Tuesday 22 November 2016

Coffee Club Chub.

 When it rains and the colour is that of a cup of tea with hardly any milk there's usually only one species of fish you can rely on targeting, the Chub. Chub have a very good sense of smell but when targeting them using bread flake you'd expect fishing to be hard but once the fish are located they seldom stay anonymous for long. This session was only a short one and large Chub (6lb+) are extremely unlikely, but for the time spare a longer journey wasn't a possibility so I made do with some trotting in less than ideal conditions.

 I arrived at the river I had in mind to find it firmly in flood, I thought to myself that it would be tough, if the Roach were feeding I'd find them in the slacks and on the creases as the main flow would just be too much for them to constantly hang in, I did initially plan to ledger breadflake in the margins as a 4oz lead/feeder wouldn't hold in the flow but in the end I opted to use a 7BB wire-stem float and fished it over depth around 6-8 inches. For a good half an hour I had one little knock on the float but it didn't materialise further.

 Then I had a little brain wave, this was to bulk my shot all down around 3inch from the hook, then moved the float back to around full depth, effectively I was rolling breadflake and using the float as indication as normal, a few trots in and the float sailed away, fish on! and in these conditions I suspected I wouldn't get many enquiries so I had to make them all count. First blood was a 4.01 Chub, this was followed by another three fish within a 45 minute window, the remaining three went 4.03, 4.06 & 4.13. No fives this time around but they are there, one of the Chub I caught was exactly 22 inches in length and only weighed 4.03, that fish in the Stour with that length would probably go 5½lb and maybe even more, problem with some of these bits are the head of fish is vast and the food I suspect isn't enough to sustain the population, whichever it is I know it isn't right.

Best of the short trip, 4.13.

 I caught though and that was the only wish for such a short session, next up is either a bash at some Barbel closer to home or a nice jaunt to my big Chub fishing grounds. 

Sunday 20 November 2016

Through the Lens: The Fens "Ruddy Great Sport".

Pukka fish aren't they!
 Rudd. One of the country's prettiest species, in my opinion they only rank behind the Tench, Grayling and my favourite species, the Roach. Catching them on the Fens was at first bit of challenge as the concept of fishing from a boat posed a few more thing's to think about, flying hook in the side, falling out of the boat in excitement and the possible action of my crew-mate pushing me in should I have caught a monster. As it transpired the real monsters over the course of the summer had decided that just showing themselves was enough for this season, baby steps for me then. Thankfully the act of mutiny did not take place.

 With the baby steps I managed six Rudd over 2lbs with my best at 2.06, conditions more often than not were not ideal for free-lining or float fishing, but when a 190 mile round trip is made no matter what was thrown at me I stayed and fished, sometimes cursing my luck but it did pay off at times. For all the hours I put into it over the summer there was probably 3-5 hours of perfect weather for spotting and stalking big Rudd.

My first 2lb+ Rudd in over twenty years, caught last summer.

 The fishing was brilliant and I learnt so much, next year I will target it unforgivably, the target will be an elusive 3lb jewel, of which over the years I've been lucky enough to catch, on a single morning's fishing with my father we had what was a "session of a lifetime", a phrase that is often coined when big fish are caught, this however at the time (1994) between us we probably caught braces of Rudd that broke the British Record, special fish indeed and something I strongly believe will never happen to me again. My brace at 3.08 and 3.13 with my fathers brace at 3.14 and 3.10, these weren't the only "three's" we caught that morning either, it was simply unbelievable, to this day it is still our fondest memory of angling. The greatest shame was those captures must have been when the Rudd were approaching the end of their lives, we never did see them again and believe me we both went back on numerous occasions. They went as quickly as they came. Special memories for sure, much to our regret we never had a camera with us and to this day vowed to remember the camera before the rod!. I love a photo now, they remind me of the great times and when the fishing is tough they give me the kick up the backside to continue as another special session could be very close.

 Last season I started to target Rudd in the Somerset levels and on my first attempt I caught a 2lb Rudd, my first since that day back when I was six years of age, some 22years later, far too long and now I'm hoping to make up for lost time, here are some photos of some stunning Rudd and the beautiful surroundings, can not beat a trip into the countryside, us Brits are blessed with how stunning our country is. Angling at it's best.

War torn Rudd, full of character!




Season best at 2.06

Small dinner plate of gold.

A right royal pain in the ....

Sheer bliss, Me, my boat and I.

One of many Grebe's that work the healthy rivers of the Fens.


Miles from civilisation and just how I like it, in the wilderness you
feel so insignificant but as close to nature as possible
as the resident Barn Owl glides past.

Can't wait to get back.

These were typical of the sunset's in the Fens, often bringing
about the best feeding spells but I couldn't find that leviathan.

Sunday 13 November 2016

Chub Rescue a Perch Blank.

 For the first time this season I ventured out for Perch, I was heading north with the view to seeking out some real monsters, having never been there before and very little to go on I packed as light as possible so I could cover as much water as possible, the bait was live Gudgeon, under a 5swan shot loafer I was looking for structure to trot my livey, conditions were poor as the previous days rain had dislodged loads of loose weed and put a lot of sediment into the flow, all of which coupled with the bright sunlight meant that the Perch fishing was a non-starter from the beginning.

A spot of low profile trotting, the Chub were just downstream.
 Knowing it was going to be tough I still gave it 3 hours before throwing in the towel, I really didn't want to but from experience fishing for Perch elsewhere I know that I was seriously up against it. There was only one thing to remedy the dire morning (angling wise), a spot of trotting for Chub was called for, a small loaf of bread and some liquidised bread was all I had.

 After walking a few miles in the morning I decided to build a couple of swims close together and simply trot through the runs and hope for the best, I arrived at the river with maybe an hour or so left of sunlight and I could make out dark shapes cruising across the bottom but seemed very cautious, to get them feeding I had to wait almost for dusk, the liquidised bread started to work and the float slipped under on maybe the 50th trot, a good scrap was ended fairly quickly but not before it made a dive for the bankside vegetation. On the scales, 4lb 9oz.

 Not a monster but certainly a start, the next few trots produced tentative tugs on the float but were totally unhittable, I think that fish switched back off again, so I stopped fishing for a while and fed it up, by the time I cast back out it was almost dark, so I cracked out a night-light and proceeded to trot, first time in a long time I've trotted at night and it was an instant success, first cast a Chub around 3.08 came to the net. Within six trots I had a further three Chub with the best nudging the scales at 5lb 5oz. A good fish, plenty of room to grow aswell, so I'd be delighted to catch that in March next year. A certain disaster of a day was avoided, even when the Chub are feeding very cautiously they can still be caught.

Best of the evening at 5.05.

Saturday 12 November 2016

In Search of Monster Chub: Part Six.

 Friday's visit last week to the River Frome was a complete success, the capture of that Grayling just half hour before dusk was a prime example of why even when the fishing is tough anything can happen. On our walk back to our pits for the evening the clouds vanished and a clear cold night settled in, it turned out to be a bitterly cold one. My net was frozen solid and took a while to thaw out before regaining its shape, it was unfortunately the first frost of the Winter, fishing was going to be hard and we knew that bites would come very few and far between. Lucky that we are both fairly patient. We needed it.

The Stour steaming in the morning after the brisk night.

Even just for a walk it's nice to be out, but armed with a rod just feels so much better.

-1c does this to nets!

 The frosty morning revealed a beautiful sunrise, the kind of bite in the air that would deter most anglers from making the effort but for me I love it, blanks are usually inevitable after a sharp frost but the scenery is so relaxing and you get to really enjoy the countryside in those conditions, you almost vanish into it, sometimes I just put the rod out and sit and watch the time go by, the ever present Kingfisher's flashing past, the watchful Buzzards and Kestrels searching the fields for their next meal, the enigma which is the Otter, slipping in and out of the water and keeping tabs on me as it searched the margins for fish, all things I don't see in London so for me this are treats.

 I started the day searching for anything, whether it be Grayling, Chub, Barbel, Roach and Dace. Trotting maggot and sitting behind a quiver-tip rod in the hope of the rod hooping over. For hours the float top remained above the surface or the tip remained motionless, the frost really had put the fish off, as the day wore on I could only think that the best chance we had in catching a Chub was setting up camp in a single area and await the time when they would feed, dusk was probably that window.

 That small window came and went very quickly, thankfully I was in the right place at the right time. My boilie rod twitched and then lurched towards the river, no invitation needed I lent into a good heavy fish, the fight was fairly decent but it was certainly no Barbel, the weed was still quite thick so I had to put the head torch on as the light had almost failed completely by that point, in the light I could make out a good sized Chub that looked to be approaching the six pound mark and shortly after seeing it she was in the net.

 That window I alluded to shut after that Chub was landed, a quick couple of photos, a spin on the wheel of fortune and slipped back into the dark abyss. An hour more of lifeless rods meant the time had gone and we headed off home. I feel I am getting closer to capturing that monster Chub I seek, just got to put the time in and it may just happen.

Thursday 10 November 2016

Striking the Pewter Mine.

 Grayling. Arguably one of our countries prettiest species, a fish that is clever in the way it manages to elude even the best of anglers, I personally love catching Grayling and how it took me until 2014 to target them is beyond me, since then I have been fairly successful and my most recent trip to the Frome proved to be very hard but the reward was enormous and I obliterated my personal best for the species, something that I knew was possible but somehow doubted myself that it would happen as numbers of Grayling at the weights I hoped to catch are very low, alas the doubts were banished in spectacular fashion.

 As the early hours of the morning ticked away Brian and I headed into deepest Dorset under the cover of darkness with a plan, the plan was plain and simple, to break our PB's 2.01 and 2.02 respectively. Numbers in general are low in comparison to their sister rivers (Test & Itchen) so bagging up on them was unlikely too. Once we arrived on the river we had a short walk downstream to have a look around to try to locate the small pockets of fish we would be targeting, often big specimens tend to hang around by themselves, living a solitary life at times, these were the ghostly shapes we'd be hunting for over the vast gravels.

 First area we stopped in looked good but we decided just to stop and get set-up, or so I thought, after little deliberation Brian decided just to cast out blind and his float slid away almost immediately, he was met by a very powerful lunge and the rod hooped over, within seconds the culprit rolled on the surface and revealed that "Jammie Bollox" had nailed the very fish we sought in a matter of seconds, I couldn't believe it, she was enormous, we both went into panic mode and I think if making up a net were to be an Olympic sport then I'd have won gold by a considerable margin, I can only remember saying to Brian don't force it, don't rush it before it lay in the net recovering. Easy. As. That.

Brian releasing his new PB of 2lb 9oz.

 I'm thinking of not inviting him to join me anymore as that took the biscuit, "challenge? what challenge?" I could hear him thinking. He however would learn very quickly just how tough it can be, all he had to do was watch me. I tried most if not everything bar static corn for a bite, I found it very hard. The weather started off perfect then a dreadful coastal breeze whipped up and bought a system over that rained on us for over 6 hours unabated, soaked through to the bone, the line kept sticking to the rod, the pin kept stopping, I swore so many times I must've turned the air blue, nothing was going my way until I caught a pretty Grayling of maybe 10oz which brightened up my day slightly but did very little just justify the 230 mile round trip.

 The only cause for joy was when the rain did one around 4pm and bright blue skies appeared, with this new found hope that I could find a Grayling (large) I was off on a march, during the rain I popped into a few runs at the head and introduced corn to try and get some fish committing. Second swim I tried this in and three casts in the moment I had been waiting for came, the fight was extraordinary, one of sheer power and guile. Not for the first time this season I felt rather undergunned when I bent into what can only be described as a true monster, to me anyway. A huge sail like dorsal fin broke the surface followed by the back half of the fish......stunning to see such strength in action but what happened next surprised me a lot, I hooked her in a very shallow run at the tail of a pool and instead of the fish coming into the pool to play out the fight she went broad-side to the current and charged downstream, with the light gear I had on I simply could not pull and force her up, I had to grab the net as I scrambled down to follow it.

 100 yards downstream and this lay in the net awaiting it's one very elated captor to baulk at it's sheer size and elegance. Exquisite puts it perfectly. Pressure? what pressure.....well if I was putting myself under any to catch there certainly wasn't any after seeing that. I shouted for Brian who thankfully was close by to do the honours of taking some brilliant photos of my prize. Amazing memory.

2lb 11oz of pure pewter. Awesome.
 Off for beers and curry in celebration and a brisk 2½ mile back to the hotel half drunk, worth it.

Sunday 6 November 2016

First Pike Trip of the Winter.

 Winter and Pike are almost inseparable, when you think of one you automatically think of the other. Crisp mornings by the river as the time ebbs away and the aching arm of a great days fishing is the ideal conclusion, not always reality but when the countryside that we are lucky enough to be able to enjoy lye just an hour or so away who cares, just love to be out and in with a chance to catch a fish of a lifetime. But there is also the opposite side to the beauty of our countryside, the town and city waterways which arguably hold fishing opportunities just as impressive as those unknown stretches that are seldom targeted by anglers.

 For my first trip of the season I fancied a short trip after work close to home, a quick scoot down and the rods were baited with smelt and in position, location of bait fish I feel helps with catching Pike on the Thames, seeing as it's so close to home I felt I had to give it a go and it'll be on my radar for a majority of my Pike fishing this season. The Piking pirate joined me for the short trip and it didn't take long in our 2nd spot for his rod to come alive, a small Roach was snaffled by a scrapper of maybe 5lb and not long afterwards my upstream float vanished from sight. A short fight resulted in a fish of similar size, between 4-5lbs....not a monster but it was action and seeing as by Thursday night we haven't had a frost yet the silvers were everywhere, with the silvers being very widespread I suspected the Pike were also going to be spread out.

 The theory sounded plausible but after catching my first I cast a new Smelt straight out on the spot of the first take, forty seconds or so passed when the float bobbed and then slipped under, winding down slowly I lent into a slightly heavier Pike which gave me a good fight, a few minutes later a nice Esox between 8-9lbs lay resting for a picture, before we could do that it flipped on the mat and caught my hand and gave me one of the worst raker rashes I've ever had, not very pleasant I tell you.

Best of the evening, twenties do call this home though.

 The short spell of action was short lived and after about another hour of trying to find some more Pike we gave up as a two-day trip down south beckoned, we didn't want to leave it too late to grab our forty winks!

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 ...