Thursday, 23 March 2017

My Parting Gift.


 Winter is the season where my angling starts to come together, my target species are increasing in weight and holding up in areas you'd expect to find them. However this winter has been tougher than usual, the prospect of big Chub is far too much to pull away from even when it was fishing hard, which was most of the time, so for the last day of the season I fancied a jolly up in HMS Rudd.

 An early start was in order and after spending north of ½hour to get set Brian and I took to a Fenland river in search of Rudd, conditions as usual weren't perfect, 24 hours late yet again but that seems to be how I always cut it, never stops me catching but it would help. I bought along a new acquisition in the form of a 3.5hp 2-stroke engine to speed up journey times between fishing grounds, thankfully I had my electric engine on board too, as after an hour of trying I finally learnt that without 30:1 ratio of marine engine oil added to the petrol my engine would stall, which it did four or five times before I took the hint, can not believe I didn't realise it needed it. Live and learn as they say.


 Once I had conceded that the only power I had was my 2hp electric we headed to some grounds upstream first where I know they hold up but fishing was tough, we fed over two loaves of bread on a 100 yard section but nothing doing, not even a bite, so we had decided our better chances rested downstream. The wind seemed stronger the further we headed down, the land became flatter which gave us a lot less cover, there was one spot in the summer that I know held good heads of Rudd and didn't really get anything massive so I thought it would be a good idea to spend a couple of hours and heave in the bread.

 Thankfully, the Swans and Gulls were not around in the numbers that the summer normally boasts which makes feeding swims easier, nothing worse than getting Rudd feeding on the surface then a gaggle of Swans hoover up your crust before the Rudd get a chance. I kept my set-up simple with a 5lb mainline and 3lb bottom, 4g pellet waggler and size 8 hook, where I would alternate the depth to find where I would get the indications.

Not big but a photo opp! weren't many of them.

 A little after midday my day was about to be brightened up by something a little special.....my float had been out for a good five minutes, slowly trundling down the gentle current, briefly I lost sight of the top of the waggler when I then started to wind down and struck, I didn't see the initial disappearance of the float but reacted within a split second and I could feel a considerable weight on the end, certainly no Rudd though. At first I thought a really big Chub but even that was unlikely, all I could think of was how lite I was fishing - luckily I was in the boat and as the fish swam past us up stream the boat turned to follow it up, we let slip of the anchor and headed up with what we then found out was a big Carp when it porpoised, showing it's large flanks. On such lite tackle it was very good fun and in fairness it didn't fight very hard as I'd expect a wild river Carp too although I feel it's a good thing it didn't or I'd have stood practically no chance in slipping it into my very small net.....




 27lb 12oz, my largest river Carp for a few years now, a little special.

 The margins were a pain as the Carp was too big to land, first of all the netsmen did a sterling job to get it in my net, how I don't know but he did, the next issue was getting into shore, I had to take my trainers and socks off and get into the river so I could gently release my gift from the angling gods, before then we put a number to what was a magnificent creature and took a few photographs to show me when thing's are tough how good they can be. The fact I hadn't had a Rudd after five hours of fishing didn't bother me all of a sudden, all pressure of catching was well and truly dispelled, however we had made the journey up for Rudd so it would have been good to have left with at least a couple under our belts.



 And with that sunset the season was done, it had been a good one and some big fish caught along with many memorable trips.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

My Search For Monster Chub 2016/17 Season.



 For many years I have had designs on catching a really big Chub, Chub so big that they will almost remain a dream for my entire angling career, growing up a Chub of 8lb + was so rare that you'd barely here of their capture, even 7's were very rare. Only until the last few years have these mystical specimens become just a little more achievable, over half a dozen rivers have proved that in just over the last twelve months. I started fishing for Chub seriously a few years ago and before this season I'd only caught two 6lb+ Chub (6.10 & 6.04) which coincidentally came 20 minutes apart on the Thames fishing the quiver tip.

 This season my season's target with Chub was to catch a 7lb Chub, a huge challenge but I was targeting rivers where this sort of target could be achievable, I spent nearly 20 days in total on the Stour and a further 3 on the Avon on top of a few dozen closer to home. After that effort I didn't make it to the magic mark but felt I fished well, the summer certainly provided more sport as I was able to stalk Chub which is more my style of fishing, sitting behind a rod is hard for me to do but during the winter months it was a necessity.

 Over those trips I finished up with one Chub over 6lb (6.01) and fifteen over 5lb, plus many back up fish over 4lbs. A good return but one I look to improve upon next season and I'll be looking to improve on my summer fishing more to try and catch my target fish before the rivers colour up during the Autumn and Winter.

 Here are a few examples of my season's work.



My best Avon Chub at 5.09


Campaign best at 6.01

Friday, 17 March 2017

A Splash of Colour.


 Just a brief one, after my short Chub session my plans were to head off into the Surrey Downs and target some Golden Orfe, these fish aren't known for their fighting qualities but they are a fantastic looking fish. Even when they're bright orange in murky water they are still very good at hiding right under the radar, I decided to stay very mobile and try to locate them in the sunshine. This wasn't easy, more than two hours were spent wandering before I finally struck it lucky with the capture of a 4.02 G.Orfe but I knew larger ones existed so I continued to search them out.

Second best at 4.02

 My next two fish were small Tench around the pound mark but out of the blue I set into a small Orfe and the smallest I've ever caught, then shortly after that the float buried itself sharply which could only mean one thing, it was the appearance of a much better fish, again the fight wasn't much good and a very light hook hold I mugged it into the net, job done but I thought it would miss out on being a five pound plus specimen and I was right as the scales settled on 4.08, brilliant condition.

Nice! I do like these fish.

 The rest of the day was spent hauling Tench out one after another, with nothing over 3lb it wasn't about size but a handful of them were around the 8oz mark and they were simply stunning little creatures, every one was given the once over and marvelled at the olive green flanks and teddy bear eyes, this spring I will give their much larger bretherin a real good go.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Sausage Sizzle Strike's Again.


 After two long days after Chub in testing conditions I decided to try a little closer to home and try to put some faith back into my bait and wait work, the river was coloured and pushing pretty hard but it didn't stop the fish from feeding well as I opted to fish only for a couple of hours.

Some of the components used to snare my target species.
 I planned on dumping some bait in a couple of swims just to get some fish moving out of the trees just downstream of each run, more often than not they seem to seek refuge in any conditions but move out with the sound of small 6mm pellets hitting the surface, akin to a dinner bell! having only a short trip planned I hoped that the Chub would hone in quickly and my prayer was answered within just twenty minutes, a small tap on the rod let me know something was home and as I poised over the top of the rod it double taps violently, fish on and it felt like my target straight away.

All set, wait and see.


 First blood, 3,13 and not the biggest Chub of the season but a welcome fish and knew that others were down there. I didn't waste time in getting some more bait down as if one was feeding they often feed as a shoal, I winched my bait into position, waited and for a few minutes I trickled a 6mm pellet in 5 second intervals, this in the summer is a deadly trick that I use and works so efficiently. Minutes later my tip slowly moved towards the river, like something coming downstream had caught on the line, I lifted the rod to expect to wind in rubbish but instead the rod slammed over as I took up the slack, this was a much better fish.

 When it cruised into the net I was startled by it's rather ugly appearance, but very thick and noticeably short. I was intrigued to see what it weighed and I was surprised when the digi's registered 5lb 1oz, something I didn't really expect but I'd certainly take it. Once I had taken a photo and released the Chub downstream I got myself back in position with more enquiries almost a given......

U G L Y he ain't got no alibi ! And no not me :)

 So with that my confidence was rewarded with a motionless rod for the remainder of the trip, but two Chub wasn't a terrible return and my last bit of Chub fishing for the season.


Sunday, 12 March 2017

Blank Sessions....


..............

 That could have been my post as angling wise it was pretty tough, in fact I failed to register a substantial bite over a day on a heavily coloured River Itchen and two days on a flooded River Stour. I like to think I know a thing or two about floodwater fishing but I come unstuck in the testing conditions that both trips threw at me.


 The trip to the Itchen was a visit to the lower itchen fishery with the lads from the team, conditions were so bad that had it been just a trip on my own then I'd have left straight away and gone elsewhere, with less than ½ft of visibility the Grayling fishing was going to be poor and I knew that but used the opportunity to get to know the boys better and have a laugh, so that's what we all did. A few Grayling to a pound or so, a few Trout and a solitary Barbel of nearly 12lbs which was great to see but my trip angling wise was atrocious, my stubborn approach to fishing probably cost me a few fish as I refuse to static fish for Grayling, this is for two reasons, firstly on a chalk stream it isn't cricket "not for the purist" if I could be called that and secondly Grayling are notoriously greedy and the thought of deep hooking them isn't my idea of fishing and could do without casualties.



 Then the Stour.........just as tough but for the species I intended to fish for the conditions were a little better, Brian and I had two days down to have one last push for a big Chub, both days were spent ledgering as the lack of clarity meant trotting was almost out of the question although it could have been done, I spent many hours watching the rod tips for any sort of enquiry but no matter what I did I simply could not manage a meaningful take, many taps on the bread flake but I suspected that the culprit was small Dace and Roach, around midday on the second day though I witnessed the second largest Chub I've seen on the bank, Brian had done it! but I shall leave him to elaborate and rake in the plaudits as he should, a big fish and a pleasure to see.

My new landing mat, very well made and with built in shoulder
strap it's ideal for the roving angler.


 I don't catch fish every time I head out, these trips have been testament to how difficult fishing can be at times.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Red Letter Morning.


 Barbel are firmly on the radar of late due to the favourable conditions, the milder nights has kept temperatures up slightly higher than late-February would usually experience and with the warmer weather I had a tasty 48 trip planned for the Trent, a river I've really fancied getting on for a few years now for reasons that are pretty obvious, I want a shot at a ludicrously big Barbel.

 Let's just say that trip will have to wait, a couple of issues had arisen which prompted me to change my plans, the main issue was the sudden change of weather, the arrival of storm "Doris" brought with it winds over 90mph in the North and over 50 mph across the mainland, these sorts of conditions made me think differently and decided to stay closer to home and on Sunday morning I ventured out on my bike for the first in many years, I felt like I was 13 again!


 I fancied a really good go as well seeing as I had the entire day at my disposal which doesn't happen often, with my Barbel head on I hoped that I'd find some feeding fish and down south the conditions were slightly better with the winds in the morning only forecasted to reach 17mph which I can deal with but by the afternoon it was predicted to gust at 35-40mph. I walked to a nice spot I haven't fished in years, unfortunately it looked a little pressured with plenty of foot traffic so I didn't stay long, plus with plenty of little hideaways that I have I felt my time would be spent wiser elsewhere.

 Once I arrived at the first fishy looking area I ran a float along a far bank crease that ran along a fallen tree, no free-bees were thrown out and just the second trot through the float buried itself in a flash, I struck immediately into a heavy fish, the beginning of the fight was punctuated by a powerful run upstream past me and for a few seconds I was winding furiously to gain line on the fish, I was in no doubt that a Barbel was the culprit. The end of the fight resulted in me sliding a big Barbel into the net, I was pleased as punch and it looked awesome too.

My first double for a couple of months. 10lb 3oz.
 A fish that looked almost as if it was a summer Barbel as was the stunning colour. It was going to be tough to back that stunner up, so it was a case of trying. I'd already had a great start in that area so I decided on a journey downstream as I felt the fish were holding up in slightly deeper water. Within thirty minutes of moving I was in again, another good quality Barbel weighing 8lb 7oz lay in the net awaiting it's picture taken, then the quality fish continued to come to the net as I then had three more fish weighing 9lb 5oz, 4lb+ and an 8lb 2oz fish. It was a spell of no more than an hour but it was so prolific that I think it all happened in the space of maybe nine or ten trots! Most of the time was spent reviving, photographing and weighing the fish then moving up and down to locate more feeding fish, something I wasn't having much trouble with.

8.07
7.02
 I wanted to get a photo of the 9.05 but it wasn't having any of it and to not cause any issues I slipped it straight back, a lovely fish though and at that size I will always be chuffed, a double though is the sort of fish that we leave home early for, I was one very happy angler indeed! and the sport didn't die there either with the capture of one last Barbel ( around 6lb ) before the conditions worsened and made me decide that with the trees starting to creek under the force of the wind it was time to go, it was however a great morning's fishing and topped off with the capture of six mint conditioned Barbel.