Saturday, 16 September 2017

Fleeting Summers.


 Far too many plans and far too little time to indulge in them all, dreaming of spring mornings with the Tench bubbling uncontrollably and Carp sifting the surface for whatever they can find. All sounds great and so often it is, the balance of working as self employed electrician, fiancee and everything that else that goes with it makes time fairly tight, some of the dreams in the Spring did come to fruition and as the summer wore on I continued to get amongst some fantastic fish of various different species. Some of which will remain a target as the season meanders to its close next March.

 Plenty of these sessions have been extremely enjoyable with some not so for one reason or another (usually atrocious weather when dressed for something a little akin to the summer)"when will I learn". My Spring started off with a variety of fish, most of which were lake dwellers as the rivers remained closed for all coarse species (although Brown Trout are fair "game"). Golden Orfe, Tench and Crucian Carp were among my early targets, some would have you believe it would be easy, like stealing candy from a baby?, not likely, well for me at least, plenty of casting about to work out the depths and drop offs/shelves on Enton, weed beds and clay plateaus on Newdigate. All homework but to be successful it's all vital undertakings to achieve the very targets that I set myself.

 A few weeks into my fishing and nothing really seemed to be paying off apart from my childhood ability to catch good Carp almost closed eyed, not that it was easy but easier than the other waters I was concentrating on, could I have done better? anyone can always do better, maximum achievement is never achieved because when you begin to think that and improvement can not be pursued then surely the enjoyment would cease, that for me would be the ultimate nail in the piscatorial coffin. Maybe, if that day comes I'll invest in some waffel bats or golf sticks. Seriously hope it never gets to that hence my eagerness to embark on the next trip, typically thinking about it whilst already heading out or on a fishing trip already. My fishing brain working ahead of time !

 As the temperature crept up fishing started to become slightly better with plenty more showing on various venues, by May I'd already had a few decent Carp to mid-20's (best 25.03 by this point), the Tench started to show and G.Orfe started to slip out of their winter coma, nothing big but all a start and leading up to bigger and better things, by mid May I could honestly say achieved what I wanted on the G.Orfe front, after nearly a dozen trips I smashed my previous personal best which now sits at a proud 6lb 12oz, job done and the Tench were up next but these proved a little harder and if I recite correctly I blanked nearly as many times as I caught, since the good Tinca times are over I have located a water that I believe holds the potential for my dream "double figure specimen", watch this space for 2018-2019 season as I will endeavour to make good on my plans.

 A few more quality Carp made their way albeit not willingly, with June approaching fast my flowing fix was about to be quenched but not before some awesome looking canal Bream showed up, along with some stunning Crucian's from Marsh Farm to 2lb 9oz, a frantic morning on the pin and fined down gear was great, not always like that I will say although sometimes I feel it's my approach that let's me down. Then the season started and it delivered big time, a Chub just "two ounces" off my personal best graced my net in what was probably my best ever opening day capture, 6lb 8oz of pure awesomeness, absolutely perfect and boy would I love to catch that in the depths of winter with snow on the ground.

 My recent trips up to the Fens were continued in July but found fishing rather difficult due to an immense amount of weed cutting, not great but managed some to a smidgen under 2lbs, not massive but the Somerset levels picked up the slack and proved why fishing off the beaten track proves to be a success more often than not. A snap decision to take gear down whilst on way to Cornwall to see my sister shows why the opportunistic angler will always catch, the effort just needs to be applied and over time the rewards will come, I firmly believe in that, some are naturally good at being lucky, I seem to have to earn that right but only happy to graft, a 2lb 5oz Rudd taken in less than ideal conditions proves why opportunities never go begging.

 Then a double figure Bream pops up and makes my season all over again, not everyones cup of tea but for a canal, stalked in gin clear water after casting a million times at the same fish is madness, relentlessness is my middle name and for those who know me could probably vouch for that statement, last cast? yeah, maybe tomorrow.....is usually what I'm thinking, so often it has paid off and it has this season a couple of times. Barbel and more big Chub have featured as my quest for a 7lb specimen is still firmly in mind, just waiting now for the temps to drop and the rains spark the fish into feeding more than they have of late, anytime from now to Christmas is going to be a busy period for fishing, can I achieve a couple more of my long standing goals? only time will tell, Summer? It was certainly fleeting this year but feel I made good of it for the time I had available.














Friday, 1 September 2017

Failure? Nope, Not a Chance.


 Another day spare and another day spent hunting down my Chub target. I felt confident that I would get a chance as the conditions weren't to be too bad for some stalking, I spent the morning chatting with fellow anglers and searching the water for holding fish with an eye on the evening as I know it's often the best time when the day has been hot and certainly was, by 3pm it was 27c which isn't pleasant in the long grass, in jeans, boots and a top to prevent the nettles stinging me to within an inch of my life!

 Many hours passed with nothing to show for all the miles covered but none of it is in vain as it all helps with the mental picture I'll need when it's in the fields and chocolate brown!, I didn't actually have a proper cast until possibly 4pm which seems crazy, drive all that way just to chat and walk miles of river, but thats how one learns fast, I still got five hours behind the rod, not that it made much of a difference as my tips didn't move a smidgen, shame as I was rather hoping for just a Chub, thats now five blanks in 24 sessions, which I don't think is a bad return, maybe half of the fish I've caught have been 5+ with a couple of sixes thrown in the mix, most of which are summer fish.

The tip may have lye dormant but it was a lovely evening.

 Brian and I packed up about 2115 to get back to the car so we could avoid the road closures that lay ahead of us, during the evening I did hatch a back-up plan and that was to pop onto a river on our way home, crossing the borders of four counties theres plenty of water to aim at......half past midnight my tip savagely wrapped around, an lovely 8.04 Barbel put that tough days fishing firmly in the back of my mind, home just after 1am it was a long day having set off at 430am the day before, all worth it though.

Great tonic for a tough day and it fought like a devil!

Monday, 28 August 2017

In Search of Monster Chub: Tough Times.


 Three days planned, with my Chub gear back on my playground I had high hopes, I was packed in a flash and on the river by 9am which is a slightly later start than I'd usually aim for but I thought I had plenty of time, the first few hours I spent wandering around to find where the Chub were holding up and planned to get some bait in in preparation for the evenings, during the day I moved about with a trotting rod, just hoping a Chub or two would slip up.

 With the river being low and clear I felt the Chub were just a little lazy and not moving much, the water was also very warm and that I think has added to the small amount of time they are feeding, as the first day headed towards the evening I had one eye on dusk, I believed that would be my best chance. Two Pike banked and another dropped six times of a small Chub which would have possibly been a mid-double was my only action through the daylight hours. An hour before dark I got my bait out over the baited area and sat back with anticipation.


 As the sun disappeared and the night descended upon day one a beautiful Barn Owl glided around the tree line behind me and had the pleasure of watching it for half a minute before vanishing into the night, not five minutes later my tip twitched and then slammed over, I was in and the dogged battle straight away suggested a Chub, in the half light I could just make out a decent frame ploughing into the weed beds, when I bought it past one it would go into the next, but with my stepped up gear for this very reason the fight didn't last too long, after 12 hours of fishing I'd finally bagged a Chub, not a bad one either and just a smidgen under 6lb, it flicked between 5.15 and 6.00 before resting on 5lb 15oz, I was happy with that though, tough day and worthy reward as my morning was punctuated by the unfortunate incident of kicking two poaching swines off the river, 14 fish they'd caught, two good Roach already beheaded, one of which was still moving! Thankfully I was able to rescue the other 12 which all went back alive. The epidemic is still very much occurring, it's up to us anglers to prevent it as the EA and the police couldn't give a toss.


 I continued on but no more joy in that swim, so I moved upstream a mile or so and spent the night with the rods out, again no joy, day two beckoned though so I got some sleep.

The first thing I saw on the river on the second day was a big Otter, not good to see but part and parcel of these Wessex rivers, there are a lot of them around. (Short video of one aswell)


 The fish didn't seem too bothered with them in truth and the Otter glided past them with little fuss, I decided to go the opposite direction in the vein hope I would manage some more joy, long story short though the Chub were not in a feeding mood, not even movement from them on the areas I baited, the Pike continued to show and I had another two to 7.07 but the big girls didn't show again, the fishing was so tough I decided to give the third day a swerve, still one good Chub is better than none!

Friday, 25 August 2017

A Slight Change of Species.


 Back on the Gudgeon hunt after a few weeks off I felt a bit more of an urge to try and break the 2oz barrier, so far this season I've not even seen one approaching that weight and with half a day spent fishing for them with trotted bread I still hadn't seen one, a few caught to 1oz 6dr which looked a shadow of it's winter self, a huge head with no body, a certain 2oz fish in February, I know where it lives now I'll be back.

1.4oz=1oz 6dr, seasons best.


 Plenty of Roach, Chub and Dace caught too it made for a nice day out with no real objective barring the Gonks, however I did manage to rescue a Poplar Hawkmoth from the river just before it went over a small weir and into the lair of half a dozen hungry Chub, no doubt the Moth would not have survived, after fishing it out I snapped some close up's and allowed her to dry off, within five minutes it gathered the strength and lifted off like a small bird! amazing how big they are in the flesh and never seen one in the day time, fishing.....it's not all about fish.


Awesome looking creature.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Shotgun Barbel, The Tale of Two Outcomes.


 Having only been back from a trip a down further south I popped out for a short session but on this occasion suggested to a colleague at work to come out and give it a go for a new personal best Barbel, the odds considering his PB of 6lb+ were favourable, all we could hope was that they would be playing ball as it's not always case. Charlie was eager to get on the scoreboard and was fishing a couple of hours before I got the chance to get my gear ready as I was still stuck in London.

 Having cleared my schedule it made for a clear run straight to the river, a quick phone-call to find out where he had got to was made to find he was roughly where I parked! that was a result as we didn't have to walk back past swims where fish maybe held up, our tactic was to be very mobile and carry minimal tackle and only give each run 5 minutes or so, with two of us the number of swims we could work meant that we stood a good chance, conditions were good and the river carried a little colour, onto the fishing!

 The first couple of swims were fished with no joy which meant that we sped up our pace onto the next couple, nothing showing we kept going, as I approached one swim I could see a nice Barbel which I estimated around 8lbs or so, I didn't hesitate getting myself in a casting position, bait out ten foot above it and within seconds the fish lurched up slightly and charged the bait, easy as that !

 A sturdy battle ensued for a few minutes before it succumbed to the awaiting net, that's how it's done, 8lb 11oz, good result, but this was more about Charlie catching so I refrained from fishing for the rest of the trip, number one aim was to get the "Carpman" into a position to catch, not fifteen minutes later thats exactly what he did, a trundled bait down a centre track was intercepted by a feisty Barbel of maybe 7lb, a potential PB and so soon, a good fight in the flow put the gear through it's paces and with so much weed to dodge it didn't come as a surprise when his fish went solid in a bank of weed......a short period of time trying to free her the hook pulled and it was over, damn.


Recovered and ready to fight another day.

 Oh well, we all lose them, that is for sure. Dusted off and ready to go again we trudged off upstream to find more but uncharacteristically it was hard trying to locate the Barbel, normally I see a couple here and there but nothing, we fished a couple dozen more little holes in the foliage but nothing doing, I have to be honest I was surprised that we didn't get another chance. It will happen!

Monday, 21 August 2017

The Search for Monster Chub.


 This is actually part four of this seasons quest and my second season of seriously trying to achieve the milestone of a "Seven" pound Chub, I have travelled many miles and pumped in countless hours in the vein hope that I will one day become lucky enough to experience the pure elation of such a big specimen resting in my net.


 However, it isn't just Chub that inhabit these waters, a small head of Barbel also exist amongst the thick weed, location is absolutely everything and with the constant pressures of the Otters it is often difficult to pin the Barbel down. The tactics and bait that I use on the H.Avon and D.Stour are tried and tested Chub and Barbel catching methods I feel ultimately confident in, just a case of right place, right time.

 This particular trip a couple of weeks ago provided me with a tough start, hours of walking, peering through glasses at endless miles of gravel and weed made for exciting fishing, unfortunately I couldn't catch any of the fish seen, a few really big Chub were spotted near a bank of onion reed but these fish were not in a feeding mood at all, so after 9 hours of trying I decided to change tactic and uncharacteristically opted for a static approach, high sun, low and clear river this didn't seem to be a great idea but I had no other options.

 After walking so much with countless swims visited there was a couple of I thought may prove to be successful, good cover, fairly deep and a couple of fish were spotted floating across the gravels prior to my first cast, the wait began.....

A day of pure sunshine, perfect for stalking.

......Over an hour passed without a touch, then my outside rod which was fished tight to the far side sprang into life as did I, the resistance on the other end didn't feel substantial and on 1.75tc tipped rods the fight was fairly short lived, a nice, typically dark Chub slipped into the net, happy days I thought, just a shade over 4lbs, then before I got the chance to do anything with it my other rod slammed over, I was quickly into another fish which turned out to be another Chub of 4.09, things were getting better!

 I thought it was quite amusing that I'd nothing to show for my efforts for 10 hours of fishing then two Chub in as many minutes, I let them both get a breather and photographed the bigger one, then slipped them back, baited up my two rods and got them both out on the spots. I sat back in my chair with a justified grin as my gamble had paid off to sit behind baits and allow any feeding fish to find me rather than chase them, maybe five minutes later my far bank rod went again with another dogged Chub towing me around amongst the thick weed, partly the reason for using stronger rods is to nullify the Chub's antics and snags, with the extra power I often got the upper hand fairly quickly and prevent losing fish to the vast banks of weed which often end up my enemy.


 Weighing just a little more than the last I really thought the game was hotting up, I left the fish in the net to get it's breath back and cast out my rod to the very spot I'd quickly nabbed two Chub off of thinking they were on a feeding frenzy, I kept the bait going in to hopefully keep that frenzy going so I could take full advantage. I rang Brian who was upstream struggling like I was and just let him know that at least 3 Chub on the river were feeding when out the corner of my eye the inside rod went berserk, no precursor, the rod absolutely went for it, it bounced off the rod rest and proceeded water ward, I threw the phone to the floor and grabbed the butt of the rod as the slack clutch didn't even have time to engage such was the ferocity of the take, this was certainly no Chub, as I caught up with it and set the drag properly I got a glimpse of a Barbel's tail out the back of a weed raft which was held up by a horrible looking snag, I feared the worst immediately and could hear the line grating through the sticks and weed, after all the trips I had made and not crossed a Barbel I really wanted to land this.

 With lots of weed causing a problem I couldn't gain anything on it, soon after Brian arrived and he kindly took over net duty so I could concentrate on trying to pull the fish through and then letting the tension go, after doing this for a couple of minutes the Barbel found a hole in the weed and my line cut through most of it, I breathed a huge sigh of relief as it came into the clear water but I still had to tease her up towards where we were perched, with the net handle extended to its maximum Brian shipped it out, mugging it in the process!. Both of us thought it was a double, short but very thick and deep I thought I had nailed it first time around.

 That was a battle I won't forget in a hurry, what a result, now I was very very happy!

9lb 9oz, not quite a double but I was so damn happy !

 The rest of the day passed by without a hint of action, I couldn't have cared less!

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Canal Bream: Three in a Bed.


 It seems to be all I see now during my trips to the canal, until this particular trip when I finally found a Carp, a Mirror roughly 20-22lbs and looking rather mobile which didn't help me to try and persuade it take a piece of flake, twenty minutes of trying I gave up, I could have possibly followed it all day with no response.

 The Bream were up for it however and it made for a brilliant 30 minutes on the free-lined flake, a total of five casts resulted in three fighting fit canal slabs, once upon a time I used to struggle for these elusive creatures, now the learning has come full circle I am reaping the rewards and it's great fun indeed.

Best of the day at 8.03

8.03 & 7.14 brace

Another good "seven" 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Chalkstream Roach: The Big One That Got Away.


 Summer Roach have to be one of the most gullible species when the conditions are right, location I find is often the main stumbling block, over the last couple of months I've made a few short trips down south to hopefully get amongst some leviathans that I know live within a mile or so stretch, over my recent trips to locate Roach I had found the very specimens I wanted and some beyond my wildest dreams, now a summer river Roach is probably not far off of being at bottom weights having only spawned a couple of months ago (roughly mid-April) but these were massive.

 I finally got the chance to fish for them and after plenty of working out on how to get them to take a bait without feeling pressure I took four in two trips with the best at 1lb 10oz, a long skinny fish that come December will be a 2lb plus fish I'm certain, the others were all around the 1.04 mark, I did have the very unfortunate experience of finally hooking one of the monsters on my second trip down and that was only after four hours of tedious avoiding of the small Grayling and Trout that constantly nicked my bread on practically every trot, then out of the blue a trot finally came good and a huge redfin came up off the bottom and sucked in my flake, I became a quivering wreck before the bread disappeared, I could see it was a fish close to my PB (2.15) or maybe even bigger, a true fish straight out of my wildest dreams....

My best of the two trips, 1.10.

......The battle was played very cautiously with every judder of the tip made me even more nervous, I couldn't bare to watch it unfold, I knew I had to get the fish out of the main flow and into the margins where the slack would give me a better chance to land her, after a couple of minutes I slowly began to gain the upper hand and honestly thought that I had now earned my chance to land the very fish i've spent years searching for but all that unravelled in a heart beat and I had gone from nervousness to almost pure elation to complete shellshock, as the Roach came up in the water column it hit a swift bit of current and put a lot of extra tension on the line and the fish bolted downstream with the current and the hook pulled, total and utter disaster.

 I tried to compose myself to carry on fishing but I was far too gutted and called it a day, retribution would have to wait for another day, I was in a fit of disappointment, never have I felt so negative about a passage of my angling before.