I'm always amazed at how quickly the summer season flies past - and we've had a brilliant one weather-wise, the rivers need some rain - but as a fish spotter there was plenty to watch as well as catch.
Here's a quick review of the summer season, and as I fished through the closed season it's six months this time...
April: No closed season blues this year, summer arrived early and the tench and carp were soon on the feed. I spent some time tracking down a new species - a golden orfe - great fun stalking these.
And I had a brilliant trip to Lechlade chasing monster trout with Steve and Dyl - Steve won the day with a 9lb rainbow - but hopefully we'll be back in November, we all fancy a double.
May: I managed to snare my target 5lb plus orfe on the last trip to the orfe pond before a couple of tench bait-n-waiters. I beat my PB three times to a cracking 7lb 12oz fish.
Then I walked a lot of miles looking for a canal pike, um, I mean bream. Hard to find and even harder to get them to take a bait I was pleased with a canal best of 8lb 1oz.
June: The month started with a few canal perch and Farm crucians while I waited for the river season to open. But the season opener was a damp squib. Tough fishing on The Stour.
I bagged up closer to home in the summer heat - that barbel pull I'd missed for three months - remember that next season! And spent a fantastic day on James' boat in search of rudd.
July: Brilliant visit from Paulos and Sammi - the River Wye conditions were pretty horrible - where was the water? But we did manage a few chub and barbel - great to get Paulos a barbel!
Locally I had a few barbel, fishing in the middle of the day made things harder for myself - but you can't beat stalking them and watching them take the bait in the clear summer water.
August: The summer sun hung on, and the barbel remained on the feed - and I filled my boots! A trip to The Stour turned up four pike - not the target - but I'm not complaining!
And I managed to bag a local 5lb chub - I've been stalking these for nearly 8 months, so it was about time one slipped up. The target is a London six - perhaps later in the year...
September: Summer began fading into autumn, in the remaining summer sunshine I made the most of some quick local sessions, taking my count to 70 barbel and 8 four pound plus chub.
I also beat my crucian PB, aiming for a three pounder, it was tough going but after a lot of hours and some serious rig development it all came good with some really massive crucians!
Winter is coming: And now predator season is here, time to track down a few new venue double figure pike - and hopefully a twenty. Zander and perch are on the radar, as is a 7lb winter chub...
Me and James have both been targeting the crucians this summer, and despite sharing rig development, catch (mostly blank) reports and fish location we've hardly fished together - so when James suggested one last afternoon on The Farm this season he managed to twist my arm.
My first cast sat out for all of five minutes before screaming away and the beautiful 3lb 2oz crucian above was safely in the net. They were feeding. This was what we've been waiting for. Bring it on!
Five and a half hours later neither one of us had had another bite, it was getting dark as I walked past James and asked him to keep an ear out for my alarms while I went for a pee. I'd gone about 10 yards before I heard my alarm scream...
I ran back, James was already on it. I saw my rod buckle over and James simply smiled and said "crucian", but I was happy enough to be net-man this time. I'll leave the details to James' blog. But I know he's waiting to read this so I'm putting it on record; you jammy bastard!
I ventured back to see if the crucians were still feeding in the last of the summer sunshine - and to cut a long story short - no they weren't (or I couldn't find them). I did land a couple of hard fighting tench though which made the trip more than worth while.
That's probably it for the crucians this year - it was a lot more effort than the blog reflects but I'm more than made up with the brace of threes and the new PB of 3lb 8½oz last time...
I had refined my rigs over the previous three crucian blanks (if you don't include a tufted duck). But today, it seemed, they wanted to play! Starting with a new personal best, 3lb 8½oz above - brilliant! And with the target three pound mark smashed anything else would just be a bonus...
Next up was this 2lb 9oz beauty...
Then a double hook-up, the roach went 1lb 3oz...
And the crucian went 2lb 15½oz (so close)...
After loosing one at the net and landing a little common carp I landed this 3lb 0oz to finish. Red. Letter. Day!!
And yes (to those who walked past), my indicators are made out of hair grips threaded though Kinda Surprise eggs - they'll look better when I add a chain and paint them up to look like Minions!
If I can string only a couple of hours together while the sun is still shining I'm hitting the river - I'll regret it otherwise when I'm thinking back in winter - a few smash and grab missions chasing barbel.
Recapture above, although a long way from the original catch area. Glad I got to photograph this one again - is it the next evolution of barbel? More mussel and a massive tail - what a fighter!
Double barbel! Two barbel in two casts, the first was recovering from a cracking fight in the net when his twin decided to join him - haven't managed that before - combine total 8lb 5oz!
No big fish, mostly fours and fives - but fast and furious action, just what I want in the last of the year's sunshine. In fact the biggest was the long skinny 6lb 6oz barbel above.
I've also been chasing down the chub, had two close-but-no-cigars at 3lb 15oz. But have added two more four pounders; 4lb 3oz above and 4lb 6oz below - and they'll only get bigger in winter...
Continuing my quest for small river, big chub I added two more four pounders to the list. A very distinctive 4lb 9oz chub above - which had a weird shaped head - definitely recognise this one if I see him again. And a fat 4lb 2oz below. Great stuff!!
Season so far: 5lb 2oz, 4lb 11oz, 4lb 9oz, 4lb 4oz, 4lb 2oz and 4lb 0oz - six over four and no recaptures.
Catching bream is easy! James assured me this morning as we headed out for a few hours on the Thames. I was instructed to bring a big keepnet and a few towels (to wipe away excessive slime) as well as the stick 'n' pin. I had told him about my bream curse...
Well, as I expected, I only caught one bream 5lb (above). What James didn't know is my bream curse affects anyone within a 10 foot radius and as we were in a small boat - even he was stuffed...
Well, he did a lot better than me - but nothing like he was expecting - might be a while before I'm invited bream fishing on the boat again!
There is no getting away from it; summer is fading into autumn. The days are getting noticeably shorter, the leaves are turning and there is a chill when you're out of the sunshine. Nearly pike time.
I took advantage of the rain last night trying to tempt a chub in the dirty water this morning - and as before the murky water gave them more confidence - tracked in clear water then wait for rain.
Unfortunately I bumped the first fish, felt like a good chub. Swim two and bait hardly had time to settle, a 4lb 11oz chub with lots of room to fill out (top photo). A few free samples and back to swim one.
The water was clearing, but eventually a few little rattles gave way to a good knock - chub two, 4lb 4oz (mat shot above). Two nice fish but the end of the action, time to spot some for next time!
When the water cleared I went in search of barbel, looking for shadows lurking about over the gravels. I wanted to take my season local total to 50 plus before the summer ends...
Mission accomplished; 5lb 12oz (above), 7lb 5oz (below), 5lb 8oz and one about 3½lb. Time to stop playing the numbers game and track down a double (while searching for that big chub).
On Friday afternoon I shot back to the river hoping the chub still wanted to play. The river was a lot clearer and the colour was dropping out rapidly. Both of Thursday's swims produced a chub first cast, about 3lb and 2½lb.
But as the water cleared enough to see my target I could watch them spooking off the bait - in fact once I could see them I only hooked one more, about a pound. I'll have to try and track where the shoals are and wait for the right water conditions.
In the clear water I could target the barbel landing five to 8½lb, including a powerful but freaky looking five pounder (pictured) - looks like it's on steroids, I'll recognise this one if I see it again.