Much water has rushed beneath my personal bridge these past few months: I turned a certain age for a start; then I upped my Essex sticks and started afresh less than two hundred yards from a river blessed with barbel and chav’s – not to mention the odd migrant and some hefty pike. The icing on this idyllic cake is employment within a well-organized jungle of fishing gear – TF Gear to be precise – and my new role has kindly compelled me to re-think my lot as an angler: it’s brought me up to date. Fishing is a field in which I might be described as conservative – not averse to change but reluctant to dump the learning of decades. I still enjoy watching a bobbin and deciding for myself when the hook should go in, but some species and methods don’t lend themselves to such niceties and I ain’t arguing – long may those Whiskered Ones continue to wallop the carbon!
What’s changed is my will to experiment with new coarse fishing tackle, while they’re still new – not two years down the line when everyone’s had their fill of fish and the novelty’s worn off. I do, however, have some catching-up to do so, this season, I’ll be swapping the PVA bags for in-line mesh-sticks: better for casting, better for baiting-up – and you can use the dispenser to splint a broken finger if necessary! I shall stock-pile my sticks before fishing to keep the faff-factor to a minimum; I’ll deliver them more comfortably too, thanks to my nice new Nan-Tec Classic 2lb barbel rods. These beauties have full cork handles and dependable, well made screw-fittings…I wonder if I’ll christen them with a double?
Another thing I’ll be using for the first time this season is a feeder mould – something I’ve always passed off as unnecessary because, well…it is! You really don’t need one to fish effectively, but how much simpler and neater it is to push out a nice firm cake containing your hook-bait? It’s got to be done, eh? And anti-tangle rubbers! I’ll never present an untidy rig again, I promise. For the sake of a near-weightless piece of rubber we can all now streamline our rigs – be they light or heavy – and fish with that bit more confidence. It’s the semi-rigid nature of the anti-tangle sleeves that I like; it converts the rubber into a very effective miniature boom that prevents squabbles between end-tackle components (and there’s another good argument for in-line stick-fishing…)
I’ll be using my own very successful tench bait in the early weeks of the season, but for barbus…will it be as effective? An old pal took at least two doubles on it from the Hampshire Avon and I was with him for the first capture made from the Sandy Balls stretch in mid-November. Talk about the madness of anglers! Mick would pick me up in Chelmsford, Essex at around 2pm and we’d arrive in the New Forest shortly before dark; by the time we’d settled in and got a fishing rod out it was pitch black down there in the wooded gorge and after just six or seven hours of serious fishing in total darkness we’d pack up and make our way back to Essex, arriving home at 04.30 – 05.00hrs. I still think that was crazy, but then mild insanity was fairly normal within the angling fraternity at that time.
So, the capture of two barbel on my concoction proved nothing about its efficacy as a river-bait and Mick doesn’t live close enough to a decent river where he might test it out – but the signs are good. For tench it’s a superb bait so let’s hope their whiskered cousins have similar tastes.
So…June 16th will see the smartest, best-equipped dude in the West sitting in his Dave Lane Hardcore chair and tending to his Nan-Tec Classics. Bait will be my precious creation – plus a nice, firmly packed mesh-stick to draw them in..
They’re big, they’re angry and they’re bloody wild those Welsh Ladies. Well who can blame them? They hardly get fished for in the areas of Wales that we fish and we turn up and disturb their peace. Most of the rivers barely see another angler. That’s the beauty of travelling to Powys to fish for these stunning grayling. We arrived on our first day to find the hills shrouded in mist and low cloud. We could have just as easily been in the Himalayas. Later that day the sun eventually broke through the gloom and the hills and surrounding countryside were lit up in a blaze of colour. We have found in the past that late February can be a tricky time to fish for grayling. They tend to shoal up and become a little more delicate and finicky. Large areas appear to be devoid of fish, even places that have proved very productive previously.
One option is to fish a little more delicately with lighter mainlines, hook lengths and floats, the other is to keep moving and find the fish. Eventually on that first day I located some grayling. I lost a couple of nice fish and then eventually landed a small one of about a pound. I did have a bonus chub though of around 3lbs. My angling companions; Geoff, Kevin and Dan were also struggling. That afternoon we only managed just a few fish, including one other small grayling. So it had been a tough start but not unexpected. Both Geoff and Kevin at least got to try out their new purchases. They had both acquired a TFG Classic Centrepin after me raving about them for ages and were keen to put them through their paces. They were delighted with the reels and I’m not surprised. With a glut of cheap and poorly made centrepins flooding the market recently, this reel puts them to shame. But there again it’s not a cheap pin, it’s a great quality pin at an exceptionally low price.
On day two we headed to a Wye tributary, the Ithon to do some trotting. We had several miles to explore. The Ithon is more of a lowland river, but a beautiful river to practice coarse fishing. It winds it way through woodland and meadows where the riverbed is a mixture of gravel and silt. There are still lots of lovely gravel runs, glides and deep pools to go at, despite the abundance of silt and mud. It’s a truly wild and unkempt river. Thick foliage and trees choke the banks and make access difficult in places.
This river showed no signs of human interference or for that matter any signs of being fished. I’m not surprised though really, it was a tricky place to wade or to fish from the banks. Still we found some cracking little spots and were confident of a few fish. We were wrong on that count. We never had a bite, despite covering a couple of miles of river and even resorting to driving further downstream for a look. However we did see 5 otters together in one spot and 2 more a little way downstream. So maybe this spooked the fish and they were hidden up under the snags. So the following day we headed to a private stretch of the Irfon.
We arrived in the morning and it was a bitterly cold day but at times bright and cheery. This was a delightful stretch, once again very wild, remote and unkempt. The riverbed here was mainly bedrock but with quite a few gravel runs. Wading was difficult but manageable with care. A word of warning when wading on bedrock, don’t be complacent. It’s very dangerous to get over confident. The rock is slippery as hell and very uneven. It’s easy to get a foot stuck and then slip.
We worked our way upstream, frog leaping each other as we did so. By early afternoon we were biteless. We stopped for lunch and discussed the situation. We had fished so many cracking swims but failed to so much as illicit a bite. We decided that despite the beauty of the beat we should move to the town section of the Wye, where we knew fish holed up in the winter. The move paid off. Geoff and Kevin fished the main area, whilst Dan and I tried down near the town bridge. I managed several nice upper 1lb+ grayling and Geoff and Kevin really got stuck in. They ended up with 17 or 18 grayling apiece, nothing huge but certainly to the 1lb 12oz range. However it was incredibly cold with a vicious easterly wind and we could take no more. The warmth of the fire back at the cottage beckoned and a warm meal was needed to keep the chill at bay.
The next two days saw us return to the town section. Dan and I fished the main swims this time Kevin and Geoff explored the Irfon and the Wye. To be honest they both struggled. They did manage a few fish each. Dan and I both did well. By using a bait dropper we managed to keep the fish interested and in close. By running a float along a near bank crease, which then travelled out to mid-river, we kept bites coming all day long. Double red maggot seemed to be the bait. I think Dan and I were both using relatively heavy floats to deal with the wind and hold the line that we wanted to fish. Mine was a 10BB Avon, shotted down low. As usual the bulk of the shot was located around 12-18inches from the hook with a small dropper shot 4-6 inches from the hook. I prefer to use Kamasan B983s for this sort of fishing. They provide an excellent hold and even with the barb crushed (makes unhooking fish easier whilst wading) I seem to land a high percentage of fish.
We ended the day with me on about 23/23 grayling and Dan on 17 or 18 both taking fish to just shy of 2lbs. Dan also had a lovely bonus chub of 4lbs too. The next day saw our final fling on the Wye with a rather unusual and interesting finale. Kevin dropped into a perfect swim. The river straightened after a bend and then the shallow water dropped into a deep run, where a crease created a lovely smooth glide. First run through and Kevin stuck into a very nice fish. It fought well and evaded capture for a while before I finally slipped the net under a fine grayling. It had big thick set shoulders and a lovely bright dorsal fin and weighed 2lb 3oz. There was a small v shaped scar just below its dorsal fin where a cormorant or some other predator had grabbed it at some point and a single scar on the other side.
After sorting his camera out and re-baiting the hook, Kevin dropped the float in to the same spot again. His reel tangled whilst his float sat almost motionless in the swim. The float then seemed to drag under and I informed Kevin that his float had disappeared. He lifted the rod tip to dislodge the float from what appeared to be the riverbed, when he found another good grayling attached! Incredibly, despite the lack of a strike, the fish stayed on. It fought for a while but soon gave up and I could see it was another ’2′. As the fish slipped into the waiting landing net I saw a familiar scar! Er it was the same fish again.
The scar matched and so did the weight. Well who would have believed it, the same fish in two casts. That was nothing, believe me. The next trot through got the exact same result and the same fish. So that was three times on the bounce. I had a go in the swim whilst Kevin watched and incredibly managed to capture the same fish again, on the first trot through the swim. Four casts and four times it appeared. This seemed remarkable. The fish was returned again and as with the previous 3 occasions rested for a short while before gliding off silently into the bright waters of the Wye.
Having something in your fishing room, other than your fishing tackle of course, to get you thinking about where your next fish is coming from is a must for any enthusiastic fisherman.
The TF Gear 2013 Babes Calendar is the ideal gift for any angler this Christmas, whether your into carp fishing, coarse, sea or fly, there 13 beautiful babes will set your pulse tracing. A stunning selection of photographs that will delight every angler.#
Take a look at the calendar girls video -
After the fluky zander I told you about in the last blog, I returned for a proper go, bivvying up for two days. The zander tend to feed at long range in this water and I put out roach deadbaits over 100 yards via my Microcat, each being dropped accompanied by four or five sectioned baits which had been soaked in fish oils. I was really confident of action, at least from the big pike the water holds if not from the zander. But I came home a beaten man 48 hours later. In all that time, I had just one pike about 12lb plus a dropped run that I am fairly sure was from a zander.
With the zander fishing apparently at full stop for everyone else also, I switched my attention for the last few sessions to another water I am targeting for big pike this winter. On the first two days, in mid October, I had just three runs on mackerel tail, but they were all nice fish between 13lb 8ozs and 15lb 4ozs. I was fascinated to see the most incredibly dense shoals of roach, stretching from the margins to well over forty yards from the bank. Perhaps that explained the plague of around thirty cormorants working the water. It might also explain the low number of runs to big deadbaits, but I rarely switch to small livebaits at this time of the year as you can be plagued by jacks. I would honestly rather blank than catch 4lb pike!
My tackle usually consists of some beefed up coarse fishing tackle, leader is 15 lb TFG redmist mono and heavy, 3.25 or 3.5 test curve rods deal with casting larger dead baits long distances.
The last two days have given me real hope that the coming winter could throw up something special. On Wednesday, after arriving at the crack of dawn, I was away on a joey mackerel almost before it was fully light. Ten minutes later, I was unhooking a lovely looking fish of 14lb 12ozs and when this was followed ten minutes later by a 12lb 6oz specimen the omens were looking good.
By mid morning, the strong southerly wind was really gusting, luckily directly behind me. That made an extra long cast with a large deadbait straightforward and at midday a half mackerel was picked up at about seventy yards range by something that felt very big indeed. I have never felt that pike are particularly impressive fighters, when compared with carp or barbel, but this one wanted to give me a scrap. I managed to pump it within about thirty yards fairly easily but then the fun started. I lost count of the times I had it within feet of the net cord before it surged off again, taking yards of line against the clutch. I suppose it was a good fifteen minutes after the run that the fish eventually folded into the net, and I could see that it was certainly a twenty plus. When I had it on the unhooking mat, I saw a magnificent, darkly mottled fish in absolutely tip top condition. It took the scales to 23lb 8ozs, a great start to the winter campaign.
There was to be one more fish before I packed up at dusk, another chunky fish of 15lb 9ozs, to complete a quartet with a very pleasing average size. I was back in the same swim yesterday morning and again the dawn period did not disappoint. This time, however, I had two runs simultaneously, making my decision to set up two landing nets a wise precaution. Once I’d landed the first fish, it was placed safely in the net in the margins while I dealt with the other fish. Both were safely unhooked and released, two more cracking fish of 17lb 12ozs and 19lb 4ozs. Again, they were in brilliant condition.
After that dawn flurry, there was to be no more action until mid afternoon, when the third and last fish put in an appearance. Again, it was a nice double of 16lb 12ozs, maintaining the quite remarkable average size. I also had two baits picked up by cormorants. Luckily, they both dropped the baits. Aren’t they the most horrible birds! This winter could produce something exciting. Although I’ve had lots of 20lb plus pike in my career, I’ve only had two over 25lbs. My target is to make that three before the season’s over.
For all those of you into e-books, I have just placed my third book on Kindle. The first two were titled Top Tactics for Big Barbel and Top Tactics for Big Chub and the titles really say it all. The newest book is called My Big Fish Life and is an autobiography of over 50 years of specimen hunting. It runs to well over 150 pages with 100 plus photographs and is priced at only around £4. I would welcome feedback from all those of you who have my Kindle books or intend to get them, as I intend to complete the Top Tactics series with all the major coarse species.
A PRODUCTIVE SHORT SESSION
Ten days after the last session I told you about, my youngest daughter had to undergo a very serious shoulder operation, meaning that my wife and I had to be on hand to help with our two year old grandson when my son-in-law had to be at work. My daughter has been told she cannot do any lifting for at least three months so my sessions were necessarily short and close to home from mid September. By the end of November things will hopefully be back to normal.
Just before her operation, I again joined Alan Lawrence for a two day Ouse carp/tench session. After the aggravation with signal crayfish on the previous trip we both went in from the off with popped up rubber corn on both fishing rods, in conjunction with sweetcorn laced method mix. We also baited with loose corn via our Spombs. By the time I was sorted on the first day in was mid afternoon, but only ten minutes after casting, both rods were away almost simultaneously. The first yielded a 6lb bream, closely followed by a hard fighting male tench of 6lb 14ozs. An hour later, another 6lb plus tench came calling and then, just before dark, I had a tremendous scrap with a muscular common carp of 10lb 14ozs. It went quiet then for a while and although I had caught no big fish I had thoroughly enjoyed the opening exchanges.
Around midnight, Alan reported that he’d had a sudden flurry of bream, with four fish in a matter of only ten minutes, and then it was my turn. I only had two fish, around 2.00 am, but they were both nice fish of just over 8lbs.
The onset of daylight saw the tench become active and we both had three fish in the first hour, after which it was very quiet for the rest of the day. In fact, the light was fading before we had any other action, when two more bream each at least reminded us what a bite looked like. The entire dark hours were blank for both of us, highly unusual for that stretch which has such a large bream population. We were both leaving not long after dawn, but managed one more average tench each before packing away. The fishing had been patchy and apart from my common, the target species had again failed to materialise. But the tench and bream fishing had been very enjoyable. On a river, 6lb plus tench are big fish, although they wouldn’t raise many eyebrows on most gravel pits!
The first of my single day sessions was the following week, at a local lake with a night fishing ban. It is strictly dawn till dusk only, but with a decent stock density of good carp there is rarely a day when you can’t get a couple of fish. The stock is mainly mid doubles to mid twenties, but there have been three different thirties taken to 34lb. The most popular swims on the water are four where a 70 yard cast reaches the fringes of a long, narrow central island. Carp regularly patrol there, as they do in most waters with similar features, and I had enjoyed several good days there over the last two seasons. On this trip, however, I decided to fish a tight little swim, hemmed in by willows each side, and put two baits in close, barely thirty yards out. Before I set up, I fired out half a kilo of 14mm boilies, scattering them well to give a browsing area the size of a tennis court at least. Twenty minutes later, with two rigs in place, I put the kettle on.
It took a while for the first action to occur, but at 11.00am the left hand carp fishing rod was shaking in the rests and the reel spool was a blur. What a run that was! After a great scrap, a long, lean muscular common carp of 18lb 12oz lay in the net, a good start. That first fish opened the floodgates. Only minutes after the recast, and topping up with another 100 boilies, the same rod was away again, and this time an 18lb plus mirror eventually rolled into the net. Without boring you with a blow by blow account, from midday until I had to leave at 8.00pm, I landed a further 15 carp, as well as losing one in a snag. The smallest I landed was a common of 13lbs, and the catch included a brace of 20lb commons, of 20-8 and 21-6. As I said for the Ouse fishing, no really big fish, but 17 carp in a day, all over 13lbs and including two twenties, is good fun in anyone’s language. Even for an out and out specimen hunter like me, it’s great to have a lot of good fish occasionally. It makes the hard days and the blanks easier to bear.
The following week, I decided on an overnighter at another local water, which has produced bream to about 14lbs in the past, although doubles are hard to come by. It is only about three miles from home, making it the ideal place for an overnighter should the need arise to get home quickly. The water does contain a big head of bream of all sizes and it is vital to go in heavy with the loose feed to have any hope at all of holding a shoal long enough to catch one or two. The previous afternoon, I’d been over for two hours, when I’d introduced about 10kg of mixed particle feed, as well as a Kilo of 14mm boilies and twenty large balls of a method mix and Vitalin combination. I would be fishing three rods on different baits, one on a boilie, one on popped up rubber corn and the other on a lobworm/corn cocktail.
On the day itself, after a further baiting via my Spomb, I commenced fishing at around midday and packed up some two hours after dawn the next morning. Fish came steadily, and I had four bream up to dusk, best just over 9lbs. Then, as soon as it was fully dark, the bream went potty. From 11.00pm until 3.00am I landed no fewer than nine more fish, best 10lb 4ozs, mostly to boilie baits with two to popped up rubber corn. Surprisingly, there was no interest on the lobworm bait.
The most interesting fish of the session was the last, caught just before dawn. Following a screaming take on rubber corn, I played a strong fish for ages on the light feeder rod, convinced it was a rare big nocturnal tench. When it surfaced, however, I was amazed to see my first ever zander, fairly lip hooked in the scissors. I had intended targeting the species sometime this season, but to get my first in such a way was a little bizarre. Despite the slightly unsatisfactory manner of its capture, I was pleased with my first zander and soon recorded a weight of 7lb 14ozs. At least I can claim another personal best this season!
It’s that time of year now, when the nights start to draw in and the mornings are always damp and soaked with dew, the time of year when carp start to feed again. Gone are the long and sweltering days when all you can do is watch them lazing around on the top or pugged up in a weed-bed somewhere, its fishing time!
I love September and October, it’s still nice enough not to be classed as winter but carp fishing over a decent deepwater mark and a pile of boilies can produce fantastic results. I tend to fish in clear areas on the actual bottom of the swim as oppose to bars, plateau’s or shallower features at this time of year, preferring to place my offerings down in the silt where all the natural food items are. It’s not uncommon to see huge sheets of bubbles hitting the surface on a calm morning as the carp root around in the silt, feeding on anything and everything they can find. I have just arrived back from a particularly successful session over in Northampton, the first day of a new south westerly wind, a drop of ten degrees in temperature and nice overcast skies; it was never going to be anything but good really.
I arrived on the Monday morning at first light to find a totally deserted lake and, rather than my customary walk around, I headed straight up onto the windward bank, rushing to get the carp fishing rods out while it was still nice and early, convinced I would be in with a chance straight away. Although the lake is still choked with weed I knew where the clearer areas were so it was only a matter of minutes before I had two rods fishing properly. Before I had a chance to get the third one out though, the first one was away and, after a bit of a tussle and a net full of weed, I found a beautiful thirty four pound linear lying in the bottom of the mesh, what a way to start. That fish let me know I had picked the right area and, given the conditions, I really stepped up the baiting, making sure I had at least a kilo over each rod, topping it up after every fish.
The plan worked perfectly and later that evening one of the other rods was away, this time the weed gave me a lot less hassle and pretty soon a twenty nine pound mirror was hoisted up for the camera. Two good fish before I’d even done a night and, over the next forty eight hours I managed to add a thirty three pound common, and three more between twenty and mid doubles. The fish came at all times of the day and night which a good sign that they are happy down there on the bottom. Throughout a lot of the year they only spend small amounts of the day actually near the lake bed and this leads to very short and precise feeding times.
During the summer it can be too hot and the oxygen levels are so low that they lay just below the surface and again, during the winter, the temperatures are so low that the air pressure seems to affect them more and leads them to lie in mid water for most of the time. During the autumn however, everything is just perfect so, don’t just sit there reading, grab your rods and get out there fishing, you know it makes sense!
Finally after some time away from the river I’ve managed to get a day on the banks, normally I’m on the banks at midnight on June 16th but due to a heavy work load it’s not been possible to visit any of my favourite rivers to wet a line up until now. The River Stour starts in my home town of Ashford, Kent and runs through the city of Canterbury which is where I intended to fish for Dace, Perch and Chub. With the lack of rain in the past few months the water level on most rivers are at their lowest for some time so it wasnt going to be easy.
My fishing tackle setup was simple; being a small river I needed a fishing rod that could cope with the trees and cabbage on the ground. I opted for the 10 to 8 foot TFG Nan-Tec All-rounder matched with the TFG match/feeder reel with 4Ib line. A size 16 hook was tied straight through to the line with two SSG’s as weight attached via a float stop to the main line. Bait was just as simple, good old fashion maggots and bread.
The fish on the Stour don’t seem to shoal up and hold in packs but tend to be more spread out, probably due to the abundance of ‘fishy’ looking water. Starting off at the Westgate section I came a crossed a shoal of Dace. Positioning myself just above them and trickling in a few maggots I cast just behind my feed and left the bait roll through them. Right away was in contact with a silver dart, a beautiful PB 1Ooz Dace was in the net. Unfortunately the shoal had spooked by the commotion so it was time to move to the first weir pool. Perch after Perch continued to take the maggots along with the odd Eel which was nice to see. The Chub seemed to be elusive and on a bright day I wasn’t surprised, a thought came to mind that they may have moved to the bridge by Sainsbury’s to seek cover so again I made another move in search of fish. Just as I thought there they were and also what looked like some good roach and bream, to keep the small fish at bay I switched to bread flake, watching through the clear chalk stream water I could see the roach moving towards the bait and with my heart in my mouth the biggest one in the shoal was going for the bait. Typically a bream came torpedoing in and snatch the bait from right under the roachs nose, still it wasn’t a bad bream so no complaints but a nice Roach would have been great. The Chub were still there but didn’t look like they were in the mood to feed but persistence pays off as a small chevin scooped up the bread flake and went on a bit of a mad spat.
It was nice to be back on the river even if only for a few hours but it’s coming up to autumn so big Perch are on my brain. You can also see what happen by watch my latest video By The Waterside 9. Keep your eyes and ears peeled as on September 15th there a fantastic new YouTube fishing channel coming which you guys can get involved in too.
Till the next time, tight lines and best fishes
Fishing I was really looking forward to at the start of the river season was overnight sessions on the Great Ouse after carp and tench. In recent years, carp to over 33lb have been taken and I know of at least one 9lb plus tench. For a river fish, that is monstrous. My own biggest ever river tench is a 7lb 11oz specimen taken a few years ago and my target this season was a relatively modest 8lbs. That is not such a big deal these days for a gravel pit, but it is still a rare capture in flowing water.
The obvious problem early in the season was the floods. While they might have been conducive to barbel feeding, conditions were poor for the overnighters for tench and carp we had planned. At long last, however, a couple of weeks ago we had a river at normal height and clarity for July and set up for two nights on the banks of the Great Ouse. Once again, I was fishing with my good mate Alan Lawrence, in swims about forty yards apart. I fished the first night on my own, Alan joining me the next morning. The stretch we like for this fishing is wider than average for the upper Ouse, fairly clear of bottom weed but featuring wide lily bed margins along both banks. The tench particularly colonise these lilies and we’ve found that by targeting any little bays in the cabbages we can create small hot spots. For the carp, they tend to hold off the lilies toward the deeper water and the usual approach is to put one bait hard against the cabbages under the opposite bank, but drop the other bait a few yards short.
I started to prepare my swim at around midday, baiting with around 100 15mm boilies initially, plus several Spombs full of hemp and corn. I would be fishing method feeders, with method ball packed with corn around my Stonze weight on each cast. The reason for the heavy corn contribution was because of the signal crayfish problem. Last year, after the first day catching on boilies, the crays moved in and made boilie fishing impossible. A switch to rubber corn caught a couple of tench. This year, at the slightest sign of signal interference, I would revert to popped up rubber corn on both fishing rods. My fishing tackle set up comprised a matched pair of Lite Speed 2.5lb carp rods, probably a little over gunned for tench but certainly not for a big river carp. These were matched with a pair of Dave Lane Speedrunners.
With the preparation complete, I set up my camp and made my first casts at around 4.00pm. I was unprepared for quite such an instant reaction because, only twenty minutes later, I’d already caught two tench, both just over six pounds. They gave lightening fast runs, just like carp. River tench really are an exciting quarry. The third tench was the fish I’d set my heart on. After a great battle in and out of the far bank lilies I finally had the upper hand and slid the net under a very big tench. When I confirmed 8lb 2oz I was over the moon. The rest of the evening continued in similar vein, with four more tench falling to my boilies and no apparent interference from signals. As darkness fell, however, I started to get little twitches and gently wound in to find boilies nibbled away and hair stops miraculously removed. It was time for the rubber corn and thereafter the signal problem stopped. I had one more tench before it became completely dark, a lovely 7-4 specimen, and then the bream moved in. I had five of them in the dark hours, to a little over 7lbs, but there was no sign of a carp run. The bream are interesting. Still water bream of 7lbs tend to be flaccid, anaemic creatures, but these Ouse bream really scrap and they are not slimy like their still water counterparts. I have had several Ouse bream just short of double figures, plus one specimen of 11lb 4ozs and they are very worthwhile targets. As soon as it was fully light, the tench began feeding again and I had another three, plus two more bream, before I wound in to get some breakfast in the van and then a couple of hours sleep.
Alan joined me in late morning and was as delighted as I’d been with my 8lb tench. He prepared his swim exactly as I’d prepared mine, with the exception that he started on the rubber corn from the off. In my swim, I reverted to boilies when I restarted fishing, and did catch one nice tench and two bream before the crays moved in again. By tea time I was on rubber corn on both rods, which produced three more tench before dark. Strangely, the second night was completely blank; I never had a twitch in the dark hours. Only as dawn was breaking did I get another couple of fish before it was time to go. I hadn’t seen a sign of a carp in my swim over the 48 hours but Alan did have some carp action. He landed an 8lb mirror but the main event was a big common that came adrift at the net cord at midnight. He reckoned it would have been a good twenty; what a pity he lost it. He also landed about a dozen tench and bream and all in all it had been a good opening session.
I was well pleased. With sixteen tench to 8lb 2oz and ten bream to over 7lbs I’d had a great time and I can’t wait to get back down there. I’ve had to adjust my tench sights to 9lb now; never satisfied, are we!
I’ve not done much Catfish fishing over the past few years and my PB was only 15Ib 8oz so after an offer from Mike Morrison of Manor Fisheries to fish on the Catfish Lake I couldn’t refuse.
Heading down to the lake I must say I was very excited like a kid at Christmas, the fact is this lake holds catfish to over 50Ib and the thought of a big moggy just got the adrenaline pumping. I was surprised to find that there was nobody fishing any of the lakes which allowed me time to get accustom to my surroundings and a free chose of any swim I fancied. After about 30 minutes, no tell a lie 5 minutes because of excitement I settled on a swim facing the island.
I used my tried and tested coarse fishing tackle with a set of Delta XS rods in a 3lb test curve. The TF Gear V8 reels with a 15Ib mainline, this should be up to the job and little did I know they would be tested, a dumbell rig with lobworms as bait on the surface was my first choice of rigs along with a running ledger with Cotswold Bait Creations 22mm Crab pellets being the second. Both rigs had an eagle eye hook size 2 tied with 70Ib braid.
I strategically placed the pellet rod in the middle, between the island and the margin, hopefully to intercept any fish coming from depth. The surface worm rod was placed under a tree next to the island to target fish coming around the island following the flow. I sat down for a cup of tea and by the time the water had boiled the worm rod was away, left right forwards backwards it was a crazy fight but it wasn’t long before it came in. On the scale it read new PB, 15Ib 8oz so before I had even started my PB was broken.
My confidence was high but the night only produced a few aborted takes so come dawn disappointment had set in, that was until the alarm screamed in to life, a battle of the giants had commenced. With every yard of line gained the fish would take five and it was ten minutes in to the fight that my arm started to ache but I knew it was a big fish so I couldn’t let up the slightest. The head came to the surface and I wasn’t sure on the size, that was until I lifted the net only to see that the fish was half in half out, it did go in eventually and looking down at the fish I had to sit down and compose myself before dealing with it. On the unhooking mat the size was amazing I’d never seen a fish so big, (only on tv) but there it was and I was the one who had caught it, the scales read 38Ib 4oz so it was a new PB for the second time, Fantastic.
The day was extremely hot at around 27 degrees C and you would have thought the Catfish would have fed but I didn’t get a bite all day until dusk which to be honest I wasn’t really bothered about as I was still buzzing about my new PB. I wasn’t expecting much on the last night but I didn’t get any sleep as run after run came my way with a multitude of double figure Catfish hitting the bank. The last one was slipped back at dawn and I really needed some sleep but didn’t want to reel the rods in so I left them out just in case. On my bedchair and in the sleeping bag I was nice and snug and ready for some shut eye when the alarm sounded… bleep… bleep… Blurry eyed I stumbled to the rod and bent in to the fish only the be greeted by heavy resistance and a fish trying to go around the island. I must say the Delta XS rods really surpassed all my expectations and handled this and all the other Cats with ease but this Cat wasn’t giving up and half an hour into the fight it was still going strong but with time and patience it was in the net, just. Now I thought that the 38 was big but this was bigger and my scales bottomed out at 40Ib’s so with nerves shacking I borrowed some scales from another angler and they read 42Ib 8oz. I couldn’t believe it I had broken my Catfish PB for the third time in one session.
A real red letter day and it really has given me the bug for Catfishing so I’ll be trying to go a lot more but I have a long way to go to beat my new PB.
Till the next time tight lines and best fishes…
It was my intention to just fish the day for Tench and Bream but after checking the weather report it was all too tempting not to go for the night and catch my first Eel of the year. I know most don’t like Eels but for me they seem to be the only species with a bit of mystery to them and when you think about the levels they go to just to breed that alone deserves respect.
Reed Lake at about 1am the heavens opened and the rain was relentless but that’s what the weather report said would happen but with high humidity and the temperature in the 12 to 14 degree category I plodded on knowing it was perfect for Eels. On arriving at the lake I set up my TF Gear Day Shelter which thankfully because of the rain only takes seconds to erect. Organizing and setting up your coarse fishing tackle in the dark can be a right pain in the backside but after a few mishaps i was all ready to go.
It was a three rod set up; the two main rods were my new TFGear Banshee Commercial Specialists with the Avon top, fantastic rods, slim, great casting and they really do look the part, with this I had my new TFGear Power GT reel loaded with 8lb line. The rigs were fairly simple, a flat in-line 1oz pear lead with a 4inch 8Ib hooklenght with a hair holding to yellow pop-up sweetcorn the other was a free running cage feeder with a 4inch 8Ib hooklenght with two fake casters glued to the hair. The third rod was my TFGear 10ft Commercial Carp Rod and my small TFGear free spool reel loaded with 15Ib main line, this rod was intended for the eels and it may sound a bit over the top but if you are lucky enough to hook a big Eel and your fishing next to snags then you’ll thank yourself you had the tackle, an Eel is a tremendous fighter and will give it’s all before you have a chance to land it. The rig for the Eels was a 2oz square lead on a free running rig to allow minimal resistance, the hooklenght was 15IB korda N-trap braid with the coating on, I’ve found this to be great for Eels if you’re using worms, the hook a size 6 Drennan super specialist. Bait for the Bream and Tench apart from the fake baits already on the hair was a mix of live and dead maggots, hemp, casters and 4mm Halibut pellets, this was then added to the groundbait which was Cotswold Bait Creations Bloodworm stick mix, brown crumb and Cotswold’s liquid bloodworm with real bloodworm added to it, hook bait for the Eels was a nice juice Lobworm with the same feed as I was using for the Tench and Bream.
With everything set up and the rods out I settled down for the night with my rather wet clothes on not doing me any favors, still at least the temperature was high. All night my two rods intended for Bream and Tench remain motionless but the Eel rod was going all night with runs, unfortunately only one connected with a fish, a little bootlace Eel, still my first this year but nothing much happened at night apart from the rain hammering down.
As you can see by the photo the line marks on the Eel are another reason many people don’t fish for them as the small one’s are notorious for tangling the lineup. The morning came with a bit of a chilly wind so after rebaiting I got back into my sleeping bag for a lay in as I had only managed about an hours sleep, typically just as I got comfortable the Banshee rod sprung into life and I immediately knew it was a Bream as there not the best of fighters and a small skimmer hit the net. I replaced the Eel rod during the day for my TFGear 10ft float rod to see if the Tench would feed in the margins but the margins were over 10ft in depth, not good for Tench but good for Eels still I set up with an insert waggler on 6Ib line and a size 8 hook with a Lobworm. Throughout the day I was hit by wave after wave of skimmer Bream between 1Ib to 2Ib but no sign of anything bigger but I then the left hand Banshee rod was away which I had cast to a showing carp near some reeds. I connected with the fish but as it run the line went slack, Bugger! I lost it was pretty much the words in my head but reeling in revealed that I had in fact been bitten off by I would have guessed a Pike, never mind new rig made and out we go again. It was about two in the afternoon now and not much had happened apart from an untold amount of small Bream but the float in the margin was covered in bubbles so something had to happen and it did, as quick as lighting the float shot away and before I had a chance the fish run straight in to the snags. I could feel the line grating against the branches of the snag tree and the fish doing its best to escape but after a tense 5 minutes I managed to get the fish to open water and with a bit more pull a beautiful 3Ib 11oz Tench succumb to the net, Lovely.
With the Tench back in its home the skimmer Bream action continued keeping me busy which is always nice.
The float rod was away again but this was no Tench as the fish was doing its best to snag me by swimming backwards, so it could only be one thing an Eel. Again the 10ft float rod handled the fish very well and by keeping a tight line I scooped the Eel into the not with no tangles, a bit bigger than they have been at a pound exactly I was happy and considering it takes an Eel almost ten years to gain a pound again more reason to give them respect.
I was due to leave the lake soon and the swim had gone quite so I decided to take a walk over to Blue Lagoon Lake to see what was happening on there as this is another lake I intended to fish soon. Arriving at the first swim I was greatted by a wonderful side, Half a dozen of the lakes elusive carp were feeding in the margins, the Gods had thrown me a bone and I wasn’t going to give up the chance so I ran back to my swim and grabbed the maggot box’s, float rod, landing net and scales and unhooking mat. I set the depth on the float which looked about 2 feet and throw some maggots out to watch their reaction. Almost immediately they started to feed so I hooked a few maggots and cast out, feeding so fast they clouded up the bottom making it hard to see the bait and as a Carps tail broke the surface the float sailed away and with a firm strike the drag went into overdrive. At first I was adamant I was into one of the Carp but after a long hard fight which seemed to last forever I slipped the net under a fish I never expected to catch and have only ever caught one about 11 years ago at 1Ib, a Barbel. I was over the moon a 3Ib 11oz unexpected Barbel and a new PB what more could I ask for, Fantastic.
The day had come to an end but before I jumped on the train home I stopped by the match lake to see if I could winkle out a Carp to round the day off. Again float in the margins did the trick with a worm and a 4Ib 6oz Common Carp was banked within 5 minutes, what a great day.
If you would like to watch a video version see below.
Until the next time tight lines and best fishes.