Afternoon session on the river to enjoy some unseasonably good weather. With bright sunshine and very low, clear water the conditions were less than ideal, but we did manage about half a dozen micro-chub, a few dace and a tiny barbel about 6oz. A great day to be on the river!
A second trip to Penton Hook in search of a pike. I'd been looking forward to it for two weeks, since last time we were here, and I thought with a bit more knowledge we were sure to find a pike or two. Unfortunately it wasn't to be - no pike today!
Darren did manage a new PB perch while fishing for bait, 2lb 1oz.
And I avoided a blank with this 1lb 6oz perch to bleak live bait.
Nothing to do except sit back and wait for a run...
The lock keeper told us that nobody had caught anything today, even the people fishing from boats, so the perch saved the day. But I'm looking forward to coming back, hopefully the pike will play next time...
I'll write this tomorrow, but the best way to guess the weight is to look at Dan's face!
...Evening session on the river, I continued my search for a roach and Dan continued his search for a barbel (as always). Things weren't going well, we'd had 3 mitten crabs, 2 boot-lace eels and a tiny dace between us before sitting watching motionless rod tips for an hour or so... One last swim before home. Dan had his bag on his back and was just about to reel in when there was a little knock on the rod tip. Another little tap and he hit it.
The rod bent right round and there was a big swirl in the shallow water in front of him. Dan calmly let the fish run around the river while I hastily reassembled the net and found a torch. We got our first glimpse of the fish as it slid over the net. What a fish!
It had been the bite we were waiting for... A double! The scales rested on 10lb 2oz... Top work Dan! A few photos and making sure the fish swam away strongly, then a hasty packing up of kit before we were sat in the pub examining the photo in disbelief... Got one!
The almost impossible barbel challenge we'd set ourselves was in the bag. And Dan had smashed his PB, I knew he was saving up his luck for something special.
Further examination of the photo on the computer revealed it was the same fish I'd caught earlier in the season at 9lb 12oz, it had put on those important extra 6oz.
Meet Jack, he loves a spot of pike fishing, and spends a lot of time on the river bank. Follow his adventures with his fishing partner Bob and long suffering wife Tracy. Along the way meet some smart-arse bleak and find out what the pike think of his efforts... Will Jack catch his dream pike?
Featuring the first 100 comic strips.
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And don't worry (as if you were), Jack and Bob will still be here every Friday!
I had a couple of hours free today so I popped down the river to do some exploring. I wanted to see where Dan got his barbel yesterday in the daylight - and it's shallow. I took some kit, mostly because you get strange looks when you are loitering about on a riverbank wearing sunglasses with no fishing gear.
I was interested in the swims we tend to walk straight past and I've found a few I'd like to try. I did see a few chub, some koi and a couple of carp. There is a lot of exotic species in the river but there is one fish that isn't present... So I was surprised when I peered into one swim and saw this:
Water! No if you look closely there is something hidden in the water...
A quick look at my watch revealed I didn't have time to get home, grab my pike kit and get back to the river without incurring the wrath of TC when she finished work. But pike are territorial and hopefully she will be there next week. Only about 6 or 7lb, but now I've seen it...
And the barbel fishing, I only had about 9 or 10 casts for no fish, but I've found some new places I'd like to try... And a new target...
I've been baiting up a swim for the last couple of days, yesterday after roach fishing I added a bit more bait and saw two nice barbel flash, so this evening Dan and myself crept into our trap. The barbel were there - there were taps on the rod tips, the tell-tail signs of them sniffing the bait but they didn't want to play. We sat there quietly for a couple of hours but no luck so we went on a chuck it and chance it mission...
We fished a lot of shallow water, one cast per swim leapfrog style, until we ran out of water - and the pub was calling. Dan had the last spot and after a few minutes said "gosh be darned it, lets go" or words to that effect when his rod wrapped round. Fantastic fight and a new PB barbel 3lb 14oz. Ace!
We decided to give it five more minutes and just before time my rod hooped round. I connected to a good fish, it headed down stream and I had to stop it before it got to a tree in the water, it broke the surface under a street lamp and wriggled about on the surface, yup an eel! I had it on for about another minute but I gave it too much pressure trying to avoid the snags and the hook pulled... Why am I banging on about an eel?
You wouldn't believe me. It was a monster if it was a British eel... And I know it's the Wandte and it was probably a foreign species... But I wish I'd landed it for a photo!
Last year I was fishing on Clapham pond, I was float fishing in the side for small carp, catching a few and generally enjoying the sunshine. I'd been there a couple of hours so I'd had the usual, kids asking for floats, winos asking for money and the odd 'expert' giving me advise, when up walked a big scruffy guy with a can of special brew.
He told me "you should put a weight on and fish against the island, that's where the big 'uns are". I thanked him for his advice and carried on fishing. A couple of minutes later I glanced round and he was still there... "WELL, PUT A WEIGHT ON THEN... I haven't got all day!"
Yesterday Darren, Dan and myself journeyed to Penton Hook on the River Thames. I had been looking forward to it for weeks, it was a 5.30 start and a 20 minute bicycle ride to the train station. I had no problem with the early start but the bike I was riding is nicknamed The Beast.
The Beast I am the latest custodian of The Beast, rumor has it that it was forged in the fires of hell and once belonged to Satan himself. It has 15 gears but only one works, The Beast picks which gear that will be at the start of the journey and occasionally, randomly, will choose another when you least expect it. Breaks are a similar story but the worst thing is the razor blade saddle, it's no so much sitting on it but wearing a bicycle up your arse! And with 20 minute bike rides either side of the stations I was going to be on it for over an hour - I must really love fishing!
The Hook Penton Hook looks great, we crossed onto the island and had a quick look round, there are two weirs, narrow fast water, deep slow water, a little slice of everything Thames. And we saw bream topping, carp fizzing, pike swirling and big shoals of silver fish. Exciting. I did take a lot of photos but unfortunately I dropped my phone in afterwards, it's drying on my windowsill.
The Fish We set up in the first swim, a wide shallow peg where we had seen bream and pike topping, and decided on a £5 sweep stake on the biggest fish caught. We all started feeder fishing for the barbel and bream (I was secretly after a bleak for livebait). An hour or so passed without a bite so we moved to one of the weirs.
Dan decided this was enough messing about and switched to meat and targeted the barbel, me and Darren stuck to feeder fished maggots. Darren soon started picking up roach and dace to about 8oz, I couldn't get a touch so I borrowed a little dace and went in search of a pike. I hadn't been fishing long when there was a swirl under my float and a cheeky cormorant made off with my fish. Darren's fishing had slowed right down, Dan and myself couldn't get a bite so we moved again.
A narrow fast swim that cried out barbel, and Darren's first cast met with a big bite and a good fish on. Our first Penton Hook barbel? No. A 5lb 11oz pike on maggots, hooked fair and square in the mouth. A cracking fish and good lead in the sweep stake. The first Thames pike I had seen... I wanted one...
While Dan went in search of a barbel, Darren continued to catch dace and the odd roach while I caught a bleak and tried to find a pike. Run first cast and a little pike that threw the hook as soon as I saw him. Another bleak and trotted him back to the same spot, run again, this time a nice perch about a pound.
I continued livebaiting and lost count of how many runs I had - how often can you say that? Landing a total of 4 nice perch to a pound. Darren hooked into a good fish casting across the river, but lost it, a dace covered in tooth-marks came back, there was a bigger pike in his swim. He put a pike bait out and hooked into it twice more but unfortunately the hook pulled both times, we'll get her next time.
Despite pike and perch on the menu Dan stuck to his true love and searched out a barbel, he explored far more of the island that me and Darren but didn't find his fish. He has however found some great spots and is formulating a plan to get one next time.
Both myself and Darren were now firmly focused on pike. Darren switched to lure fishing for the last hour and I tried a float fished livebait under some far side bushes, I had one run and a very acrobatic pike... Was it going to beat Darren's pike, the scales pulled round to 4lb 5oz, Darren had won the day and the £15. I wasn't disappointed I'd got my first Thames pike, fantastic!
We left the island with plans to return, Darren and myself after double figure pike and Dan after a double figure barbel. A great day's fishing.
We got to the lock and unfortunately nobody had stolen my bike... So I stuck it up my arse and cycled to the station...
Anyone who's been fishing with me knows I believe in luck, I've got a lucky fishing hat (which I wear even if it's too hot), I always put the rod wraps on so the logo is the right way up and I always put the first livebait back. I'm trapped fending of bad luck and thinking up stupid new ways to improve it.
And I have had a run of luck so far this season, I don't think I've had a run quite like it before. Fishing in a tough river I've had 98lb of barbel in less than three months. Dan on the other hand is having a run of bad luck. Really bad luck. We've been fishing the same swims, same bait and he hasn't caught anything like the fish I have. It happens, in fishing, a lot.
Yesterday afternoon we hit the river, after popping into the local tackle shop and stopping off in Dan's favorite pub for a game of pool (he kicked my arse). We went back to the spot where I had the four pounder on Wednesday, Dan was after barbel, I was after one of the big roach I had seen there in the closed season.
After 2 hours without a bite I tried a tiny bit of our experimental new bait on a size 16 hook to light line, the rod hooped over and I connected to a big fish. We could see it in the shallow water and both thought it was the double we were after. A long fight on tackle designed for roach with several heart stopping moments when it powered off downstream before Dan got the net under it. A long lean 8lb 1oz barbel. Taking my total weight for the season to over 100lb.
We moved downstream, I switched back to bread trying to tempt a roach while Dan still targeted the barbel. We found a swim that looked like it would hold both our target species and waited. Dan had two or three good bites that looked like the rod was going to hoop round but it didn't. On the third or fourth time he hit it anyway, and connected to a fish. We both thought it was a barbel until it surfaced and I slipped the net under a 2lb 6oz goldfish (ornamental koi).
What a beautiful looking fish! Dan was delighted. With the light fading we moved downstream. As we walked to the next swim I mentioned to Dan that that was it, his luck had changed, and just as I said it he skidded along in a massive dog turd!! It doesn't matter, fishing luck is different to everyday luck. (And sometimes Jack's Pike just writes itself).
We rounded things off with an eel to me before Dan had yet another mitten crab - his favorite.
Tomorrow we're off to the Thames, Dan is targeting the barbel and I'm after a pike. Now where is my lucky pike plug?
I hooked a fish in the dark, it shot off downstream as the touch batteries died. It felt like a big fish (the smallest we've seen from this stretch was 7lb). I gradually gained control and Dan slipped the net under it in the moonlight - 3lb 9oz. Was it a trick of the light? No, they all fight like this. I love Wandte barbel!
Evening session on the river and all was quiet, we fished from 6pm and were planning on leaving around ten. About quarter to ten Dan snagged and lost his kit, we'd only had one small eel so I said I'd give it 5 more minutes... With 10 seconds to go the rod hooped round... It only takes a second to make your entire fishing trip!
Very quick trip to the river today, our first in September, and we fished a stretch we hadn't fished since last year. I added a chunky 4lb 0oz barbel to the challenge and Dan caught his second mitten crab of the season!