I just wish I had my digital scales with me, 10cm long (I measured the bait lid when I got home). The only other taker on a very quick morning stream fishing session was a trout about 2lb, I think the target chub can see the line - time to scale down further...
I was just about to make a cast downstream when a big barbel flashed in front of me, I abandoned the cast and instead cast about 10 foot up and wound down so my luncheon meat was about a foot in front of the fish. As I put the rod on the floor it lurched towards the river - fish on!
A couple of powerful runs downstream and then it gave up, I wound it back - looked like a monster and I was eager to get her in the net - but when she saw the net the fight was back on.
An ancient warrior, front half of a tank and the frame of a much bigger fish. The tail was almost gone and she had seen better days, she went 9lb 14oz and I wondered what she looked like in her prime?
A quick photo and a mat shot and she swam away strongly - what a fish! On route down the river I caught one about 2lb, I'd caught a past monster and hopefully a future one...
A very early start and me and James were on the river just after sunrise, we were going hunting cormorants with bazookas! Unfortunately bazookas are hard to acquire, even in Streatham, so we settled for a wander and a bit of fish spotting...
First up we found a big shoal of bream between 3lb and 5lb, not monsters by recent standards, so it was a bream fishing competition - first to 10 fish wins. In my defence bream are fairly new to me and James has been catching them since he was 18 months old... 10 bream to 5... Moving on...
We explored three rivers and a total of five stretches, James had a deadline of midday, and by 4pm we'd caught a total of 6 species; bream, roach, chub, dace, gudgeon and trout... OK, a bit late and no monsters but a great morning's fishing.
Back to the chalk stream to stalk out a new PB bream and it took about 30 minutes searching the riverbed with polarized glasses before I spotted a shoal in the gin-clear water. A dozen fish about 5 or 6lb, with a lump in the mix. I fed them some free samples and quickly set up the world's simplest rig - size 10 hook directly to 10lb mainline, wetting the bread makes it sink.
Ten minutes later I had them feeding confidently, but there was no logic to which bream was going to eat which bit of bread. Often, but not always, the lead fish would miss the bread and one behind would grab it. Sometimes they would move across the stream to intercept it, sometimes they didn't bother. It was breaking my brain!
Eventually the lump moved to the outside edge of the shoal and I cast upstream and slightly outside the target. And watched with my heart in my mouth as she pealed off from the shoal and sucked in the bread. Not a bad fight for a bream, mostly just turning broadside in the current while I prayed the hook wouldn't pull.
Safely in the net. I'd got my double, 10lb 9oz, and a beautiful dark bream at that - brilliant!
When you fish The Farm you build a swim, wait for your quarry and with any luck catch your prize. But you have to pack up before it gets dark - the fish start rolling and you know you're going to miss the golden hour. By chance I got to fish into the night - and confidence was high...
Starting late afternoon it was a bite a chuck; small perch, rudd, roach and the odd tench made it a pleasant few hours in the sun. I did loose a potential PB tench after a careful fight on 3lb line it shed the hook right at the net - annoying but I was here for gold...
As it got dark the fish started to swirl, the swin was baited and the trap was set. I just needed them to get their heads down and feed. They didn't.
One bite, one fish, it was my target but I think it's the smallest crucian I've ever caught (still used the net though). At 10pm I dashed off to get the train still wondering how it all went wrong!
Three hundred! Jack's Pike first appeared here in September 2010, initially a set of 12 strips, it built into 300 strips, three books and has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines and on websites - and was even turned into an animated short on the DVD Caught In The Act, voiced by angling legends Mick 'The Duke' Brown and Neville Fickling!
Well that's it for the time being, who knows I might go back and write book 4 and I'm sure there will be the odd special now and again. The spin off, Fluff Chuckers, has just passed 4 years appearing monthly in Total Flyfisher magazine - and long may it continue.
Many thanks to everyone who has commented over the years, it really makes my day. And after 6 years Friday mornings won't be the same without Jack. Thanks again.
After a 3 week break and a rudd fishing trip that didn't go exactly to plan I headed out to try and get a bend in the rod. Weather wasn't great but the fish wanted to play, 4 chub to about 3lb, 4 barbel to 6lb 14oz and a pound plus eel - mission accomplished!
I noticed a couple of barbel spooking off the moving bait so I swapped to a small lead, letting the meat bump down the swim and sit for 30 seconds or so before I dislodged it and repeated the process. Don't know if I caught because of or despite the change in technique - but it was great to watch the rod rip round!