Saturday 29 September 2018

Crucian for a bruising

What's going on here then? Is he still alive? Afraid so, I've promised at least twice previously to revive this blog and failed so no promises but the fact that I did actually buy a device specifically with writing in mind, albeit about two months ago, might show some more intent, we shall see!

As a kid I fished a small pond local to home that was absolutely stuffed to the brim with crucian carp, possibly. I say possibly as historically there have been a couple of issues with the species, one being that previously brown goldfish were sold as crucian carp, they look quite similar. The other being that they are prone to hybridisation, we used to catch 6lb+ “crucians” from another lake around the same time, we knew they were iffy even as kids. As such true “cru’s” are actually quite a rare species as British coarse fish go though thankfully things are steadily improving due to improved knowledge and great credit has to go to The Association of Crucian Anglers who in recent years have done sterling work in documenting waters and promoting the species, if you fancy catching this fantastic species the association has a list of waters, have a look here The Association of Crucian Anglers

Jumping forward twenty five years without a sign of a crucian I paid a one off visit to Marsh Farm in Surrey with a mate and had a great days fishing culminating in a cracking fish of 3lb 2oz’s, and then promptly forgot the species for another ten years or so. A couple of years ago I joined the club that controls Marsh farm with the intention of having a go at the bigger water on site, Johnsons, which holds the crucian British record, I’ve paid two or three visits with some success but I couldn’t quite beat that old personal best.

After a pretty dour summer fishing wise I fancied some fun and one thing Johnsons normally provides aplenty is fun fishing. Apart from the crucians the lake is stuffed with tench that normally keep you busy, plus a big head of carp from ounces to 30lb plus, yeah, that would do me nicely.

With the prospect of negotiating the M1 and M25 in front of me I was up at 4am and on the road well before 5, all was going well for a 7.15 arrival until I started to think the roads looked a bit unfamiliar once I’d left the M25. A quick pit stop revealed that I’d only gone and put the wrong postcode into the sat nav and was 25 miles out of my way, aaaagh!

Crisis over and I was fishing by about 9 o’clock, tactics were the ever reliable Korum Dura method feeders in 45 gram size loaded with dampened 4mm Sonubaits F1 pellets, hookbaits being either a 6mm band ‘um wafter, piece of plastic corn or a rubber maggot, I’d chop and change until I found what worked best on the day. 

That was going to be fished over a bed of groundbait and I was using the Sonu chocolate orange, good gear with the added bonus of smelling lovely.

I’d only just stuck the kettle on for a much needed dose of caffeine when one of the rods signalled a bite and I was into my first fish of the trip. It was soon obvious that a carp was responsible and with a 4lb hooklink in use patience is the name of the game, eventually steady pressure took its toll and I bundled a rather long common into the net, not a bad bonus fish at 26lb 12oz!

After such a quick result I was expecting a few bites but the day proved to be very slow, even the usually ravenous tench were on the missing list, no doubt the calm and bright conditions didn’t help. It wasn’t until tea time that I finally had another indication, from the fight I suspected my intended quarry was to blame and I was proved right, in fact better still I had cracked that personal best at last with a lovely fish of 3lb 3oz, great stuff. No sooner had I put that fish back than I was away again and like buses another pb was landed, 3lb 5oz this time, now we’re talking!

Was start the signal for an endless stream of bites? Er no, not a single indication for the next 30 hours, other anglers picked up the very occasional fish but it was dreadfully slow all around, like pulling teeth to be honest. It was 11pm on my second, and last, day before another fish came to the net and thankfully it signalled a flurry of activity with half a dozen crucians arriving in a couple of hours including another personal best at 3lb 10oz. 

It was with a smile on my face that I finally lay down for some kip at 2am only to be rudely awoken two hours later by another bite which was obviously another carp of the substantial variety from the word go. This one really didn’t want to give up and I was just about propping my eyelids open and tying my bladder in knots when I finally managed to net it after what must of been well over 20 minutes. A mirror this time and at 24lb 2oz a nice partner to the previous days common, I had to admit that enough was enough and I wound the rods in, sleep was desperately required!

I was up again at 6.30 and stuck the kettle on while I recast, before it had boiled I had another crucian of 3lb 7oz to end a memorable trip. It was with very bleary eyes that I set off on the three hours journey home but a few nice fish under the belt always softens that blow.

Thursday 24 March 2016

A specialist anglers year, part one

Despite my best intentions to try and resurrect my writing at the start of last year it all went to pot I'm afraid. After taking over the new business we really needed a buffer period to settle in but the customers thought otherwise and along with trying to aclimitise to our new venture we experienced a surge in sales. Of course in theory that's good news but it also resulted in a large dose of stress and a great reduction in free time. Blog writing? No chance! As with many things in life once you've fallen out of a routine it is hard to get back into it again and so it has taken until now to try and kick start things. I have to say a thank you to a few people that I've met recently who said that they used to enjoy my ramblings, you gave me that little shove that I needed to get on with it.

I'm going to have to start with a recap of the last years angling just to fill in the gaps. Apologies to those who have seen all of this before on Facebook, I'll try and keep it fairly concise.

2015 started on the rivers perch hunting and it was hard going, despite a fair few sessions I only managed one mid three pounder which brought my winters total to three perch.

Equal best of the winter

A good old lump for the river but not a perch!
Between perch trips I had a couple of visits to the Dove in search of grayling and as usual enjoyed it greatly. The first trip was quite productive with a good few pound plus fish and a beautiful bonus brown trout. The second trip was much harder fishing wise but was memorable for the sight of a number of hares boxing in the adjacent fields, something I'd only ever seen on the TV.

It almost stayed still, almost...

Spotty invader

February saw me bobbing up and down on Chew valley reservoir in the company of my mate Greengrass for a couple of days. I did actually manage to land my first Chew pike from a boat though it was about 10lbs wet, still more than enough to get the heart going when it pulled the float under I can assure you.

Chew teaser

Desperation time
I finished the river season off with one last go for that monster perch and to be honest conditions looked as good as they had for months. When the tip juddered round and I struck into a weighty fish I really thought I'd cracked it, until a 5lb tench popped up!

With the weather warming up I took my dad for a session on a local commercial, I say warming up in the loosest sense as once on the bank the wind was bloody evil. The place is solid with fish so you would have to try very hard to blank no matter how cold so we had a bit of sport. I even got my dad fishing the method feeder for the first time though he did manage to cast it out complete with mould attached on one occasion!

I spent a few over night sessions after slightly larger carp, midweek making the lake a much more appealing prospect, weekend lakes rammed full of carpers are something I just can't cope with nowadays.

Best one from a brief local campaign
I decided that this was to be the year that I had a proper go for a double figure tench and after a bit of deliberation came to the conclusion that the venue was going to be Larkfield, in Kent, a mere 155 miles from home and on the wrong side of the dreaded M25. In hindsight that was a bit of a brave move particularly as for years I've been telling her indoors that Kent is too far for a weekend a away, oops, a bit of back peddling was required at that point.

My first trip was during the third week in April and I found the journey much less of a chore than I expected, granted I left home in the early hours to arrive lakeside by 7.30am but it really was a doddle. That was a good thing as I then proceeded to blank for three days. Fortunately as the weather warmed up so did the fishing. In fact to describe my next trip as hot would be something of an understatement.

My starting point though I went on to catch well on 6mm boilie too
The action started with a rude awakening just as dawn broke. The fight was not particularly spectacular and the only real drama was when the tench, for that's what I still assumed it to be, kited to my right through a semi submerged tree. As you do in such circumstances I sunk the rod tip and gave it the butt, feeling various bits of woodwork ping off the line as I drew it back towards me. It was only after the fish swirled near the net that I realised that 24 inches of pan net probably wasn't going to do the job. Luckily I had decided before starting on the water that I would carry a carp net just in case this "problem" should arise, unfortunately said net was now ten yards away on the other side of my rods and up a rather slippery section of steep bank but after a bit of frantic scrambling I manage to grab hold of it. I still didn't grasp just how big this fish was even after I had scooped it into the net, I certainly knew it was bloody heavy when I attempted to lift it up that ledge onto the bank. It was soon quite obvious that my 40lb Avon's weren't going to do the job and I had the embarrassing job of waking up a carp angler on the adjacent lake to borrow his scales. He recognised the fish straight away as the biggest in the lake and when the scales span around to 47lb also declared it a new lake record, oops!

No. definitely not a tench
The action didn't stop there and over the next two days I went on to land a new pb tench at 9lb 11oz plus a great big male of 9lb 1oz and two more carp at 25lb and 27lb.

9lb 11oz

9lb 1oz male

25lb 8

27lb 11
Talking to some of the carpers on the lake the general consensus was that it was hard fishing, one bloke had gone two years without a bite, yet the tench anglers caught a fair few while I was there including a 36lb common within 24 hours of my big one. The story on other waters was the same, carp that have seen more 16mm balls than a little are much less cautious when they come across a bed of mixed particle and groundbait, maybe maggot and caster, and in my case a tiny little 6mm boilie topping off the meal.

The fishing on my next visit was much slower. The Tenchfishers had booked the lake for a weekend social and a few fish had been out all over the lake but nowhere in particular seemed to be producing any great number of bites. One swim had been closed for a few days as the carp had been spawning in there but with a change in the weather they had vacated and it seemed a pretty good option to me so that's where I plumped for. The first day passed without a hint of anything being present within a mile of me, not a sign of a fish, however true to form at the crack of dawn the next morning I found myself playing a fish, the fourth time that this small window had produced a bite in five nights fishing. I certainly can't claim that the fight was spectacular, more of a waddle into the net job to be honest, but I'll happily let the little uns fight and the monsters surrender, this was a monster alright. I had come to catch a double and I had surpassed any hopes that I had by a long way, as I write this nearly a year later I'm still not sure that it has really sunk in.

Bugger me that still looks huge! 11lb 9oz of huge!
 After that bombshell I had only a couple of weeks before the rivers opened and with a weeks holiday mixed in the month soon slipped by without much to show on the fish front. In fact July wasn't exactly spectacular either, very low water levels weren't helping at all and in all honesty I wasn't too bothered. A spectacular visit to the Royal Air Tatoo to see the Vulcan bomber in its last year and a bit of tootling around on the river in the dinghy kept me entertained. I rounded off the month with a Trent barbel trip which produced some action, a cracking days roaching on my local reservoir, and another commercial trip with my dad. I was hoping that the weather would break and give the rivers a much needed flush through but only time would tell.

Beetroot head

Friday 2 January 2015

Back to the barbel - A tale of three rivers

It's fair to say that over the years I have pretty much ignored barbel during the colder months which is to some extent a bit odd as without a doubt the species is at its very best weight wise once summer is past. The thing is that although I do class myself as a specimen angler weight is not, and never will be, the full story when it comes down to my enjoyment of angling. There is nothing I love more than watching fish feeding around my baited rig, it is angling at its most intense. Throw a beautiful stretch of secluded river and a handful of hard fighting barbel into the equation and you have my kind of barbel fishing, pure heaven. However this year I decided that I would change things and when suitable conditions arrived I would have a crack at a whiskers or two during the colder months. Too many times in the past I've stubbornly ignored what I knew well to be perfect barbel weather as I had my heart set on other species, and after all a break from the routine to try something different makes fishing so much more enjoyable.

Tuesday 30 December 2014

Underwater barbel and the realities of big bream fishing

river derwent barbel swims
X marks the spot
Back in the autumn of 2013 I received an email from a lad called Jack Perks (check out Jacks website here - click me) who wanted to know if it would be possible to use our club water on the River Soar to film zander underwater. My response was that he could try but I didn't fancy his chances one bit. The species are far from thick on the ground in our area and add the generally low visibility and you have a needle in a haystack scenario. Ok, next question, did I know anywhere suitable for filming barbel? Now we were getting somewhere. One swim on the Derwent in particular came to mind immediately and I would be more than happy to help Jack get the footage he needed. Mother nature then did what she does best and threw in a curve ball, the rains came and the limited window of opportunity before winter set in was lost.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Trent barbel and the future of angling

River trent big barbel
Biggest of the summer
I kind of slipped sideways into some Trent barbel fishing this summer. It wasn't planned but the nature of the beast, in that it is generally an after dark affair, fitted in with the busy days that had become too common for my liking. The fact that I had made available to me a piece of water with easy access helped greatly in that I could arrive late and not have to worry about either long walks or remaining organised, everything just got thrown into the van which would be parked within spitting distance of wherever I decided to pitch up.

My first trip was shortly after returning from a break in Ibiza. Feeling refreshed and "up for it" I found myself surveying an area of river that I had never set eyes upon before but which right away struck me as being lovely. A mixture of sweeping bends and straighter sections with flow, and therefore depth, varying from rapid to a steady walking pace opened up lots of possibilities and it took me an hour just to decide on a swim. The spot I settled on was just below a protruding tree that forced a little crease into the current and would also have the bonus of acting as a filter for the bits of weed that I could see drifting in the flow elsewhere. My plan was to simply swing out the feeder rigs by a couple of rod lengths and see how things went, after all it was as much an exploratory trip as anything.

Sunday 24 August 2014

A tale of tench, carp, and brick walls - blog update

Remember the Pringles advert, once you pop you can't stop? Well when you stop blogging it's a right job getting started again. Blimey it's well two months since I put finger to keyboard, a poor show indeed. Truth be known work has been busy and I am also in the process of slowly winding down my gardening business and moving into another enterprise, meanwhile it's a case of balancing the two which is far from easy. Add a few Korum Fish Camp attendances into the equation, other coaching commitments and a considerable amount of time spent on club business, bank maintenance and bailiffing, and in hindsight it's not really a surprise that I fell out of step with my writing. But at the end of the day I do this because I enjoy it and I don't want it to fall by the wayside so let's get back on track. Feel free to give me a good kick if I lapse again!

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Estate lake tench - giving em some grubs

For the last couple of years I have said that I would drop my ticket for the estate lake but the fact is that it offers the best tench fishing for miles. When I say miles I'm probably talking about fifty as I think that the Nene valley would be my next best bet and with this water being a mere fifteen minutes from home it is difficult to turn it down. The chances of breaking my personal best are fairly slim I'd say but it does produce one or two fish that would make that mark each season and the head of back up fish is substantial, you can certainly go home with an aching arm if all goes to plan. A trip or two further afield after that elusive double may be on the cards in the next few weeks but until then local it is.

Sunday 27 April 2014

A chub finale - Derwent days and nights

It's fair to say that I've struggled to keep up with my blog over recent months, mostly down to other commitments but I also find that when I get out of the swing of writing it can be hard to break back into. Hence I have a number of part written blogs sitting on my pc as yet unpublished, including one that was 95% written on an Indian beach way back in January! I keep delaying publishing anything with the idea that I'll do one big catch up to date but that isn't happening any time soon so forgive me for a piece on river fishing dished out smack bang in the middle of the close season.