Thursday, 23 March 2017

A hectic finish

I usually struggle during February, especially on the rivers and this year was no different. A couple of reasonable chub early on in the month was my best result. Other sessions were a struggle in often difficult, hard to predict conditions. I had a first session on a new river, which is a good 40 mins drive away but seems to hold a much greater number of pike than my local. The river was up and pushing through fast, hard going for a first session, which was quiet and was more of a rod 'recce' session as nothing was landed. Some bait snatching and a recce of a potential eel still water kept me busy as the month ended.

A hectic finish

As the end of the season edged closer I made a decision to get on the bank as much as time would allow, short sessions before or after work, even if it was just for an hours fishing. Despite working ridiculously long hours I managed to fit in 7 sessions before the season ended. A quick round up below will bring the blog up to date as I haven't felt the need to get out now the rivers are out of bounds.

02/03/17

A return visit to the previously mentioned river but a different stretch this time. I was fishing with Mick, he has spent a fair amount of time on this river this season and has done quiet well, so I wasn't fishing blind as he shared what info he had gained. Plenty of action (compared to my closest rivers anyway) with 8 takes between us, 6 to Mick and just the 2 to my rods. We both landed 2 each, nothing of size but it was nice to get off the mark on a new river.

The first from a new river, always pleasing regardless of size
06/03/17

Back on my local river, which wasn't in the greatest condition, pushing through hard and coloured. In previous seasons I have really struggled when targeting pike in these conditions, but this season I have persevered and managed to land a few.

A short roving session with float ledgered sea baits, 5 pegs fished with the only coming in the last peg.


The mackerel was lost during the fight so I was down to my last bait, a bluey, a bait I don't have a great amount of confidence in. 10 minutes the float was bobbing, another take from the same spot, however excitement got the better of me and I went arse over tit down the slippy bank! With 17 stone crashing down the bank the pike sussed that all was not as it seemed and buggered off.

07/03/17

A quick detour on the way home from work for an hour after dark chub fishing. I shouldn't have bothered! As soon as I closed the gate behind me the heavens opened and despite having decent waterproof gear I got soaked. One bite from 5 pegs, which I struck far too early and blanked.

09/03/17

I had planned on trotting lives on my local river and was en route to a favoured stretch but a quick call to Mick to find out how the river was called for a change of plans. Despite daily checks of the levels and weather conditions the river had risen and was heavily coloured. I decided to head to a slack bay and sit it out with a couple of dead baits.

Conditions were crap and although I have caught in worse this season I wasn't very confident. Around midday there was a single bleep from the delkim, the line was pulled from the drop arm but none was taken from the spool. I couldn't feel anything on the braid, whatever was there had gone.

After retrieving the bait it looked like an eel had been at the mackerel. I recast to the same area and 30 minutes later the bait was taken. A screaming run this time, the most confident of the season, I was convinced it was an eel until after I struck. The rod went round and a healthy curve was put in the 2.75lb blank, the fish wasn't really fighting just plodding around in the heavily coloured water. I didn't have a clue what it was until I netted it and surprisingly it was a chub, a good one.

6.03lb - My second 'six' from this river this season.
Six pound chub are scarce on this river, I know of (very) dedicated chub anglers that are yet to land one despite decades of trying. Somehow I've managed two this season, both different fish, caught on very different stretches of river over 5 miles apart. The first was 6lb 6oz and was legitimately targeted and caught on chub gear, this one was fluked on pike gear but I'll take a six any way they come!

11/03/17

As fast as the river rose and coloured it dropped and cleared, the best conditions for a while so I took advantage and went for that trotting session.

I usually lower the bait in a rod length out, allow it trot downstream then edge the bait back slowly along the near bank margin. This means that the bait is fishing 100% of the time and also the bait lasts much longer as no casting is involved.

The session was hard work, 7 or 8 pegs before I got any interest. The pike fought hard, I knew it wasn't massive but thought it might sneak over the 10lb mark, which it did. 10lb 6oz.


13/03/17

Two days after near perfect conditions the river was up and coloured again, down to around 12" clarity. I was roving with a float ledgered mackerel again and despite fishing the slacks I had to fish the rod tip high and keep all the line off the water, which meant fishing off the baitrunner.

It was hard going, no interest during the first couple of hours and I was expecting the blank. Last peg of the session, just as sat down to remove a stone from my boot, the rod went, a barbel-esq take. The fish put up a good fight on my lighter roving gear, but it didn't take too long to net.

After work pike - 9.06lb
14/03/17

My final day plans were to fish my local river for the pike, come home for a few hours, then head out again once the kids were in bed to target the chub on a different river.

In the end I only managed time for the chub session. Mick had been on this stretch for most of the day sitting it out in the hope of a late season barbel. After a brief chat with Mick I was on my way, searching out likely pegs for the chub. It was my first chub session there this season so I didn't really have too much to go off. 30 mins in the first peg before any interest, but it was a very delicate bite, nothing that I would usually strike at. Another similar bite 10 mins later, which again I sat on my hands and left. An otter drifted down mid river, very aware of my presence but it didn't flinch until I moved.

At this point Mick had given up and he called in to say he was going, the delicate bites started again, gentle nodding on the tip, nothing compared to the usual violent chub bites on my local river. Mick stayed to see if I could get anything and within 5 mins I had a nice 4lb'er on the bank. The chub was sacked and I had the rod back out quickly to see if I could tempt another. Within 5 mins I was playing another decent chub, the fight was a little longer but after a a few hairy moments with a marginal weed bed the chub was netted. Just over 5lb on the avons, my best chub from this river.

Mick, 4.03 and 5.0lb
Again the chub was sacked in the margins whilst I tried for another. The bites had stopped, nothing after 20 mins so I got a couple of photos and moved on. After a couple of moves I started to get some interest in the baits, again very delicate bites, even on though I was only using a 2oz tip the bites were hard to spot.

The first was bumped as the hook bait masked the hook point, missed one then landed the next.

4.12lb the last fish of the season
A hat-trick of decent chub, a great way to finish the season. I'm planning on spending more time next season on this river. It has a greater head of chub than my local and usually they are a larger average size. A six pound chub is a good target on this river, a challenge but should be achievable if I can put the time in.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Chubtastic

26/01/17

Lincolnshire jacks

A trip down down to Northeast Lincolnshire, a good 2 hour plus drive, so a very early start was needed to make full use of the daylight. I was fishing a river which was transformed into a canal, became disused and typically of the area is now used as a land drain for the surrounding farmland.

Ben has had some success on this waterway but we both struggled, temps had plummeted in the preceding days and it didn't make it past 1°C all day. Despite the fishing being hard and conditions equally shitty we worked hard but could get anything other than jacks, I managed 4 and Ben had 2.

Not the session I was hoping for as the pike usually average around the low double mark, I might head down for another try before the season ends, if not I'll be back next season.

Local chub sessions

28/01/17

Out on my local river, the same tactics as the beginning of the month. Some instant interest in the first peg but I missed it. Nothing further in that peg, or the next two. 5 minutes in the last peg and I had a text, Lindsey asking if I could pick her up after a night out, just as I put my phone back in my pocket the tip went round. Fumbled the strike and missed the fish. Started to get some interest again but I had go....

30/01/17

Again another late evening chub session, simple tactics again, cheese paste and meat as bait. A minute after casting I started getting interest, then the sound of an otter slipping into the river put a stop to that. 'Here we get go again' I thought, the tip then flew round and before I knew it I was playing a good fish.

A cracking scrap, at times I thought I had a barbel on, then after getting a glimpse I thought carp, but after the tell tail attempts to get to the undercut bank I knew it was a chub. Once on the surface I thought it was a good five, however after netting and seeing the flank I knew it would go past the six pound mark.

Longer than the rod handle !



And it did, 6lb 6oz, a new p.b get in!!

I sacked the fish so I could try and tempt another from the peg, but the excitement got the better of me and the next cast went into the bush and  I caused too much disturbance trying to get it out. Never mind, after a quick re-rig, re-weigh and some photos the fish was slipped back and I headed to my next peg.

No real features here just open water, after spending ten minutes trickling bait mid river I had my first cast. One hour in this peg, five casts, five bites, four quality chub landed.

4.15, 4.04, 4.03 and 3.00lb
Bites became less confident and less frequent so I moved on.  The river seemed to be on the rise and my 2oz tip wasn't really upto it, two quick rattles of the tip on the first cast  and I decided to call it a night.

A new cracking session, a few chub during a full days fishing is generally considered a result so I was  chuffed with how things turned out. Two chub bests within a month, not bad for a non chub angler!

05/02/17

After that last session I left my chub gear just in case I got and chance after work, I was working Sunday and Lindsey had the kids at a birthday party, an early finish meant I could get a quick hour in before meeting the family for a late Sunday dinner.

3 pegs fished, I missed a sitter in the first, next peg produced a nice clean chub of 3.09lb, nothing in the third so I decided to revisit the first peg for 10 mins. The tip flew round after a few minutes, nothing massive and it seemed to have had a lucky escape from an otter in the past. Half an hour later I was in the pub for my Sunday dinner.


Thursday, 16 February 2017

Getting closer....

10/01/17

A little pushed for time but I managed to get on the bank before lunch, I decided to fish on the lower river with with a pair of rods, rather than the usual roving tactics further upstream.

One rod on ledgered deads the other on float paternostered lives. Some instant interest on the live produced nothing other than a stolen bait. An hour past before the deadbait was taken, a good scrap on my lighter outfit (DLST P2, Shimano 4000 OC), as the pike surfaced I noticed the float rig getting some interest. Applying more pressure than I usually would and the first pike was netted just as the baitrunner on the second rod started to tick. Just a jack on this rod so it didn't take long to net.

A quick pic and weigh of the bigger fish (8.14lb)
A quick sort of the now tangled rigs and I was fishing again. I only had to wait 10 minutes for a bait to be taken this time, just a jack but as soon as the fish surfaced, something was showing some interest in the livebait, another double take.

First fish netted and an almost instant strike on the float rod saw a healthy curve in the rod. It took a while to get the fish to the surface as it kept making strong lunges in the slow deep water. As soon as the fish surfaced I knew it would be a seasons best at least. I could see the red bait tag I use to secure live baits so I had to be careful as the pike was only lightly hooked. After a few attempts to get back down to the deeper water I netted her at the first attempt. Only when lifting the net did I think it
would be a pb.



Finally a smile !

19.02lb a new pb!

I also weighed the jack to give a comparison (5.10lb)

Chuffed to bits with this fish and edging a little closer to that twenty from my closest river.

I had to cut the session short as my phone died whilst having over 30% battery and my backup camera didn't want to play.

17/10/17

A week later I was back, roving the stretches further upstream. A difficult session, in pretty poor conditions as the river was very coloured, which increases the difficulty of tempting a pike from this already hard river.

I tried everything, ledgered deads/lives, trotted lives, suspended baits, lives fished close to the surface but I didn't get a sniff all day. One last throw of the dice was to scale down the trace and try to tempt a chub on a smelt. The smelt was cast towards a near bank snag and within a few minutes the bait was taken.

The pike that didn't read the script - 9.10lb

Sunday, 12 February 2017

First sessions of the year

My first session of the year (3rd Jan) was on my local river targeting the pike, the same area where I lost 'that' fish a couple of months previous.

River conditions have been fairly kind this winter, flooding hasn't been too bad and without prolonged periods of wet weather levels have usually dropped within a couple of days. Due to the better than normal river conditions confidence has been high when arriving on the bank for a pike session.

Conditions were decent enough during this session, water temps just above 3° C, not overly coloured and at a level that I like for this stretch. However the going was hard. A solitary jack was landed around midday and without much further interest during daylight hours, I decided to fish an hour into dark.


Just as the last of the sun disappeared I had a take on a full lamprey. A delicate take, very little line taken, but I could feel the odd tug on the braid. Almost immediately after striking I had a nice 4lb plus chub on the surface, the chub wasn't hooked as I could see both trebles and the bait was spat fairly sharpish.

That was all for the first session. After that lost chub and the others I have had in recent sessions I decided to purposely target the chub on my next outing.

A quick chub session (6th Jan)

Three days later I was out for a short evening session, the chub gear was already setup in the car ready to go. After a 13hr shift at work it had to be a short session, 2 or 3 pegs, an hour or so fishing.

Simple tactics, 1.5lb avon, 2oz tip, 6lb sensor, light link ledger to a size 4 hook.

After a few missed bites I connected with a nice chub which put up a good scrap in the dark. The chub was almost lost to a snag, but some steady pressure had it out in open water and I managed to net it fairly quickly. I thought it would go over 5 and it did, the avons settled between 5 and 5.01lb.


A new best, my first for a while.


Monday, 6 February 2017

It's been a while

Six months have past since my last update, family and work commitments leaving little spare time for fishing, never mind blogging. I'll use this first post back to review 2016 and then bring the blog upto date over the next few posts.

2016 wasn't my greatest years fishing, poor conditions on my local rivers at the start of the year, a struggle on both my eel and tench campaigns and then a period of losing almost every pike I hooked.

Eel and tench sessions

I started targetting both species in April, quite early in the year this far north. However I managed a 2lb 8oz eel on my first session but blanked on the first attempt for tench.

I had planned to commit every session until autumn trying to achieve my target of a 4lb plus eel and 50lb of tench. I stayed on track fishing days for tench and nights for eels until the 16th of June when the lure of running water tempted me from the still waters. A few hard going barbel sessions later and I was on the eel trail again.

I fished a couple of new waters for the eels with varying success, one of the waters is very close to home and produced eels on both occasions I fished there so I'll try again there next season.

Eel round up -

Number sessions - 8
Number of eels caught - 5
Largest eel caught - 2lb 8oz

Another very disappointing attempt for the eels, not enough sessions fished and not enough time spent on the water I think has the most potential for large eels. I'm determined to catch a large eel from a local water and will be trying again this spring/summer.

2016 best - 2lb 8oz 
Another 2 pounder from the lower reaches of my local river
Tench round up -

Number of sessions - 6
Largest tench - 2lb 14oz
Total weight - 16lb 7oz

Disaster. Tench fishing in my local area is always a struggle, but I thought 50lb would be achievable. I've found a water which holds plenty of tench, probably not capable of beating my p.b, but they do go over 4lb and are usually a reasonable average size. On both visits I caught tench but struggled to get past the smaller samples, a change of tactics needed if I ever revisit.

Two similar sessions, both a struggle

Largest of the season, caught during an eel session
Other sessions -

Double figure net of silvers on my only stickfloat session
Only barbel of the season - 8lb 5oz

Late season mackerel

Start of 2016/17 pike season

A change of job means I am working closer to my local river which makes it a lot easier to fit a quick session after/before work. I started my pike season towards the end of September and started catching fairly regularly.

A couple of early season doubles
By mid October I was pleased with how my season was going, fish on most sessions and a number of which were doubles. Then I started losing almost every pike I hooked. A fish of 8lb at the net, a good 15lb plus whilst live baiting, an unseen heavy fish and then the biggest pike I've hooked.

A fish of easily 25lb was lost for no apparent (at the time) reason, I fought this fish for a good few minutes, a solid and very long river fish, easily capable of stripping 30/40yards of braid at will. But I was winning, heart pounding, fish on the surface a few rod lengths out, easing it towards the net when everything went slack.

That fish was lost on the 1st of November and I can still remember that gut wrenching, kick in the balls feeling after realising the fish was gone. I've been chasing a '20' from this river for years, they are rare fish, this was a special fish.

Trying to get my head around the run of lost fish lead to a closer look at my tackle. The only weakness I could see was my reel, Shimano 6010 GT's. Solid reels but the drag isn't the greatest, fine if you back wind but I don't. The drag on my Shimano's needed a good 'jerk' to engage, then it was fine, I'm convince that the jerky action of the drag costing me fish. I looked into servicing but was advised that parts are no longer made. Time for a change.



I ordered a pair of Shimano 6000 OC and haven't looked back. Solid reels, a bit bigger and more blingy than I'm used to, but they are a quality bit of kit. The drag is very smooth, no jerky action and I'm glad to say it stopped my loss of fish.

I continued my pursuit for a twenty from my local, often visiting the spot I'd lost the big one from, catching a few upto 13lb 6oz.

13lb 6oz, largest and probably best looking of the year

River conditions suffered with some snow melt but I was still catching the odd pike and caught a p.b equalling perch.

P.b equalling perch (2lb 4oz)

I also started to get the odd chub on deadbait, always after the light had faded, these went to 4lb 4oz, my best from this river.

Solid chub on the deadbait

My final session was a visit to a canal, hard going but good fun, we landed 5 pike between us, all taken on lives fished in the upper layers. Ben caught the lions share but I managed the largest.

Urban canal pike on the last outing of the year

2016 highlights -

Barbel - 8lb 5oz
Bleak - d.n.w
Bream - approx 12oz
Chub - 4lb 4oz
Dace - approx 6oz
Eel - 2lb 8oz
Grayling - approx 12oz
Perch - 2lb 4oz*
Pike - 13lb 6oz
Tench - 2lb 14oz.

* equals my personal best


Not my greatest year but we can't all be Terry Lampard!

Anyway 2017 has started well, hopefully I can get something up in the next day or two.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

A quick catch up

A hectic couple of months has seen my blog entries dry up, I've started a few posts but have never found the time to finish and publish them. Thankfully things are beginning to settle at home and a job change a month or so ago means more spare time for fishing.

I've continued my eel and tench campaigns, however I'm still some distance from achieving my targets but I feel like I'm heading in the right direction

A quick sum up of the last couple of months

Eel sessions -

Only 3 attempts since my last update, on a different water on each occasion, 2 eels landed and 2 lost.


The fish landed went 1lb 12oz and 2lb 4oz.

Whilst fishing a carp water I lost an eel of about 3lb at the net and on my most recent session I lost an eel which felt huge, completely in a different league to any eel I've hooked before, unfortunately it slipped the hook after about 10 seconds and I didn't get to see it.

Tench sessions -

Just the 2 tench sessions, the first on a mature gravel pit that I have been waiting to fish for a year. The session was a bit of a disappointment, water still a bit cold no sign of any tench but a nice 2lb + perch as consolation prevented the blank.

2lb 2oz - worm, lift-method.
The next session was closer to home, I managed a tench first cast but it was only a few ounces. My caster and chopped worm approach was all wrong for thus water as I struggled to get past the perch, a switch to pellet later in the session saw me land a few more tench but the were all small, the largest was just shy of 3lb.

As things stand I've caught 6lb 11oz of the targeted 50lb...
Barbel distractions -

I was planning on waiting until September before fishing the rivers but a chance to fish opening day saw me on the bank on the evening of the 15th awaiting a midnight start. A disappointing session really, a few knocks nothing more. A second session saw a visit to my banker peg, but again another blank. A short barbel session on my local river (barbel blanks are the norm) saw a solitary chub landed. Another visit to the same stretch as opening day, Ben and I both landed our first barbel of the season, both fish were bests for us both from this river.

8lb 14oz for Ben, mine slightly less at 8lb 4oz
That's things up to date, I'll be focusing on my eel and tench targets during July and August, in fact I'm out tomorrow evening for a few hours tench fishing on a hard water, a probable blank but the water is capable of throwing up some decent fish.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

A short eel session

As usual a hectic weekend left me with little time to fish, I was planning a tench session on a tricky water but after a quick recce of a local urban lake on Saturday afternoon I decided on an eel session. During the recce water temps were into double figures which was surprising given the low temperatures and northerly winds we've had recently.  I hadn't fished this water for about 20 years, I spent many a day during the school holidays fishing here with my mates, catching crucians, gudgeon and small skimmers on the whip. I think my first crucian and skimmers came from this water, nothing over 4oz, but at the time we thought they were awesome.

During that time no eels were caught, nor did we hear of any being caught. I've heard of a few coming to carp anglers recently so I thought I would give a go, not that hopeful of catching but a few hours on the bank and a chance to shake the eel kit out.

I arrived later than I hoped, about 20 minutes before sunset, but eventually got two rods out, both on running leads, one with lobworms, the other with half a roach. No action for the first hour, then I started getting pestered by the ducks. On a couple of occasions a duck dived down and picked the worms up (how they manage to find the bait in 4ft of water during the dark I'll never know), but it was becoming an issue so I was considering changing bait when the alarm on the worm rod sounded, again. This time I turned the head torch on, checked for ducks and couldn't see any, line was peeling from the spool and was being taken into the water, a definite take.

My first take of this seasons eel campaign, a little surprised and very happy until the strike meet with zero resistance. Whilst the rod was out of the water I changed bait to a prawn, hoping for less hassle from the ducks, it worked. The alarms remained silent for the next hour and despite the bitterly cold wind I managed to doze off in my chair. It had gone half past midnight when I woke, I doubt I was asleep for too long but this isn't the type of venue to fall asleep and leave your gear unattended, I decided to stick it out until 01:00 then pack up.

The prawn rod ripped off at 00:40, a very positive take, I struck immediately and felt the weight of a fish, I assumed it was a carp but after a second or so I knew it was an eel. It put up a decent fight even on the heavy tackle I use whilst targeting these creatures, I failed on my first attempt at netting the fish as the net had snagged in the shallow margin, but eventually netted it.

A decent eel to start the season with, I struggled with and eventually gave up with the self takes, so only managed a mat shot.


2lb 8oz - 31 x 6.5"
Very pleased with this capture, my first from this water, first on a prawn and the earliest I have caught an eel whilst deliberately targeting them.

I think I'll struggle to get out this week and I'm decorating two bedrooms at the weekend so probably won't get time then either. I have a weeks holiday in at the beginning of May, two sessions planned so far, a tench session on a farm pond and an overnighter for the eels on a carp water which supposedly holds plenty of eels.

Friday, 15 April 2016

The tench campaign (part 1) - A cold start

The tench campaign started on Sunday morning, a short session on a water that is still relatively new to me having only visited it twice previously. Arriving just before first light I felt the chill in the air and noticed the clear sky whilst unlocking the gate. The night anglers car windscreens had frosted over and a quick check on line confirmed over night temperatures had dropped to 0°C. Immediately I thought it would be a struggle, however whilst having a quick walk around the lake a few fish started topping, mainly bits but also a few decent carp started crashing.

I decided on a peg in a bay on the northern bank of the lake as this seemed to have the most activity. The water is fairly coloured so is relatively weed free so decided to use my lighter tench rods, one with a small method feeder and the second rod with a small in line maggot feeder. Both rods were already setup so it wasn't too much after 06:00 when I had them both in the water. I also setup a third rod to fish the lift method in the margin, this water has a two rod rule so I had to bring in a feeder rod to fish the margin.

This seasons tench setup for weed free waters - 12ft 1.25lb Series 7 avons, Shimano 5010 baitrunners, 6lb Hyper-sensor. A small method feeder (l) and an in line maggot feeder (r)
I was using a korum 'grub' feeder for the first time, I was slightly hesitant when buying these feeders as there are a few scathing on line reviews. Many users complain about the feeders opening up when hitting the water, but I'm pleased to say I suffered no such problems. On the method feeder I was using a micro pellet method mix I had some success with last year. The mix consists of dampened 2mm coarse pellets, a handful of robin red ground bait and a few ground robin red boilies. Hook bait with this mix is a 10mm robin red boilie.

I caught a number of tench last year on robin red and now have a lot of confidence in it as a tench bait, also on the waters where I tried the mix the bream didn't seem as keen to take it. I still caught a few bream on this mix but at the time I was using another mix of pellets and molasses and caught far more bream on this mix.

Top - robin red based mix and molasses based mix.
Bottom - small method feeder

During the session I didn't get any interest on the method rod, as expected I had some interest in maggot rig but probably nothing more than small silvers. I fed maggot and worm in the margin throughout the session, hoping to see some sign of tench but again there wasn't much happening. A blank to start the tench campaign it was a short session when I didn't really expect to catch. A good chance to shake out of the tench gear though, still a few bits to short out, spooling new line and a few bits to get from the tackle shop etc.....

A positive note -  during a quick chat to an old chap he revealed that he caught an eel there the day before, a decent size (2lb10oz) I suspected that eels would be in the water as access is reasonably easy but this was the first time I have heard of one being caught.

My next tench session will be on a water closer to home, full of weed, very low stock but a definite challenge.