Sunday, 31 December 2017

Elusive Grayling 'Test' Us

It was time for our annual pilgrimage to the famous river Test so we battled our way through the Cotswold snow and ice down country to beautiful Hampshire. The sun had just risen as we arrived and the beautiful wisps of mist were swirling above the river as we chose swims. Martin headed straight for a well-known deep hole that he hoped harboured Pike. Andy passed by him to a rumoured big Roach swim and having bid them 'tight lines' I ambled upstream to a lovely fast glide between fallen trees. I travelled light as mobility is important when trying to find Grayling.
The freezing overnight temperatures meant sport was sporadic but eventually the float sank and the centre pin sang to the tune of a stunning hard fighting Brown Trout. Several more out of season Salmonids followed and although they weren't the target species they were good fun on light tackle.

Several swims were tackled but sadly the Grayling remained elusive, plenty of Trout were up for a maggot or two mind.

Martin fared slightly better on the Grayling front. Using corn he landed three of the target species but was still plagued by the inevitable Trout or two. A couple of times he got exited by movement in his Pike float but sadly they were Trout too!

We will no doubt return next year but hopefully next time the lady of the stream will be more obliging.
Happy New Year to one and all.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Robins Love Cheese Paste

Well it wouldn't be Christmas without a Robin pictured on a rod, scrounging maggots or in this case a lump of cheese paste. It kept us merrily entertained during a slow period. 
Max and I were back down by the Warwickshire Avon, the lad legering the aforementioned paste and I trying to lure a toothy creature on a Roach dead bait. 

A resounding three-nil victory for Max with a two pounder (above) and two three's (below) both weighing exactly the same 3lb 2oz.

A new pb as most fish are when you are just beginning your angling journey. I did manage to hook one small Jack but it spat the hook before we had chance to land it.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Happy Sunshine Boy

By the time we got to the river it was already late morning, the sun was shining and felt lovely and warm on our backs. I had intended to would wander upstream towards the weir but Max liked the look of the car park swims so we dropped into the first one and it proved a good decision. 

Within minutes the quiver tip rattled and he landed a small Dace. Only the one rod out so I kept myself amused with the camera while the lad fished.

Fellow fisherman

'It was this big'
 The boy likes to talk and talk, mostly about fish and whilst I prefer a bit of peace and quiet I am not about to curb his enthusiasm.
It didn't take long before another fish found the red maggots to its liking and with some skill Max landed a new pb Chub weighing 2lb 9oz. He played it beautifully avoiding the nearside vegetation. With the hook removed I showed the boy the contents of the fish's mouth, he was amazed that the greedy blighter had literally hundreds of maggots down its throat.

A decent Chub that was followed very next cast with a cracking Perch. He has now started to realise that some fish cannot be bullied and need a bit more gentle persuasion- a valuable lesson.
I was nearly as excited netting these fish as Max was catching them and the winter sunshine really shows them off.

Not a lot more action followed and we soon left just after lunch, a satisfied gillie/photographer and a content angler.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Chubby Boy

With half-term still upon us my little fishing buddy is still accompanying me bank side. This time his order was a Chub, having lost a decent one on the previous trip so armed with a bucket of bronze maggots we headed downstream. 

Again we were feeder fishing but I didn't bank on the volume of tiddlers that reside in this swim. I have fished the swim before but generally with much bigger baits that avoid unwanted tiddler attention and wean out the better fish. Didn't have a clue how many fish actually reside here.

Gudgeon were the main culprits for all manner of twitches, rattles and shakes of the tip and we landed several beauties, another species ticked off Max's quickly expanding list.

Upon retrieval of one of the smaller specimens the rod was nearly wrenched from Max's arms as a Pike snatched it. Unfortunately, despite conciderable careful cajoling the Pike bit through the hooklength before we could land it.

Eventually we landed the target fish, a decent Chub of about two pounds.....

.....resulting in a smiley smug little angler!!

Max's account click here

Monday, 23 October 2017

More Max Fishing

My blog is in danger of being completely taken over by a small boy whose passion for angling is showing no signs of waning. He has however started his own blog now, check it out.
Thursdays (cut short by the weather) afternoon session again at Willow Farm was highlighted by Max's first Carp. A pretty apple slice scaled Mirror that led him a merry dance. Max float fished maggots while I plonked a prawn down by the lilies to give us a back-up option. The Carp picked up the prawn and made the boys day.

His next session was scheduled for Saturday but we gave storm Brian a wide berth and postponed until Sunday morning. The wind was still blowing a hooley so we kept the rod tip as low as possible while feeder fishing maggots. The swim took some getting going but after an hour or so the fish started to oblige.
Ever since our first session Max has had a weird obsession about catching an Eel. I have told him that the time of year meant that it was unlikely and that the numbers of Eels are not what they used to be, trying to soften the blow of disappointment. Well I shouldn't have wasted my breath. We had already landed a quality netful of Perch, Roach, Dace, Chublets and the biggest Bleak I have ever seen, when the rod bent over and stayed bent over. Max laid into the unseen adversary, I thought he was attached to a decent Chub so imagine our surprise when an Eel appeared at the net. Excited high fives followed. It was not going in the keepnet so we weighed and photographed it and put it straight back.

Max insisted he was going to hold it for the trophy shot, he obviously had no idea what is involved in holding an Eel. His expressions speak a thousand words.

Eventually he got it under control.

And it took him about half an hour to get the slime off his hands.

Posing with the biggest Perch of the day was much easier!

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Max Bagging Up

Max has got the bug bad. All he has spoken this week is going fishing, different species, places to go. He has always had a passion for animals but that has now transpired to all things fish as well.
This week I planned an action packed morning to add further fuel to the fire in his belly and to give him more experience of casting, playing and also unhooking some fish for himself. As sad as it is a commercial would be the best place but not somewhere catching pasties and mud pigs. A silver pool like the one at Willow Farm was ideal, plenty of bites and a lovely variety of silver fish.

First cast a decent Roach and he insisted the camera came out to record the historic moment. Several more followed along with some decent sized Silver Bream and a few dainty Perch.

When he started to get the hang of things it gave me an opportunity to get the camera out and take some action shots.

A quick learner it was a joy to hear his squeals of delight when he got a fish on.

Biggest fish of the day was this 2lb 2oz Common Bream.

Pleased as punch with a quality netful of Silvers. Back on the river next time....

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Solitary Barbel

We were only chatting in the pub the night before about how we are catching Barbel but not in any numbers. One, two in a session at best. Now the fish are obviously there, they tend to live in shoals but the low clear conditions and a struggling fish is possibly spooking the rest of the shoal. Well it's a theory.
I started the session trotting meat, changed to rolling meat but without success. It was hard going so for a break I poured a coffee and changed to a straight lead, pellet and pva bag. A comfort break called and as soon as I turned towards a nearby bush the rod hooped over and it was fish on. I was on the rod in a flash worried that the fish would find sanctuary in what is a quite snaggy swim. Luckily my reactions were quick enough and after a spirited battle I slid the net under a chunky six pounder. 
The hook was quickly removed from the bottom lip and I also removed another hook from its chin, it looked to have been there for quite some time, a sore reminder of its last battle but no harm done.

That was the end of the action despite my best considerable efforts. Next up a weekend session with Max to teach him the finer arts of float fishing in stillwaters, He has the bug bad, won't stop talking about it!

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Childhood Enthusiasm Rekindled

Picnic by the river, Max enjoying his ham sandwiches on his first ever Pike fishing trip.
It was hard work, several swims in different stretches, Max's patience started to wain, it is not easy to keep a seven year olds boredom at bay when the fish won't play ball. We tried slow stretches, under willows, dying reed beds, deep holes and shallow glides., every spot that looked likely. Moving swims renewed the lads enthusiasm each time but without results. Eventually we ended up on the edge of a weir pool.
The dead baits remained untouched still so a change of tactic to sink and draw and on the second cast we finally got a take. It was not a monster (thankfully) as the adrenaline got Max in a bit of a panic but with a little coaching he did enough to get the fish to the net. A perfect predator in miniature was bravely held up for the camera and my relief was immense. He was so buzzing with excitement he asked to phone his mum straight away, he couldn't wait to tell her he had caught his first Pike. I had forgotten what that sort of excitement was like but it came flooding back, I'm still buzzing on his infectious enthusiasm. He had the camera out the bag before I even got into the house and the printed photo is pride of place by his bed-until the next time. I gave him a book and now he wants to catch a Catfish- or an Eel-or a Barbel or a...
Wouldn't we all love to be at that discovery age again?!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Dull Session

A sneaky few hours on the Avon. Not a lot to report. No Barbel on the pellet rod but managed to avoid a blank with the smallest Pike I have ever caught and one a bit bigger at 6lb 2oz both taken on Roach deadbaits. River still low and clear. As I said, not a lot to report!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Fighting Fit Fatty

Landed at the river late but with the determination that I would give Andy's Torrix another test with a hard fighting Barbel. The warm weather is still holding and although recent rain has increased the depth of the Avon by a good few inches no colour has been added to the water. With confidence high I cast the pellet/pva combination into a known Barbel holding spot and waited for the inevitable bite. Maybe it took longer than I expected but when the bite came I wasn't quite ready, daydreaming or thinking of work maybe. I lifted into the fish, struggled to gain control and just when I thought I was winning it became snagged up in an area that is usually clear. Steady pulling wouldn't shift it, different angles proved fruitless and releasing the pressure in the hope the fish would swim out did nothing either. By now it was obvious the unseen adversary was long gone and I pulled for a break. Bugger!!
The disturbance seemed to have put the rest of the fish down but in an unusual show of determination (for me!) I sat it out well into dark. Normally the draw of the 'local' would have me long gone by the time another chance came along but I was adamant I was not going home a blanker.
Finally the rod hooped round and this time there was no way the fish was reaching the snag, it tried its damnedest mind. I had forgotten the thrill of playing fish in the dark, feeling the way without really knowing where the fish is and then the flash of colour in the head torch as the battle is almost won. In the end I did win, not a long fish but it was as fat as butter and fighting fit. Weighed it in at 7lb 11oz, took a quick photo and then had the thrill to watch it again in the head light as it slowly sank down the depths back to its watery home.

Monday, 25 September 2017

An Indian Summer Evening

When I arrived at the river late afternoon it could have been the middle of July not early Autumn. Blazing sunshine from bright blue skies, temperatures in the high teens, the swifts flitting across the surface taking in as much of the abundant fly life as possible.

Coots and Moorhens busying themselves above the (despite resent downpours) crystal clear water and weed growth still in abundance. I was in no rush to cast as I planned to be there until nightfall which is now at a much more convenient time for a family man. I lightly baited a swim before Tazzy and I wandered the bank to check if anyone else was wetting a line. Just the one chap way downstream and the conditions meant he was having a blanking time.
When we did finally start fishing I chose a deep hole feeling it might give me the best chance of a few fish. The targets were Barbel on one rod and Roach on the other, rumours abound of a recent two pounder taken from the stretch and I know they can be had from this area so there might be some merit in it. It is several years since I last had one of that size and I have a yearning to try and repeat the feat to prove it was no fluke.

It took a while but eventually the first bite of the session materialised. A decent scrap on light gear had me wondering as to the identity of the unseen adversary especially when it buried itself in a ball of Canadian pondweed that was between my swim and the main flow. I probably should have removed the obstacle prior to fishing but it did not matter as I managed to bundle the whole lot into the net including the still unseen fish. I unwrapped my prize and should have guessed really, a sneaky Chub of about three pounds.

Once the sun had dropped below the horizon the action hotted up ever so slightly as more Chub took a liking to my pellet offerings.

All very similar in size but a lot easier to land with the weed removal completed.

Finally on my last cast (as I could not see to rebait and had forgotten my head torch) one of my targets came to the net, not as big as I had hoped but a respectable 14oz specimen. I am sure the catch rate will increase as soon as we get some more typical Autumnal weather.