Tuesday 21 March 2017

Specimen Challenge 2016/17

Bream 10lb 9oz (47%) - Previously 5lb 3oz (22%) *Upped twice.

The challenge last season was to improve my rather average Personal Best list. The aim was to improve on 10 of them and although it would mean less fish than the accumulative targets of previous seasons, and even a few dreaded blanks, I was hoping I'd be sat here now looking at some impressive photos of some of my less targeted fish.

I didn't manage ten but upped six (including banishing my bream curse). And added a new one with a monster minnow - seven new PBs, not bad for a old piker - I'll take it!

Minnow 18 grams (75%) - New entry.

Grayling 2lb 11oz (63%) - Previously 2lb 1oz 8dr (48%)

Roach 1lb 15oz (46%) - Previously 1lb 12oz (41%) *Upped twice.

Dace 11oz 4dr (53%) - Previously 10oz 4dr (47%)

Chub 6lb 12oz (72%) - Previously 5lb 2oz (55%) *Upped twice.

Rudd 1lb 10oz (35%) - Previously 1lb 1oz (22%)

Barbel12lb 4oz21lb 1oz58%
Bream 10lb 9oz 22lb 11oz47%
Carp 20lb 2oz67lb 8oz29%
Crucian2lb 9oz 4lb 10oz55%
Chub6lb 12oz9lb 5oz72%
Dace11oz 4dr1lb 5oz 2dr53%
Eel2lb 11oz11lb 2oz24%
Gudgeon0lb 2oz 11dr0lb 5oz54%
Minnow18 grams 24 grams 75%
Perch2lb 4oz6lb 3oz36%
Pike25lb 4oz46lb 13oz53%
Roach1lb 15oz4lb 4oz46%
Rudd1lb 10oz4lb 10oz35%
Ruffe0lb 2oz0lb 5oz40%
Tench6lb 4oz15lb 3oz41%
Zander 9lb 1oz21lb 5oz42%
Grayling2lb 11oz4lb 4oz63%

Added to the PB list, which now shows the softer targets. I think the next step would be to get everything over 40% of the record; carp 27lb, eel 4½lb, perch 2¾lb and rudd 2lb.

Not sure about the eel but I'll extend the challenge into next season, targeting the rudd and carp during the summer and hopefully bag a nice perch with a more extensive pike fishing campaign this autumn.

Friday 17 March 2017

Season Review 2016/17

It's all over for another season, and as always it seems to have flown by. It was the year of the Specimen Challenge, and seven new UK PBs were added - plus shark, stingray and red drum!

It was a bit light on pike and I didn't even fish for zander, but there was some cracking fishing. I fished 14 rivers, exploring some beautiful locations and caught some stunning fish. Quick look back below.

June: It was a funny start to the season; the weather was all over the place and the fish hadn't spawned. I started my challenge with a PB bream from a chalk stream, then resulted to a few local barbel fishing sessions - although barbel were not the really target this season. The highlight was a new local river PB roach, 1lb 4½oz.

July: I struggled to find feeding fish but a trip to The Wye turned things around. Catching chub, barbel and perch. It was great fishing with my Dad, brother and an old mate from school. It was great to see Roger and Steve land a barbel, and even better to see Paulos bag his first ever barbel and add a PB chub!

August: The plan was to crack on with the Specimen Challenge and my targets were crucians and rudd - but work had other ideas, I struggled to find time on the bank and when I did conditions were against me. I managed the target species but not the target weights - next year? (I'm going to extend the challenge).

September: More time on the bank and more fish in the net. I stalked out a double figure river bream, at 10lb 9oz my target was cracked. An old warrior of a barbel, at 9lb 14oz I really didn't care about those two extra ounces. A new PB chub at 5lb 14oz. And rounded off the month with some trotting for dace, great fun.

October - UK: Started with a trip to The Royalty in search of pike - landing three but not the double I was after - next time? A couple of trips to the local resulted in some chub and barbel and a monster 18 gram minnow (I was genuinely targeting minnows) - at 75% of the British record it earned a place on my PB list!

October - USA: I thought hurricane Matthew had destroyed our shark fishing adventure - dirt, debris and a big drop in water temperature. I needn't of worried with Paulos on the case; me and Roger managed 24 sharks, three 6 foot plus including a 7 foot new PB. As well as a PB stingray and 18 red drum to a new PB of 44'. Brilliant!

November: Back to reality, briefly, before hitting a new PB grayling of 2lb 11oz on my first cast in The Frome - it's better to be lucky than good! I then turned my attention to a roach shoal I'd spotted in the summer, landing 8 pound plus fish (including a recapture) and upped my PB twice to 1lb 15oz - so close to my target.

December: One reason or another kept me off the river most of the month, just one trip out chasing Stour jacks. Over Christmas I hit The Wye but it was tough going - two pike, 10lb and 14lb. Steve landed one of 15lb and I found myself unhooking a twenty for a couple of kids. And I can't wait for a bit of mild weather fly fishing!

January: An apathetic start to the year was replaced by some quick chub and barbel missions to the local river, not specimen hunting, just getting something to pull the line. I also cleaned up my uncles' old reel - something I've been meaning to do for a while. And filled my boots with River Itchen grayling - apathy banished.

February: Started with my best bag of dace for years, nine fish over 8oz and a new PB of 11¼oz. A trip to a little chalk stream produced a beautiful ancient roach among the grayling. And in a few smash and grab missions I landed chub to just shy of five pounds and barbel to double figures - my first double of the season.

March: The final push and I took my total local barbel to 70 fish, including a double (recapture). I landed a stunning pug nose pike on a lure from a tiny chalk stream, and landed a new PB rudd on the last day. But my fish of the month, and in fact the season, was my monster 6lb 12oz chub - what a fish! What a season!!

Tuesday 14 March 2017

Felina 16/17

The sun has set on another season (I took the photo above through the lens of my sunglasses). Another fantastic season at that, with some brilliant fish, exploring new locations and improving my PB list.

There was one target that I had planned on giving another shot if I found time - rudd. Me and James were on the water at sunrise, motoring across The Fens in James' boat. The weather had turned against us, cold, strong winds - we struggled.

It was hard work but after a couple of small rudd I hit one that pulled back, a new PB of 1lb 10oz - plenty of room for improvement - but a great result on the final trip! And the 2016/17 season was in the bag!

And James, he hit something completely unexpected - but I'll leave that to his blog...

Sunday 12 March 2017

Three Blind Mice

I had forgotten my polaroids. Crap. I was on a gin-clear chalk stream that averages about one pike per quarter of a mile, I was fishing blind, I had made a difficult task almost impossible.

As I couldn't see pike or snags this was a job for my mouse (SG 3D Rat) - the action of this is fantastic - and I got five follows, considering how sparsely populated this stream is that is remarkable.

No takes, but as I later found out they were spawning and had other things on their minds than eating mice - can't wait to try this out again in the autumn!

A pike swirled at the mouse and hung around in the side so I quickly swapped lure to a SG bleak and she nailed it straight away - really did not want to meet me and put up a fight of a pike twice the size.

I could see she was gold in colour but it wasn't until I peeled back the net I saw she was a pug - a golden pug - what a beautiful pike. She weighed 8lb 0oz but that didn't really matter, what a fish!

Next up I found some shallow gravel and could see pike - but they were paired up (and a threesome) spawning - as they were making more pike I thought I'd leave them to it and headed home.

Saturday 11 March 2017

Floodwater Chub 2

A very different morning, we we're on the river for sunrise, the bright conditions had been replaced with fog and drizzle - the river was even higher and still rising.

Different tactics today, we were going to wander along putting a ledgered bait into any little slacks for 20 minutes or so before moving on. James opted for cheese, I opted for the trusted luncheon meat.

I had an eel in the second swim but then the bites were very hard to come by and a lot of water was covered. I think I had 3 or 4 decent wraps on the tip throughout the day, and missed all but one...

But it was the one I was after, not enough fight for a barbel but too heavy for a chub? Nope, we saw a monster chub swirl as it made a break for some submerged reeds, a few more lunges before being swept up in the net.

What a fish, a new personal best 6lb 12oz chub - the cherry on the icing on the cake! Brilliant end to the campaign this season.

So it's a massive thanks to James for netting and photography, and for driving. And for not pushing me in when we weighed her (he has had some lovely chub this season though). We'll be back in the summer...

Friday 10 March 2017

Floodwater Chub 1

Last trip of the season to The Stour in search of a monster chub and we arrived at sunrise to a flooded dirty river, this wasn't going to be easy. I opted to stick it out in one swim, a deep hole with a crease on the outside edge. Float fished maggots and a ton of bait.

I was soon catching minnows with the odd dace mixed in, after an hour or so this gave way to mostly dace with the odd roach in the mix - and I was absolutely sure a chub would eventually crash the party.

It's been a very long time since I've stuck it out in one swim all day, and I bagged up on the roach and dace - no big fish but it was one of those rare occasions when I wished I'd used a keepnet to see my total.

And the chub? They didn't arrive, I think the rising water and bright conditions might have put them off.

I put out a sleeper rod in the edge with a ledgered dace livebait, I even used a bite alarm so it wouldn't distract me. And throughout the day I landed five pike and lost 2 others - all jacks but pike are pike and I love them!

An hour or so after sunset I went and found James, time for a curry, a few pints and to discuss tactics for tomorrow...

Wednesday 8 March 2017

When You Can't...

There is something about the last few trips of the season. I've pretty much ignored the local barbel population this time - until now (well until the end of January anyhow). I need my fix...

Last trip of the season, first up was the splasher about 2lb pictured, I followed it up with a chub about 3lb and more barbel; 6lb 9oz, 9lb 5oz, 4½lb and 8lb 15oz... Five barbel, not bad...

Just one more to make it a nice even 70... Well it took some walking but on literally my last cast - genuine last cast, not fisherman's one - 4½lb - seventy. Brilliant!

Sunday 5 March 2017


I escaped for an hour chasing chub in some very shallow water, you could watch a bow wave approach the luncheon meat - and mostly turn away at the last second. After loosing one to a hook pull I landed the fish above, what a stunning looking chub.

Mission accomplished - I only needed one fish - I headed for home. Well, I did land a dinosaur but as I netted it I'm not sure it counts!

Saturday 4 March 2017


Fighting against the fading light, desperate to fit a few more short trips in before close, struggling to see the shadows crossing the shallow gravel - three very hard fighting barbel of 10lb 10oz, 6lb 8oz and 5lb 15oz graced the landing net...

Mistakes were made. A cracking photo and a distinctive barbel - the 11lb 15oz fish from last week - I had messed up weighing her - either then or now. I sent the photo to James and he recognised he'd seen her early in the season at 10lb 15oz and at 11lb 13oz last season... Could be either weight, so I've change my records to the lower weight. And I'm normally obsessive when weighing fish!

The Flash. I'm afraid I can't recommend the Lumix DMC-FT30, once set up it takes great daylight photos - like the one above and the post below. But the flash isn't strong enough to take photos even in dusky low-light. Most of my fishing is in the daytime, but you never know when you'll find that special fish at dusk - back to the drawing board.

The Wye. I was hoping I'd be on The Wye this weekend but the river is too high and too unsettled for pike. It needs to drop at least 3 or 4 foot this weekend and stay there all week - I've checked the weather and it's raining! So barring a miracle I need a backup plan - and I think it'll be one last crack at a monster Stour chub...

Thursday 2 March 2017

Spring Sprung?

Beautiful day, far too nice to be sat in front of a monitor so I made my escape, I headed to the river, the plan was to take the stick 'n' pin for a walk and put some miles on my new fishing boots.

I found minnows where I hadn't seen them before, looks like they're getting ready to spawn - I'm really hoping to catch a male in full spawning colours before the season ends.

I found a shoal of roach, might have to come back with a keepnet - see if I can bag a few without spooking them. A 2.2oz gudgeon that I managed to drop back without a photo.

And I found barbel; about 2¾lb (pictured), 7lb 7oz, 6lb 10oz and 4lb 9oz. And watched lots more ignore my bait - as well as watching carp that weren't getting fooled.

In fact I spent more time fish watching than fishing, and explored a lot of river wandering back and forth. My Fitbit says I walked 30.8km today (19 miles) and my legs think it's more!

Right, what's The Wye doing? Rising?!? WTF?