Thursday, 31 December 2020

A Round Up of 2020.

  2020, the year that if I could, start all over again, roll the dice and hope for a much better outcome!

 January: Very little of note was caught apart from a superb brace of tiny chalkstream Chub, four pound fish are still considered good fish. After plenty of searching myself and Brian located where there were some fish, a steady stream of maggots and dollop of patience was enough to take three super fish, topped off with a 6lb 3oz brute which was braced with a 5lb 4oz fish that in itself was good enough to walk away feeling a great sense of achievement.

 February: Was even more difficult as I only went fishing once, Whilst away in the Caribbean I did get some fishing done but as they were caught in March they don't really count, so this lovely marked Brown Trout will have to do! Oh and I had a lovely Barbel the evening before I flew out, 10lb 7oz.


 March: Once I got back to Blighty I fancied a trip out after Grayling and ended up having a great day out, with numerous fish to just under 2lb and also a lovely brace of Roach which again just missed out on the two-pound mark but were amongst a shoal of much larger fish, one of which I did lose.

 April: Owing to the pandemic sweeping the globe our freedoms were stripped to protect the elderly so we were told to stay at home, so thats exactly what I did, the fish could breath a sigh of relief and my house got a lot more attention than I thought it would. No Pics, apart from copious amounts of Gin!

 May: Well, what can I say, most of it again was spent at home until restrictions were lifted slightly, with that I decided the Catfish needed a good seeing to, so Brian, my brother Richard and I did just that where I landed fish to 39lb 9oz and my largest UK caught fish ever. Plus I had some beautiful small farm pond Tench that ranged from 5lb to nearly 8lb, everyone a worthy adversary as all of them battled tirelessly for freedom amongst the thick pads.


 June: Opening day of the new season Brian of Navareth ( formerly Brian of Sreatham ) came along for a 48hr session out in the boat after Rudd....3 hrs later we came in, hole in the boat we decided we'd stick to dry land, I managed a nice old warrior of 2lb 5oz, not bad for a session that was littered with poor decisions (mainly weather related)

 July: July looked to be my 2020 turning point as I went out in search of targets and got close to some and achieved others, a big chub of 6lb 4oz (early season) slipped up during a short morning session on a small chalkstream, then a canal march was decided upon. Although no Carp were located a big Bream decided a lump of slow sinking bread flake was too good to ignore, 8lb 14oz. Then I made my Wrasse debut where I had a few stunners off of Portland west side, a great experience and one I will certainly go for again.



 August/September: These were both very lean months in terms of angling and found myself scratching around for the odd Chub and Barbel, all of which weren't big therefore not really worth mentioning! Not that that is the criteria of course, just this is a highlights!

 October: By the middle of October I hadn't managed a trip, then I gave myself something to think about that put a foot up my arse, as my fishing was going stale and quickly losing my mojo. The plan isn't necessarily a short term goal but will give me a sense of direction for my angling. That target is to achieve a double figure Barbel off of forty different rivers across the country, some obscure and some alot more obvious. I started off with the not so secretive (Trent) and blanked then went off the radar and banked a huge 15lb 12oz Barbel on my fourth visit to that particular river. A few days later, I went back up the Trent and banked an impressive 13lb 9oz Barbel on the first evening, two rivers checked off in 5 days I think it was, not mention beating an 8 year old PB (originaly 14lb 6oz from the Hants Avon).


 November: The blanks started to mount up at an alarming rate but one I could have foreseen as temps started to fall away, the only thing that was good about November was a chub session I had on the float, 16 fish teased out of one pool where the remainder of the river seemed empty, glad I found them!


 December: The blanks continued on at the same rate, but for another session on the float for silvers it was fairly dead, on the float was great fun and to finish off I managed a beautiful mirror around 6lb on 2lb bottom, size 16 hook and a light float rod.

 Lets hope 2021 is a darn sight better in many respects, although 2 PB's isn't a terrible return I must admit.

 I wish you all a very happy new year in blogland and wish you peace and prosperity for the year ahead. Tight Lines all.

 James.

Sunday, 13 December 2020

Tackle Reviews.

  

For a few years now people who know I blog have asked whether I review tackle as part of my blog and the short answer is no, mainly because who wants to read my ramblings on about what rod or reel is good or what winter clothing system lasts a winter without the crutch area being clawed out by the incessant rigours of being a mobile angler where barbed wire is present most of the time and maybe the odd scratch of the family jewels. 

 However, on this occasion I do have a couple of things that I have recently purchased and feel compelled to at least sing its praises. Firstly before going any further I am not affiliated to either of the companies that these items are made/designed by, I personally feel that if someone is looking for something similar then these maybe for them! 

 First up is the Daiwa Igloo2 2-piece Bib & Brace set.

 At £190 I wanted something that will keep me warm when out in the depths of winter which I have already found myself doing and I have been pleasantly surprised as to how warm it is, I've already been subjected to driving torrential rain, sleet and strong winds and have remained dry and cosy. Very much the essence of what a winter suit should achieve. Plenty of decent pockets in the right places and I know that sounds strange but all too often pockets are either not particularly generous in size or if they are they are located in awkward places, where the hand doesn't naturally end up when trying to dig a chocolate bar out.

 Now, for me being 6ft tall and 14st + it works very well and the "large suit" is great in terms of length of arms and legs, the bib sits just on the bottom of my laces on my waterproof hiking boots which is perfect, only downfall for me is that it is a bit puffy, now I am a skinny jeans kind of guy and like fitted clothing ( at the moment I can get away with it ), and feel owing to this puffiness that a bit of heat does escape and when trotting isn' a hinderance but would be a bit more comfortable if its wasn't as bulky. That negativity aside, if you were say 6ft 2in and 15-16st then it'll probably fit perfectly in every way.

 As said above, that really is my only negative point on it and I have had other body suits/winter Bib & Brace' and have found so far this is the one I like the most for the reasons given above, plus you could always buy a SnugPak by Fortis but you would fork out £120-£180 for just the jacket, in terms of value and quality I would at the very least give it a look. Plus it is also made in partnership with Sundridge who are possibly one of the best makers of winter sports thermal wear, just look them up!




 Up next is a piece of terminal tackle that I use quite frequently given my target now for the foreseeable future. A lot of my summer fishing for Barbel will be sight fishing but in the autumn and winter fishing will most likely be following a static approach and I find hooklink material is very important in terms of building confidence in an approach, especially when they are clear rivers and the smallest of discrepancies are picked up by weary Barbel and indeed other fish such as Carp and Chub.

 I have now been using Korda's IQ2 hooklink material now for a couple of years and have found it very easy to manipulate to make tight turns, knots etc and rarely get a poor finish, very good abrasion resistance I have found and that is fishing in swims with snags like metalwork, trees and other rubbish that our rivers collect. Also in water ( not tap water, as I actually haven't tried it ) seems invisible to me and presentation of hookbaits seems to be perfect everytime.

 Some may say its quite expensive at £10 for a small spool of 20m but where I tend to use 8-12inch hooklengths it lasts me a whole season if not more. I have never had this stuff go on me and even when a hard fighting Barbel or Carp takes me through the ringer the rig more often than not is in good enough condition to re-use. That coupled with very good knot strength this is the only hook length material I will use until someone tells me there is something better to try or I find it myself.

 £10 for the 10/12/15lb BS spools that consist of 20m of material.


 All in all, you've now heard my guff, if you are looking for a new winter suit or just a jacket, or not comfortable the rig material you are currently using then look at these. 

Monday, 7 December 2020

An Afternoon on the Float.

  

Given my recent difficulties in locating and catching Barbel I have decided to target other species until conditions are more conducive to catching. Having visited the dentist this morning and having an extraction at 940am I wasn't feeling up to much. But you can't put a good man down! 

 The fire still burns deep even with my mouth in absolute bits and the temps not predicted to go above 2c all day ( which for once they did get right ).  I quickly shot home, grabbed a pint of maggots and the gear then headed out for an afternoons trotting. 

 The tackle I was using consisted of a Greys Prodigy specialist float 12ft 2-piece, Greys Bewick 4¾ inch centrepin loaded with 3lb Maxima Chameleon and a beautifully made drake quill trotting float rated at 6BB.

 Swim selection on a cold day with cold water is always key and I thought I had hit the nail on the head from the beginning as my second trot resulted in a mint 7oz 3dr Dace. The next half hour was a complete waste of time. Was there just one Dace in that entire 40 yard trot? I am inclined to think not and that shoal just switched off immediately, even though I had fed the swim for 15 minutes before trotting it. I did however have another idea and that was that shoal pretty much ended where I had that Dace, so I packed the keepnet and everything up and moved another 25 yards upstream and began my feeding regime as before.

 Bites again were instant, only difference this time is that they came almost every trot and plenty of quality Gudgeon came to the net, along with Chublet, Dace and a solitary Perch (which was a surprise - highest I've had one on this river). Once the bites dried up I weighed up my bag which totalled 4lb 6oz of hard worked fish, the Gudgeon came to around a pound with the best not far off 2ozs which is a very good fish.


1oz 12dr. My best for some time.

An hour or so in the right spot, 4lb 6oz.

Awesome! Got to love a Gonk.

 Then I continued on upstream to try and find some bigger Gudgeon and maybe a Roach or two as they had been conspicuous in their absence, I normally pick up a few among Gudgeon shoals. Next up was a couple of fantastic looking trots on nice gentle bends where I have done well in the past. Bites once again weren't forthcoming, fifteen minutes spent trying I upped and moved, as I looked downstream to where my trots were roughly finishing I could see two lovely carp, both sifting through the sandy/gravel bottom and really looked like having a bait, so off came the maggots and pinch of Warburton's went on and no sooner did the bait get to the bottom the smaller of the two carp it took it. The bread vanished and with the float dipping simultaneously I struck and the rod slammed over as the carp charged off past me at a rate of knots, I simply couldn't touch the pin and allowed the pin to do its job, but bad luck crept into my game as I suffered yet another hook pull to a river carp, my third in five attempts this season.

 For me, the gear was standing up to the task, albeit fairly outgunned given the fact the carp was around the 14-15lb mark ( not that its stopped me succeeding in the past ). Had my luck not evaded me on this occasion I felt quite confident that I would have eventually won that battle. But as said above, you can't put a good man down and I hoped that another chance would materialise which thankfully, it did and what a beauty it was too! In very similar fashion to the first attempt, the only difference was I would win this battle got the chance to marvel at what a stunning little creature it was, estimated at roughly 6lb I took a couple of snaps then let it head back into its watery world. Sometimes numbers matter not. 

No words.

The last grasp of Autumn slipping away into an icy coma.

Third Time Lucky?

   At least I was hoping so, 177 miles each way with diesel now costing a years salary to fill up the tank I needed to make it worth while, ...