Thursday, 24 December 2015

Eva the Optimist

Fishing on Christmas Eve has become a bit of a tradition for me. My wife works a half day shift from home and that's my excuse to leave the building, returning for lunch. It frequently throws up some rough conditions though and today was no exception.

Although I wanted to explore more of the Upper Avon, it would have been crazy really. With storm Eva pushing through during the heart of the session, a muddy uneven river bank, high winds and ever increasing water levels was not a thrilling prospect.

I plumped for the easy option of the estate lake and its well manicured flat banks. Luckily the rain largely held off while I settled down and secured a brolly in place in anticipation of a battering. And then the heavens opened...

I sat it out on one rod with straight lead over a small amount of groundbait at about 25 to 30 yards. Alternating maggot and corn I scratched around for bites. They were hard to come by but I managed to winkle out half a dozen of the usual stamp roach for this venue.

The last hour when conditions improved was actually the toughest for bites. It went colder though - down to 6C by lunch whereas it was 9C on arrival at 8am when there was a bit of cloud cover.

A bit of sport I guess and even with the poor weather, it beat working. I hope to get out again before the end of the year, but it's looking doubtful for the river after today's rain and more on the way. Could be another pursuit of stillwater roach, but I must also remember my pike gear next time. I have no idea what it might hold, but there's no harm in deploying a sleeper rod to check it out.

Have a great Christmas everyone.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

New Beginnings

Well it's taken nearly six years to chalk up the two hundredth post. It's not always been easy to keep things going - blanks and struggles don't make for inspiring reading! But, the occasional times when things do go to plan, help to provide enough drive to keep forging on with this little project.

Project is perhaps overstating it a little though. It suggests there might be a grand plan, perhaps even a cunning one. Far from it! It's really just a diary and sharing it (while other bloggers do likewise) helps provide the motivation to keep it ticking over. Onwards to three hundred...

Since my last post I've acquired a late season ticket for a stretch of the Upper Avon. This is a stretch I first walked 25 years ago but had never joined. I have no idea why it took so long, given the number of clubs and syndicates I've been a member of during that time. 

My first fishing trip to this eagerly anticipated venue was blighted by rain and a river carrying extra water. I'd covered all bases, which equates to me taking the everything, including kitchen sink. A long old trudge through a sodden field with patches of mud saw me eventually settle on a sheltered swim.

With little knowledge of the pegs, the main clincher was comfort and the ability to get an umbrella in place and pegged down. In doing that I largely sacrificed my barbel chances, but I still fancied it for anything else, particularly pike.

I alternated between maggot feeder and deadbaits and it was tough going. Just a couple of ruffe came to the maggots, but I did sneak out a couple of jacks to deadbaits.

A pretty wet and miserable start really and it was capped off when an angler a few pegs downstream reported having three barbel from a peg I'd passed up.

With unseasonably mild temperatures throughout the following week, I had no hesitation in going for the barbel next time. That's something I didn't think I'd say as we approach the shortest day of the year. I opted for a known hotspot and fed two areas with a groundbait laced with hemp and pellet. I left it for half an hour while pike taunted me.

In fact the pike completely got the better of me all session. I'd chucked a small pack of four smelts into my bucket as a back up. I tried them at various intervals and managed to connect with three pike, but all slipped the hook. One of those days...

The main attack was maggots to the left, pellet / meat to the right. First bite was a vicious take on the maggot rig that screamed chub. I was about to net the spirited rubber lipped culprit when it turned into a roach! A decent one too at 1lb 2oz and a pristine example to boot.

The pellet rod came into play soon after and I'm pleased to report that unlike my October Wye debacle, this time I was conscious enough to apprehend a crunching take. I was actually a little unsure how my TFG All Rounder rod would cope with a barbel, but it did the job quite nicely. After a solid but comfortable battle, it popped into the net first time.

It was a good fish but I didn't think it would be a pb or my first double. And so it proved. Ignore the scales in the picture as they include the net. The final verdict was 9lb 4oz.

Just a further perch to the maggot rig and that was it for the day. I took the chance to walk some of the pegs further downstream and there's many more enticing swims for other days. Early impressions are good and there's still lots more to explore. 

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Any Sign of Winter?

Not in the immediate future it seems. Apart from a single chilly weekend a couple of weeks ago, we've had a very mild, if breezy, time of things recently. The local rivers have received a dose of extra water, but we've avoided the deluge that has decimated some northern areas.

It's been quiet for me of late. Just a couple of jacks from a previous pike session is all I need to say to bring you up to date from past weeks.

Over the last week I'd been a little bunged up and I contemplated giving the fishing a miss. But, I figured that the fresh air would help and I decided to give it a go.

With temperatures on the mild side and the rivers likely to be pushing a little harder than normal, I settled for a return to the estate lake. I really wasn't sure how this shallow water would react at this time if year.

Tethering a brolly down to keep out the wind, I settled in for a four hour stint. Patience was rewarded with a consistent run of bites from the resident roach. Most were peas in a pod fish of around 5oz, with the odd better one stretching up to 10oz. A solitary rudd broke the monotony.

The larger samples (if they even exist here) continue to prove elusive. Still plenty of time though before my time on the lake is up and it's next closed season when I'll be really giving it some stick.

There was an odd sight in the nearby orchard. Amongst a whole selection of completely barren fruit trees was a single tree still clinging on to a huge crop of quite pristine apples that seem intent on defying gravity.

Like a kid in a sweet shop who can't help but be tempted, I've taken the plunge with another cut price club ticket for the winter period. I have walked much of the venue previously, but in fairness it was about 25 years ago. It should give me better options for chub and barbel than I have on my other tickets, but if anyone can screw up a good thing, I can!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

About Turn!

Well, so much for turning the corner. This was one of those sessions where I just wasn't sure if I was even going at all and when I did, I just didn't get a good vibe.

The decision to go was taken late and mostly out of sheer bloody mindedness. Like many other workers who don't get to enjoy the daylight hours during this time of year, a spot of fishing really helps to keep me sane.

So, in between decorating and family duties I snatched a short session on the Anker. Grabbing a few maggots left over from the week before, some deadbaits and bread, I headed out. I actually fancied the Leam for a change, but the howling wind put me off. I knew I could get better shelter on the Anker and the access was simpler too.

My first choice peg was gone, so I tested out a new option a couple of swims downstream. I gave it half a dozen balls of groundbait and kicked off with the pike gear a little way upstream.

The deadbaits were a waste of time. For some reason I just didn't fancy it would deliver anything and that's how it ended up. The bread and maggots didn't do much better. I had lots of taps on the grubs, but rarely were they damaged in any way when retrieved. Most frustrating.

The one proper unmissable bite did yield the lone fish of the session, which was a respectable perch of 1lb 10oz.

The perch in the Anker are proving to be quite a nice stamp, even if they are a little scarce. Unlike the Avon or Leam, there doesn't appear to be a big head of them, but when you find one, it's nailed on to be a pound plus fish and often nearer to two. No small ones to be had it seems, which is a little odd. Maybe it's just the stretch I'm fishing?

No sign of any bream during the session though and I quit with my tail firmly between my legs. At least it didn't rain, but I was soundly beaten and a little battered by the wind too. A poor fishing session still beats decorating any day though!

Colder weather finally looks set to hit our shores this week. Long overdue I say. Who knows, I might even get a snow pike this season!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Turning the Corner?

Last week I mentioned unfinished bream business on the Anker. With a bit of extra water and overcast, mild conditions, things were bang in my favour to renew the battle with this intriguing waterway.

Arriving at midday, I decided to give them a good feed and carry out a bait and wait approach on a slowly rising river. In went 9 cricket ball sized offerings of groundbait, heavily dosed with molasses. Half a dozen bait droppers of red maggots were lowered over the top of it into the 11ft deep swim.

I then gave it a complete hour to settle while I completed my set up and played around with a pike rod well away from the baited area. The pike didn't show though, so at 1pm I kicked off on the main line. Lobworm on one rig and a bunch of maggots on the other.

The maggot rig didn't even make it to the water when the worm was grabbed. A strange fight though and I soon realised why. It was a cheeky little pike that preferred worm to smelt!

A tough couple of hours followed, but I spotted a lot of bubbling on a line I hadn't fed. I'd also seen a bream roll across it too. Giving it a go, I surprised myself and connected with a reasonable lump of 6lb 10oz first cast. 

No more on that line though, so I persisted on the main line with a single rod and brought the pike rod back into play. It then got frustrating. Pike float bobs, pulls slowly under and moves gracefully away against the flow. Angler (feeling smug) grabs the rod, strikes and...

Nothing! Not an ounce of resistance. Back in with the bait and within five minutes the exact set of events was repeated. Bemused, I started to wonder if something odd was going on down there, but pressed on regardless.

I was using a decent sized smelt though, which I duly dispatched downstream in favour of a smaller lamprey section. It barely hit the deck when it was chomped and this time I banked the culprit. A new best for the venue of 5lb 12oz, which isn't a lot to crow about I know. 

It's good to see a few pike around though and it gives me hope for when I move into full on predator mode - that's if it ever cools down!

Meanwhile a perch of about 12oz fell to lobworm and another bream (blind in one eye) of 5lb 9oz came off the baited area. The bream in the Anker are proving to be a decent stamp if you can find them. I've only had four this season, but all are better than any I've ever had from the Avon. They've ranged from 5lb 9oz to 7lb 9oz and average out at a healthy 6lb 5oz so far. 

Still a work in progress with the slabs and I'm sure there's a lot more potential to be unlocked yet. After a poor early Autumn I'm hoping I've turned the corner now. Just need a little more time on my hands though. But isn't that always the case?

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

The Woes of Autumn

Autumn is a time of the fishing year I always look forward to. Pretty colours, fish looking to fill their boots before things turn a whole lot cooler and predator season just around the corner. What's not to like?

Sadly, things aren't quite going to plan for me. Looking back over the past month or so, I kicked off with a dour Stour session. The peg I fancied fishing was occupied by the owners doing a spot of tree cutting. From then on I never felt settled or confident and I fished poorly with very little to show for it. My partner for the day didn't exactly bag up, but still put me to shame.

Next up was a much needed and highly enjoyable Canaries holiday to the island of Fuerteventra. No fishing though, but I couldn't pass up a catamaran trip searching for whales and dolphins with food and a few beers thrown in.  Some great views and the whales obliged, as did one or two other sights!

Back in the UK and another crack at the estate lake roach beckoned. I tackled them on the float this time and left totally biteless. Carp once again taunted me and despite some audacious positioning of a floating crust, I couldn't tempt those either. Nearly had a gull though!

Fed up with stillwaters again, I returned to the Avon next. Inspired by various pictures of big perch, I went armed with just worms and prawns. I caught plenty of small perch on the worm initially before it quitened down. A solitary small greedy chub was the only success on the prawn.

Pike problems were inevitable when the odd roach began to show and I managed to bank a small jack.

A more pleasant day than the previous offerings, but the bigger perch eluded me.

Then it was off to the Wye. This is always one I look forward to, but it seldom seems to deliver the goods for me. We were on a new stretch for day one and I was pretty impressed with the access and the water itself.

With the usual side bets struck (biggest barbel, biggest chub, most species), I kicked off with a maggot feeder to nail a few species. With small chub and missed bites plentiful, I switched to a float attack. Lots more small chub, but eventually a dace, bleak and some minnows swelled the count to four.

It was then all out for barbel or a proper chub, as I'd failed to hit the one pound minimum to qualify for the side bet. I fed some bait and went for a walk to give it a rest. On return it didn't take long to get a take and it was from a barbel.

The fight was hard but without incident and a fish of 6lb 10oz was in the net. I gave the fish plenty of time to recover and called Charlie from the next peg for a quick photo. Not the best I'm afraid with all of the clutter on show, but it was a tight peg and I had no room to swing a cat.

And that was the end of the action for day one. Brian had matched my species tally and had included a bonus trout. We'll certainly be back to this stretch next year, as there's other swims we really fancied but didn't have time to try out.

Day two saw us on a familiar stretch and pretty much an all out barbel attack. The first set of swims threw up a blank in terms of big fish and we brokered a move to deeper water. Things looked up when Charlie hooked a barbel first cast, but it snagged him and he missed out.

It didn't kick on though and a degree of tedium set in. I'd been suffering all day with a sore eye and as a long weekend drew to a close, I began to become very dozy. My ever increasing state of slumber was abruptly ended though. Not by a 3 inch tap, or even a 3 foot twitch. This was a 3 yard dip!

Yep, the whole damn rod was pulled clean from the rest and into the Wye while my guard was lowered. I've seen it happen to a couple of others before (one of whom was in the next peg!), but it's never happened to me in over 30 years of fishing. Typically the fish took the wrong bait. My other rod had a bait runner engaged and would have been fine.

Mortified at the likely loss of a decent reel and John Wilson Barbel Quiver rod, I watched the rod pull out to mid river. Luckily it ground to a halt, as the fish found a snag. Brian's lure rod came to the rescue and after several near misses I eventually got a hook up and the rod was banked with a bit of handy netting from Brian.

Disaster averted, but no fish either. When I told the bailiff later in the day, the same thing had happened to another angler the previous day, but he luckily retrieved the rod and banked the fish.

There was no more action, so I pinched the barbel pot by default. Sadly the reel was a shade knackered and had all but siezed up. I've stripped it down fully and might one day attempt a rebuild. In the worst case scenario I will at least have a full set of spares, as I have another identical reel. Shame though, as they made a great pair of workhorses and I could switch spools at will.

Closer to home I tackled a moody Anker with Brian. I'd like to blame the sharp overnight drop in temperature for our poor effort, so I will. In all honesty it looked in good nick though and the rotten stench that hung over our previous visit was long gone. The fish were quiet though and I just about avoided a blank with my first pike (by design) from the venue. Only a jack of 5lb 10oz, but a start nonetheless.

That brings me to to this week and I was eager for another crack at the Anker. Carrying a little more water, the river looked bang on again and I decided to ladle in the groundbait across two areas of my swim into 10-11ft of water.

A slow start was ended when I reached for my float rod to offer a different presentation, only to see my quiver tip dancing away merrily. A quick grab of the rod was met with solid resistance and the fish took line. Then the dreaded hook pull. Bugger!

Meanwhile the pike rig was proving frustrating. Two clear cut bites were met with zero resistance. I've never encountered that before. I'm not sure if crayfish are present, or whether something else might have been causing it. It definitely wasn't debris caught in the flow, as both bites saw the float moving upstream.

I pressed on with the switch to a float rig and was quickly rewarded with a nice perch of 1lb 7oz.

It then got hugely frustrating with lots of intense bubbling across both lines. A big and very dark bream poked it's head above the surface just beyond my pike float, before flipping over and revealing a big paddle of a tail, as it headed back to the depths. There are some big old bream in this river and I thought I was nailed on for some action.

Try as I might, I couldn't fool anything though. Definitely unfinished business here. I did manage to sneak a jack out though, to give some small consolation

The predators will no doubt take over for me soon and the freezer is being steadily stocked up in anticipation. While it remains on the milder side I'll continue to hedge my bets though.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Not Quite An Obsession

A return to the estate lake this week. This is becoming a bit of a habit, bordering on obsessive. I can't recall doing so many stillwater sessions on the bounce during the main season.

The truth is that time is against me on the lake and within a few weeks it won't get much of a look in if the rivers are half fishable. Of course there's a likelihood that the lake contains pike and I'll probably have a speculative dabble at some point.

I had good intentions of varying my tactics but once again the wind was blowing strongly across the lake. I went for a straight lead approach again, but on a braid mainline to improve bite registration.

I opted for a different peg with a few extra reeds to help provide shelter from the wind. It didn't make life easy in terms of watching the quiver though. The tip blended into the ever moving background. Time to think outside the box.

I was using my short 8ft TFG all rounder rod anyway, as I needed a short rod for my choice of swim. I moved back a yard or so from where I'd normally sit and that allowed me to place a large bankstick directly behind the tip to give me a static reference point.

It was better, but still not good enough. Then the solution dawned on me. In my holdall was a rod tube for my travel float rod. Dispense with the rod, place the empty tube over the bankstick and voilĂ  - problem solved. OK, so it would be a whole lot easier if I just dug out my target board, but that's no fun is it?!

The fishing proved reasonably predictable and a double handful of 6oz stamp roach were the result. I had one eye on trying a tight and snaggy little swim to my left though.

With an hour or so to go I gave it a shot and on arrival I spooked a fish that displaced a fair amount of water. I had a carp rod set up so I gave it a shot with floating crust.

Time after time I saw swirls in the water, but nothing took my bait. I went into overtime and fished well into dusk, but still nothing could be tempted. I packed up, locked the gate behind me and vowed to return the following evening to break the carp duck.

A day on and I was back to find an almost completely calm lake and loads of fish topping. Like taking candy off a baby I thought. I had the place to myself again so the options were plentiful. The only barrier was time. Just a couple of hours to crack it.

Again, most fish of any size were operating at distance. Now I'm not really geared up or used to long range fishing. 30-40 yards is extreme for a self confessed margin plunderer like me. I now found myself chucking the lead probably 60-70 yards and in truth I felt like I needed more. I still seemed to be short of the main zone and the only close call came from an inquisitive gull.

I gave it an hour before switching to a different bank which the fish seemed to have moved closer to during the session. I felt much happier and I got the bait bang on the money. I thought my number was coming up when a fish swirled by the bait and others were close by. Surely the threat of competition would trigger one of the fish into action.

Sadly it seemed spooked by either the bait or my set up and it bolted a little, causing the rest to back off. And that was that. Apart from a daft moment where in the reducing light I managed to spend about 10 minutes watching the wrong bait, very little else happened!

A very brief foray with a float rod and some leftover maggots in the margins, threw up a roach and a perch of the usual stamp.
A failed effort really, but it's all useful knowledge. It's not an easy nut to crack and the carp will certainly be shelved next time.

Having seen the whole lake in a calm state, it allowed me to see exactly where the fish were feeding. I was actually quite surprised to see plenty of bubbles within comfortable float fishing range on most pegs. I'd like to think some of it was tench related.

The lake is shallow across its whole expanse. So, although I was concerned about fishing the float in shallow water (2.5ft max), I don't think I need to worry. I haven't even found 3ft of depth when venturing out to around 70 yards. The lake isn't pressurised in any way and sees very little bank traffic on my preferred swims. Maybe I don't need to fish at long range after all? A close in swim with a bit of cover might be better after all if the depth is so uniform.

More to ponder over for the week ahead...

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Calibration's What You Need...

... If you wanna be a record breaker! Not quite the words I used to remember Roy Castle belting out during my childhood, but close enough.

Records are something I'm unlikely to trouble, but Jeff Hatt served up a timely reminder recently to do some scale checks of my own. While in the grand scale of life it matters not one jot, but it's nice to know that attempts to beat my meagre personal bests are trustworthy.

I didn't have any proper weights to hand so I plumped for a heavy cooking pot and popped it on a set of kitchen scales that weigh to 0.1oz or 1g. The result was 6lb 12.9oz.

Out with my digital scales and they came up with 6lb 12oz. Close enough for my liking and slightly under weight. That sad, they only weigh to 1oz, so they would never have matched exactly.

Now given that I had proven both sets of scales were reading in the same ball park, it could still have been possible for both to be equally wrong.

A third set of scales (kitchen dial) were now brought into the equation with a lower weight that fell within its capacity. All 3 scales returned results of 2lb 8oz, when rounded to the nearest ounce.

A more stringent check at higher weights with a properly verified weight would be more useful, but for now I'm happy that my scales are close enough for my needs. I have some proper weights stored away somewhere (not seen since I last moved house) so I'll do further checks if I can unearth them.

I had another crack at the estate lake last week. Plans went out of the window when the only area I wanted to fish had a stiff facing wind. Float fishing at range was shelved in favour of the lead again.

Bite registration was a pain and I missed as many (probably more if I'm honest) as I hit. Peas in a pod roach were the result. Seven in total, all in the 6oz to 8oz range.

I was geared up for a go at the carp with a surface bait, but the wind was just making it impossible. As I called time to head home for tea, the wind just dropped off totally. To tease me further, the carp started to reveal themselves one by one.

Again they were at a fair old range, but one spot on a different bank looks quite favourable for reaching them. Importantly it's a little less snaggy looking too. A crafty late afternoon stalking session is on the cards next time - if the wind allows.

Only a month to go before I really start to target the predators. It seems to have flown by this year. Better start clearing out the freezer, ready for the deadbaits!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

P is for...?

The bank holiday saw me snatching a few sessions amongst my other commitments. The theme for the weekend was the letter P.


First up was a brief after work session to start the break. With less than three hours of fishing time to play with, the brief was simple : fish with worms and catch a big Perch. Joined by Steve, we plugged away and caught a good few of the right species, but about 2lbs+ below the target weight!

In a bid to encourage Steve into the world of pike we had a little dabble for them into dark. Just a jack to my rod to show for it. No evidence though, as it flung itself back into the river while I was attending to the net.

We fished into dark and the bats began to appear, swooping across the water in front of us. Steve was stood out on a platform, gazing towards the water, waiting and willing for something to happen. Sure enough it did - a wayward bat came from his blind side and took him by surprise, narrowly missing his head. The startled angler jumped out of his skin and I really thought he was going for a dip!


The following afternoon saw me returning for another crack at the perch, joined by two others. I've honestly never seen the river so alive with fish. Prospects looked good.

Once again I fished mostly with worm but I was unable to catch anything much beyond a pound. Whenever I switched to a bunch of maggots I picked up the odd roach and some better stamp dace. Not anywhere near the class of fish from a certain venue further upstream, but a little better than I'd seen here before. Charlie also reported some nice dace. They have always been here in good numbers, so maybe there are some better ones to be had now. Maybe I'll have the play the numbers game one day and just wade through them to see what can be achieved.

The only problem with hooking small fish on this section of river is the pike. I had three encounters with them and none ended in my favour. Bitten off twice and I pulled out of the other - or more precisely I parted company with the prey fish and the pike made off with its meal.

The pike wasn't the only poacher. I can't say too much, but I've filed another report with the EA.


Last up was a short bonus session on an estate lake I've recently joined. I was meant to be out cycling with my good wife, but the session was abandoned when we couldn't get her bike's gears adjusted to her satisfaction. It's funny how awkward gears can be to adjust, particularly when you know that complete failure might result in spare time to go fishing instead! Best left to Halfords just to be safe!!

Remembering what I saw last time, when fish were feeding at distance, I went armed with leger set ups. Against my normal habits I set up a sleeper rod with an alarm and worm hook bait. The other rod was rigged up with a bunch of maggots and a quiver tip approach. A smattering of groundbait was hurled as far as possible and then fished over.

Bites were at a premium, but I managed three roach, with the best a healthy 15oz. It gives me hope that talk of 2lb fish might actually be completely true. Time will tell ...

What cheesed me off though was the own goal I scored before leaving home. I forgot to take any floating baits and throughout the session a host of carp could be seen breaking the surface time and time again at distance. I'm not expecting them to be monsters and although I'm not really a fan of carp, I do love picking them off with floating baits when opportunity knocks.

I'm quite taken with the estate so far. I've seen enough to suggest there's a bit of potential. It definitely requires a different approach to the ones I'm normally used to, which can't be a bad thing.  I do have a tendency to be a little lazy with my methods. I'll continue to adapt and hopefully get some rewards soon. Either way I'm in this for the long haul and I have a year or so to see what I can extract from it.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Summer Catch Up

A month has slipped by since my last post. Eight short sessions have been squeezed in and while I'd like to report a bountiful haul of fish, the truth is somewhat different.

I've acquired a ticket for an estate lake, but so far I've only managed a single visit. Just a few small rudd to show for a brief encounter and more groundwork is the order of the day to unlock whatever potential might exist.

The truth is that I really have no clue what it holds and there's nothing of note mentioned on the internet either. This one will get some attention during the next closed season, but I will hopefully sneak in the odd session over the next couple of months.

An evening bream session on the Avon with a friend yielded no slabs for either of us. Plenty of dace and perch about though. It was then off to Somerset for a family orientated trip. The good news is that I get to fish a little, but always at the wrong time of day.

I could of course get my backside out of bed earlier, but in truth I like the odd week where I can really recharge my batteries and just chill out. Late to rise and a few beers before bed is the general way it works.

I tackled four different venues - Rivers Brue and Huntspill, King Sedgemoor Drain and the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal. Yes, you read that correctly - me, on a canal, by choice, during the main season.

I'll start with the canal and my initial plan was to fish it on the day I arrived. A crappy journey meant that I lost all enthusiasm to trek the extra 15 miles south from my base. Battling the masses heading for the beach or other south west destinations, didn't appeal.

So, it was a few days later when I finally reached the canal. The section I'd planned to fish was out of bounds due to roadworks. It was either a long detour or drop in closer to home. I took the easy option.

This canal bears no resemblance to my local canals. It's gin clear, very weedy and has no boat traffic to speak of. It's also stuffed with fish. Those who have been following Russell Hilton's Tales From the Towpath blog will know about its potential.

I fed positively to see if I could tempt a tench or bream. Initially all I could find was small rudd and perch, but when bubbles started to show over my baited area, I got a good vibe. Eventually I bagged a small tench of 2lb 1oz to a legered worm. I'm sure others were on the cards, but the need for food and beer got in the way.

The Brue session was unplanned and replaced the aborted canal trip. It's my go to venue when I don't have any tickets. At £2 a day it's cheap and can throw up the odd surprise, but not on this occasion. Just a few small fish to speak of, while I listened to England's Ashes victory being confirmed.

I was lucky enough to be at Edgbaston just over a week earlier in the heart of the raucous Eric Hollies stand. A truly memorable day that was different to any cricket match I'd been to before (even beats seeing Warwickshire win a Lords final!). Will I go again in 2019? Try to stop me!

The Huntspill was full of silver fish and did throw up a few small silver bream to 4oz. An eel also graced my net, much to my companion's excitement. I thought it would make a pound, but having wrestled the dog away from it, the verdict from the scales was just 13oz.

The KSD was full of roach and I had plenty of them to 6oz on corn. I did connect with a lump that I was attached to for about two minutes, before suffering a hook pull. I was only on light tackle and I never actually saw it. The fight wasn't mental enough to be a carp or tench. It had all the hallmarks of a decent foul hooked bream.

Back more locally I joined Brian for another go on the Leam. It was utterly mean. A blank for Brian and just four fish for me - a gudgeon and three perch, with the best pushing towards a pound and the other pair 6-8ozs.

The latest session was on the Anker, which I now think has a silent W in its name! A royal blank for both me and Brian. I've rarely been so disappointed in a session for many a year. It looked bang on.

We saw the odd fish moving, but nothing would bite. Others were suffering the same fate too. The water absolutely reeked though (not for the first time), but there was no hint of fish in distress. There was a decent flow and colour too. Very strange. It's not proving to be an easy nut to crack, but when tackling new rivers you need to go through the whole season to learn how it ticks over. Maybe autumn and the first frosts will bring about better results.

Reports suggest that the Avon is probably my best bet right now. A 3lb 10oz perch came out of my club stretch recently and several 2lb+ fish have been caught this season. With the volume of prey fish present, I wouldn't be surprised if it threw up a 4lb fish soon. The pike fishing prospects look good too.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Tough Going

I managed three sessions over the past week, but like the England cricket team, it wasn't very productive.

The Anker was given another shot and I carried out my promise to ball it in this time. The result wasn't the specimen frenzy I'd hoped to induce. I completely bombed out and the only respectable fish banked was a perch of around a pound and a half.

The pike, or more likely a single pike, taunted me. Fish were snatched and hooklengths severed. Scoff though they might for now, the odds will change somewhat when the first frosts appear. Soft mono is replaced with wire, hooks get a whole lot bigger and rods are much beefier. I'll be back!

Some good information was gleaned from a venue regular and the tales of bream, carp and tench had me salivating. I guess I just need to put the time in and be patient. I like what I've seen, so I will be giving it every chance for sure.

The Avon was a little more responsive to more sympathetic tactics,  yielding lots of small fish. Like the Anker session it was completely at the wrong time of day. I was expecting a tough one, but was surprised to see fish feeding throughout the heat of the day. There's such a good head of fish present right now and it looks promising for the predator season in a few months time.

I took some time out to clean up pegs across the whole section. Being on the committee it's something I like to do, but it amazes me how reluctant other anglers are to keep things ticking over (but they are quick to moan!).

For years now I've always carried a small sickle in my kit and most pegs I fish are treated to a quick trim to help keep them in shape. Just a minute is all it usually takes. Sickles (or similar tools) can usually be picked up for peanuts at car boot sales. Well worth the tiny investment to help give a little back.

There was one notable success on the day as I helped steer my companion for the day towards his first ever pike - in fact the first he'd ever seen in the flesh. It wasn't a bad one either at 8lb 12oz. I'm not sure he's completely converted yet though. I think he enjoyed the fight on a light telescopic rod, but the sharp pointy things in the Pike's mouth were less appealing!

The final venue this week was the more intimate Leam. Being honest I wasn't relishing this one and I thought a grueller was on the cards.

With Brian joining me for this one we dillied and dallied over which section to fish. Checking out all three options in turn, we eventually returned to where we started! The section in question is pretty new to both of us - we'd only tried it once previously.

I had a bite first chuck on the lead. Not expecting quick action, I missed it of course, but a small perch quickly followed. Things went quiet and I set up a stick float, as I couldn't resist getting the pin out and running a bait down the swim.

First full run and the float buried. The rod arched over and something solid was on. I took it carefully, but never saw the fish as I suffered a hook pull. Gutted, but it actually made me more positive.

I pressed on and half an hour later banked a pristine and slightly portly chub. At 2lb 11oz it's no monster, but it was a venue best for me and in immaculate condition.

Another venue best surfaced next cast in the shape of a 2lb 2oz perch that put up a right old scrap on light gear.

A tiny dace and another small perch followed before the swim completely died. I remained biteless for the last couple of hours, as did Brian. He'd had a couple of pound chub and some bits beforehand.

It was actually a pleasant short session in the afternoon sun, albeit tempered a little by the incompetent effort of England's cricketers. Hopefully they'll put up a better show next week, as I'm making my maiden test visit to Edgbaston during the third test. Sucker for punishment?