In my last feature, I summarised the last few weeks of the river season, and it’s now time for me to look forward to the year ahead. From now on, I shall be posting a fortnightly report on the site, letting you all know what I’ve been catching, or not catching as the case may be. So, let’s kick off with an overview of my general plans over the coming months. Obviously, they are all fairly fluid depending on circumstances, but they certainly do represent my wish list for what I hope will be some exciting action.
Next week my spring fishing commences with my last ever sortie after the big carp of Acton Burnell, as the venue closes for a break on April 15th. I’ve been in the syndicate since 2003, taking over fifty 30lb plus fish and ten 40s, but I’ve now decided to relinquish my membership. There are two main reasons for that decision. First, it is expensive and, as someone now on fixed pension income, I can no longer really justify the cost. Added to that, the water is over eighty miles from home and with the ever escalating cost of fuel it is time to sever my links with what really is a fabulous fishery. Secondly, though, after seven summers of intense carping, I want to free up more time for more diverse angling adventures. When you pay a very high price for syndicate membership, you feel you have to go all the time to justify the cost. In some ways, that is quite restricting. So, next week will see me bidding an emotional farewell to a water I have really grown to love. If the gods are smiling on me, I may even get another 40 plus to send me on my way.
From then on during the rest of April and the first three weeks of May it will be tench time, and for that fishing I have two waters lined up which both have an air of mystery about them. The first is a local, much cheaper, carp syndicate, at which none of the other members fishes for anything other than carp. And there are some stunning carp; the best so far is a 37lb mirror. Of more interest to me, though, are the tench and bream. They have both been caught into double figures accidentally by carp anglers but I intend to target them intentionally with more appropriate tactics. As I very rarely catch tench in the dark, I shall fish with both bream and carp in mind during the dark hours in the hope of a welcome bonus.
The second water is a local park lake, which is a bit busy but which produced last season a string of big tench to a friend, with fish to an unbelievable 11lb 9oz being landed. The fish have all been caught at short range on lift float tactics and corn in the lilies during short morning sessions. By mid morning, there are apparently too many people around feeding the ducks, but it could certainly be worth a few mornings of early rising.
After a break in Tenerife with Fran, my plans for early June will be more tench fishing until the 16th, after which I plan to have a few sessions after a big river carp on the Ouse. It’s been several years since I fished for river carp and it’s a lot of fun. I’ll be joining a friend who’s been targeting a particular stretch for a couple of seasons. As well as carp to over 25lbs on his overnight sessions, plenty of bream to nearly double figures, as well as 8lb plus tench and the odd big chub, have visited the landing net.
My other main target species for the summer months is the barbel. It’s been eight years since I’ve fished for summer barbel, concentrating on the winter fishing exclusively. Again, I will be mainly focused on the river I adore, the Great Ouse, but I really must have some serious sessions on the Warwickshire Avon. It is no secret that I am a hopelessly addicted specimen hunter and I still feel that the Ouse has the potential to unearth another real monster. But, the Warks Avon is certainly catching up and with it being relatively close to home has to be seriously examined in light of the fuel consideration.
If I have time before the end of the warmer weather, I’d like to squeeze in a few trips after catfish, crucians and rudd. Although I’ve had lots of huge cats in Spain, biggest 186lb, my biggest ever English cat is a 50lb 12ozs specimen from Lakemore in Cheshire in 2009. Lakemore is a lovely well run fishery, very intimate and scenic, with a good head of cats to over 80lbs. Still on catfish, the second week in August sees Fran and I back in Mequinenza as guest of Catmasters Tours; I’m really looking forward to that as always.
As for rudd, I intend to get the float rod out and have the odd session spraying maggots at a gravel pit which has produced several three pounders in recent years. My biggest rudd weighed 3-5 and I must be in with a shout of coming close to that target. For the crucian fishing I suppose I ought to travel to Marsh Farm, to try and beat my best of 3lb 3ozs, but closer to home I’ve been told of a water that has certainly produced genuine crucians to 3lb 8ozs. As it’s only 15 miles from home, rather than the 90 odd miles to Marsh Farm, it has definite attraction.
I’m 66 now and, believe it or not, I’ve never yet caught a zander. That certainly needs correcting and from early autumn I shall be putting in some time at Coombe Abbey, which is just two miles down the road. I have now acquired a Microcat Mk11 bait boat for this fishing, as almost all the Coombe zander are taken at long range. Without a bait boat you are at a serious disadvantage, as it is virtually impossible to cast a small deadbait over 100 yards. Autumn will also see my first serious crack at the giant Ouse perch. I’ll always start with my favoured method of laying on with large lobs, but if the signal crayfish are troublesome I’ll switch to slow sinking lobs, minnows or spinning with my old red tasselled spinners.
Sometime during October or November I shall make a couple of trips to the Test, with two targets. The first, obviously, is some grayling fishing, looking for a fish over 2lb 4ozs. I do very little centrepin work, long trotting, and of all rivers, the Test is one of the most enjoyable to fish in this style. But I will certainly be switching to feeder rod and a cage feeder from mid afternoon to dark, using liquidised bread in the feeder and flake on the hook. The Test holds some enormous roach to well over 3lbs and lots of fish to beat my current best of 2lb 11ozs are caught every season.
December is when I have found that the midland reservoirs really come into their own for pike deadbaiting and I’ve had some tremendous fishing in recent seasons. One of the most interesting comparisons I’ve been able to make between the pike fishing of gravel pits and reservoirs is that the pits I’ve fished get quite hard after the first frosts. Reservoirs, on the other hand fish really well in such conditions, and I’ve had some great sessions when it was positively arctic.
From January until the end of the season, my fishing will become much more weather driven. If we have any warm floods, barbel fishing will be high on the agenda, and chub, of course, will always figure highly at this time of year. Before next season is over, I’ll be looking for another personal best on the Ouse with, hopefully, an eight pounder in the net. Can’t believe I’ve just written that. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever seriously contemplate catching an 8lb chub. But now, with a 7lb 13oz fish to my credit and four confirmed ‘eights’ from the Ouse last season, I must take advantage while the chance is still there.
There, in outline, are the plans I have made for the coming twelve months and, every couple of weeks, I’ll keep you updated on my progress. No pressure, then!!