Monday 23 March 2015

Challenges 2014/15

Species Challenge: The first of a few challenges I set myself this season, I wanted to put a few fish on the list I'd never caught before (or had only caught very small ones). The first task was to catch each species and I also added a reasonable target weight to try and beat.

I achieved four out of the five targets (bloody bream) and have totally fallen in love with (four out of five of) them. They are all going to be future targets - very enjoyable fishing.

Crucian1lb2lb 9oz 12/04/2014
Bream5lb3lb 14oz 03/05/2014
Tench5lb5lb 4oz 29/06/2014
Zander5lb5lb 10oz 22/10/2014
Grayling1lb2lb 1½oz07/02/2015

Pike Challenge: A repeat of last year's failed challenge, 200lb of pike including 5 doubles. I didn't take into account there is no real pike fishing close to home and work is pretty relentless, but that's not really an excuse.

I didn't manage the 200lb, but I did end up with 6 doubles - so half way there. A couple more trips to the River Wye or a weir permit might well have push me over the target but in the end I think I left it too late to start may campaign.

I love fishing for pike and really need to learn this time. Make some more time for pike fishing next season!!

276154lb 11oz

Barbel Challenge: A challenge I decided on a few months into the season. Time was limited so when I could string two or three hours together I'd have a blast at a small river barbel. I wasn't targeting big fish I was just after something to put a bend in the rod.

As thing were going well I decided to aim for 60+ barbel and a target weight of 300lb. An incredible (lucky) run of multi-fish catches and next to no blanks meant I realised this target without that much time on the riverbank - perfect opportunistic fishing. Cracked!

Jun?2?7lb 10oz
Aug37010lb 1oz
Sep41208lb 7oz
Oct31106lb 10oz
Nov51409lb 12oz
Dec2509lb 14oz
Jan4908lb 4oz
Feb3516lb 15oz
Mar2607lb 15oz
Total--71--348lb 11oz

Gudgeon Challenge: I've always loved gudgeon and normally specifically fish for them a few times a year. This season, armed with a set of digital kitchen scales, I decided to chase down a real monster, the target was a genuine 3oz fish.

I didn't manage a three, the best going 2.7oz which was still brilliant. Going to keep carrying the scales so when I do bump into one I'll get a proper weight... I'll keep trying...

And as for next season's challenges... Another attempt at 200lb+ of pike? A big rudd? Perhaps my first moggy? I'll have to give it some thought...

Monday 16 March 2015

Season Review 2014/15

Well it's all over for another season, a season which once again was governed by a lack of time, but unlike last season I maximised my fishing, averaging nearly a session a week - although some of them were pretty quick.

I managed my time, working when it was dark whenever possible and changing my fishing techniques to maximise success rates, deadbaits were wobbled, meat rolled, maggots trotted and swims hopped. I didn't wait for the fish to come to me I went and found them.

To say it's been a brilliant season would be an understatement, a season that included four new species, time spent on species I haven't really chased before and ten person bests! As well as new venues, new challenges and fishing with a great bunch of people.

Here is a quick breakdown of the season:

April: No closed season blues for me, for the first time ever I fished on through. Three trips to Marsh Farm bagging up on the tench and crucians, including a 100lb day, a stunning 2lb 9oz crucian and a 4lb 7oz tench.

May: Work was really starting to get busy but I did manage to escape to the Farm for a day, continuing to catch the tench and crucians, I even managed a PB bream of 3lb 14oz - which turned out to be the best of the season.

June: The glorious sixteenth was a bit of a wash out, I think I always target barbel too early in the year, I did manage 2 barbel over the first three days. And a couple of trips to the farm resulted in another 100lb day and a PB tench of 5lb 4oz.

July: A game launch really took all of my time, just one quick trip to a pond for some gudgeon bashing - but not much can beat a few hours catching mud skippers followed by a nice cold pint in the sunshine. Perhaps I could have got out a bit more.

August: A carp early in the month, but the really story was the barbel deciding to play towards the end of the month, rolling meat was devastating - the technique for the season. It was the start of multi fish catches and a 10lb 1oz barbel was the icing on the cake!

September: The barbel-fest continued and was only interrupted by a long weekend on the Wye. Me and James were targeting pike and perch, a successful trip that included James' first Wye double and a new PB perch for me, at 2lb 4oz a beautiful fish.

October: Zander time! Three trips to Bury Hill in search of my first zander, and I found them, tricky fish to hook but I landed nine to 5lb 10oz, a very respectable PB. I will be back this year hoping to better it.

November: I continued to bag up on the barbel and a bream mission to the Thames threw up a surprise ruffe. We travelled north to Coventry to join Jeff and the Midlands bloggers for a social zander session, where my luck was in, adding 2 more fish to my zander tally.

December: Back to the Wye in search of pike, and it wasn't flooded for a change. But the unsettled water conditions proved tricky, I did manage 8 pike to 12lb 2oz - so a better result than recent Christmas breaks.

January: Still bagging up on barbel I turned my attention to catching a 3oz gudgeon, armed with digital kitchen scales I was able to put some proper weights to these mini-monsters. Weighing lighter than they look I managed a 2.7oz fish, a great start.

February: Four trips to the Test Valley chasing my first grayling, a fish I have fallen in love with and the best was 2lb 1½oz, bigger than I'd even hoped for. I also managed a few bonus rainbow trout to 3lb 1oz and a stunning PB roach of 1lb 12oz - Proper red letter fishing.

March: A weekend on the Wye made a dent in the challenge, including my best pike of the season at 13lb 2oz and some lovely perch. A couple of sessions on the local river took my barbel total to 71 fish. And a North London pike provided a cracking end to a brilliant season!

Just brilliant. And now we're back in the closed season, well no closed season blues for me again this year - in a couple of weeks it'll be time to hit the ponds. I will be chasing tench, crucians and hopefully a rudd or two - got a 4oz PB to beat... Crack on!

Saturday 14 March 2015


The last day of the season, one I've found in past years to hold too much pressure - get out early, mustn't blank, last trip for three months...

This year I opted out of the pressure, I've had the final week off work and filled my boots with pike, perch and barbel. My hard earned North London pike yesterday was a great fish to end a cracking season. And after all, it's not 3 months it's about three weeks before I start my summer campaign.

So today after a lie-in and a nice breakfast I hit the local river for a few hours - just to cast a line and chew the fat with old friends and some new ones, my season was already in the bag.

A lovely barbel to end on was just a bonus. Happy days!

Friday 13 March 2015

Blue Crystal Mepps

I've been out for the last two days lure fishing, on my last trip to the tackle shop I spotted some blue Mepps - haven't seen blue ones since I was a kid so two were purchased, and they accounted for all the lure caught perch on the weekend.

Yesterday afternoon I targeted perch in the Thames and some of it's tributaries, just one fish which I was convinced was a really big perch until it surfaced and revealed a foul hooked bream... Can't catch them when I want to..!

Today me and James hit Walthamstow Reservoirs after one of their very rare pike, after much searching James spotted one in a shallow bay and although it followed his lure it was very half hearted. Then we spotted another and another but they didn't want to play.

Eventually I had a hit, pike on, good old blue Mepps! A great fight in the gin-clear water and she was netted as quickly as possible due to what looked like a poor hook-hold, my 11lb 12oz Walthamstow prize was in the bag.

And we saw why they weren't playing, while in the net a jack pike swam up to her. She was ready to spawn, and after a quick photo she was returned to her waiting mate.

Female is in the net, you can see the waiting jack at the top of the photo. Very quick report today, lots to do... Last day tomorrow.

Jack's Pike #224

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Taste Of Summer

A beautiful sunny afternoon, time to stalk some barbel in the clear river. 5lb 14oz above.

7lb odd, forgot the weight - d'oh!

About 2¾lb.

Stocky 5lb 5oz.

And 7lb 15oz to make it a nice round 70 barbel this season.


Monday 9 March 2015

Pike Attack

Last week of the season and my pike challenge has all but failed, two more doubles and nearly 100lb left to catch. Only one thing for it; head to my home-turf River Wye for the weekend where I'd at least stand an outside chance of bagging up.

I watched the water conditions all last week, the water and weather looked good, but reports of pike being landed we non-existent - had I left it too late?

Saturday: Reccy... An afternoon trying to find pike where they were this time last year. And we did find pike, 4lb above, 1lb, 1½lb and another at 1½lb.

I was hoping they were the jacks gathering around the big females waiting to spawn - but I had a horrible feeling they were juvenile fish and the bigger ones were somewhere else.

I did however find some perch that were up for it, landing six fish to 2lb on bleak live-bait and blue Mepps. Great fun!

Sunday: Assault... An early start and a trek to find some deep, slow holes near spawning gravels, hoping to find some big girls shoaled up for the main event.

And it didn't take long to find one, looked a big fish in the water but once in the net we could see it had already spawned - long, thin and silver. Still a cracking fish and would have been 16 or 17lb a week ago, but a double of 13lb 2oz was still a lovely fish!

More miles were travelled, and we still hoped for a monster - had they all spawned? Two more pike of 2lb 12oz and 6lb 2oz found the net. And two more perch to the blue Mepps, not a bad day's fishing.

Monday: Hope... It didn't look like yesterday's six pounder had spawned yet, so another early start was in order and a few hours before catching the train back to London. And another double was added to the weekend, again this one had spawned but fought like a tiger, a 10lb 3oz pike to finish on.

Buttons, my Mum and Dad's dog had a lovely time and all in it was 8 pike and 8 perch, a great weekend's fishing - and I'd wrapped up the five doubles half of the challenge. Total weigh stands at 142lb 15oz, not a bad crack at the challenge and a lesson learned in not leaving it to the last minute.

Who knows? One more pike trip this week?

Monday 2 March 2015

Three Hundred

James phoned on Saturday - did I fancy an afternoon stalking roach on the local river? Still on my roach buzz from the previous day the answer was of course yeah. But I'd also take my rolling gear as I was one fish away from my barbel target.

We made our way down the river spotting roach and dace, but they were easily spooked, until I spotted a small shoal of barbel, out came the rolling gear and the fish were keen.

The biggest of the bunch nailed it about 8lb, shook it's head and came off, then same story with one about 6lb, finally the smallest of the shoal, about 2¾lb, was landed. You can tell from my smile I hadn't worked out I was about 2oz short of my target yet - I was going to need another.

We carried on down the river stalking roach, neither of us having any success although James did land a surprise bonus fish, I'll leave that story to his blog.

I did spot an overhanging tree that screamed barbel, and second roll through - fish on. A great fight and my 300lb target was beat! A fat 6lb 15oz barbel to crack the challenge - looked bigger than it weighed.

On down the river and I had time for one more, 6lb 1oz to wrap the barbel fishing up. A season total of 65 barbel for 312lb 14oz - brilliant!

No roach for me, and roach-man James only managed a couple of small fish, they weren't playing today. We wrapped things up with James catching gudgeon while I was weighing and measuring them for the gudgeon graph - more stats in the book, although we need a lot more before we plot them.

Hopefully I'll get another session or two in before end of season, and I still need to find some pike and a 3oz gudgeon, barbel challenge cracked but we're running out of time...