Saturday 31 October 2015

Slightly Underwhelmed.

 For the past week I've been champing at the bit to get some Pike fishing done, so you could imagine the look upon my face when I arrived at my chosen destination to find it hammering through and tea brown, it was only a couple of days rain and the place was trashed, god damn it were uttered a few times. But myself and Brian didn't make the 4:30am journey down for nothing so we made the best of a bad situation.

Lively Esox.
 I pitched up in a couple of good looking spots and waited patiently for an enquiry, the winning formulae was a live Bleak which seemed to be in huge numbers and everywhere, the target this season is a 20lb plus Pike and here seemed one of my better chances to achieve this target but the stamp of fish caught today weren't going to trouble that but I was surely very grateful to accept the two Esox weighing both around the 7lb mark as the conditions were completely against us and would certainly hope the next time I visit the river isn't reminiscent of a dirty washing machine!.

Do like seeing Pheasant's.

Monday 26 October 2015

A Little Change of Quarry.

 Having targeted the canals pretty much with all my spare time or seeking a one pound plus Dace on our beautiful chalk-streams I have neglected arguably our best fighting fish "the Barbel" and having finished work earlyish today I fancied heading out with a bag of pellets and sit behind a rod.

 Fishing static is something I don't usually do but I felt that with the milder weather today settling in that the Barbel would be feeding and after an hour with only a couple of little pick-up's my rod lurched round to my left, fish typical fashion the fish gave a very good account of itself in the deeper water, as the fish got ahead of me I prepared the net and she was mine, at first it only looked around 5-6lbs but when I got it out the river she was clearly larger.

Exactly 7lb.
 So having released that little powerhouse I headed downstream with Stu who took a couple of snaps for me and set up in another swim where I thought I'd have a good chance in doubling up but after another hour or so I decided to call it a day. Nice to have caught a Barbel after more than a month since I last went out for them.

Friday 23 October 2015

Flashback: Fish of a Lifetime.

A winter Roach of specimen proportion's ( 2.02 ).
 Since capturing that 2lb 5oz specimen of a Roach the other day I spent quite a lot of time dwelling on what has been an amazing journey so far, large Roach are extremely rare as all of us angler's know, catching these majestic creatures is a difficult task at the best of times with years of wisdom behind them fooling these is seldom easy.

 Catching just one of these stunning creatures is considered a fish of a lifetime and I agree wholeheartedly, it is something I have been extremely lucky to have experienced many times during the years I have been fishing, winter's have usually bought the larger fish but summertime has been bountiful too.

 My passion for Roach fishing started when I was roughly 11 years old when I was stalking Carp with my father and spotted a shoal of Roach and Rudd basking in the summer sun, I turned my attention's to the redfin's and within 20 minutes I had caught a 1.05 Roach which was followed by a succession of Rudd to nearly 3lb but for the rarity of the monster Rudd it was the silver bar that captured my attention and has had that ever since. Trotting seems to have caught a mass majority of these special fish but a cold wet night on the Thames whilst fishing mashed bread on the cage feeder was the bearer of my largest of all, at one point I had no idea what it was and as the driving rain battered me from behind the memory from 10 years ago almost to the day will stay with me until the day I die, the headtorch revealed a monster Roach which is still my personal best to this day and when it spun the needle to 2.15 I urged it to hit 3lb but the sheer fact it didn't made no difference in the grand scheme of things.

 That Roach made a sodden journey home almost enjoyable, I remember getting home and showing my father my momento of what is my ultimate angling experience yet and he confirmed it to be a thoroughbred with no hint of Bream whatsoever, I knew that but having it confirmed just substantiated what was a supreme catch it was, not long after that I suffered a corrupt hard drive on my laptop which lost all my data including the photos of that magnificent Roach forever, for weeks after I tried everything to retrieve the photos but to no avail, gutted was the overriding emotion but I still had the memory of it and that can never be lost.

Another 2lb Roach ( 2.01)
What angling is about.

 Since then I have caught 2lb plus almost every season bar one and on one memorable trip I managed to catch a hattrick of 2lb Roach ( 2.2, 2.3 & 2,7 ), it's something I've never done before and never since and all that in just over an hour, when it happens! I remember catching the first and before I could take stock I had 3 in the keepnet, a proper mind blowing experience. Since that personally historic catch I have gone on to catch an average of 2-3 two plus Roach each season and I have put in some serious hours but for what I have got out I feel I've done well.

The largest of that trip at 2.07.

Two of the three 2lb plus Redfin's I had on that crazy day.

Waking up on a crisp winter's morning with the chance of another large Roach is just too much to ignore and often find myself out on the river bank targeting Roach even if the condition's dictate that it may not be ideal, I have managed a few large Roach in condition's that may not have been favorable, one of these trips was on a small chalk stream and remember distinctly turning up and the fishing was electric from the beginning, a number of Roach were taken most of which were high 1's and topped off by a 2lb 1oz specimen, the Roach were feeding ravenously in 32c heat the humidity was even worse as the wind just wasn't blowing. That trip was immense as it was Roach after Roach after Roach all of which fell to tiny flakes of bread fished on a far-bank crease, bread flake being the best of the best in regards to a bait which sorts out the "men from the boys" so to speak.

A bag of real corker's.
 On other occasions I have gone out almost expecting to catch Roach in so called "perfect conditions" and came home empty handed, I have learnt at the expense of many hours of my life already that anytime is the right time, just a case of when but I will always maintain that location is 75% of the battle and once this has been worked out it is just a matter of time. With two 2's already this season I have high hopes for another one at some point this Winter. Tight Lines.

2.03 my first this season.
2.05 my most recent beauty.

My canal PB, at 1.15 she was oh so close to a 2lber but makes it here.
Summertime madness, 2lb 3oz.
A stunning 2.06 redfin also during winter.
A plump 2.05 Roach during winter.

Saturday 17 October 2015

Autumn Chub and Large Roach.

 This season feels like it has raced by so far, we are already in mid-October which is crazy to think but in that time I have managed some cracking fish and today was no different but I will get to that later. The session was planned to trot for Chub in the morning from dawn and then switch over to Dace and Roach from around midday onwards, that was the plan anyway.

 When I arrived at the river it was clearly very low and virtually no colour to it, I knew things would be pretty tough so I set about getting prepared and deciding whether trotting was a good idea or to find a likely looking hold-up and draw them slightly up to my hook-bait, needless to say in my "ants in the pants" nature I opted to angle the float through likely areas, first cast and the float buried itself confidently, a decent Chub of around 3 1/2lb dived for whatever it could but ultimately failed as I mugged it with the net and I was on the way. It wasn't long after that that I had a strange couple of bites on consecutive trots and certainly weren't Chub, so I bulked down the shot and held back the float to slow it down as it approached the spot where the last two bites came from, the float gently pulled down and held there, I waited a couple of seconds then struck into what turned out to be an Eel and a pretty decent one at that, what was even better was that it was lip-hooked and well behaved too, so much so it even posed for a photo or fifteen (squirmy sod), jokes aside I've never caught such a well mannered wriggley.

2.12 Eel, best of the season, biggest off a river in years.
 Quick starts are usually though a bad omen and today proved why I don't particularly like catching or hooking up, I like to get a swim going before tapping into the stocks as they tend to be easier to put off if plundered quickly, if the swim is built up I tend to find that they (any species) will tolerate a little more disturbance, as I said my theory was proved right as the swim died off and forced to move.

 A little over 3 hours and had finally got a swim going and managed to get them feeding confidently as I took five Chub out in the space of 20-25 minutes with the best going 4.14, not monsters but good scrappers in the very snaggy inside edge, upon arrival at the swim where I was catching I spotted a sizeable fish that I put at around 6lb maybe a little more but failed to show itself again after I began to catch, a shame but I know they do exist and this was evidence of that.

Good bag of Chub for the condition's.
Best at 4.14, not quite five but a decent fish all the same.
The best two.
 Bites dried up again and called it time on the Skelly front and time for some more trotting but in less likely swims that Chub will lurk around, a decent depression in between two runs of weed was the target, the river was so clear you could see everything but the fish, it looked my best option for quite some distance and I felt that if I stuck to the task that it may come good, my first run through and a seriously huge Brown Trout cleared the water by something like 2 foot and when it hit the surface of the water it sounded like a depth charge this fish was easily 7-8lb, a proper monster.

Another big Dace, the largest decided to escape the keepnet!.
 Once that had happened I thought that would be it, but the bites came from the off and small Chub kept on coming with the occasional Dace thrown in the mix, then after maybe an hour of trotting a big Dace hit the single caster as it tore through my swim, easily over 10oz and was pretty long with some space to fill out come the cooler months, then that was followed by another and another, each over 8oz comfortably and the largest weighing just a tiny bit under 12oz this season I can't seem to go wrong with the Dace then it happened, the float sailed away albeit fairly tentatively at first and then an explosion of power was unleashed as the rod slammed over and whatever had taken the caster/maggot sandwich stormed off to avoid capture, it was very good whatever it was, strong and kept diving for the weed runs, usually what Roach do but I couldn't see it properly then through the polariod's I swore I could make out a red dorsal fin, slightly easing the rod upwards to put a bit more tension on the fish came up in the water and no doubt it was a Roach and bloody good one too, the next few minutes went by so slowly, easing up the flow towards the net wasn't easy either but I managed it in the end, time to get the heart rate down. Another large Roach in not such favourable condition's, just goes to show they feed when not many expect them to.

A spectacular specimen of 2lb 5oz. Very happy.
Truly magical.
 I tried the swim again to see if any more were about in the swim but I struggled for bites full stop and after half an hour I called it a day, photographed my prize and released her back to the river to battle another day, I swear I never thought I would have got to the milestone of 25 Roach over the 2lb bracket but I have and I believe that there are still some surprises to come in what I hope is a bountiful angling career and with everyone one of these special creatures captured the elation and appreciation feels stronger than ever, perfect.

Sunday 11 October 2015

Big Dace in a Wild Place Part Three.

 The morning's started off very different to what it ended up as, a dawn session on the canals was the plan and the Bream/Carp were the target, my last trip to the canal resulted in a monster Roach-Bream Hybrid being banked and a new personal best to boot, I'm certainly not going to expect catches of that magnitude every time I come down but it's hard not to imagine just what the next session could yield. Expectant? No, on waters like these it's not even possible to be naive or blaise, the stocks are so low for most species so multiple catches are highly unlikely but not impossible.

 Having talked up morning trip now it turned out to be a dead rubber unfortunately as the Canadian pond weed was so thick I couldn't see through the water, so the stalking trip didn't turn up trumps and the boats started early at around 7am which didn't help matters, by 9.30 I called quits on it and decided to head out of London in search of Dace. It took me just over an hour to get to the river and get myself set up, the first swim I chose looked spot on a the river was carrying a fair amount of colour, so much so that I couldn't see the bottom in a swim that was roughly 2 foot deep, perfect I thought to myself and after feeding some maggots through the run on the far bank crease, with success being instant, first cast and a small Chub charged through the swim, not a big one but they do have a bad habit of ruining swims.

 It didn't take long to catch my first Dace and was a very good fish as it squirmed upstream towards the awaiting net, I could clearly see it was a very good and as it crept over the lip of the net I knew it was a weighing job, my trusty M&S bag was put to good use.

My largest of the season at 14oz 01dr.
  Just the size I wanted too as I know pound plus fish exist and this specimen wasn't far off of that magical size, it wasn't the only one either as I consistently caught for nearly two hours a mixture of Dace, Chub and a very rare Rudd which was in beautiful condition at around 6oz. I did manage a couple of really good Dace after the largest aswell which went ( 12oz 6dr - 12oz 3dr ), very pleasing sizes and as winter is starting to come on nicely the fish are starting to fill out, the larger Dace were noticeably chunkier as they have started to pile on the weight in prep for the colder months.

Looking good, but was clearing all the time.
 By the time I upped sticks and moved I had had 23 Dace which was my best haul yet this season, a good old walk down stream to a couple of known spots proved to produce a few more fish and one of these was another wild river Rudd of around 4oz, I don't think I could stress just how few of these exist here but it's great to see them and who knows if they will grow to 2lb plus, the addition of a couple of wild Brown Trout par was also great to see, just proves that they can overcome so many hurdles to establish themselves.

 But those fish weren't the only ones to come to the net as I stumbled over a couple of Carp searching for the plug in the riverbed, on 4lb line and a float rod I thought that it may not be one of my brightest moments seeing how snaggy the swim was but I gave it a whirl anyhow and after 10 minutes of angling a 10lb 1oz Ghost Carp lay up on the mat, happy days.......snags and 4lb line is no excuse for not trying but the other Carp with it was twice as big as I estimate it to go around the 22lb mark. Another good trip out and can't wait to give them another crack.

A chunky river Carp, but can't help to think it's a castaway.

Monday 5 October 2015

Monster Canal Hybrid.

 Yesterday morning I set about doing some lure fishing on my local canals in search of preds, I left the house before sunrise to try and locate some fish before the sun got high and put them down into the water column, Pike were the main target along with the chance of Perch and Zander but I wasn't holding my breath for the latter two species.

 I had a decent selection of divers and jigs to use with my new addition of the Savage Gear 3D rainbow trout (20cm) version which by the way look bloody amazing in action and after lobbing it around for a dozen casts I was amazed that I didn't even get a follow. I spent a fair amount of time pumping lures around and had my first follow off of a Pike of around 6lb, it followed the lure almost the whole way in but I ran out of water when it turned away back out into the track.

 It had been a lot of casting about to get a follow and for it to turn away was a little annoying.

 Further on up I did get a hit on a little fire-tiger Rapala and at first I thought it was a Perch but very quickly in the clear water the culprit was revealed in the shape of an extremely small Pike, now this is certainly the smallest Esox I've ever caught, probably weighed 6-8oz and true perfection in miniature.

 That little surprise released back to hopefully grow to a leviathan that I'll one day find again I continued my wander on up, the lure fishing didn't yield anymore hits so a quick walk back down a few hundred yards to where I spotted another shoal of Bream. A change over to my canal peacock quill float and a little dumbbell of bread was in order, a perfect cast amongst them was totally ignored but I cast and cast again until I got a knock, when I did after nearly half an hour the peacock float cocked and vanished from sight, fish on and immediately I didn't think it was a Bream as it fought very well and even stripped line twice during the fight, whatever it was though stayed deep for a while which added to the excitement as to what it could be then a very large silver flank revealed itself under the surface, a Roach of epic proportions?? Or a Hybrid?, both of which I've never seen or caught on this canal in particular.

 As she approached the net it got bigger and bigger, I couldn't get it in quick enough as this was just too big to risk losing, seconds later she crept into the net and rested up as I prepared the camera and scales, now this looked massive and weighed more than I thought, a house brick came to mind as it was packed to rafters but was a proper warrior of a fish, upon laying it on the mat I identified it as a Roach/Bream Hybrid and it had 4.13 to beat to top my PB, she did it at a canter, in the sling it went 5.09 and after deducted the sling the final weight was 5lb 1oz. Wow, this canal just keeps giving and not to mention another (68) points in the Blogger's Challenge. In the grand scheme of things a 7lb Bream isn't massive but for a canal that's very big, a mid-twenty pound Mirror Carp is also a big fish anywhere, so for this R/B Hybrid to have also been caught it just makes me wonder what else is in here and that's excluding the 3 Crucian Carp I spotted on my very trip down this season. Blow away by that fish and it was certainly old as it took a fair amount of time to recover before sinking back into the seamingly baron waterway.
My leviathan canal R/B hybrid of 5.1 and a new PB to boot!
A 30" Pike net healthily taken up by this awesome specimen.

Saturday 3 October 2015

48 Hours For Pike, Grayling, Chub, Trout,.....

 October has come and my attentions have now turned for a little while on to the Pike, I will this season make a concerted effort to catch a 20lb specimen and with plenty of knowledge now I hope that this will put me in a better position to capture my target. I kick started my Pike season on the Royalty and needless to say that the weather was certainly not what you expect at the beginning of October, 24c unabated sunshine, it felt like I was in an oven wearing my jeans and top, it's no wonder why the Pike weren't really on it, a few came out over the fishery but these all came out early morning before the sun started beating down.

 I was joined by Brian for a bumper Pike trip, only problem was the bumper session didn't really materialize and we ended up struggling for hours to get knocks and interest, Brian managed a Pike of roughly 8lb and although not massive it was a welcome sight for sore eyes, the day seemed to fly past as I switched over to the trotting gear and armed with a couple of pints of maggots I aimed at bagging up on Chub, plenty were showing at the bottom of the railway pool and at first were very obliging as a constant flow of fish came to the net which seemed to average around 2lb, at the tail of the pool I spotted my target of the shoal, a Chub way over 6lb and probably a 7lber as the sheer size of it in comparison to everything was immense, clearly a big fish but had the knowledge to match as she wasn't even interested, how that would have changed the tone of the day.

Captured among the shoal of Chub.
Too many of these.
 As evening approached we headed to our first choice swim and got our baits out in position, it didn't take long as the sun began to fail my float disappeared and I was connected to what at first I thought was a Perch but turned out to be the smallest Pike I've ever caught, cute....if a Pike can be called that.

 Next cast the float went under again and another Pike of roughly 3-4lb thrashed around before being netted, it was kicking off but nothing big though, slipped that one back and the float stayed motionless for around 20 seconds and then it was gone again.....thought why couldn't it be like this all day!!, a better fish tore off and hung deep, this fish was no jack and she came up to the surface after a few minutes and tail walked twice before charging into a weed bed and went solid, after prodding the weed bed to try and release the Pike, a fish of 13-14lb broke free and shook the rig out releasing the end tackle and float, such a shame to have lost that fish, I really would have been happy with that, that's for sure.

Micro Pike.


Slightly better but not massive.
 A few choice words and turning the air blue I thought let's get another bait and again "normal" service resumed as the float lay flat on the surface then tore off out into the bay, not a double but a fish of 7lb 8oz is not terrible, just have no luck really in catching bigger fish, so frustrating. After fish the Pike switched off totally and the feeding frenzy was over, we packed up on time and headed off to the pub for a couple and a Pizza. Happy days and all it missed was a 20lb Pike!.

Magical times....
 Friday now and from the Royalty we headed to the Test in search of more chalk-stream Pike, a beautiful crisp morning was followed by a very warm blast of summer sunshine, I thought it was going to be tough from the get go and I wasn't to be wrong as Brian and I slaughtered the river with a selection of lures and we had no joy at all. With this going pear shaped at around 10am I decided to switch over to trotting and locate some Grayling, the trotter in me could simply not resist the opportunity to catch these stunning fish, so I found a shoal and spent the next 5 hours working my way through them and I had alot better success than I did with the Pike.

 I ended the session on 22 Grayling to 1lb 10oz and ten over a pound which was fantastic, the shoal kept me there longer than I thought it would as I kept seeing this Grayling that I suspect weighed around 2.4-2.8, a certain personal best but she kept appearing then disappearing, that elusiveness had me transfixed and determined to catch her, needless to say by 3pm I hadn't managed to but at least one good fish is still around, a few Brown and Rainbow Trout fell to my single maggot approach too.

Best of the day at 1lb 10oz.

A lovely brace of mid-1's.
 The evening wasn't too far away so we decided to start preparing for the Pike and found a fantastic looking slack and we set our traps, filled with optimism we sat glued to our rods but unfortunately the only take came to Brian's rod as a Rainbow Trout took a liking to his Sprat hook-bait, a shame but the day was spent in lovely part of the world and I had a fantastic day for the Grayling.

Canal Slabs. Imposter.

 To say that I have a certain drive to catch these elusive canal Bream in an understatement, witnessing double figure canal Bream is something not many people can say they have done, but for me seeing them is great as this means location is taken care of but I want to go one better and put one the bank.

A shot from another trip in the morning, so peaceful.
Autumn settling in nicely.
 The last time I went down was last Sunday, instead of a morning session I opted to head down mid-afternoon I suspected the fish would be in the upper layers of the water and upon arrival I spotted a few Bream basking but they were right out on the far-side of the canal which on the float was impossible to reach with the wind blowing roughly 15mph at times and at the wrong angle, I decided to move on and search out something else. The Bream were proving hard to locate and I only had an hour or so to fish I needed to find something if I was to not blank for a third time on the spin.

 Well when the Bream aren't playing ball there's always Carp I suppose, a lovely mid-double Common was rooting through the bottom under a narrow boat close to me so a quick change of depth on the float I flicked out a big lump of bread ahead of it and allowed it slowly sink, the Carp reacted immediately and came up off the bottom to suck it in first time of asking, how I love unpressured waters where you can do this, yes the Bream are tough but I suspect this isn't through being targeted by hoards of anglers.

 The Carp on the other end gave me a very very good battle on 5lb line, the fight lasted maybe 10 minutes before I got the opportunity to land her, once banked I put a number to her of 15lb 13oz which was very pleasing and my third largest canal Carp. Nice.

 The time it took to find the fish, play, land and photograph the Carp had consumed all of my time and I had to get myself out, another success on my local canal.

8 Years in the Making.

   So we find ourselves finally able to get back on the rivers and thank god for it too. I don't mind stillwaters and canals now and aga...