Saturday, 20 May 2017

Clouds​ With Silver Linings​

Back to the canal to search out some early​ points to kick-start my Blogger's Challenge campaign. With the rivers out of action it gives me a good excuse to sample waters I wouldn't normally get out of bed for. That's not to decry them - it's just horses for courses really.

This is often the fun part of the challenge for me, where points can flow freely and I target anything and everything. Armed with a couple of straight lead rods, a helping of groundbait and half a pint of red maggots, this was a simple catch all session.

I kicked off with both rods, but in the end I had to scale back to just one. Bites were proving hard to hit and I felt one rod fished with full attention was better than trying to juggle my focus across two.

It proved to be a steady session, mainly built around skimmers of just over a pound. I only​ managed one fish north of two pounds - 2lb 8oz being the best of the bunch.

The stand out fish was a silver bream of 14oz. A personal best and a few tidy points for that.

Although generally a laid back character, I still have a competitive instinct lurking within - even when pleasure fishing. Totting up the weight as I went along, I'd got myself to 8lb 8.5oz. Time was nearly up, so I gave myself an extra half hour to reach double figures.

I thought I'd cracked it when I hooked another skimmer, but it only saw me up to 9lb 12.5oz.  Beyond time, I gave myself a last cast to get the job done.

Anyway several last casts later and deep into overtime, the tip rattled and I was in. Bloody typical though - a tiny perch of 2.5oz to take me to a tantalising 9lb 15oz. I graciously called it a day and figured it wasn't meant to be.

More canal points in four hours though than I earned in the whole of the last challenge. Moreover, quite enjoyable canal sport again.

Sometimes opportunity knocks and you have to grab it. Quite often it's these unplanned spur of the moment decisions that deliver special moments.

I was due in hospital for a spot of day surgery, which was also set to knock out any hope of weekend fishing or alcohol consumption! To cut to the chase, it got called off at the last moment and my mind was quickly working out how to salvage some fishing out of it.

My wife was due at the gym that evening and I hatched a plan to get a lift to the canal. I'd only have about 1.25 hours of actual fishing, but that was 1.25 more than I'd have had normally. With just a handful of maggots and a small offering of groundbait, I headed off with a single rod.

Tactics were the same as previously and it took nearly half an hour to bank a bog standard pound skimmer. Rain was now setting in and I had no brolly for this whistle stop session. I donned the waterproofs, gritted my teeth and figured it would soon be time to go. Sanity was being questioned!

And then it all came together. Out of adversity came 30 minutes of manic fishing that left me gobsmacked. Bites flowed easily as the fish presumably settled over the bait. A few skimmers, a tiny tench, a roach / bream hybrid and a pb nudging silver bream of 13.5oz, came in quick succession.

With time running short I entered last bite territory. Sopping wet, I struck into a fish and my heart started racing. A big roach I thought, but those hopes were dashed by something equally appealing. It was a huge silver bream that looked close to two pounds.

I double checked it across both the Avons and a digital scale and both confirmed 1lb 14oz. A massive pb for me and in terms of percentage of British record, my best ever catch by a mile. The Avon scales in the photo below are 6.25 inches long,

Sadly, little hope of any great photos in the wet and gloomy conditions, but one that will live long in my memory. I've done some identification checks (along with a second opinion) and it seems to stack up. If anyone spots any doubts, please share them though. I don't want to lay claim to anything dubious.

Attention will briefly turn to stillwater soon, but with bank work to do on the river and the obvious lure of the canal, it might just have to wait a while longer.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

False Start

A three week lay off gave me a chance to catch up on some long overdue garden improvements, interspersed with some fishing chores. Reels loaded up, rods tidied, tackle jacket washed, replenished and smelling a whole lot better! Ready for action and the start of the 2017/18 Blogger's Challenge.

The challenge (which encompasses river/drain, canal and stillwater targets) is a welcome diversion at this point of the year. In recent times, Spring has seen me fall into state of self-imposed exile. Rivers are pretty much it for me, so for 3 months of the year my motivation to fish is largely dead in the water.

The challenge promises to alter the mindset a little though and I recently found myself back down the cut to check out the potential points it might offer.

Having had two double figure bags from it in previous sessions, I was optimistic of repeating the feat again. I should come clean and say that double figures wasn't pounds - it was fish caught! Exactly ten each time!

A session spent alternating between pole and wand. The latter, a Shakespeare Mach XT, had been rediscovered in my tackle tidying exercise. It was great to have it in action again. All too much of my legering is done with heavy gear down the river, so a far lighter touch felt like a different and pleasing change to me.

Sadly no repeat, with a measly seven fish caught on this trip. However, a 12oz roach and a couple scraping half a pound made me think that better redfins might not be far away. I'd return a day later.

With wand in hand I went in search of better quality fish. A sympathetic balling in of groundbait kick-started proceedings while I added a second lead rod to the attack. 

First cast saw the tip fly around while I was tying up a rig for the second rod. A nice roach/bream hybrid of 1lb 10oz got me off to a brisk start. 

The next action is where the love of the wand wore off briefly. A strike met by a solid thump and I thought I'd hooked the bottom. Then it kicked and I realised my 2.5lb hook length and slender, delicate rod were about to be a tad under-gunned.

With mindless optimism I settled in for a long battle, fearing the the inevitable snagging. It didn't come to that though, as the hook pulled and left me with a souvenir of the culprit.

Knowing it was foul hooked gave some vindication and valuable evidence for future trips. Having never caught a canal carp, it's something I fancy doing before the river season kicks off. Bizarrely I had a second carp foul hooking episode later in this session with an identical hook pull outcome.

The rest of this 3.5 hour session saw me connecting with mainly bream. Five of them up to 3lb 12oz saw me genuinely pass the double figure weight mark. Most fell to double red maggot, but the largest was taken on corn.

Just one roach though, but another small step in the right direction at 14oz.

All of the above don't count for the blogger's challenge though, as it was a day before the off. Good knowledge gained though, but at a price. My recently purchased landing net handle somehow didn't make it back to my car. I only found out the next day, by which time the damage was done. That's one smashed and another lost in the space of a month at the same location. This canal lark is proving costly!

With some riverbank maintainence work to attend to soon, it might be a while longer before I get back to the canal. Although I am cooking up some ideas to combine fitness and fishing, which might provide a few extra opportune moments. I've threatened that in the past though and it didn't materialise, so don't hold me to it!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Blogger's Challenge 2017/18 Gallery

Points scoring fish for the 2017/18 Blogger's Challenge will be shown here:



9lb 12oz





Silver Bream



11lb 1oz


3lb 5oz


7lb 8oz




4lb 4oz




1lb 15oz




Common Bream

2lb 8oz
Silver Bream

1lb 14oz - pb

Roach/Bream Hybrid





1lb 3oz