The days are getting shorter and although we are still lucky with the weather, winter is on it's way. Time for a quick look back at the summer, and even with time at a premium I had some cracking fishing (especially compared to last year).
I did some lake fishing in the closed season, the first year I ever have, it was great to bag-up on tench, and I've fallen in love with crucian carp. Six trips to Marsh Farm including two 100lb plus days - same again next year I think.
The summer saw me land four PBs including crucian and tench which are new to me, a new PB bream - at 3lb 14oz there is still a lot of room for improvement! And a trip to the Wye produced a new PB perch, a fish I hope to better before the end of the season.
I even had a blast at a bit of summer piking, landing 5 fish, no doubles but a spectacular take on a Jitterbug was a sight to behold - me and James are still talking about it. And James came up trumps landing his first Wye double.
The barbel fishing was slow to begin with but a change of technique in August put me on a purple patch. I've had a total of 21 barbel for 94lb 15oz, with the best going 10lb 1oz - my first double in a while. I'm determined to make the most of this unseasonable weather and crack the 100lb mark before it all turns nasty.
I did a few very quick morning missions after carp on a local pond, only landing one fish - but it was a nice distraction before work.
And now it's predator time. I'm hoping to get a few more pike sessions on the Wye before the floods - and talking of floods I've got tickets to a couple of lakes this year for the inevitable winter water. I'll also be trying to get into some perch on the Thames and I'm really hoping to see my first zander this autumn.
I was pretty convinced when I caught it, very silver and white pelvic and anal fins... Looking at the photo I'm not so sure now. Doesn't matter, a cracking morning's fishing.
Three barbel, 5lb 3oz recapture (above), 3lb 14oz and one about 2lb, two chub (both over 3lb), a trout and an eel... I'll take that any day!
Taking my season total barbel up to 21 for 94lb 15oz, I'd really like to beat the 100lb mark this year - five pounds to go. I nearly cracked it today loosing a fish about 7lb and one about 4lb, I'm thinking hook-pulls are more of a problem rolling than fishing static baits.
And hello to Stewart from Barbel Quest, nice to finally meet you and put a face to the name after 2 or 3 years - good luck tomorrow.
Day 4: As James was playing a good perch two other identical perch were following it around, he held it on the surface and I dropped my live bait next to it - and it was instantly snapped up. Double hook-up and two big perch in the net at the same time - result!
Both went 2lb 4oz, another two pounder for James and a new PB for me. Brilliant end to the weekend on the Wye.
Love these double hook-up photos (but in the excitement we're holding the wrong fish).
A September trip to the Wye to beat the floods. The river was at the other end of the spectrum; it was as low as I've seen it and gin-clear, and although the mornings were misty the sun soon burnt through giving us very bright conditions.
Not very good conditions at all. James from My Fishing Captures had joined me for his first Wye pike... And I'd more than hinted that I could put him on a double!
Cut to day three; we'd walked an awful lot of miles, thrown a lot of lures and put baits in everywhere that looked like it might contain a fish for 5 little jacks between us. James had landed his first Wye pike but my confidence of putting him (and me) on a double was starting to wane.
James had been chasing the resident chub, perch and barbel throughout the hot days - but I'll leave that for his blog. I had one thing on my mind - pike. And early on that third morning I saw one swirl. James put a plug to her... I don't think I've ever been so happy to see someone else catch a pike before!
Pressure off! I later landed my best of the trip at 7lb 3oz on a Jitterbug, my favourite way of catching pike - an explosive take. It was the only pike we saw in the post dawn sun.
All in it was a great trip, despite the conditions, landing pike and perch every day for a total of 9 pike between us over the four days. And I can't believe I'm saying this but that river really needs some rain!
And a massive thanks to my Mum and Dad for putting us up / putting up with us.
James' Wye double
My best, on a Jitterbug
Jack on a livebait
Killing machine in miniature
Beautifully coloured Wye chub (caught by James)
They only wanted to feed in the first and last hour or so of daylight
Mini barbel, caught while fishing for bleak
Fantastic perch on livebait
Winter is coming... Although you can't tell yet...
In the mornings and evenings you can definitely feel that autumn is on it's way, I'm not letting these bright afternoons fool me... Time to find some predators - firstly pike!
I'm heading back to my home-turf River Wye later in the week, beating the floods for a change. And try to make a dent in the 200lb challenge, but first things first - be great to catch the first pike of the season - fingers crossed.
Towards the end of the month I plan to have a serious go at catching my first zander, I've read everything I can find on them and have been sorting out some venues and kit (scaled up chub gear this time, not scaled down pike gear) - 49 strand soft knottable nylon coated wire leader at over £3 a meter - they won't see that coming!
And hopefully along the way I'll drop on a perch or two, I have a 2lb 1oz personal best to beat.
As well as predators I'm going to keep having a blast at the species closer to home, and I'd like to tick all the fish of my targets for the season below (yeah the zander is on this list as well). And that 5lb bream still eludes me.
OK, I think I'm done with the rolling based titles... They just seem to keep rolling off the tongue... Right, now I'm done!
Few hours on the river for a couple of chub and a 4lb barbel, a most splendid way to waste some time... I did however lose a stunning looking rainbow trout while it was half over the net, but as I said at the time - F#$@&%*!!!