Saturday 28 March 2015

Pastures New on the Canal.

 Seeing as the river's are now closed and the lakes still icy cold I really wanted to wet a line but my options were severely lacking so I decided to try somewhere that I have been meaning to go for a few years now, this decision was partly down to the successes of the lads on the Cut up in Coventry. Jeff and Danny have had scores of predators recently off of their canals so the Grand Union in Middlesex was my port of call.

The only Perch in the canal.

 Canals have rarely been a hit with me as most are featureless apart from the occasional lock and other places easily pull me away, today though I just packed my 8ft Rovex "Lure Pro" rod and a selection of lures and jigs, Richy joined me for a small walk which turned into a 9-mile march along some great looking water but my lures remained totally untouched throughout and many area's looked like they would be holding fish, blanking on a canal seems to be a curse that I find very hard to break, even where fish are present in good numbers I struggle.

A really cool place to fish, what looked like an abandoned boat building yard.

 I will return at some point as I do want to get rid of the proverbial monkey off my back, we did though see a Snake swimming on the surface and Kingfisher's hunting successfully, the canal may just be holding out on me for that special fish.

Standing above & below one of our greatest's Architect's work, Brunel. 

Wednesday 18 March 2015

A Mixed Bag of a Season.

Another fantastic season is firmly in the rear-view mirror but will be remembered for a number of memorable catches, rivers, lakes and streams. Every season that approaches I always promise myself more time on the bank and if you'd believe my partner I never leave it, well that's not true but close....we all have work don't we!

 So here's a brief rundown of the last 12 months:

 April was as always wasn't fished alot and when I did head out it was after Brown Trout on the fly and a Crucian trip to Surrey, best Cru' was at 1.13 and I had numerous Brownies to 4.6.

 May is usually a good month as the water in the lakes starts to warm up and a plethora of species decide to awake from their winter slumber, I broke my PB Perch on my first trip out on one of my lakes in the form of a 2.13 specimen, apart from that loads more Trout to around 4lb were taken on the fly as were plenty of Dace to 6-8oz plus a bonus Rudd. Also a few Carp to mid-doubles were taken but nothing spectacular.

Pb Perch....2.13

 June is always my favorite month as the weather is more consistent and the fish tend to respond to that, plus the river season is in sight, but my first half of the month saw a brace of good Tench including my current PB of 8lb 3oz and also a monster Brown Trout of 5.7 which will always be remembered for the brutal fight that it put up.

Totally brutal, best of the season.

My PB Tench, I hope to catch some more this spring too.

 July I'm normally away on holiday but last year we did it a little earlier so I was back for the beginning of the month and I was straight back into the Carp and as the river season opened so did some of my ticket waters, 3 double figure Bream including my PB of 11.4 were bagged, this was along with some Barbel, Chub, Carp to just under 20lb and a 14oz specimen sized Dace. Plus a very rare pair of Thames Sea Trout to 3.5 were taken (not home) whilst trotting for Roach.

 August was a great month for me as I made various trips around the country in search of different species and was successful in possibly all of them, Crucian's from Marsh Farm to 2lb 9oz, Carp up to 23lb, big Dace to 15oz, my first ever Grayling and chalk-stream Perch over 2 1/2 pound.

First ever Grayling.

 I usually love September for Roach and that was justified by the capture of two 2lb plus Roach (2.1 & 2.5) with a few more under 2lb, although it wasn't all easy going, a trip to the river Wye with Brian was organised and this was in search of the legendary Pike along with quality Perch too, both of which were captured, Pike to 14.12 & Perch to 2.8, a great 4 day trip and I was champing at the bit to get back, with a few more lake Perch nabbed out to 2.8 on the spinners.



River Wye Esox at 14.12

Defiant Wye Perch

Another quality stripey at 2.8.
 During October I fished the Royalty in Christchurch and only managed a few jack's, on the Thames I faired better with a brace of doubles to 15.1, also a few Barbel just under the magic double figure mark and lastly I headed over to Bury Hill in Dorking and banked myself a PB Zander of 4.7, not a monster by their standard's but I didn't care as it was a tough day indeed.

 November is usually a quiet month for me as work gets busier before the Christmas rush, this year I managed a decent amount of time out but it wasn't easy going, a few good Chub over 5lb were banked, good Barbel to 10.10 and lastly a trip to the Coventry canal where I blanked yet again but the journey up wasn't all about catching fish. 

5.5 skelly which was part of a brace of 5's.

Plenty of blank hours were suffered before this beauty of 10.10.
 In December the 5lb Chub were still coming out, the Avon at Britford was yet again very hard as a -3c night knocked the fishing on the head, some very good Gudgeon started to show aswell with plenty of the Gonks coming to Roach tactics, I visited some prime Grayling rivers hoping for a PB, I didn't wait long as I had them to 1.7 on my first attempt. Not just the wonderful are banked as the weird does also make an appearance, this time in the form of a chunky Goldfish.

 A turn of a new year and the Grayling kept coming to over a pound which included an improvement on my previous PB by 2oz, a few rivers were tried and bagged fish on all of them, during January it was only the Grayling that I targeted primarily but I did also catch a nice Roach of 1.11.

Stunning fish aren't they!

My favorite fish of all, not hard to see why.

 February was a great month for me as I found a few good shoals of Roach and also some brilliant Grayling, a 2lb fish was the target for both Grayling & Roach, the lady of the stream didn't take long to achieve, on trips before I saw 2lb plus specimen's this time it was on the bank and in fact 2 of them in 2 trips to 2lb 2oz, the Roach didn't reach that weight but weighing in at 1.8 it's not bad.

A good Roach.
2lb 0oz.
2lb 2oz my current PB.
My Dad with his new PB 1.14 after 30 years since setting his last.
 March doesn't last long as the river season cuts it in half, the month though was highlighted by a brilliant catch of Barbel with 7 caught in 5 hours to 11.13, great way to spend the morning, more Roach came to 1.9 and also a few more Gudgeon plus a nice spinner caught lake Perch of 2.2.

My last Roach of the season at 1.9.

Saturday 14 March 2015

Tough End to a Brilliant Season.

 The last three days of the season have now been fished and although there are just a few hours I'm done, a well earned rest for the river's will hopefully be observed by everyone (especially our cousins from foreign shores!), I'm already stocking up on endless kilo's of groundbait with a monster Bream assault planned for the spring but this time will be shared with a few trips for Rudd & Crucian Carp.

 Not getting ahead of myself though here's what happened between Thursday and Today:

 Thursday's fishing was solely for Roach and I had all the typical bait to get them feeding and keep them there, to cut a very long but boring story short the magnificent silver flanked redfin's totally ignored me all day, I had a feeling the condition's were all wrong and the river was too clear and from experience I know that is blanking territory, nevertheless I had made the effort to travel so I stuck to my guns and had 9 Chub to 3.5 to show for my efforts, not what I wanted but it saved a total blank.

 But I did witness something of a rarity in the form of a bat hunting in the daylight! the photo's came out brilliantly aswell.

Unbelievable, still can't believe I witnessed a bat hunting in the daylight.

 Friday Brian and myself made the journey to the worst place on earth ( I'm an Arsenal fan gives you a clue ), Walthamstow Reservior's is an enormous complex of water which is home to large heads of Carp but this wasn't the reason for our trip, it was for the less known stock of Pike, the Esox here do get large but the water to cover can be daunting even for the hardiest of angler's and with no boat's allowed everything is bank fishing. Upon arrival we both walked through the gate and what we know to be a Grouse was just standing there staring at us before she flew up and over the main road, I thought these only lived in Scotland yet we saw one clear as day in North London, I was very surprised to say the least.

 We both spent hours walking around the complex looking for fish and we were successful in finding some to 17-18lbs but these weren't on the feed, why?, well we was about to find out this as Brian latched into a lovely 11.12 Pike which was showing signs of spawning and a male following it in clarified this, the take, clean as you like and the fight as good, unfortunately for myself I blanked and it was a hard blank too, miles upon miles of walking different tactic's used I fished hard, just wasn't my day, maybe Saturday the Roach will play?.

 On to today and were the Roach playing?, I had a thought about heading down to Britford but I feared that it would be a circus and I refuse to queue behind someone to fish a swim or not have the ability to move swim if one drops dead, so having weighed up the pro's and con's it was decided against, so I hoped that my decision wouldn't go against me, I left late by my standard's and was fishing by around 10am, very late actually but last day of a very successful and enjoyable season there was no pressure for me to do anything but wanted to sign off the season with a nice Roach or just find some, times recently have been tough and I have had my fair share of blanks fishing for them.

Biggest of the day, not bad eh!

 It didn't take long to land one of roughly 6oz but the Gudgeon were feeding much better than the Roach as I spent around 4 hours trotting through a perfect gravel run where I know a shoal live and I was rewarded for my persistence as I slipped a mint conditioned Rutilus over the net and on the scales read 1.9 which was very pleasing, a further eight Roach were caught but none over 10oz and a healthy batch of Gudgeon to 2oz 6dr were also caught. I did leave that swim and headed down but after spending twenty in another pool I felt no urge to carry on and my day and in fact my season was complete, no 3lb Roach but it has been a brilliant season for me and a compilation of this season's best catches will go up over the coming days. I hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I did.

A plump winter chalk stream 1lb 9oz Roach. Pukka.

Sunset on a fine season, will next season be better, let's see.

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Try & Try Again.

 Yesterday evening after I finished work I had a couple of hours spare so a quick trip to the Thames was perfect, a brisk hunt through my parents garden for big lobworms and I was ready, the plan was to find some Perch but the only issue with that is the size of the river, pinning down a Perch isn't as easy as some may believe which is partly down to my lack of knowledge on certain stretches.

 I was looking to fish for a couple of hours and the float didn't stay still for pretty much the entire time as the ever hungry Bream wouldn't leave my bait alone and by the time I had called time a total of four Bream to 6lb 8oz came to the net but the Perch could not be found.

 So with that blank fresh from yesterday I grabbed a spinning rod as soon as I finished work and with about 30 min of daylight left I set about finding a Perch, instead of using worm's though I took my little 6ft lure rod for a spin, not something I do very well at in the cooler months but I had a good hit after ten minutes or so which was a good indication that fish were feeding, then it all went quiet and with time running out as the sun disappeared over the horizon my 7g Mepps silver spinner was smashed, in a mad rush to get the net unfolded and wet I nearly lost the Perch as it splashed about in front of me, thankfully it took the spinner well and wasn't going anywhere fast.

 Finally a Perch and a nice one at that, weighing in at 2lb 2oz.


Right on, a perfect specimen of a Perch. 2lb 2oz.

Sunday 8 March 2015

Red Letter Barbel Day.

 This season has been probably my best in regards quantity of big fish, although the Pike and Perch have eluded me thus far and with time quickly running out I don't suppose it will happen either so I will probably pick up where I left off next season. Barbel though have featured a fair amount this season and for good reasons too as they aren't the easiest fish to catch but the battles are impressive and I headed out recently to seek out some of these hard fighting fish.

The start of a bumper Barbel session.

 The conditions were absolutely perfect for fishing and it was clear that the fish were in an obliging mood to feed as well as on my second trot of the day produced a hard fighting Barbel of 4lb or so which was quickly followed up by a 5.5 torpedo, I was on the river by sunrise and by 7am I had already two Barbel gracing my net, a cracking start to the day and as the morning progressed it just got better and better , the fourth swim of the day threw up a sturdy Barbel of 6.3 which wasn't the largest in the swim but it remained very nervous I reckon that the biggest was around 9-10lb which would have been very nice to get connected with - but after sticking around for another 15 minutes it was time to move.

Stocky 6.3.
Another five-pounder.

 A change of beat was made but I kept to the winning tactics and was repaid with the move as on my third swim I latched into another feisty 5lb Barbel, finding the larger fish was proving hard as the smaller more average fish were first to everything although it was great fun on my 10ft match rod, but with most swims you couldn't tell what was in them as the depth was too much to see down to the bottom. I carried on downstream where I have had success before, it wasn't long for me to wait either as I finally had a take off of a larger Barbel which put up one hell of a fight and my right arm felt numb afterwards, it took me roughly five minutes to land this fish and it hung low for pretty much the entire fight, an attribute of a double figure fish and when it came up to the net I thought it was getting close to that weight.

8.9 but it fought hard like a double, plus a serious rudder to boot.

 That Barbel was a proper chunky fish but lacked the length to hit the magical weight, a perfect specimen for sure, but that was just for starters as I was to hook a Barbel that trumped the 8.9 by a country mile, my bait hit a crease upstream and just hung off of the main current as it made it's way downstream towards me then the bait just stopped with a tiny pluck on my finger-tip, that was all I needed as I was sure a fish had just picked up the bait, I bent into the fish and the rod hooped over double this was a big big fish for sure although in 6-7ft I couldn't see it, play it calm and not allow it too much leeway was what I wanted to do but it was far too powerful to dictate easily, 7 or 8 minutes passed by with only seeing the fish once I knew it was a very good fish and the time had come to slip the awaiting net underneath and with a struggle she was mine, a proper battle indeed.

Biggest of the season.

Spot on the money.

 On the mat she looked big and when lifting her out the river she felt big too, the scales did it justice at a weight of 11 lbs 13 ozs, I was happy as a pig in shit, a proper lump of a fine specimen and that certainly made my day and it was my sixth fish of the morning and by 11:30 I had the chance to catch my seventh as a nice gold flanked Barbel was holding current in mid-river, I could not say no to another scrap and on the second attempt the fish followed the bait downstream and awaited in it's path to pounce, great to see it all unfolding in front of your eyes in gin clear water, the result was a slender 7.6 Barbel which glistened gold in the spring sunshine. With that I was done, a fantastic days fishing which won't be forgotten in a hurry if I'm certain of one thing.

Weight's of the morning's catch: 4lb, 5lb 5oz, 6lb 3oz, 5lb 1oz, 8lb 9oz, 11lb 13oz, 7lb 6oz.

A total of 46lb 5oz of Barbel was my best total for a long time and won't be forgotten.

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 ...