledgered dead bait Sardine on the buzzer started to wander off into the current and my buzzer slowly bleeping at me as it steadily headed off, without wasting anytime I tightened up and struck......absolutely nothing again, what on the earth was going on, my only guess was that they were both small Pike and the bait simply to large for them to properly take it and was simply taking away from the spot to munch on it in due time, or simply eyes bigger than it's belly.

All set.

The Great Weir at full capacity.
 My first trip to the Royalty where I haven't caught my target species and now it stands at 6 Pike in 3 trips, so I still have a good record there but disappointed slightly by my unfortunate blank, but that's fishing and with less than 2 months of the season left I may need a very good run of Pike to do my target but who knows what's instore.

The only angler who caught out of five.
Until next time, tight lines.....

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Winter Carp & Barbel.


 Saturday mornings session was in search of Pike for my "Challenge 200"' unfortunately the Esox were not playing but there were some more accommodating species available to target and even though the rivers are all still in awful conditions, Chub and Barbel can be caught in less than favourable circumstances, the sort only ducks should be caught out in but no, us more than hardy anglers who brave all manner of weather will get their reward when time is put in.

Wet and wild, not for the fair weather anglers's.

 My attempt to catch a Pike was aborted and spent the first couple of hours stalking a winter Carp, after a while I succeeded with a 6lb + Common Carp caught on free-line meat, it was by far the smallest in the shoal, but through the ripples created on the surface by the incessant rain I couldn't see which one took it and struck as soon as I felt the line tighten on my fingertip.

A little winter Common Carp, feisty and fun. 

 Later on in the day I gave up on the Carping as I went back to lure fishing for a Pike, I wasn't going to leave without giving it a real going over for a second time, but that attempt was futile too, so I decided to change tact and headed down to a very high and rough river with the cane rod to try and find one of these 'accommodating fish' and it didn't take long either, 2 casts to be precise, 3SSG's to get the bait down fairly quickly and even that was at a struggle but got there in the end, the first roll didn't settle and roll but the second did and it was down for about 20seconds as it bounced along the bottom when the rod wrenched down and around. Another Barbel on and in the extra water it held bottom for quite a while and it felt good to be locked into battle with one of my favourite species of fish, a few minutes later a nice Barbel of about 8lbs laid up in the net, Happy Days....

An honest man's 7 @ 7.15

...... After a couple of photos and a quick weigh she went back and headed off in search of another but after two hours of roving I didn't manage to find any more and no more enquiries followed, another success on another awful January morning.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Piking Pirate.


 After another busy week at work I had Saturday morning planned out to do some fishing, the rivers are slowly starting to abate and the colour is starting to drop out with the Thames being an exception which is still  the highest I've ever seen it, the plan was as the title suggests, to target a Pike or two in an attempt to get closer to my goal of 200lb of the species, up bright and early for dawn as usual but unfortunately the sun was bright and without a cloud in the sky it wasn't ideal conditions but oh well, best laid plans......

 At least it wasn't raining, again. I think we have all had enough of it and even most of the lakes are topped up above their maximum thus flooding acres of land, my plan was to use a selection of spinners and lures to try and catch, the gear was a straight 6ft spinning rod and at first I hooked up my new multiplyer but I couldn't get on with it, patience needed but not today, so luckily enough I packed my usual spinning reel, or the session may not have happened, but after an hour of constant casts and working different patterned spinners I could not muster any attention, then out of nowhere the rod slammed over and line started to piss off of the reel and as quickly as it happened it was gone. Damn it.

Usually very reliable, Pike love them.

 An hour of waiting for that to happen, ouch, good fun whilst it lasted though, it got the blood pumping and within five minutes it happened again, almost the same spot and this time it was on properly, 2 minutes of endless runs it decided to tail walk in front of me......a couple of seconds later it was gone, again. This Pike was about 3lbs in weight, only a jack but a fish is a fish, what a shame, so close.

Not the best Pike fishing conditions.

 I thought then it's not going to happen today so I moved a couple of swims around the bay and as I crept up to the bank I spooked a Pike around 6lb from out under a raft of dead wood from the over-hanging trees, it wasn't going to plan, or so I thought, with seeing that Pike I cast out into the bay and as I started retrieving the spinner the Pike became visible on the bottom so I changed the direction of the retrieve and bought up to around 5ft of the Pike and I watched it, clear as day from stationary to full speed in a flash, flare it's gills wipe open and slaughter my poor spinner, what ferocity, fantastic to that with my own eyes, this one was not coming off.

 And I convinced myself of that fact, so needless to say I played it as cautiously as possible and it tail walked right up to the net and then in it went, never felt so happy to catch a Jack Pike but it has been hard and my first Pike of the year was banked, a couple of pictures kindly taken by a passer-by and quickly weighed, she went back to terrorise the silver population.

5lb 15ozs, a great fight and in very good condition.


The eventual game changer, a 5g silver flash with red tail.

  Not quite 6lb but I could be forgiven for a 1 ounce discrepancy, the rest of the Pike seemed to switch off so I decided to do some trotting and my target was a Roach and I spent around 2 hours trying to tempt one in the coffee coloured water and only managed a Brown Trout of around two-and-a-half pounds, I didn't weigh her with one piccy and back off to do her duty, how long now until the rivers get back to their usual levels? please no more RAIN, I think it has all been quite enough.

Superb winter Trout.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

About Time Too.


 Well 2014 has started in very slow fashion and I didn't anticipate so little time on the bank, the weather certainly hasn't been the best with most if not all my rivers bursting their banks or just on the brink of overflowing, at work I've been champing at the bit to get a good days fishing in. Finally today was probably the best day it has been since Christmas, the first day of high pressure in a long time so I knew the fish would feed so I wasted no time and was out the house before dawn, Chub on the agenda today.

 Winter Chub fishing is always good fun when you can find them, but I hadn't realised last night it rained all night again, I reached the river and the best description I could think of was a raging torrent, it was hand over the eyes stuff and a shake of the head, all I could think of was where can I fish?, 20ft trees passed me through my first swim as I was setting up, it has been one horrible start to the year as I'm sure many of you guys would agree, but I was in a swim and I was determined to make something of it.


 My Chub rig, as simple as you like, a running 2oz lead locked by two shot and a size 6 hook baited with some really stinky cheese all connected via 6lb line straight through, my only chance of catching was to find slacks and employ the bait and wait tactic......an hour-and-a-half passed without a sniff, it was hard, I moved my bait around at 20 minute intervals and broke off little bits of cheese and trickled them in to try and draw Chub out of their lairs or from downstream if they could. Then out of nowhere the rod tip rattled momentarily which was quickly followed by a sharp tug, I didn't need any more than that, fish on and in the current it felt like a good Barbel, fast powerful runs and stripping line off the centre-pin at every opportunity, then in typical fashion a Chub came to the surface and rolled over and headed into the net, the angling gods at last supplied me with some enjoyment.

The Torrent.

A sight for sore eyes.

 Then as if by magic, the rod slammed around again within a matter of a minute, they had finally started chewing on my bait, the first one was a good 4lb + fish and the second was every bit as big, with the first in the keepnet and the second slipped in I got myself together and got the bait out in the same spot, I did eventually get another take but it took 25 minutes for that to materialise but when it did the fight was slightly different from the previous two, it hung low for almost the whole scrap but it wasn't strong enough to be a Barbel, after 3 or so minutes a good Chub broke the murky surface, I thought to myself it's a good'un, wasting no time at all, she slipped over the awaiting net, not the longest 5lb Chub I've ever caught but very well fed.

Biggest of the day at 5lb 1oz.

A great catch considering the conditions, plus another one I put back.

The five, a perfect condition winter Chub.

 The session did yield one more fish and that again was a Chub of 4.10 which just like the others was very thick and excreted loads of snails, proves even in the rubbish conditions they are still packing on weight. After that Chub it all went quiet and it was home time, four Chub and all over 4lb ( 4.5, 4.6, 4.10 and 5.1 ) was a very good return for what I thought was going to be a total washout, I do hope this weather sorts itself out, I've got some Pike to catch and a Grayling trip in the wind but doesn't look to be happening any time soon.

 On my way home this is what I saw on the Thames.

Bar/Restaurant going under but not in a financial sense.

I walked that beat for Pike not a month ago where those boats are.

 The Thames in Surrey is not looking good at the moment and it's still rising, the water was level with the weir and the lock is only a matter of inches below the level above the lock, more overnight rain already falling, by the morning I suspect a mass amount of damage will be done added to what has already been done, we need a dry month now to allow all the excess water drain out the systems, but I don't think that will happen any time soon.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Reflections on Last Year's Angling.


 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.

January:

 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:

 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:

 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.
April:

 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:

 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:

 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.
July:

 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.
August:

 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.
September:

 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:

 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.
My birthday present of 10.9, not a lump but double is a double.
November:

 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.
December:

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.