An estate pond, my quest for a thirty and rock hard fishing - only one thing for it - bait ‘n’ wait! Fortunately I had carp guru Richard on hand - because the rig for my river carp a few days ago consisted of a size 6 hook tied directly to the 8lb main line...
My rigs for today consisted of metal and rubber and screws and putty... I’d love to put a photo on here but they’re top secret. And don’t get me started on bait - I had to sign a NDA (non disclosure agreement) before he’d even open the bucket!!
A very long day, dawn ‘til dusk, for only one fish - but a 20lb 2oz beautiful common carp made it all worth while. Massive thank you to Richard (who also bagged a twenty and a ‘pasty’), now just for something half as big again - we’ll be back!
Walking along the river, eyes always glued to the riverbed, I noticed the silt had recently been disturbed. I sat back and watched, waiting for the culprits - and soon enough three carp swam into view.
A few bits of bread crust floated down to them and they were soon feeding off the surface. And my freelined crust was instantly nailed by the biggest of the bunch - cracking fight in the fast water.
A jet-black chalk stream common carp - 12lb 9oz - but weight is really unimportant when they look like this - beautiful! And to my mind there is no better way to catch them than off the top.
A fish like that would make anyone’s day - but she was the last fish in a bit of a mixed bag, along with three barbel, a chub and an eel - an absolutely fantastic afternoon in the sunshine.
It’s technically a fly but is designed to look like a dog biscuit, half a dozen real dog biscuits with this cast in the middle and it should be like shooting fish in a barrel... Easy!
Nearly 3 hours of fishing later no carp, they’d take it but spit it out so quickly I couldn’t hook one - I did land a random chub, I think it’s the first one I’ve ever caught from a stillwater so a 10oz PB.
I had a break for a couple of hours before returning and eventually bagging a carp - that was a lot more work than I thought - not the easy cheat I was expecting - back to the zig-bugs then...
A tree grabbed my hat off my head and catapulted it into the river. In my haste to net it I got the reel tangled in the net and transferred the hook into my hand - untangled and unhooked I was in time to watch my hat float away! Desperately I ran downstream and rescued it.
Then I rang it out and ripped it!!
Originally send to me from the States by my brother I’ve been wearing this hat fishing for far longer than the ten years I’ve been blogging. And I’m not saying it’s lucky but I landed 4 barbel before I ripped it and bumped 3 in quick succession afterwards.
It’s drying out and I’m deciding if it’ll do for the rest of the summer season - what was already a scruffy hat would now look more at home on a scarecrow! Lucky or not, I’m going to miss it when the kids on the local river ask “is your name Bubba?”
Afternoon on the pond stalking carp on the fly, and out of the corner of my eye I saw gold heading towards me. Now my fly casting varies between halfway decent and something resembling a chimp smashing apples with a tennis racket - but this long cast was perfect!
Landing the fly gently 6 inches in front of her, she nailed it without hesitation - cracking fight on the light rod and a 10lb 3oz mirror-koi was in the net, my first one ever and a double. An ancient looking fish, rumoured to be as old as the pond - absolutely beautiful!
My afternoon was already made, but I fished on and added six more common carp - love catching them on the fly. And Richard, who fished crust last time, swapped to fly fishing this time and bagged his first two carp on the fly - not the last fly-carp trip this summer I’ll bet!
A wander down the river for the evening, stick ‘n’ pin, half a pint of maggots and no particular plan. It’s great this time of year; you can still see your float at 10pm - so I fished until then!
Plenty of walking and plenty of fish. I landed loads of little chub and roach getting on for a pound, plenty of dace, two minnows, a gudgeon and a perch (still fairly rare on this river) - bonus!
Despite the late finish I was up bright and early the next morning for a wander along the canal, searching a five mile stretch for an elusive carp in the morning sunshine - I’d seen a few here before.
Only one carp spotted in the 5 mile section, and it wasn’t feeding, I’m sure there are more hiding out there! A quick blank-saver bream before I left it to the boats & canoes about 10am - I’ll be back!
Awake early, should have drawn the curtains, as always in the summer my barbel gear was packed and ready to go. I shot down the river, love wandering about fish spotting in the early morning sunshine - and landed 4 barbel and two chub - ace!
For the records: 7lb 10oz, 3¾lb, 3lb & 2lb (Plus 2 chub to 4lb 6oz).
I’ve caught pike, trout, chub & shad on the fly but I fancy adding a few more species this season - first target: a carp. A few hours on a shallow little pond, plenty of carp and importantly lots of fly life.
Stalking fish I tried a few patterns before one nailed a black & green zig-bug - and they don’t half fight on an 8 foot #4/5 weight rod! Over the next couple of hours I added 4 more to 8lb 12oz - great fun!
Taking advantage of the light summer evening I was standing up to my neck in stinging nettles watching a big barbel cruising between the weed beds. When I saw my moment I gently lowered a freelined piece of luncheon meat directly below my rod tip...
She nailed it straight away and ploughed into the weeds while I got stung by every nettle getting her out - but it was worth it when a summer double was resting in the net - until I popped her on the scales - 9lb 15oz - but who cares about 1oz - what a beauty!
Well not quite yet - but I bet they're starting to get suspicious of an easy meal! A couple of hours in the midday sun, not ideal conditions but three more barbel added - taking the season total to 20.
Three very long months but it was the day we've all been waiting for - the glorious sixteenth! And as always I wanted to start the season with a bend in the rod - there are no guarantees - but I thought my best option was to target the local barbel.
I only had the morning so I was on the river just before sunrise. Due to the last couple of weeks of summer rain the river had recently flooded but was back to reasonable height and colour, and as soon as I had enough light I was wandering about stalking fish.
And I soon found one - my season opener was a scrappy little barbel about a pound. As the sun got higher in the sky and visibility increased so did my confidence. Fish after fish found the net and it was very difficult to drag myself off the river just after midday!
I landed a total of 17 barbel to 8lb 8oz, including getting two snagged and wading out to free them, plus a couple of bonus chub - what an opening morning! No monsters but that wasn't the point - fantastic fishing - I'm sure I'll be back very soon!
I've had a bit of a break this closed season, I've been out a few times - but very little fishing compared to the last few years. Only a week until the season opens though and I can't wait to hit the river - new line on reels, plans made and I'll be on the water opening morning.
I always like to set a challenge for the season so along with the regular targets I’m going to try and bag a 30lb+ carp. I’m not really one for bait and wait, initially I’ll be trying to stalk one off the top during the summer - and work from there...
As always I’ll be after pike from October, I landed 73 last season - but this year I should really try and bag some bigger fish. And I’ll continue chasing local barbel over the summer - again setting a target of 100 fish - and try not to leave it to the last minute this season!
It promised to be a beautiful day and I could think of nothing better to do than chasing bars of gold. Arriving at The Farm as the gates opened, I was soon at a lily pad lined swim...
Alternating between corn and mags, it took about an hour before I started getting bites, and a further hour before I was back in the swing of hitting the little dips and lifts - they don't bite like catfish!
Fish on and in the clear water you could see them the moment they were hooked, brilliant to watch the whole fight. A 2lb 1oz opener, and after that each fish was smaller than the last...
But I didn't care, six crucians thoughout the day; 2lb 1oz, 1lb 11oz, 1lb 7oz, 1lb 3oz, 1lb 2oz and 1lb 1oz - with a few tench and rudd in the mix - coupled the sunshine - a fantastic day!
Every pond has a legend of the monster pike, even the village duck pond where Mrs Soandso’s dog was eaten while having a swim. The only English fish creating more of a myth is the catfish.
”Yeah, it’s over a hundred pounds, it followed in a double figure carp as I was playing it.” Of course it’s never been caught or photographed. I had a more sensible target of a double.
Back to the muddy little cat-pond, I said I was after a double but wels are new - a screaming run and a little kitten first cast made my day - anything else would just be a bonus...
Half an hour later I was in again, another kitten but I popped her on the scales to set a PB - 7lb 4oz, bloody hell these things fight - what would a big cat feel like? I was soon going to find out!
A couple of hours later Richard was copying me with a little kitten followed by a 7lb 4oz cat of his own. Mid afternoon, out of the blue my rod screamed off - I hit something that didn’t want to meet me!
Fishermen exaggerate, but I’m not when I say it took 15 to 20 minutes to even see what I was connected to. My knees were shaking as Richard swept my prize up in the net - 27lb 0oz of fantastic!!
We rounded off the day with a few carp and bream - what a day - what a cat (but I don’t recommend a 2lb test curved rod, how it didn’t break I don’t know)... Next target: a Bertie!
I’d never caught a wels so when I had the chance to spend a day targeting them with Richard I grabbed it. A muddy little pond but we knew they were in there, and after about 4 hours my halibut pellet ‘donkey choker’ rod screamed off...
Cracking fight; powerful and dirty - tried to get in every snag in front of me - but my first UK cat was in the net. More of a kitten than a cat but I was delighted! What a beautiful looking fish; grey mottled pattern, really long whiskers and a serious mouth.
A couple of hours later - after several dropped and missed runs - I managed to land a second one. Even smaller, but that didn’t matter - I’ve fallen in love with these fish! Richard left it late but also bagged a kitten himself - as well as a couple of carp.
Can’t wait to return - I have loads of ideas for rigs and bait. I’m not one for sitting still waiting for fish to come to me but there’s no stalking them in this dirty water. And let’s face it they look fantastic - I’ve got my sights on a double, perhaps even a twenty!
My tenth season review - written throughout the year. And it was another cracker; monster trout, a serious canal carp, the mini river species hunt, a fantastic shark fishing trip and a load of pike! I added six new PBs (including sharks) and landed a total of 26 species of freshwater fish - that must be a personal record.
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.
October: Pike time! And lots of pike, no monsters in fact only one scrapper double, but I landed 44 pike from some local ponds throughout the month - I really wanted to get more pike on Pike Blog this year. I had a few local barbel and a load of perch on the lures but pike were the main mission - 47 landed so far this season.
November: Less time on the water I added 7 more pike, cracking my target 50 Pike Challenge - although I need to add some more doubles. A fantastic trip to the Test Valley saw me land 6 pound plus grayling to just under 2lb. Plus some quick missions to the local river to wet a line - and bag some beautiful autumn roach and barbel.
December: I added a few more barbel (total 71) and 7 more pike (total 61) but I was really hoping The Wye would be on form for my annual Christmas visit - but as usual the floods arrived. I had a cracking couple of days chasing trout and perch on the fly with Steve and Dyl - really should do more fly fishing throughout the year.
January: First trip of the year saw a beautiful double figure pike on a deadbait. A trip down to The Royality produced only a jack - tough fishing. Locally I bagged a few more barbel, but again the cold water was making it tricky. And a few missions to the local ponds saw some pike fall for the lures - which warmed me up no end!
February: I was busy with work - drawing robots! But I did manage to escape to the river with the stick 'n' pin and catch seven pound plus roach, the best of which went 1lb 14½oz, plus some cracking dace. Just one pike added to the challenge. And with some unseasonably warm weather I landed six more barbel to 9lb 1oz.
March: Only one pike trip with 2 more pike added - total 73. But the main mission of the final two weeks was getting my barbel total to 100 fish, I'd left it very late but more trips to the river than I'd planned and I cracked it - including a double - total 101 barbel - brilliant! Another fantastic season - roll on the next one...