Monday 31 October 2016

Through the Lens, Carp.

 Carp, a species that is probably as prolific as flies, everywhere I have fished across this country seems to have them in. Rivers, Canals, Drains, Lakes and Reservoir's, they're everywhere. Arguably the most cunning but obliging species on their day, I have been partial to targeting Carp for over twenty years, much of that was targeting a couple of local lakes where they grew to over 30lb, by the age of 6 my personal best was in excess of 25lbs, a serious fish but I had my father to thank for that, specimen angling was very much blooded into me before I started secondary school.

Stalking Carp in lakes when this picturesque can be a welcome distraction.

Releasing a mid-thirty.

 I can't say that I was disappointed in being taught to fine tune watercraft and sharpen my ability to catch the most smartest of fish whatever the species, whatever the condition. Summer was spent stalking large scaled Carp, the tactic is still one I use today......the one and only free-lined breadflake, the cost of 40p and it gave me enough bait to last me a week, perfect bait at a perfect price for a child, there would be times in the summer that I'd leave the house under darkness in preparation for sunrise where I could stalk the marauding fish, 4am in the morning and I would be twenty/thirty foot up a tree watching every move my targets were making and after working out what they were doing and where they fed it was time to get amongst them. At times it was very easy, I remember one morning when I believe I was 9 years old I had a quadruple of mid-upper 20's, the largest tipping the scales at 28lb 10oz, my father couldn't believe it but when the going was good a foot could hardly be put wrong.

A lovely 22+
 Winter only meant that the fishing was slightly harder, a bit colder and shorter days. Catching was never a problem except for the odd occasion, there were times when I experienced blank sessions, those blanks only served as a reminder that I can't always catch, regardless of how much I thought I could. Sometimes conditions made fishing difficult but it can never be an excuse to not catch, it simply made want to find a way to still be successful, to tell the truth I found it easy at times. 

I needed all my Weetabix that morning.

 I think the reasons behind me not fishing so much for Carp now is that I fished so heavily for them as a youngster, the only times now that I fish for them is purely spontaneous, whether it be on a river or canal, lakes personally just don't offer enough of a challenge but that is just me, I'm sure that there are many big lakes in England that are rock-hard to fish and to nail just a handful in a season is often the case. For me though the thrill of stalking them on a canal or river is right up my street, clarity is often the deal breaker, gin clear water often puts anglers off, for me it gives me added stalking ability and location on a waterway like the Grand Union is paramount as Carp are extremely nomadic and a shoal may consist of 3-7 fish then nothing for miles before you'd stumble over another pod, that for me is fishing for Carp at it's best.

35.8, brutus.

 This season has only seen a few trips committed to just Carp and managed a stunning river Common Carp of 25lb 6oz, the canal Carp have thus far avoided me, having found a small shoal approaching the mid thirty pound mark it was the sort of Carp I've been searching for but I simply couldn't get them to commit, the largest was a huge Mirror that I estimate to be 34-36lb, a huge frame and one that I really wanted to catch, unfortunately over the course of five trips throughout July I didn't manage any of them, maybe next summer.

A cracking Thames mid-twenty, stalked on breadflake.

 Going back to the days when I fished for them I found most tactics worked but stalking was by far the most successful and I have caught a few thirty pound plus Carp using the tactic, actually all my thirty plus Carp have come to free-line bread or dog biscuit. Great times and maybe at some point in the future I may rediscover my love for Carp fishing but if I were to it would only be stalking trips on canals and rivers, the lake Carp scene I can't deal with, I personally feel more at home, actively hunting rather than lying in wait. Who knows, maybe one day I will my angling philosophy may take a slight detour.

Jungle warfare Carping.

Sunday 30 October 2016

Pleasure Fishing with the Mrs.

 The last week has been very hectic with work and trying to find time to do some Barbel fishing after work had been impossible, so much so that I only looked forward to the Saturday to see where I could go to get my fix before another very busy week starts. I thought I'd swing an idea past the Mrs and she was more than happy to join me on what is a probably the prettiest setting an angler could find him or herself in this country. Diminutive but home to some truly special fish, but today as I was out with Lucie, my partner of nearly 10 years the intensity level of today's fishing was dumbed down.

 It has been kind to me over the last few years, good Grayling over two-pounds, Roach touching the magical mark and ample Trout to fill a larder thousands of times over, sometimes they can be a nuisance but on an occasion like this where anything will do, the Grayling however were our main target. As we both walked the bank with a rod between us and both donning a spiffing pair of polaroid glasses the Grayling were visible on the vast gravel beds and it didn't take long for Lucie to latch into a decent fish, unfortunately a Brown Trout intercepted the grain of corn before the Grayling could.

 A healthy spotty made the Mrs work hard as it stripped yards of line off the spool on a couple of occasions, not quite the power of a 60lb Mekong (which was her last fish) but in a river like this it made use of all the space it had, great stuff.

  We planned to only fish a few hours, or whenever the significant other became bored with proceedings, much to my surprise that didn't happen, we happily fished numerous straights, bends and pools which provided some lovely sport, I even came across two separate shoals of Roach both of which comprised of huge specimens approaching the 3lb mark, the average weight appeared to be low two's to high two's, as much as I tried though their sizes were to remain mere guesses, out of maybe forty Roach I managed one of the smallest around a pound.

 Yesterday was a day of strange going's on, the weirdest has to be the capture of a pound plus Grayling caught fair and square in the gob on a 4g spinner which was intended for a Perch or Pike, something I couldn't believe as it charged at the gold spinner with complete focus, amazed was the initial feeling then perplexed that a Grayling would be attracted to something like a spinner. All in all it was a lovely few hours fishing in stunning surroundings and shorty enjoyed it too which was most important. Dare I say it but she may one day fancy another trip out......I may soon find myself dusting off the clubs.

My best of the day, with some serious dorsal fin.

Lucie's first Grayling.

Stunning Brownie

Otter damaged Rainbow, fought like stink.

Blondie's PB Brown Trout of nearly four pound.

Young Pike, certainly knew what to do to evade capture, this time it failed.

Saturday 22 October 2016

Through the Lens, Barbel.

A recent shot of me trotting for Barbel and Chub.
Barbel are simply stunning creatures. (12.6)
 This particular post is looking back at some of the great times in my Barbel fishing. The countless hours spent searching for them as a species has taken me to some special places, with a few of the areas I had fished a certain amount of judgement as been needed. After hanging from branches peering into the water at double figure Barbel weaving in and out of the weed I have put myself in some very precarious situations but the end product has almost always been worth it, even if I have fallen in a couple of times.

Floodwater double.
 Over the years I've fished most of the rivers in the southern half of England for Barbel and various other species, I feel that nobody could argue that the River Avon is by far the very best. That has to be my favourite but many come close for different reasons. So here are a few shots of Barbel and some lovely looking spots, the fight's always remind me of why I continue to spend time searching for them, a few blank sessions are inevitable but certainly worth it when the rewards are so great.

My personal best Barbel, of 14.06.
My personal best revived and back home.
Vantage points are ideal for spotting feeding Barbel.
Double figure Barbel carefully released after a great scrap in freezing conditions.
Amazing looking waters flow through the Avon Valley.
Just resting up, one of eight from that morning's fishing.
A good double that was spotted from a tree, one that didn't manage to get caught.
A perfect specimen from last season.
One in tow and not giving up.
Barbel on the float are great sport.

Sunday 16 October 2016

Dawn on the River for Barbel.

 It's been a while since I last fished for Barbel during the early hours of the morning, years gone by it was something I did very often with high levels of success, since my work patterns changed and on the road by 645-7am those session's are but a memory. Today however I had no concrete plans and after hitting my snooze button numerous times I finally crawled out of my pit around 5:30am. A welcome lye-in :).  Lye in's are a rare feature in my life!.

I love being up before sunrise, absolute magic.

So tranquil, non-anglers will just never know.

 As I left the house I thought "Barbel should be a good shout", so Barbel it was, I had a few areas in mind all within a mile and half of each other which would make locating hopefully easier as I'd spend more time searching each swim more thoroughly, one unfortunate problem with that is where the river hasn't dropped in temperature much and the rains haven't affected the river much has meant that the weed growth is still present in vast runs, areas in which the Barbel can hide very efficiently, even though I know roughly where they're it still presents a hurdle.

 So having decided on all those factors all I had to work out was which bait shall I trot, I thought meat but to mix it up a little, bread was to be the order of the day, it's extremely underrated bait for Barbel and I proved that within three trots, the first two with no response, the third was met by a violent lurch of the rod tip as my float vanished below the surface, I had no need to strike as it was clear contact was made, the battle I was locked into was very strong and with 7ft of water to bear down on it made life fairly tough with my 12ft float rod creaking like a dead tree in the wind, fairly tough it may have been but equally enjoyable as those are the battles that I seek to encounter when I close the front door behind me whenever I go fishing.

The suspense is almost tangible at times.
 The frame was decent, a good heavy fish and after a good six, seven minutes she finally started to tire but the fight was by no means over, twice as I thought the battle maybe over she made a dive back for the river bed, so much was the power of the fight I had hesitations for once with my tackle selection, just this once had I really gone too light? After a tense couple more minutes my net was slipped out in haste and my prize was safe. What was surely a double figure specimen I wanted to get it weighed, photographed and returned as soon as possible. For what I thought was a certain double turned out to be 9.15, to say the least I was quite surprised as it felt pretty heavy but the scales don't lie, great start to the morning though.

An honest man's double.
 With the pressure off early doors to catch I went about my business, peering into every nook and cranny to winkle out another Barbel, the river was painfully low and clear but that benefited my tactic, any decent runs were likely to hold fish and I'd be able to run a bait straight to them. It took a while though to tempt another fish, a short run which tailed off into 6 inches of water held a nice Barbel which looked around 6½-7 pounds, once I spotted that fish I positioned myself at the very top of the run and trotted down, first trot and the float slipped straight away and a feisty Chub beat the Barbel to it, not big either at maybe 2lb. The appetite of the Chevin can not be put down, simply insatiable sometimes. But I didn't wait long for another Barbel, the very next trot through after the Chub I was away again, a solid fight of finished off with a strong dive for the bottom in typical fashion. 6½ was the outcome and very welcome too.

 By this point, 2 hours in, proceedings were looking good and after a couple of swims which didn't live up to expectation I found a good shoal of Barbel but they were in such a spot that it was impossible to land anything even if I could reach them, the nearest spot was on a blind bend upstream which was of no hope. I had to continue on up but as much as I tried to get another on the bank all I could manage was another Chub around the 4lb mark. It wasn't a bad trip but had to curtail it after learning some potentially very bad news so that was that. 

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Snippet's of Time and a Few Barbel.

 With the weekend over the short sessions after work have begun again. Investing a little time in pre-baiting the fishing hasn't been easy but having not blanked for a few sessions I seem to be idling, the bigger fish just don't seem to be feeding much at the moment, so as the night's draw in and the temperature drops I feel that it won't be long at all.

Another trotted Barbel for the camera.

Poser of a Barbel between 5&6lb.

Looking upstream to some quality trotting grounds.

My little arsenal.

Tuesday 11 October 2016

In Search of Monster Chub: Part Five.

 Having just celebrated my 29th birthday and taking a step closer to entering my thirties I had a brief look back at what I had achieved angling wise, pleased to say I am beyond satisfied at how well I have done. The one species that stands out though guessed it. Chub. Apart from a mad half hour on the Thames a few years back where I accidentally caught two 6lb plus Chevins it is a species that I personally feel haven't really had a fair crack of the whip and only this season have I actually set about really trying to better what is not a bogie species, just one that I haven't spent a meaningful amount of angling time on targeting.

 Having said that, over the years I have caught plenty with a handful every season surpassing the "five pound mark" but never really targeting waters where "sixes" are not commonplace but achievable. The Stour is the only river that over the last 40-50 years has consistently mesmerised the angling world at it's ability to produce special fish at special weight's. Over the last 12 months alone an angler I know by the name of Robert Young has taken the Chub world by storm by banking an 8.10 Chub from the river amongst a serious back-up of "6 & 7lb" specimen's, the uncanny knack and sheer ability to catch such creatures had made my appetite just that little more staunch, even if they are hard to locate and catch the challenge is there. Over the last two months I have to say I'm enjoying it thoroughly even if I am being made to wait to really unlock the true potential that I know only to well it's capable of.

 Time to get back.....

 Sunday morning, bright and early, pretty chilly and the sun still a couple of hours from breaking the horizon and I'd already met the Piking Pirate, loaded up, on the road and heading out to resume our challenge. Whilst secretly waiting for the weather to provide some slightly more conducive "big Chub" conditions the stalking aspect that we have both adopted is great fun, I can only hope at times during the winter we will get this opportunity still as it's a hell of a blast, nothing gets the adrenaline pumping more....first cast, what would it yield? well the answer was a 4lb 14oz Chub, the bait fluttered through the water column and settled on the bottom, with a slight twitch it moved down the run and the line pulled taught and I was in! great start. But as is so often the case, you have to get it right every time as opportunities seldom coming by so effortlessly, Sunday certainly didn't threaten to buck that trend.

A good start.
 The initial excitement of a wet net within two or three minutes of arriving on the bank is brilliant, I know for a fact it's usually the precursor to a tough day and my logic was to be re-enforced as I went through large swathes of the day just searching for fish!. Once I had conceded that the Chub had switched off I targeted a perfect run along a far bank, just the perfect lye for hungry fish, Barbel, Chub and Roach alike. A few trots through appeared to show very little activity when out of the blue, the aforementioned Roach made a welcome appearance, of ¾lb or so it was magnificent, not big but perfect in form, not a mark on it and it didn't take long for more of it's bretherin to nail the breadflake. Indication's became thick and fast as the Roach and Dace really started to feed confidently, it seemed the more I caught from the shoal the harder they fed but the swim was missing something. Chub.

One amazing looking trot!
 For all the bait that filtered through the run and along the crease I'd have thought at least a Chub would have slipped up, many permutations were running through my mind why they weren't at the races but nothing I could think seemed to work. Everything rested on dusk. Dusk came and my chosen swim looked the business, everything an angler could conjure in a Chub filled dream, the swim that if you were asked, "what would your'e perfect Chub swim look like" and asked to draw it I imagine it would be my dusk swim. Time passed and the sun had disappeared, the Kingfisher's calls ceased and the steady roll of the ever present Otter broke the sheen on the surface as the moonlight set the scene for a beautiful night, "I do love fishing on a clear night", just magical, it was so serine that my inability to catch another Chub almost didn't tally. My time will come and boy when it does, you'll know! Until next time, tight lines and remember it's not the be all and end all to catch...on the odd occasion.

Buzzard keeping a close eye on proceedings
Dusk weather system moving in.
Peaceful evening on the bank...beautiful.

Monday 3 October 2016

It's Been a Good Season so Far.

 From Barbel surpassing double figures to double figure Canal Bream it's been pretty good sport for the time I have managed on the banks, here is a little collage of images since June.

Best fly caught Chub (PB) of 4.10

New PB Bream of 11.07

A nice reservoir Mirror.
My target achieved! A canal double of 10.01.

This chunky river mid-twenty (25.03)

Fenland Rudd are just cracking creatures.

A wet and wild day in the boat, 2.04.

Summer Chub 5.11.

Season best of 2.06, simply stunning creatures.

Stour Chub of 5.10, not too bad.

My first ever Grass Carp, caught in Holland.

My second Asp at 4 ½lb

A huge summer Dace of 13½oz.

Season's best Chub in my campaign of 6lb 1oz.

Quality Barbel also making a welcome appearance during some short sessions.

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 ...