Friday 18 May 2012

Spring Tench & Carp Overnighter

I managed to pick a couple of days break in the early-May rain, to fit in a 24-hour session with Shane Calton.  We visited Derbyshire's Higham Farm Lakes and tackled up primarily for tench, but with the head of carp, bream and other species in there, we knew it would be difficult to target them solely.  

Higham is pretty local to me, so I used to fish this place quite regularly for the carp when I was 15 to 18, but I worked out that I have only been there once in the last 12 years!

I was field testing a fair bit of Cyprinus night fishing gear, including a bivvy, a memory foam bedchair, a 3-5 season sleeping bag and a tackle barrow, which all performed superbly (Reviews on here).

Before I arrived Shane had already landed a few bream in the 4-5lb bracket and as I was setting up he landed a tench of exactly 5lb, which was a very promising start.

It was to be the last tench we had between us, but we each notched up carp overnight and I also had a bream and a strange fantail brown goldfish-cross thing, which I should have really taken a photograph of, though I have caught similar fish from Higham in the distant past too.  I had one breakage and two hook-pulls in the night, which were either the mothers of all tench, or more likely carp.
Overnight I was setup on both rods with 6lb mainline through to 5lb fluorocarbon hooklengths to size 14 Drennan Power Hair Rig hooks.  One rod had a helicopter rig above an open-end feeder and I alternated between corn and meat on this rod whilst on the other rod I rigged up a small method feeder and baited this with a 10mm pineapple & banana pop-up which Shane kindly provided!
Just as I was settling into my sleeping bag to get some sleep, the alarm on my margin rod - which had its bait placed just in front of a small bush - screamed out as a fish tried its best to swim between every root before I could lift up the rod.  As soon as I felt the rod I knew I was connected to a decent fish which was a huge worry, what with my 6lb mainline being dragged through the roots!  Thankfully I kept my calm, kept the rod tip underwater and applied steady sideways pressure.  I think the fish had run out of ideas, as one-by-one I felt the line 'ping' off each root, my heart fluttering a little each time as I though it was the hook dislodging.  I gradually felt more in contact with the fish and was able to coax it out into open water where I could tire it without fear of it finding more snags.  Shane did the honours with the net and we both gasped as we realised this fish was a little bigger than either of us expected.  It was a beautiful mirror of exactly 18lb.  My biggest carp for quite some time, although I rarely target them these days.
The following day I alternated between taking photos of the gear I was reviewing and fishing on the surface with this floater rig.  I ended up taking another 3 carp off the top and lost a couple too.

After a pretty terrible winter campaign it felt great to be on the bank catching, in fairly pleasant surroundings (I saw a few buzzards, jays & a treecreeper and had a field mouse visiting my groundbait bowl).  Surface fishing got my juices flowing big-time!  And when I latched into this 14lb common on my last cast, I actually caught myself smiling as the drag slowly "ticked" as the fish took line several minutes into the fight.  This year, for probably the first time ever, I was really glad that the river coarse fishing season was over. There's no hiding from it; since the beginning of November I'd had a real stinker of a season and smiles have been sadly lacking from my fishing for longer than I'm happy to accept.  But if this session was anything to go by, the spark is back and I'm loving my fishing again; at last!

Royalty Fishery - Article Online now at FishingMagic

On the ball as always, I thought I'd better mention my latest article, which has been published on FishingMagic for, errrrm, 5 or 6 weeks already!  It details my trip down to the famous Royalty Fishery at Christchurch, Dorset, on the Hampshire Avon.  It was my first time fishing the river and whilst I enjoyed the experience, it was certainly a trip of mixed emotions.  I headed down there for two days with my old friend Matt and we primarily pike fished, although there were a number of barbel anglers who were catching well.  We spent day 1 on the Parlour pool and bought a general day ticket for the second day.

It was a really difficult article to write, it took several drafts to get it to read right, but now it's finished I'm quite happy with the result.  I think it's worth a read if you've ever been to the Royalty, are planning to visit, or have ever considered or dreamed of a trip there.

See what you think and then please let me know what you think of it.  If you're a FishingMagic member, you can post directly beneath the article.  Or if not, feel free to post your thoughts below here.

Saturday 5 May 2012

Brierley Park Pond Anglers Association needs your help! New fishing club in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire

Early this year I heard about a local angling club which had been setup to open fishing on a country park lake, on Brierley Forest Park near Sutton-In-Ashfield.  This lake is within a couple of miles of both where I live and where I work, so I'd known it existed for quite some time and had heard that people would often "poach" there, because fishing wasn't officially allowed but was turned a blind eye to.  I was really pleased to hear that a club was taking control of the lake, because one of the downsides to free, unofficial fishing is that it's totally un-policed.  Anyone could fish there, however they liked, they could leave litter, thieve fish and use questionable methods and baits without anyone to check even if they had a rod licence.

Through hard work and persistence, permission was granted by the appropriate local bodies for a newly formed angling club to lease the lake and and open it up to properly managed fishing.  On June 2nd 2012, Brierley Park Anglers Association* will officially open up the pond to fishing with an open day at the water, featuring various family-orientated events and who knows, maybe even a visit from one of the club's high profile patrons, Bob Nudd, Keith Arthur, Julian Cundiff and Dave Williams.

One of the things which impresses me most about the whole Brierley Pond project is that it has a real "community" feel to it, with a large emphasis put on providing angling opportunities for disabled anglers and children.  Wheelchair-friendly pegs are being installed and tackle donations are being sought, so that on-site tuition can take place, to actively encourage youngsters and those with disabilities to take an interest in fishing.

Help/Sponsors Needed
In conjunction with the Environment Agency, Brierley Park AA are installing numerous accessible fishing platforms and to fund these, club chairman Steve Savage came up with a novel way of funding them.  He's asking bait & tackle companies, along with local businesses, to sponsor a peg, at a cost of £100 per season.  For this price not only will the sponsor be helping anglers fish in comfort, they'll also get a name plaque placed on the peg and should the peg feature in any match-winning catches, it will be mentioned ion the website and in local media by name rather than by number (e.g. instead of "Joe Bloggs won with 12lb of roach from peg 4" you'll see "Joe Bloggs won with 12lb of roach from Terry's Tremendous Tackle peg").  

If you would like to find out more about becoming a peg sponsor at Brierley, or can provide any fishing tackle to be used to help teach local disabled people and children to fish, please contact Gary Barfoot via the Brierley website or search for "Brierley Pond Community Project" on Facebook.

The Fishing
I fished at Brierley during the winter and found it to be chock-full of silver fish.  I was catching quality roach and rudd, more-or-less every cast.  This was on a bitterly cold day and despite this, I was catching in less than 4 feet of water.  The only conclusion I could come to was that I was casting into - to coin an old Yorkshire phrase - "One foot o'watter and three foot o'fish"!  There are also a few carp well into double figures, along with lots of tench, bream, crucian carp, chub, perch and the odd surprise!

The lake is just over a couple of acres in size and is quite shallow on the whole, with 3 or 4 feet being the average depth, but there is the odd trench and hole which go a little deeper than this.  There are beds of Norfolk reeds, sedges and a few overhanging trees as features and one bank is completely fenced-off as a nature reserve, so the wildlife, as well as the fish, can get a little respite.  Brierley lake has a healthy population of waterfowl with the standard coots, moorhens, mallards and swans sharing the water with the fish. 

The lake is best suited to pleasure anglers, but it also has plenty to offer matchmen and the chance of landing an uncaught specimen; who knows what could be in there!

You can now purchase season permits to fish Brierley for a very reasonable £30 per year adult or £15 juniors & concessions.  There is a £6 joining fee for your first year.  

There are also day tickets available, but these must be purchased prior to fishing (they can be purchased days in advance, provided you know the date you're going to fish), from the Brierley Forest Park Visitor Centre & Cafe, located 250 metres from the pond, near the car park.  

Brierley Visitor Centre & Cafe is open:

April – OctoberMonday to Friday: 11.00am - 4.00pm
Saturday, Sunday & Bank Holidays: 11.00am - 1.30pm
November – March
Monday to Friday: 10.30am - 3.30pm
Saturday, Sunday & Bank Holidays: 11.00am - 1.30pm

A wide range of food and drink is also available.
You can make out Brierley Pond as a triangular shape towards the top-right corner of the map, so you can see how close to the fishing this shop is:

There are also set to be regular matches held at the venue, so keep an eye out for the results.  See the Brierley Pond Community Project website for further details:

You can also browse or join the Disabled Fishing Talk forum, which I believe is moderated by Steve who is chairman of Brierley Park Anglers Association, at, where there is further info about the fishing at Brierley.

*Please note that Brierley Park Anglers Association has now been renamed Brierley Pond Community Project