2014 was a very good year for me both on the angling front and otherwise, a new job, organizing of the purchase for our first property and planning to marry my partner of 7 and a bit years has kept me busy but I have managed to find a substantial amount of time to go fishing and I think I have done very well with the time that I have had at my disposal and although I just enjoy being at one with nature whilst enjoying the escapism that fishing brings I do also like to catch fish with a few challenges thrown in to make it a little more exciting.
So we start with January, most of my local fisheries were virtually impossible to get to let or lone fish, but when the rivers did recede I did fish for a mixture of Chub, Barbel and Pike. The Barbel were caught to a decent size and a couple of Chub to over 5lb but the Pike weren't feeding probably due to the horrific clarity but managed a lake Esox but only a jack, with even a trip to the Royalty providing a blank.
|Best fish of January 10.12.|
The weather again in February was still wreaking havoc across the British Isles and most rivers including mine were extremely close to bursting banks if not already doing so, a visit to Hamps Avon for my first ever Grayling turning out to be a write off as the Avon valley was dealing with record levels of water, this was a species I didn't manage to get out in search of for another 7 months, with the rivers in bad condition the Chub were practically the only species of fish feeding and boy were they. Highlight of the Chub fishing was a session where a handful of good 4's & 5's were bagged with the biggest at a smidgen over 5.9 and another trip was made to the Royalty where the Pike again avoided myself and my father but I managed a stunning 8.10 Barbel whilst rolling meat on the Greenbanks.
|Two quality 5lb Chub, 5.5 & 5.9.|
|My immaculate 8lb 10oz Royalty Barbel.|
March kicked off in great fashion with some large Chub over 5lb caught and a beautiful 2lb 2oz Roach, plus a few other species of fish including Bream to nearly 8lb off the Thames, but as the coarse close season on the river arrived I usually spend a couple of weeks preparing new ventures and sorting out tackle ready for the new season and stock up on flies ready to fling for wild Browns.
|Another fish of a lifetime 2.2|
|Quality Chub @ 5.9|
|Thames slab at 7.14|
April is always a weird month for fishing as the lakes are still quite cool and not fishing properly yet, my 6" 8" brook trout rod gets a dust off and also bent double on a regular basis, plenty of stunning Brown Trout were caught with a couple of rogue Chub taking various flies ( Dry & Wet ).
|Prime fly fishing river.|
|My first Crucian for over a decade @ 1.12.|
|A stunning 4lb 6oz Brown.|
|Beautiful fly caught Rudd.|
May was a good month of fishing but the highlight of the month was at the beginning when I beat a long standing personal best with a wonderfully marked 2lb 13oz Perch, the story behind that capture was my father joined me for a Carping session which turned out to be a blank but half way through the session I spotted two big soldiers sat in a clear patch in some weed, but with the bread we were using we had nothing the Perch would eat, so my father and I spent nearly half an hour searching for a worm for which we found and the rest is history.
|My new PB at 2lb 13oz.|
The rest of the month consisted of a couple of trips in search of Carp where a few were caught to mid-double figures.
June is always a funny month too, the lakes are normally fishing well and the rivers become available in mid-june, Trout were still a target of mine and the largest of the season was caught on a little dry fly, it was so big I struggled to land it in my bow-net. June wasn't only about Trout though and I broke my Tench PB which had stood firm for a few years with an immaculate female Tinca of 8lb 3oz, this fish was quickly followed by a 7.6 Tench from the same swim not 30 mins later, a truly remarkable morning's fishing
|A monster 5.7 Brown Trout.|
|My Personal Best Tench at 8.3|
End of June / beginning of July is normally the time of year my partner and I head out on holiday to avoid the scores of screaming of kids and the extortion that British families face when taking kids abroad during term time, in 2014 we headed back to Turkey and had two lovely weeks out in the sun and had the absolute pleasure of witnessing a couple of amazing pieces of nature, one being a tornado on an adjacent beach in broad daylight and also the pleasure of swimming with a couple of wild Loggerhead Turtles one of which I managed to gently touch, nothing can prepare you for how amazing it feels to see something so breath-taking. My partner even plucked up the courage in the very deep water to swim for a couple of seconds with one of the adults.
Also I managed Chub over 5lb, Carp to just under 20lb, plenty of silvers on the river plus a very big Dace of 14oz was captured whilst trotting a chalk stream for Roach, but maybe the best angling came in the form of my Bream sessions to a fairly local venue where they top 18lbs and is widely tipped to throw up a twenty in the near future, during my trips I didn't manage to catch any of the real monsters but I had 4 Bream out, three of which were double's - 10.6, 10.10 and 11.4 which is now my PB, in the spring and summer of 2015 I will continue my search for a larger specimen. Surprises came thick and fast during July with a trotting session for Dace and Gudgeon producing two freshly run Sea-Trout to 3.5 which was also a PB for the species, a great month of angling.
|PB @ 3.5.|
|Best Dace in a few years at 14ozs.|
|PB Bream at 11lb 4oz.|
|Another double at 10.7 caught the trip before the 11.4|
I think out of all the months August is one of my favorite, fish of all species start to feed hard with Autumn approaching quickly but the weather is still very pleasant, Crucian Carp were one of my targets and I had them up to 2lb 9oz which was a sight for sore eyes, a stunning species of fish and one I wish I caught more of but can prove to be very difficult to catch, Grayling have always appealed to me but I have never been successful in their pursuit but I had finally cracked it at the Britford Avon even if they were small fish a "Lady of the Stream" weighing 9oz set a new PB. A couple of Barbel and Pike were also caught but only small.
|Beautiful Marsh Farm Crucian.|
|PB Grayling at 9oz, caught whilst long trotting.|
|My best Dace of the year @ 15oz.|
September time is always a good time for me and Roach so I penciled in a few trips to some of my premier chalk stream beats in search of 2lb Roach, fish of which as I have previously said are extremely rare and everyone caught especially from a river are a fish of a lifetime, in 3 short-ish sessions I managed to bank four Roach two of which were over the magical mark (2.1 & 2.5), but I still couldn't forget the fact I hooked and lost a bigger Roach than those landed, it turns out since then I have failed to catch a single Roach up to now and half a dozen trips have been made with them in mind.
|My 2lb 1oz specimen.|
Then my attentions turned to the mighty River Wye for predators and even though it was tough it didn't disappoint, five Pike to 14.12 and a few Perch to 2lb 8oz were also caught, a magnificent place to have visited and can't wait to try my hand at it again. Then stillwater Perch became an obsession for a couple of weeks with numerous stripey's being caught but three of note over 2lbs largest at 2lb 8oz.
|Fit as a butchers dog!! ( 9lb 10oz )|
|PB Zed at 4.7. ( My most expensive fish )|
Oh I did forget a very good Pike session I had whilst fishing on the Thames where it gave up two of it's resident double's at 11.9 and 15.1, both of these whilst my brothers two rods remained untouched.
|Best of the season so far.|
November was very tough for me but I did start and finish the month with double figure Barbel ( 10.06 & 10.10 ), the second of which was a cracking specimen in probably the best condition I've ever seen a Barbel, Chub in the very coloured water did provide a great trip where I had a very good bag plus a brace of 5's thrown in for good measure. Lastly a trip up to Warwickshire for Jeff Hatt's birthday fish in on the Coventry canal was a very good trip unfortunately I maintained my zero capture rate but had the pleasure of seeing a few Zander on the bank.
|Immaculate double figure Barbel.|
Now for December I planned on finishing work for around the 18th so I could relax and do a bit more fishing, trips to Britford and the Test were sorted out and these trips were to target Grayling and try to improve on my PB set in August, the Avon was a washout and the Test was brilliant fun, I caught 11 Grayling with 6-7 over the pound mark best being at 1lb 7oz, I put alot of time in on the bank and I was rewarded with a handful of Barbel, Trout and a winter river King Carp ( something rarely done by myself ), but the Gudgeon that I had found were of monster proportion's, more than half of the specimen's caught were over 3oz and two of which were bang on 4ozs, just an ounce off of the British record, I feel I can break it on this river system, just a matter of time until it's found but will I be the lucky captor? In 2015 I will found out!!.
|5lb 3oz Chub, 5's are becoming pretty frequent now.|
|A 4oz monster Gudgeon.|
|Stunning winter chalk-stream Barbel.|
|My father's monster Gudgeon at 4oz 1dr.|
|Truly fantastic Grayling well over a pound.|
|My PB Grayling at 1.7.|
Be lucky in 2015 and enjoy your time on the bank, we are a privileged few who can and do experience the best of what nature has to offer.