Thursday, 30 December 2010

All Change

My final session of the season was on the Avon with Brian. Initially we had toyed with the idea of a pool, as I'd checked out the river levels before leaving and it was obvious the river would be up a foot or so. However, with stillwaters still struggling to thaw themselves out fully, it had to be a river or nowt.

Alveston was a fairly easy choice for me. There's a long peg (9), that always has a bit of a back eddy, is fairly deep and it's more than big enough for two. Although the river was tanking through a bit, it was still easy to hold bottom with normal leads / feeders in the slacker water on the inside of the main flow.

Things had definitely changed in the week since my last visit. Previously it was almost 10 degrees cooler and crisp and white all round:

This time things were much greyer and the river about a foot higher and with plenty more colour. Landing stages were partially submerged along the whole stretch and the water was lapping over the top of the bank in places.

It became obvious fairly quickly that it was going to be a grueller. We both set up two feeder rods and just decided to sit it out for a few hours. Debris was constantly fouling our lines and optimism was waining.

I pulled in a line that had become fouled, only to find a Gudgeon attached to the hook - along with a pile of debris. Lucky for me, that was my first Gudgeon of the year in Brian's presence, so it stuck another point on the challenge for me!

I then made a switch on the other rod and went for bread flake to complement the liquidised bread I'd been feeding. It eventually paid off when I had a proper bite and I assumed I was into a Chub. I was wrong though and the culprit turned out to be a welcome Bream of 4lb 3oz.

Within 10 minutes I had a take on my maggot rig and this time I was even more convinced I was into a Chub. It was a very dogged fight, but yet again I was wrong and it was a another Bream - this time a much smaller sample of 2lb 9oz.

Nothing else put in an appearance and we called it a day at lunchtime. I was more than happy with a couple of fish to be honest, as I thought a blank was a more likely outcome. The river was clearly dropping during the few hours we were there, so hopefully it will soon be back to a more settled and appetising state.

Friday, 24 December 2010

"You Must Be Mad"...

...Those were the words that were hurled in my direction by one of the locals, as I made my way back to the car. Given that it was -2C when I arrived and had only risen to 0C on leaving, coupled with the fact that I was fishless, I could kind of see their point!

The plan for the day was actually totally different. I'd got a free day and with the weather looking nice and settled (if cold), I fancied using up some old maggots and bread on the river. I'd decided on the Lido as it would be easy to access in the conditions and I quite fancied chucking a couple of feeders out from the sank bank area.

Well it all went belly up at 6-30am when I discovered one of our cats had pebble dashed the front room carpet again. The poor little fella had a case of the runs last week, but seemed to be over it. Not wanting a sick cat over Christmas, I had to cancel my plans and take a trip to Nuneaton, to be relieved of a few quid.

By 9-40am we were back home with a sulking ginger tom, albeit he had the last laugh by leaving a deposit in his box for us! Could have been worse - he could have left it in my slippers!

Anyway, it was too early in the day to write it off, so I decided I'd have a couple of hours of Piking. So it was into the freezer for a supply of Morrisons sprats (a bargain at about 75p for two dozen) and off to the river. I decided on the Alveston stretch rather than Lido.

As I mentioned earlier, I didn't bank any fish, but I did hook a Jack. It was on for a few seconds, but slipped off the hook as I bent down to pick up the net. I didn't get any further knocks, but it was just a bonus to be on the bank again. I wasn't the only one fishing - I saw what was either a Mink or an Otter working the far bank late in the session, while the usual Kingfisher put in an appearance too.

Merry Christmas and tight lines to anyone out fishing over the festive period. I'm hoping to get out again myself at least once more before the new year, so maybe there's at least one more fish to be had in this year yet!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

A Brief Respite

River Avon, Alveston. 8-45am to 3-30pm.

It was very pleasant to wet a line again in somewhat better conditions than we have seen of late. I did manage to get out briefly since my last post, for a couple of hours Piking on the Avon at Wasperton with Brian. For completeness I'll keep the report simple - we double blanked in royal fashion!

Back to this week's activities and we decided to fish a new part of the stretch. During the summer months the stretch nearest to the Wellesbourne to Stratford road has been off limits due to the uncertainty of the parking. It's a bit precarious trying to park on overgrown grass verges and you were never really certain what lay within them and what damage you might inflict of your vehicle.

Cold weather knocking back the growth, coupled with a bit routine maintenance and suddenly parking spots now opened up before our eyes. The plan is to make the effort next year to take my strimmer down pre-season. It will be time well spent because the walk to the river is just 30 yards, rather than the usual 300 yards.

Although it's only a few hundred yards upstream of the village section, it was nice to tackle a new stretch. It's a short section of maybe 15 pegs with a right angle bend right in the middle of it. Most pegs seemed to have one obvious feature on either the near or far bank and we settled on pegs 4 and 5.

I set up a couple of feeder rods with the intention of using one for bread and the other for maggots, aiming towards a far bank overhanging tree. I also had a stick float set up, to trundle it down the river with a centre pin - something I hadn't done for a while.

The float line produced just a single Dace, but the feeder rods were getting plenty of attention, albeit the bites were very shy. I had two rods on the go, but with the bites being very tricky to hit, I had to scale back to one rod so I could give it my full concentration.

I lost count of the number of missed bites on both bread and maggots and I couldn't crack it no matter what combination I tried. I managed to winkle out a dozen fish during the session - half of them Dace and the other half Roach. They were of no great size - perhaps 5oz being the best fish, which was a Roach that took a piece of bread flake.

Brian wasn't exactly pulling up trees and he had leapfrogged me, having moved from peg 5 to peg 3. He'd had the odd Dace and Roach, but then struck into something better just as he was about to join the land of nod! Wide awake now, he carefully played the fish in without any fuss and it was a nice Chub of 3lb 1oz. He'd recently acquired some new scales courtesy of his birthday, so they have now been christened!

I have to give full honours on the day to Brian - most species, most overall weight and the biggest fish. I don't tend to lose out on all three counts that often on a river, so although today was a long way from a royal blank, it was still an early Christmas stuffing for me!

That said, I totally enjoyed the day and the challenge of trying to get to grips with a new stretch. I'm looking forward to fishing more of it over the next 3 months - weather permitting! The upstream end peg looks like a classic Chub swim, while the slacker water on the inside of the big bend looks nailed on for some Bream. Hopefully I'll prove myself to be right at some point fairly soon!

Saturday, 20 November 2010


River Avon - Alveston. 9am to 11am.

Brian was otherwise occupied again, so I decided to have a couple of hours Piking on the river. The river was in decent nick and is looking more and more wintery with every visit.

Today's approach was going to involve a sprat, wobbled / sink and drawn through the river. The back up was a telescopic rod to thrash a big plug around the river, but it didn't see the light of day as it turned out.

I went for trusty peg 9 which has thrown up a few small Pike this Autumn already and it didn't disappoint. 20 minutes in and I'd banked a couple of Jacks around the 3lb mark. Both fish came close in and it was good fun watching the take happen right in front of my eyes.

That was it for that peg, so I moved downstream to peg 6. Almost instantly I had a take, but the fish slipped off. It wasn't on long and I was fairly confident it would take again quickly. Straight back in and a fish was on again, but the result was similar. This time the scrap lasted about 15 seconds before the fish got off and I thought I'd buggered up my chance.

It wasn't to be though, as it was third time lucky on my next cast - not sure if it was the same fish being incredibly stupid, or perhaps a different fish. It was just another Jack though - slightly smaller than the earlier two if anything.

That was the end of action. I tried a few other pegs and retraced my earlier steps, but nothing else was doing. I had a bit of a comic moment on peg 2 though. I made the cardinal sin of not giving the staging any respect. Wet, muddy boots coupled with damp, slippery staging = accident in the making. No sooner had I stepped on to it and my feet were in front of my eyes. I went crashing down and landed squarely on my back and was left staring at the cloudy sky - rod still in hand of course!

It was more funny than anything and apart from a small twinge in my back and achy little finger, I was none the worse for wear. A few beers and I won't notice a thing.

As I was packing up a couple of unusual birds (for these parts) dropped past. I can't recall seeing any of these on my fishing travels before:

A pair of black swans. I wasn't sure at the time, as one of them appeared to have white feathers beneath the black when it stretched its wings. However, a bit of research shows that they are supposed to have white flight feathers, so it seems they are the real deal.

Sunday, 14 November 2010


River Avon, Wasperton. 8am - 11-15am.

With Brian working this weekend, I mulled over my options on Friday afternoon. In the end I plumped for a short morning session on the river, with Barbel or Chub in mind. I figured that the conditions were pretty good for extracting one of the resident lumps.

I checked out the EA river levels site and it confirmed that the river was just starting to fine down again after the rain earlier in the week. The EA site quite useful for gauging the state of the river and it should come into its own during the winter months. It may have been covered in other blogs, but here's a link in case anyone hasn't discovered it yet:

The river was maybe a foot or so up and it looked promising.

I tried pellets and meat (spiced and plain), but I couldn't get a bite and I royally blanked. To be honest I've suffered many a blank here in search of Barbel, so it's nothing new. I'm never put off from returning though, as I know it contains the fish of a lifetime. One day...

I amused myself for most of the session by watching the plentiful bird life, which are now a lot easier to spot amongst the bare trees.

In case you didn't spot it in the above photo, here's an enlarged shot of a Kingfisher that was working down the far bank and dropped in at my peg briefly.

I hope he did better than me!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Avon Perch pic

Brian has kindly sent me a photo of Charlie's Perch taken from the Avon just over a week ago - a fish of 3lb 5oz.

No fishing for me this week, as I was back on the oche for a change.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Mythe Farm Changes

This is mostly for Jeff's benefit, in case he hasn't seen it:

Season tickets only now, at £60 a pop. Interesting change in policy considering that the numbers of guests showing in the visitor book were a little on the scarce side. I assume they just want to keep things simple and if they have a handful of takers, then it's no less worthwhile than it was on a free for all basis. It's also easier to administer I guess. Or, maybe someone has approached them to make it a bit more exclusive? It's certainly buggered up some late season plans I had in mind!

I'll keep a watchful eye on proceedings for now I think. I quite liked the place, but for £60 I could get myself an awful lot more water elsewhere. It will be interesting to see how many takers they get and whether the part season ticket proves more popular.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

The Lagoon

Lanny's Lagoon - 8am to 5pm.

Having looked at our challenge scorecards there were some glaring Carp misses. We haven't spent any time chasing them this year and time has pretty much run out with the temperatures dropping. I'd remembered reading some posts from other blogs about this venue, so I suggested we give it one day to put the Carp points to bed.

As some of you are no doubt aware, two weeks previously it had been a murder scene and the fishery had to close while investigations ran their course. Reminders were clear to see on the way in with posters asking for help. We were first to arrive, closely followed by two more anglers who were also fishing it for the first time. They did start to fish, but left very quickly and we ended up with the whole place to ourselves for the day.

We went for the main pool as it held more species we wanted to go at. Leaves were a major problem though and one side of the pool was largely unfishable. We settled on pegs 6 & 7, with Brian taking peg 6 as it had less trees to get tangled in! He also had the benefit of the feature boat in his swim - the resident bird scarer.

I plumbed up and went for a float approach just beyond the ledge into about 7 feet of water. Over an hour in and I'd had nothing. Brian on the other hand had gone for a straight lead approach and first cast scored a bullseye by hitting the feature boat! No damage was done though and it wasn't long before he had his first fish on.

I was pondering over my baiting plan at the time and he shouted over that it was a Ghostie. Initially I thought he was pulling my leg, but it looked genuine enough to me. It was an ugly looking bugger though and weighed in at 2lb 1oz. 2 points to Brian.

Brian continued to catch a few fish while I was blanking - Hereford in reverse as he put it! I eventually started to pick up a few bits fairly close in on a more regular basis, when the owner came round for his money. We chewed the fat for a while, during which time he said that some fish had recently been stocked from Abbey Fields Pool in Kenilworth. He drew attention to a Koi Carp and an Albino Carp that had gone in during the stocking.

No sooner had he walked away and I was into something better, which I soon discovered was a Common Carp of maybe 4lbs. "2 points", I shouted, "but only if doesn't come off". Why did I say that? I played it very carefully with light tackle, but the size 18 barbless pulled out when I thought I'd got things well under control. Nil points!

Fish were topping all round the swim so I moved up in the water to see what was on offer. Although the ever increasing volume of leaves made life difficult, I started to catch regularly at 18ins deep, picking up a few Crucians to close on 1lb. I didn't need Crucians though, but I know a man who did! The occasional Rudd also made an appearance, but nothing to nick the bonus point.

I kept ringing the changes and a decision to drop back over an area I'd baited early doors, proved to be a very wise move. A decent fish took the bait straight away and again with light tackle I had to play it carefully. I eventually saw the fish and realised it was a pale looking fish I'd tossed a few pieces of bread to earlier in the session when it swam past my rod tip.

Although I was on light gear, the fight went without a hitch in the seemingly snag free swim. When Brian stuck the net under it, we realised it was probably the Koi Carp the owner had stocked recently - something he confirmed when I showed him the photo later. It was a stunning fish of exactly 9lb.

I was no longer bothered about the earlier lost common. I caught some more bits, but nothing else of note, although I did momentarily connect with a lump of some sort. However, all I got for my reward was a big scale on the hook, so it was no doubt foul hooked.

Brian tried for some Crucians but he couldn't find any. He nearly snared a decent Carp though that was feeding on the surface, but it wasn't having his bread.

Commercial Carp fishing isn't my cup of tea, but this place definitely wasn't in that mould. It came across as a more laid back fishery and the woodland setting is quite pretty. I imagine when it's in full bloom in the summer it's even more appealing. Quite a pleasant little place really and somewhere I'd happily pop back to during the close season.

Finally I must give a mention to a session Brian and Charlie had on the Alveston stretch of the Avon last Thursday. They had been texting updates to me throughout the day at work and I was most peed off not to have witnessed the day's events. Brian bagged his best ever Bream at exactly 5lb, while Charlie had a stunning Perch of 3lb 5oz! Apparently it had been pestering him all day, attacking fish on the way in and he snared it with a livebait in the end. Brian's camera was out of action, but there are some photos on a mobile phone that I'm hoping to get hold of.

He also had a couple of small Pike on legered maggot! I suspect they are sitting in wait near the baited area and nailing the prey fish the moment they put up any resistance to the strike. Annoyingly, he lost a small Carp of about 4lb close in, which would have been his first from a river.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Further Wye Adventures

After the stunning experience on day 1, I had a tinge of regret going into day 2. We had opted to fish the Hereford & District AA waters near the town, opposite Belmont golf course. This stretch has a pedigree for throwing up big weights if conditions are right, but reports suggested it can be a moody customer. Today it was in a mood!

Access to pegs was difficult (mostly steep banks), albeit if it had a few more feet of water on, it would actually be a lot easier. We settled on a long double peg that looked inviting enough, but I had a bad vibe from the off.

We tried everything throughout the course of the session (even pulling out the Pike gear), but the fish weren't having it. All we could catch were tiny Dace and Minnows that were plentiful in the margins and Brian decided to fill his boots with the latter to earn a point for the challenge. I forgot to mention on my day 1 report that I sneaked a Minnow out, much to Brian's annoyance. He took great pleasure in ticking it off the list!

Despite only being about 8 miles away from where we were the previous day, it felt like we were fishing a different river. Other anglers trudged past reporting similarly poor catches, so at least we weren't alone. The main excitement was the occasional stray golf ball plopping into the river a few yards downstream. A busy Kingfisher gave some entertainment though and the sunny conditions made for a fairly pleasant day. Just a pity the fish weren't interested!

Next time we won't make the same mistake - we'll go for 2 days on the WUF waters. There's no guarantee that they will fish well, but the whole experience was just that bit more private and special. Although day 2 was hardly a hellish experience, I can get the whole dog walking, gate slamming, "caught anything mate?" experience quite easily on the Avon if I want it.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Wye Adventures

Wow, what a river!

I'd decided to make a trip to the River Wye after I'd read some of the reports on the Wye Usk Foundation site. At up to £20 a shot it's not a cheap day ticket, but for a one off experience it had to be worth a go. Brian was up for it, so we planned a 2 day trip, with the second day being a more leisurely approach nearer to Hereford.

Day 1 was on the Lower Ballingham beat which is between Ross-On-Wye and Hereford. The stretch is just outside the village of Hoarwithy, tucked away amongst some stunning scenery. The approach to the fishery took us up the valley and once we got sight of the river with mist rolling along it, the anticipation started to rise.

We parked up at the end of a disused railway line and reality kicked in. We we basically at the same level as the old bridge and although the river was maybe 20 feet in front of us, it was about 50 foot below us! Having brought everything bar the kitchen sink, we now realised we had to lug it down a long flight of steep steps.

As we had the luxury of Brian's transit van we had chucked in a wheelbarrow to make transporting the gear a bit easier - not banking on 50 steps of course! We carried the barrow down and went back for the rest of the gear. To be honest it probably did us good because it was very cold first thing and the ground had a fair old white covering. The exercise warmed us up and the sight of steam rising off Brian's head was quite amusing!

Having done some homework, we knew that it wasn't going to be easy finding swims that were easily accessible. A walk two meadows upstream found just 2 pegs, so we came back to the old bridge where there was a double peg. It looked shallow though and there were a couple of dozen swans camped across the river rooting around for food, which was likely to make like difficult.

We wandered downstream and found one peg which looked fishable for two with a bit of creative gardening. We decided to give this one a go as it was in an area where the river looked a shade deeper, albeit there were no obvious features. The plan was to give it about 4 hours and if it wasn't producing we'd hop in the van and try the extreme downstream section about 3/4 of a mile away.

I kicked off with a pellet approach, using an open end feeder loaded with hemp / halibut crush / crumb mix. I admit to being clueless with pellets and I've never used them. However, the reports suggested that pellets were the way to go, so I tied up some hair rigs and bought a job lot of halibut and crab pellets.

I didn't have to wait too long for the first bite. The tip flew round, but I quickly realised my mistake. I was using a baitrunner reel and I'd got the settings wrong. The reel was in free spool mode and when I grabbed for the rod, in the excitement I didn't enagage the reel and created a mighty bird's nest on the reel with the freshly loaded line. I had to reel the fish in by pulling the line in by hand, which is not much fun when your attached to a Barbel. I won the battle though and was on the scoreboard with a fish of 4lb 13oz.

The next few hours was just a procession of Barbel. Here's a few of them, starting with the pick of the bunch which was the 4th fish of the day and weighed 8lb 10oz:

This one was 6lb 13oz:

After 10 barbel, things started to slow down. I wasn't sure if it was the now bright conditions, or whether the swim had been emptied or the fish spooked. I switched to maggot and had instant success with a Chub of 3lb 9oz.

Another one of 3lb 6oz followed very quickly and then the Barbel moved back in and I had 4 more of those. The best of them was a long lean fish of 7lb 10oz.

At this point I'd started to do some serious maths and began to realise that I might just break the magical ton for the first time - I was in the high 80s. Frustratingly Brian was on a blank, sitting just 15 feet upstream from me and using the same tactics.

He eventually opened his account with a Chub of 2lb 2oz and there was a sense of relief that he was off the mark, but it wasn't the Barbel we both wanted him to catch.

I pressed on with the maggots and picked up a Chub, then a Barbel and I was now just 4lb 2oz short of a ton. One more lunge on the rod tip as we entered the final hour, resulted in a 4lb 12oz Barbel and I'd done something I never imagined possible. 100lb 10oz of fish from a low, clear river, following an overnight frost. Wow!

I admit to slightly switching off at that point, but there was still a mission to be accomplished - a Barbel for Brian. He manfully stuck it out and went for crab pellet or bust and it paid off. He hooked into a Barbel and I think I played every moment of it with him. He guided it in carefully and it weighed in at 4lb 8oz. Relief all round because time was running out.

Just like buses though, he wasn't done and 2 more Barbel graced his landing net in the next half hour. The last one was the best at 4lb 9oz and also gave rise to probably my favourite picture of the year so far. Barbel, with the moon just poking up over the trees and reflecting in the river. A perfect end to a stunning experience.

It's something we will definitely do again next year. I can thoroughly recommend the Wye Usk Foundation to anyone. There are cheaper options around, but the package gives you a good degree of exclusivity (depending on choice of venue), which just makes the day feel so much more special.

For the record, the full scorecard was:

Sean - 16 Barbel (4-13, 5-2, 3-7, 8-10, 6-12, 6-2, 5-12, 6-13, 6-12, 5-0, 7-10, 5-5, 4-11, 5-4, 4-15, 4-12); 3 Chub (3-9, 3-6, 1-15)

Brian - 3 Barbel (4-8, 3-7, 4-9); 1 Chub (2-2)

A report from day 2 on a different stretch will follow tomorrow (the pub is beckoning me now!). As a taster though, a fair summary would be utter shite! Definitely a case of after the lord mayor's show - but that's fishing I guess.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Make Hay While the Sun Shines

River Avon - Alveston. 8-15am to 5pm.

We decided to revisit the scene of last week's enjoyable session. Unlike the previous visit, we were greeted with sunshine and a flat calm river with a tinge of mist - most idyllic.

We figured on the theory that if it isn't broken, don't fix it and so we headed for the same pegs as last week. Tactics were similar. In fact tactics are fairly similar most weeks for me. 5 balls of bait on the feeder line, 2 on the close in float line with a couple of bait droppers full of maggots and loose feed regularly over the top.

Bites were once again plentiful in both our swims, but they were far harder to hit this week. In fact we missed far more than we caught. By midday we'd both had our quota of small dace. The odd Roach, Chublet and Bleak put in an appearance too, but the best fish we could muster was a solitary Perch each in the 8-10oz range. It was frustrating more than anything.

I brought a few small Sprat deadbaits with me, so with last week's Pike in mind I set up a rod to do a bit of wobbling. It didn't take long to get the first hit and the culprit was a fish I'd have to describe as a Pikelet. I wouldn't call it a jack for fear insulting jacks! Nonetheless, it was nice to bank a Pike by design for once.

Sorry for the photo which is more hands than Pike, but it was a feisty little devil that wouldn't stay still.

I pursued the wobbling and had another fish straight afterwards. If the previous one was a Pikelet, this was a MicroPike:

The Pike continued to harrass and taunt us for the rest of the session. I had another take on a wobbled bait but the hook didn't set. A Dace caught on the float rig also got a right old mangling from a Pike that held on for a fair while before deciding to give it up as a bad job before I could net it.

At the death I lost a better fish at the net that looked in the 7lb range. It had taken a small fish and managed to get itself hooked, but unfortunately the Pike spooked at the net and the small hook pulled out at the end of its run.

Brian also had a go for them with a lure and he managed to hook one close in, but the hooks slipped early in the fight and the fish got away.

Between the Pike action I did manage to get some action from another predatory fish. I had been after a decent Perch by legering worm to no avail. I'd only just switched back on to the float line with a couple of red maggots when I connected to this fella:

It weighed 1lb 10oz and is my best for the season so far. I still can't crack a two pounder from the river though!

In terms of the day, it was another big thumbs up for the healthiness of the Avon - loads of fish topping and biting throughout the day. The signs for the future also look good if the huge numbers of small fry in the margins are anything to go by.

Next stop for both of us is the River Wye for a 2 day stint. Most of my prep work is now done, but with serious volumes of hemp cooking still outstanding, I don't think I'm going to be too popular at home over the next few days!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Faith Restored

River Avon, Alveston.

If you've read any posts from my previous visits to this stretch, you'll know it has been a struggle. Aside from the odd slab and Chub, it has yielded precious little else. I'd liken it to the Leamington AA's Wasperton stretch - very difficult in the summer months when the water is clear and the fish lie low in the weed & cabbages during the day.

10 weeks on since our last visit and Autumn was clearly taking hold. The willows were starting to look a little sorry for themselves, while pegs that had previously been difficult to fish due to heavy weed / lily growth, were now very managable. We settled on a couple pegs we'd never fished before that were midway bewteen 2 areas we'd struggled on previously.


The wind was blowing through a fair bit directly downstream, which made float presentation difficult. Equally, it didn't help bite registration on the tip either. However, I decided to start off with the tip and balled in the customary 6 balls of groundbait just beyond an overhanging willow towards the middle of the river.

First chuck and the tip banged round. I thought I'd imagined it, or had perhaps knocked the rod accidentally. I'd always struggled for bites here in the past! I cast out again and the tip banged round again - definitely a bite this time and I was now starting to get hopeful. Third cast and I finally hooked a fish - a Roach of about 5oz. The bites continued consistently and Perch, Chub and some Dace soon followed.

Then I connected with something all together more solid that I wasn't sure about. It felt too ponderous for a Chub, but was a bit more spirited than a Bream. It woke up a bit more when I got it close in and I could see it was a decent Chub. It went exactly 4lb and was in mint condition. Quite unusual in the larger Chub I tend to catch - they generally seem to be the battle hardened old warriors bearing various scars.

After the Chub I continued to pick up bits and Brian was doing likewise on the next peg on a close in float line, while hoping for something bigger on his leger rig. I saw him leap up and his float rod arched over. The clutch gave a bit of line and he was into something a bit more interesting. Brian carefully played the fish and we eagerly awaited a glimpse of his prize. I assumed it was a Chub, but we were pleasantly surprised when it broke the surface and we saw it was a Tench. It weighed in at 3lb 2oz.

I recounted my encounters with river Tench over the years and I could only recall having caught 8 of them in just under 20 years and none in recent memory. It was Brian's first from a river and put a big smile on both our faces. Brian also needed a Tench point, so to pick it up from a river made it very satisfying.

Bites continued in numbers but they were very difficult ot hit on the feeder line. I switched to worm and instantly had a better fish. It didn't actually feel very big at first but it perked up when I got it close in. My jaw dropped when I saw it was another Tench. Having not seen one for years, we'd had one each in the space of an hour! It weighed in at 4lb 10oz, which beats my previous river best by 9oz.

Later on another angler popped round for a chat. We mentioned that we'd had a couple of Tench and he seemed perplexed. He'd fished the area for 20 years and had never seen one. Pure luck on the day, or just skillful anglers? I'd like to think it was the latter!

I messed about with the feeder rig, changing from lead, to groundbait feeder, to open end feeder. The results were pretty similar though - plenty of Dace. I decided to switch to a float rig for a change and to see if I could tempt a decent Perch. Earlier on Brian had spotted a Carp slurping bread off the top in the margins, but when I looked down I couldn't see a Carp. I did spot a very long Perch though - certainly a 2lb+ fish (which would be a personal best for me).

I started to catch small fish at a fair old rate close in - mostly Dace and some Bleak that were taking the bait on the drop. I then had that all too familiar feeling where a little fish turns into something bigger. I knew I had a Pike on, but I didn't know if it was hooked or just holding on to the fish. When it surfaced I could see a red maggot just on the outside of its jaw, so I knew I had a fair chance of landing it.

It was only a small fish of 3lb 6oz, but it was Pike point for me and of course a bonus point, albeit it wasn't exactly a challenging target to set!

We carried on catching bits for the rest of the day, but Brian pulled out his lure rod when we watched a Pike leap clear of the water to the left of my swim. Several casts later and he'd had nothing and was about to go back to the float fishing when he had a take close in. I went over to net it, but the fish slipped off the lure. Brian's Pike curse seemed set to continue. Defeated, he vowed to try again during the last 15 minutes of the session. I'm pleased to say he was duly rewarded for his persistance and took the Pike honours with a battle scarred fish of 4lb 8oz, which earned him the bonus.

It was a very pleasant day with us sharing somewhere in the region of 30lb of fish and suddenly this venue doesn't seem that bad after all. Hopefully it will continue to fish well through Autumn into Winter and we'll certainly be back for some proper Piking fairly soon I think.

As well as the Pike, Brian picked up points for Tench, Chub and Bleak to earn 5 points on the day. I had to settle for a sole Pike point. From nowhere, Brian has now sneaked up to just 3 points behind in the challenge. Game on!

Monday, 4 October 2010

Double Blank

Oxford Canal - Near Tusses Bridge

The title says it all, but if you were in any doubt as to how frantic the action was, a picture will do just as well:

Rip Van Jona

We had an afternoon/early evening into dusk session that consisted of a little dabble with maggots for silvers, coupled with a pop at the Zander. Both ideas failed miserably and we royally blanked. At least some sport on the radio kept me awake!

On a brighter note we've booked a couple of days on the River Wye later in the month for a spot of serious Chubbing / Barbelling (better not be Double Blanking!). Someone will probably be piking too if he finds out they go 30+!

I've already started stocking up on kit /baits, as reports suggest the fish are serious pellet munchers, while the river eats terminal tackle. I always get an air of anticipation whenever I go to a new venue - and more so if it happens to be a river. Given the pedigree of the Wye and the scenic location, the anticipation is at record levels right now. I bet it pisses down and blows a gale for those 2 days now! Fingers crossed it doesn't though.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Trout Pics (from August)

I've finally received a couple of pictures from the family outing earlier in the year.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Versatile Tackle

Some items of tackle perform just one function. Others have a main function, but can be used (and often abused!) to perform other tasks. What is the most versatile item of tackle though?

My vote goes for the humble extending bankstick - the larger type that extends from about 4-7 foot. It's forever digging me out of a hole and is one of the items I can't do without.

I thought I'd pretty much exhausted the list of uses it has over the years such as:

- As a rod rest (great for deep swims just off the edge of a platform, but equally good for keeping a quiver tip high off the water).

- As a keep net handle (again great for deep water swims).

- As an emergency landing net handle because accidents do happen with the carbon net poles! Also use it for my big Carp/Pike/Barbel landing net.

- As a reel retriever. Twice now it's been used to retrieve a dropped reel from a river with a cheap plastic pole rest attached to it.

- As a chopper of undergrowth.

- As a tool to free up line when it's snagged in lilies.

- As an umbrella pole. Emergency use only of course, but I once somehow forgot my umbrella pole. However, the umbrella fitted nicely over the top section of the bankstick.

- As a walking stick when clambering around muddy and slippy banks, or when wading.

- As a supporter of bait waiters (rarely used for this purpose, but sometimes useful in the deeper, siltier pegs).

Aside from potentially being quite a useful weapon if the need ever arised, I didn't imagine I'd find any more uses for it - until last last weekend:

The place I was fishing was less than ideal for getting a signal on the phone. When sat at my peg I couldn't get a signal. However, I could just about get a slight signal just above head height, which is not exactly condusive to comfortable fishing!

Although it's not exactly the end of the world, it's just nice to stay connected in case of accidents. The missus's car hasn't been on the best of form recently (now booked in for MOT), so you can imagine the grief I'd get if it breaks down while I'm fishing and the phone isn't playing ball.

I needed a solution so it was out with the trusty bankstick, extend it to full length, fix the phone onto it with some elastic from a spool of line and hey presto:

Mobile phone mast!

Now I know what the more astute amongst you are thinking - if it only works above head height, what happens if it rings? I'll cross that bridge another time! To be fair it worked nearer to where I'd parked up, so I'd just have to take a short hike to get connected. At least I'd know someone is after me!

I also have a rucksack which I'm yet to find an alternative use for. One of my cats has ideas on that though!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Bits and Bobs

Not too much to report from this week.

I had a few hours on a new stillwater to test the water, so to speak. Perch, Perch and more Perch - 50 of the little buggers to be exact and 49 were in the 2-4oz range. Only one better stamp of fish at about 12oz showed, despite trying worm for long periods.

The only other fish to show were a small Rudd, a Crucian of about 10-12oz and a nice Roach of 15oz. I can't seem to crack the 1lb barrier for Roach or Rudd this year - I've had both to 15oz now.

I had a check on my wormery on Sunday and the lobworms look great - some right old snakes in there. In fact there seems to be more lobs in there than I can recall putting in! The redworms are conspicuous by their absence though. I did find some, but nowhere near as many as I seem to recall putting in.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Cead Mile Failte

River Blackwater - County Waterford, Ireland.

On the last full day of the holiday I managed to secure a short morning session on the local river. I had squeezed a few essential tackle items into the boot of the car before we went away and I was half expecting them not to see the light of day. But, the opportunity arose and Madeleine seemed happy to have a lie in while I went looking for fish.

I had done some research on the area before I went away and it wasn't great. It's mostly game fishing on the Blackwater - something I have no clue about. I did stumble on some coarse fishing though, controlled by the local club - Cappoquin Salmon & Trout Anglers Association. At 3 Euros for a day ticket, it was worth a shot. I had also searched out a tackle shop which was also situated in Cappoquin and they were able to supply tickets. It was a perfect plan it seemed, but all was to go wrong.

The tackle shop was part of a post office / gift shop and was another of those multi purpose shops you often stumble on in Ireland. The fishing side of it clearly wasn't the main purpose and the lack of coarse tackle was obvious. Still, I didn't need tackle - just a ticket and a few maggots and I'd be on my way.

The day ticket was no problem, but the maggots were a sticking point. He didn't sell them! Given that he'd told me the coarse fishing was 99% Dace, that was my main bait out of the equation. The nearest maggots were a 40 mile round trip! Had I been going for a full day I might well have stretched to making the trip, but for a 3 hour session, I wasn't going to those lengths. I'd make do with bread and corn.

I turned up at the stretch around 8am and quickly realised it was tidal and at fairly low tide. I spotted fish topping throughout the stretch, so I was fairly confident. I set up in a flattish area close to the water and began some random casts to see if anything was around. Nothing was showing and my set up wasn't exactly relaxed - I had to hold the rod because the area was concreted. Confidence was now ebbing away - along with the tide.

I then moved a few yards upstream and trotted a float through for a while, but it was much the same result. I could see plenty of fish topping further out again, so I went back to a straight lead. I also moved about 10 feet back from the water on to some rocks, where I was able to jam the rod into them and have a more comfortable set up.

I started to get some indications on the tip, including one decent bite that seemed impossible to miss - but I did! Eventually I did hook a fish on corn, but the smile was quickly wiped off my face when the fish slipped the hook on the way in.

It was quite interesting to watch the change in tide during the session. With Warwickshire somewhat lacking in tidal rivers, it's something I've not really encountered before. When I'd arrived, the river was flowing at a healthy rate towards the sea. Within a couple of hours the river had risen a foot and the flow had reversed.

I packed in at 11am - fishless. With a few maggots, I'm sure it would have been a different story, but that's life. It was nice to wet a line in Ireland again - something I haven't done for 10 years. I can see a plan being hatched for a return fishing based trip at some point in the not too distant future. Not to the Blackwater though - I'd be heading somewhere with a bit more of a Roach/Bream pedigree.