Friday 30 December 2011

Wye - It's Raining!

Well it's raining and the river is starting to rise again (pretty rapidly this evening). But spurred-on by Steve's success yesterday & the fact I'm running out of time this trip, I got the wet weather gear out and hit the river.

A long walk this morning to fish some seldom fished River Wye, but the river was already too high. I started float fishing in the slack bays and feeder streams, but soon I swapped to a ledgered sprat and worked my way back upstream.

Nothing until the last spot, a run and a great fight in the dirty water - I didn't see the fish until it was at the net - where the hook pulled. The pike briefly savored it's freedom before darting into the waiting net, what luck!

Quick photo in the net (nobody was mad enough to accompany me today). 10lb 6oz, a fish on the bank is always a great day!

If you're wondering why I didn't head back to the same spot as yesterday; it's normally a no fishing stretch - we had special permission yesterday.

Jack's Pike #57

Thursday 29 December 2011

Wye - Steve's Day

A cracking start, new PB, 17lb 12oz

Piking today with an old school mate of mine, we used to fish together all the time but now it's about once a year.

Steve is a very good angler with some great fish to his name, but he really hasn't been lucky when it comes to pike. He catches lots of them but the bigger fish always seem to go for my bait... Until today...

We fished pretty close together and both float-fished tiny bleak live bait. I'll let the photos do the talking...

Second double, 14lb 8oz

Deformed mouth, 5lb 8oz

Let's add a twenty! 20lb 14oz

Steve's first twenty, absolutely fantastic! He has spent a lot of years chasing this one and I'm glad I was there for net and photograph duties. Well done Steve!

Still not finished... 17lb 14oz

Double number five! 16lb 2oz

A total of six fish, including 5 doubles and a twenty for a combined weight of 92lb 10oz! I added up the weight just as the light was fading - which meant we stayed on long into dark with Steve trying to catch an eight-plus to get over 100lb in a day. It didn't happen, but I don't think he's too bothered!

And for those people who insist you can only catch big pike on big bait, I took a photo of one of the bleak used.

Paulos and Roger fished a couple of pegs downstream from us (just the morning). One run on ledgered sprat and a cracking 17lb 0oz pike to Paulos, the first of many - I hope - during his visit here.

And me - it just wasn't my day. One run late on and a recapture of the 5lb 8oz pike Steve had caught earlier. If I had to recapture one I'd have preferred it to be the twenty!

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Wye - A Start

The river has been bank-high since I arrived on Friday... And it was still a bit high today, but it's my birthday and I fancied an afternoon crack at a Wye pike.

I was first up into the action with a 13lb 4oz fish on a ledgered sprat. A couple of hours passed before Roger had a 5lb 0oz pike on float-fished bleak. I then lost a low double at the net (ledgered bleak) and another fish unseen (ledgered sprat).

We did have a lot of dropped runs, I don't think there was anything wrong with the set-up, perhaps a bit lower water and they'll feed a bit more positively... Thursday... Fingers crossed!

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Wye - Predicting The Future

If you've read this blog before you know I believe in luck. My fishing is almost entirely based on luck, sometimes I have it, sometimes not.

But a bit of preparation doesn't hurt, and predicting the river levels is one way to do it. Unfortunately it's not always good news - but sometimes you can spot a day or even a few hours when you think the fish will feed.

My trip to the River Wye this Christmas is set in stone, visiting my parents, brother and family are flying over from the States - but I'll need to escape and go pike fishing - once or twice...

So using the BBC weather website and the Environment Agency website I can monitor the water levels. And by watching how the five day weather forecast effects upstream levels and tracking it down the river I can see what's going to happen 5 days in advance... Well, that's the theory anyway...

Forecast - Water Levels - Builth Wells
Forecast - Water Levels - Hay-On-Wye
Forecast - Water Levels - Hereford
Forecast - Water Levels - Ross-On-Wye
Forecast - Water Levels - Monmouth

The links above are mainly for my own use as they are bookmarked on my computer in London.

I've watched it for a couple of weeks and I think I'm getting the hang of it. Best pack my lucky hat just-in-case!

Saturday 17 December 2011

It's Getting Cold...

A trip to the Wandte today, the last trip of the year. I was planning on making a day of it, but I had to work this morning, so we didn't hit the river until 3pm.

Our chosen target was chub but they weren't playing today, the only thing interested in the luncheon meat was a friendly robin (below). We fished into the dark, but freezing temperatures and sleet drove us off the riverbank, fish-less, just after five.

We'll be back in January...

Friday 16 December 2011

Jack's Pike #55

Jack is famous! He's appeared in the paper alongside angling legend Ivan Marks and artist Maurice Pledger - thanks Bob.

Thursday 15 December 2011

The River Wye

I was fishing with my dad. I had already caught my very first pike a couple of weeks ago and was desperate to get another one before the season ended. I trotted a dace live bait across the deep hole at the Brook Mouth and hooked into the tree at the bottom of the swim...

The bait was lost and a piece of bark was attached to the hook, as I wound it in a pike swirled at it. The excitement was almost unbearable as dad put another dace on the single treble hook...

I cast out and just as the bung settled it shot under the water. I remember my dad telling me to give it a few seconds but I was already striking...

An epic battle ensued, the only part of the capture I can't really remember, but soon the pike was gaffed gently under the chin...

A five pounder, a monster, photographed on film that would take an age before it was developed. To the utter horror of the match-men I later told, I slipped it back, hoping to see it again the following year...

I can't remember the year or how old I was, but I can remember every other detail. Details I reported back to my mum, brother, teachers and friends for the weeks (months) that followed.

Can't wait to go piking with my dad and brother at Christmas!

Saturday 10 December 2011

Penton Hook VII

Dan and Darren are both away this weekend so the planned trip to Penton Hook was postponed until next weekend... But with the threat of a big freeze looming, and just enough bait in my freezer I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to head there on my own.

Tackle was stripped down to the bare minimum; one rod, net, unhooking gear, a few ledgers and traces. Bait was leftovers; a choice of sprats, sardines or little roach.

After a far more leisurely bike ride than when I'm trying to keep up with Dan & Darren's ultra light bikes with working gears, I arrived at the island at 9.20am and was fishing ten minutes later.

There was a good frost last night and it was still pretty cold, even so I opted to fish the shallow fast water where we've found pike before. I was soon rewarded with a run on ledgered sardine and a 8lb 5oz pike.

Fortunately a friendly passer by took a photo for me. 'Move the fish back, I can't get it all in.' That's NOT how fishermen do it!

I recast and fished for about another hour without a touch, so I decided to explore some nearby swims. But they weren't playing in the shallow water...

I went in search of some deeper water and found a couple of nice holes off the main current, but the pike weren't playing here either. I've made a mental note of where they are, I'm sure they will produce fish later in the season.

I'm not sure if the bait fish have moved or the pike just weren't feeding today. I ended up with the one run for one fish, still a fish banked is always a good trip!

I left the island just after 3pm, I didn't want to - but a broken bike light meant I had to leave before dark. Hopefully the three of us will fit another trip in before Christmas... Next week, fingers crossed!

So after seven trips my Penton Hook scorecard looks like this:
Total weight: 123lb 1oz, Biggest: 17lb 12oz

Edit: I've just noticed this is a recapture, it's the one that bit me two weeks ago! Nine ounces heavier this time, perhaps they have been feeding like mad for 2 weeks which would explain why they aren't hungry today. Or I could have messed up weighing it - does look fatter in the photo though.

Monday 5 December 2011


Was the new koi Kevin? Here they are next to each other, so yes. OK, they are about a 95% match, but the distinctive spots near the eye and the black scale mid-back (among others) confirm it. I'm not sure how the patterns change over time (or when the top photo was taken - Stu?). But I'm glad to see that nasty damage on his left side has healed well.

Thursday 1 December 2011


Afternoon session on the Wandte, we decided to fish the last hour of daylight and the first hour of dark. On route we saw these fungi (above), Dan had seen them on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and remembered you could eat them, they are supposed to taste like salty biscuits... They tasted like crap!

We got to our chosen spot and started fishing. It was more difficult than usual as my hands were made of purple and Dan had evolved into a being made entirely of energy, perhaps there was something wrong with the mushrooms? We couldn't tell over the loud psychedelic music playing in our heads.

Dan seemed to catch a big chub, but by now I knew both Dan and the chub were against me. I photographed them anyway so they wouldn't suspect anything...

Four million hours clicked by in the blink of an electric eye before I had a bite, initially we thought I'd hooked a rainbow, but it then seemed to be a great big bloody goldfish.

With that we decided to stop fishing and try and find the mushrooms, but sadly they'd gone home...


Couple of hours on the Wandte after a chub, Dan was ledgering meat, I used maggots. Dan was first up with a new PB chub of 4lb 6oz. Next up I had a cracking fight and a new PB koi of 6lb 9oz. We sat it out in the rain for a bit but soon the pub was calling... Mushrooms?! Really!

A beautiful koi, so we photographed both sides...

Sunday 27 November 2011

Penton Hook VI

Old friend, 17lb 8oz

Another much anticipated trip to Penton Hook yesterday and similar tactics to last time, ledgered sprat or sardine... They seemed to prefer sea fish.

Our chosen swim was occupied so we found a similar spot, fast water with overhanging trees and it wasn't long before I had a run. A dropped run, the sprat came back covered in tooth-marks, would have made a good photo but excitement meant it was cast straight back out...

About an hour later another positive run on a sprat, a great fight and an old friend, the seventeen pounder I caught two weeks ago (although I didn't know it until I compared the photos). A cracking start, especially as we'd all put a fiver in for a sweep on the biggest fish!

Blow torch sausages!

With a fish banked Dan started on the sausage sandwiches, the cooker thing had run out of gas so he used a blow torch... Which was pretty cool!

Got me! 7lb 12oz

An hour or so later I had the classic ledger run, this time on sardine. Click... Click click... Click click click... Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.... Cue Jaws music! 7lb 12oz, not much of a fight in the water but a spirited battle on the unhooking mat!

Dan was keen to unhook the first pike he caught, so I showed him how to open their mouths and extract the hook without harming the pike or getting bitten... And with that the pike got me! Not a good demonstration!


Darren and I decided to sit it out and wait for a run but Dan decided to go in search of his first pike and it wasn't long before I heard a shout. His first run and his first pike was on, I got there with the net to see an ecstatic Dan and a pike waiting to be netted.

Dan's first pike, 6lb 11oz, sprat deadbait.

6lb 11oz, mission accomplished! I opened her mouth and Dan did the unhooking duties. Although he wasn't keen on holding her jaw for the photo.


Right then, time for lunch... That'll be sausage sandwiches....

I interrupted cooking with another run on sardine, another great fight (I love river pike) and a 10lb 7oz pike. Darren filmed most of the proceedings, I'll put the video on here when he sends it to me. A second double!

Second double, 10lb 7oz

Darren had a feeder rod and a pike rod out. A bite on his feeder rod and a good fish on, when it was about half way cross the river I spotted it - a pike, looked like a double. But it bit through his line... Bad luck, if only it had been on his pike rod.

Another run on my ledgered sardine and a 10lb 15oz pike, my third double of the day! Continuing my lucky streak, every dog has his day!

Doubles hattrick, 10lb 15oz

We fished on into the dark but no more runs, and the sweep was mine. But Dan didn't care, he's in the pike club now... We'll all be back...

Friday 25 November 2011

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Winter Barbel

We've heard there is the odd Wandte barbel still feeding so Dan and myself have hit the river a couple of times, end of last week and this evening trying to find one. The cold weather has killed-off most of the weed, but the river is still very low and clear so we've been targeting some deeper holes.

Session last week where we fished the last couple of hours of daylight, but just a small roach to me and an eel to Dan. So this evening we tried again, a barbel about 5lb lost at the net...

That's enough to keep us coming back...

Friday 18 November 2011

Jack's Pike #51

Thanks to everyone who has bought the book. If you'd like to get one before Christmas it is best to order before 5th December to be on the safe side.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Bob Roberts Online

Jack's Pike Volume 1 is featured on the Bob Roberts Website (no relation). Thanks Bob!

And I've just spotted it on his Mid-November Blog. Fantastic!

Sunday 13 November 2011

Penton Hook V

And we remembered the brown sauce!

Another trip to Penton Hook yesterday and as Darren is away on holiday Dan and myself decided on a much more leisurely start time of 10am... Still meant getting up at eight, but we could do most of the journey on trains, bike riding was minimal!

A simple set up of 3oz ledger, bead, swivel, wire trace and single barbless treble hook. And a choice of small roach or sprat deadbait. The plan was to spend about half an hour in each swim until we found a pike.

The first spot looked devoid of life so we moved and fished against far side features. It wasn't long before I had a run on dead roach and a 4lb 0oz pike.

4lb pike on ledgered roach, a pike before breakfast, great!

With a pike already banked Dan started on the sausage sandwiches, you can't beat sausage sandwiches and pike fishing, a natural combination!

The cook. Beers were for later, not for breakfast.

Another run and a pike on, this one went right up the river in big strong runs. The water is perfectly clear so you can see the pike almost instantly, I got the pike right to the net before she shook her head and spat the hook. Looked about 8lb, would have been a Thames PB.

Next cast and I had an instant run. I winched the fish half way across the river before she knew she was hooked, I thought there wasn't going to be any fight at all, but it looked like a twenty so I was eager to get her in the net. Then she woke up and put up a cracking fight, this fish ran downstream and made 2 hundred foot runs and found a snag twice.

After some heart stopping moments I got her over the net. The net wasn't really big enough but somehow Dan got her in there - gold star for Dan. He then picked the net straight up breaking the net pole - remove Dan's gold star!

The pike had a massive head and a long skinny body and went 17lb 12oz, but judging from the length she'll be a 20 by March, I hope to see her again then. My first Thames double - fantastic!

A long lean 17lb 12oz pike on ledgered sprat.

A new sprat was cast across, and much to Dan's disbelief another instant run. Not much of a fight except for briefly hitting a snag, or so I thought, when I got her in there were tooth marks where she'd been grabbed by a larger pike. The pike went 8lb 8oz, I'd like to meet the one that grabbed it!

8lb 8oz pike, lucky escape with a few tooth marks.

Dan was fishing exactly the same set-up as me, bait was from the same batch of sprats and the baits were fairly close together but all the runs were on my rod. Fishing is weird like that sometimes.

I did bring a second rod to catch some livebaits should the deadbaits be ignored, but we both decided to stick to the deadbaits. So I put on a ledger and we took it in turns to fish against features.

I was first into the action, hooking and loosing what must have been a barbel (although we didn't see it). Dan was next up and we're pretty sure he hooked a carp, again we didn't see it. Everything seemed to be feeding today. Dan wrapped up the ledgering with a gudgeon - but neither of us fancied it for livebait - lucky day.

My pike rod was away again and a tail walking, acrobatic 7lb 0oz pike was landed. A really beautiful green and gold fish on a sprat.

7lb 0oz, pike number four.

Another sprat was cast back to the same spot and a pike picked it up on-the-drop. I winched it half way towards me before it woke up and shot down the river, eventually finding a snag. It was stuck, I put the bait runner on waited for it to swim out, when it did I wound down and the fish went straight back into the snag - and they say they're stupid! I eventually got it to the net and it went 11lb exactly, two doubles!

11lb 0oz, second Thames double.

Me and Dan swapped where we were fishing, I was willing him to catch a pike, I know he'll be hooked once he gets one. And we couldn't work out why all the runs were on my rod. Time for a pork pie, a beer and a bit of a think...

Snack time!

Another run, yeah on my rod, this time on ledgered roach (we were running low on sprats). And my sixth pike of the session went 7lb 11oz. Sorry Dan.

7lb 11oz, my tenth Thames pike.

We had intended to fish until 3 o'clock, but couldn't tear ourselves away and we fished into darkness... Unfortunately no pike for Dan, but there's always next time... Can't wait...

Additional photos by Dan (click to enlarge).