Sunday 23 June 2019

Opening of my Account for 2019/20 Season.

 Having recently joined a syndicate for a shot at some good barbel and chub I was all excited for the arrival of midnight of June 16th. I had the car loaded and the gear prepared before dusk had settled in. With a little light still hanging around on the horizon I trickled a little pellet into the edge of a drop off under my feet, I then awaited the moment when I could get my bait into the water and when the clock struck four minutes past midnight my Match Aerial screamed into life and the MarkIV registered its first River Colne Barbel.

 A good solid fight under the rod tip ended in the familiar fashion of a bulging net and I was very happy to have opened my account so quickly, not that I expected that to happen so easily everytime.

8lb 1oz and off the mark.
 With that barbel making a right racket I decided to move down stream a few pegs and kept little handfuls of 6mm "HookBait Company" Nimrod pellets going out in the margins and it didn't take long for me to become successful again as I received a brutal rip around on my split cane as another barbel made off with my Nimrod hookbait, first trip out with them and I was picking up fish and hoped this would be one of the bigger specimens that this section holds. 

 In the torchlight it became clear it wasn't to be, but another "eight pounder" to add to the account and I can't say I was disappointed. A nice deep hole in front of me allowed this fish to fight well and occasionally it would head over the far side to a gravel bar but with such good control of the fish the result was never in doubt!

8lb 3oz and getting marginally bigger.

Time to go home!
 As day broke I got confident that I'd catch at least one more but fish became very skittish in their appearance and trying to tempt another became tough going although three Chub and two Bream obliged. The best Bream went 7lb 14oz and the best chub went 4lb 6oz although the shoal I was targeting had fish well over the 6lb mark, typical I'd catch the smaller ones of the shoal!

 I will be back and it was a great start to my fishing on a river I'd never been on before.

Friday 21 June 2019

Foreign Adventures 2019.

 Back on Dutch soil for the first time in a year and it felt good! The last time I was over it was exactly the same time last year, uncanny that the dates and times almost matched exactly. Not necessarily an interesting fact for most but I found it spooky. Meeting with my good friend Yannick once again we spoke at length to work out what would be our best plan of action and given the battering the Netherlands had just received prior to my arrival last minute provisions had to be made.

The rain didn't hold off when it came!

 In a year a lot has happened, my fiancee went from being six months pregnant to us being parents for the last 9 months, a house that we hadn't even seen before now within our grasp of owning, giving up the flat we have called home for nearly three years all seems crazy, amazing what can happen in such a short space of time. All I know is that time is tight and my yearly trip to Holland was in serious doubt for a few reasons, regardless of those reasons I managed to make it happen. Yannick and I met up on the friday afternoon and headed straight over to the Waal in search of Ide and Asp.

 Both of the species I have been successful in catching previously but had desires to better both
personal bests. For Ide we wanted bright sunshine and light winds to get them on the top and feeding avidly, problem for us was that there was very little sunlight as the Netherlands was suffering with some pretty poor weather and with rain forecasted for all four days I was over it cast doubt over whether I'd get the chance and I think it was safe to say that blanks were inevitable, our first two days were a massive struggle and we managed one Asp between us and two Zander, all of which were below our target sizes, although for Yannick those two Zander represented the first of the species for him so he was delighted to have finally got that monkey off his back. Mind you, he doesn't target them much.

A small backwater where Ide were present.

 On Sunday however and conditions did improve a little beyond our expectations and by 10am the sun was out and stalking the Ide became a viable option. Half an hour of loading up crust finally got the fish rising and amongst the average size of 2/3lb the odd much larger shape broke the surface as they gained confidence. Within twenty minutes of the first rise we had scores of big Ide slurping crust off the top and then it was a case of having a bait in the right place!

A 2.5kg specimen, over 5lb and a new personal best!!
  Right place and right time accounted for this peach of an Ide, in the water it didn't look massive at all, but I guess looking down a 10ft embankment to a fish in cloudy water played a part in that! in the net and lifting it out clearly suggested otherwise and boy was I happy! Not quite in the 3kg club but I can save that for another visit.

 Conditions between the sunny spells were fairly brutal as we were hammered by winds between 45 and 55 mph and at times we had to stop fishing as I couldn't cast a lure further than five feet into the wind, plus it made for traversing the cribs even more difficult than it normally is.

 As the conditions didn't look to abate any time soon we headed inland and south to a canal system where we have had previous successes and this time was no different. A few Asp were taken off the top and a new personal best for me of 2.5/2.6kg was caught among quite a few other specimens averaging 1.75/2.25kg plus a stunning 16lb Grass Carp that managed to charge out of my hands as we prepared to photograph her in the water. Can't have it all :)

 It is very safe to say I will back!

Grass Carp heaven.

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Carp Fest in Bandit Country.

 Back to the wild west for more carpiness, carpiness that is sure to get you out of bed at 430am and not think about the lack of sleep that night yielded. Gear more often than not is in the van ready to go so its a case of showering, getting dressed and out the door. With my pre-dawn ritual complete and on the road the brain switches to carp mode and constantly praying the wind isn't scuppering my plans!

 Having breezed through the normally busy streets of London I got to my chosen water, a nice clear morning with a gentle 3/4 mph wind SW it was almost perfect. 2 hours to get the business done. To begin with I simply fished freeline tactics and within half an hour I came across a decent common grubbing up in the margins, two foot behind it went my squeezed flake, a minute or so later the common turned 180 degrees and inhaled the flake, easy as tying your laces.

 With very low battery I decided to not photograph this one as I hoped for something a little bigger. 14lb 3oz on the scales she went, then swiftly back to the lake.

 That fish seemed to then kill off any further sport in the margins and walked a section of the lake with the view to picking off any other carp that were unsuspecting of my hatched plan. Problem was that as the sun got over the trees the fish seemed to be moving out into 6ft+ of water and at a range of 25/40 yards, as good as I am at casting only the controller would get me there, so on it went.

 The results of that change over were almost instant, a decent set of lips came up at distance and as the crust disappeared and the controller took off I got that feeling through the rod that I was connected to something fairly larger than the first carp. A good battle at distance played out as the first run stripped forty yards off and spent the best part of a few minutes gathering the slack back, as she got within netting distance she rolled and clapped eyes on one of the prized fish in the lake.

23lb 2oz and a proper mint one!
 Not many carp get the double sided treatment but she was a cracking mirror and the battery died after three shots of the other side! 

 The smile was certainly genuine and I hope to catch the remaining fish of her ilk. As the early morning wore on I got another shot at a carp and slipped a mint common of 16lb 5oz, which again was good sport but can't photograph everything I catch, especially when it's dead. Then it was off to work.

Tuesday 11 June 2019

Fluff Chucking Madness!

 Canal carp have taken up most of my angling time this spring, well, a trio of tench trips have possibly taken up the rest, so any time targeting trout has had the kibosh put on it. Why after all this time that I finally decided to dust off my 4wt was because the preceding evening I took my daughter for a walk along the river to just see if the river was in good condition and generally just to do my bit to let out-of-season anglers know they are not supposed to be fishing.

 With the sun out and a pleasant evening and armed with the DSLR I hoped I'd get some photo opportunities and how glad I was that I did. I was treated possibly the best taking of flies ever in my life, the Trout didn't care about me and I snapped a good few pics off. This show of fish got me thinking. The next evening after work I shot off home briefly and grabbed that 4wt and a couple of boxes of flies, it was game on!.

Just a couple of about twenty keepers!

 Not wasting anytime I drove up to where I saw this healthy group of trout. Now I know there are few through this river but stocks seem to proliferate in the upper reaches and I only needed three casts at my first sighting and a stunning cock-brownie around a pound was in the bag "so to speak", only catch and release in my mind.

Strike One!
 The "Daddy Long Legs" falling victim to this awesome looking fish and it didn't take long for this deadly fly to claim another spotty!

Strike Two!
 Then, after a lull of possibly twenty minutes where I had to go looking for more fish as those in that pod became very spooky and its not hard to see why!

 When the stream is just over a rod lengths wide! But what an awesome place it is and that wasn't all either as I crossed paths with a big trout, so big I didn't know what do in terms if I got the chance to tempt it! Surely any inclining that it was in trouble would have me going berserk, now, that fish after a few casts did come up and stare at my fly, a take looked likely and on the very next cast I got the line just to sit straight and the fly was slurped off the top by a large cock-brownie, in water nearly as deep as it was is mind blowing and my fly rod started to piss line as it screamed off. Just ten seconds into the fight all of a sudden my line went completely slack and he was gone.

 On closer inspection as I retrieved the tippet the fish had cut the line above the fly! I was gutted and rightly so, that would have been an incredible fish from this diminutive stream.

 With my heart rate still through the roof and my Polaroids still steamed up I got off the bank and gathered myself to go again. Even after just ten seconds any other fish there would be long gone in the crystal clear water. I pushed on up above a small weir roughly 30 yards upstream where I hoped the commotion wouldn't have put the trout off feeding. Having chilled out for a few minutes I got the fly rod back out and retied another DLL size 10 on and began to stalk the water again.

 Tight against the far bank margins I could see a shape of a fairly large trout, just under the overhanging ivy, having only tasted defeat so soon I only decided to flick a fly out and allow it to drift when I felt confident that he or she had come away from the foliage for me to stand a chance at being successful, five minutes later and my pain was replaced with elation as my little trout pan was filled with a monster male!

 That will quench my fluff chucking thirst for another year! What an evening it was.

Wednesday 5 June 2019

Carp Fest at the Park Lake.

 I couldn't call this post anything else. The last couple of morning's that I have actually not attempted to throw my phone at the wall on the 430am alarm have been great fun, ample chances and whether it be tentative slurping of the crust or mis-calculation of my strike has seen me achieve much less but a good return nevertheless.

 Even early on in the morning, long before the sun breaks the treeline the carp are all over the top, probably mopping up Daphnia and bread from the day before from the bird feeding public. The fact it is a public park puts some people off, for me it is a massive bonus, simply because the fish see bread and other foods like rice, chapatis etc all the time. This is effectively matching the hatch!

 Though these carp aren't afraid to eat bread there is more often than not a boundary within which they will have it no matter what, inside of 20 yards they are wary that it may be a trap, get past that invisible line of confidence and the takes can become much quicker and bolder, for me to achieve this distance I use a controller float ( at the moment these are the Korda Intercepter 15g ).

 It took a little while mind you to get my first take and it was in the shape of feisty 14lb+ common which was a nice start. That start didn't take long to get better either as I then managed on the second attempt a pristine common of 16lb 4oz, glistening gold in the early morning sun.

16lb 4oz

 Not long after that carp a breath of wind crept and made presenting a bait at distance became a little bit more challenging. The pieces of the jigsaw fell together quite nicely after fluffing my lines on three occasions in just twenty minutes leading up to my last two fish, before I packed away and headed off to work for the next 11 hours.

A nice old mirror of 18lb 13oz

My best of the morning weighing in at 22lb 2oz
 Not a bad haul for 2hour and 20mins :) 

Monday 3 June 2019

Canal Carp, The Hunt is Still On.

 I couldn't not do a little bit on this trip. As tempted as I was to go against my feelings to go off Tench fishing again I fought those ideas and got my act together and gathered the stalking gear for my sixth visit to the canal for this campaign. A bright sunny day in the offing and lightish winds for most of the day presented too much of a good thing to go elsewhere. En-route I awoke sir Brian from his recovery from the night before and wondered if he fancied coming down for a go at finding a carp.

 On my last visit the carp were congregated in an area quite difficult to target. Plenty of boat traffic was likely so we got on the water earlish to give ourselves a fighting chance. A brisk hour later and we were in position and ready to go!

 Loaded with the least amount of gear possible we set off on foot and went hunting! As I've said many times before these canal carp are very transient and pinning them down takes a vast amount of skill. That said, just locating one was proving tough for us as it took well over two hours to finally get our first sighting. That sighting being a very large Mirror that we both put in the upper twenties bracket and one I would dearly love to catch! As she marauded up and down the margins I set about offering crust in front of her, followed by slow sinking flake, then allowing it settle, all which seemed to only spark one glimpse of interest.

 The more we tracked her, the least likely it would seem that one of us would become successful. As she came back into view at one point another carp joined her, a common, possibly an upper double and a lovely chestnut brown colour, certainly kept in keeping with all the other canal carp. Not one that I've caught has been ugly!

 The common however showed immediate interest in the flake as I lay the trap for the mirror, a quick bit of thinking had me retrieving the flake out the way of the common so not to spook the bigger one, the common really wanted it too as she followed the flake towards the marginal weed! crazy thing she was and once the bait had come out the water she turned away and vanished momentarily. In the clear water they are easy to track down until they use the boats to slip away and on one occasion they both did this and by this point I was kicking myself. Had I actually prevented myself from catching a canal carp? The bigger picture was certainly in mind and I had clearly weighed up the fact a bigger fish was better than no fish, such thinking on this canal to be fair is rather ludicrous knowing I could go another handful of trips without an opportunity so clear cut.

 Twenty minutes or so passed by with only a tench offering itself for viewing with the carp now doing a complete disappearing act. This is so typical and now I was starting to already regret my actions. Myself and Brian stared into the crystal clear water just hoping to see one or both of them. As I headed further along the canal wall I spotted a shape heading toward me and as she got closer the common became clear to see, working the weed line under my feet, this time with the mirror gone awol I flicked a slow sinking piece of flake in front of the common and awaited its reaction.

 Well, the reaction was that of a very confident and hungry carp! she hoovered the flake up with gusto and a powerful yet rather short battle played out in front of a few surprised onlookers on the towpath, much to my delight it was as pretty out the water as it was in, I could see it was a proper looker and I wasn't disappointed. 17lb 14oz. Carp number three!

 With that peach released home myself and Brian gathered our bits and continued to search out another carp as the mirror had gone missing completely. As we already know, location is everything and between us we have quite a vast catalogue of information that we have gathered and we used this to get us a little closer to some more carp, some of which were pretty big! Only problem was....they had other things on their minds and in the heat of the mid-afternoon it was clear our attentions needed to turn elsewhere and yes, we did find a couple more carp on our loop back to the car. These didn't want to know either as Brian was expertly inching baits right into their paths with hardly a glimmer of interest. Part of me thought these two carp were a splinter of the spawning party just a few hundred yards away and were on their way back to join in the festivities.

 Six trips, three carp and all awesome, it's not been easy but 50% catch rate so far, I'll take that!

8 Years in the Making.

   So we find ourselves finally able to get back on the rivers and thank god for it too. I don't mind stillwaters and canals now and aga...