Fishing Week: Day 6 (0800 1400-1600)
Location: Local River
Target: Put Dan On The Barbel
For whatever reason the odds seem to be against fishing with Dan, but he phoned last night, I met him at the pub (where else?) and we made plans for today. He was going to head to my house first thing to re-spool his reels and we'd hit the local river at 8am, I was sure I could put him on some barbel.
I was up at six, chopped up the bait and got the line ready (quite a selection, almost everything between 28lb & 2lb).
By midday I'd tidied up, washed up, done the hoovering and all of my washing, I'd sawn all the house plants in half and mastered the lightsaber, all well listening to loud Kerrang TV. Not really - I didn't hoover.
At 1pm I went on my own. On the riverbank by two I could still fit two hours in, and a barbel first cast about 1¾lb - great start. Followed about 20 minutes later with a chub about 3lb. Then after a bit of wandering I spotted a better fish - what turned out to be my first tail-walking barbel, 7lb 14oz - looked a lot bigger. And I had a photo to send to Dan!
I though about our first challenge on the river, 100lb of barbel between us over the course of the season. I worked it out, I needed 3lb 1oz to crack that in the opening week - three trips.
Right, I was going to stay until I'd cracked it - even if I had to fish into the dark and incur the wrath of my girlfriend...
Fishing Week: Day 5 (1000-1500)
Location: Local River
I wanted to replace my broken landing net like-for-like, but it has no brand name on it, the tackle shop where I bought it has changed hands and the three tackle shops I tried didn't have the same one. They had versions of the flip-net but each one was made of wire and plastic - I wanted metal and screws and hinges and weight. I don't mind paying £60 for a net that will last me 3 or 4 seasons, I don't want to pay £20 for one that will last me most of the afternoon.
A new landing net is a real commitment, it's the last tool you need to complete the task at hand. The difference between a selfie with a fish and stamping and swearing and having a bad week. Plus new landing nets are unlucky - they have never landed a fish, perhaps it'll take weeks or months before they do.
I settled on a Korum folding triangle net, needs to be assembled on arrival and needs a pole and I have to carry it about made up - but a decision had to be made.
Time for a nice relaxing day's fishing. I wandered about looking for a barbel and spotted one between two weed beds and it wasn't long before it was safely in the net. About 4lb (top photo). Right, net works.
I had a good wander about fish-spotting, searching for both barbel and chub - and found them - some in places I wasn't expecting. A roll here and there produced four chub to about 3lb and five barbel (4lb, 1½lb, 5lb 4oz, 4lb and the best of the day 6lb (below). Great day, I quite like the new net!
Fishing Week: Day 4 (1600-2100)
Location: Marsh Farm
Target: Buy A New Net
I needed a new net so I thought why not head down to The Farm - they've got a tackle shop there. And I could take some kit and have a blast at the crucians...
I had five hours so decided to split my time between the match pond and the specimen pond. Starting in the match pond (to get some fish on the scorecard) I was soon into the tench, fishing bits of prawn over tiny halibut pellets I had 14 tench to 4lb... Then for the second time today I managed to drag myself away from feeding fish and on to the specimen lake.
It took a while to build a swim but I eventually hit a tench, 4lb 8oz, followed by one about 3lb and one about 2¾lb. Then I hit a fish I was convinced was a crucian - it wasn't but a new PB rudd was in the net - delighted! At 1lb 1oz it smashed my previous PB - it wasn't going to win any beauty awards, seems to be missing the top part of it's head - but I loved it.
Running out of time I hit another tench, really looked like a new PB in the water - seemed to get smaller as it got closer to the net, but at 5lb 1oz it's one of the biggest I've ever caught. And on the last cast I cracked it - a hard fighting 6lb 4oz new PB was in the net (below). No crucians but two PBs, a cracking afternoon!
Fishing Week: Day 4 (0730-1030)
Location: Local River
I couldn't resist going back and tracking down the shoal of roach from Tuesday, and they were still where I left them. This time I did it properly with a stick float and centerpin. Initially a bit finicky, but once some mashed bread was added they came on the feed.
I totally lost count of how many I caught, it was like being in a trance - one of the very few times I wish I owned a keepnet. And with a few small chub and monster gudgeon mixed in it was a great way to spend a morning. None over a pound today, maxing out at about 12oz, the bigger they are the quicker they learn!
Fishing Week: Day 3 (1500-2000)
An afternoon on the island in search of a perch, and as I had the place to myself I thought I'd slap on a lure and do a lap.
Lap 1, Mepps: Tiny jack straight away. A few pegs later I hit a mid-double pike which I wound straight to the net like a wet sack, then she woke up and went nuts - back and forth across the river - even after she spat the lure she still rolled about on the surface - one angry pike!
Lap 2, Shad: Not a touch, was really happy with how they fished - what was going on?
Lap 3, Plug: The one in the top photo, my favourite lure - and as you can see from the bite marks pike and perch like it as well - just one half-hearted hit.
Lap 4, Mepps: Again. Lost another pike about 7lb.
Basically it didn't go to plan. I'm not worried about the lost pike - I'll be back for them. But where are the perch? Time for a rethink on the predator front..!
Fishing Week: Day 2 (0530-1800)
Location: Local River
Target: Barbel (Roach Backup Plan)
The day we've all been waiting for has finally arrived - the river season is open! In what has become tradition I headed for the local river in search of a barbel. For the last few years this hasn't proved successful, but this year the barbel had already spawned and split up - would they play today?
I know I said yesterday I'd wait until after breakfast today, and I did, I got up at 4am (waking before my alarm), had a sausage sandwich on the bus and was on the riverbank at 5.30am. And my very first cast was nailed by a little barbel - mission accomplished! What could be better than a barbel first cast? A better barbel second cast - brilliant, they were on the feed...
In fact by 7am, an hour and a half later, I had landed seven barbel to 6lb 11oz, above. So I thought I break it up and decided to try and find a shoal of roach I'd seen the week before - but they weren't where I was expecting them...
After a bit of wandering about I found them, and they were mad for a bit of bread. Once I got the hang of float fishing with a fixed spool reel (it's been a while) it was nearly a fish a chuck, roach after roach. Over the next 3 hours I had 40-50 fish, nearly all over 8oz with the best two going about 1¼lb (I'll bring some more accurate small weight scales next time). My best bag of roach ever, interrupted only by one monster gudgeon. I could have sat there all day - but I fancied trying to find a chub...
I'd seen some big chub but they were a fair walk away - I had plenty of time. On route I had a few chucks for barbel, landing two more small ones - tally now at 9 barbel, with ten very much on my mind. I did a lot of walking and found chub landing three; 1lb, 2½lb and another 2½lb - great fun but not the monsters I was after...
I walked back down the river, I wanted 10 barbel and thought a recharge in a waterfront pub would do the trick! James phoned, he was sat on the roach shoal from earlier - but you'll probably read about that later on his blog. I made my way down to meet him - taking barbel number TEN on route! And number 11!! And number 12!!!
I sat down, we chewed the fat for a bit, had something to eat. Tired, I wished him luck (like he needs it, especially with roach) and made my way home...
As I walked away the light changed - that's enough of an excuse for one more cast isn't it? Bam - barbel number 13 was in the net.
Now, I didn't want to start my season on an unlucky 13, so I continued - finding number 14 then 15 and number sixteen - the best of the day, a 7lb 8oz barbel...
OK, twenty was on my mind as she slid over the net - after all, I still had six hours left until it was officially tomorrow. But as the Glorious Sixteenth found her way over the net it broke. My day was done. I was knackered. What a day!
Right then, tomorrow was going to be spent in search of a perch - but I walked a lot of miles today in search of these fish (worth it) and even my blisters have blisters, I have to work tomorrow morning because I couldn't drag myself away today (worth it), and I have to go and buy a new net tomorrow (worth it), not sure what to do...
A relaxed afternoon on The Farm chasing crucians or heading to The Hook in search of predators..?
Well the season opens tomorrow, in less than an hour in fact, but there was still one fish on my closed season list I really wanted to catch. I'd planned to be at the fishery when the gates opened but I had to work this morning, so after amending a website I shot down on the train, I spent far too much time in the on-site shop (and money) and was on the water by 3pm.
After a ton of bream I finally hit my target just after 6pm, a 1lb 6½oz crucian was in the net (top photo). This was quickly followed by a 1lb 13½oz crucian (above), the best of the day. They had moved in.
I managed a total of 7 crucians, adding a 1lb 3oz (below), 1lb 2oz, 1lb 4oz, 1lb 8oz and 1lb 9oz before the tench moved in. No monsters but it's great to catch them whatever the size. They all fell to either corn or a piece of prawn. I followed them up with 7 tench to about 4lb, all on prawns. A great afternoon sat in the sunshine - mission accomplished.
Right, hardcore nutters who are sat on the riverbank waiting for midnight - good luck. I'll be down the local river after breakfast...
Only 5 days to go until the season opens. Five long days but it's nearly here - can't wait.
The closed season didn't really go as planned, far too busy at work. But I did manage 3 trips to Marsh Farm, no crucians but plenty of tench, bream, roach and perch, and even a bonus gudgeon - it was great just get a bend in the rod. But that pike last week was the highlight - my first canal pike and a terrific fighting mid-double was the way to start!
Some plans for the upcoming season, time is going to be very much against me again this year so I plan to do some opportunistic fishing on the local river when I can string a few hours together, I hope to revisit some of the fantastic fisheries from last season and get as much fishing in as possible - I've still got roach, zander and grayling on my mind.
And I need to set a challenge, with two failed pike challenges behind me, and probably even less time on the riverbank I've decided to up the target weight but add more species - Predator Challenge 2015: 300lb of predators.