Well, I reckon I made the right decision when I moved my fishing over to Monks Pit in Cambridgeshire.
Since that first successful trip when I managed to bank one of the three remaining forty pound plus carp in the pit that I hadn’t already caught, things have just got better and better.
The next week I only had a single night at my disposal but the fish fed like crazy and I ended up with an incredible nine carp on the bank, I almost made it to double figures but fish number ten fell off at the net just as I was packing up!
As if catching this amount of big carp wasn’t rewarding enough for thirty hours spent solidly casting, spodding, and playing fish, one of the fish was yet another of the trio I have at the top of my hit list. This time it was a fish known as Moonscale and he weighed in at forty three pounds, a top result and, realistically, that now leaves only the one biggest fish in the lake for the full set.
Since that trip I have had a further four visits and, although none of these trips has been quite as manic, I haven’t actually blanked yet, which a real bonus.
A couple of times I have taken it right to the wire, catching at the last minute to save a blank but even then, the stamp of fish has made it well worth the wait.
Just the other week I fished for forty eight hours without so much as a sniff and then, in the last two hours of the trip, I took fish of twenty four and thirty six pounds in quick succession.
Most of the carp have been falling to the new Mainline Hybrid fished snowman style over plenty of free offerings and a bed of hemp, tigers and corn but I have had a couple on maggot and a couple on zigs.
It’s about this time of year, as the temperatures start to drop sharply, that the zigs start to produce a few fish and it seems as if the colder it gets, the better they work.
Luckily, at Monks, I can use four carp fishing rods throughout the winter and this allows me to try different methods such as zigs and maggots while always keeping at least two rods on my favourite boilie approach. I have had most of my biggest fish from this lake on boilies and I am confident that the biggest one will fall to this method in time, all I have to do is keep on persevering and hope the wheel of fortune spins in my favour before the winter is over and I move on to pastures new.
Check out my video diary here on the Fishtec blog!
I’ve been using the Thermo-Tex Gilet for around 7 months now. It’s remarkably lightweight when you take into account its tremendous thermal abilities. It’s extremely comfortable to wear too and allows plenty of freedom of movement, which to me is a real plus point. There is nothing worse than feeling like you’ve got a straight jacket on, even if you do need one!
On several evenings when I’ve been wearing this gilet from fishtec, I haven’t felt the need to pile on the usual extra layers of clothing. The gilet is superbly warm, which for some reason surprised me. I guess mainly because it feels so lightweight but that definitely belies its impressive thermal abilities. Certainly an item im glad to have in my coarse fishing gear right now.
It’s well made and I like the fleece hand warmer pockets, they keep your hands much warmer when that cold winds blowing. They also allow room for those odd bits and pieces anglers like to tuck away into every nook and cranny. There is also a side pocket next to the zip which is very useful for a mobile phone.
Overall I’m very impressed with this fishing jacket and to coin a phrase, feel that it does exactly what it says on the tin. It will be coming with me on all of my summer and winter sessions in future. It’s ideal on those summer evenings and mornings when you just need something a little extra over a shirt and in the winter it makes an excellent and very important under layer for when it gets really cold.
The TF Gear Thermo-Tex Gilet is available for just £29.99.
Struggling to find a fishing related present for your hubby or partner this Christmas? We at Fishtec have the perfect gift. Ideal for hanging in the fishing room, garage, or ‘man space’, the 2014 TF Gear Babes Calendar is packed full of carpy fun and features beautiful women cradling large carp.
This is the second year TF Gear has put together a Babes fishing calendar, with 2013′s being a massive hit all around the country. I mean, what’s better than actually going carp fishing, or buying some carp fishing tackle than beautiful women holding carp?
Order the TF Gear Babes Calendar here.
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Half a century wielding an expensive stick has rewarded me – at one time or another – with most of those delicious sensations a resisting fish can give: with the right rod and fitting line the roach has had me truly worried, 2lb mono cutting fizzy lines through the dross of a chocolate winter flow; tooled-up and less generous of spirit, teeth clenched and knuckles white, I’ve laid into distant carp and felt the awesome bulk move off like a locomotive. Tench, too, have torn me from my chair, their new-found authority still shocking and shaking my expectations of a round or two with a brown sugar bag. Pike? Them too: from the splashiest jack to the un-nerving power of a big fish determined to reach the snags. But perch?? Well, they kick about a bit, don’t they… they put up a ‘spirited tussle’, and even the 2-plussers only thump a few times before they’re in the net.
Last Sunday saw me acting on a telephoned tip-off: a boat-yard somewhere in the County of Norfolk, frequented – in the literal sense – by a notoriously stroppy owner predisposed to saying bugger-off, but I chanced it grabbed the fishing tackle with the prospect of a ‘fat footballer’… a big ‘stripey’ just too tempting to resist. Swinging out a five inch roach under a one inch bob-float, memories of vibrant, bristling scraps with perchlets and the better, livelier bouts with the two-pounders would have occupied my subconscious – experience teaches us what to expect, and in decades as an angler I’d never had a lob provoked by a really plump sergeant; for all his bombast and chutzpah, percia fluviatilis rarely grows big enough to really get the blood pumping…eh?
But today it was live-bait, and within half an hour the float went down, sharply, and with a little splash. Heading for the gloom of a barge’s hull, the float drew to a halt against the tightening line then eased toward the curving rod as the hook took hold. “Pike” said brother, Barry, and I probably thought him right; but on bringing the fish to mid-stream it bashed-out a most unfamiliar tune on my TF Gear Banshee float rods – not quite the theme from ‘Jaws’ but certainly something involving a little light cello and, perhaps, a hint of kettle-drum.
“More like a zander” I eventually replied “It’s certainly not a perch”. My suspicions were confirmed for me after four or five determined lunges brought the tip-eye down to meet the water then compelled the reel to yield a yard or two. On seeing the ripples flatten I just knew a bug-eyed ‘Zed’ was on the cards and I asked Barry to have the forceps handy.
After a long minute and a half, the fish was coaxed to the top of his world, there to reveal his true colours: bars of black on yellow-green, trimmed with scarlet and a crown of thorns!
Three and a half pounds doesn’t put a perch up there in the monster class, I know, and a fair few are caught every week, but this fish of mine ‘did it’ for me! Barry had already landed a couple of ‘twos’ so the morning was, at this precise point, rather ‘sweet’…but then the wholly predictable ‘bitter’ turned-up and read the predictable riot-act: I do wish these people would take a little time to compose something a little more original.
But I couldn’t complain too much: a personal best that had afforded me a brand-new fishing experience – a perch big enough to really fight!
During the summer of 2009 I booked a trip to Cape Cod to wrestle with the renowned Striped Bass. I booked this trip not knowing who I was going to be sharing this week with but upon arrival into Boston Logan Airport I met Russell Cowell from the Isle of Man. Along with Mike Green and Jamie Groom, Russell and I spent a fantastic week fishing all around the Cape Cod peninsular catching these magnificent Striped Bass.
We`ve all kept in touch during the last few years, sharing photos of our recent trips both home and abroad. In February 2013 Russell told me he really wanted to catch a pike on the fly and asked me if I`d be willing to guide him in the UK. I`m really no expert but I did suggest to Russell that a trip to Chew Valley at the end of May could be on the cards. We spent the next 4-6 weeks looking at the potential route from the Isle of Man and how we could arrange the flights to coincide with our journey to pick Russell up from the airport. After a few weeks of trying, Russell decided that as it was TT week on the Island and the flights to get back were going to be full, coupled with a flight into Liverpool and hiring a car he was going to leave it. No sooner had a read that e-mail I got another one saying, “4uck it, I`m coming, I said I will and I`m doing it” I rang him straight away to be sure he was happy to fly to Liverpool, hire a car to drive to Chew (5 hours?) and then do the same to get back. I booked the boats and the accommodation and soon enough I was up at 5am on the 29th May and on my way.
Russell was waiting at the Hotel for 8am and shortly after this Mike and Jamie arrived too. We all ate breakfast together and regaled a few old stories from when we met to set the tone for the next 2 days.
Mike and Russell partnered first and were out into the lake followed by Jamie and myself. The day started off very nicely for the first few hours, warm and sunny with a moderate wind. This disappeared at midday and the wind was howling and the rain made a soft appearance. The fishing was tough too, and between myself and Jamie we had just once fish, expertly boated by Jamie.
Mike and Russell however managed 3 fish. Russell has never been pike fishing before and to catch 3 fish on his first days fishing in poor conditions was a terrific achievement, especially as the fish were all caught on a fly. What Russell wasn’t aware of at this time, was that his first days fly fishing for Pike was about to be eclipsed by a day he will never forget…
We all got back to the boathouse after the first day and Mike Green gestured a “pint swigging” hand movement in my direction which I acknowledged with a bright eyed firm nod! We got back to the hotel and had a feast fit for a king followed by half a dozen pints of Cider!! Well, we were in Somerset, what else were we going to drink.
Russell and I were last to bed, we managed just one more pint before we vowed to go back to Chew with renewed enthusiasm.
The day started dark, windy and miserable but we decided to have a concerted effort on our first drift. I was flagging after the night before and elected to take a break rather than casting what felt like a chicken into a 30mph wind.
We moved around the lake a lot that day and tried some of the small bays for nothing other than a couple of follows and pulls. At around 2pm I said to Russell that if we`re going to catch a big fish it will be from where we first started fishing.
We slowly motored around to the area of the first drift and made a start… within literally a few minutes Russell yelled, ” I`m in, and it feels really heavy”. Every time line was gained the fished plunged deeper. The rod was bent double and despite being on the reel, the fish was taking every bit of line that Russell had previously gained.
We had shown the net to the fish on four occasions without success and we knew it was a good fish. Eventually, after a dogged fight, the fish was netted. I looked down in the net at the fish and said to Russell immediately, “mate, that`s a massive fish”. We both rolled the fish in the net and whilst I knew it was a “thirty” I didn’t want to jinx it so I said ” i reckon that must be about 28,29 pounds” Russell is no stranger to big fish and he estimated it to be 32.
Jamie arrived to weigh the fish after we`d taken a few photos and he said it looked to be around 34. After weighing the wet sling to zero the scales it was the moment of truth. Jamie held the face of the scales towards him and said we were all wrong. I have to mention at this point that the fish had lost some spawn during the photos and whilst being retained in the water, we didn’t feel it was appropriate to take the fish to land for weighing. The needle bounced between 39 and 42 pounds so being a conservative bunch we agreed that at 39lb she was a magnificent capture for an angler who had caught his 4th fish on only his second days pike fly fishing…
The rest of the day was just a formality after that capture. Russell managed to snag his Airflo Sixth Sense Di3 and break his rod into the bargain, do you think he cared?
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!