Wednesday 26 December 2018

Tidal Pike, The Elusive Twenty.

 Since I started to venture out on the Thames in the boat ( SS Essess ) I have dreamt of getting big fish in it and having been unlucky on a few occasions my luck was finally in, but it was hard work. My arrival at the slipway that I frequently use greeted me with brown water which was thundering through, so much so that a glance further up river revealed very little of navigable water, my boat partner for the day was my Dutch friend Yannick and having talked up our chances of a good afternoon afloat we couldn't really turn back.

Some serious flood water coming through.

 So I decided to get the boat rigged up and off we went, the challenge was to find the slacks amongst the turbulent waters of the Thames in flood, with the slight drop in air temp the steam rose of the river tantalisingly, the sort of conditions I really enjoy fishing. Problem was our roving baits would need to be bang on the money if we were to catch and that proved to be the hardest conundrum.

 As we motored upstream against the powerful creases and riding the main flows from the weir we finally after careful planning made the main feeding area, far away from the average angler. Having fished this particular weir a bit now, maybe 12 times I have begun to work out timings that the fish hunt and where is more productive. Believe me it matters too as we spent two hours or so biteless, we fished well, we simply hadn't found the fish.

 Then out of nowhere my 20g float bobbed and slipped under where I was then met with a decent amount of resistance, however not enough to get excited about as most of the Pike in the boat fight well. For over 3-4 minutes the fish remained unsighted until a large swirl appeared just under the surface where I made out a silhouette of an upper double + Esox, just what I was hoping for!

 Not long after she appeared on the surface the net was shipped out and the first fish of the day was safe in the folds of my net. Knowing how the fish feed here I didn't hesitate to get a bait back out and within a minute my decision was vindicated as the float slipped away again, this time the culprit was a lot smaller. At around 7lb it wasn't a tiny fish and welcome. As I attempted to prepare the camera Yannicks float went under and another spirited battle ensued around the boat, again it wasn't big but that hot spell was certainly upon us and juggling two Pike in the net already and Yannicks 5lb+ fish which we chinned out was pushing it a little.

 What made this even more interesting was my float vanished again! This time it certainly felt like a big fish and with a couple of minutes on the clock I began to feel that the big one already in my net was about to eclipsed when inexplicably the treble must have slipped and the unseen monster vanished. I was understandably gutted but I thought that we had better get a weight and photo of the bigger one in my net, with the others released we concentrated on matters in the boat.

As it approached the boat I thought it was a twenty plusser.

 Once we had a grip on what was going on in the boat we got this mint 17lb 13oz Pike on the mat and ready for a couple of pictures, good length but the weight was certainly in its girth and stomach, she was certainly a young female with very good genes and I'm certain will hit the high twenties come a couple years down the line if she avoids the poachers, seals, pollution e.t.c.

 And as they say "that, was that". Fifteen minutes of action was met with a biteless finale to match the lead up to the flurry at around 1345-1400, I don't think many anglers realise how good Pike are at hunting.

 A new Thames personal best to boot!

Tuesday 11 December 2018

The Dutch Maestro.

 For a few days back in October a friend of mine, Yannick, made the journey over from the Netherlands to taste a little of what England has to offer in regards to angling. Funnily enough, Holland has pretty much every species that we do, however, certain species such as the Barbel and Grayling are not as widespread as they are here in the UK and makes targeting them back home a real challenge, so the plan was to target a different species every day that Yannick was here.

 As time drew closer to his arrival I was watching the weather and river levels intently, this single aspect would make or break certain waterways and their targets, Barbel love a bit of coloured water, on the flip side the Grayling aren't so keen, finding feeding Grayling in the coloured water often proves fruitless unless you as the angler is comfortable with a maggot feeder approach and await the enquiries, I am not so comfortable with it. Not a purists approach in my honest opinion.

 Thankfully as Yannick arrived at Luton for me to meet him we had our first named storm of the season (put sarcastically) where everywhere got a good drenching and the strong winds forced most of the trees to shed their leaves.........oh joy :), The plan was to find a couple of areas to drop some bait in and come back to them around dusk to see if any fish were home, the time leading up to that we went on a mobile approach. When covering such large distances between feeding pods of fish its the only way, my preferred method for certain.

 After an hour or so of trying my Mark IV Avon was bent over backwards as a furious Barbel opted to head for cover rather than play nicely. The combination between my match aerial and 6lb line made for a great fight, not the biggest I've ever caught but a good reward as nothing up to that point was showing and the anonymity puzzling as I can often find fish, even with difficult conditions. Maybe 5lb 8oz I had a quick snap and off she went, this trip wasn't about me so continued on in search of more to give Yannick the chance to experience the fight a Barbel can give.

 For around four hours we continued to search but our efforts weren't rewarded like we thought they would be, with dusk looming we both got prepared for a couple of hours of static fishing. Knowing that dusk is often the best time to get an opportunity if its going to come we prepared everything and got a bit more bait out so that the baits were in the water for "prime time".

 Not twenty minutes later, the outside quiver tip sprung into life and slammed around, like a snake poised, Yannick was on it and his chance of a Barbel had materialised! The only question was would it come to net and surrender?

Never in doubt !

 A happy man indeed and weighing in at 8lb 1oz, not bad for his first.

 Not long after that Barbel went back the heavens decided to open, we kept our minds focused for another hour without incident, with that we decided to beat a hasty retreat to my house and we got ourselves warm with a firm eye on the next day!

 A nice early start and we were in the car on route to the Hampshire Countryside for a days Grayling, this was one trip I was thoroughly looking forward to as I haven't fished for the Lady of the Stream much of late, conditions weren't terrible but plenty of rain was in the forecast, along with 18mph winds the forecast didn't disappoint and was bang 11am we were battling the elements, cracking on early doors to get the best fishing done was order of the day and after slow starts for us all Brian, who joined us two caught a couple of stunning specimens to a smidgen under two pounds and after finding his feet Yannick got amongst the bigger fish with the best weighing 1lb 12oz which turned out to be his personal best and he delighted with that!

 For me, the trip wasn't as successful as I hoped for but to see the boys catch well I was more than happy. 

 Oh and a few out of season Trout also made their presence known....

 After a swift trip back to London we planned our next days fishing and although I knew we had a lot of rain I fancied a trip to the tidal Thames for a days predator fishing, something that I thought would be great fun, just one issue with that particular plan was that I hadn't envisaged the river was heaving through and coloured more than I thought it would be.

 Not to be deterred, the boat got set up and off we went, in waters that maybe we shouldn't was more like a washing machine than a weir pool, but we were there and to fish, to begin with we fished the little slacks amongst the rolling water in the vein hope of a take. With small Chublet on the business end it was a matter of time. 

 Out of the blue around 2pm my float slipped under and I was met with a solid Pike, followed by another within just 5 minutes. Things were starting to hot up and not after long the flying dutchman also got his reward for the constant roving around. 

Not the biggest there but mint condition.
 As always is the case on the Thames action usually comes thick and fast in little spells, we knew bites wouldn't come much easier and had to make the most of it. For us though bite time appeared to last just 20 mins and all four runs came off a patch of maybe a meter square! such was the precision required to get a fish, crazy as its not a small area to work, to get it down to an area that small and catch for us was quite incredible as has we not found that tiny area we would have blanked, no doubts about it.

 The last day before Yannick was due to go home was spent targeting a species of fish we have many of here, but in the Netherlands they aren't as prevalent, that species...the Chub. For us, they are in practically every waterway from the far southwest of the country to the lower regions of Scotlands and Northern England.

 For me four pound Chub are dead easy to catch and I know many places to target them, so, with that knowledge I "expected" us to catch a hat full. Obviously I was chuffed when on the second trot of the day resulted in a nice Chub around 3.8, that was exactly how I wanted it to start, for the next 4 hours bites came steady as did the Chub, a nice bag of fish up to 4lb 4oz was a good day, however the larger fish remained elusive as I know it does fish over 5lb and some in excess of 5lb 8oz, luck of the draw I suppose. Not bad for a first time!

Sunday 9 December 2018

Early Birds Don't Always Catch The First Worm.

 With the temperatures beginning to drop slightly in late October the thought of targeting some predators was crossing my mind more and more, knowing how little they have featured in my angling over the years I certainly fancied getting out in my boat more often to attempt in catching a few. Pike of course are my main target with one eye on a twenty pounder, for me on the tidal it would be a great achievement, I believe they are present but without fishing it pretty seriously I'm only ever going to come across one by pure chance.

 Luck is a massive factor in any anglers life, there are times when it abandons you, equally however there are times when you question, how? how did i just land that? it's a question I've asked myself on numerous occasions over the years. Now this may not be pertinent to this particular post, but when I do finally catch up with my scribblings all will become clear!

 On this fine, dry, late October day myself and Brian "the vice captain" launched the boat for a jolly around on old father Thames, the joy we both get from being afloat almost turns us into little kids again. The fact that we are also fishing on pretty good hunting grounds also fills us with confidence that at any point our floats could disappear and be connected to an angry Pike aiming to take us into one of the many snags that are present within the swirling cauldron within which they live.

 For myself, catching is fairly important to me now owing to my lack of time that is available, I know I keep saying it, but I have to admit, it makes me fish even harder, never in one place for too long and only selecting conditions that I think would be conducive to fishing for that specific species. Something else that Brian and I have discovered that there isn't a rush to get a bait out for a pike, typically bites don't come around until mid afternoon, so being that early bird doesn't necessarily mean you'll be the first to catch!

 Enquiries I find come anytime from 1345 onwards to dusk when they cease feeding, efficient as they are it narrows down the time that we have to be successful, these findings may not be relevant on other waters, here, on the Thames these are very relevant as more than 95% of all pike caught off the boat in 2 years have been beyond 1330, quite an astounding piece of info for those who aren't sure what times are best to target them. This however is only based on info collected by myself, Brian and my brother Richard.

 So naturally, Brian and I drifted around the pool, dropping the weight down on areas we fancied 20 mins to trot around. Great thing with liveys is that they just amble around and effectively search out the fish for you, they want to find cover and the predators are hiding in the cover, lying in ambush for such prey! Just before 2pm and my float bobbed and vanished from sight, could only mean one thing! Pike on!

 A handful of firm runs made for good sport and in the boat the fish fight seem to fight so much harder, before I caught a glimpse of it the visions of a mid double esox was running through my mind, then this spirited fish around the 10lb mark finally gave up and lye in the net awaiting its photo to be taken. The first two hours as expected yielded no action, this was hopefully the beginning of the fast and furious action. and furious is what we both hoped for, alas that is not what happened. For over 2 hours we continued to work the pool to no avail, as dusk was beginning to settle in we decided to drift back over the area we started on and within minutes the float stopped dead in its tracks and stormed under, action once again!

 This slightly longer less podgy Pike had slipped up, just as we both thought that Pike time was coming to an end. Both pike were in great condition and bodes well for the future of the tidal river. After the release of that second fish we continued to trot around the pool, unfortunately there was no further action. Until next time, tight lines.

Friday 7 December 2018

A Little Catch Up.

 It has been a fair while since I revisited my blog, even though I haven't been on here much I have managed to get a little fishing done! Not easy mind you, but any time out is welcome as the early rigours of fatherhood aren't easy.

 I have targeted a few different species over the Autumn with predators featuring mainly. However, smaller species such a Roach, Grayling, Perch, Gudgeon and a rogue Tench!. All of which represents a fantastic bit of sport and something I could never tire of, here is a little gallery of fish taken over a months period before I got my predator head on.

A chalkstream beauty.

Freelined bread in the margins fooled this 6lb 6oz Tinca.

For me, I could only manage modest Grayling on that occasion.

Then once the weather started to turn slightly cooler and the clocks went forward my predator head was firmly screwed on, stayed tuned.

Follow me on instagram @james_denison_angling

See you there hopefully. 

Friday 2 November 2018

Chubbing On My Birthday.

 I am thoroughly enjoying my beginning days of fatherhood and what an experience it is too, nobody really tells you what to really expect, for those who read this and aren't parents yet, be prepared for the sense of selfishness to disappear pretty quickly, those who already are parents will probably just sympathise and nod to themselves, it is the best birthday present I could have ever asked for, myself and the good lady are besotted but equally as tired.

I missed these views!

 As the 7th of October approached the missus suggested I have a morning out fishing and before baby a days fishing wasn't even spoken about, I'd let her know what my plans were and I'd just go, none of that anymore !. I thought as I hadn't been in a few weeks that it would be lovely to get out, but for what? I had numerous targets drifting in and out of favour for a couple of days prior to my escape, in the end I decided to take my 15ft float rod out for a dusting off, Chub were my target for the day.

 Once the species was chosen the dilemma of where to go then cropped up, did I go for numbers? or specimen fishing, where catching just one of two would have been an achievement?. Quantity it was.

 Armed with a loaf of bread, ready to fish by dawn I was prepared for a potential glut of Chub, the outcome could be anything and that was what lured me to target this particular river as I've bagged up numerous "five pound plus" Chub and that in my book is excellent fishing. To begin with a healthy amount of crumb was deposited into the head of the pool, with the intention of the rolling water to distribute the white mist all over and whip up a frenzy. Frenzy it certainly was! on my first trot too!. As my flake had barely got a foot under the surface with my float stiff laying flat on the surface it whipped under! I thought to myself, " it's going to be a good day" and boy was it!


 I effectively ploughed my way through Chub after Chub after Chub with the average weighing approximately the 2lb 12oz to 3lb 8oz mark which is great going, a number of low to mid four pound specimens also put up some very spirited scraps on my delicately light trotting gear, there were two noticeably good fish mixed in the hoards that graced my net, the second largest weighing in at 4lb 14oz and then best was clearly well over five pounds at 5lb 6oz which is my best this season so far, although I've not targeted them much this season. I was pleasantly surprised by how well fed the "five" was and that how well it fought, for quite sometime I've debated whether it has the ability to deliver a six pound plus specimen, with this particular fish being as rotund as it was and seemingly young and clean gives me hope that maybe it is possible.

My best of the day at 5lb 6oz.

 I spent five hours in the water trotting with hardly a trot going by without a fish or an attempt missed, I had clearly got them in a feeding mood and found it so exciting to end up with a bag that probably, based on a law of averages to be over 200lb. 59 Chub came to the net in the end in that flurry and I could have continued fishing too as there was more fish present, just holding behind a massive fallen tree which clearly seemed to hold the entire shoal as I got most of my bites from there, the initial couple of fish came from the pool right under my feet, but as I started to get through the fish they dropped further down the run to the sanctuary of said tree, for me it was a brilliant bit of fishing and with very little time out as you can probably deduce I savoured that for a few days afterwards. 

Monday 17 September 2018

New Arrival !

 No it's not fishing tackle, no it's not a new boat, SHE is something far more precious. My lack of fishing recently is owing to the birth of our first child, a little daughter named Heidi. Lucie and I couldn't be happier and the journey of fatherhood has begun.

 She will one day be my partner in crime and hopefully show me how to fish, not that she knows it yet, there will be no say in the matter!

 6lb 3oz of pure love and elation!

Sunday 9 September 2018

Change, As Good As Rest.

 My carp pursuits this season have meant that most other species faced neglect, something at times I've struggled with as a varied season is always great fun, with the changing of seasons the quarry changes too, to be setting out my stall to target just carp will take a herculean effort, thats before I have even factored in the very challenge a forty pound carp represents, it hasn't been easy.

 Nevertheless at times whilst sat behind a couple of rods, awaiting that magical moment one of the rods goes off that I do need to keep my mind ticking and over, I have debated on what ways to do this and the only way I feel I can target the carp successfully is by having an occasional break, whether it be for carp elsewhere or a quick trip elsewhere for a different species. For roughly a week the thought of a Barbel session circled around my fishy brain and in the end I caved in, a few hours spare last week was just the ticket.

 Time to dust off the old cane and pin, it was Barbel time! Not that I needed reminding how well they fight seeing that I'd had a double just a couple of weeks ago which was partly the reason for my diversion on this particular day.

 This section of river used to get a lot of attention when I was younger as it held good heads of decent Barbel and I knew that there were good fish still present, knowing this information it was the area where I'd concentrate my early efforts. The fishing as it turned out wasn't going to be easy, very little showed itself for stalking and after walking anything between two and three miles the expectation grew larger until, finally I managed to focus on a couple of fish on a gravel run which ran close to a big bush in the river, I didn't expect to look for that long to get an opportunity, it did come however in the shape of a missile, long, lean and still in summer condition, possibly, it has to be said one of the most pristine Barbel thats graced my net in quite some time.

Absolutely mint! Around 6lbs.

 The fight was very good and it's lair didn't want to give up its resident easily as my Mark IV had to work hard before I was able to angle it close to the net, thankfully Brian was on hand to slip the net under it and was the opening fish of the trip which turned out to be the first of three fish, the other two came later on in the day, one around 4-5lb and the other settled on the scales at 7lb 3oz, not a monster but nice to get a trio on the bank.

Youngster, boisterous and full of fight. 

 After the third I headed back for the car and disappeared, I will be back, maybe in a few weeks or so, the carp aren't going to catch themselves!

Looking good just after dawn, along with a huge fly hatch.

Sunday 2 September 2018

T.H.P.C: Part Eighteen: Chalking Up The Blanks.

 My summer carp fishing was fantastic and would have been even better to get out more than I did. However, since that glut my fishing has slowly descended into a run of staring at motionless rods and lifeless Delkim's with the occasional revival as a carp finds my hook bait. I guess with all the exciting times there must be the lulls too as I continue to learn the water I am targeting where a number of large carp reside and a couple over the magical milestone of forty pounds, these fish are the ones I desire.

 As the past 2 months have ambled by I have crossed paths with various anglers who have, collectively, managed to catch all of the target fish I currently find myself pursuing. As you, my readers will know I struggle to remain seated and always angling for a move, since I began fishing this lake I have had to adopt a bait and wait approach as I lay my traps, baited generously and hope some silly customers visit my dining table....that hasn't happened as often as I would have liked.

 I have however managed a couple recently, on top of those previously written about, I fear there will be a lot more scenic shots and wildlife to appear over the course of the Autumn and Winter as I am made quite aware that this particular lake does not give up its treasures often once the warm weather feeding ceases.

 These fish are from the last 6 weeks where I have managed to get out, some sessions were just for a couple of hours after work, others have been before work with a couple of full days thrown in the mix.

 As I write this I currently stand on seven carp from fifteen sessions, based on how some of the other anglers are fairing its not bad. I haven't managed to catch anything over 22lbs with a majority being mid-doubles to just under twenty pounds. The battles in the dense weed have been good fun and thankfully I haven't lost a fish yet and hope that remains for the rest of this campaign, I have already suffered that heartbreak on my second river trip of the season where I unfortunately lost that huge common in the weed bed. The next run on this lake could be 12lbs or it could be 42lbs, such is the health and range of sizes within the stock it makes for very exciting fishing, the chalking up of blanks isn't as fun I tell you!

Sunday 12 August 2018

First Barbel Trip of the Season.

 Since mid March when the 2017/18 season ended my angling has as many of my consistent readers will know has mainly comprised of carp fishing, not something that I have done a great deal of in the last 15 years or so, or at least with any conviction. A few hours spare in the early afternoon on Tuesday last week meant I could do a bit of fishing, however I hadn't packed much and carp weren't really on the agenda truth be told.

 I left the house with my MKIV and match aerial combination with a mid summer barbel in mind. A tin of luncheon meat and my polaroids was all that was required, well other than the obvious fact that I had to find a feeding barbel, having not fished for them for nearly six months I was quite excited by the prospects and yes the carp fishing has been great fun and a challenge as I knew it would but to break it up with a short session targeting something else was welcome.

 Having parked up after negotiating the already building rush hour traffic a few likely areas were thought of and my experience on this particular river gives me a great advantage, blanks over the last decades have been very very few and far between, local knowledge really is king. I decided to employ my favourite tactic of rolling meat as I feel supremely confident in the approach when done correctly and I didn't have to wait long as on my second trundle through I was rewarded with a fighting fit juvenile of approx 3lbs, not the monsters that I usually seek but a start nevertheless.

 After a fast start it became apparent that there wasn't too much to cast at as water clarity was fairly poor which is unusual considering there hadn't been any rain for weeks upon weeks, this meant I had to roll blind which does catch fish but I prefer to stalk my fish and hopefully winkle out the bigger specimens in the shoals. Maybe an hour or so had gone by without much to speak of until I finally clapped eyes on something a lot bigger, something I had hoped for. Underneath a large Oak tree I could see the snout of a very good fish indeed, gently gliding across the bottom between to beds of ranunculus whilst occasionally levitating to the upper parts of the water column to intercept bugs or other foods in the process, this fish was certainly on the munch but its position to cast a bait too was very awkward.

 Seven or eight attempts had already gone by without any success as I couldn't get the right angle on my bait and then drop on the rod tip to get the line under the outer most limbs of the tree so it didn't snag, on the first successful cast the bait dropped to the bottom like a stone and then began to ease down the gravels, I thought to myself "this is perfect, she has to go for it!", no sooner did that thought cross my mind she headed straight for the meat, swirled but only to see she had missed it and the bait continued down the run with no follow up. I thought my chance had gone.

 Not to be downbeat I could see the barbel wasn't phased at all and continued its constant marshalling of the gravels, it took another half a dozen casts to get it right again, this time however the sheer fact of losing another meal proved too much and the bait vanished from sight and there was no hesitation on my part to set the hook, a powerful surging run against the current made for impressive viewing as I couldn't do much to prevent it, in the pacy current she held firm for well over 3 or 4 minutes giving me very little to do but keep the pressure on, as she tired out I seized the chance to put some side strain on and ease her out of the flow and towards my awaiting net, second time of asking I had a good one, a double, resting up to recover after its strong showing.

 I wasn't quite prepared to see the Rueben Heatons settle on 11lb 2oz though!, very surprised by that and weighed it a second time to just to make sure. I was very happy with that and no sooner had I rested her up again after some photos and watched her swim off strongly the heavens opened and the first rains for nearly two months quickly made up my mind, my day was over. A cracking trip and a double figure barbel to wrap up proceedings was certainly not in my mind, however I'll take that!

 Back to the carp.....for part Eighteen.

Thursday 9 August 2018

T.H.P.C: Part Seventeen: Twenties Delight.

 With very little change in the weather over the last 8-9 weeks my tactics have varied slightly when it comes to stillwater angling, it is either bread crust or flake, its not rocket science but as the summer has wore on I have found carp less obliging to feed on the surface, so slow sinking flake has been the winner on most occasions as the further down the water column my bait has gone freely the more confident the fish have been, plus one of the waters I am currently on the Rudd populations have exploded and fishing crust has proved to be a battle of whits.

 Often leaving at 4-5am to get to my chosen waters for dawn and a full day of work ahead my sessions of late have often been just 1-3hours long, no pressure to catch, just enjoying the time out as coming across a forty plusser in a couple of these waters isn't going to happen, where as on the other two of my ticket lakes the possibility is not distinct but hopefully an eventuality! thats self confidence right there for you, is my confidence mis-placed? who knows, only time will tell.

 Catching carp of any size is fun, losing them not so fun, it has happened a couple of times so far and those have been big fish, both either at the far end of upper 20's or low 30's which has left a bitter taste in my mouth, the effort unrewarded, the fire lit for retribution.

 Catching twenty pound plus carp can never be sneered at as they represent for most anglers, old and young a worthy adversary and a specimen fish which would brighten up anyones day and so it should, one of the reasons I stopped carp fishing, back-biting, one up men ship, sabotage and so on are all issues that were flying around, not for me thanks, catching fish should be fun and enjoyable.

 Thankfully for me this challenge has been enjoyable so far, yes I have lost a couple of fish I wish hadn't have, that is fishing for you! My most recent sessions have been a success with a few good carp slipping into the net. Here is a little group of fish taken over the last 2 weeks on those fleeting sessions I spoke of.

A wood carving mid-double common.

17lb 9oz warrior.

21lb 8oz park lake common.

Night vision.

22lb 5oz park lake warrior.

22.5 release shot.

Sunday 29 July 2018

T.H.P.C: Part Sixteen: Park Life.

 River heartache is an experience I never wanted to endure, especially when it was possibly the very carp I wanted, big, old dark common. I have had a few broken sleeps because of it, so naturally I had to put my mind at ease and switch onto the still waters to break it up.


530am, just beautiful.

 A couple of late afternoon/evenings and a couple of mornings of stalking gave me even more to ponder over. Ten weeks ago most of the lakes I frequent had scores of carp spawning, three days ago there was still plenty of reproducing going on, countless erupting weed beds as carp stormed their way through gave way to calm waters where the remaining population which would have finished were feeding quite confidentially, knowing some of these were only recently finished I opted to leave them be and probably answered the questions as to why I struggled to tempt anything in the early hours of dawn.

 Change of scenery was called for and finally a water where the activity was entirely food related, numerous mouths mopping up the Daphnia blooms along the outskirts of the dense weedbeds was a sight to behold, the average stock is around the 19-23lb mark from what I have experienced so far and that is quite impressive with a smattering of 30lb+ specimens in the mix. My tactic was a simple piece of crust on a size 6 hook, my only change to the usual set-up was the crust was fed through a hookable band mounted on the shank to keep my point of the hook entirely free, so far it has worked fairly well.

All set with the bait and wait approach.

 To begin with the carp were just within range, roughly twenty yards. Freelined crust is only really effective for close range angling as the distance factor does complicate proceedings and rules out feeding fish any further out than the max casting range, for that problem I do also carry a couple of 5g and 15g Korda Interceptor controller floats and the Korda Kruiser control 12lb BS floating line, yes any brand can be used and I've used loads of different brands in the past, however this line is pretty good at remaining straight and does lay nicely on the surface.

 Within an hour the first opportunity came in the shape of a 15lb common carp, a good spirited battle which ultimately was won, a wet net is always a good remedy for such poor luck last time around, bad luck does unfortunately seem to manifest itself in many ways and on this particular morning, Tuesday to be precise, a large mirror came into view from a thick bank of weed, I have to say it probably was a thirty pound plus fish as I recognised it from a photo I had seen earlier in the season and know it was the same fish, then it went 33lb+, but based on the fact they've been spawning quite a lot an educated guess would suggest it wasn't quite thirty or it was just over.

 She came up and made a bee-line for my crust and in no time at all my bait disappeared and the tension was taken up by a swift and firm strike to feel a good connection, just a few seconds passed when a massive swirl was followed by my line laying slack on the surface....I had lost her, initially I thought the hook pulled, however upon reeling in there was no hook attached. The break appeared to have occurred just above the knot on the line, I was quite peeved by this and took me five minutes to get another bait out.

 When I did get a new hook on and cast a lump of crust out I was quickly rewarded with a mint male common weighing at 20lb 3oz, complete with dribbles of milt on my mat......

 For that session it was wasn't before I had the annoying pleasure of losing two more carp, thankfully these weren't anywhere near as big so to get really down about it would have just been counter-productive. I'll get my chance again! 

Saturday 28 July 2018

T.H.P.C: Part Fifteen: The Heartache of A Lost Leviathan....

 Angling is full of highs and lows, some of the highs are so high you feel nothing can ruin your vibe, then the polar opposite of that is experiencing those moments in angling when you question everything as it seems someone or something is conspiring against you, of late, I have felt like that. My pace out of the traps at the beginning of this challenge was pretty quick, however I currently find myself struggling to get out as little time has been available as readily as I'm used to.

 The highs have been enjoyed as much as I can, knowing full well that these are usually punctuated by a stroke of mis-fortune or user error, the lows tend to happen when I least want it to. Last weekend I had a free shot at whatever I wanted, wherever I wanted, so I chose to head on to a river in search of that elusive thirty pounder that I'm sure exists. My journey north was rather quick and before I knew it I was trickling in a couple of handfuls Nash Scopex Squid to hopefully get some fish cruise into the area, this was around 830 in the morning, within five minutes I was setting up my rod and tying an 18'' hook length so I could keep the lead away from the bait to hopefully give the fish more confidence when out the corner of my eye a massive black common came downstream straight into the baited patch and began feeding!

 Never have I experienced such a quick response to baiting on a river and this fish was almost if not the very fish I travelled for, anything between 28-32lbs of pure solidness, she was wide enough to put a saddle on and ride, long enough to know she was big and gut to match! It was almost as if it was a mirage or I was dreaming but it certainly existed and was grubbing up right in front of me and caught me so by surprise I froze with the rig making material still in my hand as I watched this animal in complete awe.

 I began to shake almost uncontrollably as many scenarios pulsed through my mind, all of this unfolded and concluded in just a minute or so as roughly 40 boilies were cleaned off the clear gravels and then my dream river carp lifted up in the water column and eased downstream further and out of my view, the dense pads and ranunculus meant I couldn't track her in the water, so I set my trap as quickly as possible and baited the spot back to how it was with the hope she may return to have another feed.

 Six hours passed without a single show from a carp or anything else for that matter so I decided to put another two dozen boilies down and aim to keep an eye on it every other hour up to dusk. At around 230 in the afternoon I had a couple of dark shapes ghost in over my spot and they turned out to be bream, two were certain doubles and the other not quite of that calibre....thirty seconds later the smallest of the bream decided it liked the boilies and munched mine. 8lb 3oz and nearly as dark as an undertakers hat.

My smallest river bream of the season :) 
 That proved to be my only success downstream and really didn't see much at all, in previous trips gone by I had seen much more, I can only imagine the 31c weather had something to do with it and blaring sunshine that baked me all day, thankfully the heat began to abate as the sun slipped beyond the horizon. Leading up to dusk I headed back into the cutout I began my day in and noticed all my bait still there, so it was clear nothing had been back to mop up again, I didn't add to the bait already down and plopped my rig down right in the middle of the patch in the vein hope something would feed under the cover of darkness. I was halfway through eating a lovely rump steak when I was abruptly taken away from my food as my rod absolutely melted off, as I looked down in the water I could see a huge common powering off downstream, my nerves were shot and I think that I was a nano second away from shitting myself! She was huge and two powerful twenty yard runs just in view made for terrifying experiencing, I had to just let her tire in the main flow where very little could be done but turn her head when she wanted to go further down, a couple of minutes gone by by now and I slowly got the better of her as she cruised up under the far bank briars which were pretty much parallel with me, I could see every part of it and it was for sure the same carp which took me by surprise in the morning, I grew more and more confident as she gave that tell-tail side roll as the power was drawn out throughout the fight which was probably now at 5 minutes or so.

 The plan was to tease her upstream a couple of yards so I could drop the net below and allow her to drift down into the awaiting folds of my net, the plan was perfect. Then, out of nowhere she kicked into second gear and shifted a biblical amount of water against the flow as she caught a glimpse of my net! I say second gear, as the previous minutes were not in the same ball park, my clutch hissed as line pissed off the spool so fast I could nothing to stop it as a vast mid river weed bed came into the carps view, the hard work was soon unravelling and when the fish disappeared into said weed bed I could feel and hear the line grating and within ten seconds or so all the tension let up and I began to reel in a set-up minus my size 6 hook.......I was absolutely gutted, so close yet so far from what was possibly my river target of a 30lb+ carp. Writing this a week later almost to the hour the pain of losing it has abated very little.

10lb IQ2 hook length minus a fish and hook :(

 I stood and watched the river in amazement in how it could give and take an opportunity of a lifetime in such heartless fashion. A minute or so later I watched the weed hump up and at the top end of the bed I could see the shape of a prize I so very nearly won, just five feet was the difference or possibly five seconds. I am confident in myself I did everything right, this was just to be one of those moments I'll probably reflect upon for years to come for all the wrong reasons. I however will not give up and retribution will hopefully be sought after successfully.

Saturday 14 July 2018

T.H.P.C: Part Fourteen: Stret Pegging for Carp.

 My fishing over the last 4 weeks has become rather sparse owing to my work schedule packing out with lots of lovely clients happy to splash their hard earned money ( most of them, some born with silver spoons with their mouths ), however, I don't ask where it comes from, just that it's used to top up my funds!. Finding little snippets of time hasn't been easy, yesterday morning I made the effort to get up before the post-dusk disappearing act commenced on the carp front which seems to happen every day since the heat and strong sunlight has dominated.

 In truth I haven't had the urge to really get after the carp in the last couple of weeks as dissolved oxygen levels are undoubtedly decreasing everyday as we now enter the fourth week without as much as a drop of rain. The added disadvantage of tired targets due to spawning has wiped out the urge to get on the banks more often as I wait for conditions to become slightly more favourable, hopefully my patience will be rewarded with the capture of some very special fish.

 It was that time again to have the car serviced, so with a 9am appointment booked in with the Audi service centre I knew I'd afforded myself with some time on the bank, so thats what I did, 430am and I was already on the bank, ten minutes later I had found two carp, one a koi, the other a dark common, I had them both feeding, successfully got one to take a lump of stret-pegged flake and had it resting up in the net whilst I prepared myself for a couple of photos. Not bad, only small but a proper little character which one day may make a real brute.

6lb 4oz, my smallest carp of the season but one of the prettiest.

 Stret-pegging is a tactic I don't use often unless the swims are fairly slow or offer slacks where I can pin a bait whilst fishing over depth, only trouble is that sometimes when you know a fish is in your swim, this particular time, a carp, is that when the float slowly cocks and shoots under you would expect it to be that fish, however, I got a little surprise in the shape of this fighting fit summer barbel which went berserk in its full blooded attempt at freedom. My Mark IV had other ideas, in the net you go!

 A plume of bubbles with only a carp in view and end up playing and landing a barbel....only me eh.

 No threats to my river target on this trip and not likely to be from this particular watercourse but its enjoyable, that is good enough for me.

Wednesday 4 July 2018

T.H.P.C: Part Thirteen: Biding My Time.

 After a little break from fishing I got a short session in last Sunday and visited an old haunt of mine. Back in those days I donned Adidas tracksuits and a pair of snazzy fairly expensive trainers, armed with a 12ft Tamar 2.25tc rod from what I can remember and targeted monster carp with not a lot of success. Opportunities were often fleeting, not that a 12, 13 year old cared an awful lot. Wide expanses of water were virtually untouched and enormous carp ( usually from the wildest depths of my dreams ), here they really did exist but my angling prowess was not what it is now and only now having got back into the groove as far as carp fishing goes have I decided to revisit this particular river.

 Having arrived on the bank I was greeted by a cool rising mist as the sun only just began to lighten up the horizon, as the sun swiftly gained height the light shone through the mist to create an enchanting glow and could arguably have been one of the most picturesque moments I've had the pleasure of being on the bank for. Rolling back the years, it did just that. In ten foot plus of water and around 120ft across its no easy task to stalk a carp out, that however was my challenge for the morning and I knew real monsters lurked here, like real monsters that may never have been caught before, the sort of scenario to make the most evergreen of carp anglers salivate, well I know it did that for me, the drive down was punctuated with thoughts as to what could be there. Knowing this waterway from my childhood and never hearing anything about it for years really filled me a different type of thought, is there anything in there still?, have they died off? have other anglers found it and decided to hammer it?, those questions could only be answered after visiting it and continue to do so to build up a bigger picture.

 The sun began penetrating the surface film and for the first time in more than half a lifetime, I saw my first carp on this river and it was a sight for sore eyes. Then two more came by just ten foot from me and proceeded to feed on the surface, just the sort of action I could only have dreamed of.

 I decided to tackle this stretch with the same tackle as I have been using since April, this comprises of the following:

Nash Dwarf Abbreviated 9ft, 2.75TC rod, Shimano Baitrunner 4000fd spooled up with Korda Carpline 12lb, a Korda controller 5g and a size 10 Deception tackle wide gape hook and my every faithful bag of bread.

 Within 5 minutes of casting out at the three carp I drew back my controller and presented the crust just a few feet from the feeding carp, their mouths were working overtime, clearly hoovering up something but couldn't tell what, the crust however lasted all of thirty seconds as the smallest of the three carp eclipsed my bait and the line pulled up tight as she made off towards the middle of the river. After numerous powerful runs a lovely spawned out common glistened in the morning sun on my mat, which incidentally was now only just getting through the trees behind me.

 That was what I hoped for but not expected, that will do. 17lb 4oz :)

 The only thing about hooking that one carp was the other two vanished and for the rest of the morning I didn't see them again. A move was decided upon but as the sun got higher which should have made the job of fish spotting easy infact revealed nothing much at all, maybe its a good idea to keep heading back until I build that clearer picture, are they still there? clearly there are some and the other two fish were roughly 23-25lbs which is great, I can only think that bigger do still exist. I shall bide my time and keep dropping in, it may turn out to be a dead rubber, I guess time will tell!

Thursday 28 June 2018

T.H.P.C: Part Twelve: Search For A River Thirty Begins.

 June the 16th for me always comes around with a sense of anticipation and my mind works overtime at the thought of endless possibilities for my river campaigns. This year however proceedings will take on a slightly different feel as I look to maintain my current pursuit of Carp. So far I am thoroughly enjoying it and the challenge ahead is shaping up quite nicely as my targets certainly don't feel any easier to achieve than they did before I began in early April, the opening of the river season would add another dimension to enable me to now target all three of my challenges.

 This year there was to be no midnight start, no early season chub or barbel session, no 250 mile round trip. To mix it up I stayed closer to home and afforded myself something of a lye in, 5am the alarm sounded, forty minutes later I was in the car and on my way to my destination. I hadn't managed much time on this particular river to find out feeding areas or to pre-bait so going blind was the only option, not that it matters sometimes.

 To begin with a single rod approach was the preferred tactic to keep myself mobile, knowing how transient river carp can be, my options had to be kept fairly open to hopefully make the most of any passing opportunity. Upon arriving on the river I could see the occasional Bream floating around, sometimes even having a grub around on the bottom, Carp however remained very anonymous. Like most years the weed growth has been very good, hiding places increased ten-fold, just to make my job harder.

 Clear patches weren't to difficult to locate and after much deliberation for a few hours I settled on one and flicked a few broken boilies out and a handful of corn in a couple of patches of the gravel. With no sign of a carp by 1pm I was beginning to get a little curious as to why I hadn't seen any, I was tucked away nicely, so it wasn't going to be my presence that was putting them off when against the back side of the gravel run an absolute pig of a common waddled upstream with about ten Bream which were also really big fish, most of them I kid you not were double figure fish, IN A RIVER!

 Within five minutes of the fish arriving on the gravel run the carp had shifted on, clearly not interested in the little bit of bait on the bottom, the Bream however thought differently and my delkim sounded as my rod started to peel line. In the absolutely gin clear water I could see a huge slab shaking its head, possibly the biggest Bream I've ever hooked and within a couple of minutes a new personal best lay nestled nicely at the bottom of my 42" net. It's no Carp, who of sane mind could possibly turn their nose up at that! Awesome creature!

A new personal best at 12lb 7oz!

 Understandably I shaking, a lot, when my other rod decided to tare off, Bream number two on! and I hadn't even slipped back the twelve pounder yet, so I wedged the landing net pole between my legs and let one go as I guided the next in, this one smaller, which weighed 9lb 1oz. Crazy times.

 After that madness of having both rods out of the water the dust settled and I was able to take stock of what had just happened, I have not fished for Bream out and out before and have felt the time is near, this showing just illustrated how much I do need to give them a serious go, maybe next year.

 It took quiet sometime for the Bream to come back, when they did the inevitable unfolded as my left hand rod sang and a fish could be seen trying to shed the hook in the weed which lined the gravel bar that I had baited. Battles never last long with Bream usually, this one however either had a bee in its bonnet at being hooked or it thought it was a Carp! taking line and heading back for the weed bed isn't something you expect to have to prevent, it wasn't a small Bream in fairness.

My second biggest ever Bream at 11lb 15ozs. Wow!

  Maybe I got it all wrong and should have targeted Bream, who knows, the Carp may have shown a lot the carp fishing session went there was a lot riding on the evening/night portion, so naturally my mind was in turmoil, where would I spend the evening? should I keep moving? gamble that the carp would maraud under the cover of darkness and find me?

 Sunset had been and gone, the last snippets of light were fading on the horizon and the Owls kept me company, that was until their chorus was broken at 2245 by one of the most electrifying takes I have ever experienced, my Delkim went into meltdown and something made off very quickly. I could only imagine it was a Carp, not a very happy one either.

Proper river carp, wrist on that carp!!

Possibly my best ever photograph.

 This stocky specimen was the culprit and at 19lb 1oz it was a great start to my river carp campaign, that wasn't to be the end of the fun as throughout the night I had the pleasure of another four carp. Reason for not much by way of description as two of the four takes came at times when I had dozed off and practically hooked, landed and photographed the fish in a daze. The later pair of the four came at dawn where the conditions for stalking were made worse by the arrival of some dense cloud and a nuisance shower which lasted almost an hour. Not ideal as I made the decision to leave the shelter in the car overnight as it was a lovely evening, the dawn shower was not in the forecast!

Best of the four at 19lb 14oz.

The prettiest river carp I've ever seen, 16lb 10oz

A lovely old looking 16lb 0oz Mirror.

 These are my lovely additions to an already great campaign, next up for me would hopefully be to press on with one of the target weights so I leave myself a bit of time to focus should time get tight.

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 ...