The middle of a bright day - the worst time for fishing - but the best time for fish spotting. I once again braved the towpath, the water is gin-clear and the duckweed hasn't taken over - I was pike spotting.
I took a few lures and a few slices of bread, and after a lot of miles I did spot a pike about 3lb, positioned between two boats and impossible to get a lure to. Still, I'm really searching for a double.
The bream didn't really want to play in the bright conditions but I did get four chances, sometimes they can't resist a bit of bread. Missed three but bagged the 8lb 1oz bream below - my third biggest ever.
Home to muggers, crack-heads, floating corpses and worst of all; joggers - I haven't spent much time on the London canal system. In fact I can count the number of canal fish I've ever caught on two hands; 3 pike, 2 perch, 2 zander and a bream - a total of eight fish!
The Blogger's Challenge ties in nicely with my own Personal Best challenge, I'm not going to drive myself nuts chasing a canal barbel or a stillwater grayling - but I thought I'd have a little canal reccy for a couple of hours - I was on the look out for predators.
I did spot a few pike, the best one being about a pound and a half, some nice carp to mid-twenties and a load of bream - the only fish I was able to tempt, 4lb 7oz above (fish #9). It's a start but I'm hoping to bump into a big pike at some stage, I'll be back...
Continuing my quest for an eight pound tench. Normally I like a simple bait - luncheon meat, sweetcorn or a bit of breadflake - but these fish are too wise for that. I had to dust off the O' Thinking Cap.
The water is gin-clear and very weedy, I opted to bait up with hemp and red maggots - the thought being they would be attractive in both smell and movement but be hard to find among the weed.
Then in the middle of this would be my hookbaits; snowmen made out of brightly coloured 10mm and 8mm boilies. This is officially the first time I've ever used boilies!
As an extra firework; a bit of exploding green groundbait in the method feeder - so they'd know exactly where it was. They were never going to fall for this sh*t.
But after an hour, perhaps two, the alarm screamed away, a fantastic fight and a 6lb 7oz tench was in the net (above). Adding another 2oz to my PB - creeping towards my target.
Then, after loosing several fish to the weed beds I hit a good fish - was this the one I was after? Several heart stopping moments at the snags but eventually she was in the net.
Not quite as heavy as she looked - the scales read 7lb 12oz a new personal best (top photo). What a fish - who cares about those other four ounces? Not me! Not until next time...
Blogger's Challenge: There is a gang of perch that go marauding across the lake now and again, so I took a bleak-whip and bagged a few of them - weighing one for Challenge - at 5oz hopefully I'll find a bigger one.
And as darkness and rain descended a couple of eels fell for the old snowman, I weighed one - a 1lb 0oz eel for the Challenge - just getting a few fish on the scorecard...
Last trip of the year chasing orfe, trying to beat my new 3lb 4oz personal best and my sights were set on a five pounder. James opted for bait 'n' wait, I went stalking. And I was soon into fish, tench and crucians (with dubious heritage).
I could see my target species but I couldn't tempt them on float fished breadflake. I did land the almost black tench above - the most beautiful one I've ever seen - and I thought it was a baby catfish when it surfaced!
In the afternoon I heard James shout - he needed me to witness the weight of a fish - always a good sign - and not the fish above! James had landed two good tench and two monster orfe - there was only one thing for it - I had to bait and wait...
I had the gear for it, 3lb line was swapped for ten. Method feeder, fluorocarbon, size 18 hook, exploding green groundbait and a rubber maggot - not really my style but needs must. I hadn't brought a bite alarm so I borrowed James' spare.
Bait 'n' wait only took about 10 minutes - and only one cast. My target nailed it, after surfacing straight away and a non-fight a beautiful, fat 5lb 1oz golden orfe was in the net - target achieved. Brilliant stuff!