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!

Sunday 20 August 2017

Canal Bream: Three in a Bed.

 It seems to be all I see now during my trips to the canal, until this particular trip when I finally found a Carp, a Mirror roughly 20-22lbs and looking rather mobile which didn't help me to try and persuade it take a piece of flake, twenty minutes of trying I gave up, I could have possibly followed it all day with no response.

 The Bream were up for it however and it made for a brilliant 30 minutes on the free-lined flake, a total of five casts resulted in three fighting fit canal slabs, once upon a time I used to struggle for these elusive creatures, now the learning has come full circle I am reaping the rewards and it's great fun indeed.

Best of the day at 8.03

8.03 & 7.14 brace

Another good "seven" 

Thursday 10 August 2017

Chalkstream Roach: The Big One That Got Away.

 Summer Roach have to be one of the most gullible species when the conditions are right, location I find is often the main stumbling block, over the last couple of months I've made a few short trips down south to hopefully get amongst some leviathans that I know live within a mile or so stretch, over my recent trips to locate Roach I had found the very specimens I wanted and some beyond my wildest dreams, now a summer river Roach is probably not far off of being at bottom weights having only spawned a couple of months ago (roughly mid-April) but these were massive.

 I finally got the chance to fish for them and after plenty of working out on how to get them to take a bait without feeling pressure I took four in two trips with the best at 1lb 10oz, a long skinny fish that come December will be a 2lb plus fish I'm certain, the others were all around the 1.04 mark, I did have the very unfortunate experience of finally hooking one of the monsters on my second trip down and that was only after four hours of tedious avoiding of the small Grayling and Trout that constantly nicked my bread on practically every trot, then out of the blue a trot finally came good and a huge redfin came up off the bottom and sucked in my flake, I became a quivering wreck before the bread disappeared, I could see it was a fish close to my PB (2.15) or maybe even bigger, a true fish straight out of my wildest dreams....

My best of the two trips, 1.10.

......The battle was played very cautiously with every judder of the tip made me even more nervous, I couldn't bare to watch it unfold, I knew I had to get the fish out of the main flow and into the margins where the slack would give me a better chance to land her, after a couple of minutes I slowly began to gain the upper hand and honestly thought that I had now earned my chance to land the very fish i've spent years searching for but all that unravelled in a heart beat and I had gone from nervousness to almost pure elation to complete shellshock, as the Roach came up in the water column it hit a swift bit of current and put a lot of extra tension on the line and the fish bolted downstream with the current and the hook pulled, total and utter disaster.

 I tried to compose myself to carry on fishing but I was far too gutted and called it a day, retribution would have to wait for another day, I was in a fit of disappointment, never have I felt so negative about a passage of my angling before. 

Sunday 6 August 2017

From Somerset With Love.

 A couple of weeks ago my sister proudly graduated from Falmouth university with a degree in English Lit', this was cause for a trip down south, now South London to Falmouth is a long drive so I fancied breaking it up a bit and squeeze some fishing in, why not have a go for a specimen Rudd on the levels I thought, it's been some time since I was down that way and fancied another go at stalking them. I booked the BnB a couple of weeks previously and had a plan all in my head as to what I was going to do.

 Thankfully the Levels are roughly half way between home and the Uni so it made for a good place to stay anyway, two and half hours later I was in the car park of my digs, stalking gear already made in preparation I was raring to go, miles of walking, a pair of polaroids and a couple loaves of bread, what type of fishing could be better, just how I like it.

 The wind was a little blustery as it is now writing this with plenty of patchy cloud that looked like it wanted to rain, thankfully it managed to hold off until the last knockings. The first section I walked looked good for some decent Rudd but the shoals of tiny fish was simply incredible, a handful of crusts that would go out to search out the bigger fish were just getting smashed by scores of hungry fingerlings, actually getting 6-10oz Rudd to the bait was a challenge in itself and I weren't even after them. After a few hours I realised that I had to find areas where the population of Rudd was much smaller where competition wouldn't be so fierce and would hopefully give rise to an opportunity for my targets to get to the bait.

 Whilst walking around I bumped into a local angler who had also been looking for some Rudd but having the same problems I was, after chatting for a while we decided to head down a couple of locks to see if we could get ahead of the cuttings, unfortunately a mile or so down we were still firmly in the thick of it. I had a little mooch around and it looked good for a fish or two, for a couple of hours loads of bread went out and a few small fish were caught ( Pike, Perch, Silver Bream, Bream and Rudd), yes Pike on bread, the Perch came out on a little spinner.

 As dusk approached I noticed a couple of really large swirls around some crust some 70-80 yards from where I was initially fishing and flicking out the bread, I suspected the Pike activity spooked the bigger Rudd down the section, I dropped down maybe 50 yards down and flicked some more fish crust out and waited to see what happened, not fifteen minutes after moving this beauty of a canal Rudd surfaced before darting back down towards the weed beds, I knew it was a big fish immediately as the take was very powerful and the first part of the fight impressive, a small period of negotiating the cuttings and beds of pads and weed she cruised straight into the net and my Somerset trip was now a complete success!

My canal PB, 2 lb 5oz.
The very last thing the bread sees.

Top down, 2.05, 1.06 & 1.01
 I made the journey down just to catch a fish that special, for a canal specimen, they seldom get more impressive! the other two above came in quick succession when they switched off for the night, as did I ! a well earned couple of pints were had, on my own it has to be said.....chin chin!

 That evening we had a huge storm around 2am that kept me awake as I watched the lightning like a child, I've always been impressed by it however it did have a knock on affect to my mornings plans, these were to be at the docks for around 530am, that didn't happen and around 7am 'ish I set up my float rod and got plenty of bait out. This part of the trip didn't really go to plan either as a huge shoal of small fish annoyed me and I couldn't get my bait through to my intended target, the Silver Bream.

My best Silver Bream in years.

Pretty canal Perch.

My first ever Golden Rudd.

Bread munching Esox.

Stunning sunset over the levels.

This was what I had to deal with for time I was there.....

 Fortunately I had a couple to 9ozs the day before but really wanted a good pound plus fish to add to my challenge, this wasn't to be, for now at least as another trip next friday is planned and I hope to do a couple of hours on the docks as I head through to Taunton.

Wednesday 2 August 2017

Fun with the mark IV.

 After a long period of no rain we have now had plenty to give a little life to some of our rivers, much needed from what I was seeing leading up to the deluges that followed. Keeping it relatively local I ventured out for some Bream and Chub on Thames, a tiny bit of colour coming out of a tributary gave the waiting fish some cover and a few really comfortably, with only an hour to spare I decided to stret-peg a large lump of bread flake in the margins and hoped the action would be forthcoming.

 I didn't have to wait long, this mint Chub was the first up to slip my peacock quill under and for much of the hour I had available it barely stayed still, this river can do this from time to time and throw you a real good session, the Chub was around the 4lb mark and in great condition, the Bream were ravenous and 13 came to the net averaging 4lb with the best going 6lb 1oz, not monsters but brilliant fun, next time I fish for them I will try to spend longer on them and see what turns up.

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 ...