Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Cold One.


 A return to Hampshire is planned just after the new year but between then and now a couple of short sessions are planned for some Roach and Pike but today my target were those big Gudgeon with the sight of a British Record specimen still the target and having done some research, the record seems to be at 5oz 0dr so that is the benchmark, the gauntlet is set.

 But before I got to my Gudgeon swim I decided to have a look about for a Pike or two and maybe even a Barbel, whatever fancied feeding. The Barbel weren't shy on feeding and I did manage two today the first at 8lb 3oz and the other was captured in my Gudgeon swim at roughly 5lb, a Chub of roughly 3lb did also make an appearance even though it nicked the bait off of a Barbel earlier in the walk up river, plus I got a surprise in the form of a Goldfish and not a small one either at roughly a pound to a pound-and-a-half, a right old turn up - not something you expect to catch from a wild river like this.

8.3

What is that??!!??

A stocky 5lb Barbel.

 My only Gudgeon of the trip was unfortunately foul-hooked but thankfully was only a smaller one, so my two hours consisted of 2 Barbel, a Chub, a Goldfish and no Gudgeon, I think the reason for the lack of Gudgeon feeding was simply the -4c temperature that we had overnight, another trip will be done probably over the new year. Until then tight lines & lastly to all I wish you a Happy New Year and be lucky for 2015.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

River Test Grayling.


 Grayling have long since been one of my favorite species but excluding my trip to Britford back in the Autumn I have never caught one, over Christmas I kept a watchful eye on the weather right up until Friday night, a quick call to the river keeper confirmed that it was fishing very well was good enough for me even if the wind forecast was to be reaching speeds of 25mph, when trotting the wind you can certainly do without but I thought I may not get another opportunity so I booked my tickets and at 5am I was ambling around my house getting the gear together.

Brisk but lovely morning.

 I reached the river around 8:30 and immediately found a lot of colour in the river which I did expect due to around 8 hours of heavy rain the night before but I still hoped that I'd catch or at least find spots where the Grayling would be patrolling, bearing in mind I have never fished on the Test and also on the Avon I had good advise on where to head and how to fish it, here it was all down to watercraft and knowing your quarry, so I'd set up a 3SSG chubber float at around 2.8 ft and fiddled with the shot distance to the hook until I got bites, this didn't take more than 5 trots before the held back float gave a positive dive towards the deck, a good strike was met with a fairly strong fish, a fierce gyrating motion was given off and when it got close to the bank a beautiful dorsal fin cut through the surface, a Grayling !!, and it was a good'un too.....a few seconds later a new PB Grayling was captured, on the scales she went 1lb 4oz, great stuff.

My first Test Graying....nearly there.
My first PB of the day at 1lb 4oz. Very happy with that!
 The next half an hour was littered with hard fighting Trout of different species, Brown, Rainbow?? And Sea, two which I did think I would catch at some point but Rainbow ( in the famous words of John Wilson " well I never did " ), I did not know they existed in the Test but i guess the river is perfect for them, the sea trout came out to roughly 3lb (x2), the brown trout came to a fantastic 4lb 13oz (x7) and the Rainbow trout which I had two of aswell to roughly 3lbs the largest of the two slipped back without permission but they give off a great fight.

A well proportioned Brown.

Smaller of the two Rainbows, stunning colours.

One of a couple Sea Trout, complete with sea lice.
 The Grayling did come back on the feed after the Trout had their feast, a smaller Grayling of 10oz which before my first one today would have beaten my PB by an ounce came to the net which was followed quickly by another 3 Grayling two of which were around 12oz and the other at 1.6 which again set a new PB, it was turning out to be great session and yes they may not be 2or 3lbers but for me these were massive fish and it wasn't long before that PB was beaten again by a stunning looking fish of 1lb 7oz, things were looking good but as it got closer to 12pm the water was colouring up more than it was and I only managed a couple more Grayling ( 1.4 x2 & another at 1.6 ), so the stamp of fish were very good and I was very happy with how I fared in somewhat unfavorable conditions but it has to be said that the wind did at times help with the fishing by blowing from behind me to mend the line partially, not often you can say that.

Another stunning Grayling at 1lb 6oz, a PB for a cast.
1lb 2oz Grayling.
My new PB of 1lb 7oz, great stuff, beautiful colours.

Another pound plus Grayling.
 By midday the Grayling disappeared and the fishing became very tough so I set about fishing for some of the chalk stream Pike but I only managed one very solid take which resulted in a lovely mid to upper double Pike but although I let the fish take the bait it wasn't long before the Roach was let go of, one flick of the tail and she disappeared into the depths, that proved to be the only action on the Pike front, since that water coloured up the fishing was practically done, a big shame as I'd loved a chance at a larger Grayling, but not to be greedy I left with a big smile and proud of my achievement, I will certainly come back for more, it was great fun and boy do those Trout fight and nothing can prepare you for the strength of the Grayling, and a tip for people who have never had a Grayling, when taking a picture of them they are almost impossible to photograph, be warned.

A great looking Pike swim but nothing doing.


My Roach deadbait after the mauling it suffered from that good Pike I lost.
 Can't wait to get back down in better conditions, only time will tell whether I can make.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Barbel & More Specimen Gudgeon.


 After my trip on Tuesday it got me thinking as to how big do the Gudgeon in the river I've been fishing, the answer is I'm really not too sure but one thing I do know is that they are bloody big and "IF" I was to catch a Gudgeon over the current British Record then I would not be overwhelmingly surprised as the average stamp seem to be upwards of 2oz with a majority that I have managed to catch have been pushing 3oz and one bang on 4oz, these are extremely big and they have been the result of many miles of walking and many hours working out how and where to catch them, all of which now has come together.

 I ventured out with my father ( James Snr ) this morning as we interrupted the dawn chorus with our crunching of feet on the frozen ground where we had probably our coldest night yet, -3c was the reading in the garden and that is cold enough!, before we reached our intended Gudgeon spot I decided to get my father his first Barbel of the season, not a species he fishes for much these days but the chance of locking into battle with powerful fish was enough, he needs no lessons on this as he was catching scores of Barbel off the Royalty, Kennet, Teme and various other rivers before I was even a thought of but the technique I use and find so devastatingly effective could not be overlooked and both donned the same approach. After an hour or so of walking we had found Barbel and a few of them but they weren't in a feeding mood so we gave them a swerve after 15-20 minutes of flogging the proverbial.

 Our next swim was somewhat of a lottery, can fish it 20 times and not get a sniff yet you know the Barbel are home then all of a sudden one will slip up, today was that day, but not for the oldie....but for me, a precise cast to where it needed to be and two Barbel nosed down hard whilst the smaller of the two sucked my bait out of sight, this was followed by a swift strike and I was in, she fought well in the pacey water and after a few minutes a well fed Barbel was banked. At 8lb 1oz I'd take that any day - even more so considering the overnight temperature, a good quality pristine Barbel, the target was to get one for Snr.

Pristine 8.1 Barbus.

 With Dad watching over me catching that Barbel I feel it spurred him on to pull out all the stops and when I put him on another spot he didn't disappoint as a long lean Barbel came storming out of it's lair to nail his bait first time, fishing perfection and a good looking fish too. Not a monster at 6lb 15oz but it was a good scrap from what I witnessed, take to laying in the net as a bystander which was nice.

Dad's prize for persistence.
 By around 1pm we had pretty much reached our Gudgeon spot bar one swim and we both couldn't walk past it and we were right to as my Dad had about 6 rolls through with no joy but on my cast my finger nearly got torn off my hand, boy did this one want it or what!, as this fish battled out in the main river it spooked another fish off which was an easy double which neither us saw until it was too late, guesses were around 11lb or so, as so often this season a good quality Barbel lay in my net whilst we prepared the camera and scales, this was a good fish again and at 8lb 2oz, an ounce bigger than my first I was having a good day, time for the Gudgeon fishing.

My second 8 of the morning.
 And did the Gudgeon fishing disappoint....not a drop, it was great from the get go with a decent Gudgeon of maybe 3oz, a fantastic way to start and things didn't die off from start to finish, a match was in the offing and a little competition was good fun, but unfortunately I lost both on quantity 14 to 10 and Dad also caught the largest at a smidgen over 4oz!, the second one in less than a week, a 5oz Gudgeon is surely in existence amongst the other large ones.

My best two Gudgeon both well above average for anywhere.

The winning fish, caught by the "ol man" at 4oz 1dr, big girl.

 Well guys, its time to get my self ready for next expedition down to the pristine and bountiful River Test for Grayling and Pike, I'm very excited and lets hope the weather will be kind. Tight Lines.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Land of Monster Gudgeon.


 Leading on from yesterday's tough day of angling I set about targeting some different species, the species I wanted to go in search of was a good sized Barbel (hopefully a double), a river King Carp and also find one of the few shoals of specimen Gudgeon that inhabit the river. First of all I started at the top of one of my beats and for this stretch I set about ledgered bread flake for King Carp, a small gathering of them exist in this beat but are seldom found as they have a large amount of water to hide away in but with the knowledge that I have of the river it didn't take long for me to locate a couple, one a Common of roughly 7lbs and the other was a stunning looking large plated Mirror Carp of what looks anything between 15-18lbs but it could be pushing 20lbs, my only difficulty was where they were stationed as the water was pacy added with lots of sunken trees on the far side and inside bank, if I had hooked one a whole new challenge would then be faced.

 Within the first 45mins the larger of the two Carp had picked up my ledgered bread twice and managed to not get hooked on both occasions, how?, God only knows, I thought the way it had been taken was a nailed on hooking, I was certainly wrong but these Carp aren't big without being clever, then out of nowhere I had a sharp tug and the rod absolutely slammed around, such tenacity has been rarely seen, the culprit was a large brown trout of what looked about 5lbs in amazing winter condition, not what I was fishing for but it was a great fight and it was fat!, but I suspect some of it has to do with it spawning soon. I had spent nearly three hours stalking that large Mirror but it wasn't to be and I called time on it as I had other species I wanted to attempt at catching.

A belter at roughly 4.8-5.0, proper Brownie.
 The large one might have evaded capture but I was to get my chance as I watched a lovely Mirror churning up the bottom in search of snails I assume and on the second cast my peacock quill cocked and headed upstream, the bread obviously was just what it was looking for, at first it felt very weighty but it looked short but most river Carp are like rugby balls and this one turned out to be just that, a real deep thick set Mirror that looked like it had been partying with Arnie in his hay days......after a couple of good hard minutes the steroid abusing Carp was resting up in the net.

My river King Carp, weighing at 9lb 10oz.


 On my way down I decided to roll some meat for a Barbel and I was surprised by a spirited little Barbus on the first cast, a fish that I didn't even see so it was a nice surprise indeed which was followed quickly by a 3lb Chub and then a nice Trout of 3.15, after a mile or so walking at pace I came up to my first Gudgeon spot and within 5 minutes of settling in I had a good tug on my 4BB avon wire stem in the main flow and the resistance wasn't great so I was pretty sure it was a Gudgeon and I was spot on as a large Gudgeon cruised straight towards the awaiting net, finally something had gone right for me, this was a big Gudgeon too, my target was a 4oz Gobio Gobio and had managed it on probably my fifth or sixth trot, measuring the length of my flyweight scales and weighing bang on 4oz if not a fraction under, it was close enough for me and within an hour I had bagged up 4 Minnows - two of which were enormous and a lovely Roach at roughly 8oz, not big but nice to see.

Monster Minnow.

A 3.6oz Gudgeon.

The largest at exactly 4oz...monster.

Certainly a specimen fish.
Can I find a 5oz specimen.

 Out of the eight Gudgeon that I had four of them were over 3ozs with the biggest at around 4oz, monster Gudgeon, previous to my arrival this morning a fellow angling friend of mine found it quite strange that I'd be trying to catch them, no bend in the rod?, Gobio's at that size are well worth catching, a British record is possible as these are all young fish too with a very healthy eco-system, just a matter of time before one comes out. But until then these big'uns are well worth catching.

 It being nearly Christmas eve day, I would like to wish everyone a merry christmas and hope the fat man in his red suit brings everyone some new fishing gear.

Monday, 22 December 2014

One Out of Two.


 With a busy lead up to Christmas I haven't managed any fishing since my trip out on the Avon, I've wanted to get out but time has been very restricted, so this morning a session in search of Roach and Chub were planned and at around 8am I made my way onto the river, conditions were good with the clarity at the best I've seen it for ages, but it was also very low and for Barbel I love it when these conditions are here but for Roach they need a tinge of colour to feel a little more comfortable but the Chub I needn't worry about so I set myself a target of 5lb or more.

 Early doors I did start with Roach but after an hours trotting I only managed a small Brownie so I changed tactics with Chub in mind, it wasn't long either until the Chub showed their intent as my third trot produced a nice skelly of 4.12, this was quickly followed by a hectic half hour where a further 5 chub cruised to the net ( all around the 3.8-4.0 mark ), everything then went a little quiet so a quick change of bait soon bought on another bite, a more powerful Chub hung on the end whilst trying to plough its way through a sunken tree, a scrap none of the other fish so far had put up so I knew it was better and as it approached me from under the weir pool foam a thick Chub plodded slowly over the lip of the net. I though to myself a certain five was in the bag, this proved to be correct and after a couple of snaps she headed off into the deep water, a 6lber must live around these swims that I have been fishing but as of yet I have yet to catch one over 5.11 surely over time these will just get larger and larger.

My target @ 5lb 3oz.
 After catching the five pound Chub the first half of my target was completed so it was now over to the Roach, bearing in mind my last 3 trips for specimen Roach have all ended in a blank so for the second part of the session I had two tactics in mind which I know are tried and tested, the wind was proving to be very challenging as it was ruining my presentation and with big Roach everything has to be perfect as they are so clever, started off trotting but after an hours fishing with not as much as a touch I switched over to the swim-feeder approach, this over time has bagged probably half of my 2lb Roach over the last 4 seasons and when the trotting isn't happening as planned a good dollop of white crumb usually stirs something into feeding but today they hadn't read the rule book and totally ignored even my tasty looking caster and crumb mix, crazy fish these sometimes, can catch 4-10 Roach in one trip then nothing in four or five sessions, fickle buggers, but I shall catch a couple more 2's this winter given the time.

 Next up is a search for a 3oz plus Gudgeon, a river King Carp, a double figure Barbel and if I can find them a Dace of 8oz or more, all this on the menu tomorrow, hopefully the wind has buggered off by them eh!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Cold Snap, The Kiss Of Death.


 After a long time in the pipeline the conditions and time of year were perfect for venturing out in search of the Lady of the Stream, a species that I have had the pleasure of catching if only a handful on my last trip to the Avon to 9oz, today I was joined by Mr Pikeman himself Brian for a go at catching some prime winter Grayling and hopefully breaking Brian's duck on the species, in theory everything was perfect, que our arrival at the river..........

Beautiful morning but very cold.

The famous monster Roach bridge in the distance.

..........it was like drinking chocolate!, we immediately knew that the session would be almost a write-off, I don't know much about Grayling in fact neither us do in truth but we knew it would extremely difficult to catch our intended quarry even though we had good advice on where to apply our tactics, we plotted up in a few lovely looking swims and started to feed it up with maggots in the vein hope the fish would eventually find the loose feed and feel compelled to eat but time was never an issue - we could have fished 3 days in those conditions and still felt I wouldn't catch a Grayling, compelled to eat they weren't but I did bump a large fish in one swim which I suspect was a decent sized Chub or out of season Brownie, talking about brownies though I did catch a few of them to like half a pound and whilst they made sure the day wasn't a total blank and thankful for that it still didn't take the bad taste out of my mouth that all week it was running clear and mild, the day we come to fish its up 6-8inches and dirty plus it was really pushing hard.

Little winter wildie's.


 After a few hours we had conceded to the Grayling and turned our efforts to the Esox that inhabit the picturesque fishery, Brian managed a little one on his first cast and with plenty of cracking looking swims fished my float remained totally unmoved as did Brian's after his initial fish, a very tough day and not the conditions I expected, waited months for the right conditions and then when we thought it was all good to go that happened. The cold weather they experienced overnight plus the water clarity was most certainly the kiss of death.

Looked amazingly Pikey but not a touch.
 During the day though we were treated to some fantastic sights and some I've rarely seen in my 27 years, a pristine white Barn Owl in the broad daylight flying about and had the chance to photograph it but instead watched in awe, a handful of lively Kingfisher's, plenty of Pheasant's some of which unfortunately became dinner at some point, plus a trio of stunning Red Kite's up in the thermals putting on a display with their distinctive squawking ringing through the cold winter afternoon, if anything the nature on show was the only highlight, not the fishing it has to be said, I will be back soon once it bucks it's ideas up.

A very clever Pheasant that evaded the gun-dogs and shooters.
 British record Gudgeon over to you, I know where some large ones reside, time to find one.

 Tight Lines to all until next time. J.    

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Blanking........Common Theme These Days.


 Time has been hard to come by recently with any spare time being spent on getting ready for Christmas, but Saturday morning was reserved solely for a trip out at dawn for Pike, in the outskirts of London winter has finally arrived and the thermometer in my parents garden read -2c.....perfect for Pike and I was hoping for a bright start, I had set up 2 rods, the first a sleeper rod armed with a 4'' dead Roach on a float fished slightly over depth and the second was used to throw some slow crank lures as the Esox were probably laying dormant on the bottom conserving energy so getting the bait down to them would be paramount to catching, 10 minutes or so of fishing and with the sun barely casting a glow across the night sky my sleeper rod bung started to dance about which was followed by a sharp pull under, the moment I hoped would happen.

Autumn going and winter is here.
Woke up to a lovely frosty landscape.
But this tasty bit of grub warmed me up big time.

 As I struck into the fish a decent weight hung on deep in the main channel and stayed 30-40 yards out for 4 or so minutes, I immediately thought I had hooked into a monster Pike and the fight was impressive to say the least but I was becoming slightly anxious that I still hadn't seen the culprit for the magnificent battle, being that I was using sturdy gear ( 20lb line & 45lb wire trace ) I began to apply a little more pressure and not before long a very good double figure Esox broke the surface and although she didn't look defeated the specimen slowly headed straight for the net that I had out and prepared, I thought to myself just play it easy for the last 10-15ft so no mistakes would be made......

........then my run of bad luck continued as the Pike turned away from me and swam for deeper water again the movement of its head as she bolted away from the bank threw the semi-barbless treble and the fish I estimated to be between 16-18lbs was gone and was quickly followed by a disgruntled slump of the shoulders and a few chosen words, some not suitable before the watershed!!.

 I have been cursing my luck with good Pike this season, 3 good doubles have been lost due to hook pulls and it's not something I enjoy at all, hard enough finding them but to have actually hooked and so nearly landed them seems all too much sometimes, such a shame. I carried on hoping they were feeding as I would expect in the freezing temperatures we are now experiencing but with a couple of hours gone without another indication I had to move on and seek more water that I know hold fish and some of serious proportions which I haven't managed to come across yet.

 With a few miles walking between my next swim that I had in mind there was plenty of time to dwell on what had happened earlier in the morning as to what went wrong but I felt everything that I did was the right thing at the right time and do put it down to seriously bad luck and although I could use a barbed treble to try and improve my landing ratio I do like to stay away from them as if I was to deep hook a fish for any sort of reason I would hopefully do it no harm easing out a semi-barbed treble where as a barbed treble will surely be secured at 3 points as opposed to 1 at the most.

A battle scarred skelly of 2.4
Greedy sod.
 Midday had been and gone and I was struggling really badly, bites weren't materilizing and fish could not be found everywhere I went apart from a rogue Thames Chub that nailed a gold 7g Mepps spinner which had seen better days but certainly had a good appetite, which was more than what could be said for the Pike but the colour of the river wasn't great and I'll put that fact down to the lack of action I had during the day, by 3o'clock I had all but given up my search and headed off home dwelling on what a fantastic day it could have been but it was a beautiful day to be out and nice to see winter in its splendour but surely will get better as it gets colder.