TF Gear Compact Rods

Dave-Lane Carp Fishing

Looking for a new rod to kick start your spring campaign? Look no further than the TF gear compact range of coarse fishing rods, ideal for those starting out in the sport and the seasoned veteran alike.

What are the compact rods you ask? Well the concept is these coarse fishing rods are shorter in length than the traditional fishing rods on the market. This confers many advantages to the fisherman.

  • Easy maneuvering – in tightly spaced commercial fishery swims, or on the river bank when you have to clamber through heavy bank side foliage.
  • Greatly reduced weight – These fishing rods are also significantly lighter in the hand making your fishing more pleasurable.
  • Easy transportation – these rods are guaranteed to fit in your car!
  • Better casting accuracy – with less leverage to deal with and a quicker recovery time accurate casting becomes much easier.
  • Improved control when playing a fish – its much easier to put the pressure on a decent fish and change angle of play quickly with a shorter rod.
  • Reduced cost – shorter length equals less carbon used. This cost saving has been passed on, so higher quality blanks and components are used in manufacture. You get a better quality product for less money.
  • Fish playing fun – feel everything, and put the thrill back into a fight! While at the same time there is enough power to quickly tame large specimen fish.

TF Gear produce a compact rod for every fishing scenario you will ever encounter. There are two ranges – The original compact rods, which and have a classic brown ground matt carbon finish, and feature smooth mid-tip progressive actions. These rods are great value, but no compromise has been made on quality or finish.  Secondly the lighter weight and higher modulus carbon nantec range, which feature slimmer blanks and a slightly faster action. In addition most of the nantec rods come with a free TF gear Airlite reel, making them an incredibly competitive package.

The TF Gear nantec compact allrounder

The TF gear compact allrounders must be the best seller best in the range. These highly versatile rods offer you numerous options, you can go from a 8 to 10 foot length with a two foot extension piece. They are also supplied with 3 x push in feeder quiver tips and an avon top, allowing you to fish multiple methods – float, feeder, touch ledgering, surface fishing or even spinning.

The TF Gear compact commercial feeder rod

 

The TF Gear Compact commercial float and feeder rods are available in either 8 foot or 10 foot configurations. The feeder rods come complete with 3 push in quivers. They are ideal for small fishery work, from roach and rudd to tench and bream, these rods handle them all. The 8 footers in particular are ideal for really crowded swims, and also make superb rods for youngsters to easily use.

TF Gear Compact carp rods are 10 foot in length with a 2.5 test curve. These fantastic rods are not just ideal for carp, they can be used for barbel, large specimen tench, chub or even pike and zander fishing using a float and deadbait presentation.

Alex Bones, expert carp and match angler talk us through the nantec compact carp rod.

Early Pike

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.

Tony Miles Pike

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.

Kindle

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.

Bream location in gravel pits

I’ve had a query from a reader of my last blog, after I mentioned that I was embarking on a tench and bream campaign this spring. Specifically, he wanted some advice on location of gravel pit bream. So, let’s have a look at this important aspect now. I’ll be reporting back on my first sessions in my next blog in a couple of weeks.

Most gravel pit location is a painstaking affair of mapping the contours of the water, and then trying to interpret how they will affect the location and feeding behaviour of the bream. During mapping, I am looking for the gravel bars and humps, areas of extensive bottom weed, areas of clean bottom and what that bottom composition consists of. Is it, for example, fine gravel or hard packed mud or silt? Most importantly, which features are naturally weed free? Unlike tench, bream show a distinct tendency to favour naturally weed free areas. Also unlike with tench, dragging has never proved very productive; I have had very poor results after manual weed clearance.

For the actual mapping, there is no doubt that the job is far easier if there is access to a boat or baitboat, together with echo sounder. But let’s assume neither are allowed, which is the case on many waters. Compared to the boat and echo sounder approach, the time spent mapping a pit with the standard plumbing methods from the bank is colossal. But it is time that must be spent to maximise chances of sport with big bream. The correct coarse fishing tackle must be used to generate a picture of your chosen fishing grounds. I use a TFG marker rod, in conjunction with Banana Braid braided line especially designed for feature finding. A bobbled 2oz Fox feature finding lead is slid on to the braid and large buoyant float tied on the end. The lead is mounted on a short link with a large enough eye to allow the float’s buoyancy to easily pull braid through it. To avoid the lead resting on the float during the cast, the lead is stopped about 18” up the line by a rubber float stop and bead. When this is cast out, the buoyancy of the float naturally makes it pop to the surface. Depth finding is then simple. Smoothly wind down the float to the heavy lead until the line is taut, and then allow off six inches of line at a time until you first see the float again break surface. You have now established the depth at that position.

Now wind in a few feet and repeat the procedure, establishing the depth once again at the new position. By continuing this process back to the bank, you now have a rough idea of the contours between you and the furthest cast. Any areas of real interest discovered can then be relocated and examined more carefully. I use a second rod, rigged identically. Having cast to the feature to be more closely examined, the float is then left in place as a focal point, and the float on the second rod cast all around it. You can build up a remarkably accurate picture of each feature in this manner. An hour’s work will give you details of feature size, and steepness of gradient. There is no need to use special braid on this second rod. The information I require about bottom composition will have already been established in my initial investigation with the actual feature finding set up.

I may want to leave in place a permanent marker for the duration of the session. To do this, I set up a marker float slightly differently, in a traditional sliding float arrangement with normal monofilament line. If you haven’t fished a slider, it is set up as a normal float rig but the float is not fixed in place but simply allowed to run freely on the line. A stop knot or rubber float stop is placed at the appropriate place depending on the depth of the water. Having again located the feature and made any fine adjustments necessary, I cut the line about a foot above the float stop and tie a loop in the free end. A similar loop is tied in the end of the reel line and the two loops joined with a firm tie of PVA. The float is then cast to the required position, left for a minute or so until the PVA has melted, at which time the free line is retrieved, leaving the marker in place. Make sure that you can retrieve the float after use. I use a special grapple made up of an in-line lead and large sea treble, which casts like a rocket.

Having found the features, which ones do we fish? Reliable areas do seem to be gravel bars, especially those that exist in otherwise weedy areas and are themselves clear of all but light silkweed. The other reliable feature is the clean, apparently barren area of either mud or silt. This area more closely mirrors the situation in a reservoir, and big pit bream, once they arrive in such an area, will often hang around for days. Small gravel bars and humps, while reliable, rarely hold big bream for more than the odd night.

If I am fishing within range of my Spomb, about forty yards, I usually do not bother with leaving permanent swim markers in place. Having found the area to be fished with a marker float I then cast one of my rods so that the terminal rig alights alongside the marker. The line is then inserted into the reel line clip and the line marked at the spigot with a thin sliver of insulating tape. When doing this, it is important to wrap the tape round the line with the sticky sides perfectly flush with each other and that the tape is then squeezed flat so that it adheres properly to the line with no air gaps. Then trim the tape as close to the line as possible and put a slight bevel at each end so that there are no sharp angles to foul the line during casting. My finished markers are around 1mm wide. I then walk out the rod on the bank until the line tightens to the clip, and mark the bank. Next, assuming I am fishing the other rod or rods at the same range, it is a simple matter to walk them out, clip up and tape as before.

The same procedure is carried out with my TFG spod rod and, before retrieving the marker float, the line is put into the reel line clip as well. This now means that every rod when cast out will land the terminal rig, baiting cone or marker float at the same range. All I have to ensure is that my direction of cast is not wayward, simply by lining up a horizon feature such as a tree or telegraph pole.

For baiting up, all I have to do is cast my Spomb hard enough to tighten to the clip and then I can be certain that the bait is in the correct position. The reason I also fix the range on my marker float as well is if I decide to do any baiting by catapult, say for balls of groundbait or loose feeding boilies. Obviously, I then need a visual target at which to aim.

Proof of the pudding..

Chub on Paste

Despite the unseasonally warm autumn, winter is fast approaching and the bankside vegetation is thinning fast. This allows access to many places that are impossible to reach during high summer, swims that have had no angling pressure. With so much river to explore a roving approach is called for and for that I needed to be able to change the amount of weight on my rig and the bait used with minimum fuss. The easier you make this the more likely you are to fish effectively all day rather than getting lazy and ‘making do’.

As chub are the prime target I opted for a free running rig so a link leger is the first item on my 8lb main line. Below this go a couple of rubber beads as they help to separate the link from the trace and minimise tangles. These stop at a small swivel to which I attach the 6lb fluorocarbon hooklink and a hair rig tied to a size 10 or 8 hook. At the sharp end is the clever bit; I thread onto the hair a rubber bead and hold that in place with one of those ‘V’ shaped extender hair stops. This gives you something to wrap your paste around and it will give it purchase keeping it on longer. I do not favour burying the hook in paste as it is less effective when hitting bites and, during the cold winter months, any bite is a bonus and too valuable to miss. The rig I use comes into its own if I decide to try another bait such as a boilie or lump of meat, it is simplicity itself to remove the bead and then simply hair rig another bait either with the same hair stop or, if its a piece of meat, with a bit of grass stalk.

Instead of lead weights I tend to use Plasticine or modelling clay wrapped around the link leger leaving the run ring free to slide up the line. Plasticine goes hard when cold and will hang on to a link with no problem but, if you find it slips, a bead threaded onto the link will give it more purchase. If the swim requires you fish static in a heavy flow it takes just a second to remove the Plasticine and replace it with a lead.

My first few swims are smooth glides so I decide to explore them with a rolling bait. The amount of Plasticine is judged and cast to the upstream end with a lump of cheese past on the hook. I’ve put a few free offerings in and now I bounce the bait though the swim, paying out sufficient line ahead of the rig to give a controlled run across the gravel. If you have it all set up just right you will feel the weight bouncing over the stones where it will catch and hold every now and then before the pressure on the line makes it trundle on for a bit farther. If it catches on a stone and hangs up for a while then it is your choice, you can leave it there and fish it static for a while or you can lift the rod and pull a little line with your left hand to shift the weight and continue with your run through the swim. Keep hold of the line with your left hand and bites are ‘felt’ for rather than seen, don’t worry, you will know the difference between a false bite and the real thing when it happens but, if in doubt – strike!

On my trip, probably due to the bright conditions, the fish were not actively feeding on the gravel so I changed tactics and dropped into a swim where a crease ended at an overhanging bush which had collected a raft of debris – a classic chub swim. Here I put a lead on the link with just enough weight to hold bottom. In the next 45 minutes I had a few chub but they were all small, not the size I hoped for but fun to catch in any case.

The temperature dropped, I zipped up my TFGear Thermo-Tex Extreme jacket and immediately felt the warmth. If you are looking for a winter outfit I suggest you look no further than this range as it is excellent. The sun was dropping so I went for my ‘banker’ swim. I’d previously dropped a few marble sized freebies into a swim where two creases met and gave a steady glide again, just above an overhanging bush, it just had to hold a few fish. I was proved correct as the sun dropped and it became difficult to see the rod tip. This wasn’t a problem as I was touch legering and the strong pull followed by a slack line told me that a chub had picked up my bait, hooked itself and was travelling across the river toward a nearside snag – it didn’t get there, I leaned into it and steered it upstream to the net, a plump three pounder.

Very often you will find that chub swims are only good for one fish but quite often a second can be tempted and I decided to hang on for a second bite. When it came it was a hefty pull and the chub fought strong in the current. This one was over four pounds and in mint condition, it may have never been caught before.

Despite the wealth of swims available and the fish feeding, I decided to pack up. There’s no need to catch them all on the first trip, I’ll be exploring this bit of river many times over the coming months and I just know that there are bigger fish to catch.

You Think You Know A Lake…

You Think You Know a Lake

After a very disappointing result at a recent fishing competition, followed by a couple of weeks with a serious lack of fish banked, I have been well and truly irritated with my own fishing. So instead of doing a few hours here and a few hours there I decided to do a proper weekend session down a lake I thought I knew very well.

I knew the water down Argal Reservoir in Cornwall would be low after the summer but when I turned up there it was very obvious that the water was extremely low. I had never before seen it like this so took the opportunity to well and truly check out the areas I had previously been fishing.

I could actually walk out to the spots I had fished before and what an eye opener it was. There were snags everywhere with perfect clear areas to be targeted in the future months. What shocked me the most was a whole row of tree stumps that I had no idea where there up until that moment. I can’t imagine the amount of times I have fished over them!

I just had to then check out the rest of the lake so spent the next hour walking around it checking out the other pegs. Without seeing it you probably couldn’t even imagine the snags that were there. In front of one of the pegs there was even a full wall that really would restrict any fishing for even the most experienced angler.

 

I was eager to get my carp rods out but didn’t really have a clue where to place them; all my usual spots were an impossibility. The feeling of fishing a ‘new’ lake gave me a real buzz and before I knew it I’d located three perfect areas and bait was being put out.

All I could do then was wait with an unusual feeling of anticipation. The evening soon came without so much as a bleep of the alarms soon to be followed by the morning. I questioned myself as to whether I should locate some different areas but decided not to. I changed my rigs and re-baited those same three areas. Before long I was thankful I had done so as my rod screamed off resulting in a lovely looking 25.04lb common. A much needed fish for my own self confidence. This was soon to be followed by an 18lb mirror, well worth getting the fishing tackle out.

If nothing else this weekend was a real eye opener. You may think you know a lake inch by inch but in truth until you can actually see it for real how much do we really know?

http://www.swlakestrust.org.uk/leisure-activities/fishing/coarse-fishing/argal

Tight Lines Samantha

Coarse Fishing for Autumn Grayling

Geoff, Kevin and I decided to take a break from blanking, er I mean barbel fishing and spent some quality time with my coarse fishing tackle for whatever came along.  We were hoping for some decent grayling but would be happy with a few decent dace or chub.  So it was that we headed to Barton Courton the upper Kennet near Hungerford.

This is a day ticket venue and was once renowned for the quality of its fishing.  It regularly produced very big dace, roach and grayling.  Today it’s a mere shadow of its former self.  The big roach seem to have vanished and the big dace are less in numbers.  Grayling still show and its rumoured there are still a few big fish in there.  Quite where, is another matter.

Barton Court

It a stunning venue though.  A mixture of the old river and numerous off-shoots and carriers.  There is a lot of water to fish.  Some areas are fast runs, others deeper and slower.  Numerous small weirs and pools offer enticing opportunities for a stick float fished with maggots.  There was little weed to speak of, which is handy when trotting.  Sadly though, the river is desperately low.  In fact one of the locals said they had lived in the area for nearly 20 years and this was the lowest she had ever seen it. Quite worrying. It did at least have a touch of colour, although that doesn’t suit grayling generally.

Still we set about trying to catch a few fish.  I set-up one of my favourite fishing rods a Drennan Matchpro  3.2lb mainline, 2.6lb hooklink and 16 hook.  The float was a small 5bb stick float.  It was just right for the conditions: windy and with a pacey flow.  I could easily swap hook sizes depending on bait choice.  To start with I opted for the old favourite, a couple of red maggots.  I had wandered down to a particularly well-known spot by the arched bridge.  There was a nice deep run on the right hand side, which then swept towards and under the beautiful stone bridge.  Almost immediately I hooked into a decent fish.  Sadly it came adrift.  A few more trots through and the float buried.  A nice dace of about 7oz.  This was followed by several small dace and a grayling of around 7-8oz.  Then the minnows appeared.  After about half an hour of catching them, I decided it was time to move.

Upper Kennet

I wandered along the bank admiring the sights and sounds of the countryside.  I watched a couple of Red Kites for a few minutes and then a buzzard, before finding a nice deep run on a bend.  First trot through gave me a decent grayling of about a pound.  Then several nice perch and a few dace, shortly followed by another grayling.  Then, yet again, the minnows moved in.  By now it was almost lunchtime.  At this point I heard a wonderful choo, choo sound coming from the direction of the rail line.  I then heard the chuff-chuff of a steam engine.  Suddenly, a magnificent steam engine burst into sight, with white puffs of smoke billowing out of the funnel.  It was the Orient Express, with numerous luxurious Pullman Coaches behind.  What a grand sight, so terribly nostalgic (said of course, with my best Noel Coward voice!)

By now it was lunchtime.  Some hot soup and sandwiches filled a hole and a coffee to finish.  By God, this fishing lark ain’t too bad really.  Geoff and Kev had done reasonably well and it wasn’t long before we were off again.  This time I decided to head off below the stone bridge.  The river widens a little here.  It’s a bit weedier and generally fairly shallow.  We managed to find a couple of nice spots and I managed a few roach.  Kevin found a lovely pool right at the end of the fishery boundary.  Each cast produced a bite.  Pretty much all dace, with one or two half decent ones. Kevin also had the fish of the day.  A big dace going 12oz+, but we all caught a few decent dace throughout the day.

We kept moving and trying different spots.  The pools provided us with a few decent brownies up to about 3.8lbs.  The grayling were a little scarce.  I think we ended up with about a dozen between us.  Overall we caught a lot of fish.  I think Kevin said all in all he had about 70.  Not a bad days fishing.  As the sun started to sink down below the horizon, we heard that evocative choo, choo again.  A few seconds later the steam engine puffed into view and flew past at an incredible speed. Pretty much made the day for me.

We finished the day with loads of nice fish.  A really mixed bag of dace, roach, grayling, perch and gudgeon.  A wonderful day in beautiful surroundings where the wildlife is abundant and very distracting and that’s how it should be.

Bream Feast

An estate lake close to my home has long held a big head of bream but never, until recent years, did it produce fish to interest a single minded specimen hunter like me. The average fish was always around 4lb and 6lb was about the top limit. But, in recent years, that average has apparently started to climb quite significantly, so much so that I was hearing rumours of regular doubles being taken, with fish to over 12lb certainly genuine. Now, while 12lb is still nowhere near the top end of bream weights these days, it is still a very worthwhile target and definitely rates as a worthwhile specimen in my eyes.

Having taken delivery of three of the gorgeous new TFG Classic Nan Tec barbel fishing rods, I decided to put them to use as feeder rods, using the Avon top joint rather than the separate quiver top. A bream session was planned, and as the water is close to home I took advantage by driving there on the afternoon before my session to introduce bait into the selected area. In an hour, using a Spomb, I had fired out a large bucket of mixed Pigeon mix, corn, stewed wheat and TFG mixed halibut pellets. I also included a few 15mm fishmeal boilies.

The following morning, it took a fair while to set my camp and it was around midday before I was casting the first bait into position, after having introduced a further twenty Spomb loads of bait. That was baited with a boilie wrapped in paste, and accompanied by a method ball. As I set up my second rod, which was to be baited with lobworm/corn cocktail, the alarm on the first sounded and line started to disappear off the free spool reel. The bait had only been in place about two minutes! As soon as I struck, I knew I was attached to a fair fish but, typical of bream, it never gave me any anxious moments. Soon, I was weighing my first fish of the session, 8lb 6ozs, and a good start.

Before rebating, I cast the lobworm rod into position and then attached a new boilie to the first rod. With that one in place, I turned my attention to rod number three, which was to have a soft pellet hookbait. Just as I was moulding the method ball in place, the lob worm rod was off in a fast run. This was ridiculous! Soon, I was weighing a second 8lb plus fish. Fifteen minutes later, with all three rods out together at last, I was able to contemplate a cup of tea and fired up the kettle. However, before it had time to boil I had to turn it off again as bream number three came to call. 9lb 3ozs this one registered and did give me a decent scrap for a change. Just as that was being slipped back, a fourth bream had galloped off with a boilie. A few minutes later, and less than an hour after the first cast, I was weighing a fourth fish, this time 7lb 14ozs.

After that fish, I did have a couple of hours very welcome respite before another flurry of action commenced, and by dusk another four fish had been netted. These fish were significantly bigger, at 9-2, 9-9, 9-13 and the fish that turned out the biggest of the session at 10lb 7ozs. From then until about 11.00pm there were four more fish before the action stopped completely and I was able to get a little sleep. In a hectic afternoon and evening session I’d landed a surprising 12 bream with a very respectable average weight.

The action started again at first light, but during the daylight hours fish only came spasmodically. In fact, only two more bream came before dark, although I did land a solitary five pound tench and get bitten off by a big pike that had taken a liking to a boilie. After dark, though, the action turned absolutely manic. I won’t bore you with a blow by blow account but, during the night I was landing fish about every forty minutes. By daybreak, I’d had no sleep whatsoever and was absolutely knackered. In total, I’d landed 27 bream from 7lb to 10-7 plus the tench, approaching 200lbs in total.

Looking back on the session, it was great fun but obviously the chances of a really outsize bream appear to be limited by the sheer numbers of fish. But with bream you never really know. Anglers who have spent far more time than me after bream have told me that it’s very common for a huge fish to suddenly show up amongst much lesser individuals. I shall certainly go back and hopefully improve on my 10-7 result.

Autumnal Barbel

Autumnal hints are clearly showing themselves. Leaves are turning brown already, as we approach late September. This week it was only Geoff and I that headed towards Aldermaston to do spot of coarse fishing in search of those Autumnal giants that frequent the gravel runs here. We have always found this time of the year very rewarding for big barbel. We hoped that this would be the week they showed themselves at last to 2 very determined Kenneteers.

 We set up camp as ever and wandered off for a look. I fancied a swim at the lower end of the stretch (aka near to the car!!). There was lots of cover, a nice flow and a deep hole in this swim. I baited up with hemp and caster and left the swim alone for an hour. Geoff had decided to fish much further upstream. This week we had decided we should give it until much later before calling it a night. We talked about packing up around 2am, if we could stay awake and the temperature wasn’t too chilly. Brave talk for a couple of wimps.

At about 7pm I had what looked like a persistent chub bite on one of my fishing rods. On striking I discovered one of those Popeye chub on the other end. After a really good fight the culprit was drawn into the TF gear landing net, a barbel of around 6lbs. I re-baited the swim and decided to have a wander. As I left the swim, I noticed about half a dozen Roe Deer in the field. I took a few photos, but the deer were a bit too far away. I slowly and carefully inched forward, trying to get closer. The deer were alert and soon noticed me. They stretched their necks high and their ears twitched at my approach. I stopped and then slowly moved forward again, taking a few more shots. Suddenly they were off. That lovely, high prancing movement that Roe Deer do, reminiscent of gazelle on the Masai Mara. I then popped back to the car, only to see two more hinds in the field adjacent to the small car park. Again I tried stalking them and managed to get much closer due to the cover afforded me by the trees and bushes. Sadly though, it was by now getting dark. So the pictures were of no use. Still, lovely to see.

I returned to my swim and carried on with the usual routine of bait dropping hemp and caster every 20-25 minutes. Finally at about 11.20pm the barbel rod whacked round and another feisty barbel was subdued. Again a smallish fish, especially for Aldermaston. It looked around the 6-6 ½ lb mark. I called Geoff. He hadn’t had a touch, but we both felt we should carry on and see whether the later finish would produce. At 1.15am we both decided it hadn’t! We headed back to camp for a well-earned cup of tea. With the kettle whistling away on the stove, we prepared ourselves for a nice hot cuppa.  However, this week I had forgotten something else of course. The milk, eejit that I am. Luckily Geoff had a small bottle of some soya milk muck that sufficed under the circumstances!

The following day we kicked off by going to the small village stores and purchasing a few provisions, including some milk obviously. They do some great chunky sausage rolls here. Heated up, they make a great breakfast. A decent cup of take away coffee finished off our transactions and we headed back to the river.

We packed away the tents, made a flask of fresh coffee. I then loaded up with fishing gear, like some sort of over-burdened pack-horse and headed upstream looking for a likely swim. On finding one, I baited up and read Coarse Angling Today for 45 minutes. I then wandered up to see Geoff, whom it turned out hadn’t gone where he said he was going, so I found an empty swim. Still, the walk did me good….!!

It turned out to be a reasonable day for me. I didn’t exactly empty the river, but did manage 3 more barbel to about 6 ½lbs. They were all in immaculate condition. I also missed a wraparound bite! I spotted a few more deer in the field and again managed to get reasonably close and take a few shots. Geoff managed a trout and a 4lb+ chub. He’s finding it tough at the moment and I know it hurts when other’s seem to be catching and you’re not. I’m certain he will turn it around soon though.

Perhaps one of the highlights for me was watching a Crow and a Kite doing an impersonation of a World War II dog fight. They twisted and turned almost in harmony, as the Crow badgered the much larger and more impressive Kite. They soared and rolled, dived and turned. Occasionally, when the angle was just right, the Kite would suddenly swoop at the crow and they would disappear. We were certain the Kite had engulfed the crow with its mighty talons, but they would just as suddenly reappear and the aerobatics would continue. It was wonderful to watch.

Anyway, next week we are on the Trent for 3 days. So here’s hoping for some decent fishing weather and a few wrap-arounds to go with it.

Written by Nathan Walter

Futuristic Fishing Tackle

Apart from being much better than the stone age, living in the Technological Age has many benefits and has dramatically altered the way we do things — even fishing, folks.

So whether you’re gadget crazy or simply appreciate the support of a smart device, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a spacecraft full of futuristic, innovative fishing tackle out there right now.

Traditionalists look away now …

Bait Boats

bait boats

Stealth bait boat

If the fish aren’t biting then why not order an armada of robotic stealth ships?

Steer them stealthily out to sea and drop something a little bit tastier around your hook.

But seriously you can do that.

Bite Alarms

bite alarms

Brilliant bite alarms

Read a book, rest your eyes or even have a nap whilst your waiting for the fish to bite. That’s right folks a machine will now tell you when a fish is in the neighbourhood.

Refreshed and relaxed, all you’ve got to do is wrestle the catch from the water. Man and machine working as one.

Bivvies

bivvy

Hi-tech bivvy

It’s lighter than your sandwich, tougher than Conan the Barbarian and can be erected faster than you can say, “Where’s my umbrella?”.

There’s old school bivvy and then there’s the futuristic stuff. The calm before and during the storm.

Fishing Reels

fishing reel

Futuristic fishing reel

It wasn’t that long ago (really) when a long stick and a piece of string did just fine —took a while to catch anything though.

Anyway we’ve moved on since and there’s now some real high-tech reels out there.

This one’s got seven shielded A-RB’s, instant resistance-free line yield, plus Aero Wrap II and a double anodised cold forged aluminium spare spool — whatever that means.

Fishing Chairs

fishing chair

Transformer fishing chair

A fisherman’s best friend is his chair and this smart fella is a Transformer chair.

No it doesn’t transform into an apache gunship, but rather a wheelbarrow to carry your gear home.

Result!

Fish Finders

fish finder

Fish finders with superpowers

Not to be confused with fish fingers, fish finders will give you the superhero powers of a dolphin as you use sonar technology to see your lunch hiding from you on the seabed.

What next — time travel waders?

Big, Fat Barbel

Big barbel have been some what elusive so far this season.  I think my best to date has been 10lb 1oz from the Trent.  The Kennet doubles have proven to be even harder to come by.  We normally take plenty of big fish from the Kennet. I think my best day was 3 ’12′s’ two seasons ago.  A season where I managed 14 doubles from the Kennet.  This season has been the hardest start on the Kennet I’ve had in 5 years.  It’s strange because everywhere else I go I seem to catch plenty of barbel.  I’ve had the best part of 140 fish this season and only 15 have been from the Kennet.  Still hopefully it will get better..!

So it was that Geoff, Kevin and I packed up the tents and moved to Aldermaston.  We know this stretch well and in past seasons have fared well here during daylight hours.  Rather than fish during the day on the other beats, this week we had swapped around a bit.  Fishing the evening and night at Dalston and today here at Aldermaston.  We hoped that this change in tactics might just produce some fish.

Base Camp

The water was still quite coloured and the river an inch or two up, maybe.  The river looked good.  We each headed off up river in search of some likely spots.  I ventured in to a very boggy swim.  Luckily I was armed (or legged) with my Simms waders.  So if I did have to wade into a few boggy spots, I could.  There is a lovely deep gully in this swim.  It’s flanked on one side by beautiful, flowing ranunculus and on the other by lots of overhanging trees and bushes.  It looks perfect.

I started off by putting out about 3 pints of hemp and caster.  Leaving the swim to rest for half an hour whilst I got organized.  The swim was certainly boggy, but I managed to find a firm spot for the chair.  Once that was all sorted a cup of coffee was in order and then I tied up a new rig.  The previous week I had fished casters on the hair, but due the the colour this week I opted for pellets for bait.  Hoping that the additional smell might make it easier for the fish to locate them.  A 3 foot braided hooklink was tied up with a 12 hook and 2 large elips pellets superglued to the hair.  The feeder was a 3 ounce Andrew Witham cage feeder.  This was packed with a mixture of pellets and Hinders ‘barbel bomb’ groundbait.

The bait was swung out into the gully and I sat back to await events.  I took this opportunity to nose through the weekly fishing papers.  A 4lb 10oz crucian carp had been caught from a Verulam AC water.  The picture looked good.  The fish, at a casual glance, looked like a true crucian.  They are not easy fish to identify.  The colour looked pretty good: dark bronze and orange tints to the fins.  The mouth didn’t look quite right, but it was open and extended, so nothing conclusive there.  I didn’t do a scale count, I think I’ll leave that to the experts.   I hope it is genuine and well done to the angler that caught this beautiful fish.

Anyway back to the barbel.  At last I had what looked like a persistent chub bite, so decided to hit it.  It was a chub, about 3 1/2lbs.  Then  a little later, another persistent chub bite, so I hit this one as well.  This time though it was a chub on steroids, 3 shredded wheat and a tin of Popeye’s spinach.  What is technically known in fishing circles as a barbel.  Not a big fish, but a really good fight.  A fish of about 6-7lbs.  Later on I had the full on 3 foot twitch.  It felt like a good fish on the other end.  It stayed deep and thumped around for a few seconds before snagging me on some unseen obstruction.  Steady pressure from numerous angles and plenty of swear words usually does the trick.  Sadly though everything went slack and the hook had pulled out.  At least I got all of the tackle back and the fish had escaped safely.

The rare Wasing lesser spotted Kookaburra

The warm weather was having a soporific effect on me and I kept drifting off into a world of naked women and British record barbel.  What a combination! Luckily, this was interrupted by the phone going and an excited Kevin on the other end informing me of a very good barbel in his landing net.  Assuming it hadn’t swam in there of its own accord, I hurried down ready to do the David Bailey impression, although I was sober!

Kevin lifted the fish out of the water and we were confronted by a very big, fat barbel.  It looked about 12lbs and this was confirmed on the scales, as she went 12lb 2oz.  A new PB for Kevin and the smile said everything.  Well done buddy, great result.  It was nice to see a big fish on the bank at long last.

Kev's PB Barbel 12lb 2oz

Despite a move, on Geoff and my parts, we couldn’t muster any further action.  So we ended the day with 2 barbel, plus the 5 from the previous day. 7 barbel and a new PB isn’t a bad couple of days fishing.  Oh and we also stopped by the road side to watch 2 Red Kites and 2 Buzzards sharing the same air space.  Lovely to watch such impressive birds glide and swoop just overhead.  Ah well, until next time. As Arnie would say “I’ll be back”