Saturday 30 September 2023

Summer Fishing 2023

End of September already! A quick look back at the summer season before it's wellies & wooly hats, written monthly as I went along...

June: I didn't wet a line in the closed season - but the opening morning made up for it - a double figure barbel before 9am! One of 38 Small River barbel in the first two weeks. The other highlight was rudd fishing in the boat with James - love that little boat. And not one, but two 2lb+ rudd to a new PB of 2lb 10oz - monster!

July: I took my Small River barbel total to over 1,500 and added double number 28 (recapture). Floating about in the boat I landed a surprise pike while rudd fishing. And two days on the Wye saw a lot of chub, plus three little barbel. The highlight of the month was a new river, Blackwater, barbel of 8lb 0oz on a tough rainy day.

August: Started with a fantastic trip to the Lake District catching carp from an old iron pit. A few local trips added 30 barbel to my season (Small River total now 96). I spent some time exploring the chalk stream & upper river with the stick 'n' pin - loads of brown trout, plus a 1lb 2oz roach. And I bagged my first 5lb+ chub of the season!

September: A few barbel took my season total to over 100 fish, but the main event was a fishing trip to the States. Over 20 sharks, seven red drum, 3 jacks and a massive stingray on light gear. I also enjoyed a bit of freshwater fishing; catching blue gill & some fantastic bowfin - and those swamp pike (chain pickerel) were absolutely amazing!

Can't wait to see what the winter season brings...

Sunday 24 September 2023

Shark Fishing 2023

What a week of fishing! We put a lot of time in over the short trip and caught a lot of fish. Salt water: 23 sharks, 7 red drum, 3 jacks and a massive stingray. Plus; blue fish, catfish & whiting. Freshwater: 2 pickerel, 14 bowfin, loads of blue gill and a bass.

Saw some fantastic wildlife; watched dolphins hunting, pelicans & osprey diving on fish, aligators, snapping turtles, snakes, lizzards & tree frogs, massive spiders & loads of butterflies. And so much more - I could have spent the week chasing about with the camera!

Just remains for me to thank my fantastic hosts, Brooke & Sammi for their wonderful hospitality and Paulos for his phenomenonal guiding skills (and shark unhooking skills). It was a brilliant trip, and really gave me something to look forward to through the cancer year...

Tarpon - I'll be back!

Saturday 23 September 2023

Holiday Blues

Time to re-join reality - and fly back to London. Just one more shot at beating Sammi's blue gill before I headed off for my flight...


Friday 22 September 2023

Blacktip Bay

Tarpon: You need a lot of luck to land a tarpon from the surf - the first bit of luck is hitting one about 70-100lb - big enough to run you ragged for 2 hours - but you still stand a slim chance of landing it...

My first encounter with a tarpon was it stripping 200 yards of line off the tight drag in a few seconds - before it jumped - probably bigger than me. No chance! I fought it for 10 minutes before we parted...

I hit two others of a more reasonable size, but unfortunately the hook pulled both times. Then as quickly as they arrived they were gone. You'd think I'd be gutted but I'm not - what an experience to have!

Sharks: We were after a blacktip shark. And it didn't take long before one of the rods was ripping over in the spike - not the target but a new species 5'0" blacknose shark - and things got even better...

The other rod was away and I was connected to a very powerful fish - a blacktip! A hard fight before my prize was in the surf, measuring in at 5'4" - brilliant! Next up was a PB equalling finetooth shark...

We fished on and an even bigger blacktip found a bait - after trying to pull my arms off a 5'10" fish was at the beach - just 1" off my PB! Then a third blacktip about 4' completed the hatrick!

Jack Crevalle: As the tide peaked the sharks moved further out - and we waded out after them - a very unnerving experence watching them swim past you - but great to watch them hunting in the surf!

Despite seeing a lot of sharks no more were landed - but a new PB jack rounded out the session - stunning looking fish. Then as the tide went out so did the fish - we fished on but the last day was done.

New species - a 5'0" blacknose shark.

Target species - a 5'4" blacktip shark.

PB equalling - 4'10" finetooth shark - and a better photo.

Best blacktip of the day at 5'10" - what we were here for.

Bonus PB jack crevalle - what a beauty (about 8lb).

Thursday 21 September 2023

A Seven?

The target was a seven foot plus shark so we headed to an inlet where Paulos thought we stood the best chance - but the water was dirty, weedy and full of sediment - conditions very much against us!

No photo of a monster today - it doesn't always work out! But a little stingray and 6 small sharks, including a sandbar shark (above) and a bonnet head (below) - can't win them all - but we enjoyed trying!

Wednesday 20 September 2023

Captain Jack

We were wading across the point of an island when we spotted stingrays swimming around us in the gin-clear water (pretty safe unless you step on one) - I looked up & butterflies were flying around us - a really magical moment & one I'll remember for a long time.

Back in the surf today and it was full of baitfish, you could see the mullet swimming through the clear waves. I managed to land two hard fighting jack crevalle - another new species added to the list. And a cast to a passing lemon shark was also picked up.

A new PB finetooth shark was a real bonus, at 4'10" it's a whopper for the species. An then something very heavy picked up the 'jack rod' - a real tug-of-war for 45 minutes as I gradually pulled an unseen monster to the beach - a new PB stingray about 120lb - what a day!

My first ever jack crevalle - beauty.

Jack number two - only small, they get up to about 50lb.

Pibb and shore coconut - I'm ending the Pibb silliness now.

Lovely lemon shark - spotted in the surf & chucked a bait to her.

New PB finetooth shark - 4'10" - about as big as they get.

New PB stingray - 120lb of pure fight - back breaking on 25lb line.

Tuesday 19 September 2023

Swamp Pike

As you can imagine I've really been looking forward to this trip, and a highlight was going to be spending a day in the boat searching for a swamp pike - perhaps a bit of a long shot - but a day in the swamp!

The target was a chain pickerel (esox niger), and hopefully some bowfin (also known as mud pike) while we were searching - links go to Wikipedia. Could we find a pickerel, a real species of esox?

Gear was an ultra-light 4' spinning rod, 4lb mono and a beetle spin lure. There was a obstacle though - the swamp was full of aligators - you had to get the fish in the boat very, very quickly!

We had a bowfin within half an hour - and right on cue a large aligator appeared and headed for the boat! Quickly netted, Paulos slammed the boat in gear and we made our escape.

A few casts later I hit a pickerel - and it shook the hook - gutted! We fished on, avoiding the gators, landing 14 bowfin - including a real monster. But with a storm looming we were running out of time...

Another chance came - but I knocked it off the hook in my rush to land it before became a snack - arggh! But then magic happened - I got one. Never have I been so pleased to land a mini-pike!!

As the storm arrived we raced for the dock - and I trolled the lure behind the boat on the way in. Yup - another one on the last cast... What a brilliant, brilliant day! Nice one Paulos!!

A bowfin - one of 14 of the day.

Monster bowfin - fantastic!

Pibb Xtra - for xtra concentration...

Where are you?

F*ck Yeah - a swamp pike!!

Last cast - pissing rain - lightning - aligators - number 2 - delighted!

Monday 18 September 2023

Bonnet Head

Back to the beach - a different island - dirty water and a falling tide. A shark first cast - great start! Over the course of the afternoon we landed seven sharks including a bonnet head - a new species to me. I'll let the photos do the talking - another day in fishing paradise!

First cast - first lemon shark of the afternoon.

Lemon shark - 5'4"

Fine tooth shark.

Paulos catching bait - nice throw!

Pibb Xtra - king of refreshments.

Bonnet head shark - a new shark species to me.

Head shot - the smallest of the hammerhead sharks.

A new PB whiting - not much fight on a shark rod!

Last lemon shark of the day as the sun was disappearing.