Saturday, 22 July 2017

The Royalty, Chub and Barbel on the Brain.

 Whenever I plan a little trip to the Royalty I spend the days leading up to it feeling like a little child with Christmas on the horizon, the history, the prestige it's all very consuming and I still feel that even though it isn't the easiest fishery but it has looked after me well with Barbel to nearly 15lb, Pike a shade under 20lb and quality stamps of Dace too.

 The journey from Surrey to the fishery takes a little over 2hrs but before we knew it we had arrived in the car park to find a tiny tinge of colour, maybe not enough for the Barbel to feed their tits off but we stood a chance, with the right tactic and application theres always a chance of success, I started the day rolling meat and continued throughout the day to hopefully find feeding fish on my travels up and down the fishery on both sides.

 The first few hours produced nothing but a couple of half-hearted taps on the meat as tentative Barbel knew it wasn't any good for them but their instinct nearly got the better of them, alas I had to wait until around half ten before I got my first real hit, just above the telegraphs I spotted two tails hanging out the back-end of a long run of weed, my bait went out above the raft and rolled it down on the blind side, not 5 metres down the run my finger nearly got sliced off as a Barbel shot out from under the weed and charged upstream, taking nearly 30 yards of line with it.

 The fight is exactly what I expect off of an Avon Barbel of any size, the depth multiplied by the current makes them very enjoyable, it took what seemed as much as 6 or 7 minutes to finally land it and once in the net I allowed it a few minutes just to recoup, then a couple of photos to savour the moment before she was slipped back to make someone else's day.

Typical of an Avon Barbel.

 As I played that Barbel I noticed on a set of shallows below a couple of Chub spook off so I wondered if one of them wanted to play ball.....three casts later and this lovely brassy Chub was connected and causing havoc amongst the weed beds, but no match for my determination to get it in, two fish in ten minutes....Sweet!

 But that splurge of action was to be short lived as the angling got very quiet and speaking to most anglers on the fishery to see how they were fairing provided grim reading as most had seen fish but simply could not get one to commit, was that to be my lot?

 As the sun was really high and the heat made it all the more exhausting I took a more laid back approach throughout the afternoon to just try and find fish with one eye firmly on the evening. About 100 yards up from Harrigan's I found a shoal of Chub, a couple of which were big fish and more than likely over the 6lb mark, my Avon best is 5.09 so there was a potential river PB in front of me. The waiting began whilst I worked out a way to catch them, for ages I catapulted out pieces of crust and after a little while I got them taking it off the top, having fed them for twenty I went out with my own piece of crust but the wind blowing into my face made it almost impossible to get it on the spot, with the 'pult I could get out but the bait and line was just too lite, having tried for nearly an hour I gave up with the intention of coming back at dusk, so that's what I did.

 No bread this time but just a healthy introduction of Barbel and Chub crack (aka The Source) on an ounce lead and a foot long hook length at 10lb breaking strain as there was a couple of thick weed beds between me and the fish, knowing Chub they would head straight for them! I let the broken bits settle down and then put my first cast out after twenty minutes or so, no sooner did I put the rod down it slammed over and was into number one, 4lb on those, then it must have been 2 minutes after getting my bait back out when it tore off again, slightly bigger this time at 4.14.

 All day I wondered if it would go off in the evening, it was clear my question had been answered, I had to tie a new rig as the 4.14 had ruined the rig on the way in coming through the weed bed, so I kept little bits of bait going in whilst doing that and by the time I was ready the swim got a little rest, I flicked my bait straight out on the spot and held on to the rod, I didn't even get the chance to set the clutch and sit back in my chair before it savagely slammed over again, couldn't believe how easy this was becoming and as the Chub rolled on the surface before diving for the weed I could see it was a very big fish, probably the biggest I saw in the shoal earlier on in the day, knowing I'd only get one shot I put some power into it and luckily the Chub didn't get properly stuck in the weed and started to come free, once over that main bulk of weed I could breath easy and paid out the net as she cruised in, not two minutes from bite to bank, not bad and it was exactly what I'd hoped for, had to be a 6+.

My new Avon best, 6lb 4oz.

  Even for a summer fish she was big, very long and in the depths of the winter it may be a 7lb fish and one that I'd love to cross paths with again, I enjoyed the moment and with a couple of snaps she was gone. The commotion didn't put the remaining fish off as I had another of 4.06 out fairly quickly afterwards by which point I decided to try and find a Barbel before the light failed but all I could find was enormous Salmon gliding across various gravels, in truth I had had a brilliant days fishing and yet again the Royalty turned up again for me.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Short and Sweet on the Chub Front.

 With only an hour after work available I needed to quench my flowing fix, with my Mark IV in the back I loaded it up with a pin and was ready to go, only a little bait too meant that if it went off like it can at times then my trip would be very quick.

 I dropped into a couple of small spots that I often have success in proved fruitless which can be the case during the summer, I find Chub and Barbel tend not to stay in certain places for long so staying mobile and only giving each swim ten to fifteen minutes affords me the little luxury of fishing more areas, upon arriving in my third swim which does hold fish up until the first heavy floods was a success as on my third trot down my cane slammed over with a Chub in tow, from what I could see downstream it was half decent, a typical scrap played out in the main flow before giving up, 4.02 on the scales just to get my eye in as I hoped more would come to the bank.

 That confidence soon wore off though as I ran baits through another six swims without a single enquiry, I found that quite strange in truth but maybe with the pressure the river is currently seeing I wonder if a majority of the fish are feeding at night to avoid the attentions of us anglers?.

 It's an answer I'm not 100% certain of but all I know is that with the effort put in to catch the one Chub turned out to be crucial, nine swims, one take, one fish. Not often it's that tough but I'll take that.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Canal Bream, Return of the Breadi.

 Recently I've been a bit behind in the blogging, so I am hoping to catch up and what better way to start than with the canals elusive big Bream and Carp, the Bream probably wouldn't be many anglers first port of call but I really like how dark they are in the gin clear water, they look simply prehistoric, catching them isn't easy as I have touched on in the past where I've had varying levels of success.

 About 9am..ish after finishing with an early morning client a gap in my schedule of 3 hours was going begging, that meant only one thing, it was fishing time! Oh when a plan comes together its great, all I needed was to find fish and feeding ones at that, the conditions for stalking weren't perfect but in the past I have caught in worse.

 Just a small loaf of Warburton's for the walk and a stalking rod loaded with 8lb line just in case I came across a nomadic Carp on my travels. I spotted a shoal (5 or 6) of Bream cruising the far bank margin which was a sight for sore eyes, nearly three miles walked before these appeared, as soon as I spotted them the bread was flicked just in front of the advancing pod, no sooner did the bait hit the water one of the Bream arched up and sucked the bait in, a Bream off the top! I was a little shocked to tell the truth but I've seen some crazy things in my years of angling, this was just another to add to that growing collection.

 The fight was non-existent as I have come to expect but it's the stealth and patience required to catch these extremely clever creatures, the most un-natural approach seems to work most of the time I've caught, on the scales she weighed 8lb 6oz and was very chuffed......but only for about twenty minutes. In that small shoal I did see a big big Bream in the middle and if I was a betting man I'd suggest it were a double, as the little shoal came back around minus the one I'd caught I cast out another piece of bread past the shoal and dragged it back into their path, as it fluttered down to about a foot under the surface the largest of the shoal (the big big fish I eluded to earlier) went straight for the flake and made no mistake in sucking it down.

 The patience had paid off again, however this time I knew I was in for a treat, last season I managed a 10lb 1oz specimen but this looked bigger, but just how much?? 3oz much! boy was I happy, but in truth I did think it was a high 10, can only imagine it has dumped most of it's spawn or maybe all.

 A net covered in slime, jumper covered in it, work trousers snotted up and spent the following five minutes de-snotting the line, did I care? did I hell. What a fish and what a way to achieve it, 10lb 4oz of pure wild canal slab and what a beautiful looking creature too.

Like a breeze block, possibly never seen a hook before.

 There's not many anglers who get excited about such a fish, but I'm one of them.
 Unfortunately the day did end with a sour note, after the joy of landing two magnificent Bream I finally tracked down two Carp, both Common's and both very big, the bigger of the two would have surely been pushing 30lb and it's been a target of mine for a few years now, for nearly 2 hours I watched them and put baits in front of them with nothing but the occasional flinch of fleeting interest, at one point I crushed up some crust and put it in the margins, after 30-40 minutes a Bream appeared and started to hoover up the crumb, this seemed to annoy the Carp and they swam out from under some weed and headed straight for the bait, I sent a piece of flake down straight in front of the Carp and the big Common nailed it, I struck and my rod buckled with line pissing from the spool as she made off I struggled to keep in control such was the power, my tackle wasn't light either.

 A few minutes into the battle I thought I was gaining the upper hand as I had the chunk just twenty or so feet from the net, then with one huge lunge she went back up the canal and buried itself deep into a large silkweed bed and I knew straight away that I was not going to win this one, a couple of heart stopping minutes passed with me trying to ease back out but it wasn't to be, the tension dropped off and using a barbless hook it just fell out and the Carp righted herself and cruised off, I couldn't believe how unlucky I was. The Angler Strikes Back will be the next instalment.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Summer Barbel, Pure Enjoyment.

 I have a confession to make, I have really missed targeting Barbel. After spending many hours sat behind rods awaiting various fish to find my bait on a pond/lake or reservoir the art of stalking on a river has made me realise just why I love to target them.

 Having already done one short session and banking two Barbel to 6lb 5oz I fancied my chances to get amongst some bigger fish, a double the target. I know where they will be roughly so it was simply a case of getting myself into a catching position, now with the vegetation this time of year being so thick that wasn't particularly easy, but after a short spell of being stung to high heaven by the nettles I got the chance and they fell with confident regulatory which was much to my delight.

 Although the Barbel that were showing themselves were of the smaller kind they still pose a challenge with their erratic fighting but it certainly adds to the enjoyment. Three hours later and FIVE Barbel on the bank I decided to call it a day. Another few points to add to the "Bloggers Challenge".

Solid scrap to dust off the Mark IV!

A long lean chalk stream devil.

7.7 best so far but I suspect it won't be for long.

A stocky 7lber.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Sneaking Carp in the Urban Jungle.

 A nice short post, the afternoon trip started off out in search off canal Bream and Carp but neither were to be spotted in the miles of canal searched, tough to take but I'm well versed in how difficult it can be and maybe they were just down in the water column hiding, another day may yield a completely different result but the trip didn't stop there as on our way home I popped into a local dock where I know big Tench live and good Carp to mid 30's.

 Opportunistic fishing at its windswept corner of the deep dock had a small head of Tench showing and I felt confident that they were feeding as the paddle tails were waving up the water as they grazed, I flicked out a lump of bread and awaited the peacock quill to lift or shoot under.

 Twenty minutes or so of stalking and i was in, but it was no Tench, but a small Mirror Carp instead had fell for the trick, not a monster but it was very pretty!

Fenland Rudd 2017 Part One.

 Who needs an excuse to head up to the Fens? I most certainly don't, I can't think of many better places in the country to be fishing than in the flats of Norfolk / Cambridgeshire. As always it means an early start to beat the dreadful traffic that builds up on the A13 and M11 but with the anticipation building to a deafening crescendo the pre-dawn drive flashes by, having been down there a few times now there is a pukka little order that everything goes in so it makes launching for the day a breeze.

 But just before we get to the fishing myself and Brian were blessed with the sight of a Barn Owl hunting in the brush not 50 yards from us, for me these are my favourite animal, not even a species of fish beats these personally, the hunting supremo and extremely pretty too, just watching one for 15 minutes felt so calming, I even managed at distance to get some photos.

 I could watch them all morning, incredible creatures but we did have the small task of catching some river Rudd, not just any Rudd either, with fish surpassing the 3lb mark these were serious fish and plenty of fishing had to be done to get through the smaller fish.

 Conditions were almost perfect as the sun was high and hot, the wind was typical for the fens ( blowing varying speeds and directions ) so stalking wasn't too bad but the river we fished was very coloured and that was something we did not expect, but as the day went on the Rudd fed fairly well. However when using bread on these waterways the Swans and Gulls know exactly what the game is and trying to outsmart them is not a mean feat!

 Luckily enough with the boat at times we could escape their attention and seek feeding fish elsewhere, how I'd like a shogun I can not remember how many times these blasted birds have ruined great feeding spells. Thankfully we started to get amongst some decent fish around the 1.08 mark and by midday I had bagged a fish just shy of 2lbs, almost immaculate which is something thats unusual for the Fenland rivers as they seem to all have a nick or two, no doubt running the gauntlet of predators and yes even 2lb Rudd will disappear down the throat of some of the Pike present, not even an issue.

1.14, seasons best.

 By the time lunchtime came up we were debating on what to do as the sun was really high and the heat was really felt, we thought we'd discuss over a big juicy burger/chips and a pint what the plans were and finally decided that the fishing was going to be tough until dusk which unfortunately on this occasion we didn't have that option so a quick drive elsewhere to check up on some other water we haven't fished was in order and with a great looking section earmarked for further investigation we headed back to London.

 Another sighting a beautiful Barn Owl heading into the distance as we fished.

Back in the Angling Media.

 Just a little snippet from the Angling Times recently with my PB Golden Orfe that was taken during a day trip to Newdigate Fishery in the Surrey Hills.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Opening Day Successes.

 So the glorious 16th of June approached fairly quickly after my arrival back in the U.K and this season I had decided to give Chub a go for the first couple of days. My venue was the D.Stour and with this being my third campaign on the river I was certainly feeling more optimistic about my chances of catching some of the rivers huge inhabitants, I know I was fishing some of the best water in the country so I know I have to bide my time and continue to learn the waters, it will come.

 Myself and Brian made the long journey down at the crack of dawn with the view to stalking the fish throughout the day and static fish for the Chub during the night, once we had arrived the temperature was already at 24c with prospects of a max around 31c, that's pretty hot when in amongst towering stinging nettles and balsam, not very pleasant and if you can imagine sat in a sauna fully clothed then you get the picture. But the river season was open and we couldn't care a single bit, lovely to be on running water.

 I set up a short stalking rod (9ft) and a (12ft) trotting rod for different swims to make sure I didn't alienate myself from potential targets, as the sun got higher during the morning we could see Chub moving around but to our surprise they were still spawning on the shallows and this presented us with an early problem, just like us humans, we don't think of eating whilst doing the deed so I wasn't expecting the Chub to oblige, things were going to be tough from the outset.....

 Around midday I trotted a big lump of meat downstream to a tree line and the float stormed off downstream and was met by some very strong resistance, the fish began to come upstream and I could see a large frame (probably 6-7lb) heading for the top of my swim and as I bent down to pick up my net it lunged downstream and buried itself in a huge weedbed, not what I wanted and the line was solid straight away, I was gutted as I could still feel the subtle tapping on the rod, so I knew it was still on the other end, I let the slack off to see if she'd back off down still attached but before I could formulate a plan the line went completely slack as I took up the tension, she was gone.....not the start to the season I wanted.

 With very little since that lost fish but the occasional knock unfortunately nothing could be hit on the float or on the rolling method and as 4-5pm approached I decided to completely change tact and find a shaded area to fish a static, I had to try something else as my desired approach was proving useless, I flicked out my 15mm source boilie and sat patiently in the heat of the mid afternoon sun, tan top up time.

 Roughly two hours in my tip on my outside rod nodded and then absolutely went berserk, the sort of brutal take you'd expect from a Barbel, I made sure this time I put plenty of pressure on the fish the entire way in, thankfully the fight wasn't very hard and she came in fairly smoothly, back of the net for my first Chub of the season, not a bad one either!

5lb 6oz
 First of the season weighed 5lb 6oz and considering how hard it had been I was very chuffed with that, the evening hadn't even arrived and I felt that would be my best time, so having released that brassy beaut the successful rod went back out and the wait began again.

 That wait was not as long as I thought it would have been, maybe an hour or so later my outside rod again sprang to life with a vicious lurch towards the river and on a tight clutch I made sure that the fish couldn't make its way back into the branches I was fishing but the weight of the fish made it quite difficult and I wasn't expecting to see a big frame of a Chub surface, I had thought it was either a small Carp or small Barbel by simply how strong the fight was, not just a small Chub either, easily my biggest D.Stour chevin to date.

 Understandably I was over the moon when she slipped over the rim of the net, an easy 6 and maybe bigger I thought, only to keen to know the Rueben's came out to put a number on it.

6lb 8oz, only three ounces off a new PB.
 It had been a long time coming but I feel that it will get even better but now two Chub in the bag things were looking rosy and at 4pm I thought a blank was nailed on, funny how one decision and little knowledge of the water can help, this was no doubt a culmination of luck and hard work that has been put in over the previous two seasons.

A still evening of the tips.

Deer in the field at dusk.

 The rest of the evening unfortunately went by with little action but it was good to just be back on a river, night came and went without a hitch and we were ready for day two.

  Day two started with myself and Brian walking the banks in search of surface feeding Chub and as the sun got higher we could see more moving around but very few were actively searching for food, it must have been 6am and the mercury was already sat around the 27c mark, it was the precursor to a roasting hot day, one that I felt would not do us much good unless we found shade and equally knew the Chub would wait until the cooler latter part of the day to start feeding.

 We walked a fair few miles to search out fish but we were unsuccessful in catching, by around midday we decided to call it a day and fished a little closer to home for the remainder of the day, we knew we'd have to wait until 6pm onwards for some action, we can wait and do it all another day, the two Chub during the first day were brilliant and the trip was a success for sure.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Down the Farm.

 Crucians are to say the least not the easiest species to catch, method fishing for them has provided me with good sport in the past but fishing very fine on the float is great fun, in fact it's very satisfying when it comes off. Now, a few days previous I went down with the same mindset but failed miserably on the Crucian front.

 On my most recent visit I decided to change a couple of things around and headed to a part of Harris Lake that I've not fished before, with over 40 pegs it's a fairly decent sized lake and I know it's stuffed with fish, I just can't compute how I haven't managed to really get amongst the "bars of gold" in any meaningful numbers, maybe a slight match background would serve me well on a fishery like Marsh Farm but as I don't it's all crash course and work it out as I go along.

 With my decisions made I set about balling in some 50/50 Sonubaits Greencrush with my pellets (6mm) to build a patch on the outside of some pads, which I anticipated would be shelter to a few fish being that the sunshine was due to hit upwards of 30c and I knew by say 10-11am that it would probably be 24-26c and most humans wouldn't be sat in it.

 My set up was a pre-made Drennan hook length and float setup, and a Greys Prodigy 12ft 1 T/C rod and the bait was 6mm soft hookable pellets (Krill flavour) and once I was happy with my plumbed depth I got my bait into position, within seconds I registered my first bites but they even on light tackle were practically impossible to connect with and I had to just sit on my hands to see if the bites evolved into something that I could strike at.......45 minutes later......

2lb 4oz, first Crucian of the day.
 It simply looked stunning on the mat, due to the heat I just took a mat shot as I didn't have my camera and tripod setup and didn't want to faff around, only issue was that if that was my only Cru'y then I'd miss out on a trophy shot. Thankfully after a couple of Tench decided to go crazy in my swim I did then have a spate of very small dips on the float where only two were hittable but both resulted in Crucian's weighing 2.06 and 2.09 which equalled my best bar of gold for some years!

My best at 2lb 9oz.
  By the time I had got the swim going and started to catch fish the sun was getting higher and was starting to cast strong sunlight across the whole of my swim and I knew that it would be game over for the fishing until the sun moved across the sky so that the pads would be back in shade, unfortunately I would have to wait until dusk for that and I enjoyed the morning session a lot so I called a day after a quick faff around on the little pond for half an hour on my way back.

 9 Tench to 4lb+ and 3 Crucians to 2lb 9oz wasn't bad going I felt, i'll be back but it'll be on Johnson's for their resident monsters!

PB Chub on the Fly.

 For roughly five years now I have adopted a light roving approach for wild Brown Trout on a range of flies, this season has been tough and although I haven't been much over the closed season I thought I'd fair slightly better than I have, I think it could be down to a few factors, some of which I can control and others I can't. One thing I have noticed is that there are more fly anglers now than ever before, so competition is stronger for areas to fish and the fish themselves.

 On the other hand I have found Chub being a little more obliging on the fly and the other day I managed to tempt my best yet weighing in at 5lb 1oz. The fish was taken on a fluffy brown surface fly and I noticed the Chub sat fairly close to the inside bank and lowered the fly into position where the water erupted as the fly vanished from sight, the fight itself was fairly poor but when I landed it I was surprised to see how immaculate it was considering they've all spawned.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Tench on the Float.

 What could be more serene than watching the pin-prick bubbles popping around your finely balanced tackle as a shoal of Tench feed with abandon, not much it has to be said, I still get excited as the anticipation increases before the float slips under or lifts. A couple of weeks ago I spent a while fishing for them on the float and ended up with a lovely bag of Tench, the best going 5.01, not monsters but I swear they fight so hard you'd be forgiven for thinking you've hooked a Carp!

Marching the Towpath Part Two.

 I know this is a little delayed on writing this piece but having spent a lovely and a well needed break in the sun to recharge I am now back with the new river season just a couple of days ahead. I feel I'm almost ready but there was some scores to settle in regards to the canal. A big Carp this year has managed to still evade me but I have located a couple which would smash my canal best of 25.03 set a couple of seasons ago.

 Along with the desire to catch another big Carp from the canals I also had designs on some big Bream too, I know they live in these particular sections in a fair number but also surpassing the 10lb barrier which is quite incredible, not something you'd expect, however, I soon enough realised they had just either spawned or were in the process of doing so. I watched them for a while to work out what was happening, when so enough I concluded that they were in the final throws and were back on the feed.

 Que the stampede, I was following a few Bream around with the view of winching a bait into ones path close enough that it would spark a reaction, after a dozen attempts my plan worked as a large frame charged my flake and within 30 seconds the job was done.....9lb 0oz ! not bad at all as thus far it is my second largest canal Bream.

 It was astonishing how selective a species like the Bream can be but their greedy nature always lets them down, within half an hour I had finally got a chance at a Carp and not just a small one, I suspect it weighs in excess 28lb but without catching I wouldn't know, finally putting a bait in the right area I hoped it wouldn't take long.....

 A 8lb 4oz Bream decided it would eat my offering before the Carp could commit, the smile said it all, I wasn't complaining. So after slipping that black Bream back to the swirly depths I stuck it out for the Carp but they did not appear again. 

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Marching The Towpath.

 Having recently achieved my goal of a 6lb plus Orfe I turned my attentions to the daunting task of cracking my relatively local canal system in search of big Bream and Carp, for canal standards these species can grow to 10lb and 35lb respectively, now to some anglers a 10lb Bream isn't exactly big but in a canal neglected and poached to within an inch of it's life they are big and boy are they hard to find, should the location be found then getting them to feed is even more of a task, one that i've only achieved on roughly 25% of my visits in four years and if that doesn't put my task into perspective then the fact that I have seen only one angler in all the time speaks volumes.

 The Carp are even more difficult to locate as they seem to be extremely nomadic which makes my quest just that little bit trickier, but I love a challenge and this is one I've been looking forward to and I have only started now as only until the beginning of last week the canal system was like chocolate and zero visibility but with the drop of rain we have finally received it has cleared the water up and I can once again walk the many miles of towpath and stalk my quarry.

 Remaining mobile is absolutely imperative as if a bait and wait approach is adopted one would certainly blank, I'd hazard a guess that no fish would be caught unless said angler was donning a set of golden spherical objects in his strides. Waiting for fish to come to me on a water I can stalk is not an option, this is my type of angling and today my ability was to be tested, as it always is here.

 I left home around 6am this morning and arrived a little before 7am and was on the hunt straight away. As is often the case I walked for a couple of miles slowly scouring the water for any shapes, movement or feeding (bubbles). Probably a little after 830 I found a solitary Carp cruising the upper layer and it appeared to be looking for food on the surface, on certain areas of the canal near parks many people in the spring and summer feed the ducks, so bread is very much part of the staple diet to more than just the feathery kind, no doubt this Mirror that appeared to borderline 20lb was looking for any leftovers from yesterdays dinner.

 For nearly fifteen minutes I followed the carp until it reached an inlet where it decided to rest up and sat on a bed of silk weed, I gently lowered my slow sinking flake a couple of foot from it's snout and didn't hesitate to inhale it, I didn't wait for my little quill to register the bite, I struck and somehow I missed it !! I cursed my luck and swore quite a few times before I realised I hadn't actually spooked it and she was still close to where I screwed up my chance, on went another piece of flake and put it straight back where it was taken first time around but she was not to be fooled again, no matter how much I tried there was no budging.

 Having accepted my failing at a golden chance i ambled off with my tail between my legs.......would I get another chance??

 On the Carp front that unfortunately that was my lot but as the morning wore on and the sun got higher I continued to seek any signs of life when after half an hours walking I finally found three Bream feeding and cruising around, having found Bream I set the depth to around 5ft and watched the flake flutter through the column and then once it reached the desired depth I would lift it two or three foot up and left it flutter back down and repeated this method for about ten minutes when one Bream broke off from the shoal and headed straight for the flake, no mistake this time!

 My canal fishing was off to a positive start and on the scales she went 8lb 7oz which ranks that my 4th largest canal slab, I was chuffed with that as catching a fish is a huge achievement in itself. With that I continued to see if i could catch any of the others but there was no further interest.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Mission Accomplished: Golden Orfe.

 Leading on from my session a couple of weeks ago, my target of a "six pound" Golden Orfe still beckoned and I was on to my ninth visit to this picturesque venue sat in the middle of the idyllic Surrey Hills, my desire to crack this specific challenge was burning stronger every time I thought about it.

 So having thought about the Orfe fishing quite a bit I decided that I have not managed to stalk any of the big specimens in the lake, so my tactic had to be changed, with that I decided to go about the bait and wait approach. Following on from my mini rant a few days ago I only opted with a single rod but I knew that if my bait was presented properly and that the fish were feeding then I stood a chance.

 My rig was very simple but highly effective in other circumstances that I used it in, a short 10lb hooklength of very low diameter of maybe 3 inches in length tied with a small size 14 wide gape hook, the feeder was a 40g Guru (Korda) hybrid method feeder which I started to use and find it very good at what it's supposed to do, the bait? just a Drennan bouyant maggot dipped in a secret solution to give it a pungent smell which I hope the fish find if the lure of the red maggot doesn't attract the fish.

 I fed an area between two marks with a mix of hemp, Sonubaits supercrush green groundbait and red maggots which in hope would get passing fish to feed and eventually my plan worked, within an hour or so of starting up my rod bleeped and then tore off, fish on and it fought quite well which led me to believe that I'd hooked a Tench and when that last minute dash for reeds came about it was obvious, not a bad one either and more importantly I was clearly in an area where the fish were feeding.

Nice little start, 5.06
 The rod stayed a silent for a little and I employed a twenty minute recast to keep the bait going out and if fish were feeding around my area then it would keep them close with a chance of tricking them, maybe an hour after landing the Tench my rod melted as a fish made off with the fake maggot, as soon as I lifted into the fish I saw a big Orfe roll on the surface at distance and knew straight away it was a new PB so I played with caution all the way to the net but was it the "six" I craved?

The verdict....5lb 10oz
 So not quite the six pounder I was after but boy I was chuffed to bits! An amazing creature but the fights are so lazy, I near enough reeled it in the 40 yards to which I was fishing.

 But proceedings were to become very interesting as a couple of hours later my rod tore again, the take was very confident and could imagine it was a Tench as there was no large orange fish roll on the surface, but it fought hard just like the first and when it slipped into the net I could clearly see it was larger than the first, a seasons best of 6lb 2oz.

 Feeling quite content at catching a pair of good Tench and personal best Orfe I kept the feeder going out and regularly topping up the area I'd be preparing all day, I had to wait a while before my next enquiry but this one was to be the special one, the very fish I'd spent nearly nine trips for, a couple of double bleeps on the buzzer sounded and before I had the chance to strike the rod screamed off and a huge frame rolled out on the surface in the distance. Straight away I made sure that the fish was played very gently and as it approached the net I knew then I'd cracked it, but by how much?

I had smashed it, all 6lb 12oz of it !
 Target Achieved!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Toughing It Out For Tench.

 Tench, a species much associated with Spring, the problem is it doesn't feel like Spring as the temperature is reminiscent of winter. The cold NE wind that has remained for a good couple of weeks has affected the water temps which have had a knock on affect on the feeding of the Tench, however cool the weather has been the fingers were too itchy to ignore and planned a trip down south for an overnighter.

In position.


Even better cooked.

 24 hour trips and me don't go together, for one I'm far too fidgety to stay in one area and the other I'd feel too much like a Carp boy, but I gave it a bash anyway, I bought myself a JRC stealth x-lite shelter/bivvy for the trip and had great fun in buying the food for a stove which I bought months ago, it was going to happen. In preparation for the trip I boiled up 10 pints of hemp and packed stacks of bait with the hope that the Tench would be very obliging.

 Brian joined me for this trip, both of us were very optimistic and for days previous I was excited like a little child before Christmas. When we arrived after a lovely journey down through the beautiful South Downs the lake sat there glistening in the mottled sunlight as we pulled up, with only one other angler on the lake we had the choice of the entire place and having been here once before last season I had a very slight idea on what to do and wasted no time getting the rods set up and a bed of bait out.

 With the traps set it was time to get the camp organised and brand new bivvy stripped out of the box the fun began.....with no manual it was a right pain the bum and after an hour nearly it still wasn't erected properly but it did the business. The occasional bleep would sound as fish moved around the baited area but runs were not materialising. A couple of hours passed before I got a solid take, a one-toner is what I'd been waiting for and I wound down on a heavy fish, clearly I was in contact with a big Tench but I know the weed can be a pain and I was to feel the pain first hand as the fish went solid and after a few seconds the line went slack.

The maggot thief escaped, again.
 Lost Tench for me was to become the theme as over the next couple of hours up to dusk I lost another two Tench to the weed and it was starting to wear on me, regardless of areas that I was putting my feeders the patches were clear but the Tench were running straight for weed beds and I hadn't the time to get their heads up before they ploughed into the silk weed, then dusk came and the Eels moved in.......

A clear night under the stars was a joy. 

Just a mess around with my DSLR and picked up something
that looks like a "Milky Way" in the bottom half of the photo.

The panoramic views of the South Downs are amazing.

 My little setup was cosy and laying under the stars was something I've not done in years, I even had a faff around with my camera on manual settings and play around with the ISO settings, I didn't manage any brilliant photos but it was good fun and picked up what I can only think was the Milky Way. the Eel count got to 3 before I packed it in for the night and caught a couple of hours sleep before dawn in prep' for a mad rush, well I hoped for a mad rush. I was honest with myself experiencing how tough the first 12 hours was I wasn't holding my breath, the fishing was tough and the remaining hours of our trip drifted by with only one more dropped fish, the conditions were not conducive to catching Tench but at least we were in the right places with the right bait, a return is pencilled in for next week where the wind will be blowing from the SW and the sun will be a lot warmer. The experience of the whole camping/fishing lark was great fun along with the cooking, thoroughly enjoyed it even if I failed in catching a Tench.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Orfe-ly Crafty Creatures.

 My quest which is now into it's third year in searching for a specimen Orfe with a target weight of 6lb, only a few reside in this particular venue but are extremely weary fish, I just hope on one trip that I can catch one unaware and tempt it to feed and manage to slip my net under it.

Red Kite on the hunt for something.

 I have been to this venue a few times now and typically I'll adopt a stalking approach but with the wind blowing a hooley I decided after just a couple to go on the bottom and fish a flat-bed method with a short 4inch hooklength, the hookbait was a single Drennan bouyant maggot soaked in a sticky strawberry solution which in the murky water hoped could lure the marauding Orfe to my bait and in the feeder I used Sonubaits 50/50 green crush with the little pellets, which is excellent, just watch the oils leech out of it after a couple of minutes sitting on the bottom.

 I usually use one rod here as the owner is on bit of a money maker and charges nearly doubled to use the second rod which I personally feel is nothing short of disgusting and just money grabbing, that erks me alot and the owner of this particular fishery isn't alone in drawing this gripe from me as Bury Hill Fisheries is very much the same, if you've ever fished for the predators in the winter you'll know what I mean, three rods....yes then start to charge a bit more but there is nothing to suggest that smacking another £8 on top to use a 2nd rod is acceptable, alas I do not use a second, I think £10 is a lot for one rod but if I want to achieve one of my goals then I have to grin and bare it until I have achieved what I started out to do.

Another mid-3 
 Bites however were very slow on coming and I had to wait nearly two hours to get my first inquiry but it was a smaller specimen than intended but this told me that my target species was on my bait and feeding, the confidence level crept up and put a small amount of bait out just to keep it topped but not enough to put pressure on the fish still in the swim, at 3.8 it was about average and now I've had nearly two dozen Orfe out but most are this size. The occasional patch of bubbles would surface around my baited area but struggled to achieve more than single or double bleeps as fish passed through the area but not stopping to eat, the hours rolled by and the rigs fiddled with as much as possible to find a winning combination, this however never materialised.

They were showing.

 About six in the evening I spoke with Brian who was down with me and I suggested a match on another lake with a points based system put in place, as the action was so absent on the other lake we forgot about the specimen chasing for a couple of hours.

 Before we headed over to start our match I'd noticed something really beautiful in the woods which the lakes are set in.

Absolutely stunning.

 Crucian's were 2 points, Tench/Carp/Bream were 1 point and Golden Orfe were 3 points (Orfe in this lake tend not to surpass 5lb), Brian on the float and myself baiting and waiting a set of lily pads was the way we started. The float tactic seemed to work well as Brian raced into a lead of 6 Tench before I caught my first fish which was a Tench, then Brian managed another to take his lead to 7-1 then a minor miracle occurred as a shoal of Crucian's arrived in my swim, not before I had changed to the float myself and plummeted the depth to an inch off the bottom. The fish then kept coming and Brian's lead was being eaten into steadily and it was about twenty minutes before the hooter that I'd overtaken him and by 8pm I was the victor, no thanks to number of fish but the Crucin's were double points and that won it for me! A good bit of fun, as angling should be!