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. 

Breaming of a Slime Fest.

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