Saturday 31 January 2015

Angling For Grayling Part Three.

 It's been a while since my last post, with work very busy at the moment time is hard to come by but over the last week I have been planning a trip out for Grayling with Brian, so with the weather looking good last night we made the plans final and set off at 0540 and hit the M3 with Grayling firmly in our minds, the journey down went by in a flash as we spoke all things fishy and talked up our chances. When we arrived the river looked in fantastic condition and could not wait to get fishing.

 Initially I had rigged my 11ft trotting rod with a 3SSG chubber float and aim to find the slightly deeper runs where the fish maybe laying up, my usual baits that I've used on the Test didn't work for the opening couple of hours so a change of tactics and bait started to prove pivotal as bites came more frequently. One of the biggest aims of the day was for Brian to catch a PB Grayling and after an hour or so this was accomplished with a lovely specimen, to view tap here - (Details) and his day got even better.

Mint condition Rainbow.

Average on the day of 10oz roughly.
Another hard fighting pristine Grayling.
 My day was rather slow in comparison and a pound plus Grayling decided to hop-off early doors which set the tone but as the day wore on and a few Grayling were banked I felt confident a larger one would be found, although we were enjoying our trip out immensely the conditions, the river were all perfect, by around 2oclock I had caught 6 rainbow trout, as many as 15 sea trout and a lot more brownies, these were accompanied by 9 Grayling to 1lb when just the fish I was looking for popped up on a deep gravel bed, my 4 maggots fished straight in front of it, the float buried itself immediately and that was all I needed, the fight was great in the pacy water and I played it as carefully as I dared without allowing any slack, with the net waiting I guided her in. Happy days!.

A new PB of 1.9. Fantastic.

 When they approach 2lb they change totally from a young fish and get noticeably darker and the colours on them are absolutely brilliant, after that fish was returned I had a couple more to 1.1 and as dusk approached I turned my attentions to Roach. The Roach are known in this stretch to grow over 2lbs, with that knowledge and an uncanny knack for catching good Roach I set about targeting one or two, within twenty minutes of fishing I had this beautiful Redfin in perfect winter condition, something that I'd never tire of, especially when they look like this.

An immaculate 1lb 11oz chalk-stream Roach.
Ready to fight another day.
1lb 2oz.
 It wasn't my only one either as I managed another at 12ozs in great nick too. After I had caught the 1.11 Roach I had located the shoal that I wanted to find and the shoal consisted of as many as 10 fish over 2lb with a couple in the high 2's with a very healthy number of sub 2lber's aswell, but sadly after catching two of them time ran out. My day went from strength to strength, new PB Grayling and a Roach approaching 2lb in one trip is a great return. With that said a nice jack pike also took a liking to a hard-body lure of mine which coincidentally was in great condition just like everything we caught, as night settled in we decided to call it a day and we had thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in a great place in probably the most pristine fishery I've had the pleasure of fishing.

Toothy critter at 6lb.

Sunday 18 January 2015

Angling For Grayling Part Two.

 With Grayling firmly asserted as one of my favourite species already I had to get back out amongst them and the weather conditions seemed to be perfect, joined by Brian for a stab at his first ever Grayling we embarked on a two-and-a-half hour train journey followed by a two mile walk to our intended venue, before yesterday Brian had never caught one so that was the ultimate goal of the day but for the money spent I certainly wanted to bag a few with a new PB in the offing.

Sane section of civilization isn't privileged to this sort of scene
at 8am - 3 hours from home at -3c, nout better.  
Postcard stuff eh!
A bad case of the trots....hahaha.
 Having been on the Test a couple of times I felt that Brian should get one under his belt first but before we got to Grayling fishing a large Pike swirled at some silvers which was too much for us to both ignore, so a barrage of lures and jigs were aimed in its direction but to no avail, 15 minutes or so of that and we got the hint at a lack of interest, so we then set up our fine trotting gear and headed up stream to where I have caught Grayling before, it wasn't long before they started to show themselves but I struggled to keep them on the hook as they writhed and wriggled free, I lost 4 before landing my first of about 6oz.

A mint condition Grayling.
Spirited fight from a slender Trout.
 Out of those 4 lost - three of which were over a pound and the largest of those was probably around a pound n half, I couldn't keep the larger ones on and they taunted me for staying on long enough for me to see them and then escape back to the murky depths, I found the fishing very hard it has to be said, I fished very hard and my findings were echoed by every other angler we spoke to, with the very heavy colour it wasn't going to be easy but not making excuses we both tried as hard as possible to locate and catch. I had a stack of Trout which were a welcome distraction from the lack of Grayling which came to about 3lb.

Average stamp of Grayling on the day.
Baby brownie.

 As dusk approached though I started to get a few Grayling and thankfully managed to land a couple which averaged around 8oz with the largest a little over that, but those larger ones evaded capture and I've not experienced such a bad hook-up rate on any trip I've ever made in my 22 years of fishing, I lost as many if not more than I caught but the hooks were brand new and sharp, I was thinking maybe there is a specific hook to improve hook-up rates if there is any such hook, a tough day and certainly the hardest so far but with a total of 8 Grayling caught I feel that in those conditions that was good and Brian had faired probably the best out of everyone - follow the link for "his take on the trip", it wasn't the session I thought it would be but that's fishing. From now on though unless the conditions are perfect for Grayling I will be targeting Roach and Pike, a 2lb Roach would go down very well considering it's been 5 sessions without a bite after them and a 20lb Pike still is my main target for the season but the conditions haven't been great for them with most of the rivers in the south constantly carrying colour and plenty of extra water but I will get out a few more times and hopefully be successful, in fishing you never know what that next knock or bite will yield. Tight Lines until next time.

Tuesday 13 January 2015

First Barbel of 2015.

 The beginning of the year has been very busy and combined with the poor weather I have barely managed any time on the banks, this morning though I had a gap in my busy schedule so I ventured out with a rod and sat up in a couple of swims until I was successful in at least getting a knock, when I did get my first of two takes a spirited Barbel of roughly 4lb charged through the battleship grey river before tiring and heading into my awaiting net. The second take of the day unfortunately failed to hook up but I suspect the culprit was a Chub but I will never know, catching in these conditions is always pleasing - regardless of the size.

Great fun and somewhat unexpected.

My ever-faithful pin, 

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Old Tackle.

 I must confess that I do have a massive amount of fishing tackle with most of my tackle is of the modern era but I do have some gear that certainly dates back further than when I was born in the late 80's, but I don't even know how old some of the stuff I have is.

 One part is a fascinating looking leather pouch with what looks like animal skin envelopes, it was made by Hardy bros ltd of Alnwick which also has a range of different lines/tippets of various strengths which are labeled - strong, medium, fine and also some points, complete with labels on each individual line, quite impressive I think but not really sure what to do with it, I wouldn't want to use them but selling something like this now maybe very silly. Here are some pics of it and if anybody knows what it may be worth or whether it's rare or not then I would be very interested to hear.

Saturday 3 January 2015

Angling for Grayling.

 Since my trip to the Test last week where I was catching a number of pristine Grayling in fairly dour condition's I really wanted to get back down and experience that squirmy yet very powerful fight, I have enjoyed fishing for them a lot and I think it is down to three things, very limited amount of rivers hold them, secondly the larger ones seem to be difficult to catch thus providing me with a great challenge and lastly the Grayling are stunning creatures.

 I had watched the weather constantly and although things didn't look good I still went ahead with the trip as planned, I knew with a whole night of rain that the river would certainly be coloured up and probably slightly higher than last Saturday, when I arrived at a little past dawn this was the case and I know the Grayling like to feed in clear water so it was a case of trying to catch some fish and if the Grayling were to come along then great stuff.

Cracking condition Rainbow.
 It took quite a while to find the Grayling but the Trout were putting in a shift as usual, a number of Rainbow's and Brown's to very decent size were blitzing my swim every time a Grayling would appear the glide would be thrashed to a foam again and taking god knows how long to get my targets feeding confidently, the Trout were causing problems - as many as a dozen Rainbows to roughly 4lb, four or five Brown's to about 5lb and two Sea Trout both about 2lb were dominating everything, but within the first 4 hours I had 8 Grayling with the best at 11oz.

Best of the day at 1.6.
Stunning aren't they?
 I moved swims constantly to try locate the fish but the colour in the river was killing the sport as bites virtually dried up altogether, so I headed to a carrier which was carrying a tinge of colour but was still fishable, this move was to save my day and a further 9 Grayling were caught with my two biggest at 1.6 & 1.2 which were both caught as the sunlight started to fade, trotting over depth allowed me to bump my bait straight into the paths of hungry mouths, a tough day but it turned out alright in the end but I would love to fish it when it's CLEAR.

Thursday 1 January 2015

A Very Good 2014.

 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 ).

Stunning representation.
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.

Wye 2.8.
A pristine Wye mid-double.
Another Wye 2-pounder.
Best of my lake Perch @ 2.8.

  October is my birthday month and I always like to treat myself to more than usual amount of fishing, it started on the Royalty with a few Pike to 8lb, which was followed by some lovely Barbel just shy of double figures, I did crack another PB and that was the Zander, Bury Hill was the venue and for all the money spent I wanted to make bloody certain I caught a fish bigger than a sprat!, 4lb 7oz was the weight and although that is certainly no specimen it is a start, the rest of the month was after Barbel as a tough month proved that the Barbus were the only species feeding.

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.

What A Start!

   Since the river season ended I've taken a 3 week hiatus from fishing, work as usual the excuse! Storm Kathleen however was predicted ...