Getting better at these self-taken photos. 3lb 14oz
It was a milder day today in London, and as I haven't caught a fish all month, I thought I'd fish the last hour of daylight on the Wandte. I started fishing about 3pm and had my first bite about 10 minutes later. A tiny bite but connected with the 3lb 14oz chub above. About 30 minutes later I had another bite, this one wanted to pull the rod in, and went 3lb 6oz. I recast but the light was fading and I headed home at four.
Not even wearing a coat! Must be warm. 3lb 6oz
Hair-rigged luncheon meat in about 18 inches of water did the trick. Chub aren't known for being hard fighting fish - but nobody had told these two - they both gave a great fight and I was convinced I was connected to a carp both times.
And just before I left a fox jumped over the wall I was sitting propped against, landing in my lap... Don't know who was more shocked me or the fox? I left him some luncheon meat for his effort (and for not biting me).
There have been some good fishing reports coming from the River Wye for the last week or two, big bags of chub and roach have been caught as well as a number of pike to 20lb. So yesterday I traveled from London to get here... But the harsh weather was already working against me...
This morning I woke to a snowstorm adding to the already deep snow. Fishing looked out of the question, and this was confirmed when I went for a walk by the river. The ice in the margins was almost meeting in the middle and more snow was starting to fall... Only a madman would fish in conditions like this...
No fishing for a while now, but as I sit here watching the snow fall outside I have decided to head to the River Wye next week. I think I'm in for some tough fishing, but I need to open this season's pike account. Nothing warms me up like the thought of a River Wye twenty...
...I can't go fishing today, my bait freezer won't let me have any bait..! Edit: I did manage to chisel out a couple of roach and float them about in the Thames for an hour, but the pike weren't playing today...
I love it when you can look out the window on a frosty morning, from your nice warm house, cup of tea on the go and a snuggly cat on you lap and realise you don't have to leave the house all day... Then you think I'll go roach fishing, fishermen are a mad bunch!
This morning I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to go after some Wandte roach, so I set off into the cold armed with a few slices of bread and a quiver tip. I snuck into the swim I caught the five pound chub in last week and the first cast met with a good bite and a 3lb 3oz chub.
I did everything I could to minimise disturbing the swim, I'm even lying down in the photo - so I wasn't surprised when the next cast resulted in another good bite. This time I hooked a large pair of white trousers! After pulling these through the swim I knew the game was up.
I moved up stream and had a roach about 6oz and two gudgeon both getting on for 4oz - I'm going to take the kitchen scales at some stage and find out exactly how close to the record these fish are getting. But, for now, I think I need to return to my quest for some winter pike...
Well with my pike season being slow to take off I thought I'd return to trying to catch my old favourite fish, the chub. I've seen several big chub while scouting out the Wandte, unfortunately by the time you see them they have already seen you.
I opted for a swim I have seen chub in a number of times, about a foot deep with a two and a half foot deep channel, I tackled up well away from the edge and slid into position like a stealth-ninja! I couldn't see them - they couldn't see me.
I fished stinky old luncheon meat on the ledger. About half an hour later I had a gentle rattling bite and connected to a good fish, unfortunately I stood up, spooking the swim, the chub was about 3 pounds but collected a raft of weed before spitting the hook. Disaster!
I thought about changing swim or coming back tomorrow but opted to stay and hope they would return. About two hours of feeding the swim later I had another rattling bite and hit another fish, this time I got it - it's been a while - 5lb 2oz - my best chub for well over 10 years... Yay!
Also, inspired by my brothers fantastic photo albums I decided to make my own (an online version). I had a look at Flickr and a number of other photo hosting sites but in the end I made one from scratch - so it matched my blog. It's here.
It's been a while since I've put any fishing updates on here, and as you can see I'm not leading with a photo of a pike, it isn't going well... I had a week without my kit when I lent it to a mate who found himself booked onto a carp lake while his kit was in South Africa - he got some nice carp - so it was worth it!
I've been piking on the Thames, as it's a big river I've divided it up on a map and doing 3 hour sessions on small stretches to see if I can locate any... None so far! Haven't even had a run yet but I'm still working on it... Have seen a few pike anglers about, and only one I spoke to had caught a pike, a six pounder from Hampton Court last Saturday. I'm seriously thinking about a trip back to my home-turf of the River Wye and trying to get my pike-mojo back!
In fact I've only caught one fish since I returned from shark fishing - a small dace in a quick barbel fishing trip with Dan a couple of weeks ago. Dan managed one small barbel and is itching to get back to the Wandle... I'm not going to convert him to a pike fisherman at this rate..!
Dan text me to see if I wanted to pop down to the Wandte this evening after some barbel (he's obsessed, I'm easily lead). We went to the spot he's been feeding, I was first into the action when I briefly hooked into a good fish which managed to find a snag and break me off. Dan was next, a fish that fought well above it's weight, and a new Wandte record (for us)... 3lb 2oz... Top stuff!
While I have been away Dan has been busy, he has been baiting a swim on the Wandte every two days and upped the barbel target to 2lb 8oz, then on Monday night he had a 3lb 1oz barbel and is convinced there are bigger fish there. Unfortunately the photo wasn't great as the flash on his camera failed - after all this effort I didn't want our biggest barbel to go unrecorded, and I didn't want to lose the £10 bet I have on who catches the biggest Wandte barbel.
So despite the cold last night we went fishing. We had a few half-hearted bites, but I think the frost in the morning and the dropping evening temperature had put them off. The session was saved by a solitary mirror carp to Dan, it was the same fish he caught on the 16 September and this time we had scales, it went 2lb 5oz, another really fat river carp... After barbel, at night, at this time of year? We must be mad!
Time to dig out some warm clothes and see if Esox wants to play. The first venue is going to be the Thames, it's a big river and lacks many of the obvious pike-holding features of my home turf River Wye, so tonight we are going to brave the cold again and put out some marker baits.
Speaking of the Wye, the first twenty of the season made an appearance yesterday... I'll be heading there soon.
Well I'm back in London and reflecting on a fantastic trip. I caught a total of eleven sharks, three of which were over six foot, to 6' 11" (above), three big stingray to 75lb, three red drum to 42" and three barracuda to 20lb... Not to mention the other species; black sea bass, small stingray, a trigger fish, blue fish, whiting, a clearnose skate and an octopus (well, nearly).
It wasn't easy fishing and we put a lot more hours in than the blog seems to reflect, but it was more than worth it. It wasn't only the fishing, it was the great locations, the wildlife and the other aspects of catching sharks, landing them, unhooking and releasing them.
So it's a massive thank you to Paulos, Brooke and Sammi for their hospitality. And a massive thanks to Paul's ghillie skills. I don't think I'll read the Shark Blog in the same light again... Now I've experienced it I'll be very envious of every post!
So would I swap? Surprisingly no, I'm sure there is a River Wye 30 pound pike with my name on it, and until we meet my quest continues...
Last day of shark fishing today and myself and Paulos set off for Florida long before the sun came up. We arrived at Little Talbot Island as the park opened just after 7am. The shark rods were quickly cast out and then we waited... And waited... The action started off slowly. A small bluefish was the first to make an appearance, followed shortly after by a bigger bluefish.
A bluefish, getting on for 4lb.
We caught some fingerling mullet with the cast net so I swapped one of the rods over from mullet chunks to a livebait, and soon the rod was knocking round and bits of the livebait were retrieved. Then the rod pulled round hard and I wound down into a good fish, the fish jumped over and over again as it stripped almost all of the line from the multiplier. I walked down the beach to regain enough line to play the fish and after a tough fight I landed a 5' 8" blacktip shark.
5' 8" blacktip. Yay, shark number nine.
We caught a few more bluefish before the mullet chunk rod started getting some interest, I switched from livebait to a mullet chunk and put a short cast into the surf. The first rod hammered over a fish was hooked but spat the hook, it went back out and I was soon connected to another fish, this one jumped on the leader and broke the line. A quick glance over at the second rod and it was bent double and almost pulling out of the spike. I hit the fish and it was a very different fight, it didn't take a great deal of line and it didn't jump - but it didn't want to come to the beach.
After about 15 minutes Paulos saw it in the surf and told me it was a big lemon shark, as it fought we watched it swimming through the clear waves. 10 minutes later it was in the surf and Paul grabbed it... What a fish... Shark number ten - 6' 11" - one inch off seven foot!
6' 11" lemon shark, about 175lb.
We fished on throughout the afternoon, it was mostly quiet, punctuated with brief periods of intense action. We caught a couple more bluefish and lost about 7 or 8 blacktips, they either jumped and spat the hook, jumped on the leader or in two cases broke the hook. As the sun was setting and the kit was being packed up we had one last run, Paulos signaled for me to hit it and I was connected to the last shark of the trip - another blacktip - 4' 1" - what a fantastic day!
4' 1" blacktip as the sun set...
Three sharks today and eleven in total over the 2 weeks, thanks to my ghillie, Paulos.
Quick morning trip to Jekyll Island this morning and a few new species. Using the gear for big sharks I had a small fine tooth shark, followed a small Atlantic sharpnose shark. Next up was a clearnose skate before the lighter red drum rod arched over - a heavy fish pulled away and after a great game of tug-o-war I landed a big stingray, about 70-75lb. Sweet!
A small fine tooth shark.
Clearnose skate... A bit spiky to hold for a photo.
Stingray about 70-75lb.
The stingray didn't want to meet me!
Meanwhile, back in England, Dan has taken the lead in the biggest Wandle barbel competition with this 2lb 8oz fish...
With a few sharks under the belt, we hit the open sea off Savannah today to go after another fish I've always wanted to catch, the barracuda.
The initial marks we tried produced black sea bass, red snapper, a trigger fish and an octopus but after a bit of searching we found a promising spot near a tower 36 miles out to sea. We could see the barracuda attacking the bait fish and we able to sight-fish for them, casting to them and as they went to investigate the bait we began to pull it away inducing a take. Free-lined live bait did the trick.
I've met your freshwater brothers...
The fight was spectacular with deep dives and aerial jumps, one of them managed to get about 10 foot of air - wish I'd filmed it! We ended up with 6 fish to over 20lb. (Some of the photos didn't come out due to rolling boat).
Paulos with the best of the bunch.
Despite the use of a gaff (horrible thing) all the barracuda were returned alive and unharmed to the water - some of the black sea bass weren't so lucky... They are dinner tomorrow.
TC got in on the action.
On the way back we couldn't resist a quick try for a shark, so we followed a shrimp boat with float fished deadbaits - just one run which I hit, but the shark was only on for about a minute before it jumped and broke the leader.
A barracuda in the clear water.
I massive thanks to Captain Chris and Team X-TA-SEA for taking us out for the day - top fishing guys!
Back to Florida today (Monday) to fish a great clear water, shallow beach. We fished the outgoing tide and Paulos was soon into a fish (he fished today, until now he has been the ghillie). He said he thought it was a stingray - and when he got it in the surf what a stingray! It was about 70lb and angry, wielding it's sting around like an mad axe-man.
I wish I'd poured some water over it to wash the sand off.
I hit the next run which ran out into the distance, I gradually bullied him back towards shore before he took all the line back. The trick, I've been told, to fighting sharks it to be completely relentless - 'If you're resting, the shark's resting'. I managed to get him in the surf and Paul dragged him onto the beach. 5' 11" about 125lb.
Nearly six foot of pure muscle.
Next Paul was into a shark and unlike mine this one ran towards the beach and after a relatively short fight I was sent into the surf to drag it to shore. I was standing in 3 feet of water faced with a fairly fresh shark almost as big as me. I managed to grab it's tail and hang on after a few attempts - Paul was back on the beach laughing 'cause he knew how difficult it would be to get hold of.
5' 4" blacktip shark, nice to go wading with!
As the tide went out we had a number of dropped runs. We also connected with a number of sharks, the problem was; in the shallow water they tend to jump - often spitting the hook in the process or landing on the leader and breaking the line... We had 5 more sharks on between us but failed to land any of them... Lot's of arm ache, and lot's of fun, but no shark photos. One last run as we were packing up resulted in a stingray about 8lb to me. What a great day!
And as we left this angry blue crab waved us goodbye.