Sunday 25 March 2018

Wrapping Up On the 2017/18 Season.

 At the beginning of the season which had just finished the "Blogger's challenge" was resurrected for a part two. The previous one I found very interesting and almost forced me, albeit willingly in the end, to target various other species that I typically wouldn't give much attention to if any, that includes watercourses for that matter.

My canal PB @ 10.04.
 Canal systems where I spend most of my time are unfortunately not what they used to be twenty to forty years ago. However, I found out to my pleasure that they aren't dead and buried entirely. Stocks are low, fish are extremely nomadic but through all of that, a little patience and watercraft paid dividends way beyond my comprehension when first visiting these waters just three years ago.

My season actually began at the start of last May, this was to coincide with the bloggers challenge. Obviously with the rivers closed to coarse fishing I stuck to abstracting what I could from the canals and improving upon some of my stillwater personal bests.

 This proved to be successful at times, where other species like the Tench simply did not want to know. Golden Orfe, for once did show in good numbers and in one day I broke my PB of 5lb 2oz twice in a day (5.10 and 6.12 ).

The reminder of the spring and early summer was hard going and it took until June 16th to banish a few blanks which had began to accrue. By the close of play of the opening day I had banked Chub to 6lb 8oz which was only two ounces shy of my fairly long standing personal best. By the end of the summer/early autumn the fishing had picked up no end when I hit a purple on various venues around the southern half of the country.

Canal rudd to 2.05, river rudd just shy of 2lb, my first ever golden rudd all came within four manic days, more canal bream were tempted on slow sinking bread and crust to an eye watering 10lb 4oz which is a new canal best for the species. Then a procession of good chub were taken on the D.Stour to 5.15 and H.Avon to 6.04 which was topped off with a 9.09 Stour barbel which showed awesome power to evade capture which ultimately was a battle I won.

 Big gudgeon to mid 2 ounces began to show in the latter part of the autumn along with some decent dace over 12oz, a new personal best crucian carp of 3.08 with a back up specimen of 3.07 and a monster of a river carp (common) which whilst I was playing could have bet a thousand pounds that it would be a thirty! it transpired that she would miss that mark but at 28.03 I could only pinch myself to feel if it was real! the circumstances to its capture and the tackle used filled me such adrenaline I struggled to compose myself and the experience went by so quick I don't remember some of the goings on afterwards. I was a wreck and easily one of the most nervous battles I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

 If only all seasons were this good! it took some effort and not to mention miles of driving!

 With everything bore in mind it was time very well spent and I could have done better at times, yes.

My winter was punctuated by five weeks abroad travelling south-east Asia. This was a great adventure that opened my eyes to a little bit more of a world that I sometimes wish I had not seen but to build a more broader perspective of how other cultures live you have to see it for yourself to understand, the three day and night trek through the jungle was incredible and would love to do it again, but, for longer and more off the beaten track to immerse myself in what is one of the most picturesque places I have had the pleasure of seeing. It's not all bad!!!

 Before and after that travelling my fishing mainly consisted of trying for a 7lb chub (unfortunately I missed out this season, again.), a new personal best pike which I achieved, with a stunningly long and thick specimen at 22.15. My new PB was paired with a mint 18.03 specimen which had attributed to my best days piking ever in what is a fairly fledgling attempt to become a decent pike angler having barely targeted them in my 25 years of angling.

Other sessions consisted on targeting a 3lb grayling, which again did not materialise. Three grayling over 2lbs did slip up with the best weighing in at 2.03. Chub were becoming difficult to track down but when I did manage to get amongst them I was blessed with two cracking bags, the best of which consisted of sixteen fish with four over 5lbs, the best weighing 5.08.

 Roach, now this a species that has tormented me for almost two seasons in regards to my quest of a 2lb specimen to add to my collection of awesome catches, it took all the way up to the second to last day of the season to finally cross paths with one that I was lucky enough to land. Flashbacks of the summer where I lost a right monster that could have beaten my long standing personal best were playing in mind, but there was to be no sour end and a beauty of 2.02 lay on the mat in all its glory. Simply splendid!

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Early season Crucian; Live Blog.

 Owing to a quite day at work I thought it might be nice to get out for a few hours. What with the weather being rather pleasant considering what we’ve had to put up with recently, I couldn’t say no.

 So it’s 1:30 and so far I haven’t had any enquiries, but with two rods out, one with pop-up fake corn and the other a single buoyant bloodworm, I’m hoping there is something out there with the inclination to feeding. Here’s to hoping.

 Oh, just to some minor details; my tackle is a pair of Korum “all-rounder” rods 12ft and the reels are my trusty Shimano Exage 3000fd’s. Both rods are fished in conjunction with 42g flat-bed method feeders with Sonu-baits “Blood Worm” fishmeal mix, which I’m hoping will attract the occasional marauding fish into my area. Touch wood something happens.


 My phone decided to battery dump and shut off, hence no further updates. To be fair I wouldn’t have put much more on as the sport was dead. The wind was favourable but the ditritus coming off the bottom was causing major issues with presentation. Another time, the outcome may be very different.

Monday 19 March 2018

My Carp Challenge.

 For the next 6-12 months I have set myself a 100lb target on the carp front, but this isn't as straight forward as it may sound.

 Between now and the end of the 2018/19 season I have set out some parameters to which I look to  achieve this target, these are splitting the 100lb into three categories and this is where it gets interesting.

 Stillwater Carp target is a 40lb+ specimen.
 River Carp target is a 30lb+ specimen.
 Canal Carp target is a 30lb+ specimen.

 Now I don't doubt for a moment that this will not be easy, but I have had some good fish previously and have quite a few waters earmarked for some campaigns. Whilst the rivers are closed and a large range of my still waters are closed the canal 30lb+ specimen seems to be my first of the three targets.

 Here are my current personal bests for the three different watercourses and the ones to beat!

Stillwater PB @ 35.08

River PB @ 28.03

Canal PB @ 25.04

Saturday 17 March 2018

Trotting Rocks, End Of.

 Over the years I have not hidden my absolute faith in trotting for barbel and better still the use of bread flake. The use of bread seems to come as a surprise to many anglers I speak to regarding the question as to what are the best baits to use. I look no further than bread on more pressured venues and ones where minnows aren't as prolific, all I know is that bread on its day will out fish any other bait and costs no more than £1, what more could you want?....well, maybe a few of these to make the day complete.

 Before work I had a couple of hours on the river (14th March) to target a barbel, my last trip down didn't set the world alight but after an hour my target was achieved, a really plump barbel around the 4lb mark on my old stick.

 Eight hours later I arrived back at the river and I didn't look back, hitting the ground running could be a good way to describe the first twenty minutes. It was so manic that my first four trots resulted in three barbel and a tree when a cast went astray rather amateurishly, but there was nothing amateurish about the way the barbel were taken, a float set at around 3 inches overdepth with a big lump of flake and held back gently to glance the bottom. When it works its deadly and I can't stress the joy of seeing the float slip under and my split cane rod hoop over under the strain.

 Fish weighing at 3+, upper 4 and 8lb 8oz was great to experience and after moving swim I hooked and landed my best of the day at 9lb 1oz, a lovely clean barbel with one small blemish which really put up a stern fight, which was later followed up by one more youngster probably a low 4lber.

 I will miss these for the next 6 months as my carp challenge is now underway, more of that on another post.

The better of the two small ones.



I worked out that on this particular watercourse for the season

I had the following results:

 Sessions (between 1 to 6hrs): 16
 Blanks: 6
 Total barbel landed: 22
 Doubles: 3 ( 11.00, 10.07 & 10.05 )

Friday 16 March 2018

Stunner From The River of Dreams.

 I have had a few pike in my time, but nothing prettier than this one, size means absolutely nothing when they look as pristine as this one did, the fight weren't bad either. Show Pike!

Thursday 15 March 2018

Number 29: It's Been a While.

 Specimen Roach, something of a mystery. Finding them can sometimes be fairly easy, catching them a completely different story, so on the odd occasion you know you are fishing the right areas but have no expectation that its going to happen. Hey presto! it does, that was just how it went last week.

 After nearly two seasons of not coming close to a 2lb specimen I, at last, got my chance. The location of this catch was something of a leap back in time, as a young man growing up I use to catch awesome bags of Roach with some tipping the scales to the upper 1's and low 2's mark, awesome fishing indeed. So to catch one from only twenty yards upstream of the scene of many a lump bought a feeling of nostalgia.

Simply stunning.

 Starting from the beginning of the day I set my stall out just to trot a mix of maggots and bread flake with the view of just catching some Chub and Roach, no pressure as I'd already had a great season and simply wanted to enjoy some more bank time. I started to catch steadily but nothing big, all fun as plenty of small Chub took a liking to a couple of trotted maggots, practically every trot resulted in a dip on the float. Great little bag builders with a couple of better chub thrown in the mix.

 After a couple of hours, the wading through the small chub began to slow down as the shoal became more wary, not to be disappointed by the slowing down of the sport I decided to head down to an area where a small weir creates a nice crease where often roach, dace and chub sit. For more than twenty minutes I trotted through without much more than hesitant pulls on the float, so I decided to put some flake on and changed my trot. First cast and the float sailed away, met with some force I was convinced I had a chub on the other end, not until the snout came out the water did I realise actually it was a brown trout, not what I was after but good fun all the same.

 For another ten minutes the run was baron, not even a half hearted tug to keep me interested. I changed the depth to which I was trotting at and on the second trot down, almost at the end of it the float stopped and slipped under, as soon as I hit it the pull on the tip of the rod was healthy but the flow certainly had something to do with that, at first I could only think it was a small barbel, not long after the initial surge a large orange dorsal fin broke the surface, I immediately knew what it was....a roach! and a good one too!

 The vice admiral " Brian" was just upstream of me trotting the pools eddy's and creases when he noticed what I had hooked, I'd never seen someone prepare a net so swiftly!. For a couple of minutes my knees jangled uncontrollably as a redfin which looked to be approaching the two-and-a-half pound mark was wallowing around in the flow, with the net handle at its full extension Brian scooped her up and the rest was history. Number 29: 2lb 2oz.

I think I am a little happy with that!

 The rest of the trip went by with no hint of pressure or fish of note, it was a just a matter of days away from being my second season without laying my grubby palms on such a stunning specimen.

Sunday 11 March 2018

Itchen Grayling Best.

 A week or so ago myself and Brian hot footed it down to the Itchen with Grayling in mind. Our 75 mile trip typically takes around an hour and thirty minutes on a good run, our destination? unknown. The plan was to park up where we could on a part of the river where free access was granted and fish our proverbial tits off. The only issue with that was the snow had already began to melt as we set off into Hampshire, we were certainly up against the clock because once that melt/runoff begins to enter the river it's practically game over.

 Knowing we had possibly a couple of hours we decided to get some fish on the scorecard, however, this wasn't an easy task either as trout were posing as a real nuisance, fly boys I apologise in advance, but they were eating everything before the grayling had a chance.

 I think I began fishing around 8am and took me nearly 2 hours to get my first grayling to the net. It wasn't the sort of response I was expecting to tell the truth, sub zero nights for possibly 7 or 8 consecutive nights really should have had the grayling feeding hard but I failed by and large to get a head of steam, problem was myself and Brian were having a grayling comp' and he was already pulling away.

 The hours ticked by fairly quickly and I slowly chewed into the early pace setter with a couple fish here and there, most were around the 10-12oz mark but as the day drew to a close I hit a heavy fish at around 40 yards downstream and I dare not push it. All day I was hoping to get something half decent but it never materialised, this was my chance so I played the fish cautiously as for most of the fight I thought it was a very good Roach.

 Roughly ten yards from where I began my trot a large dorsal fin cut through the now cloudy water, the unmistakable beauty of a large grayling came into view, just what I came for. It looked a two-pounder all day as she crept gingerly over the lip of the net. Weight in truth means very little when something this awesome has just graced your net but I am a stickler for facts and figures so I couldn't go without knowing.

1lb 13oz 8dr

 My day was complete and my desire to continue fishing ebbed away after that, I proceeded to watch Brian pull further ahead to complete the scoring at 15-11 by the close, a good day had all around. Not to mention that was my best river Itchen grayling to date.

Tuesday 6 March 2018

Snow Chub Madness.

 Post number 500! where has the time gone.....not a bad post to take 500th spot!

 For us "southerners" a decent drop of snow seldom happens, we get a light dusting and that's our lot. Last week that certainly wasn't the case, we finally got something worth whining about, not that I do of course. I'm happy to drive, fish and even been known to lye naked in it, so the -4c forecast did not deter me at all, infact I relished the fact it was going to be challenging.

A lovely sight for us southerners!
 How challenging? I had no idea. The roads were very bad, no grit down, the snow was compacted on the roads, everyone driving stupidly slow and to make matters worse the numerous crashes made my progress slow. Thankfully a break in the traffic allowed me to get to my chosen venue about 8am.

 Deciding on how to target the Chub was also bit of a tough one, fish static and build a swim which the feeding fish would eventually find, trickle bait in little and often, or lastly, lump in the loose feed and hope plenty of mouths were there to fill! I went with the latter and never looked back, from the very first trot on my new Greys Toreon 15ft tactical float rod I had almost non-stop action, at least for thirty minutes or so. It was the sort of session you'd hope for whilst hitting the snooze button and questioning your sanity. So glad I did as I haven't had a proper days chubbing like this in a few years at least.

 The average stamp were good too with numerous 4's and in the end four over the 5lb barrier, on a great day thats a tall order, not to mention I was dodging sheets of ice coming downstream whilst playing fish in the pacy waters. However, it wasn't just chub which put in a good show but I also managed to wangle out, rather fortuitously it has to be said, a stunning common carp in all its winter glory, splendid looking fish.

Best of the day at the bottom of the trio.

A surprise in such cold conditions. 
 As sessions go, trotting for chub, this was about as good as I could have dreamt up, the four best weighing 5.08 and two at 5.06, the fourth was over five pound but it flipped as I was unhooking it and made its way back into the icy water. These things do happen.

 So here are some fishy shots which would warm the coldest of hands, it did mine.....albeit momentarily. Also a Snipe at the end of the trip gave me my first ever sighting, nice to see.

Some of the best, I love that shot.

A lonely Snipe wading through the mud.

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 ...