Determination to wet a line over the Christmas break drove me out into the pouring rain for a couple of hours fishing this afternoon. I ledgered maggots in the rapidly rising water and gave each swim just a few minutes to see if it held a fish.
Second swim and a barbel, only a small one at 4lb 6oz, but considering my season so far I was delighted! I made my way down the river and the only other fish to take an interest was a 3lb 14oz chub, fantastic condition and really looked heavier, but I wasn't complaining!
Soaked through I made my way home - but it was worth it!
Happy New Year, and I hope 2014 sees you land the fish of your dreams!
It's happening again! Before the season began I set myself a challenge of catching 200lb of pike, a fairly reasonable target if I was fishing much - but work has really gotten in the way. James also took up this challenge and added the 'must be at least 5 doubles clause' - so I added that to my own challenge.
As you can see from the table above; James has made good progress, where as I haven't gotten to grips with it yet. But I had an ace up my sleeve - 2 weeks fishing my home turf, the River Wye, with the best pike angler I know - my Dad.
I've been watching the water levels and the webcams and it was looking good, until a couple of days ago when the Christmas weather curse arrived. Pouring down with rain and a river that is about to burst it's banks... I'm going to fish it no matter what... But the odds don't look good!
Miles and miles and miles! I don't know how long I've had these shoes, must be 10 or 12 years - and I wonder how many thousands of miles I've walked in them chasing things with fins? On the long walk back from Penton Hook on Thursday they finally ripped.
Goodbye fishing shoes and I'm really glad to finally chuck you in the bin - even clean and dry they weigh a ton - why did I keep them?
And what did my girlfriend get me for Christmas? Yeap, proper waterproof hiker's boots - fantastic!
Girls sometimes listen to you, even if you are banging on about fishing! My girlfriend and I don't have Christmas together, so we have Mini-Christmas a few days before, and as well as my shoes I opened the present above - a set of kitchen scales.
"You said that you were going to take a week off in March and try and catch a monster gudgeon at it's full breeding weight, now you'll know exactly how much it weighs and can bore me with the details"
OK, perhaps I have mentioned my plan a few times - but I didn't think about the logistics... Now I have scales that weigh to 0.1oz... Roll on March gudgeon fishing!
Easy targets? Looking through my PB list there are quite a few species I've never caught; silver bream, crucian, wels, zander, grayling and rainbow trout. And some very low weights; bream 2lb 14oz, rudd 4oz, tench 12oz, salmon 6lb 4oz.
Myself and James have a plan to catch a crucian or two next summer - and hopefully I'll bag a PB tench in the process. But our target for early next year is a grayling - a fish that we both find fascinating but neither of us have ever caught... If anyone has any advise we'd love to hear it - a day ticket venue with a good head of fish would be great!
Merry Christmas! Well it's time to pack up the wet-weather gear and head down to the Wye, I've got a date with a thirty... Before I go it's time to wish everyone in Blog-Land a Merry Christmas - see you next year - and tight lines!
An early start, two trains and a long walk this morning as I headed to the Thames for a days pike fishing. And I arrived before dawn to dense fog that didn't lift all day.
The first rod was quickly set up and cast out while I went to set up the other rod, glancing back I already had a run on my still frozen sprat. Several long upstream runs and things started going my way, before she showed her teeth in front of the net and spat the hook - looked about 14 or 15 pounds... Apologies to anyone who was in ear-shot in the seconds that followed!
The trace was inspected and a new sprat was cast back out. This time it sat for about 10 minutes before another run. Another great fight and a 10lb 4oz pike was in the net - my winter pike season was finally up-and-running, and a double to kick things off.
Two casts, two runs - perhaps today was going to be my day - I need to make up for some lost time on this year's challenge... It wasn't to be, only one dropped run on a sand eel punctuated the rest of the day.
As the light was fading I was winding in a perch deadbait when there was a tell-tail thump as it was grabbed by an unseen pike. A scrappy 5lb 8oz pike was soon in the net, not the day I was hoping for after my first two casts - but I was delighted to finally get a couple pike on the bank.
Still I fished into the dark hoping for another chance, 21lb on the challenge, a long way to go - fingers crossed The Wye will be in good condition for a trip later in the month. And for a trip with Paulos and Roger in January...
Gentlemen (and Ladies) we have 100 days left of the course fishing season, and if you've had a shocker like me; now's the time to get on it!
I decided to get on it today, arriving at Walthamstow Reservoir before dawn armed with a variety of deadbaits and a good selection of lures. I kept on the move and fished hard but by lunch time I hadn't had a sniff. New lucky hat required?
In the afternoon I joined James fishing the Coppermill Stream, he had seen a couple of pike in the morning but they didn't want to play - he had however made a surprise catch, but I'll leave that to his blog.
We fished every likely looking spot as we made our way up the river for just one run between us. Yeah, I was net man and photographer again! Where do you buy lucky hats?
Without stealing James' thunder I'll just stick this teaser photo here, I'm sure the proper photos will soon arrive on his blog - and it's one of the prettiest looking pike I've ever seen.
With renewed vigor we fished on into the sunset but that was the only action of the day. One hundred days left... Got to get on it...
A trip to the Avon with James from My Fishing Captures, and having heard so much about The Royalty I was really looking forward to my first pike session there...
An early start (4am for me) meant we were on the water by 7.30, dawn - two of only four anglers fishing the whole venue. And it took about 40 minutes before James had a run and a 6lb pike. Great start!
My rod was next to produce a run, but I've missed out a chunk of story - as this was the only other run of the day, and it happened well after sunset...
We had spent nearly 10 hours searching for another pike, exploring some cracking looking swims, trying a bunch of float-fished and ledgered dead baits and a selection of lures. They just didn't seem to be feeding today!
Still it was great to explore some cracking new water and I'm sure we'll be back. Hopefully when they are feeding...
First full day fishing in ages and I headed off to Penton Hook in search of a pike, and perhaps even an elusive bream. First went out a deadbait, then I feeder fished maggots - with one eye on each rod.
For a change I did find bream, once a bed of bait was laid it was a bite a cast - mostly as soon as the rod settled. And after a very slow season it was just the ticket, no big fish - they maxed out about 8oz, but must have had a few dozen. With the odd roach and perch mixed in I had a great morning catching them.
I hoped there might be a bigger bream in the mix but they didn't show and when I ran out of maggots about 2pm it was time to set up the second pike rod and go exploring.
Despite float fishing and ledgering a variety of deadbaits in every pike-looking spot I couldn't find a pike... Never mind, next time - still had a great day!
F**k me, we all thought you were dead - said the guy in the tackle shop when I walked through the door this afternoon. I'd managed to get a few daylight hours together and needed to catch a fish!
Maggots were the bait of choice, I only had about 3 hours including travel time, and any fish would do. I really didn't care as long as it had fins, gudgeon, minnow, eel - any and all welcome.
I sat in the first swim for about 20 minutes before the quivertip slammed down, a barbel less than a pound - but still very carefully played, and netted no less. Brilliant, mission accomplished.
I then tried a couple of casts in a few pegs that have produced in the past as I walked downstream towards my train home. A couple of little dace, chubblets and a little roach kept me entertained in the afternoon winter sunshine.
Last spot and almost out of time, the rod barely settled before the quivertip ripped round. Cracking fight in the fast water on light gear - and more than I'd hoped for, a 6lb 10oz barbel to end an all too brief session. And back to work!
This dropped through the letterbox a couple of days ago, and I've now watched it twice. Beautifully shot, packed with big fish, and you really feel you are there with the guys - the agony of hook pulls, and triumph when the fish slides over the net.
And some of the conditions they fish in made me feel cold just watching it - and reassured me that there are other people out there who are as mad as me!
Inspirational stuff... For an angler that is trapped at work through the daylight hours (and well into the night). Big push at work this week and then hopefully a trip or two to Penton Hook in search of things with teeth!
You can get a copy from Bob Roberts website, here. Bargain!
I can sum up this seasons summer campaign in three words: Not enough time.
The lists are pretty short, Me: Five barbel, 3 carp, 2 jacks and a handful of chub, eels and small fish. And Dan's is even worse: Five barbel. Although I should mention one of them was a double of exactly 10lb - fish of the season so far.
Sometimes work just gets in the way of fishing... Need to buy a lottery ticket!
Later today I'm of to deepest Africa* in search of a moray eel. Well, I'm going with my girlfriend so I'm sure we'll be doing the tourist things, but I'm taking my kit so hopefully I'll get a trip or two in!
And when I get back it'll be pike time - really hoping to get some proper time on the riverbank over the winter...
I knew exactly how I was going to fish this weekend if I could string a few hours together, a chat with a couple of locals revealed the barbel really aren't playing at the moment, especially during the day... And not only do I want to catch a fish, I need to do it quickly.
Kit was scaled right back, 5lb line, size 14 hook and a tiny pinch of bread for bait. I thought the gudgeon might be a pain, and first cast I started getting little knocks - until the rod ripped off the rest and made a break for the river... I just grabbed the butt and struck into thin air - how does that happen?
Half an hour later the same thing happened again, you would not believe it's possible to miss two bites like that - I did think about a bigger hook, but I was getting bites and the clock was ticking.
Next bite was against a tight bait runner and fish on - great fight on light line, and at one stage I thought it was curtains when it got snagged but eventually I had my fish beat.
Next problem - one I wasn't expecting, I couldn't reach the water with my landing net! I had to kneel on my rod, use one hand to hold on and the other to reach down with the net - and as I was nearly upside-down my phone slid out of my pocket... I grabbed it, stuck it in my mouth and as I steered the fish over the net my girlfriend rang... It was on vibrate!!