Saturday 19 March 2011

Season Review 2010/11

Well that's it for the season, the reels have been washed, the rods wiped down and everything packed up until the summer. Time to have a look back at the season...

River Wye: I had a very poor season on the Wye, with only 6 pike landed. This was mostly due to poor weather conditions and bad timing, I always seemed to arrive as the river was flooding or freezing! Roger managed 7 fish including 4 doubles to 14lb 8oz, I did have a 14lb 6oz fish and a twenty of 20lb 2oz - the fish that saved my season. Chew Valley: I got to fish Chew after reading about it for years, I can't describe how exciting fishing there was, the thought of those thirties swimming about beneath my feet. It was a tough day but I did manage a jack and a new lure-caught PB of 17lb. River Thames: I put in a lot of hours for one lost fish, next season I'll get one!

I spent a fantastic two weeks in October shark fishing with my brother in Georgia and Florida. Eleven sharks to 6' 11" as well as three red drum, 3 barracuda and a big stingray. That combined with deserted beaches, the wildlife, great weather and great company means I'll be back (plus I want to catch a seven footer).

I have definitely fallen in love with this little river, it's such a contrast to the big rivers I'm used to. Myself and Dan have put a lot of hours in and we are starting to get a handle on it. We caught over 100lb of fish, including 35 barbel. I think we'll be spending a lot of time here in the summer. And we've got a fairly respectable river record list to better next year.

Barbel6lb 6oz Eel2lb Approx
Carp7lb 10ozKoi3lb 15oz
Chub5lb 2oz Roach12oz

I also managed a new PB eel from the Thames of 2lb 11oz. And caught some new species, bream, ruffe and a brown goldfish... Never did find that zander, something for next season... 87 days to go...

...See you then.

PS. And as it's getting quieter here it's all about to kick off in the States, so I'll be keeping an eye on Shark Blog & Team X-Ta-Sea.

Friday 18 March 2011

Jack's Pike #23

Jack is going to have a bit of a break over the closed season, I'm sure I'll do the odd one or two... It's hard enough finding stuff for me to do without thinking up stuff for Jack.

And since my success with the pike-like plug I've been looking for new pike-patterns. I've even had a blast at designing one myself - if you make lures get in touch.

Tuesday 15 March 2011

The Last Day...

I popped down to the Wandte for a couple of hours yesterday, the last day of the course fishing season. I was meeting Dan for a barbel session at 5.30pm but decided to go a bit early and have a go for one last chub. By the time I'd arrived I'd left myself about 20 minutes to land a chub, close, but do-able. Bite first cast which I missed while setting up the net, bite second cast - miss, bite third cast - miss! Fourth cast lucky and I had a 3lb 2oz chub, which was quickly photographed and I headed off up stream to meet Dan.

20 minutes to catch a chub... no problem! 3lb 2oz

I met Dan and we headed to the spot where I had the six pounder last week, as it was getting dark we had a number of little rattly bites and thought they get more confident as night fell. They didn't, bites dried up and we both sat watching stationery rods for a couple of hours. A decision was made to head to a peg upstream where we've had a number of fish before.

Get that barbel out of your mouth!

Dan had a fish on before I'd managed to cast out, a barbel getting on for a pound. My first cast met with a slamming bite and a 2lb 10oz barbel, my second best of the season. We fished on for half an hour but nothing else was playing and we headed for home about nine. The 2010/2011 season was in the history books...

Monday 14 March 2011

Chew Valley

Chew Valley Reservoir - The place of pike dreams...

I journeyed to Chew Valley as a guest of Sean Geer from Fishmail. I had been invited in January and was counting down the days like a kid waiting for Christmas, I've been reading anything I can get my hands on about the lake and looked at the big collection of thirties in the angling press. So yesterday, armed with my Mimics™ (post below) and my giant pike-plugs, we were out on the water by nine o'clock.

Eyes bigger than his belly? 3lb

I know it's sometimes referred to as shooting fish in a barrel, but this is a very big barrel. And the conditions weren't great. The moody sky soon turned into bright sunshine and the deadbaits remained ignored and the lures untouched for the first two spots we tried. The third spot we tried produced a take on the pike-plug - something was feeding. And the next cast produced the 3lb pike above. This was followed by about 20 minutes of action with several fish hooked (all on the pike-plug) but none landed. When this action dried up and we up-anchored and went searching for another fish.

New lure-caught personal best... 17lb

We fished a number of spots but nothing was playing and we didn't see anyone on the other boats into a fish. It didn't matter to me, I knew at any moment a float could sink or my lure might swim past a thirty pounder. But time was flying by and I was starting to think the 3 pounder was going to be the only fish of the trip when my pike-plug was snapped up out of the blue. It was a bigger fish, they aren't known for being hard-fighting fish but she looked like a double in the water. When we got her in the boat you could she was a lot bigger fish - a typical Chew pike, small head and a massive body - and went exactly 17lb. Delighted!

And in the blink of an eye the day was gone...

We fished on into the sunset without another touch. It was a tough day and when we got back to the boat house we learned that most people had blanked, only a couple of other jacks had been reported. I wonder if my fish had taken the pike-plug out of aggression on a day when nothing was feeding?

So it's a great big thank you to Sean, I had a fantastic day. And thanks for putting me on the fish in very tough conditions. And I will be back for a Chew Valley thirty..!

Saturday 12 March 2011


The problem: You can only use sea fish as bait for trout-water pike. Fair enough, you don't want to introduce a disease to the water with livebait or dead naturals. And it's the same for everyone. But are trout-water pike associating sea fish with danger? Especially at the end of the season when they've seen it all before.

The idea: Mimics! I've been experimenting with dying herring to look like trout, I've tested a few food colourings and created a blend that will stay put even in running water - the tap test. The cat approves, but will the pike be fooled? Now, where to test them...

PS. Gardening is for the closed season!

Thursday 10 March 2011

Fight At The Wandte!

Dan text me this morning to see if I fancied a bit of barbel fishing this evening, what could I say? He didn't know what time he'd be there, sometime around about 4.30, maybe earlier, and as I had the net and the bait I thought I'd arrive an hour earlier and try and catch a chub.

First cast a chub of 2lb 11oz, which as I took it's photo crapped all down my leg! Lucky? Then I found a parakeet feather. Lucky? I met Dan and the first swim we tried I had another chub about 10oz before we moved on in search of a barbel. Next swim produced a 1lb 15oz barbel, again to me, and we thought we'd found our spot. We fished on for a couple of hours with only a few half hearted bites and decided to head to the pub... There was one last swim I fancied and it was on route to the pub.

First cast I had a great bite and connected to a nice fish, it looked about three and a half or four pounds (a new Wandte personal best for me) until it spat the hook at the net. Next cast produced a barbel of exactly 2lb which fought well above it's weight. Next up Dan hooked into a good fish, unfortunately it broke him off just above the hook before we could see it. The night of lost Wandte monsters?

Ten minutes later I had another bite, I struck and all went solid, then it moved, then all went solid again. Me and Dan wondered if this was a good fish or a snag, I kept pressure on it until after a few minutes it moved, nice fish on!

I've had some nice barbel before in the river Wye, including a couple of nine pounders, but this was the best barbel fight I've ever had. We eventually netted it about 50 yards downstream - Dan went above and beyond the call of duty, netting it while hanging from a tree! 6lb 6oz, our new Wandte record. Fantastic. And then we went to the pub for a celebratory pint.

And hello to Darren. Whom we met down the river and recognised me and Dan from the blog - hope to see you fishing next season. You wished us luck and we had it - thanks.

Saturday 5 March 2011

Back For Barbel

I couldn't resist having a couple of hours after the Wandte barbel last night, so Dan and myself hit the river just before dark. I had a great bite first cast, and managed to miss it. Second cast I had the 2lb 1oz barbel above (my best from the Wandle). I follow this with a 1lb 11oz fish (below) and one about 12oz. Dan's luck just wasn't with him last night, and he didn't see a fish - but I think he's fishing this weekend while I'm away.

It's great fun catching these little barbel, and I will keep going back for more, but we have decided to seek out the bigger Wandte fish. The official river record is 12lb 2oz, caught by Mike Garrett in July 2006 12lb 4oz, caught by Andrew Shaw in September 2008. The unofficial record is a fish just over 14lb and a fish was found dead a couple of years ago weighing just over 15lb. Next season our target is a ten pounder - it's just a case of finding where the bigger fish are - so there will be some internet research and some exploring over the closed season. Stay tuned!

Tuesday 1 March 2011

The Barbel Are Feeding

I hooked into a Wandte barbel, it went up and down the river, round and round, and made a great fight of it. When it got into the torch beam it was about a pound, I knew it wasn't a monster but I was thinking about 3 or 4 pounds - I'd forgotten how hard these little river fish fight.

While I was away pike fishing Dan hit the Wandte to see if the barbel were feeding again after the winter freeze and was rewarded with a 2lb 2oz fish.

Despite the cold weather we headed to the weir for a couple of hours just after dark. There were bites, violent but quick bites which were almost impossible to hit. I managed the barbel above and a boot-lace-eel, so they are definitely starting to feed again - we just need a warmer night before the season ends...

Dan's fish from the weekend.

D+, Need to work harder on the self-take photos... 2lb 2oz.