Monday 30 January 2017

A Change of Scenery, Same Species.

 2017 has been so far dominated by Roach and to be honest I'm not complaining, the consistent dry, cool and cloudless days have meant that sport has been very good, two large bags of river Roach has really got me in the groove and loving it. What more could an angler ask for but be on the banks with the opportunity to catch such elegant fish.

 A change of scenery was in mind but the quarry very much the same and notably the appearance of lots of game fish was likely, just like when you buy a bag of liquorice all-sorts and my favourite ones with the little aniseed balls are few and far between, just like the Roach. I knew selecting Roach amongst the hoards of Grayling and Trout would be tough but it was challenge accepted, one that I happily took, with the morning's sport being fairly slow Brian and I peered through the polariod's in search of the distinctive shapes. It took a few hours to find them, however, inevitably the tell-tale silver flashes could be seen over the clear chalk bottom.

 Before the Roach started to appear the Grayling put in a good showing as the morning was dominated by a wave of them, practically every trot resulted in either an indication or a fish, most of which were around the ¾lb mark with the occasional smattering of pound plus fish. This better fish below registered 1.11 and was the best of the day, the larger fish seem to be non-existent as the river seems to be a rich haven for young fish on the up, unfortunately not big just yet.

 However we did finally come across a shoal of Roach and although they were tough to locate a couple were caught to 1½ lb, some of the shoal looked good but held back and proved difficult to tempt, this was a shame but at least it wasn't a blank for them. I know there are some really big fish lurking about but this time around it wasn't to be, the day wasn't over and we still had one last roll of the dice....

 ......but the Roach just never materialised, plenty of trying but was rewarded only with a large bag of more Grayling, fantastic fishing with over 100 fish caught, have to do it again sometime.

Sunday 22 January 2017

Winter Roach: The Search for a Two-Pounder.

My angling partner for the morning.
 Finally with this prolonged cold spell I have only just fancied targeting Roach, yes I can target them all year but this time of the year the redfins are holding good weight and slowly increasing as spawning time approaches in a couple of months. Having struggled to get above 0c for the last five days and consistent frosts for as many days would have allowed the inhabitants of our rivers to slowly come out on the feed, the conditions look favourable too for a couple of trips during the week too after work, it's cold I know but these are the best condition's to target Roach.

 Having woken up this morning with the beginnings of a stiff cold I reluctantly crawled out of bed after a terrible night's sleep, my only motivation to get out of bed today was the Roach, the distant possibility of a two-pound Roach is far too much of a lure to ignore, I've had an eye on a couple of spots that I thought could produce and last season I visited this exact swim where I lost a big fish that was comfortably a two-pounder, a few trips were made back to that very swim, but I didn't encounter anything close to the fish I lost and moved on, maybe today I could get another chance.

A Mayfly in the middle of a cold winter's day, is this normal?

 When I arrived at the run I had in mind I fed it with crumb for around 20 minutes before trotting through and on the first attempt the float slipped away and a hard fighting Roach twisted and turned in the current, for the maiden fish to go 1.04 was a good sign that I was sat on a decent shoal weight wise, for the next two hours the sport was very good, as I fished my way through the shoal lulls in the catching would sometimes be as long as 5-10 minutes, to get back amongst the action I'd have to make the smallest of adjustments to depth or shotting patterns, then the bites and fish came again, if I hadn't received a slip of the float in four or five casts I'd deepen or shallow up and at times I would catch Roach at a foot under the surface in 4ft of water.

Lovely conditioned fish though.

 At times I was hitting really strong Roach, the current made them feel deceptively heavy with most of the fish feeling way larger than they turned out although I was netting some good fish between 1.03 and 1.09, the fish just seemed to keep coming until around 1pm when the bites dried up, I don't put that down to the shoal running thin on the ground but the Roach were wising up to the threat.

Best of a good bunch.

 It had been a great outing and a total bag of 28lb 14oz, my best Roach haul for quite a few years, the average weight was bought down by a couple of young fish that are coming through but numerous individual Roach weighed over a pound.

 When I lifted the keepnet out of the river I was very happy with my morning's sport and couldn't have fished better I feel, in fairness I couldn't have fished much longer as my feet even in the neoprene waders and thermal clothing were frozen, I will be back sometime soon to see if I can tempt an very special fish.

Couple of the better fish, my favourite species.

Thursday 19 January 2017

Entering their world.

 For my birthday back in October my better half purchased me a rather unexpected present, a GoPro Hero 5 Black, it was probably the last thing I'd have added to my angling arsenal, probably due to the cost but seeing as that was taken care of I had to get out and use it. It took me a while but whilst I'm still learning the features three months on I'm using it to spy on fish under water and also pulling stills from the under water videos I've shot.

 Although I haven't done much I have managed to cut some fairly decent images I feel and when recorded in 1080p and higher resolutions up to 4K the stills are pretty impressive, here are a few and at some point I will try to put some up on a YouTube page that I might create, I have to be brutally honest though I'm not massively keen on the video aspect on certain venues as I do not want to be giving anything away so most if not all of the filming will either be done on extremely well known fisheries, fisheries that are not known and location can not be made out and during the evening/night as locations will be almost impossible to find. Not that I am secret squirrel but the more that social media becomes the centre of angling as we know it I still feel there are some hidden gems which aren't known and want to keep it that way as I'm a greedy so and so.

Sunday 15 January 2017

Richard Walker Mark IV, Taming Barbel.

 On my social media page I have been very happy to have posted some pictures of landing myself a piece of angling history with the purchase of said rod in the title, I couldn't have been more excited when I learnt of its sale on eBay, for many years I've wanted to own one and the price of them has been the stumbling block. This time around though the price was right and I couldn't have coughed up the money any quicker. Once I had confirmed the purchase of the rod I organised to collect that evening and the hour drive was filled with anticipation.

 Upon arriving at the sellers property I saw an immaculate and seemingly unused Mark IV leaning against the wall of the passage, there it was! After all these years my chance to own one had come, all I was thinking about once I had collected it and left was when would I get the chance to use it?.

 It didn't take day actually and what better way to christen a new rod than target a wild river Barbel, just the adversary it was made to tackle. Most would resign it to a display case and mollycoddled for eternity, but not me, if I buy something I want to use it and use it I did. With the river that I chose to test it on running clear I had the opportunity to sight fish and that is great fun, I walked the bank for a while before deciding on where to start and even with the weather turning rather unstable with a strong prevailing wind I wasn't going to jack it in.

 In the first run I chose it looked good with plenty of cover and upon closer inspection I could see a Barbel holding station in the middle of the river, knowing it was holding there for one thing only I baited a size 8 hook with a lump of bread paired with an SSG shot and flicked out to trickle it down stream, on the second attempt the Barbel cruised across to intercept it and as the fish took the bread the 60+ year old stick came to life, a healthy bend and a high pitch whine as the brisk wind whistled passed the tort line, what fun it was too. It got to a point when I knew I had to glide it into the net but didn't want the fight to end. Such an unassuming piece of tackle could make an angler so happy, but it did and it wasn't just a small Barbel either as a frame of a double figure fish cruised in, what a start.

A stunningly dark Barbel, never gets old.

 The last six weeks for Barbel have been brilliant, this however was up there with some of my most enjoyable captures, just what it was made for and along with the split cane rod I used a Rapidex narrow drum to tame my morning's target. It couldn't have started better.......9.14 on the scales was the verdict and as it turned out not a double but clearly a frame of one, just a good meal away from being one, but I didn't read much into the weight as it was secondary to what I had experienced, a cold, drizzly and windy morning was never going to dampen the spirits.

A proper stunner! and a mat shot I've dreamt of for years.

 I knelt down on the sodden ground and guided the Barbel's head upstream and allowed her to steady in the flow before watching the sizeable frame slip out of sight into the deep water, I could have chilled from then on but wanted to see what else lye in the shadows. I afforded myself a rest for twenty minutes and have a drink when a large fish broke the surface as it hit some bread being fed to ducks upstream came past me, I didn't see the fish but within five minutes it repeated the act there or four times, I assumed it was a Trout or a Chub, so I felt that I'd like to find out what it was, on went a large piece of flake which was flung out in the general direction of where the last swirl appeared and as the bread went down it slipped just below the surface but still completely visible and instantly vanished, I struck firmly expecting a hectic battle from a wirey Trout and a couple of leaps, instead I got a complete shock as a decent Barbel slapped its tail on the surface before darting for the bottom, I had to double take on what I had just witnessed....crazy.

 The fight again was great and didn't want it to end, a couple of strong dives for cover were prevented as it would have almost certainly ended in disaster, when I put some power into it the fight lasted maybe another "two or three" minutes to which I slipped my surface caught prize to the safety of the net....strange goings on but nothing surprises me anymore. 8.04 on the scales.

 It was another of those mornings when you bag up and only had the hope of one!, it's happening a lot recently and I'm liking it very much. The morning didn't end there either as a youngster of around 21/4lb slipped up and later in the day a lovely 6lb+ Barbel gave in to its primal instinct to snaffle a perfectly placed piece of flake, been great fun and a maiden voyage for the new addition to my collection was worthy of the sport I enjoyed.

Saturday 14 January 2017

Stick and Pin Roach fishing.

 For a specimen angler I typically like to target big fish, but sometimes I like nothing more than building up a swim and staking out the keepnet in anticipation of a good trotting session. Recently I had a good trip for Dace and that fuelled my want to search for some Roach, so when half a day cropped up a week or so ago I headed out with a loaf bread hoping I could locate a shoal of redfins.

 The conditions were absolutely spot on and I couldn't have asked for more, the river was carrying some colour but not too much that it would mean slow sport, half a loaf went out in crumb and little flakes to entice the Roach to feed with abandon, the far bank crease was my marker and on the first trot down the float slipped under and my target specie darted through the swift water towards the net, they were feeding! And hard!.

 Within ten trots I had seven Roach in the keepnet with the best around the 1¼lb mark, three of which were over a pound, brilliant fishing and for next three hours I had consistent sport but bites became less and less easy to hit as the remainder of the shoal were wising up to the diminishing population around them, after three hours of trotting I gave it a break and fed some more bread in but decided after a ten minute break that I had alot of fun and left the rest to carry on their feeding in peace, with the largest two going 1.09 & 1.07 it was good fishing, a total bag weight of 25lb 7ozs for a twenty nine fish haul. I was very happy with that! and should do it more often.

Best of the day.

Sunday 8 January 2017

Frome Ladies.

 Since November I haven't managed to connect to anything large Grayling wise and I know the right locations are being fished, conditions in fairness have not been perfect on any of the trips but when you travel a round trip of more than 5 hours you have to stick to it. Armed with three pints of mixed maggots, bread and sweetcorn I was ready, arriving at dawn with the intention of fishing through dusk and make the absolute most of the opportunity.

What is there not to love about a brisk winter's morning trotting.

 Brian and I decided to fish areas we knew fairly well and things were looking hard from the beginning as we noticed immediately that the river was up 2-4 inches but running like chocolate, not what you want to see when targeting Grayling, more akin to targeting Chub. Nevertheless we got to building a couple of swims each and working them furiously. When fishing for Grayling usually I find either bites come really quickly or they take a fair amount of time where the fish are either tight to near/far side vegetation or they are further down the run and take time to draw them up to the trotting run.

4lb mainline just in case a large takes a liking to the hookbait.

 I had a dilemma with the bait situation as with the visibility poor I felt sweetcorn would be better as it is bigger and bolder in colour but with the maggots there would be more of them covering a larger area and drawing them in from wider areas as they hit the creases and get deposited, yes that means probably taking longer to catch them but with the maggots I felt more confident for some reason, over an hour had passed before the float slipped under which resulted in my first Grayling of the day, only around the 10oz mark but it was a start, then the Trout found the loose feed in the murky water and started to attack my hookbait, three came in quick succession.

 The Grayling procession did come along when the Trout either had all been caught or wised up, the latter is unlikely though knowing their unstoppable love for maggots and any bait for that matter. Nothing large did show until half way through the day when I slipped the net under a nice fish of 1.10, not massive by Frome standards, however it finally represented a photographic opportunity, hard to imagine there hadn't been one until then!. Slow wasn't the word but after slipping that Grayling back to the unusually murky depths a large spent Salmon charged around the shallows below me and provided a brilliant spectacle, the Kelt was estimated to be approaching the 20lb barrier and a very impressive creature, such a shame it probably wouldn't see the next week.

Best of the day, it was tough!

 The larger Grayling were proving very elusive and I fished my socks off and trying everything possible, by this point dusk was approaching and the temperature dropped from around 3c to -2c or -3c in a matter of minutes, it wasn't even dark when both mine and Brian's nets were frozen stiff, not particularly comfortable but you have to be in it to win it, no prizes won for sitting at home, or already packed up on the way home. We both stayed through dusk into night and switched over to a short running ledger rig baited with corn to try and tempt a nocturnal Grayling, an hour later and without as much as an indication of life we then headed to a nice war pub for some well earned grub and plenty of drink. We shall be back but boy it has not been easy and for every one of these tough trips just makes my personal best Grayling feel even greater of an achievement than I had already felt.

A very large sky, beautiful sight.

Saturday 7 January 2017

Looking Back on 2016 With Fond Memories.

 When the year started I had so many ideas in my head but knew that some would have to be put off as time would be slightly tight, one of my biggest wishes was to track down a double figure canal Bream and after a short campaign after my return from Asia I achieved it, but that wasn't the only target I set that I achieved, below is a short snapshot at how the previous twelve months unfolded.

 January was a Dace month, a few trips were made and I had huge success, having landed a great haul of big Dace I lost the largest I contacted. 15oz 4dr was the biggest I slipped into the net and larger I know existed. Dace weren't the only species I roved about for, Barbel also made an appearance with a few landed and two into the double figures.

My largest Dace of January.

A pair of large chalkstream Dace. 
One of two doubles caught in consecutive swims.

 February was much the same as I targeted the Dace shoals as they fed through the winter, plenty of rain had risen the rivers slightly and sport became patchy as I struggled to hit the conditions right, but when I did it was a great feeling and the best part of it was breaking the pound barrier with a huge Dace, not to mention the capture of what was my fifth two pound plus Roach of the season!.

Simply colossal, 1lb 0oz 4dr

The smile says it all, 2lb 2oz 5dr, love it.

Not a specimen in weight, but the prettiest Roach I've ever seen.

Target achieved!

And this one wasn't far off either!
 As the river season approached it's close I made one last push for Dace in March and was rewarded again with a good catch of fish to 14oz 6dr, all of which one day will hopefully reach that mystical size that are so rare, strangely enough it seems as if this particular river and area could hold maybe as many as a dozen at that size!.

Not too shabby at all, 14oz 6dr and my best of March.
 Moving on to April and May, myself and my now fiancee had a month or so set aside for some travelling, that involved flying off to Asia and enjoyed some much needed couple time in the jungle, bustling cities and the picturesque beaches and seas. I did catch some fish in Asia, I caught many Mekong Catfish to 160lbs and the fight still gives me nightmares.....they possess brutal power indeed. Before heading out to Asia I did catch a few Golden Orfe which included catching a new personal best, also a couple of trips out for canal carp proved successful as a Common's and Mirror's fell to stalking tactics on bread flake.

New PB at 5.02

 Once I had arrived back from Asia it was nearly time to get fishing as the river season was fast upon me, a few ventures were fielded and the first was to try and better my PB Bream, I did just that on a 24 hr session on a reservoir, I didn't beat it by much but it didn't matter to me. Then on the back of the reservoir session that I cut short I counted my lucky stars as I achieved one of my years targets in the form of a double figure Bream from a canal (10.01) only just!!. I also caught some good Dace, a lovely low 2lb Crucian and a lump of a river Carp, 25lb 6oz was the largest river Carp I've had in a few years.

My only Bream of the 24hr trip, 11.07.

One of my season target's achieved, one very happy man. Rare fish is that!

A brutus of a Carp, plenty of water enabled this Common to fight really well
and the flow of the river made it equally exciting as well as scary. 25.06.
 Now July was a brilliant month of fishing, I had the pleasure of taking my boat up to the Fens for a few trips and managed to catch a good haul of Rudd with six over 2lbs, the two largest at 2.06 and 2.05. The Chub fishing was also very good fun as I'd stalk them in the summer sunshine amongst the runs of dense weed, a good head of 5's were landed and plenty of back-up fish of upper 4's and below. 

Lovely fish, shame about the marking up.

Stour Chub are awesome fish.

Not far off of six pounds, great condition.

Best Rudd of the season at 2.06, stunning fish.
 Moving on to August, for me it was a very quiet month and fishing wise I didn't do an awful lot, I did however manage one trip abroad with the missus to see some friends and also a single trip to the Stour for Chub. It went very well and in the process caught my first Grass Carp and Asp which were both great fun!

Stunning Dutch Grassie

My best Asp of the trip.

Biggest Dace of the summer, a clonking 13oz+

Best Chub of the summer at 6.01

Also some cracking Barbel turned up aswell on short trips after work.
  During September I found fishing difficult and coupled with limited time on the rivers the rewards were scant, the Stour provided me with snippets of what could be achieved but nothing large made it to the bank. Plenty of 4's were about it.

 Then October was fairly similar in a few ways but there was one real stand out catch, which was resulted in a Barbel which missed the double figure mark by a matter of drams.....

 November started off with a couple of Thames Pike but the highlight of this month had to be finally cracking the Dorset Frome's specimen Grayling population, I'd spent three trips in the previous season and on the second trip of this campaign I nailed a biggie. 2lb 11oz of power and beauty rolled into one, lovely fish and the fight was heart-stopping as it tried tirelessly to shed the hook by burying it's head in stone and gravel, very dirty tactics and after hitting the current broad-side I had the chance to finally land it 70 yards downstream from where I caught it !

Smashed my PB and one of angling dreams achieved.

Another large Stour Chub which came right at the end of a tough day.
 Then December. Again this month seemed to fly by with the approach to Christmas but it didn't stop  the barrage of Barbel that followed, over three trips I enjoyed over a dozen Barbel, two of which weighed 11.02 and 10.15. It was fantastic fishing and during the winter it's fishing that most would not expect! I just hope more sessions like that come around soon enough.








A very good Dace to finish the year, also had one of 14oz 2dr to go with it.

Breaming of a Slime Fest.

   As the weather begins to warm so does the water and slowly but surely the Bream will come to a point where they will go off and spawn, en...