Thursday 29 December 2016


With the pike fishing proving tricky Steve, Dylan and myself crossed the boarder into Wales...

With a heavy frost last night, and the temperature not poking much above zero today, we planned on doing some ice fishing fly fishing..!

Stocked fish but it's catch and release so they'd seen it all before - and they didn't want to move much in the cold water...

Personally I thought we were mad - fly fishing in this - but we did find a few fish and a great day was had by all...

Dyl won the day, and hopefully we'll be back in the spring sunshine! (Dyl: 4 rainbows, Steve: 2, Brian: 1).

Wednesday 28 December 2016

Wye Christmas 2

When some anglers dream of fishing they dream of summer afternoons, hot weather, bubbling tench and cruising carp. I dream of winter mornings, crisp frost and thick fog. And pike.

This morning me and Steve headed out into a perfect morning on The Wye - the pike are playing tough to catch but there might be a monster in the mist...

And Steve had a run and was into a pike while we were still setting the kit up. At 15lb 8oz it was a great way to start, perhaps they were switched on today?

It's worth noting this one fell to one of Steve's favourite pike baits; a mackerel fillet, yeah fillet - I've used whole mackerel, heads, tails and even the middle section but just haven't had the confidence to use fillets - works for Steve, and now it's on my list.

If one was feeding hopefully there were more - we walked miles putting a deadbait in every likely looking hole (and chucking a few lures about) but nothing else wanted to play...

It wasn't until we were packing up as the sun was setting before I had a missed run, a new sprat was quickly cast out while the lure rod was broken down - and it was away. All day but a 14lb 0oz reward was totally worth it - best of the season so far!

Yeah there is blood on the pike - mine! I get caught by the gill rakers fairly regularly and occasionally by the teeth, but this is the first time a pike has ever clamped down and shook - it's like getting your fingers caught in a spiked vice... poor bleak!

Monday 26 December 2016

Wye Christmas

I've had very little time on the water for the last month or so, and I was really looking forward to wetting a line on my home-turf River Wye over the Christmas break.

So despite being full of cold I thrashed the water to a foam lure fishing for 5 hours on Christmas Eve, I could watch the lure right across the river in the clear water - and despite being really happy with how I fished I couldn't provoke a follow let alone a take.

Today I thought I'd float a sprat about for a couple of hours - and after Roger suggested a move I finally had a run. The float bobbed before sailing off. The pike stayed deep with one spectacular jump - 10lb 9oz - one run, one fish, it's a start...

Friday 16 December 2016

Jack S...!

Christmas is coming and it's been almost a month since I've been fishing so I jumped at the offer of two or three days chub fishing with James on The Stour.

Things didn't go to plan, it was a struggle. I didn't manage a chub with a trotting day and a bait and wait evening, I didn't hear of anyone else landing a chub either. Except James - the only chub in the river?

Day two and I wasn't really feeling it - so while James went after chub - I went on a lure chucking mission! I nearly always pack a few lures on away days.

While James worked very hard for a second chub. I walked miles and miles for a half a dozen follows and a couple of jacks - love pike and love catching them on lures - so can't complain.

The pike were covered in leaches where they hadn't moved much, the other fish were probably lethargic as well in these weird up-n-down, hot-n-cold winter conditions...

In an uncharacteristicly sensible decision we opted not to struggle through a third day - I probably should go Christmas shopping tomorrow anyway!

Tuesday 22 November 2016

Red Two: Part 3

The alarm went off at stupid o'clock, the bed was warm and the cat was very cuddly. It was pitch black outside.

Under the streetlights I could see the cars were covered in frost, it was bloody cold out there, I needed a cup of tea.

There was no milk, the note-to-self that read 'buy milk' was still on the kitchen counter. Going back to bed wasn't even tempting.

Why do we get up this early in the morning to travel miles to sit in the middle of nowhere, on the riverbank, often on our own and often in the cold?

1lb 11oz top photo and 1lb 9oz above (complete with arty leaf).

1lb 8½oz, getting my eye in for roach photos...

Roach number four, 1lb ½oz, still on my pound plus roll.

My 1lb 15oz friend (recapture), the Old Bruiser.

And pound plus roach number six, 1lb 3oz, to end on. Proper - worth the early start, cold, wet - brilliant - red letter day!

Saturday 19 November 2016

Silver Darts III

Trotting for dace a bit closer to home, I don't expect to find my target pounder here but perhaps I can beat my PB?

OK, I'd have to remember my scales to do that - but still it was a great autumn afternoon.

Plenty of dace to about 8oz, a couple of chub, trout and a little roach - lots of fun, perhaps I should forget the scales more often...

Friday 18 November 2016

Red Two: Part 2

Last Saturday morning James and I headed out for some floodwater trotting, I ended up with a dozen roach to just under a pound (and a surprise barbel). What struck me was the roach were up in the water, the bottom was gudgeon territory.

This morning it was an early start, a couple of trains and an exercise in patience - I hadn't brought a torch and although I could set everything else up I couldn't tie the size 18 until I had enough daylight!

Three hours of trotting later, 2 trout and 2 minnows were on the books but I was running out of time - then the bite I was waiting for, a roach and it looked like the two I was after (I saw it as she lodged herself under a weedbed).

Gently pulled through the weeds, a couple of lunges and she was safely resting in the net while I set up the camera and zeroed the scales. A very different shape to last weeks, this one was longer, thick but lacked depth - last weeks was fresh off the mint, this one was an old bruiser.

The scales rested just shy of the magic number, I had to settle for 1lb 15oz, but a beautiful bronze fish I really couldn't complain - Getting closer!

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Night Pike

I've always thought of pike as mid-afternoon feeders, they don't get up that early and they're pretty efficient once they get started.

In my experience on a winter's day the best time is just after lunch until an hour before dark - we all fish that magic hour into dark - it works for other species but pike are done (they are off doing secret pike stuff).

A week or so ago me and James hit the river well after dark (to be honest you couldn't fish here during the day it would be far too busy). And float-wobbled deadbaits did the trick, three pike landed - no doubles but they're in here...

The water is gin-clear and the river is very well lit, are the pike hunting the silhouettes? We'll need to get back for a couple more rounds to find out.

What are your experience with night pike?

Friday 11 November 2016

Red Two: Part 1

When I started this season's PB Challenge one target really stood out - and for once it wasn't a pike - I really want a 2lb roach! Yeah - I blame you James!!

I was trotting for chub back in the summer when I spotted a shoal of roach, I cast to them and the biggest one nailed my bread flake - size 12 hook to 4lb line, so the odds were in my favour - so I was gutted when it shed the hook right at the net. I don't think it was a two, but still a big roach.

The shoal had disappeared, and although the river is a pain to get to I've been back a few times for look - no sign of them. With the recent rain I went back and fished the spot I lost my fish hoping the coloured water would give them more confidence.

With no visibility it was a bait-n-wait and I'd almost given up hope when just before sunset there was a little tap tap on the tip... The fish I was after, possibly the same one I lost in the summer - I'd like to think so.

A new personal best of 1lb 14oz - Get in!

Wednesday 9 November 2016

Chub Chasing III

There's no getting away from it - it's getting cold out there. There was a harsh frost on The Stour and it seems to have put the chub down, at least until they get used to the drop in temperature. Fish-spotting and rolling was replaced with a bait-and-wait approach. But they didn't want to play in the morning.

Me and James opted for a lunch time fry up in a nearby cafe followed by a bit of exploring some other stretches, reasoning the chub might feed in a brief window of time just before dark.

That window lasted between 4.00 and 4.40pm (sunset 4.24), when we both managed a five, mine scrapped in at 5lb 0oz below. Still we fished on for a couple of hours in the dark - 'cause you never know...

Monday 7 November 2016

Lucky Lady

A 4am start saw me and James on the River Frome at sunrise. This sparsely populated river throws up the odd big grayling but it's tough fishing. James had previously put the hours and miles in with little to show for his efforts, it was my first trip.

On the riverbank discussing tactics I flicked out my float - no fiddling with depth, no free samples, I hadn't set the net up - the float shot away, boom - the biggest grayling me or James had ever seen!

New PB of 2lb 11oz, it's better to be lucky than good!

Cracked it in 20 seconds, we joked that I might as well go back and sleep in the van - but I fished on for 10 hours in the rain. I added six more grayling to 1lb 2oz and a handful of small trout over the day before hitting and bumping another big grayling that looked two pound plus...

Just as well really, James was struggling with just a small grayling and a trout landed - I think if I'd added a second big fish he'd have pushed me in!

But just as we were running out of daylight James had the bite he was waiting for... A new PB each - mission accomplished, and soaking wet, we headed for a curry and a pint.

My Mum was a bit worried I'd get withdrawal symptoms from shark fishing - so she bought me this emergency pack of sharks just in case. No need to open them this trip though...

Friday 4 November 2016

Shark Fishing 2016

Well back in cold, damp London and looking back on an unbelievable trip - so here's a quick recap before I head out into the frost in search of a pike or two.

The conditions looked great until hurricane Matthew threw a spanner in the works. As well as the dirt and debris the water temperature dropped 8° in 5 days, effectively ending the mullet run.

Finding baitfish and therefore predators was going to be tough, and finding feeding fish was a real ask - fortunately we had the man for the job.

Our best bet turned out to be linked to the tides and fishing at night. And our target was sandbar sharks, really love these sharks; harder fighting than the other species and it's main diet is other sharks - which makes it pretty cool!

I landed 20 sharks, three of them over 6 foot and a new PB and my target - a 7 foot sandbar shark - a big female.

The fight of my life; 55 minutes where often the shark was in control. A few times I thought I was going to have to pass the rod to Paulos or Roger, but I held on with acid pumping through my arms and fingers cramping I used up every last reserve of my strength - what a fish!

As well as the sharks we also targeted red drum, a hard fighting predator. I had caught three of these before on my previous trip - but I was happy to add more.

And 14 more was a brilliant result, I upped my PB to a big 43' female (probably the heaviest I caught) and the last fish of the trip I upped it again to a PB of 44' - a future target to better.

I joked to Paul that I wanted a 100lb class stingray, I even mentioned I wanted it to be a dark fish - then I hooked one on 25lb line. Forty five minutes of back breaking fight later - a magnificent fish was on the beach - great result, but you don't want too many of them!

Other species included pompanos, bluefish and catfish.

It was great to spend time on the beautiful deserted beaches, watching the wildlife (photos to follow). And a great holiday all round - massive thanks to everyone involved. And top ghillie skills Paulos - thanks again. Took a lot of attempts to get the photo below!

Can't wait to return, don't want to wait six years this time. Perhaps September 2018? I'll start planning - and if I'm after an eight footer I might need to hit the gym a few times beforehand!

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Drum Roll

Today I've got to travel back to London, 2 fights, loads of trains, taxis and tubes and I'm guessing a ton of delays here and there - but it's totally worth it. The hurricane changed the fishing we were expecting, but with Paulos' years of experience he managed to adapt and still find sharks - top work that man!

Me and Paulos were sat on a deserted beach under the stars, talking about the trip - 20 sharks and a dozen red drum, plus a monster stingray for me - far better than I'd even imagined. But Paulos was determined to catch another and send me home on a high note, after all we hadn't blanked yet!

The weather had really turned and it was properly cold now, the last of the sharks will be heading south and the red drum disappearing to wherever they go.

First up was a take on the shark rod, a big bait had been taken by a red drum, over gunned for the fight I wound in the 38' red drum (below). It's hard to see from the photo but this fish had recently been attacked by a shark, a hole in the gill plate and a still bleeding bite to the tail - tough fish!

An hour later a run on the lighter gear, a very hard fighting red drum that really didn't like the beach, tearing off into the surf each time it touched sand. And a new PB of 44' to end on - what a trip!

Monday 31 October 2016

Lemon In The Hand

We had waited all day but finally the tide was right for a rematch with yesterday's lost lemon shark. Paulos and I were on the beach, fresh bait caught, rods cast - sat back waiting for that 28 foot twitch!

And we waited. Two hours later we hadn't had a touch. On Paulos' advice I put a fresh mullet head on one of the red drum rods, chucked it out as far as I could and minutes later it was away.

I could tell it was a shark as it peeled all the 25lb line off the reel and onto the backing, eventually working it back and a 5" 2' lemon shark was on the beach (below). Not as big as last nights lost fish, but that really didn't matter - delighted!

After a missed run an hour or so later a shark rod was away again, I hit it and was pretty sure I was hooked up to a big sandbar shark. As before the first run stripped all 200 yards of the 40lb line and quite a bit of backing braid, but I opted for a relentless fight - bullying the fish whenever I could...

And 25 minutes later Paulos grabbed a fairly fresh 6" 7' sandbar shark from the surf. One angry shark thrashed about being unhooked and smacked me round the head with its tail as we measured it - that will teach me to rush he fight!

With a six footer landed on a night with only 3 runs we called it quits and headed home for some much needed sleep. Mission accomplished!

Sunday 30 October 2016

Lemon In The Surf

The weather was cooler, the skeeter activity had died down and we were on the beach to fish the low tide. Two heavy shark rods were cast and we were setting up the red drum rods when I glanced over, one of the shark rods was away. After a good run I hit the fish and nothing... How does that happen?

The rod was rebaited with fresh stingray, cast out and soon away again - same story, I missed it! Over the next hour the same rod was away 3 times, Paulos missing two fish (at least it wasn't just me) before Roger finally hit one - fish on!

We wound in the other rods and were set for an epic battle, and after hammering out to sea Roger worked the shark back into the surf, in the spotlight we could see it was a good lemon shark, six foot plus - then the hook pulled - f&$k!!

That was the last of the shark activity but both Roger and myself landed a consolation red drum at 37' and 39' respectively. We'll be back for those sharks tomorrow...

Friday 28 October 2016

Midnight Monster

We were on the beach to fish the low tide at midnight, it looks like the nocturnal sandbar sharks are our best big shark option. Not a touch for the first hour or so but then the rod baited with a whole bluefish head hammered away - the nightlight shooting out across the water.

After a 200 yard run I set the hook (you can't set the hook until they stop), then began a brilliant 40 minute fight in the starlight. Long runs left and right with lots of angry head shaking before Paulos collared him in the surf and dragged him up the beach.

A 6" 6' male sandbar shark, not as bulky as the females but all muscle - well worth the late night!

We quickly followed him up with a small sandbar shark and a small sharpnose shark to Paulos. Then as suddenly as they had arrived they disappeared - the rods remained motionless for another hour or so before we called it quits.

With the weather set to change I'm really hoping to get another trip or two in - fingers crossed...

Thursday 27 October 2016

Wire Cutter

Back to Florida for the afternoon and the water and weather conditions looked perfect for sharks - excitement levels were running high as we made the first long range casts...

But the first few hours produced only a bluefish (for bait) and a catfish to Paulos. We were really struggling fishing in the open surf, and had to drag ourselves away from what looked like an ideal spot...

We moved to an inlet and let some bluefish chunks soak, after about an hour one of the rods hooped over, another blacknose shark at 4" 4' a new PB for the species, they don't get much bigger...

Half an hour later the rod hooped round again, but this felt different - pure power - it hammered out to sea before the line went slack. The shark had bitten through the 210lb wire!!

Paulos said it was probably a tiger shark - would have liked to have seen one of those, but these things happen. And a 4" blacknose shark on the next cast partly made up for it.