Last session of the year and I decided to head to Bury Hill still in search of my first zander. There was a two for the price of one coupon in the angling paper last week, so I collared a fisherman in the car park and we had a half price trip each.
The guy in the shop told me the same story as last time; you should have been here last week, they were flying out... Haven't seen any for the past few days though - typical!
All day, mostly in the rain for one missed run. But if I hadn't gone I'd have been sat at home thinking I was missing out! And I think I've perfected my resistance-free zander rigs - so it wasn't an entirely wasted day.
Blogging a few blank zander trips will make it even better when I finally get one. And it's an excuse to wish everyone in blog-land a Happy New Year And Tight Lines In 2013.
Well I'm back in London, the flood having prevented me from even wetting a line in The Wye this Christmas. I'll be back when the river returns to it's banks - got a date with a thirty!
While I sat inside by the patio doors watching the rain and the river getting ever closer I had a look through the biscuit tin. The gold biscuit tin is where we keep the photos of past glories...
I scanned in a few of the high nineteens, the ones that missed their spot on the twenty list by a few ounces... Can't wait to get back at them. This is just me and Paulos, I scanned in some Roger ones but I'm saving those for a future post.
If it's flooded or frozen where you are, you can play Ice Frosty, one of the first computer games I ever made (back when I used to write the code as well as doing the graphics). Recently unachieved while I was looking for something else. Game is here.
I've been asked to write a fishing game for the iPhone, so if anyone has any ideas stick them in the comments. Something as simple and addictive as Stick Cricket or Stick Tennis... I'll make sure you're credited if we go with your idea.
My December barbel is in the bag! My barbel every month challenge is still go!
With less than 3 hours on the clock I raced down to the river, as my brother always says 'you can't catch them sat at home'. I decided to try some spots I've always fancied but never given much time.
Fishing was slow with only the odd knock here and there. Running out of time I hit my last chosen spot, the first cast sat out for about 20 minutes with the odd little knock, before the rod ripped round.
Strong fight against a tight drag, I'd hooked the fish in-between three nasty looking snags and trees overhead meant I couldn't hold the rod up high - making life very difficult!
It was a sigh of relief when the fish finally went in the net on the third attempt, a December barbel, 8lb 14oz. After making sure the fish swam away strongly I quickly packed up my kit and headed for the bus.
Right, that's sorted... Let's try and string some time together and go after a pike...
I was all set to work on a computer game today, but a phone call last night informed me that my programmer was unavailable... Unexpected day off, yay!
I needed a lie in, it's a shame to waste daylight hours but work has been going nuts recently. The cat decided that at 9.30 enough was enough, so I got up, we had breakfast, I grabbed my trotting gear and I headed out into the frosty morning.
I was heading to a new stretch in search of a winter trout. James had pointed me roughly in the right direction, and when I arrive a couple of local fishermen pointed me to some likely spots - cheers guys!
With my new found information I soon had a bite and my first Wandte trout was on the bank, only small but a new fish on this year's species list.
With new confidence I went after his bigger brother, but only two more bites were forthcoming and I missed both. Still I covered a lot of water and did some exploring - all good research for next time.
One problem I had was this area has suffered from the pollution and some stretches are still devoid of fish - it all looks good but I'm sure I must have spent a lot of time fishing in baron water... Still more research to do!
Work, wives, chores... Nothing is going to get in the way of that monster pike! Jack and Bob are back and it’s getting serious. Meet some old friends and prepare for some skiving, excuses and an extraordinary amount of time on the riverbank...
The plan to spend the day on the river was scuppered by having to work this morning, but me and Dan managed to hit the river at about 1.30pm in the pouring rain. It's still like leaf soup and in among all the real leaves I managed to catch these plastic ones... What are the odds?
Only one real bite this afternoon, Dan was briefly hooked into what looked like a very big fish, but it managed to straighten the hook, ah well, next time... Not what we said at the time!
On route home I bumped into James from My Fishing Exploits and he'd bagged up today, probably worth checking out his blog later.
Edit: The problem with it getting dark so early is I'm now faced with evening tv, in the summer we could hit the river about five or six, fish for five hours, quick pint or two and perhaps a Family Guy.
Tonight I was faced with Strictly Come Dancing and The Killing, my girlfriend talks about these a lot, but I still hadn't guessed what I'd let myself in for...
Strictly Come Dancing: A group of D list celebrities are given a week to learn a dance, then a panel of 'experts' slag them off when they get it wrong. OK it was only an hour... No! Results show on Sunday and a catch up every day of the week... Somehow I don't think I'm going to get hooked!
The Killing: Extremely slow-paced Danish crime drama with subtitles, I'm not sure if anything happened, and goody, there was a second one straight after... I soon stopped reading the subtitles and made up my own story. And there's only another dozen or so episodes before they find the killer. I couldn't help thinking they should send Lewis or Frost over, I'm sure they could crack it in a two-hour special...
But then again I'm sure telly addicts think us fishermen are mad!
I haven't really stuck to the Wish List I proposed before the season started, I get very easily distracted. But one fish I really want to catch is a zander. So yesterday Darren and I headed to top zander venue, Bury Hill in Surrey.
Bury Hill has a single barbless hook policy, and when I was making the traces I didn't fancy them. But having used them and seen how they hold the bait with a lot of hook showing I think this might be the way forward in predator fishing. We inherited trebles from the days of catching for the pot, and there must be a better solution.
To the fishing... Well the zander didn't want to play today, only one was caught on the entire lake, but we did a lot of exploring (floating about in our boat in the sunshine), a couple of jacks provided the excitement and cooking sausage and bacon rolls from our mid-lake camp was brilliant!
Any trip that results in a pike or two, regardless of size, is a great trip in my book. Now we just have to work on smashing Darren's pike curse... And we're both very keen to return and hopefully put our first zander each on the bank!
With less than 3 hours on the clock, including travel time, I raced down to the river. I headed for a stretch that produced barbel in the summer - no time for exploring today!
The river was still leaf-soup, but today I was prepared; I brought some 3oz leads. Accuracy was going to be the order of the day - the lead was going to make a hell of a splash in this little river. On the sharp end I fished two white maggots on a size 16 hook.
First cast hit the water like a depth-charger, but it was anchored in position. Next I threw out 2-3 maggots every 30 seconds or so, to keep a constant but minimal reminder that there was food in the water.
Five or ten minutes later the rod hooped round, I hit the fish and was initially concerned with how much crap was on the line, but it didn't take long before the barbel shook it free. Then a great fight, even by barbel standards and a 8lb 7oz fish was in the net.
With the swim thrashed I moved a short distance downstream and repeated the process, and after about 5 minutes I had another rod-ripping bite. But this one was quick, too quick to hit. For the next hour it was the same story, the barbel (or chub) wanted the maggots but weren't getting hooked.
I swapped over to a bigger hook and a bunch of maggots but the bites disappeared, not sure if they just wanted a small bait or if the brief feeding spell was over.
But my November barbel is in the bag, although I think the December and January ones are going to be the most tricky...
Barbel Challenge November 2012: 8lb 7oz | 1 barbel | 8lb 7oz average | 8lb 7oz best
On time this week! But another week has slipped by with no fishing, it's tricky at this time of year with work - but I need to get to the river. And I've just quoted on two big Christmas advertising campaigns. I think I need a fishing weekend!
Follow the fly fishing adventures of Doc Brown and his pal Crab in a brand new comic strip Fluff Chuckers. Only in Total Flyfisher Magazine, available from shops that sell magazines, like Smiths and that one just round the corner. I'm also doing the illustrations for Parton's Parting Shot as well - which is pretty sweet.
A couple of hours down the river this evening, trying to crack the challenge before the cold weather arrives tomorrow. And it was like fishing in leaf soup, so much rubbish was collecting on the lines it made things very tricky.
Dan's first cast managed to sit out for about 20 minutes before he had a rod ripping bite, a great fight to start with, then the fish seemed to give up when it got near the net... But it was the fish we were after, the one to tip us over 300lb for the season.
We weighed it, shook the scales and weighed it again, 9lb 15oz just one ounce off being a double, but Dan was still delighted.
The Barbel Challenge 2012 was cracked. Time for champaign - or in this case a couple of pints - brilliant!
Barbel Challenge October 2012: 22lb 5oz | 3 barbel | 7lb 7oz average | 9lb 15oz best
Well Roger and Paulos' shark fishing adventure went very well, you can see the photos here: Shark Blog. Loads of red drum, the odd monster stingray and best of all a six-foot-plus shark from the beach.
We've talked about this photo for probably over a year now, often standing on the frozen banks of the River Wye while pike fishing. It's the trophy shot he's been after - top fishing guys!
Another trip to Penton Hook, and a plan; one rod for bream and a pike rod each. Things started off well, I had a small bream about 2lb on the fourth cast laying down a carpet of bait...
Darren soon had an eel about 1lb, a 8oz roach, this hybrid about 1lb 8oz and an aborted run on his pike rod...
But then things slowed right down. Time for lunch, what will it be today? Well there is no point breaking from tradition (we also had bacon sandwiches). Cooking these attracted every dog on the island...
About an hour later I heard a shout from Dan, I ran for net duty and was met with the biggest bream I've ever seen. 6lb 4oz, his first ever bream and an absolute monster. Slab number one!
Darren (our resident bream expert) was next into the action with this cracking 5lb 5oz fish. Slab number two!
OK, I didn't manage a slab, but this fantastic 2lb 4oz eel made up for it, although he didn't want a photo with me - they are so tricky to hold for a photo...
I did manage a second bream of 2lb 4oz (my fifth bream ever) and Darren wrapped things up with a bootlace eel.
And the pike, they didn't want to play today, we'll be back!