Thursday, 19 October 2017

Autumn Barbel: Hard Going.

 For nearly a week now I've been dropping bait in a few swims with a big Barbel in mind. Sightings of fish have become almost non-existent which leads me to believe they are leaving the shallower not so-weedy runs for some of the deeper runs, where they will hopefully start to fatten up, most of what I have caught in the last two months haven't been in amazing conditions, although there is always the occasional one which is built like a breeze block, just looking for a 12lb+ breeze block for my Autumn fishing, what ever else comes along in the meantime will be greatly appreciated, bites haven't been forthcoming.

 I had a two hour evening trip on Monday which proved to be fruitless, not even a sniff, but I got the chance to put a little bait out to hopefully get the fish moving into the swims I have been prepping, Tuesday I popped back out, the plan exactly the same but conditions were completely different, mainly due to the arrival of Hurricane Ophelia the winds were pretty strong, some gusts were making even the largest of the trees creek under the strain, this causing a huge amount of leaves to fall and the river was littered with them, not to mention sticks to whole branches were coming through every couple of minutes and pulling my tip around, keeping a bait in the water was tough.

 After plenty of trying with dusk just settling in my centrepin burst into life and the cane slammed around, no mistake in that take!. A staunch battle ensued against some far bank vegetation as it darted under to shed my hook, she made a good attempt but I wanted to land it more than "it" wanted to get away, a few minutes of continual lunges for freedom and she was in the net, dusk is the time, like a switch being flipped. Not a monster but 7lb 13oz is not bad, I'm in the right areas. The rest of the evening slipped by without another touch.

 Wednesday evening after work I was back down, with more bait put in the swims I am slowly starting to feel confident that the fish are going to begin to congregate in the knowledge more bait could be going in, just need to keep away from the Chub. A quick cast in one of the swims as I didn't have long resulted in a small Chub around 3lb, not quite what I was hoping for when the rod tried to disappear downstream, which incidentally crapped my bait all over the net and mat, someone was hungry!.

 Thursday, unfortunately finished work too late to get on the bank so it's given me time to do this post. I'll be back down soon, but before then the Avon Pike population are going to get some attention, followed by a 36hr session on the D.Stour, it's all go now :)

Monday, 16 October 2017

Predator Season off to a Good Start.

 The mighty Thames, a boat and some live baits is possibly the best angling combo possible, the unknown monsters, the inevitable slipping under of the float, it could be 4lb pound, could be 32lb you just don't know and that anticipation is gripping, so much so when October came around I was making noises about getting out in the boat for a virgin Pike cruise. Now it wasn't necessarily a Pike trip to start with as Perch were actually the primary target but the lure of the Pike couldn't be ignored, so I didn't even set up perch gear, Brian only managed twenty minutes or so before caving in to his inner Pikey self.

 After a short motor around the pool we anchored up just off the main weirs flow, the bait went out and it was didn't take long before my float slipped under, I was away! A healthy bend in the rod indicated it wasn't a small fish, after playing her in the deeper water for a few minutes she cruised up toward the net, what looked a low double was resting in the net. Good start!

 The day only got better still as the bites came in very short spells as the Pike went into hunting mode, it was great fun with four taken over two days and lost another four, which was through poor tackle selection more than anything else, that will not happen again, prepared now properly before we get in amongst the big girls which will start to come on the feed now. Looking forward to it for certain!

Another shot of the top one, looked awesome.

Looked good, nothing on that trot.

 Won't be long and I'll be back out in the boat, ready for a shot at the larger residents.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Carp Bug: Part Three.

 Since I had made an effort to get some Carping done which culminated in banking a personal best river Carp I decided on targeting a lake where a forty pounder is a possibility and with enough time spent on it and a little luck I may come across ones path, only fishing a single rod I fancy my chances but a second rod would certainly make the task a little easier. The gear I have been using on this particular lake is a 9ft 2.1/4 TC Greys OutKast rod, 12lb and a running lead rig or choddy, depending on where I fish in particular.

 Unfortunately baiting up isn't really an option as the birdlife simply wipes it out the moment it hits the lake bed, quite annoying for sure but there are ways around not attracting the scores of Coots and Tufted ducks, either walking the bait out (not always the best option) and dropping bait around the area or PVA bagging it out, the latter is what I prefer to do as it causing only the one bit of disturbance, hence not attracting the bird life as much, walking it out has now been clocked on by the birds and no sooner do some anglers get back to the bank they are already dining out!

 Through personal experience on this lake in the past single baits and a mobile approach are often very good, especially in the warmer conditions, so many Carp have fallen to this roving approach and with Carp to 35lbs 8ozs falling to it, it's hard not assume that any other tactic would be better, so this was me on my last time out on the lake. Now, for the time being I'm only going to refer to it as 'The Lake" as I know a few of you will know where this is but for those who don't all will become clear, reason for this is some of the lakes residents are very famous Carp are of an ilk that are rare these days, full blooded originals, most of which have evaded my attentions for quite some time, albeit fleeting trips on and off.

 Can I be serious in catching the lakes monsters just being a part timer?, not really I suppose, I will however make more of a concerted effort as surely a couple of these larger upper thirties/low forties may only have a couple of years left in them and the rigours of spawning may lay claim to some fatalities, I want to achieve a goal of mine, catching a forty pound plus Carp and more importantly an original, such designs have been made by many anglers but most have never achieved them, I will certainly give it a try.

 Sitting behind rods for me is a tough ask, I am as restless as an ant, always wanting to keep moving. It may count against me at times but the amount of fish landed through this mindset ensures my focus isn't broken, the desire to keep searching burns even when times are tough, it's a numbers game after all and it "will" come good in time. This peach that turned up on a short session recently certainly wasn't one of the big girls that I am after but a welcome bend in the rod on what can be a very tough lake, some of the best Carp anglers in the country have cut their teeth on here and many have worked hard to get what they wanted out of it.

A blistling bronze Autumn Common, 16.03.
 The rest of that session drifted by without another knock but my brother Richard joined me for a nag for a couple of hours and we sat, watching the surface to see if anything breached to give away positions of potentially feeding Carp, unfortunately nothing picked up a bait and I disappeared to get to a previous engagement. I did get back a few days later but it played tough again and a four hour session passed by without as much as liner.

 So 4 sessions and 3 Carp to upper doubles is not a bad start at all, I just hope to get amongst the big girls sooner rather than later!

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Beast From the South East.

 Not much to write on this one, but for the future is very bright. Mint, perfectly proportioned and all the hallmarks of a monster in the making, for such a small Barbel, possibly 12oz-1lb, I was as happy to catch that as I would a 7-8lb specimen.

 Hard not to love these!


Thursday, 5 October 2017

In Search of Monster Chub: Thin on the Ground.

 Another day, another trip, this one was getting back on the trail of a seven pound plus Chub. Over the last few weeks I've been keeping my ear to the ground on how the river was fishing and most reports coming back didn't fill me with confidence, however I fancied it in the conditions, the wind was a lot cooler but it gave the feeling of a winters day and that always fills me with hope.

 The river was clear with a few inches on, ideal for a Chub, I picked a few small patches of gravel and fed some pellet, boilies and crumb to draw any feeding fish in, even if a Barbel showed up I'd be very happy to try. I decided to start at an overhanging bush which appeared to hold a couple of Chub on my last visit, knowing this I fed some broken baits out and put my rig straight in the mix, sat back and waited, twenty minutes later the rod lurched round and I was in, the clutch gave off a quick screech as it made off for the bush, I wasn't having any of it though. Halfway through the fight and cruising towards my bank in the eddy a huge Pike rose up off the bottom and stalked my Chub which was a low 4lb fish with the view to nail it, the Pike either an upper double or a low twenty followed my catch all the way to bank before drifting out of sight, that what close!

One of the two early Chub.
 After that excitement I was rather hoping for a hectic morning. After an hour or so it was apparent a hectic start wasn't going to materialise, so I decided to head around the neighbouring swims with a float rod and some bread, this proved to be a good idea as I managed another Chub (4.06) but a bigger one was sat side by side, as soon as I hooked the "four" the bigger fish vanished, not to be seen again. By 3pm I'd moved half a dozen times but simply couldn't get a touch, apart from a rogue fry-munching pike, I couldn't resist not fishing for it!

Not a monster but good sport.
 Another couple of hours passed before an take came to fruition, but when it did ( didn't think it was coming ) the take was brutal, the line pulled tight in an instant and the tip violently ripped around, certain Chub I thought to myself, I was right, it didn't appear to be a big fish, the fight though was deceptive, short lunging runs and head knocking had me thinking a big fish, for a couple of minutes i couldn't tell, even when it came towards the net there was plenty of uncertainty, I lifted the net to find a thick set fish and possibly a six pounder, not what I initially thought!

I thought it was six!

Mint condition, not quite a six pounder though.
  When I got the chance to photograph and weigh her I was to find out that at 5.10 it was clearly lacking at the back end, December onwards surely it will tip the scales past that milestone, I wasn't complaining though, it was a good a fish on a tough day, so tough that apart from a couple of liners before dusk that was my lot. Three Chub and a Pike....that'll do, it's been harder on other trips. I am looking forward to the winter Chubbing though, very much so!

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Autumn Barbel, Quest for a Monster Begins.

 Now with the warmer months behind us the rods come out to play for a better chance at catching a super sized Barbel, not many places on this island where they are common, locating them is a tall order especially that my target is a 15lb+ specimen, go to the Trent and stand a half decent chance? Avon, Stour (Dorset), Ouse etc these are all rivers that have done fish to this size and beyond or still do as is the case with the Avon, it's just a difficult river to learn, especially as I am an away day angler on these rivers, my more local rivers (Thames Tributaries) don't often give up it's treasures easily, but there is no harm in trying!

 Over the years I've spent countless hours walking and fishing a handful of these rivers and been very fortunate with what I have achieved but taking it to the next level will not be easy, if anything I know I'll enjoy the journey ahead as I always do.

 Recently I got out for my first proper session, baited a couple of areas with the intention of keeping it going in, build the swims so that they gain confidence for when the proper feeding times come along, typically a mild spell after a prolonged cold spell is best, but this isn't gospel! Unfortunately with the baited areas fresh I didn't manage a take but all will come good I'm certain. With the lack of action there I choose a different approach elsewhere and after a decent walk I was rewarded with a fighting fit, long and lean summer conditioned Barbel of 8.11, certainly got room to fill out there!


Mid 7lber

 Proceedings were looking up from there as it wasn't long before another Barbel, this time taken on bread flake came to the net, great condition and possibly a young Barbel ( hopefully with good growth genes ), be good to see a larger head of high single figure fish. After recovering that whisker in the flow I set off downstream further but the Barbel weren't forthcoming and only a Chub slipped up before I called it a day, not a bad couple of hours which in truth was only to get the baiting up started.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Carp Bug: Part Two.

 Leading on from my first post regarding the Carp my fishing seemed to be going smoothly from the get go, after fishing on the lake I was on I decided to go for a drive somewhere I've never fished, only walked it a couple of times in the last closed season, these hours spent were to prove absolutely key. Over the years I could only imagine how many hours I have accrued whilst searching for Carp and many other species, to tell the truth I never think to myself "that was a waste of time", because there is always something to learn, whether it's fish stocks or gathering information on certain areas for potential campaigns.

 Now searching for Carp on a river is never easy especially when it's narrow in places, overgrown, choked with weed and so on, needle-in-a-stack type of fishing but I always enjoy this type of fishing more, the feeling of adventure is what does it for me and the sheer anticipation of finding something worth the effort. Thankfully the river was clear and I found that a tad fortuitous as we have had a considerable amount of rain, it seemed to have done nothing to the colour although I could see the higher waterline of some roots where it had been.

 For well over an hour, maybe two I bullied my way through nettles almost untouched which led me to believe it's not getting much attention. As I continued my way down river I started to get that feeling I wasn't going to find something to cast at apart from scores of small Chub and a couple of Pike, nothing of note and as I was on a Carp mission I didn't want to lose focus. Maybe another twenty minutes later on I came to a row of overhanging trees which created a vast canopy and I felt this would be a good place for a few fish to hold up, unfortunately it was only Chub again, everywhere I looked it was Skelly soup!.

 Then out of the corner of my eye I noticed something cruising under the far bank vegetation and disturbing the surface of the water, as it appeared from the edge of the bush I could see it was a small Common maybe 8-9lb, it was start and no sooner did I spot that fish another two came into view and one was really big! that was the one I came for, however getting a bait to it was not easy, where it was so overgrown I had to make a cast over the top of some briars and hope the line didn't snag on any thorns, perilous stuff, nevertheless to stand a chance of catching her I had to get a bait out but the scores of Chub could also pose a problem as they were ravenous at the plop of anything. Then a plan came to mind to give me a chance, I fed loads of crust in one go upstream and the Chub went mental, almost leaving me just the Carp, operation big Carp was in full swing and was working, just needed to get the bait in front of the Carp, first cast and not 6ft from it I could see every bit of the one I wanted, as the slow drift of the current inched the flaker closer to the Carp, she reared up and without hesitation opened her mouth and my bread flake disappeared!

 In utter disbelief I was locked into battle with a monster river Carp, something I didn't think would happen seeing how long I'd walked with nothing but blanks spaces and chub. Nevertheless I was bent into a good fish and my MKIV was being put through it's paces somewhat, the bend was frightening and wondered just how much more pressure I could put on it, the snags were everywhere and the ribbon weed was so dense, how I managed to get it close to the net after a couple minutes was beyond me but I was in a position to mug it so the net was shipped out quicker than a flash of lightning. As she inched over the edge of the net the water erupted for ages as the fight continued in the net, she went absolutely ballistic, but what a creature.

A 30inch spoon almost completely filled!

 After calming her down a bit I readied the scales and set up the camera whilst wedging the landing net pole between my legs, then the fun began, everytime I lifted her up for a photo she flipped, weighing, flipped, rest up, flip, she never gave up and part of me thinks she'd never been caught before and didn't know how to respond, when the time come and she had settled down I got a couple of photos to savour the moment and weighed her quickly, the outcome? a new river personal best at 28lb 3ozs, I was made up like you wouldn't believe, could this go thirty pound? Damn skippy she could, built like a coke machine with room to grow too, I was made up so much.

My face said it all, she was difficult to hold !
 And after she sat in the net preparing to be set free back in to the wild I said my farewells and in the blink of an eye the huge paddle vanished from sight back into the depths, that was it for me, I was so content that I folded the rod away and walked the river back up, peering into the areas I did on the way down, but nothing more than a few small Chub. I may come back to see if anything else is present, maybe a river thirty! 

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Carp Bug: Part One

 After reading Terry Hearns "Pursuit of the Largest" has engaged the inner Carper, something I've not done properly for a long time and not likely to do it for long, this will be a stop gap whilst the colder weather settles in and I can target the Grayling and Pike. I have had an eye on a couple of locations of late, a couple of lakes and couple of separate sections of river where I believe a chance or two will come about should I put the time in.

 Carp are typically a target around April to June as the river season isn't open and I sometimes struggle to decide on what to target, lakes, canals and reservoirs are not in short supply where I live (within 30 minutes drive) and when the conditions are right they do make for good fun, especially on the canals as they are extremely nomadic. However on a lake they don't have much choice but to be close by, just a little smarter and do take some work to get amongst. So my latest foray on the Carp front has resulted in some ground work but I didn't expect it to take too long, problem is many anglers I encounter do the same thing and wonder why not many are "coming out", a little variety in tactics usually does the trick and this trip in particular was no different, a good couple of hours resulted in three Carp all in the double figure bracket but certainly not the monsters I have in mind.

 Good practice though it has to be said and my MKIV Avon got a very good workout which was to be expected, so here were the first of the candidates, it has to be said they are pretty and in very good condition too.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Got a Riddle Here.....PB Crucian (Take Two)

 So the riddle is, an angler goes fishing, fishes two rods, baited and ready for action, fished exactly how I'd like with barely a sniff of action all day, infact not one run but still lands a personal best Crucian?

 At 3lb 8oz here she in all the glory possible, immaculate, just like her captor :)

Matching haircuts too, it was fate!
 Well the answer is quite amusing, all day partner in crime Brian hadn't needed the toilet, after all those hours you'd have thought it wasn't going to matter that he'd leave his rods for me to watch over, you know where this is going now! No sooner did he turn down the path for a piss his margin rod "one tonered" and I gingerly hobbled around to his swim next door and lifted into a good fish, that being the fish above. Well don't mind if I do help myself to a new PB, after all my effort I didn't even need to bring any gear, oh well, maybe I'll christen my new Korum 1.5's another time.

 Cheers mate!:)

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Barbel on Bread, Wally With a Rod.

 Have you ever fished a swim that you really think you should never have?, whether it be dangerous or simply not the cleverest thing to have challenged. Well that happened on my last outing which was in search of Roach to start but their lack of showing made me change my target species to something a little more bullish, namely Chub and Barbel. Now I was only using a light trotting rod, Sheffield pin with 5lb straight through and a 4BB wire stem. With only the Roach in mind to start with I only had bread but I know that wouldn't mean I'd blank for my new target, if anything bread can out fish any other bait, meat included when it comes to Barbel and Chub.

 Having left the areas where I typically target Roach down to the more trickier stretches I donned my cap and glasses holding out some hope I could find a fish or two amongst the thick weed, this season the weed growth has been incredible, never before have I seen so much, plus I'm also seeing it crop up in places where it never used to which is making fish spotting harder, the positive side to that is that if i can't see them then others are going to struggle too!. With more than a mile walked before I got to the more likelier runs was I expecting to see fish, hey presto there were three Barbel and a Chub sat just off a shelf, all three Barbel looked decent, two were certain doubles and the other couldn't have been far off, the spot where these were though was not fishable, no clear access down and the river too dangerous to get close to. I decided to inch myself down whilst trying to avoid snagging my waders on the briars as I descended, the closer I got to the river the more I was starting to regret my decision.

 Alas, I continued with my plan, having pinpointed their rough position I flicked out my float and set the depth slightly over so the bread flake would tantalisingly bounce on the bottom, the float began to trot down smoothly toward the area I saw them not two or three minutes previous, as the bait dropped over the shelf of weed and when the float cocked it completely shot out of sight, could only mean one thing! I flicked the ratchet on and it screeched as line pissed off the pin, I thought to myself I've hooked a smaller nuttier Barbel as it was very erratic, twenty or thirty seconds in I was struggling to keep the fish from burying itself into the weed, I had no choice but to jump in the river, luckily for me I had waders on, otherwise it would have been an uncomfortable journey home. Between 3-4ft in pacy river water made me quite nervous for a moment whilst I got a sure footing, by now I'd been playing the Barbel for a couple of minutes downstream and still had no idea what size it was. Now being in the water I felt I had more control but the constant lunges into the ribbon weed and thick Ranunculus sent shuddering vibrations through the rod, everytime I thought it was going to come off, slowly but surely I was gaining line and now maybe five minutes into the battle I got a glimpse of the fish I was being bullied by, this was no little'n.

 As she approached the net I could clearly see I'd hooked the largest of the three I was watching, how about that for luck, 33% chance of getting the one I wanted, but what surprised me more was the other big Barbel was shadowing this fishes every move, as my one cruised closer to the net the unhooked Barbel swam to within a foot of net as it lay in the river awaiting my prize to give up, an experience I've not encountered at such close quarters it was amazing to see, nearly as amazing to see my first double of the season slip over the rim of my net, job done!

Another float caught monster :)

 On the scales I was not surprised to see the digitals rest of 11lb on the nose, very good nick and clearly more room to fill out it was the beginning of what will be a productive Autumn for the species.

 After watching her revive well and swim off I had the difficult task of getting out of the river, that was hard enough but during my time in the water the level had risen by nearly a foot in just the 10-15 minutes I'd spent in the river made it even harder, plenty of scouting the bank for a reasonable place to get out I decided to call it a day. Got to love failed Roach sessions, so often pays dividends to try something else. 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

PB Crucian, A 20 Year Journey.

 For many years I had a personal best of 3lb 1oz which was caught on a little council run park lake, many great years fishing for various species made for some great times, one species that I dearly wanted to beat was the Crucian Carp best which I caught back in 1998, aged just 11 at the time. My father was instilling everything into myself and my two younger brothers from a young age, how to treat fish, how to correctly weigh and recover etc, so it's probably no surprise that my fishing is predominantly specimen hunting as I feel the desire to improve all the time.

 Unfortunately genuine Crucian Carp stocks are slim but luckily for me I have Enton and Marsh farm not 35mins drive from my front door, convenient for after work outings I made a few plans, first one was last Sunday, weather was atrocious but after 7 hours of tinkering and cast after cast I got that all important run, not even the huge patch of pads could prevent me from achieving a long standing target, within two minutes a large frame of a certain personal best lay in the net, did it surpass the mark of 3.01? you bet it did!

Another PB :)

A whole 3lb 7oz, for me it was a huge monkey off my back as I really wanted a photo of a specimen Crucian, photos of my original PB were lost so this was to reignite my appetite for fishing for these wily creatures, a few photos with a cheesy grin were in order before slipping her back to hopefully make someone else's season. The remainder of the day did slip by with barely anything else by way of action but "for now" this specimen Crucian will most certainly do!

Not the most pleasant of conditions to fish in but worth getting soaked for.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Fleeting Summers.

 Far too many plans and far too little time to indulge in them all, dreaming of spring mornings with the Tench bubbling uncontrollably and Carp sifting the surface for whatever they can find. All sounds great and so often it is, the balance of working as self employed electrician, fiancee and everything that else that goes with it makes time fairly tight, some of the dreams in the Spring did come to fruition and as the summer wore on I continued to get amongst some fantastic fish of various different species. Some of which will remain a target as the season meanders to its close next March.

 Plenty of these sessions have been extremely enjoyable with some not so for one reason or another (usually atrocious weather when dressed for something a little akin to the summer)"when will I learn". My Spring started off with a variety of fish, most of which were lake dwellers as the rivers remained closed for all coarse species (although Brown Trout are fair "game"). Golden Orfe, Tench and Crucian Carp were among my early targets, some would have you believe it would be easy, like stealing candy from a baby?, not likely, well for me at least, plenty of casting about to work out the depths and drop offs/shelves on Enton, weed beds and clay plateaus on Newdigate. All homework but to be successful it's all vital undertakings to achieve the very targets that I set myself.

 A few weeks into my fishing and nothing really seemed to be paying off apart from my childhood ability to catch good Carp almost closed eyed, not that it was easy but easier than the other waters I was concentrating on, could I have done better? anyone can always do better, maximum achievement is never achieved because when you begin to think that and improvement can not be pursued then surely the enjoyment would cease, that for me would be the ultimate nail in the piscatorial coffin. Maybe, if that day comes I'll invest in some waffel bats or golf sticks. Seriously hope it never gets to that hence my eagerness to embark on the next trip, typically thinking about it whilst already heading out or on a fishing trip already. My fishing brain working ahead of time !

 As the temperature crept up fishing started to become slightly better with plenty more showing on various venues, by May I'd already had a few decent Carp to mid-20's (best 25.03 by this point), the Tench started to show and G.Orfe started to slip out of their winter coma, nothing big but all a start and leading up to bigger and better things, by mid May I could honestly say achieved what I wanted on the G.Orfe front, after nearly a dozen trips I smashed my previous personal best which now sits at a proud 6lb 12oz, job done and the Tench were up next but these proved a little harder and if I recite correctly I blanked nearly as many times as I caught, since the good Tinca times are over I have located a water that I believe holds the potential for my dream "double figure specimen", watch this space for 2018-2019 season as I will endeavour to make good on my plans.

 A few more quality Carp made their way albeit not willingly, with June approaching fast my flowing fix was about to be quenched but not before some awesome looking canal Bream showed up, along with some stunning Crucian's from Marsh Farm to 2lb 9oz, a frantic morning on the pin and fined down gear was great, not always like that I will say although sometimes I feel it's my approach that let's me down. Then the season started and it delivered big time, a Chub just "two ounces" off my personal best graced my net in what was probably my best ever opening day capture, 6lb 8oz of pure awesomeness, absolutely perfect and boy would I love to catch that in the depths of winter with snow on the ground.

 My recent trips up to the Fens were continued in July but found fishing rather difficult due to an immense amount of weed cutting, not great but managed some to a smidgen under 2lbs, not massive but the Somerset levels picked up the slack and proved why fishing off the beaten track proves to be a success more often than not. A snap decision to take gear down whilst on way to Cornwall to see my sister shows why the opportunistic angler will always catch, the effort just needs to be applied and over time the rewards will come, I firmly believe in that, some are naturally good at being lucky, I seem to have to earn that right but only happy to graft, a 2lb 5oz Rudd taken in less than ideal conditions proves why opportunities never go begging.

 Then a double figure Bream pops up and makes my season all over again, not everyones cup of tea but for a canal, stalked in gin clear water after casting a million times at the same fish is madness, relentlessness is my middle name and for those who know me could probably vouch for that statement, last cast? yeah, maybe usually what I'm thinking, so often it has paid off and it has this season a couple of times. Barbel and more big Chub have featured as my quest for a 7lb specimen is still firmly in mind, just waiting now for the temps to drop and the rains spark the fish into feeding more than they have of late, anytime from now to Christmas is going to be a busy period for fishing, can I achieve a couple more of my long standing goals? only time will tell, Summer? It was certainly fleeting this year but feel I made good of it for the time I had available.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Failure? Nope, Not a Chance.

 Another day spare and another day spent hunting down my Chub target. I felt confident that I would get a chance as the conditions weren't to be too bad for some stalking, I spent the morning chatting with fellow anglers and searching the water for holding fish with an eye on the evening as I know it's often the best time when the day has been hot and certainly was, by 3pm it was 27c which isn't pleasant in the long grass, in jeans, boots and a top to prevent the nettles stinging me to within an inch of my life!

 Many hours passed with nothing to show for all the miles covered but none of it is in vain as it all helps with the mental picture I'll need when it's in the fields and chocolate brown!, I didn't actually have a proper cast until possibly 4pm which seems crazy, drive all that way just to chat and walk miles of river, but thats how one learns fast, I still got five hours behind the rod, not that it made much of a difference as my tips didn't move a smidgen, shame as I was rather hoping for just a Chub, thats now five blanks in 24 sessions, which I don't think is a bad return, maybe half of the fish I've caught have been 5+ with a couple of sixes thrown in the mix, most of which are summer fish.

The tip may have lye dormant but it was a lovely evening.

 Brian and I packed up about 2115 to get back to the car so we could avoid the road closures that lay ahead of us, during the evening I did hatch a back-up plan and that was to pop onto a river on our way home, crossing the borders of four counties theres plenty of water to aim at......half past midnight my tip savagely wrapped around, an lovely 8.04 Barbel put that tough days fishing firmly in the back of my mind, home just after 1am it was a long day having set off at 430am the day before, all worth it though.

Great tonic for a tough day and it fought like a devil!

Monday, 28 August 2017

In Search of Monster Chub: Tough Times.

 Three days planned, with my Chub gear back on my playground I had high hopes, I was packed in a flash and on the river by 9am which is a slightly later start than I'd usually aim for but I thought I had plenty of time, the first few hours I spent wandering around to find where the Chub were holding up and planned to get some bait in in preparation for the evenings, during the day I moved about with a trotting rod, just hoping a Chub or two would slip up.

 With the river being low and clear I felt the Chub were just a little lazy and not moving much, the water was also very warm and that I think has added to the small amount of time they are feeding, as the first day headed towards the evening I had one eye on dusk, I believed that would be my best chance. Two Pike banked and another dropped six times of a small Chub which would have possibly been a mid-double was my only action through the daylight hours. An hour before dark I got my bait out over the baited area and sat back with anticipation.

 As the sun disappeared and the night descended upon day one a beautiful Barn Owl glided around the tree line behind me and had the pleasure of watching it for half a minute before vanishing into the night, not five minutes later my tip twitched and then slammed over, I was in and the dogged battle straight away suggested a Chub, in the half light I could just make out a decent frame ploughing into the weed beds, when I bought it past one it would go into the next, but with my stepped up gear for this very reason the fight didn't last too long, after 12 hours of fishing I'd finally bagged a Chub, not a bad one either and just a smidgen under 6lb, it flicked between 5.15 and 6.00 before resting on 5lb 15oz, I was happy with that though, tough day and worthy reward as my morning was punctuated by the unfortunate incident of kicking two poaching swines off the river, 14 fish they'd caught, two good Roach already beheaded, one of which was still moving! Thankfully I was able to rescue the other 12 which all went back alive. The epidemic is still very much occurring, it's up to us anglers to prevent it as the EA and the police couldn't give a toss.

 I continued on but no more joy in that swim, so I moved upstream a mile or so and spent the night with the rods out, again no joy, day two beckoned though so I got some sleep.

The first thing I saw on the river on the second day was a big Otter, not good to see but part and parcel of these Wessex rivers, there are a lot of them around. (Short video of one aswell)

 The fish didn't seem too bothered with them in truth and the Otter glided past them with little fuss, I decided to go the opposite direction in the vein hope I would manage some more joy, long story short though the Chub were not in a feeding mood, not even movement from them on the areas I baited, the Pike continued to show and I had another two to 7.07 but the big girls didn't show again, the fishing was so tough I decided to give the third day a swerve, still one good Chub is better than none!

Friday, 25 August 2017

A Slight Change of Species.

 Back on the Gudgeon hunt after a few weeks off I felt a bit more of an urge to try and break the 2oz barrier, so far this season I've not even seen one approaching that weight and with half a day spent fishing for them with trotted bread I still hadn't seen one, a few caught to 1oz 6dr which looked a shadow of it's winter self, a huge head with no body, a certain 2oz fish in February, I know where it lives now I'll be back.

1.4oz=1oz 6dr, seasons best.

 Plenty of Roach, Chub and Dace caught too it made for a nice day out with no real objective barring the Gonks, however I did manage to rescue a Poplar Hawkmoth from the river just before it went over a small weir and into the lair of half a dozen hungry Chub, no doubt the Moth would not have survived, after fishing it out I snapped some close up's and allowed her to dry off, within five minutes it gathered the strength and lifted off like a small bird! amazing how big they are in the flesh and never seen one in the day time,'s not all about fish.

Awesome looking creature.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Shotgun Barbel, The Tale of Two Outcomes.

 Having only been back from a trip a down further south I popped out for a short session but on this occasion suggested to a colleague at work to come out and give it a go for a new personal best Barbel, the odds considering his PB of 6lb+ were favourable, all we could hope was that they would be playing ball as it's not always case. Charlie was eager to get on the scoreboard and was fishing a couple of hours before I got the chance to get my gear ready as I was still stuck in London.

 Having cleared my schedule it made for a clear run straight to the river, a quick phone-call to find out where he had got to was made to find he was roughly where I parked! that was a result as we didn't have to walk back past swims where fish maybe held up, our tactic was to be very mobile and carry minimal tackle and only give each run 5 minutes or so, with two of us the number of swims we could work meant that we stood a good chance, conditions were good and the river carried a little colour, onto the fishing!

 The first couple of swims were fished with no joy which meant that we sped up our pace onto the next couple, nothing showing we kept going, as I approached one swim I could see a nice Barbel which I estimated around 8lbs or so, I didn't hesitate getting myself in a casting position, bait out ten foot above it and within seconds the fish lurched up slightly and charged the bait, easy as that !

 A sturdy battle ensued for a few minutes before it succumbed to the awaiting net, that's how it's done, 8lb 11oz, good result, but this was more about Charlie catching so I refrained from fishing for the rest of the trip, number one aim was to get the "Carpman" into a position to catch, not fifteen minutes later thats exactly what he did, a trundled bait down a centre track was intercepted by a feisty Barbel of maybe 7lb, a potential PB and so soon, a good fight in the flow put the gear through it's paces and with so much weed to dodge it didn't come as a surprise when his fish went solid in a bank of weed......a short period of time trying to free her the hook pulled and it was over, damn.

Recovered and ready to fight another day.

 Oh well, we all lose them, that is for sure. Dusted off and ready to go again we trudged off upstream to find more but uncharacteristically it was hard trying to locate the Barbel, normally I see a couple here and there but nothing, we fished a couple dozen more little holes in the foliage but nothing doing, I have to be honest I was surprised that we didn't get another chance. It will happen!

Monday, 21 August 2017

In Search of Monster Chub: A Little Surprise.

 This is actually part four of this seasons quest and my second season of seriously trying to achieve the milestone of a "Seven" pound Chub, I have travelled many miles and pumped in countless hours in the vein hope that I will one day become lucky enough to experience the pure elation of such a big specimen resting in my net.

 However, it isn't just Chub that inhabit these waters, a small head of Barbel also exist amongst the thick weed, location is absolutely everything and with the constant pressures of the Otters it is often difficult to pin the Barbel down. The tactics and bait that I use on the H.Avon and D.Stour are tried and tested Chub and Barbel catching methods I feel ultimately confident in, just a case of right place, right time.

 This particular trip a couple of weeks ago provided me with a tough start, hours of walking, peering through glasses at endless miles of gravel and weed made for exciting fishing, unfortunately I couldn't catch any of the fish seen, a few really big Chub were spotted near a bank of onion reed but these fish were not in a feeding mood at all, so after 9 hours of trying I decided to change tactic and uncharacteristically opted for a static approach, high sun, low and clear river this didn't seem to be a great idea but I had no other options.

 After walking so much with countless swims visited there was a couple of I thought may prove to be successful, good cover, fairly deep and a couple of fish were spotted floating across the gravels prior to my first cast, the wait began.....

A day of pure sunshine, perfect for stalking.

......Over an hour passed without a touch, then my outside rod which was fished tight to the far side sprang into life as did I, the resistance on the other end didn't feel substantial and on 1.75tc tipped rods the fight was fairly short lived, a nice, typically dark Chub slipped into the net, happy days I thought, just a shade over 4lbs, then before I got the chance to do anything with it my other rod slammed over, I was quickly into another fish which turned out to be another Chub of 4.09, things were getting better!

 I thought it was quite amusing that I'd nothing to show for my efforts for 10 hours of fishing then two Chub in as many minutes, I let them both get a breather and photographed the bigger one, then slipped them back, baited up my two rods and got them both out on the spots. I sat back in my chair with a justified grin as my gamble had paid off to sit behind baits and allow any feeding fish to find me rather than chase them, maybe five minutes later my far bank rod went again with another dogged Chub towing me around amongst the thick weed, partly the reason for using stronger rods is to nullify the Chub's antics and snags, with the extra power I often got the upper hand fairly quickly and prevent losing fish to the vast banks of weed which often end up my enemy.

 Weighing just a little more than the last I really thought the game was hotting up, I left the fish in the net to get it's breath back and cast out my rod to the very spot I'd quickly nabbed two Chub off of thinking they were on a feeding frenzy, I kept the bait going in to hopefully keep that frenzy going so I could take full advantage. I rang Brian who was upstream struggling like I was and just let him know that at least 3 Chub on the river were feeding when out the corner of my eye the inside rod went berserk, no precursor, the rod absolutely went for it, it bounced off the rod rest and proceeded water ward, I threw the phone to the floor and grabbed the butt of the rod as the slack clutch didn't even have time to engage such was the ferocity of the take, this was certainly no Chub, as I caught up with it and set the drag properly I got a glimpse of a Barbel's tail out the back of a weed raft which was held up by a horrible looking snag, I feared the worst immediately and could hear the line grating through the sticks and weed, after all the trips I had made and not crossed a Barbel I really wanted to land this.

 With lots of weed causing a problem I couldn't gain anything on it, soon after Brian arrived and he kindly took over net duty so I could concentrate on trying to pull the fish through and then letting the tension go, after doing this for a couple of minutes the Barbel found a hole in the weed and my line cut through most of it, I breathed a huge sigh of relief as it came into the clear water but I still had to tease her up towards where we were perched, with the net handle extended to its maximum Brian shipped it out, mugging it in the process!. Both of us thought it was a double, short but very thick and deep I thought I had nailed it first time around.

 That was a battle I won't forget in a hurry, what a result, now I was very very happy!

9lb 9oz, not quite a double but I was so damn happy !

 The rest of the day passed by without a hint of action, I couldn't have cared less!