Saturday 21 March 2020

Season Review 2019/20

My eleventh season review - written monthly as I went along. A lot of fishing and some cracking fish landed; my first wels catfish, carp on the fly, loads of barbel and even the odd pike. And my fish of the season has to be the monster six pound chub from the local little river. A long blog post for me - but it took all year to write...

Closed Season: I had a bit of a break over the closed season, very little fishing. I did manage a couple of gudgeon matches against James on a local pond. A couple of days chasing my first wels catfish - landing five, setting a fantastic PB of 27lb 0oz. And pre-season warm up with the tench and crucians down on the farm.

June: Well rested I was looking forward to the start of the river season, and this year it was all about barbel. Seventeen barbel on the opening morning was a result beyond my dreams! And four more short sessions took my barbel tally to 34 fish for the month - a cracking start to my 100 barbel challenge, can I complete it in the summer?

July: As well as barbel fishing I set my sights on a fly caught carp - but what I wasn’t expecting was this stunning double figure koi on the fly - brilliant way of catching her! A long day of bait ‘n’ wait was rewarded with a beautiful twenty pound common carp - the first of many I hope! And I took my barbel count to 55 fish.

August: I continued my barbel quest with short early morning sessions - which included bagging a double - my barbel count was up to 84 fish. But the fish of the month (perhaps season) was a six pound chub from the local little river. Me and James have long speculated their existence - and here was one on the bank - brilliant!

September: The month started with a beautiful river koi - followed by catching carp on Jelly Babies! But the main mission of the month was my barbel quest - and I cracked it - 102 in the summer season! Sorted, I managed three crucians from the farm and said goodbye to the summer with my very first tidal Trent barbel!

October: Pike time! The season opener was a double, followed a few days later with a lure caught PB of 18lb 3oz - not a bad start! I tracked down some pound plus perch from the local river, and the barbel were on the feed - 22 added including two doubles to 12lb 1oz. Oh, and had a couple of weeks holiday in Île de Ré as well.

November: Autumn really stamped it’s foot - a wet, cold month with most of the rivers in flood. And I was really struggling with the stillwater pike - only one lost fish all month! The barbel and chub on the local river acclimatised to the frosts and I added 11 more barbel to the challenge, including two more doubles - season total 135.

December: It kept raining - the rivers were out of sorts all month - even the local little river. Not much fishing. I started December with a double figure river carp on light trotting gear and added 4 more barbel in two short trips. A couple of sessions on a flooded River Wye produced only one pike - but a double - and I love Wye pike!

January: More floods and frosts, but when I had the chance I targeted the local barbel adding 11 more to my challenge (total now 150). Seven jacks were added to my pike tally and a cracking 5lb 9oz chub was landed. But the highlight of the month was a brace of two pound grayling stalked out of a beautiful little chalk stream - a brilliant day.

February: Started with a fantastic week pike fishing on The Wye with my brother - 13 pike including 6 doubles, topped by an 18lb+ pike each. Perfect timing as the river flooded to record height as soon as we left. Locally I added 4 more barbel to my challenge and had a massive bag of 70 chub on the stick ‘n’ pin. Two weeks left...

March: Lots of rain - but I did sneak out between storms. The month starting with a monster 6lb 5oz chub and I added 10 more barbel to my challenge - taking my season total to 164! A couple of jack pike and a bit of wandering about with the stick ‘n’ pin rounded out an absolutely brilliant season - roll on the next one...

Thursday 19 March 2020

Pike Fishing 2019/20

Tough going this season - the pike seem to have disappeared from the local ponds and the rivers have been in flood all winter. Not a great deal of fish but some cracking pike landed - good old Wye!

I managed 19 pike including 5 doubles (below). Great stuff, but another season without a twenty - need to fix that next time!

18lb 6oz, River Wye, Feb 2020.

18lb 3oz, Royal Park, Oct 2019. Lure & stillwater PB

15lb 9oz, River Wye, Feb 2020.

13lb 6oz, River Wye, Dec 2019.

12lb 6oz, Royal Park, Oct 2019.

Tuesday 17 March 2020

Barbel Challenge 2019/20

The target was 100 barbel from the local little river - cracked in the summer, and I continued to add barbel over autumn and winter. Mostly quick missions when I had a couple of hours - great fun!

The final total was 164 barbel, for 779lb 0oz, including 5 doubles (below) to 12lb 1oz. My best season on the river so far!

12lb 1oz, Oct 2019.

10lb 11oz, Oct 2019.

10lb 10oz, Nov 2019.

10lb 3oz, Nov 2019.

10lb 0oz, Aug 2019.

 Season No 5+ 7+ 10+ Best
 2010/11 27 1 0 0 6lb 6oz
 2011/12 44 14 8 0 9lb 12oz
 2012/13 56 34 20 6 12lb 4oz
 2013/14 8 5 4 0 7lb 13oz
 2014/15 71 33 16 1 10lb 1oz
 2015/16 127 45 15 0 9lb 4oz
 2016/17 70 31 15 2 11lb 15oz
 2017/18 132 56 23 2 10lb 9oz
 2018/19 101 36 13 1 10lb 3oz
 2019/20 164 69 28 5 12lb 1oz
 Total: 800 324 142 17  

Saturday 14 March 2020

More Wandering

Nearly out of season, time for another wander - stick ‘n’ pin in hand, this time down The Itchen - a fantastic 16 mile walk back and forth in the sunshine/rain/sunshine. And some cracking little fish banked.

Going to pop out later and finish off the bait - can’t waste half a pint of mags and a couple of slices of bread! Dace are the target - and let's face it probably a pint to end on. Good luck if you’re out.

Little beauties.

My best Itching trout, about 4lb.

And great looking roach (not sure why he’s pulling that face).

Friday 13 March 2020

Eight Hundred!

I needed one more barbel from the local river to hit the milestone - and I was determined to get one no matter how long it took. As it turns out it took about an hour - my 800th barbel from the river!

Thursday 12 March 2020

New Toys & Old Foes

New lures sent to me from the States - cheers Paulos! Any excuse for another crack at that big pike I lost over the net last week...

I arrived to find the water really dirty, perhaps a deadbait would have been better. But I still thrashed the water to a foam for three hours...

Just one missed take - she’s reminding me that she’s still there! That’s it for the pike this season - I’ll be back for her in autumn...

Tuesday 10 March 2020


Stick ‘n’ pin, half a loaf of bread and a wander for a couple of hours - when it stops raining it’s starting to feel a lot like spring. One fish from each spot before moving on - I mostly stuck to the plan!

Sixteen little chub to about a pound...

Two trout (hard to avoid) - in great condition ready for the season...

And a bonus roach to end on - cracking!

Monday 9 March 2020


Three hours, three chub, three barbel - including this bodybuilder of a fish! Taking my total barbel count to 799 from the river. I’ll be back...

For the barbel records: 6lb 12oz, 4lb & 4lb (163)

Saturday 7 March 2020

Sunshine & Flying Lures

Not only did it stop raining for a day - the sun came out! Lure gear has been packed and by the door for a while now, waiting for just such an occasion - to the pike ponds - before it starts raining again...

The ponds were flooded and the water was dirty but I felt confident. Two of hours of thrashing the water I had a slamming take and a big pike showed herself - upper double, maybe over the magic number...

Hook-hold looked good - great fight and as she was over the net the hook pulled! I ducked the flying lure and quickly picked the net up. I could literally feel her slide over the side of the net to freedom!

Gutted. Gutted. Gutted! I know that’s why they call it fishing not catching etc... But f*ck! I fished on for two hours, landing two jacks - that helped ease the pain - but it’s still going to give me nightmares!

Wednesday 4 March 2020

The Chub III

A window in the rain so I shot down the river, the water was dirty but I wondered if the shoal of big chub I spotted in January was still there. A couple of casts before something tried to rip the rod in - then tried to get in every snag in the swim - a monster chub was in the net!

My 6lb 2oz chub from August - I said at the time I wonder what she’ll weigh in March - so back on the scales - 6lb 5oz - only 7oz away from my PB! I wasn’t disappointed it was a recapture - what a chub - and a different fish than James’ 6lb 3oz chub at the end of January.

With a spring in my step I went for a wander, banking another two regular size chub before hitting the fast water after a barbel. The barbel are enjoying the extra water and five fish found the net - the best going 8lb 10oz. Less than two weeks left of the season...

For the barbel records: 8lb 10oz, 7lb 7oz, 6lb 10oz, 5lb & 4lb (159)