Sunday, 11 September 2016

Summer Catch Up

It's good to be back in the land of blog again after a challenging period for me. My focus changed a few months ago when i strolled into my local hospital for what I hoped would be a routine referral. I left with my tail between my legs, with a concerned consultant insisting I needed swift surgery. A double whammy too, as I was off work at the time purely to do some fishing!

Taking his advice, the next day's fishing was cancelled in favour of a biopsy on my right wrist. Not part of my early season plans, but well worth it as it turned out. Three weeks later I returned to hospital to discover that the bit they removed from me was cancerous - a malignant melanoma. A nasty life changing little bugger if left to spread.

The good news was that it appeared to be isolated and hadn't spread to the parts of the body I really didn't want it to reach. More surgery was ordered on my wrist, just to be absolutely sure nothing was still lurking.

I'm pleased to say that the results of the second operation came back all clear. A massive relief. I have follow ups for a year and a lifetime on heightened alert, but that's no bad thing though. It's been a real wake up call and I'm so glad I acted when I did.

The cancer was contained in a mole that had begun to grow in size, the extent of which I could clearly see from old fishing photos going back to 2010.

If you're prone to moles (I have loads!) do yourself a favour and read about their warning signs on the NHS website.

Understandably my fishing was curtailed a little, but I've had my share of sessions. Results have been varied during a period which has seen the rivers running low and clear. Barbel and chub have been hard to come by for me. Rather than struggle on in pursuit of them, after a few miserable failed sessions I took the hint and decided to try for other target species. 

A session on the Anker saw me taking a thorough battering from the pike. I tried three different swims and had them queuing up each time to take fish on the way in or way out. At one point I had two sat right in front of me, waiting for me to supply their next free meal! I quit early.

Back on the Avon I searched out some new deep water to trial. I was hoping to find some bream, but mainly caught small perch. It all changed when the float buried and as I struck into it, line began to peel off the reel. Before I knew it the fish was snagged in far bank lilies. 

Using only a 3lb bottom I couldn't go mad, but I cranked up the pressure and managed to coax it out. It then kited back across the river and snagged again in near bank lilies! More careful pressure saw it eventually freed again and I could see it was a carp. I quickly got top side of it and banked myself only my fourth ever river carp. At bang on 8lb it was actually my best from a river and a decent looker too. Not quite my double figure target, but heading in the right direction - if a little lucky!

Next session I went back to see if I could find a bigger sample, but bombed out miserably. With a few minutes to spare after I'd packed up I took a walk upstream. Just a few pegs from where I was fishing I found myself staring at huge shoal of grazing bream. Maybe 300lbs of them split across 2 pegs. Just taunting me! The picture only captured part of the shoal.

I've also been down to Somerset to sample life on the levels. Plenty of fish around as ever, although two of the three sessions (on the King's Sedgemoor Drain) didn't yield much by way of quality. The most notable fish was an 8oz silver bream - a personal best as it happens.

Accompanied by a hound belonging to other family members, we struck up a good rapport. He would sit patiently as long as the rod was horizontal. Any movement of the rod and he would spring into action, offering to land (or more likely eat!) every fish. No fish were harmed, but I had to be on my guard.

The final session saw me battling a strong wind on the River Huntspill. I'd decided to go for quality and fished sweetcorn over a bed of groundbait. For once, things largely went to plan. I had four bream between 4lb 4oz and 5lb 1oz and lost three others to snags /  hook pulls. Several nice rudd and roach to around half a pound also showed in a bag of around 30lb.

The icing on the cake was a surprise hybrid. Not that hybrids are uncommon on this venue, but this was the biggest I'd ever caught at 4lb 2oz.

Back locally, a mixed dabble for tench and zander proved fruitless. Just a jack instead of a zed and something substantial that wasn't likely to be a tench. Best guess is a carp or barbel, but I'll never know, as it beat me up good and proper. All useful knowledge though for when I return more tooled up.

A switch to the Anker in search of tench didn't work either. Well, that's not fully true.  No tinca, but it did throw up a couple of slabs and the biggest was a target achieving pb of 8lb 2oz. Clumsily I managed to delete the photo though during a space saving cull!

The latest scores for my 7 species river challenge are :

Barbel (11lb 1oz) - 110.63%
Bream (8lb 2oz) - 101.36%
Carp (8lb 0oz) - 80%
Perch (1lb 6oz) - 45.83%
Chub (3lb 4oz) - 65%
Tench and Pike - 0%
Total - 403.02 (Target 700)

I've been trying my best to get a tench of any size on the board during these warmer months. It hasn't happened though and is probably unlikely now, as I start to shift my focus in the coming weeks. Without a tench, the challenge is largely dead in the water.

So, to keep things fresh I'm changing it. My game, my rules! I'm going to allow myself one substitute. Tench out, zander in and I'm sticking with the 6lb target. I've only ever caught a handful of very small zander in my life and none by design. Hopefully I can change that and get close to the target.

Now, a little mention to a product that caught my eye in a TV advert recently. It's a magazine based product called Readly. For a monthly subscription of £7.99 you have access to hundreds of online versions of various magazines, including lots of back issues.

The beauty is that there's no long term commitment and you can cancel any time. There's no limit on how much you can download either. You can even use up to 5 devices, so other family members can join in at no extra cost. There's even some sign up deals to get you on board cheaply for a couple of months.

It clearly doesn't cover everything you might want, but for coarse fishermen Angling Times, Angler's Mail and Improve Your Coarse Fishing are available. The normal cost of these alone is around £20 a month. There's other fishing titles available covering other branches of the sport.

The added bonus for me is that it allows me full access to titles I'd never consider buying. I like my cricket for example, but not enough to go buying magazines about it. That's all changed now that I can access them whenever I fancy it.

It also means my lunchtimes at work no longer centre around reading a newspaper full of its own political agendas. Instead it leads me to search out content that's more meaningful or will broaden my horizons. I was amazed at how little The Beano has changed since I was a kid!

That's enough for now. Next up I'll report on my recent Wye trip and a session that saw me dredging up a method consigned to the bin many years ago.


  1. Welcome back. Glad things turn out OK for you. See you on the bank. The Zander Mick can help you with. He took me and I had two with lots of missed runs

    1. Cheers Martin. I've already got his recommended hooks and the location / method. Just need some practise now...

  2. I echo Martin's comments, those bream, wow :)

    1. Never seen so many bream. Generally 4-6lb fish I'd say. Might have to have a go at them some day when the river colours up.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks. Best looking one I've caught for sure.

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