Well the conditions didn't improve, in fact they got worse - but keeping with the theme - I could get to it so I fished it!
Birthday: 5lb 11oz
Birthday: 6lb 8oz
Birthday: 9lb 1oz approx, forgot to weigh the net after - so used previous weight.
28 December: Day written off with hangover!
29 & 30 December: The big freeze on top of the unsettled conditions was the kiss of death for the pike fishing - still we gave it two full days...
Well I didn't drop on a twenty but it was great to have a few days on the riverbank, eight pike and a perch in total - a struggle but really enjoyable fishing. I really have to crack on if I'm going to achieve my target of 200lb.
In the past few years the Christmas breaks have produced impossible fishing conditions, I normally venture back to my home-turf River Wye and watch as the fields and roads flood unable to even wet a line - torture!
This year the water is back within the banks, the conditions are far from ideal with high levels and very unsettled conditions, but if I can get to it - I'm fishing it!
Managed three trips in the last three days - even managed a couple of hours on Christmas afternoon. It's not easy fishing but I have managed to drop on a few fish...
Christmas Eve: 12lb 2oz, first double of the season...
Christmas Eve: 2lb approx...
Christmas Eve: 8lb 8oz just as the sun was setting.
Christmas Day: 1lb 12oz perch, very quick afternoon session.
Boxing Day: 3½lb Approx...
Boxing Day: 8lb 12oz, a few dropped runs and a hook pull.
I didn't get out fishing this weekend (although I was keeping an eye on the Wye water levels, depressing viewing), so this afternoon I headed out for a couple of hours rolling. Really hoping to take my barbel tally up to 50 fish.
I spotted a good fish in the water and quickly set the gear up, once I was ready the barbel had vanished. A roll through anyway - nothing - then as I wound the bait in the barbel followed it. I stopped winding and after a couple of seconds thought - nailed it. Third time I've had one chase the bait upstream.
Fairly long fight as the barbel really didn't want to meet me, but eventually a distinctive hunched-back barbel of 9lb 14oz was in the net - so close to a double... Forty eight...
Cracking start, and after loosing one about 7lb to a hook pull a second barbel was in the net, 4lb 14oz... Forty nine...
And this 5lb barbel chipped me over my target... Fifty, brilliant! They may not all be monsters but it's been great getting into the fish with such limited time this year.
And with an hour or so left I added a 4lb 1oz barbel (above) and a chub to my afternoon. Great stuff!
That's probably it until after Christmas so I'd like to take this opportunity to wish everyone in blog-land Merry Christmas.
The Plan: Head down to the Avon, taking advantage of the unseasonal warm weather and go stalking grayling in the clear water. With sink and draw gear so we could target any pike that crashed the party.
The Reality: The temperature dropped to minus three, the river flooded and went from gin-clear to oxtail soup overnight - the locals thought it was a waste of time - crap!
Me and James gave it a good go, but it was like fishing in a washing machine, James landed a few small brown trout and I came up empty handed - and at 2pm we decided the grayling had won.
We spent the final two hours targeting pike, which started very well as I had a hit on a sink and draw smelt first cast - a pike, but not the one I was after, perhaps 1½lb. But at least they were feeding.
No - the only pike we saw all day. Can't win them all, but considering the conditions I think we both did well to avoid a blank.
I knew it was freezing last night and I awoke to beautiful white frost, the grass crunched under foot and the cold bit my hands, only one thing for it - pike!
I went barbel fishing. Mainly due to lack of time but as I'm on a roll at the moment, excuse the pun, I thought I'd try and land a rare December barbel.
I spotted a couple of barbel and gave them some free samples, which they completely ignored. I did manage to get a cube of meat to bounce off one of their heads - this was not looking good. And it was made worse when James phoned to say he was pike fishing and the pike were feeding.
There was no point fishing for these two - but I gave it a couple of casts anyway. I move a short distance upstream where I spotted three more fish. These would eat the free samples as long as you got them right in front of their noses.
Targeting the biggest of the bunch I got a cube of meat right in front of him and he obliged, great fight on the light lure rod and my December prize was in the net. Scales fail again but it was about 8½lb. I've bought new scales and right after I've finished typing this I'm going to put them in my bag. In fact I'm going to do it now.
[Goes to get new scales, can't find new scales, blames cat who wakes up just long enough to not give a sh*t]
Barbel check, lets try and find a chub. I searched for over an hour and didn't even see a chub - where are they? I did have two more takes, both from barbel but both times I failed to get a hook-hold.
Enough time had passed, perhaps the barbel I got feeding earlier would like their photo taken. I crept back to the spot to find a man standing in the water with a net - f**king poacher!
Turns out he was a scientist doing a study of the insect life in rivers that are frequently polluted (the net was really small). We had a very interesting chat about bug life and some other trout studies he's involved with.
Anyway, that was the end of the fishing. December barbel - get in!
I managed a very quick trip to the river this afternoon, it's these quick trips that are making my season. I do like to spend the day chasing fish, but those trips seem all too infrequent. I really wish there was somewhere close at hand to try and find a pike or two, perhaps I'll give the local pond another try now we've had a frost.
Anyway I added two more barbel to this seasons tally, 4lb 8oz and one about 1½lb, so I'm in the fish - just not the big ones. I'm really not complaining, I only landed five barbel last year so it's great to have something pulling on the line on a regular basis.
On Sunday James, Richard and myself journeyed up to Coventry to join the Midlands bloggers for a social fishing trip on a local canal. Organised by Jeff Hatt, I'm not going to list names or blogs, instead I'll make a list at the end of this post to other reports from what will probably be a heavily blogged event.
So this is my story. Having NOT missed the train from London (I'm looking at you James and Richard) I met Jeff at the train station for a 5 mile sprint across Coventry, we did briefly peer into the canal and spotted a couple of jack pike, but no time for a cast - there were people to meet and zander to catch.
Tackling up over a pint outside the pub on the canal it was strange to actually meet people who's blogs I read and fishing experiences I'd shared for years, I felt I knew them even though this was the first time we'd met - apparently I'm taller than expected.
Pint finished it was time to wet a line and on advice from Jeff we float fished roach sections. I didn't have to wait long before my float was on the move - I waited for it to pick a direction and struck - fish on and it stayed on!
My first wild zander, delighted! I was awarded 3lb by my fellow anglers, a cracking start.
Next cast sat out for about 5 minutes before the float started to wander, really like this float fishing - taking this to Bury Hill. Zander number two was on the bank, a mini zed but still a zed - brilliant.
As the afternoon progressed we explored some more of the canal, Jeff using his local knowledge to put a cast under 'the zander bush' for near instant result and the 4lb zed above (look how it's posing for the photo).
It was the last zander I saw, although a few more were caught, I believe Danny had a couple [Edit: make that 5] drop-shotting (got to give that another go) and Richard finished with a zander about 1½lb on legdered roach section.
While fishing I did have my float gently pull under a couple of times, and after a couple of exciting strikes thinking it was a zander, a slow pull up revealed it was a crayfish.
Despite crays being the bane of a lot of anglers lives, I'd never caught one - so I lowered the bait back down and waited with the net in hand. A slow bite, a slow lift of the rod and net under before he let go. My first crayfish!
Back to the zander fishing. We fished on into the first two hours of dark with no more fish, then retired to the pub for a few drinks before I had to race home.
It was great to meet such familiar faces for the first time and it was great to see how people were fishing for zeds, it was a brilliant day and a lot of food for thought fishing-wise.
So a big thank you to Jeff and all the guys.
They say there is two sides to every story, but in this case I expect there will be more, I'll update the list below as they appear:
Another trip to Bury Hill, and I knew this day was coming, I've had a hell of a run, but no fish today - a blank! I knew chasing zeds wasn't going to be easy and conditions just didn't feel very zander...
But looking back through the blog, I've managed 21 consecutive trips without a blank - three months! In that run I've caught 37 barbel, 9 zander, 6 pike, as well as perch, chub, eels, trout and even a ruffe.
I'll settle for a run like that any season!
After getting lost and going on a long walk through the woods, Richard eventually joined me for the day and bucked the trend by catching the only two zander on the lake all day - proving it could be done - nice one!
A couple of months ago while walking on the beach I found this block of stuff, something about the typeface appealed to me.
A bit of research later it turns out it's a block of rubber made from a rubber tree over 100 years ago in Indonesia. And was used in the early 20 century to make everything from teddy bear noses to diver's suits.
Several ships transporting it sank but one candidate was the Titanic, which was carrying a large consignment of it on it's fated voyage.
Here it is when it was made (probably not the same block). Early 1900s.
And what did I do with this rather extraordinary find? Much to the dismay of a couple of beach combing websites I sent the photo to, I photographed it and left it on the beach, below the high tide mark. The sea has claimed it again...