Sunday, 25 June 2017

Opening Day Glory!


It's that time of year again, the reopening of the traditional coarse season...

After doing a little bit of walking in the closed season, my friend Mark Lindsay and I had the pleasure of stumbling across some carp on our travels, ghosting about the place. With a lot of talk about what to do on opening day, we decided to meet up and see if we could extract a fish or two! Mark very kindly made a few extra trips to introduce some food into the river as well which certainly gave us a fine headstart from the 16th only days to go... I decided to take a fair selection of terminal tackle as I was unsure as to what to expect. Although I have caught river carp, I have never actually targetted them by design. Every carp I have managed to land from the river thus far, has been almost by accident whilst roving for chub. As I was nearing my way to the river, I had a text from Mark informing me that he had his first carp in the net. It was a very encouraging start indeed, and I hurriedly made my way to the swim to do some photographs.
Mark's rip-roaring start! A pristine Ghost Koi!
It was a wonderful start, and what was even more encouraging was that more fish were showing and were certainly in the mood for a 'grub' about. After trying to intercept a couple of fish with my static rig with little success, Mark kindly pointed me in the direction of a couple of nice looking fish that were crusing in a nice bay. With the fish acting a little cautious, Mark kindly let me use his rod set up for freelining. With a bit of patience, a lovely young common slurped in the bait. On striking, the fish gave a very spirited battle indeed, typical river carp style, as I tried to deter it from the thick weed. It was a lovely mahogany-coloured common carp, and a wonderful way to start the season.
A beautiful example of a Common Carp!
As lunchtime approached, we baited a few spots up and waited for the perfect opportunity for an ambush. Whilst I was tweaking my rig slightly, I sighted a nice ghost carp patrolling along a nice lie, vacuuming plenty of bait as it did so. I knew this was certainly a good opportunity, so I did my best to lower my rig towards its dinner table, whilst it had moved off on the rest of its patrol. Sure enough, she returned, and was back on the bait. After watching this fish guage itself on plenty of particle and gliding over my hookbait plenty of times, I tweaked my rig slightly further and lowered it onto a slightly more clear spot. I decided to stay down in this instance, but Mark continued to watch as the ghostly shadow re-emerged. "He's right on your hookbait" Mark said excitedly as my eyes remained glued to the rod tip. The anticipation was almost inbearable with this fish just inches from my hookbait. "You've got him!" Mark shouted, as I saw my rod sliding right across the ground. I had her on! All I could do now was hold on to the culprit for dear life as she ploughed through beds of thick weed. With 12lb line being really tested and my 1.75lb barbel rod buckled over, I managed to deter it from ploughing through anything more! An excrutiating bolt for the near bank followed, before I managed to finally get her head up. With no messing about whatsoever, Mark managed to net her. We both exclaimed sheer joy, as it was a proper team effort, and one of the target fish we had seen in the bag! We put her on the scales, and at a pretty solid double (12lbs 15oz), Mark and I were really happy that this team effort had paid off.
My best River Carp so far!
As the sun was at its peak at midday, the action significantly slowed. Mark freelined in a few spots and the first fish to show for his efforts was a lovely looking chub around the 3lb mark. With a few more carp showing, with me sticking to my static fishing and Mark continuing to be proactive with free-lining, he had soon found a nice group. With stealth and patience, Mark was into another! The battle was of another typical river carp - plenty of energetic sprints and supersonic bolts for freedom.  This fish was the first mirror of the session, and was in absolutely stunning condition. Following on from this fish, after Mark had left for home, I made my way to another familiar hunting ground. Just as I was looking at some nice areas, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a pair of carp cruising together near the opposite bank. I put some bait on a clear patch and casted my rig in, hoping for an opportunistic capture. I was very hopeful when I noticed that the larger fish, the ghost carp (probably around 6lbs), was close by. I watched the fish absolutely troughing before it finally tripped up. All hell broke lose when I picked up the rod, and the fish commitedly bolted through the streamer weed. I tried to slow this run, but unfortuantely in doing so, the hook had slipped. It was a pity as it would have been my first particular carp from this spot, but it was not the end of the world!
A lovely dumpy mirror, look at those colours!
I decided for the final few hours, after some unproductive ones walking plenty of water, to fish one final swim for the day. It was not long until I was getting some response to bait I had thrown out. The first result was a chub that had turned up in the swim, and certainly scattered the carp until the light levels dropped and they were back. After a few hours of watching some sizable carp enter the swim, the rod tip slammed round. It this time turned out to be one of the smaller fish that was in the swim, but it was a lovely way to finish the day. The colours were absolutely stunning, as well as the colour of its fins, being mixtures of orange, purple and even red!
A pretty, young common to finish the day!
Thank you for taking the time to read this opening account of the river season, lets hope for a few more sessions like this! Huge thanks goes to Mark for being great company for the day, doing those extra trips to introduce the bait (which definitely made a huge difference) and for taking some lovely images. It was probably one of, if not my most, memorable opening day fishing! I look forward to more trips in the near future!

Tight Lines,

Tom

Friday, 26 May 2017

Mayfly Time Part 2 - Getting stuck into a few!

Gem of a Wild fish on a Mayfly emerger!
Over the last few weeks, the Mayfly have been picking up a little more on my local river. The first trip that springs to mind is in the very changeable weather we have had in the previous week: heavy rain, hail stones, thunder and lightning. After heading to Robjents in Stockbridge on a lovely sunny morning to stock up on some mayfly patterns, I headed for my local river. By the time I had made my way into the river and was working the pool, I could see the weather starting to turn. After no action on the first section, I made my way to a reliable section and opted to fish one of my favourite patterns, the CDC and Elk. I don't know what is has been about this pattern, but its provocative silhouette formed by the straggly CDC (Duck's rear feathers), and the elk hair 'wing' seems to trigger some rather decisive rises. I decided on this occasion to try a smaller variety and within the first straight on this section I had a missed rise, which was a decent sign. After arriving at a shaded straight on this section, I had a couple more rises and a couple of really nicely marked wild fish.
Another one on my favourite CDC pattern!
The weather then took a different turn: heavy rain, thunder and lightning. I therefore decided to head for home and wait until it cleared. Once it had done so, I got my bank rod out and decided to have a go with some nymphs. With the rain over the last couple of days stirring the water up, I was sure the fish would be in an active mood. Over the course of an hour, I managed six fish on the nymphs, four wild brownies and a couple of tiny little escapee rainbows. By this time, the sun had come back out and there were suddenly a fair few Mayfly duns hatching and fish reacting. After buying some lunch and having a chat with another angler slightly above me, I put on one of my favourite Mayfly patterns, the Mohican. What I love about this pattern is its robust build and the fact that it is resets itself effectively. After having a mosy on the lower part of this section I spotted a few rising fish against the walls. I knew that it would take some serious mends in order to get the presentation but knew a few takes were on the cards if I was to successfully do so. After some effective covers, I managed 4 fish, as well as a missed take and a lost fish. In spite of the changeable weather, a few fish were caught which amounted to a pretty action packed day.
Lovely dark fish!
On the next session, a catchup with my friend Mark Lindsay was long overdue, so we decided to give some fly fishing a go. Mark had not been in a while, so he was certainly keen to dust off his gear. I arrived an hour or so before Mark and had some great action in the first pools of the day. After losing a fish on one of my first casts, I made another cast slightly upstream and a big pair of lips came up and absolutely nailed the detached body mayfly pattern. I lifted into a turbo-charged fish which made several dashes for the cover. All I could do was point the 3 weight Streamflex at the fish and hoped that the forgiving action would deter it from cutting me off. After a fish final dashes, the first brownie of the day was landed, an absolutely glorious wildie around the 2lb mark. I made my way up river and managed a smaller fish which also attacked the fly aggressively. After getting this fish back I saw another nice rise just above of a good fish. Thankfully I managed to get the cast yet again perfect, and another big mouth emerged and absolutely engulfed my fly. Without hesitation, I set the hook and all hell broke lose. The fish shot off upstream and leaped clean out of the water. This was definitely on the same calibre as the first fish I had landed. After another ridiculous battle on the 3 weight, another beautifully spotted brownie was in the net.
Certainly was a question of holding onto this one on the 3 weight!
Over the next straight I managed a few more small wild fish just as Mark arrived. I was confident with all the action so far, that a few more rising fish were certainly going to be about. Mark was soon setting up and after straightening his leader with a few test casts, he informed me that he had already had a take. This was a promising start and it was not long until I heard Mark's fly line as he lifted into his first fish. It was great that Mark had also managed to quickly get a fish under his belt. We continued on, working our way to a few areas and we both got stuck into a few, Mark's being the best in this particular section.
Another cracker for Mark on the dry!
It has probably been the most productive fly fishing I've had recently, as I have learnt a hell of a lot. Big thanks goes to Rob at Robjents for his advice when choosing the waders and my friend Chris for some great guidance on wild trout fishing, teaching me some real fundamentals. It was also great to have caught up with Mark and to see that he had gotten a bit of his motivation back for fly fishing!

Tight Lines to all,

Tom

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Mayfly Time - A Deadly Trout Weapon!

The detached body Mayfly!
My favourite time for fishing with the dry fly has now commenced! In a brief window, depending on the riverbed, hatches of localised Mayfly start. On my local river they have been hatching in bursts, but haven't quite amounted to the swarms that start from, in my experience, the middle of May to early June. I am certainly looking forward to the coming weeks and hoping to have more to write about in that period.

Over the past week, I have stocked up on a few patterns a lot of which have notably given me some fabulous results, especially in the Duffer's fortnight itself. These patterns being: Mohican Mayflies, French Partridge, the Mayfly silhoutte-type patterns and not to forget Mayfly emergers. On a session with my friend Harry, I noticed in his fly box there were a few very covincing looking patterns tied by a local angler, Andrew Mussellwhite. Recently he has started to sell a few of his patterns online through his business, Mussellwhite's Flies. After seeing some of his successful mayfly action with his very realistic patterns, such as the Detached Body Mayfly, I knew I had to order some pronto!

Once I had arrived at the river, I was really hopeful that there would be some trout willing to look up. It was carrying some extra water as well which was reassuring as the river looked in a far better state that it has been in recent weeks. I worked my way up the river and came to a nice shady bay which looked perfect for a waiting trout. With the detached body mayfly sitting beautifully on the water, I knew it was only a matter of time until a trout was going to nail it. Once I got the perfect cast and started to retrieve the bow of line, a sharp, but discrete snatch followed. I tightened into a good fish which hung low to begin with, oblivious of the fact it was hooked. The moment it realised, all hell broke lose, the 3 weight Streamflex absolutely buckled as pure power and energy kicked in from the culprit. All I could do was point the rod in the fish's direction and hoped to slow its vicious runs. Thanfully the hook held proud, even when this fish successfully charged off downstream making the odds of landing this fish harder. On a few more final bursts of energy, shooting back upstream, I managed to finally net this beautiful brown trout. The markings were stunning, very much like a Leopard, and the fins were perfect with distinct white piping. It was a stunning wild fish, which I was absolutely over the moon about!
Wild brownie of the season so far!
After making my way up further, I had another lovely take. Yet again, the light outfit was really tested, meaning another very exciting battle indeed! Another fish of the same size graced the net and it was another pretty fish! Despite this great start to the day, the day took a different turn following on from this. The wind made casting and presentation a bit of a nightmare, and there seemed to be far less rising fish present. I did however catch a few smaller fish on a few early season favourite patterns, such as the Klink Hammer and CDC & Elk. All in all though, it was a very enjoyable session, with two absolutely beautiful brown trout testing my light gear.
Another cracking brownie on the light gear - proof in the pudding that this pattern is deadly!
I really do look forward to getting back out and enjoying a few more plentiful hatches of Mayfly until this prime dry fly period is out.

Tight Lines,

Tom

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Fly Fishing for Wild Brown Trout

New outfit!
Throughout my life, I have always had a fascination for peering into the local chalkstreams in and around my hometown. The species that I have sighted the most over these years is the plentiful brown trout that inhabit my local river. Many will agree that the brown trout is the most sought-after chalkstream opponent in the UK, due to its suspicious nature and to catch one requiring stealth and tactics that are refined in order to outwit them.

Due to being engrossed in intensive revision this time last year, I have certainly been keen to get out and learn more about the exciting art of fly fishing this season. I started off by purchasing plenty of patterns from traditional nymphs, to perfect early season dry flies in the event of some fish 'looking up'. Another exciting purchase has been a pair of chest waders for getting to some of those more restricted areas and for ease of presentation. With the help of the staff in Stockbridge's Robjents, I was able to acquire a very nice pair. The service in this shop has always been exceptional and it is always a joy to stock up there. On my first few trips, one of which was with my friend Chris, I had some lovely sport on some idyllic little streams catching some exquisite wild brownies. Even though the fish were small for many people's standards, there is a charm about going somewhere secluded and scenic and watching a dry fly gliding with the current before being intercepted.
What a looker! The true wild brown trout is one of the most stunning of all fish!
After these first few trips I decided to invest in a brook setup which would be perfect for wading and most close range fishing scenarios. The tool for the job I decided to get was a Greys Streamflex (3 weight) and I matched this up with the nice and light Wychwood River and Stream reel. Over the next few sessions, I have thoroughly enjoyed some wading trips on my local river and carriers. The first dry flies I decided to fish were a mixture of emerging patterns, such as Klink Hammer patterns and Parachute Adams. I've also thoroughly enjoyed using the New Zeland dry-dropper tactic, also known as Klink and Dink. It has been a fantastic method for the early season trout as you are covering both bases.
Another beautiful wildie, taken on the CDC and Elk!
I have seen an amazing difference in my catch rate recently having acquired the waders and more finely tuned kit, especially on the carriers where the trout are very wily and spooky. As the season has progressed from later April into early May, I decided on these carriers, with the smoother, slacker water, to use patterns that represent a slightly larger meal, be it grannom or caddis-type imitations, larger olives or even early Mayflies. On one particular session, I decided to use a pattern shown to me by my friend Chris (CDC and Elk). This session produced 4 fish on the dry fly, all of which were beautiful sipping takes.
One of two of these little chaps I've caught while nymphing, wonder where they're coming from...
Following on from this session, I decided in more limited time frames to do a little nymphing - during breaks from editing projects or before work. Although there is a snobbery of fishing this way in comparison to outwitting a fish on a dry fly, which is understandable, nymphing is another discipline which is certainly worth understanding. It can also be very technical as the nymphs need to behave in a natural manner and cunning trout will often ignore patterns which could be the perfect imitation, as the flies will be behaving in an unnatural manner. When fishing from the bank, I've found that an indicator helps with presentation as you are keeping better tuned as to how the nymphs are moving below the surface. In faster water I use foam-type ones and in slower water I have either used buoyant dry flies, yarn or greased the leader with muscillin in order for more sensitive indication through the line. On one particularly cloudy day I managed plenty of takes with a total of 7 fish in just over an hour which was great fun, considering I was only briefly getting some fresh air on the way to buying a spot of lunch!
Saw the flash of its belly as it took, an absolutely beautiful wildie!
On the last of these trips, I got the waders back on and headed again for a few carrier stretches I know. Although this given day was a hard one with a howling wind and not much insect life, I had a few stunning Wildies on the CDC and Elk and Grey Wulff patterns. It is also great news that the Mayfly are starting to show, and I'm certainly looking forward to the residents in some of the deeper pools also coming up and revealing themselves...
A lovely dark fish on the Grey Wulff
Tight Lines,

Tom

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

End of Season Roundup 2017

A warrior!
Since the arrival of March, I have felt a sense of urgency to get as much fishing on the river done as possible. I set my stalls to rove a couple of small waterways, some of these trips on my own and a couple with good friends. On one particular session, I met up with good friend Duncan Charman, and we agreed to fish a new stretch of water, using roving tactics. Duncan soon got off the mark with a pristine little chub which absolutely slammed his rodtip over on his cheesepaste bait. It was great to get off the mark early on, and it was certainly encouraging to see that at least one chub was obliging! After this though, bites dried up, so we decided to move to another section.
A pretty, young chub for Duncan
On the next section, we were greeted by some absolutely stunning glides which looked perfect for a chub or two. After covering a few spots, I found myself in a lovely looking area to flick my breadflake helping. As soon as it settled the line tweaked slightly before I received a smack on the tip. It was not long until a decisive take was to follow and on connecting with this fish, I knew by the way it dug for the cover that this was a good one. Sure enough, a rather plump and pretty solid chub graced the net. I knew from the frame of this fish that it was certainly a 5 pound plus fish, and at 5lbs 4oz I was very happy indeed, especially from a new area! Duncan kindly did the honours with a nice photograph before we moved on.
A stunning 5lb 4oz late season chub!
On the next swim, Duncan had an absolutely stonking take and another nice chub around the similar stamp he had had earlier in the day graced his net. We knew after this fish, time was short, so the both of us chose our final swims. I opted to fish a near margin, whilst Duncan found a nice looking swim with some nice cover. After casting around a few areas, I flicked the bait a little way more down the swim. A few minutes passed and I noticed the quivertip had nudged twice out of sync from the current. Before I knew it, the quivertip pulled over steadily and I was connected with another feisty chub. As there were some nasty snags, I ran a little way downstream and used the through action of the rod to deter it from its sanctuary. A few final surges for cover were to follow before another nice chevin came to the surface. It was nice to have managed another decent chub before the end of the session and even though I was happy with this to finish the day, I was still keen to get out once more before the season closed.
4lbs 7oz, definitely could go bigger!
First fish on the last day (4-7)
It wasn't until the last day of the season that I could get back out. I met up with my friend Mark Lindsay to wander a few new areas as room for thought for next season. Before Mark arrived, I fished a few areas that I have had previous success and managed my first fish of the day. It was great to have started the day off with another nice chub up for a feed.

I then met Mark, and we were both excited to see what the area could produce. In the first swims, we were soon getting our baits wittled down by many very jaggedy bites which we assumed to be the silver fish that inhabit this river. Mark had parked himself in a spot for a while, and after a few mysterious bites, he managed to connect with a good fish that went straight for the snags. Just as I was making my way to his swim with the net, the hook had pulled. We were both rather disappointed as it was a new swim, although it was certainly pinpointed for a future visit. After roving along this section for a fair while, we decided to make our way to a more familiar area to see if we could manage another bite. We covered a fair bit of the section with no response, so I made my way into a new swim which looked absolutely spot on. After a few minutes, the quivertip sprung into life and on connecting with this fish, I knew it was another good one!
5lbs 8oz
As I thought when we landed her, it was an old friend. It was actually a great shame to see since I caught her last time, that she had a mark from predation and was looking considerably emptier than before. On the contrary though, it was nice to see such a magnificent creature grace my net again and we took a quick photo before releasing her back to her watery home. By this time, Mark had run out of time and I was still left with a final hour. I spent this time rotating a few likely looking swims and managed a couple more modest chub to finish the day.

It was a great way to end the season with a few nice fish caught and some good company.

Tight Lines,

Tom
Last chub of the season!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Late February Chub Fishing

A beautiful late season chub!
With this year out being a busy one in the world of retail, with more hours at work than before, I have struggled to find the energy to properly plan a trip, yet alone even ready my gear over the past few weeks. Although I love chub fishing throughout the course of the river season, there is something about seeing out the season targetting them, when the chub are usually at their best condition and on their day, up for a feed! They have lightened up many a cold day for me and have always left me grinning at the end of my last few seasons. I think the most appealing thing about them as a species is the fact they come in all different shapes and sizes and possess everything exciting about a coarse fish. They can go from being lethargic to a pure product of gluttony through their shifts of mood, they possess exciting predatory instincts which will attack big baits and lures with ease, as well as having good strength and cunning when hooked.
A hard fighting chub taken from a slack pool on the feeder! (4-10)
Through the course of a few trips, it has been really nice to catch fish ranging from the 3lb mark to over 5lbs. The best trip of these was spent with my friend Simon Daley. Simon has had an exceptional season and his sheer tenacity and hunger to achieve his targets has reaped him some serious rewards this season. At the same time, he is a very dignified bloke who is very humble and modest about the serious captures that have graced his net. We decided on this given day to rotate between float and feeder, with Simon managing a couple of very well-proportioned 5 pounders. On the float, I managed to bump two very good fish indeed, one of which was a suspected barbel. Although it was disappointing to have lost those fish, I ended the day with some lovely fish over the 4 pound mark, on both float and feeder, which I was really happy about. It was very kind of Simon to invite me out, so thanks goes to him for an enjoyable session!

Tight Lines,

Tom
A lovely 4lbs 14oz chub

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

A Cold Day's Roving on some new areas!

After that enjoyable session with Henry the other day, I was dying to get back out after some more chub. The river was carrying a nice tinge of colour and despite the bright sunlight which I was up against, similar to the other day, I knew I would have my chances. I wandered on a new bit of this particular stretch and the aim was to try and opportunistically drop in on a fish. After fishing over a dozen swims without a single tap, I started to get a few taps in one particular zone. After some delicate taps, the tip pulled round vigorously and the first chub of the day was on the bank. It was great to have managed a fish from a new swim and continued on with a spring in my step.
A nice start to the day, a good chub from a new swim!
The next swim looked absolutely fantastic for a bite with plenty of features for large chub to skulk about. I knew it would be a question of waiting for a fish to trip up and take my freebie. Just as I was thinking of moving, my rod tip suddenly smacked over and I connected with a good fish which charged straight towards some nasty debris. I used the power of my substantial feeder rod to try and stop this stubborn culprit from regaining its sanctuary. I cupped the spool and managed to guide the fish out of the snag before that dreaded feeling of the line going slack and merely your rig coming into to view. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement, as to me this felt like a very good chub indeed, with all the tell-tale thumps and surges for the cover that ensued. I can't complain though, as so far this year I have had a decent start and 'the one that got away' often is something that keeps one motivated in their quarry and a reminder of what can lurk. After having a wander, I found myself in another likely looking area with a nice run of water to explore with the link leger. After a few minutes, whilst I quickly rehydrated myself with a bottle of water, the rod tip started to nudge. I waited, and sure enough the rod pulled round, and another nice chub was in the net.
A nice lean chub from another new area!
I decided on the last few hours of the day to head to a more familiar haunt to see whether any of the residents were up for a opportunistic feed. After roving a few more swims, I arrived at a nice area which looked perfect for the odd chub to skulk about. I gingerly crept into the spot and lowered my breadflake into position and awaited a response. I crouched down, my eyes glued to the tip. Within minutes, the quivertip whacked over in an aggressive fashion and another good fish was on. I knew it was another good fish, as it was taking line with a lot more ease and staying a lot deeper. This time, I was praying that the hook-hold would stand proud and thankfully after a few surging runs, a good mouth broke the surface. I could see that this fish was easily the best of the day as it's build was on a different level to the other fish I had managed in the day.
One powerful and stunning 5 pounder!
I was really happy, as the scales swung to 5lbs on the nose, teetering towards the ounce. Having not managed many fish of this cracking stamp, I was absolutely made up, especially since the fish I had lost earlier was at least round this stamp, if not larger. Either way, the fish was in absolutely fantastic nick and a fish I'd be happy to catch from any river, large or small. I rotated a few more swims as the light faded and decided to sit on my hands and knees, in a swim I had visited earlier on in the day. I casted out as the light faded and waited. The isotope nodded a few times, before the quivertip pulled over. Another nice fish was on. This fish swam straight towards me and adapted different tactics to the others as it was clearly intent on snagging me in the near bank foliage. After absorbing the final charges for cover, another nice chub graced the surface.
A nice 4 pounder to finish the day
Although the fish I lost will stay on my mind, the day was an overall success. The conditions were far from straight forward with the river dropping by the hour and the sun's rays beaming on the surface layer of the water as it did so. I look forward to heading out again for a rove for this fantastic species!

Tight Lines,

Tom

Monday, 23 January 2017

Just Like Old Times...

When I started making YouTube videos, they originally captured the enjoyable sessions I had with my friend Henry Howells. We used to get into the habit of filming every session trying to enscapsulate our highs and lows, coupled with the laughs along the way. This produced many hours of enjoyment, and it was a shame that, due to the stress of exams and various 'hiccups' along the way, we had lost touch in recent years. Recently though, we had gotten back in contact, and Henry was keen as ever to get back on the bank. We decided on this occasion to go for a day's roving on one of our favourite rivers, in search of a chub or two.

The river was certainly looking promising as the water was carrying some extra water, but fining down to the extent that the chub could well be on the prowl for an easy meal. Moreover, with the cold temperature I was also confident that a bite was on the cards. What was slightly against us though, was the bright sunshine, which I knew from previous experience was likely to put the chub in a finicky mood. With Henry having not been on the bank for a while, the plan was to start on a few banker swims in the hope that one of them would produce a bite. Our attack was fishing breadflake on the link leger to try and trigger quick responses in the swims. We both parked ourselves in a nice swim where we could both flick a line in and await a response. Within a few minutes, I was surprised to be getting a response lower down the swim where the flow was a bit more turbulent. After a few finicky taps, the rod pulled round steadily and I struck. The fish dug down deep and tried on multiple occasions to try and snag me up, but after keeping the rod low, I managed to guide the fish towards the net with Henry kindly doing the honours.
A nice way to start the day!
A 4 pounder was a great way to kickstart the day and it definitely got the juices flowing for potentially more action. After releasing the fish back to its home, we ventured downstream. I decided, that I'd bait up a few likely looking areas, as I had a feeling the fish would be a bit on edge. On the first swim we had given time after baiting up, Henry was soon getting indications on his rod tip. Following some rather vigorous taps from the culprit, Henry's tip whacked over and he struck. He hooked a decent fish which dived straight back towards its sanctuary. As soon as Henry started to guide the fish out of the snag, a gasp of disappointment followed as the hook 'pinged' out. We were both rather disappointed, but we knew there were potentially more chances ahead. A few minutes later, in a swim where I had never had a bite before, I also momentarily hooked something which pulled back. It seemed though, that luck wasn't on our side on this few metres of stretch we had in front of us.

We were pretty shocked how time was getting on, so decided to have a spot of lunch in a zone where I know a static approach can often lead to rewards. I was half way through my dessert and was shocked to see my motionless quivertip had been brought to life and was whacking over. I lifted into another fish. This chub certainly knew where the snags were and put up a very exciting battle indeed. At 4lbs 2oz, it was another nice result considering conditions not being perfect with the beaming sunlight.
A nice hard-fighting 4lbs 2oz Chub
We rotated a few more swims as the light started to fade. Henry parked himself in a swim which looked absolutely spot on. As soon as he casted out, taps on his rodtip were instant. When the rod did eventually go, Henry struck again into a decent fish. I don't know whether it was something to do with someone above frowning upon us on the given day, as yet again another hookpull ensued...  We rotated a few more swims before we went home, and it was nice that on the final bite of the day, Henry managed a healthy looking young chub to show for his efforts!

Despite it being a long while since we had caught up last, it felt as if we were picking up where we had left off last time with plenty of funny stories to relay. That's what made the session so enjoyable and we will certainly be pencilling in more trips yet before the season is out!

Tight Lines,

Tom

Monday, 16 January 2017

2017: A Testing Day in search of a Chub!

Our little friend that came to visit!
After a a poor session after pike the other day,  I was very much looking forward to getting back out. The original plan for this weekend was to fish on both days, but due to the weather plans were changed. As a result of this, the trip my good friend Mark Lindsay and I scheduled was rearranged for the Saturday. We considered various options and felt that we were due a visit to a particular southern river Mark had fished a few times.

I got up bright and early and arranged to meet Mark just after first light. We soon made our way down to the river and were shocked to see it so low. It was promising though, that the river was carrying a tinge of colour which does often go down well when targeting chub in particular. I started the day off on the link leger, trying to opportunistically tempt a few fish out of some likely looking areas, whilst Mark set up some trotting gear and had a few runs through. Both of us didn't receive any enquiries in these swims, so we headed up river to see if we could find some new areas. I always think that finding new areas on a river is always refreshing as it broadens your horizons on future visits, especially when the conditions are challenging. We both agreed that the various spots we did fish had very good potential to throw up some good fish and despite being unsuccessful on this occasion, we will be back to have a look in the warmer months when you can spot the fish. It was amazing that even on delicate float tackle, we could not buy a bite and as a result we were both beginning to lose confidence in our plan. Now I think about it, I think that the salt coming off the roads could have contributed to this, but, more so, the river desperately needed some more water.

We returned to a couple areas that Mark had caught from previously and decided to eat a spot of lunch, in the hope that it would reassert our confidence in getting a bite. After Mark had a run through on the float in one particular spot, with no joy, he pointed where he had managed bites on a few occasions. We both agreed that it was definitely worth chucking a small maggot feeder tight to the snags and wait for any potential inhabitant to trip up. It was certainly reassuring, that once I had cast out, I was getting indications on the tip. The bites were very finicky so I decided to lengthen my hooklength so the fish did not spook off the feeder. On the next cast, I decided to go a little way downstream, managing to get the cast tight to the far bank. After a few minutes, the line tightened, before the tip slowly pulled round. I connected with a dead weight which took line instantly and thumped in a very odd way. 'This weirdly feels like a bream' I said to Mark, as I kept the rod low and started to guide the fish upstream. Mark remarked how ridiculous the amount of silt the culprit I had hooked was kicking up, as the fish continued to hang low. Once it came close in, I was shocked to see the white mouth of a chub and the convex dorsal come into view. We both knew this could be our only chance of the day so were desperate to land it. After a few scary final surges for the near bank cover, Mark hastily scooped this chunky culprit into the net and we both gave a huge sigh of relief.
One Chubby Chub, the gut is ridiculous!
We were absolutely amazed by the gut on this fish and knew it could weigh considerably more than we initially thought. When Mark flipped round the scales, I was amazed to see them settling at dead on 6lbs. Mark kindly did the honours with the camera and took some lovely shots of this portly specimen. What I really love about this capture was that it was a true team effort and we certainly we felt that the rotation of tactics and baits is what made it feel like we had earned the capture between us.
Not a bad way to start 2017 at all, a cracking chub (6lb)
It was great to see the fish charge off towards the depths as its large back disappeared back into the shadows. I was hoping this change of tactic would trigger a response for Mark, but unfortunately the bangs he had on the tip were not quite strikable. Also time had drawn to a close, meaning it was time for us both to head home-bound...

Thanks goes to Mark for the invite and for being great company throughout the course of the day. Look forward to next time,

Tight Lines,

Tom

Thursday, 29 December 2016

A Sweet Reunification!

After having a car boot slammed on my favourite feeder rod, it certainly delayed doing some of my favourite roving sessions for the chub... After a fair bit of 'googling' and searching on eBay, to my delight, I was lucky enough to acquire another!

I have been in contact with Duncan Charman pretty regularly of late and after pencilling a day, he kindly offered to take me out for a morning after some rather large and elusive chub. With the lack of rain in the South in the last few weeks, I certainly expected the fish to be pretty lethargic. As expected, the river was low and in desperate need of a flush through. Therefore, Duncan and I thought that we should visit the 'banker' areas first, before moving around to cover the stretch. Duncan opted to fish a small cage feeder, whilst I opted to fish the link leger, both using generous helpings of breadflake as our hookbait. On the first swim where I had my highest hopes for a bite, not a single touch was to be had. We then agreed to try an area which is renowned for doing some large residents a little way below. After flicking my bait into a nice little run, it was promising to get a few shimmers on the rod tip pretty instantly. Could it be silver fish or perhaps a wily chub inspecting the bait? I kept my hand close to the rod and within minutes, a jaggedy pull on the tip triggered a strike. I hooked into a good fish which instantly dug deep. In typical chub style it really plodded about and made some quite hairy surges for the snags, but with Duncan kindly on hand with the net, the first fish of the day was landed!
5lb 3oz
It was a great way to christen the new rod and hopefully the first of a few chunky specimens yet! The fish weighed in at a lovely 5lb 3oz, which certainly was a lovely result for my first time out for a while. Duncan quickly took some lovely shots, before I released the chub back to its watery home. Although Duncan had the odd indication on the tip, this was the only fish to be had of the morning. It was great to get back out on flowing water, and I have to thank Duncan now for getting me out again!

Having gotten my motivation back, I headed to another waterway that I knew was also capable of some rather large and elusive culprits. Again, the river in front of me was low and in desperate need of some water. Having rotated a few swims on the link leger, with little to show for my efforts apart from a couple of modest chub, I made my way to a new area. As the mist thickened and the light started to fade, I parked myself in one particular spot which looked perfect for a chub or two. Out of the blue, I suddenly saw some disturbance on the surface with two carp coming into view, cruising near the surface before dropping down towards where my bait was... My quiver tip slowly tweaked in a steady motion, before I hastily decided to strike. The surface erupted and I saw the head of a good common, before getting the feeder rod low and started to play it as my tiny little reel started to sing as line whizzed of the spool. It is fair to say that the fight was pretty sluggish, but with various snags and the common using its body mass to its advantage it was going to take a while to tire. After what felt like many excrutiating minutes, I managed to finally guide the carp into the net, before punching the air with sheer delight!
12lb River Common
The colours on the fish were absolutely stunning and it was such a fantastic way to end what was a very frustrating day on the chub front. At 12lbs on the nose, it was a wonderful result as it is my best river carp so far and what a way to have caught it on the feeder rod! It is undoubtedly one of the nicest looking commons I have ever caught, if not the nicest!

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and wish you all a happy new year!

Tight Lines,

Tom

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

November Update: Roach and Grayling

Stunning Little Redfin
One particular trip which was thoroughly enjoyable from these past couple of months was an afternoon spent with fellow river enthusiast, Harry Redsull, on the banks of an intimate Southern Chalkstream. Having briefly chatted the day before, I decided to take a feeder rod as my attack for some of the elusive roach we had talked about, whilst Harry opted for some trotting gear. Within minutes, we had located a few shoals and armed with some fluffy white bread, I crumpled up some crusts and watched their reaction... They were up for a feed! It was great to spend an afternoon with someone who had the same level of enthusiasm for this quarry and it was a bonus to land some lovely fish between us to just over the pound mark. I look forward to catching up for another trip soon!
A pretty roach which enjoyed a 'pinch' of bread in the clear water!
It took me weeks after this to get out again, but after receiving a kind invite from Duncan Charman to fish another scenic Southern Chalkstream, I decided to have a rest from my essays. The target this time was the lady of the stream. Although this day was tough, we managed quite a few fish between us, with Duncan's 2lb grayling and 8lb 2oz trout being the best fish of the day. It was nice to be able to dust off the centrepin and the float rod for the first time in a while and land a few hard fighting grayling to top off the idyllic surroundings.

Tight Lines,

Tom

8lb 2oz Trout and 2lb 3oz Grayling!

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