Saturday 29 January 2022

Back on Home Soil.


 Nothing like home comforts and familiar territory. With my challenge in full swing and learning many other rivers in much shorter spans of time I returned to a river I know better than any other and can always be confident of finding and catching Barbel, even on a cold winters day!

 I made a conscious decision to not fish this particular river as it's something I've been and done for 25 years, but seeing as my van was in for MOT and service for the day I could not think of anything better to do than go fishing. I had about a pint of maggots left over from last week so I opted to take the float rod and see if some Dace could be found, problem was, there was about 4 miles of river between my start point and where the Dace reside and within that 4-miles there is a dearth of Barbel areas, most anglers would think, targeting Barbel on 4.4lb Drennan float fish line, size 14 hook and a float rod would be suicide, however I can confirm that played correctly you stand every chance of landing big fish, even if it may seem very much an under-gunned approach.

 I have complete confidence in using light gear for Barbel, especially in the winter when 5 mins are not uncommon as the battle of wills between man and beast play out ( in the summer I use more conventional methods to shorten battles as oxygen levels are much lower and recovery times are more of a concern and in hot conditions I cease fishing for the species entirely). 

 After dropping the van off I got to trotting the river with my good friend Stu, as we chewed the fat we looked into the gin clear water and it wasn't long before we saw a decent Barbel which unfortunately didn't fancy committing to a bait, so it was onwards and downwards as I sought areas that I know do produce fish. Next stop was a nice deep sweeping pool which normally produces a fish in the winter and yesterday was no different as on the very first trot the float bolted under. 

Hide and seek...

 A strong steady fight in the deep pool was very welcome considering I have accrued 29 blanks in 41 trips out for Barbel this season (most have been 1-3hr after work sessions but it still counts). As she slipped into the net I could feel my arm ache (these Barbel can do that, some exceptional fighting fit in the swift current). 

This beauty of 7.1 was a good start to the day.

 As we continued the search Brian and later on Richard joined us as we searched for more bites, but it was becoming very apparent that it wasn't going to be a manic day and would really have to work for opportunities. Apart from missing one hell of a bite about an hour later things were pretty slow going. It wasn't until about 1430 that I managed to find another fish after getting stuck into some seriously massive Minnows! yes possibly opposite ends of the piscatorial scale but awesome fish with some just a matter of a few grams off being British record fish! 

 Back to the larger fish and it didn't take long to get back into the groove as I managed a nice fish of similar size to the first, which again gave a great account of itself, then a Chub just missing out on 5lb was next up as I hit a run of form and just downstream I hooked and landed Barbel number three which was the smallest of the day. The dipping of the float when in pursuit of any fish is exciting but something about Barbel, you just never know if its going to be a monster! I certainly enjoyed it!


Latched into a fighting fit Barbel.

Sunday 23 January 2022

R.Wylye Part III: Red Letter Day!

  It's been my worst season for Grayling since I began targeting them in 2014, but since Mike had very kindly given me the opportunity to fish the wonderful Wylye deep in Wiltshire' amazing countryside things have gotten a whole lot better. The stamp of fish are clearly a cut above most of the rivers I fish (excluding the Dorset Frome), a number of two-pound specimens have come in two trips (ten to be precise with the best two weighing 2lb 7oz and 2lb 6oz) fish I could only dream of on other rivers I fish, an Itchen two-pound Grayling still eludes me.

 As I arrived at the river the temperature was -3c and sunny, just perfect for a spot of Grayling fishing. Oddly though there was quite a bit of colour running through but the river was painfully low and at summer levels which is going to be a major concern for this years summer if there isn't a healthy dollop of rain to top up the aquifers soon. Trotting maggots in coloured water is not normally an issue and fish will find them, I just hoped the lack of clarity wouldn't have an impact on the days fishing.

 Starting at the top of beat one I opted to feed quite heavily to get the fish moving around and seeking out the loose feed. The peg was a deep swirling caldron of about 6-8ft of freezing cold chalk water. Knowing it was cold the hook bait was kept as close to the bottom as possible and hoped the loose feed made it down to deck in time and not washed away in the flow. Some 15-20 mins passed by without a Grayling. 

 Early gains were made with a handful of Trout but my target (Grayling) I knew frequented the deep slacks so I persevered with the peg and was duly rewarded with a small fish followed by a beauty of 2lb 1oz and then another of 2lb 5oz (pictured) which was a great turn of events as just before I hooked and landed the 2.01 I lost a huge Grayling to a hook pull mid river and watched it turn downstream as the hook came out and know for a fact that fish was probably an upper two-pound specimen, gutted for sure but the blow was certainly softened with the next two dips of the float.

After a slow start this 2.5 got me warmed up!

 Given the two good fish it threw up there and the lost monster I decided to keep going for another hour before working out that the fish were either not feeding anymore or that was it, i'll side with the prior given the size of the peg, can't imagine it held only four Grayling, so I moved on downstream picking off the odd fish to upper one-pound range ( 4x fish between 1.10 and 1.14 ) came from one peg before going silent too, then I really struggled for bites until after lunch, the added warmth from the winter sun must have woken them up and then started to add to my tally at a better rate, by 2pm I was on 11 fish with two over 2lb, from that 2pm point the fish just seemed to switch on and got bites and fish at a quicker pace, one peg notably was giving up big fish just about every time the float went under.

 I was caught in bit of a whirlwind for half an hour where I caught 7 fish, four 2's ( 2.4, 2.4, 2.3 and my biggest of the season), a 1.15 and two mid 1's, putting that into perspective its more than I normally get in a season in terms of 2's. The biggest of the season Grayling came half way through that crazy spell and knew it was a bigger fish than the rest and fought similar to the large one I lost in the morning quarter mile upstream, on the scales it registered 2lb 9ozs and my second biggest ever Grayling and I was a very happy man to catch such a fish given the fact I have now lost two or three monster Grayling that, all of which could have been personal bests but that is fishing and full of highs and lows.

The jewel of the crown, her ladyship at 2lb 9oz

 My last couple of hours was still pretty darn good as the average sized fish seemed to hang around the upper one-pound mark with most going 1.12/1.13 amazingly and added a 7th 2lb specimen to that haul at 2.02 and as the day drew to a close and eeked every bit of fishing out of the last light I finished the  day with a clonking 37 Graylng, with seven over 2lb and roughly 15-18 or so just a matter of an ounce of two off two pounds which is astounding in itself, with hardly any small fish caught (4 under a pound I think) the question to be asked is, what sport is going to be present in 2-3 years time with the evident lack of certain year classes.

 Also I am doing a little something on YouTube now, these are short release videos and putting them on here, so click the link if you like and subscribe to my YouTube channel too for more videos, content will vastly improve too as I look to upload more in the short term. 
 Here is a link to a Grayling of 2lb+ going back ----

 A couple more images of the day as it was wrapped up in fine style!

Sunsetting over Wiltshire, which gave way to trillions of visible stars.

Wonderful surroundings.

The temperature dropped 5c in an hour! 

Friday 21 January 2022

Absent Grayling and Houdini Roach.

  For nearly two years the Itchen Grayling have been put on the back burner, however the conditions were so good I could not ignore them any longer.

 A quick phone call to Brian the day before and we were set, but not before we both had a mad morning  searching for maggots, the tackle shop in Bow was shut as I was on early call-out and wasn't close by for the rest of the day and Brian hacked it over to the local Decathlon just to be told they had absolutely none to speak of. It was all beginning to unravel before we had even set off, fortunately I was getting through my diary at a good rate, so I made the journey over to my local tackle shop "Caterham Angling" and picked up 2 pints of red and saver!! 

 Given the density of my diary my local I thought was right out the window. Anyway, the next morning we set off for the wonderful R.Itchen for a change and not searching for a Barbel which is a nice switch of species because they are annoying the life out of me. This time around it was for the enigmatic Grayling, a species I have done very well for so far this winter, but would it be just as good on this trip?

 The fishing started really slowly with very little happening until the above Grayling slipped up. Within the first hour I was on two....I am still not sure why it was sluggish but as the temps crept above zero the fishing didn't get a hell of a lot better, another five fish to just over a pound came to the net before I had a spell of trout and nothing more.
 Around 1pm we arrived on a deeper slower section hoping to find some more Grayling, not before long however we both caught a glimpse of some Roach and the thought of Grayling was banished, those Houdini Roach were all I could think of from that point on. The first Roach did take a long time to come and then had to suffer another hour or so before I got into my rhythm, the free offerings of maggots followed by a switch to bread did the trick. The next two hours provided some wonderful sport as I did battle with some superb Itchen Roach, the same fish that are notorious at hiding and when located basically impossible to tempt, last Saturday it all came good.

My best of the day!

 It wasn't until around 3pm when I finally connected with a "big" Roach, the solid deep lying fight had me thinking that I had finally come across one of the really big fish and took me a good minute to finally see what I was connected to, nervous throughout I didn't force it and when she did come to the surface and roll over I had an inkling this would be the "one" I wanted, that said, as the dial settled my quest for an Itchen two-pounder continues. 

 A few more good Roach came to the net but none bigger than the 1.14 pictured above, given how poor the preceeding hours were that couple of hours amongst the Roach was excellent and quenched my thirst for some Redfin sport.

1.14 top and then some back up's.

 Best three of the day were 1lb 14oz, 1lb 10oz and 1lb 9oz, one day I will hopefully cross paths with my Itchen two pounder.

Tuesday 18 January 2022

Angling Isn't Always About Fish.


 We are blessed to live in such a beautiful country, its a shame most of the 70 million of us don't get to experience it, as an angler I consider myself as one of the lucky ones. I always get asked why I love fishing so much and unless one experiences it in its entirety it is difficult to explain. Just being there sometimes is enough, whether it's in somewhat urban locations or deep in the English countryside.


An Avocet in South London....Very odd indeed.

A wonderful Pipistrelle up the same tree I was watching Roach from.

A cropped image of my favourite creature, simply stunning.

Dorset Frome sunsets are exquisite.

Grayling at dawn.

Another wonderful sunset.

Freezing cold Hampshire Avon dawn.

Wool time! Grayling once again.

Meet Bill, an angler I've crossed paths with over the years,
 got to be firmly in his 80's and still out there braving it!

Deer o deer

An audience with the ol' Deers

Wonderfully clear skies over Nottinghamshire.

I'm in!!!!

Red Kite soaring through the Spring sunshine.

Common Newt.

Photogenic Robin.

Teddy weir raging in full flood and I'm on the boat :)

Eddie sunbathing

Goose Stepping Pheasant in south London! 

Dawn Carping.


Skylarks at dawn

Possibly my favourite ever sunrise pic!

0350 on June 16th whilst fishing can provide some serious spectacles.

Construction nightscape.

185million years old, incredible to be able to touch something so old.

Enton in the mirk.

Hopefully my office for a few more days Wrasse fishing.

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...