Friday 27 February 2015

Angling For Grayling. (PBs all around).

 Recently I said to myself that I would concentrate on my Roach fishing until the end of the season, so today's trip was in search of Roach, I have done a few trips to the Test valley and I know that some very large Roach do exist and to weight's of 3lb with a two-pounder a distinct possibility once located, so at the crack of dawn Brian, myself and a rare outing for my father we set off into Hampshire.

 A perfect morning greeted us on the river as the steam crept off the surface, the peace and quiet was soon broken though as the sound of a large Brown Trout went crashing through my swim that I was priming for the redfin's, my early morning plan was ruined in spectacular style but all was not lost as I left that spot soon after and my father (James Snr) jumped in and on one of his first trots hooked into a fish that was to break a 30 year old PB, this pristine specimen weighed at 1.14 with his original PB a seemingly measly 1.2, so very nearly a two for the "old boy" on his first Grayling session in three decades. I was made up by his capture and thoroughly enjoyed running off a couple of snaps, but I broke away and headed on up river where I was to break a PB that hasn't set as long.

A great start to the day for ol bean.
 With the Roach swim left to cool down I put on some maggots and trotted some deeper water in search of a Grayling, after spending an hour or so I finally hooked up with a large fish which I connected with 20 yrds downstream, I decided when playing it to bring the fish up to me instead of meeting it, it was a decision that I didn't rue as the hook hold was very good and an immaculate Grayling was bagged, the needle was pulled around to a very pleasing PB weight of 2lb 2oz.

Get on it!!

 That Grayling was followed by loads of Trout which were annoyingly ruining swim after swim but there was nothing that I could do, a couple more Grayling to 12oz were caught but throughout the day
the Roach were still in the back of my mind but on the clear gravels and watching Grayling to probably mid-high 2lb it was hard to pull myself away but for all the time spent fishing for them I only managed half a dozen in the end to around a pound. Dusk was approaching when I had decided to get back to the Roach swims, all I needed was to be on the fish then it was all up to them, dusk had been and gone with nothing doing but Brian did manage one lovely redfin -check out his blog post.

Thursday 26 February 2015

Stret-Pegging For River Carp.

 At the beginning of the week I had big plans for today, the rain was to make sure that it wasn't to go as planned. Roach again were on the agenda and a light rod was made up as I set about finding a shoal of quality fish that I had spotted very recently, I just hoped I would get there before the rain started as the river rises quickly and colours up extremely quickly which invariably puts the Roach right off the feed.

 I walked over a mile of river before getting myself ready, a few Trout were showing amongst the gravels but as these were not on my radar I just watched them charge around chasing each-other with one of these fish pushing five pound, a month's time on the fly I certainly wouldn't mind hooking that kipper, further down as I approached the Roachey spots I spotted a pair of lovely river Carp amongst some dense weed in a slack off of the main river, "on 4lb line and a size 16 barbless", I thought to myself sod it why not, it wasn't favourable but fancied my chances, the smaller Mirror looked around low-mid double and the other close approaching 20lb!, these were proper river Carp and in the pacy main river this would be a hell of a scrap if one slipped up. After assessing the situation I opted to stret-peg a lump of bread-flake just ahead of them and rest the float just off of a piece of weed so as to not alert them, within 20-30seconds the smaller fish showed an interest and nudged the bread, heart in mouth moment and before I could think "you crafty bugger", it turned back around and nailed the
bait, I waited for the line to tighten up and the bite to indicate on my quill and with the slightest pull under I leant into a feisty fish.

Stretting magic.

 I had many difficulties in trying to avoid losing the fish in the weed but after numerous near misses I managed to coax her into the margins where again the river was slack so I had the opportunity to slip a somewhat under-gunned net under my prize, a very pretty and solid Linear Mirror Carp at 13lb 2oz, unfortunately it had a sore looking legion on it's tail but there was nothing I could do to clean it up, all the time that I was fishing for that Carp the weather got progressively worse and the river was colouring up to the point I thought about packing up there and then, after a mile or so walk in the pissing rain and a few trots for some Roach I gave up, never going to feed in that. 

Tuesday 17 February 2015

One Hour Perch.

 A real snippet of time after work on Monday and I didn't feel like sitting at home even though it was trashing it down, so I armed myself with the predator rod and a selection of lures in the hope of fooling a couple of stripey's, by the time I had got to my chosen venue I was soaked through to the bone so it didn't matter at all when the rain got heavier. First the spinners went out for a.... spin, then jig's and then a few different coloured lures which after a while didn't pay any dividends, a change back to a gold & black spotted spinner drew the first take and a spirited battle ensued under the rod tip as a Perch searched out the roots under my feet, by this time the rain was teaming down so a photo of my 1lb 3oz Perch was out of the question, but a great conditioned fish it was too.

This little rod is a fantastic, through action past the butt!
 For around half an hour more I searched out some more feeding fish but nothing doing and as the wind picked up slightly the cold started to settle in, enough was enough, the green soldier was enough  to save a blank, but thoroughly drenched. Oh what us anglers do to catch fish.

The blank saver.

Sunday 15 February 2015

Winter Roach Part Two.

 Last weeks session for Roach was a successful one with a healthy bag of fish to nearly twenty pound, I felt like a match angler for the day and I enjoyed the sport no end, so naturally I fancied another bash at it and this morning I packed light with my trusty keepnet and a loaf of white bread. The tackle used was the same as last week and once the fish were found it was a case of simply keeping the shoal interested and once caught keep them isolated in the keepnet to avoid returning fish and spooking the remainder of the Roach.

 Roach were the target from the get go but a Barbel of about 7lb didn't read the script as I hooked it on 3lb bottom but unfortunately as it got 4ft from the net after all the hard work done negotiating it - the hook popped out of it's top lip and she was gone. After that somewhat disappointing passage of play I moved as the Roach would have been put down.

 The Roach did however put in a great show on a couple of trots but one in particular where in just under 3 hours I had 46 Roach with the largest at 1lb 4oz and they averaged around 12oz, along with 5 Gudgeon to over 3oz, unfortunately the bag of Roach was so heavy it would have bottomed my scales out but I estimate the bag to weigh between 30-35lb, a fantastic bit of fishing and the session was to get just a bit better as I carried on my Roach exploits as I headed downstream of where I was originally when on probably the third or fourth trot the float disappeared, with that I struck firmly and the rod hooped over immediately and with that I knew it wasn't a Roach and the culprit became visible fairly quickly as a very large shape cruised through the water upstream, on 3lb bottom I was playing the Barbel very carefully but luckily as most big fish do it was staying deep and moving fairly slowly, after a few minutes she laid up in the net. Happy days.

A great morning's trotting.
Best of the bag @ 1.4.
Monster Gudgeon over 3oz.
A lovely double at 10lb 6oz, not quite a Roach.
 With the Barbel photographed and weighed I sought out some more Roach swims but with nothing showing I decided to have a go somewhere else where I thought some may be playing ball as the weather conditions were perfect for them. After arriving at my last port of call I put my gear down and put the polariod's on to have a scout around to try and locate a shoal of fish or some rogue Roach amongst the gravel bar's and weed, this tactic unfortunately didn't work so a swim was decided on and that was where I spent the late-afternoon/evening with the hope that building up a swim would get the Roach feeding by dusk.

 Twenty minutes before dusk my arduous task of getting the bait out in the right area and getting the fish to feed seemed to have paid off brilliantly as my quivertip slammed over as a Roach made off with my feeder fished flake, just what the doctor ordered indeed.

1.6 of pure Roach.
 As night fell I started to get more bites but the fish seemed very cautious as most bites actually weren't hittable, at around 7o'clock I had a quick succession of bites which provided me with a 5lb 2oz Chub and my biggest Roach of the day at 1lb 8oz, not a 2lber but great sport and both Roach were in fin-perfect condition.

Stunning Chevin that certainly looked bigger in the net than 5.2.

Biggest of the day at 1.8.

 All in all it was a great days fishing, red letter day it was indeed.

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Winter Roach Part One.

 It's that time of year again when the close season looms, it has gone so quick ( since June ) that I hadn't realised it was this close until I counted five weekends from last until the river's get a much needed rest from all of us anglers, as the 14th of March falls on a Saturday I suspect weather permitting the banks will be full to the rafters with savvy anglers looking to get their last flowing fix before the gear is throw into the corner of the garage, I for one won't be doing so as a Rudd campaign is on the cards but I won't get ahead of myself as that's still quite a while away. Between now and then I will be making a more concerted effort to catch some more Roach with a 2lb specimen a possibility, I have fished a large amount of rivers this season and managed good Roach off of quite a few and I look to keep this theme up until mid-March arrives.

 My late winter Roach campaign started a little while back and I had a fantastic bag of Roach on the centre-pin to the tune of 18lb 11oz, this was my best haul of Roach for quite a long time and although they weren't 2lb fish it's been a while since I've had such fun with a shoal as I have been largely frustrated at times by their inability to feed when I'm around!, I know it's nature and all that but I seemed to get it wrong spectacularly (for 6 trips).

As pristine as is possible.

 That trip out where I had nearly 19lb of Roach comprised of 33 fish to 1.5 and another three over a pound which was brilliant and all in great nick, the tackle was made up of a 3lb hook-link fished through to a size 12 wide-gape hook and 4BB wire-stem float, it took a while to find fish and the depth but once I sussed that out there was no looking back, it was almost a bite a chuck and even the 3 Barbel to 4.15 couldn't spoil the show as the Roach just kept coming and a couple of swims downstream proved to be just as productive. The only other intruder was a porky Gudgeon at around 2oz.

A decent gonk not a monster though.

4.15 Winter Barbel.
 It's a shame that I don't catch Roach like this all the time but when it does all come together it's immense fun, little session's with a massive return, but after all it's just great to get out on the bank.

Average stamp of Roach around the 12oz mark.

Sunday 8 February 2015

Chalkstream Perfection.

 This winter was meant to be in search of Pike and other predators but instead have found myself searching through southern England's plethora of chalkstream's for the chance of another shot at Grayling, this species of fish is unbelievably great to look at regardless of size but the bigger ones do look amazing and having had a 1.9 last week I wanted to improve on this record and aim for a two-pounder. With last week's successful trip a return visit was decided upon with Richard and Brian joining me for a trip into a picturesque part of the Hampshire countryside.

 Surrounded by nature at it's best we organised ourselves before dawn and headed off in search of fishy looking spots and as the water was so clear spotting individual fish to target was possible all day and what a way to fish, stalking your quarry is the most exciting way of fishing I believe when conditions permit this - as I found out to great effect during the day. Shoals of Grayling were littered with Trout of all species and smaller Grayling, stalking enabled me to avoid any "unwanted" disturbances and although many angler's wouldn't be able to turn their nose up at 5lb plus Trout these today were not my target.

First Blood, a pound Grayling on almost the first cast.

Feisty Rainbow's do fight very well on 3lb line.

 First up was a "fin perfect" Grayling of exactly a pound which put up their customary scrap before slipping into the net, five minutes of fishing and I had a good fish banked, that was the sign of things to come as a further 6 fish were caught on maggots within the first hour of fishing, a great conditioned Rainbow did manage to avoid my sight in a slightly deeper run and lead me the merry dance before going psycho in the net.

Stunning and obviously hungry.

 Between 9am and 1pm it was much of the same as Grayling were caught to 1lb 5oz with the rest just shy of the pound mark which is very encouraging for the future plus a cameo appearance from a lovely Perch and a Jack Pike caught on a little jig.


 A couple of meets with the rest of the party during the day were used to exchange catch reports and where they were being found, whilst Rich was with me I was stalking a very big Grayling of 2lb plus and as my bunch of maggots approached it my float buried itself with that fish still on station, whatever it was I hooked it fought hard and only became visible as a huge sail came up to the surface, I called over to Rich to head over with the net and after 3 or so minutes I could regain my breath, a monster Grayling lay in the net, it had to be a certain 2lb fish but if this was 2 then the other was at least 2.8 if not heading for 3lb it was much bigger in comparison to my one, but I couldn't care less as the fish I travelled down for had been caught, Overjoyed? you bet I was.

2lb 0oz and a brilliant new PB, what a beautiful specimen.
Chalkstream Grayling perfection.

 What a cracking fish she was and in great condition, I have certainly missed a lot in regards to Grayling and before Christmas 2014 I had only fished for them once, well let's just say that I'll be looking to capture more as of October onwards. Angler's that have caught 2-4lb Grayling must be very proud of their captures as they are probably equal to the large Rudd in how they look, never felt so scared though of losing a fish!, I spent that time it was on chewing my ticker.

 As the afternoon wore on I was still having a great day and caught another three 1lb plus fish (1.1, 1.5 & 1.8) but Rich and Brian were also having a great day too as Brian also caught a new PB with Rich catching plenty of fish but unfortunately no Grayling over 12oz, the Trout seemingly impossible to avoid, I'm glad I had as the absence of Trout enabled me to get the Grayling confident but that enormous Grayling I saw when I hooked my 2 didn't fancy a chew having seen what happening to it's pal.

1.8, second biggest of the day, 1oz off my PB before Kick-Off.

 Roach time was starting to approach and I had bagged as many as 25 Grayling, next up was hopefully getting amongst some monster Roach, mashed bread in a 20g cage-feeder and a generous pinch of flake was cast out ahead of a deep trough where I would expect red-fins to be present, I allowed the rod to settle and began to clear up my bag when my rod tip lurched over, a typical Roach bite turned out to be a Roach but not a "biggun" at roughly 12oz, I thought that the jackpot was landed and all I had to do was to hope that the Trout would stay away, that were the kiss of death as a Rainbow and a very good Sea Trout hammered around my swim causing all sorts of havoc, these two fish sealed the proverbial coffin as the swim died totally and the monster Roach will have to stay a mystery, I know they exist as Bri and I have seen them, 20-30 fish with the average being probably 1-2lb but a couple bucked that trend easily as I saw one that was getting on for 3lb!. I will be back for them.

 An absolutely fantastic day as was last weeks trip and many thanks Chris for the opportunity.

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 ...