Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 Review/2013 Targets

Another year has passed, time to reflect on the previous 12 months and make plans and set targets for the year ahead.
In 2012 I landed 23 different species, nine personal bests, five of which were new species so a productive angling year despite some pretty terrible weather. One highlight for me has been really getting to grips with the fly rod. This branch of our sport is beginning to feature more and more in my plans, fighting big Trout and Carp on light tackle and I can foresee me concentrating more time and effort on this in 2013 as well as targeting other species and new venues with a fly. Wild Trout and Grayling in natural habitats is a must do.
Fishing foreign climes in 2012 was excellent, catfish to 152lb and Tarpon to 125lb both amazing experiences. I am desperate to add further foreign species to my list, nothing booked yet but working on it.
I missed out on a few targets for 2012 namely a double figure Tench and a Twenty pound Pike but I will try to rectify those again in 2013 plus I fancy a shark trip or two again.

2012 in Review
A tough start to the year, just one Pike landed before a slipped disc scuppered any further fishing trips

was all about Chub, several landed but no monsters

went well as I thrashed my previous best Trout and upped my Rudd pb by a couple of ounces

A cat fishing trip to the Ebro landing over 500lb of oversized tadpole topped by a new best of 152lb

The start of my Tench campaign with fish landed to 7lb 14oz

And a bonus Bream of 10lb 9oz

Managed three trips during a family holiday to Florida landing Tarpon to 125lb plus Barracuda, Snapper, Sea Trout and Jack Trevally

Also got back on the Tench trail taking fish to 9lb 8oz

and bonus carp to 16lb

The fly rod came out and I landed Trout to 7lb and my first ever Carp on the fly

The weather warmed up and I caught Barbel

 and Rudd

The Barbel campaign got into full swing with the highlight being a brace of eleven pounders in consecutive casts

September and October
Spent targeting Silver Bream to a new best of 1lb 2oz and Grayling to 1lb 14oz

November and December
has been spent dodging the floods, targeting Chub

 and in the final session a first ever double figure Trout.
Happy New Year all and tight lines 2013

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Boxing Day Battles

A traditional day for country pursuits and in our house that means fishing. A day I look forward to but not a day that has been kind to me in terms of fish caught or conditions faced. Last year I braved freezing temperatures to land two tiny Roach and a small Silver Bream. 2010 was the year the river froze and in minus 18C I found a spot to cast a line but went home bite less and shivering. 
Whilst the Warwickshire Avon continues to burst it's banks almost daily I decided to dig the fly rod out and go hunting for big Trout. My favourite small water is Lechlade fishery and I turned into the car park just after nine this morning. Gloucestershire has not escaped the barrage of rain either and the babbling brook that gently flows around the perimeter was full to bursting and parts of it were running into the lake.
Brook to the right joined to lake on the left
As I paddled through the water something flashed and caught my eye, a baby Pike had almost stranded itself, I went to give it a nudge and it shot off back to the lake.
Predation in miniature
 I started off slowly retrieving a damsel, with little success. Fish were spotted but nothing followed the lure and the ones that I cast towards ignored it completely. A couple of hours passed without incident so a change of tactic was required. A stalking approach with a flashy red lure. Despite the inflow of flood water visibility was not too bad and within minutes I had an interested rainbow, a little jiggle and it was hooked. The fight was fun but not spectacular, only one scary moment when the Trout got me wrong side of a bush but a change of angle by shuffling along the bank had me back in control. I had seen the take and knew it was a good fish, possible personal best, so there was a slight sense of relief when it slid into the net. The scales confirmed what I had suspected, 9lb 3oz, beating my previous biggest by 14 ounces.
9lb 3oz PB
I seem to have an uncanny knack of catching a fish and then losing the fly next cast in a tree-I did just that again! Thoroughly disgusted with myself I took a break and wandered up the far end of the fishery. I could see the odd fish patrolling the margins and there were some big ones, time for a quick brew and then back to the fishing.
The next couple of hours were spent chopping and changing flies trying to find a killer pattern and colour. I had a few follows and flashes but no bites. Just as I was beginning to lose heart I had a take. I did not see the fish but on a slow retrieve there came that moment that you only get fly fishing. A fish had taken the lure and time seemed to stand still as neither the fish nor the angler realised they were attached to each other. It then dawned on me, I struck and the Trout set off for the far bank, a blistering run that took me down to the backing. We both knew what was happening now. I managed to turn it and gradually started to claw back line. It then set off left down the near bank, I had no choice but to follow it, rod held high to avoid nearside vegetation. I turned it again and it went the other way. Again I followed it. Eventually I started to make an impression on it and I got my first glimpse of a very broad flank, I could see it was big. The runs became shorter and the head shakes less vigorous, I was starting to get the upper hand. I prayed for knots to hold, line to hold and hook to hold and after about ten minutes I squeezed the fish into my undersized net. A second new pb and to make it even more special my first double, 10lb 9oz, happy boy!
10lb 9oz-gonna need a bigger net
Fish limit reached just as it started to chuck it down, result, job done, home time.
Nearly twenty pound of fish, the smaller one for our freezer and the bigger one given to the neighbours-showing off!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Chubby Chasing

T'is the season..... for freezing temperatures, too much water in the river and sloppy muddy treacherous river banks. I expected a difficult session and thought the best chance of a fish on the bank would be a Chub
There was plenty of evidence of the recent floods around with piles of debris, plastic bags, bits of driftwood and even the base of a bed. 
On arriving at the river I was surprised to see how much it had risen turning it into a speeding dirty brown torrent. I still felt the fish would be feeding, not prolifically but all I needed to do was find them. Roving approach required then. 
I walked the full length of the fishery baiting up likely looking swims with a dozen or so lumps of cheese paste in each. There was a chance of the fish finding this smelly bait in the gloomy depths. I dropped in the last swim as the sun burnt off the last of the cloud cover, the warmth on my back most welcome.
The strength of the flow made it impossible to fish anywhere but the near side margin, the fish too would be there escaping the main flow. The first spot was very quiet apart from a friendly little Robin looking for a feed and a Woodpecker doing likewise on a far bank.

Right hand trunk from a long distance
The next swim I tried was equally quiet, my concentration was waning as it does when suddenly the rod trip did a huge lurch, I struck, needless to say I missed the take. With renewed confidence I stared at the rod tip-it remained stationary. It looked like I'd missed my only opportunity. Three swims later I was almost back to the van when I finally got another bite and this time I hooked up. A spirited fight followed which I won and landed a 3lb 7oz Chevin. Blank saved.
3lb 7oz
Soon after I hooked up again but suffered a lost fish. The swim went dead and it felt like my feet were doing the same. Home time.