A summer of carp, sharks and a proper heatwave. I say this every year but the summer season seems to have flown past. The mornings are getting later and the evenings earlier, and autumn is about to bite. But before I swap my cap for a woolly hat, and cons for wellies I thought I’d have a look back at some cracking summer fishing.
Closed Season: A great day on Lechlade produced a new PB rainbow and a PB brown trout, a double! Then I turned my attention to the local canals landing 3 small pike and a monster 28lb mirror carp, smashing my PB. The Blogger’s Challenge concluded and I was more than happy with third place - not a bad off season!
June: Opening day saw me into the local barbel, that pull I’d missed for three months. I also continued my canal carp quest landing two more, including a double. And I started a hunt to catch as many species from the local river as I could this season, setting the near impossible target of 20 species - 11 so far - including a choach!
July: In the grip of a heatwave it was best to try and avoid the barbel, instead I turn my attention to adding some mini species to the hunt; minnows, bullheads and sticklebacks were caught. I added common and mirror carp, but a koi proved elusive. And floating bread provided some explosive chub fishing while waiting for some rain.
August: Shark fishing! I’d really been looking forward to this and it didn’t disappoint. A new PB lemon shark for me and Roger, 7’ 7” & 7’ 8” respectively, two bull sharks to 6’ 9” topped off a twelve shark trip. Plus a few stingrays. And a great holiday in America; dinners, water parks, beaches, nature and crazy southerners!
September: Back to reality I stalked out a few carp on the local ponds, while doing some reccies for autumn pike and perch. The river had seen a bit of rain while I was away and I upped my local barbel count to 55 fish. And, after some near misses, finally landed an elusive koi carp - taking my species hunt total to eighteen.
Autumn/Winter: As always at this time of year my thoughts turn to pike, I’ve been out on a few reccies and seen a few fish - the plan is to travel light and chuck some lures about to gauge what’s really lurking about. As well as quantity, I’m really hoping to stumble across another twenty pound plus pike this season - it’s been a while!
As someone who occasionally breaks a landing net or landing net pole I wanted something tough. So I've been using my pike net-pole this season - it's old fashioned metal and screws - this is what I need if I'm hoisting a 28lb carp straight up a canal siding, and it's what I want when that 30lb pike is ready for the net and finally ready to meet me!
But every piece of kit is only as strong as it's weakest link - in this case a tiny rivet holding the end on. A quick smash ‘n’ grab trip to the river trying to get my barbel count to 60 fish - and with a barbel ready to be landed the net floats away! I unhooked the fish in the water and waded about to find my net...
But it’s pike season in two days... And I’m without a net pole!
It took about an hour, perhaps two, to spot my target - there was only one fish I was interested in! When I did I quickly set the kit up, just a hook tied to the main line and floating crust for bait...
Problem was there was a little ghostie with him who was mad for the bread - I pulled the bait out of his way a couple of times - which felt very odd considering they were the target for quite a while...
But eventually he found a bait, a proper koi carp - what a beauty! Another fish added to the species hunt. After a couple of photos I released him and wandered downstream to find that ghost.
Having caught exactly 400 local barbel over the past four seasons there is a thought in the back of my mind to try and make it 500 in five seasons - it’s now or never if I let it slip.
I plan on concentrating on pike this winter and have bought a ticket to fish some fairly local ponds known to contain pike - a back-up for the inevitable winter river floods.
To hedge my bets I thought I’d try and get as many barbel on the scorecard before the pike season kicks off - if I had 60 it would leave an average of 8 per month over the remainder of the season.
They seem to want a static bait, although it doesn’t have to be still for long so I’m using a little lead and dislodging it every 2-5 minutes. Seems to work; 5 barbel to about 6lb added - total now 48.
Monkey off my back. A fish I’ve been trying to add to the species hunt, the koi has proved tricky to say the least. I’ve had half a dozen chances - and hooked and lost three - one literally over the net! And it’s getting colder, I thought I was running out of time...
On the river I was watching a koi repeatedly swimming the same circuit, briefly pausing behind a submerged root each time. The third or fourth time he stopped behind the root there was about 10 grains of sweet corn waiting - one of which contained a hook!
Edit: it has been pointed out that this is a ghost carp not a koi carp - thanks Grant. The quest for a koi continues....
Best laid plans. I had planned to get a jump on my 50 pike challenge this year, hoping to get 10 canal pike during the closed season - plan abandoned when I saw how out of condition they were. Then 10 more over the summer months - plan abandoned due to heatwave.
Now I need 47 instead of 30 over the autumn / winter, that’s made things more difficult as I have to travel a fair distance to catch pike. I did chuck some lures about in a local pond a few days ago - not even a follow - but I’m not sure there are pike in there!
Three foot twitch. But it’s still a bit early for pike, and with a drop in temperature and a bit of rain washing through the river every now and again I thought I’d stick with the barbel for a few weeks. The water levels are still low, but I’m sure the winter floods are coming!
I fancied watching some rod ripping bites so fished ledgered luncheon meat in the fast shallows. Bit of a mixed bag; 6 barbel, 2 chub and two eels - I should really have photographed an eel as I don’t see many these days, but both could be easily unhooked in the water.
Last time I fished the carp pond my bread was getting nibbled away by blade rudd, millions of them - this would be an ideal environment for big perch. And as the only baits used here are boilies and bread are there unseen monsters lurking about?
Armed with a tub of lobworms it was time to find out. Aiming at the rudd shoals I quickly found perch - I was expecting a long wait but I caught 10 small perch in quick succession - perch confirmed I think I’ll wait for some of the weed to die back and have a lure reccy.
Out of worms in no time I’m glad I brought some bread - three carp off the top; 10lb 8oz (above), 11lb 0oz and one about 5lb. Love the shape of these carp, streamlined body and massive tails - and are rumoured to get to nearly 20lb - I’d like to see one that size!
Back to see if the big chub were still where I'd left them - and short story short; no, unsurprisingly they've moved. But I had half a tin of luncheon meat to use up - lets see if the barbel wanted to play...
I found some barbel, no monsters but I landed six going 4lb, 5lb, 2½lb, 4½lb, 3½lb and 5½lb. Then I spotted a double and she was feeding - and I pulled the meat out of her mouth! Twice!!