Sunday, 24 June 2012

Putting in some legwork

Over the last week i seem to have walked miles and miles of riverbank in pursuit of the whiskered ones. I headed to the area of last weekends action for a midweek evening session on Wednesday only to find the opposite bank packed with other anglers. The river was low and the sunshine was out so it wasnt surprising that so many were taking the opportunity to get on the bank. Most of the areas i fancied were occupied so i tried to squeeze in where i could and apart from a couple of Chub-like knocks i ended up head for home with a blank scoresheet.
The heavens decided to open on Thursday and Friday and there were flood warnings being issued all over the place. Fortunately the midlands area wasnt anything like as badly affected as other parts of the country but nevertheless, by the time Saturday came around the Trent and Derwent had over 2ft on them and a nice bit of colour.
I got to the Trent for first light and by mid-morning id never had so much as a sniff. I wasnt confident at all and the Derwent was calling so i upped sticks and headed over there. I baited two swims and let them rest whilst i scoped out a few other possibilities. The area i was in was something like a mile from the car and it was really hard work slogging through waist deep grass and nettles especially with my kit, i hope the farmer cuts it back soon cos my poor old legs wont take much more of that punishment!
I spent an hour or so in my first baited swim and couldnt buy a bite which i thought was a bit odd as it was my banker swim and ive done very well there in the past. I moved on to my other spot and had a savage bite within minutes of casting in. The fish careered off downstream and although i tried my level best to stop it the sanctuary of a fallen tree downstream was soon found. Everything locked up and the inevitable happened.
Not surprisingly i couldnt get any more action there so i was soon on the move once again.
I headed further and further downstream and i suddenly realised that i was at least 20 minutes away from the car and i groaned at the thought of the eventual walk back. I came upon a ditch full of floodwater which led from the river to a water filled depression in the middle of the field. As i worked my way around it i noticed some swirls in the puddle and suddenly a big tail lobe popped up out of the water! I put my kit down and went over to investigate and was amazed to find around half a dozen Carp browsing through the thistles and nettles submerged in the pool. The biggest looked a scraper twenty and they were all commons but it just illustrates how fish adapt to and exploit new situations. I was tempted to try for one but in the end i left them to it as there was a juicy Barbel spot begging to be fished nearby.
It took around an hour to get a bite in the new swim and after a short but hectic scrap i netted a nice Barbel of 8.8. After a pic or two i put it back and headed back across the field to where the Carp were.The river had dropped a surprising amount and the depth of water in the ditch looked perilously shallow, i was expecting to find the Carp stranded but they were nowhere to be seen. I guess theyd sensed the water levels dropping and made tracks for the river whilst the going was good. Nothing else came forth on the fishing front and i was soon headed home.


I managed to wangle a Sunday afternoon pass and was joined once again by Keith. After last weekends drubbing i was determined to even things up and we headed for an area neither of us yet visited this season. Although ive done well there in the past, Id never fished the stretch in high water conditions before so i was a little unsure of what to expect. It was yet another long walk to the swims but i had a spot in mind and although it looked completely different to normal i still fancied it for a fish.
The flow was really pulling through and i needed 6oz of lead to hold bottom. The boils and swirls on the surface made the swim look pretty inhospitable for a fish to lie up in but Barbel never cease to amaze me with their ability to comfortably cope with the very strongest currents the river can throw at them. I wasnt at all surprised when the rod tip suddenly juddered and then yanked sharply downwards with the baitrunner hissing. The fish did its best to pull my arm off in the flow but was soon ready for netting, it was at this point the fun and games really began. I had no slack water at my feet and was blocked from going upstream or downstream to net the fish by trees. Everytime i got the fishes head up ready for netting i tried to get the net behind it but the flow simply pulled the two apart and i had a right game with it all. After some brute force and lots of swearing i eventually netted a very knackered Barbel of 8.10. I found a calm spot for it to recover and after supporting it for a few minutes it swam off strongly.


After that, Keith and i headed downstream to see about a couple of new spots. There wasnt a great deal to be found due to the fact that the majority of the stretch during low water is very shallow and therefore was absolutely racing through with the extra water on it. A couple of spots were found eventually though and i cast in with high hopes. 
My swim was quite boily but there was some exposed tree roots in the water just downstream and the bank there looked undercut, it looked pretty good for a fish. Nothing happened for around half an hour and i was started to doubt my swim choice. The river was rising again and Keiths swim hadnt produced yet so i sat on my hands. Suddenly the rod was nearly pulled of its rest as a fish hooked itself aginst the 4oz lead. The fish didnt half pull once it got into the flow and was all i could do just to try and get it in the edge. It swam into some submerged nettles and got a little caught up but soon the fish was out and subsequently netted without incident. At 9.2 it was a nice result and kept the seasons weight average well up.


After that Keith came down from his swim with nothing to report so we packed up early and embarked on the mile and a half trudge back to the car. I was glad to get a couple more under my belt especially that last one with it being from a new spot. I could do with the river levels dropping back to normal now because im starting to get a hankering to catch some Perch and maybe chuck a few lures about.

Monday, 18 June 2012

A Memorable Start (perhaps for the wrong reasons!)

The close season this year seems to have gone by in a flash and after getting so immersed in my Tench fishing of late id almost forgotten the new river season was upon us. On the evening of Friday the 15th i found myself quickly assembling a useable Barbel setup in preparation for the glorious 16th. My Tench rods double as my Barbel rods usually but im not quite done on the Tench lake yet so i was reluctant to break them down. I raided the loft and found an old Wychwood 1.75lb TC Barbel rod, this was teamed up with a baitrunner loaded with 30lb braid and made for a nice rough and ready setup. I filled a small shoulder bag with some essential items of tackle and bait and i was soon good to go.
The morning of the 16th arrived and i was out of the house at first light with a swim already firmly in mind. The rivers were still carrying plenty of water from the recent rain and the swim i was headed for had plenty of previous floodwater form, i was really looking forward to a good day, doh! first mistake!
I parked up and made my way across the fields, they were very overgrown and the going was pretty tough, so tough that i got to the point where i literally couldnt get near where i wanted to fish! the nettles and other foliage were up to around 7ft high and proved to be impassable, nobody had been near the area for months, not even the farmer.  Reluctantly i turned around and headed for another area on another river .........
As i departed in the car i could smell petrol coming through the air vents and by the time i got to my new destination i had all the windows down as the smell had got really strong. I popped the bonnet and was shocked to find oil all over the engine and the oil filler cap completely missing! the car had been in for a service during the week and the garage had obviously not replaced the cap, aarrgghhh! Fortunately it was a Saturday so i was hopeful of being able to get a replacement. It was still early so nowhere was open and i made a half hearted attempt at fishing whilst i waited. Nothing happened on that front and soon enough i was able to ring around to find a new cap. After several dead ends I ended up sourcing one at a Ford main dealer and a phone call to my better half explaining the situation and how she could find me soon had things on the road to recovery. I had to meet her on the nearest main road and by the time id cleaned everything down, topped up the oil and replaced the cap it was mid-morning, not ideal but still plenty of time to fish though.
I headed for a spot on a bend with an impressive crease that screamed Barbel and got setup. I sat down and realised that id put my bag down in a fresh pile of Sheep shit and everything now stank, at that point the heavens opened up and left me wondering what id done to deserve it all! After an hour or so i had a belting take and hit into something heavy, straight away i could feel it grating through an unseen obstacle and soon enough everything locked up solid. After a bit of  serious tugging the hooklink snapped and so did my patience, i packed up.

The next day was fathers day and after spending a leisurely and enjoyable morning with the family i was given a pass for an evening session on the river. Keith showed up mid afternoon and we headed for an area that neither of us had fished before. We setup around 50 yards apart and straight away i was getting some very Chublike knocks which didnt develop into anything. After about half an hour a whistle from downstream told me Keith was into something and i headed down to assist. A fine Barbel of 10.12 was soon posing for a pic and provided a great start to Keiths season.

 10lb12oz, well done mate!

I still couldnt get any solid takes in my swim and soon enough i was ready for a move. I went over to tell Keith and just as i did he had another bite but the fish came adrift within seconds of hooking up. We headed downstream to recce a few more swims and found several good looking options.
After settling in it didnt take long for Keith to get into some more action and a small Barbel of around 5-6lb was soon netted. Not long after, i caught my first fish of the new season in the shape of a 2lb Chub, maybe things were starting to look up!
Keith lost another fish in his swim which killed it and mine had gone dead so we decided on another move. My next spot had a great looking overhanging tree downstream and i wasted no time getting cast in. I was having to use 4oz of lead to hold bottom and the rod tip nodded hypnotically in the flow. After about 20mins the rod buckled around as an angry Barbel made a bid for freedom. I had to lock up to stop it getting under the tree and fortunately it turned towards mid-river and the full force of the flood. Id forgotten how hard those things pull but the combined forces of my pulling and the power of the river soon had it beaten and ready for netting. At 8.4 it was a pleasing start to my season and the previous days tribulations were forgotten in an instant.

Off the mark, 8lb4oz

I tried another couple of swims in the run-up to darkness and other than a couple more Chubby knocks nothing was forthcoming. I made my way back upstream to find Keith in my original swim and was just in time to see him land a cracking 5.8 Chub, the fishing gods were obviously smiling on him tonight!
We packed up as it started to get dark with plenty of food for thought on some future trips to the river. It was nice to get some early season action and after opening days misfortunes things can only get better!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Ton-up Tenching (and Breaming)


 Flushed with success from the session of the previous day i met up with Rob back at the Tench lake to see if any more specimens could be tempted. The wind was quite mild and we setup with it coming towards us even though torrential rain had been forecast. It actually started spitting as we made our first casts and it got heavier and more persitent as the day wore on.
Within half an hour my indicator began to twitch and i struck into my first fish of the day, a Bream of 6.8 which set the precedent for the rest of the day really. Bream after Bream fell to my rods and id already caught five of them before i even caught my first Tench of the day, a fish of over 5lb.
The action was pretty much non stop throughout the entire session, the fish were really on the bait and on a couple of occasions i had double hookups. Rather than bore you with the details of every fish captured heres the session in numbers;

28 fish hooked in total,
23 landed and 5 lost,
13 Bream to 7.14
9 Tench to 6.6
1 Perch

The Tench averaged over 5.8 and the Bream averaged over 7lb which means based on the averages i had over 140lb of fish, certainly  more if the ounces were added up. Pretty good going and although nothing big was caught it was a hugely enjoyable trip. Theres nothing like a good bagging session to restore some confidence!

Heres a couple of pics from the day;


I was in two minds whether to bother going today but i still had bait to use up and my old mucker Phil said hed drive so how could i refuse? Rather than heading back to the Tench lake we decided upon a days floatfishing for Crucians to break things up a bit.
Theres a distinct lack of Crucian waters in our area and we were racking our brains as to where would give us a good chance of a few pound plus fish and maybe bigger. Nowhere sprang to mind until i remembered a pool which i used to Perch-fish a few years ago. Id had a couple of Crucians on lobs in the winter there and they werent a bad size so we reasoned it was worth a look.
Its a tiny pond of probably 1/3of an acre but its deceptively deep and has some nice beds of lillies dotted around it. Today the wind was howling across it and the imminent threat of rain was hanging over us so we got setup as quickly as possible. Upon plumbing the depth i had around 7ft of water next to the pads and it was here i decided to fish. I had Bread, Corn, Maggots and groundbait to throw at them and it wasnt long before i started to get a few indications.
The fish were proving to be extremely finicky and despite getting lots of knocks on the float, full blooded bites were pretty thin on the ground. The had rain arrived with a vengeance by now and the wind had really picked up making for some nasty conditions to be floatfishing in.
I eventually started to pick up a few Roach on breadflake and they were of a  decent size too with some nudging a pound. After a while i hit my first Crucian of the day, not big at around 12oz but it was the first of its kind ive had in ages so i was quite pleased with it. Another slightly bigger sample came along shortly afterwards and that weighed in at 1.3.
After that the fishing got tougher and bites even harder to hit, Phil did catch a Crucian of 1.8 but that was it as far as they were concerned for the rest of the day. Despite having to work for every bite i enjoyed the session and Id like to go back in more favourable weather conditions to see if theres anything of any size to be had there.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

A new PB

It was around ten oclock in the morning by the time i arrived at the Tench lake and a quick look around told me there was only three other anglers on. This meant i had a choice of several swims but reports from those who fished the previous day werent exactly encouraging. A few fish had come out but by and large it turned out that most had struggled and the fish seemed to be very localised in certain spots around the lake.
The wind had changed direction since Mondays visit and seemed fairly mild, the sun too was shining as i made my way around to a couple of swims on the far side of the water. I picked a spot, got setup and cast in . No sooner had i done so, a chap with a chainsaw started cutting some trees up about 30 yards behind my swim, Jesus it was noisy! I stuck it out for all of half an hour before moving to the next swim along slighty further away from the commotion.
A couple of actionless hours later the din ceased so i decided to head back to my original spot as something about it seemed to look right. Shortly after my move, chainsaw boy started up again but this time it was to be short lived as the heavens decided to open and he decided to bugger off thank god. The rain continued on and off throughout the afternoon, not too heavy but enough to keep the water dripping off the trees around me and soaking everything.

 How do our baits compete with this lot??

Whilst i waited for a bite i got to having a look in the margins to see what kind of natural food the lake contains, there must be something in there which makes the Tench so much bigger than the majority of the other lakes in the area? Within a couple of minutes id found a good selection of titbits right beneath my rods and i dread to think at just how much other natural food the lake holds.
At around 3.30pm i decided to change tactics as my boilie and PVA stick approach obviously wasnt doing the business today. I changed a rod over to a maggot bolt feeder rig and cast it back out. Twenty minutes later i had my first bite of the day and after a decent scrap i landed a Tench of 5.8. She was very skinny and looked spawned out despite the fact that there has been no signs of them spawning in the lake yet, nevertheless it was a fish and it got me off the mark.
A thunder storm followed soon afterwards accompanied by some very heavy rain which turned my swim into a total mudbath. I dont know whether the drop in air pressure had anything to do with it but the storm seemed to have a profound effect on the fish as , no sooner had it finished, i had another bite which resulted in a nice Tench of 6.12 which was followed within minutes by an even better fish of 7.8.

7lb8oz, my session was looking up!

My next bite was an absolute screamer and i was backwinding from the second i hit it. The power of the fish told me it couldnt have been anything other than a big Carp and i really couldnt do anything with it on such a long line. I really leaned into it to try and turn it and the hook pulled. 
A mad spell of action followed and i went on to catch more Tench of 6.8, 6.5, 6.3 and 7.10 aswell as losing three others. All the fish were females which i found odd as males seem to dominate most catches on the water.  Unfortunately the pics of the 7.10 turned out shite cos of the wet weather but i neednt have worried because the lake had definately saved the best for last!
It was around 8.15 and my session was rapidly drawing to a close when i recieved a slow and steady take on my right hander. I struck into what felt like a heavy fish and after kicking about in the open water for a minute or so it began to kite towards some snags. I could feel my line grating on something and the fish swirled just beneath the surface. Although everything was still moving I decided to change my angle of pull and was most relieved to feel the line ping clear of the unseen obstruction. The fish came across the open water without incident but when i got it close in it made for an overhanging tree to my left and managed to get the line hooked around a branch. Fortunately i managed to  reach it with my landing net pole and tease it off, no mean feat with one hand whilst holding a rod connected to an angry Tench with the other!
Once netted i knew it was a decent fish but it wasnt until i lifted it out of the water that i realised just how decent! i lay it on the mat, unfolded the net and stared! the fish was enormous and i was 100% certain i was looking at a new PB. When the scales slammed round past the 9lb mark and settled on 9lb5oz i was stunned, this was the fish id put the hours in for, one of the tiny handful of lumps in the lake which keeps even the most seasoned specimen anglers coming back for more year after year.

 9lb5oz, a new PB

After putting the fish back i didnt feel the need to cast back out and fish on despite there still being feeding fish out there. The sun had finally come out and the lakes surface was like glass, the occasional green back gently broke the surface and patches of pinprick bubbles could be seen here and there. It was all in complete contrast to the hellish weather id experienced over the previous few hours and was a great backdrop to end my session to.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Jubilee Tenching - Its starting to come good!

This week i have mostly been fishing for, Tench surprise surprise. The permit setup on my favourite Tench water has changed dramatically this year with only limited season tickets being issued . Fortunately ive managed to secure myself one but it only recently came through which means ive been going at it hell for leather to try and make the most of the tiny window of opportunity to catch a lump or two.
My first trip back to the water was a Thursday evening and i met up with fellow SVSG member Rob on the bank at around 5.30. I dropped in next to him but shortly afterwards another angler whod just packed up from further along the bank came by reporting a good catch of 11 fish. There was obviously a few fish moving up there so Rob and i moved around to try and grab a slice of the action.
After about half an hour the wind dropped and the lakes surface became flat calm which was great for spotting bubblers and spot them we did. Straight out in front of me at about 40yards we could plainly see a couple of good patches of bubbles fizzing up so i quickly moved a rod onto them. 10 minutes later, just as i was extolling the virtues of casting to signs of fish, the same rod hammered off and a smallish Tench of 4-5lb was quickly landed.

Its good to be back!

That proved to be all the action i was to recieve that evening, Rob too ended the evening on just one fish and we were both slightly bemused as to why it was so slow, conditions seemed perfect.

My next trip was to be a full day session on the Saturday and upon my arrival i was most surprised to see only one other angler present as i was fully expecting it to be packed. There had been a good few fishing on Friday and quite a few fish were landed so i was hopeful of a good day.

Hoping for some action

Once i finally got settled in a swim and fishing it took a good couple of hours before i had any indications. A drop back on my left hander resulted in a hookup but straight away i could feel the line grating through something. Within seconds everything had locked up solid and despite my best efforts to free it i ended up winding in minus my rig. I quickly retackled, recast and spombed some bait out.
Hour after hour ticked by with nothing happening whatsoever, the place looked dead. The weather had taken a turn for the worse and aswell as there being rain in the air the temperature had dropped dramatically too due to the cold wind. It was 3pm and i was just considering packing up when i suddenly had a bite and struck into a fish. The excitement was pretty shortlived however as the hook pulled after just a few seconds leaving me feeling gutted.
I had the very real prospect of a blank hanging over me but i thought that lost fish might herald a change in my fortunes so i decided to delay my pack up for another hour or so just in case. I was glad i did as, twenty minutes later, i finally landed a fish! it was around the same size as the one i had on Thursday evening and i was well relieved.
Two bites in quick succession was a good sign and an exchange of texts with Phil who was further along the bank revealed that he too was starting to get some action aswell. Mine continued another 20 minutes later when i recieved a slow run on my right hander. This time my strike met solid resistance and i knew from the lack of head shaking that i was into a good fish. It kited around some pads to my right and then buried in them, i had no choice but to bully it hard to get on the surface so i could pull it over them. The fish rolled on the surface amongst the leaves giving me a good look at it and i prayed it wouldnt fall off. Thankfully it didnt and my first decent Tench of the year was soon in the folds of the net. She went 8lb2oz and was a just reward for trusting my instinct and staying on despite the fishing being a grueller.

A lump at last, 8lb2oz

Nothing else was forthcoming over the following hour or so and the weather began to close in a bit so i headed home already making plans for my next trip down.

Bank holiday Monday was my next chance to have a crack at the lake and, anticipating a lot of other anglers getting down there, i set off extra early to try and bag a swim. I neednt have worried because there was only two already there and they didnt have tickets so it looked like i had the lake to myself.
There were fish showing all over the place so i was somewhat surprised when it took nearly two hours to get a pull. At 6lb4oz it was a fine start and it came just as the sun was beginning to make an appearance, even better! The wind was an easterly so it was quite chilly but certainly not enough to put the fish off i thought. Despite this, another long lull followed without any indications and it was late morning before my boilie hookbait was finally picked up by another fish. This one went mental and did its best to pull my arm off, after landing it i could see why, its fins were enormous! It punched well above its weight and was worthy of a pic.


Morning slipped into early afternoon and the sun was about as strong as it was going to get. Families of people were forming a steady procession around the lake and i was getting a little tired of the screaming kids and thoughtless dog walkers. There was plenty of bird activity to keep me occupied though and it seemed that they all wanted to eat my bait!

A cheeky bait thief, one of many

I was just taking a phone call from headquarters when i suddenly recieved a fast take and had to cut her short. Even at range the fish felt heavy and wasnt shaking its head much, just like the biggun from Saturday, so i played it very gingerly. I caught a glimpse of the fish as it rolled on the line about 20 yards out and the tiny pelvic fins coupled with a rather rotund belly confirmed my suspicions, it was a good fish. No further dramatics ensued and it wasnt long before i was hoisting my prize aloft on the scales. They sailed  past number eight and settled on 8lb8oz, my joint biggest from the water, well chuffed! I collared a passer by for some pics and although photography wasnt his forte i managed to get a couple of useable pics in the end.

8lb8oz, my best of the year so far

An hour after that fish i managed another one of 6lb exactly which rounded the session off nicely. When i returned to the car i realised id made the fatal error of parking under 'Pidgeon shit tree' and it looked like an Albatross had crapped all over my motor. People laughed and small children pointed as i drove through town on the way back but it was a small price to pay for another quality fishing trip.