Wednesday, 18 April 2018

T.O.P.C: Part Two: I'll Take That.

 The 14th April was a date pencilled in for the end of the crucian carp season on Enton Mere. For the past two seasons I have now spent upwards of ten trips trying my hand at some of the countries largest specimens, if you want one, typically this is where you try. However, and this is what some anglers won't tell you, its not easy. I may have touched on this in the past and I am happy to re-iterate that feeling.

 During March and early April the target was a solitary crucian, not setting my sights high enough? I kid you not, a bite was something to get the blood pumping on what turned out to be some of the most baron hours I've experienced, period. My initial idea was just to fish from around 6pm when I arrived through to maybe 10pm to see what would transpire. The answer was almost immediate. Surrounded by anglers, some of whom had had success and others cursing their luck, I had a steaming run on my right hand rod, the sort of take you'd associate with a tench or carp but I know the crucians run with such tenacity. Having connected with the fish I knew straight away by the dainty fight that it was a crucian, then it all went wrong. The hooked pulled and I began cursing my luck too.

 Conjuring up a run so fast I thought I had landed on the fish and the thought of losing a crucian would soon be dispelled by a hectic evenings wrong could I be? Well, one Rudd around 1.04 made an appearance which again I thought was a crucian and then nothing.

 The next morning the dawn chorus was in full swing as the lake came alive with bubbling tench and carp smashing the surface to a foam, not to mention the incessant rolling of numerous crucians, some of which were hitting my rod tips they were that close, but I could not get any response from the little blighters!

 As the morning progressed the fish began to disappear apart from the odd carp here and there breaching. As the clock ticked closer to the sort of time I was going to pull myself away I had a decision to make. Do I stay put on my bed of feed or move to showing fish, after a short time thinking about it the latter was settled on, my target had now changed as my brain had given up on hoping for a crucian, the showing carp were too much of a lure to ignore.

A proper carpers dawn.

 A maggot feeder went straight on the spot they'd been rolling on all morning, the other was flicked out at 25 yards in the vein hope my change of focus would infact catch my original target. Forty five minutes later as I began to sit heavy eyed in the warm sunshine my maggot feeder rod hammered off, almost creating smoke on the newly acquired Delkims!

 For roughly fifteen minutes I battled a stubborn mirror. Powerful run after powerful run was slowly followed by a distinct plodding of a decent fish, I was only fishing with 6lb line and delicate 5 inch hook length at around 60 yards so I had to be careful. With so much inactivity I was basically desperate to land this fish. A few minutes later, after three attempts the large frame of a mid- twenty pound carp cruised into the net, not easy going but, I was very happy with that!

 23lb 6oz, which is my best carp out of Enton, infact, to date, the only one I have landed having lost a couple in the past owing to the delicate tackle often adopted to tackle the crucians.

Monday, 16 April 2018

T.O.P.C: Part One: It All Starts Here.

 The starting horn has sounded, the "one hundred pound" challenge has begun. This will arguably be one of the toughest challenges yet, the simple fact a "stillwater" forty pound carp is not an easy feat. Surely this will test my ability to the maximum, any practice that I can get on various waters where I won't necessarily catch my target fish, it gives me some time to sharpen my skills, when that time comes, I will hopefully be ready.

Young'en around 5lb.

 A few small waters containing decent heads of carp into the twenties have been my recent ports-of-call, along with a morning's angling on the "Nomad's canal". This alone will kick my arse should I not get it right either, these carp in particular do not respond well to being pricked or lost, so once I have done the hard work of tracking and tempting them, it will then be down to easing them in and fight the urge to rush them.

Scraper double.

Fiesty one around 8lb.
 To ease me in on the still waters I have managed to snare four carp in two short trips to a little over ten-pounds, not big, but being such wary fish it was encouraging.

 My morning's canal fishing was a success in that I saw a couple of carp, usually I can go without seeing them for one to four trips, although this can depend on clarity and chop on the surface from the wind. Never easy mind you, but I didn't leave the canal empty handed as I stalked another large canal bream of 9lb 1oz. Not that it wanted a photo of course, so this mat shot had to do. That beast represented my fourth largest stalked bream from the canal systems. Insane!

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Toughing It Out For Crucians.

 This particular post covers three trips which have been embarked on over the past week. Fishing recently has been tough owing to the topsy turvy temperatures where overnight temps have ruined the daytime improvements. It has to be said that with the poor conditions I'd hazard a guess that everything is now a few weeks behind schedule, that ranges from the dormant inhabitants waking up to begin feeding with spawning in mind, through to spawning. If temps do not begin to improve soon we could easily see Tench and Crucians spawning off a lot later than usual.

 The latter part of that brings me to a little stumbling block as it closes mid-April until mid-June. The lake I am targeting is well known for it's monster crucian stocks for which I have had the pleasure of dipping into albeit fleetingly. This time last year the opportunities to target them were few and far between, what a difference 12 months can make. Colder winter temps and prolonged spells at that have illustrated at just how dependent on mild conditions certain species are when it comes to feeding. Last March the fish were coming out thick and fast to those lucky enough to be on the spots where the tench and especially crucians were grouped up, this year it's turn up and fish 12 hours for a bite!.

 Least wise that's how I have approached my three trips so far this spring. The first two trips resulted in a lot of effort put in for no reward. I travelled down again on good friday to try again, hopefully putting those blanks behind me and reward me for my efforts. On my previous two trips I had fished fairly standard tactics but with the lack of activity I decided a more natural approach may give me an edge over everyone who seemed to follow suit in blanking or bagging the occasional fish every trip. Not the sort of return one would hope for given the effort. So I set my stall out with a helicopter-rig fished in-conjunction with a 35g cage feeder which was plugged with a cocktail of crumbs and a 5 inch stiff hook-length hooked up to a juicy Dendrobaena.

Just a few of my rigs, ready for battle.

 What tench could possibly turn its nose up at that!.......The answer was they couldn't, which was good for me as staring at two rods for three days without a bleep from the buzzers would have been a kick in the plums for sure.

These kept me and Brian occupied for countless hours!
 The first run took around 4 hours to come around, as my area that had been baited lightly with a concoction of caster, crumb and chopped worm showed very little by way of attracting fish, although it is fair to say the chop on the water did cancel some of my visibility out, so being able to spot pin head sized bubbles in the ripple would have been a tall order. I sat nice and warm in my shelter awaiting some action when the first run finally came which to be honest took me by surprise.

Best of the day.
 I wound down into a solid fish which didn't do an awful lot as early spring tench often do, obviously the target is a crucian but the lack of action from them suggested I needed to take a different tac, not long after winding down on my first bit of action a plump 5lb 9oz tench posed for a photo in the rain (only weighed it to get an eye in), as it had been a while since I last had a tench!

To crack a smile in those conditions took some doing!
 Thankfully, that wasn't the last of my action as I had another two takes either side of that first fish, the very first take did me in an old weed bed and even broke my hook length which was disappointing, thankfully I landed the next run. Then shortly after that my third run and second fish resulted with another lovely tinca, this one weighed in at 5lb 6oz.

 Knowing how tough it had been I really wanted to catch just to know my rigs were working and as is often the case I become very critical of myself when things aren't going to plan, I feel a combination of location and tactic changes paid off as I finished off the day with a third tench ( 5.05 ), not long afterwards I had finally decided to pack up as the incessant rain had eventually got the better of me. Packing up in the rain has got to my biggest dislike, but, the prospect of packing up in heavy driving rain which was forecast I'd glad fully take my chances in the light rain I put up with all day!

Soaking wet, but these were good fun.
 A little bit on the tackle I have been using of late. As this lake in particular is still fairly new to me a lot of what I have been doing is articulating on my basic knowledge and adjusting my rigs to be more effective, in trying not to get info from other anglers I have worked fairly hard to work the place out for myself as I feel in the long run I will look back at my campaign for a 4lb+ Crucian Carp a complete success.

 The rods I use are either 1.25tc Greys Prodigy,12 ft rods, or the Korum 12ft 1.5tc "all-rounder" rods. Reels are fairly standard front reel drag Shimano Exage 3000fd's as I prefer these to bait runners as I can set the drag at the beginning of the fight once assessing what I have on the other end, I hear too many stories about setting a tighter drag for the crucians and get busted up by a 20-30lb carp, not my bag to be honest.

 Mainline, I tend to fish as light as I can without being naive, 6lb Diawa sensor is my go to and hook length materials are either 4lb Drennan double-strength supple or or slightly heavier hook length material in the form of 10lb Guru ultra-low diameter "Pulse Line", which is a mainline, but I find this almost perfect for hook length material as it is strong, but thin and supple enough to achieve what I want and also gives me a slightly better chance at putting everything I contact on the bank, all of which above came to this arrangement. 

 The method "flat bed" feeders that I use are usually 42g to give me decent distance abilities and also enough weight to enable a good "self-hook up" of anything that picks up the bait. For my method feeder fishing I use a short length which is typically 3-5 inches depending on various things on the day. My heli-rigs typically are fished with longer tails and around a foot from the feeder, but laid flat the hook bait lays just an inch from the top of the feeder, or in essence that is what should happen.

 Terminal tackle like hooks can vary again, if the fish are touchy then I'll drop to a size 18 or 20; if bites are coming thick and fast, but hook up rates are poor then I'll fish a size 14 or 16.

 As for bait now I am fairly confident in plastics ie: caster, buoyant maggots/bloodworm and corn, but where the fishing has been tough the naturals I felt would work well and my theory was proved right to a degree, although I could have just dropped on a patch of fish where fish were feeding sporadically.

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.