Monday 16 December 2013

Caught In The Act Parts 3 & 4 DVD Review

Caught In The Act - Parts 3 & 4 (Autumn & Winter) DVD review

I recently reviewed the second 2 x DVD set of the excellent "Caught In The Act" by Bob Roberts & Stuart Walker, for FishingMagic.  The two DVDs in this installment cover the seasons of autumn and winter  You can read the full review at the following link, but I've also included a few snippets below: Caught In The Act parts 3 & 4 Review


"From the very moment you set eyes on the package the atmosphere is already building...  Press play and the atmosphere further builds with the epic, soaring classical title music which seems to audibly frame the stunning intro visuals perfectly. By this point I was already sucked in and couldn’t wait to see what came next." 

"Both anglers exude enthusiasm and confidence alongside a genuine belief and interest in what they’re doing whenever they are on screen."

"There are no fancy rigs or ‘You must use this specific tackle item or you won’t catch’ and the rigs that are used are well explained, with a few bonus tips...  The mixture of short but well-articulated rig and tackle talks in each act blend effortlessly into the film between scenic wide-angle shots, close-ups of the anglers in action and of course, the quality underwater footage." 

"Caught in the Act is essential viewing for all anglers, especially those looking to reconnect with the simple pleasures of the pursuit of specimen fish, in all seasons."

You can find out more information about CITA on the Caught In The Act Facebook Page:

If you're already convinced you can order CITA at the following page on on Bob Roberts' Website:

Or if you still need some convincing, you can view more clips from Caught In The Act on Stu's YouTube page:

Don't forget you can read my full review on FM here: Caught In The Act parts 3 & 4 DVD review

Saturday 27 July 2013

Short Session Summer Barbel Article in this months Coarse Angling Today magazine - out now!

Those of you who are regular readers of Coarse Angling Today magazine, keep an eye out for my 5-page article on short-session summer barbel fishing.  If you've never read it before and you enjoy multi-species fishing, it's one of the best mags out there...

It's the first article I've had published in CAT (but hopefully the first of many!) and besides being apt for the conditions right now, it explains most of what a novice or first-time barbel angler needs to consider to have a go at catching summer barbel, after work. If anyone reads it and wants some further info, then I'd be happy to respond via email or on here.

This months issue is a rivers special, with an extra 32 pages for the normal price of £2.95, so it's a bit of a bargain!

UPDATE - Click here to download and view the article in full, for free, from my website!

Now for the official line...

The River Special of Coarse Angling Today is in the shops today! It can also be downloaded via the Apple Newsstand.

This is what’s on offer:

 - Andrew Kennedy – Short Session Summer Barbel Fishing Like most anglers, Andrew works full time and has a family to support, so making the most of his time on the bank is crucial.
 - Bob Roberts – Barbel - Just Fabulous or Simply a Fad? Bob gives us his thoughts on the development of barbel fishing and why he thinks barbel are the new carp.
 - Dave Booth – Trent Barbel Past and Present Dave relives a memorable campaign on the River Trent.
 - Jerry Gleeson – Summer Floodwater Barbel Fishing Jerry has some tips for us in case the weather takes a turn for the worse and the rivers begin to rise.
 - Lee Swords – The Non-Tidal Trent The Trent specialist talks us through an early-season session.
 - Lewis Baldwin - A Tale of Two Rivers Lewis picks up his diary piece by recalling sessions on the River Wye and Dove.
 - Mick Wood – A Yorkshire Barbel Scene Mick offers his opinion on the state of modern-day barbel fishing in Yorkshire.
 - Mike Townsend – Hit for Six Mike raises the question: could the River Trent soon be challenging the more established southern rivers as a specimen chub venue.
 - Paul Elt – Summer Plans Paul talks about his preparations for the summer and the fish he will be targeting.
 - Paul Garner – Fishing Photography Part 3: Let There be Light Paul presents the third part of his six-part series.
 - Steven Du-Rieu – Steams and Dreams Streams are pretty unusual places really, says Steven.
 - Stewart Moss – The One that Got Away Stewart has compiled a few tales of sessions that will live long in the memory of the anglers involved, for all the wrong reasons.
 - Think Tank: Tony Gibson – Slippery Customers Tony Gibson talks us through the reasons why he was bitten by the eel bug again.

Plus, Kevin Clifford Editorial, Hot Seat, Spezzie Watch, Tackled Up, News, Press Releases and Reviews, and Where’s the Catch? and Drennan 7 Series competitions.

To download the issue from the iTunes Newsstand Click Here For those of you (like me!) who still like to have paper issues of magazines, you can take out an old-school postal magazine subscription of Coarse Angling Today on the Gifts4Anglers website, Here

You can also read my thoughts on the upcoming river season, and on why I love river fishing so much, in the following short piece on the FishingMagic website:

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Spombing maggots by the gallon for Tench & Bream

After our fairly successful session at Higham Farm last year, Shane and I decided on a return trip this Spring, again for 24 hours and again targeting the resident tench.

Shane had hatched a plan of attack and I liked it.  I really liked it.  This time we would fish on the Specimen Lake, which can only be fished on a 24 hour ticket.  Because of this, it tends to only attract carp anglers so the numerous other species resident in the lake only ever see the bank when they pick up a disgruntled carper's bait!  Specimen tench and bream were definitely on the cards, plus who knows what large roach and perch could lurk in there.

Besides fishing this lake, our approach was a little unorthodox too.  Rather than simply using scaled-back carp tactics, we would go armed with a couple of gallons of maggots each and fish positively by feeding aggresively - by introducing a large bed of maggots via a spomb, then topping the swims up when necessary.

I chose to hair rig a mixture of buoyant Drennan imitation maggots and live maggots to create a balanced Medusa bait designed to hover just above the lake bed, without any putty of shot to anchor it. 

To create the maggot medusa I threaded an imitation maggot lengthways onto the hair, followed by a small tied-on rig ring.  Then I threaded a mixture of real and fake maggots onto some 4lb mono with an eyed needle, passed the needle through the rig ring and then tied it off.  This is a really tidy way to attach numerous maggots to a hair.  Some anglers prefer to fish with just a couple of fake maggots but in this instance I wanted a big bait (I wouldn't have complained too much if one of the specimen lake's "nuisance fish" carp picked up my bait!) that would stand out over the large bed of loosefed maggots.

My balanced maggot medusa rig ready to fish on the helicopter rig setup.
My medusa rig for the margin rod, clearly showing the fake maggot on the hair and two fake maggots tied on with the real ones.  Also note this bait is glugged & ready to cast.
Shane got off work earlier than I did and had prepared the swims by the time I arrived.  With only a couple of hours daylight left I quickly got settled in and cast out.  I could have gone with a swimfeeder to introduce free offerings close to my hookbait, but I opted instead for PVA stockings stuffed with maggots.

My two baited spots were a marginal corner with overhanging bushes to my right, and at the bottom of the drop-off from an island straight in front of me.  

For the margin rig I opted for a free-running rig with an Avid Carp PVA bag clip attached to the lead eye:

PVA stocking full of maggots, attached to the lead eye via an Avid Carp PVA clip

For the island rig I setup an inline lead to be fished helicopter-style, with a PVA bag clip attached to what would be the hooklink swivel if it was fished inline:

My adapted in-line lead setup to fish helicopter style.  This was a really effective rig, both as an anti-tagle rig and as a fish-catching rig.
The helicopter rig loaded up and ready to cast out.

Things started well for me, as I quickly landed 2 bream - including a new PB of 7lb 15oz - and a perch before sunset, then everything went quiet.

A good bream from Higham Farm specimen lake - a very promising start...

I got plenty of sleep because my alarms barely sounded all night. I did recast the rigs with fresh maggot stockings a couple of times, to keep some bait going in.

Just before daybreak I was awoken by a screaming run on the margin rod. After a gutsy fight around the tree roots and low branches to my right, I got the shakes. I could see I was attached to a nice tench which would easily break my very modest PB. I finally had control of the fish and was guiding it across the surface towards my landing net when everything went slack! Hook pull! Damn it!

I swore quietly at myself for letting a golden opportunity for a PB tench slip through my fingers. Then I snapped myself out of my navel gazing and hastily rebaited the rod (I also changed the hook for a different pattern, just in case) and dropped the rig back in the marginal spot. I didn't have to wait long for this rod to scream away again and - although not a PB - I soon had a lovely tench on the bank.

A lovely tench which almost made up for the bigger one I lost earlier.

That was it for the margin rod, no more bites were forthcoming. But in the first hour of daylight the other rod began to see some action again. A shoal of bream had moved back over the bait - almost 12 hours after they last gave me a bite - and I proceeded to land a couple from in front of the island in a frantic hour before things went dead for the whole day.
A pair of decent bream from a small specimen carp lake

I was fishing on a 24 hour ticket and I knew I would be leaving just before the feeding spell had kicked in the evening before. I prepared the swim during the afternoon, laying down more bait, then packed everything up except the rods, alarms, bait and net. I started getting line bites and very tentative bites, but nothing proper and soon my 24 hours was up and I had to vacate the swim. I learned a lot about the venue's potential, and also about fishing with maggots for larger fish - a technique I'll be using plenty in future.

Tuesday 30 April 2013

Farm lake carp - tales of the unexpected

There are some things that as anglers we just can't resist.  Such as an invitation to try out a neglected old farm lake "to see what's in it".  The chances are it could be a real duffer; a puddle devoid of everything but sticklebacks and dragonfly nymphs, but there's always that chance.  That pesky chance.

So upon receiving one of these extremely rare opportunities, I couldn't refuse.  A farmer was investigating the possibility of selling the fishing rights to a couple of acre lake on his property, which had been neglected and unfished (bar the odd poacher) for years.  A quick recce was all I could fit in initially, but I spotted a few carp up to high doubles, maybe even a twenty, plus a half-decent tench hanging in the shade of a fallen tree.  I'd also spotted a lightning fast tail swirl in the margins that really shouted "pike" to me, so I made a mental note to visit properly the following spring.

It was difficult to know what tackle to take with me because I wanted to get an accurate cross-section of the species present in the water, but I also hoped to catch the lakes largest residents - whatever they may be - to help the farmer to get interest from local angling groups.  So I took the the whole gun rack!  Armed to the teeth I was, with tackle for every species that could possibly swim in the lake.

This scattergun approach, which often tempts my chaotic mind, usually leaves me with a complete lack of focus and thus, I miss out on catching fish by chopping and changing too much.  However, on this occasion I knew I had to be versatile; it was pointless fishing for pike if none were present and it was pointless hoping for a specimen roach or rudd if it didn't contain those species.

After my recce I'd decided my best chance of a specimen would be to mainly target the carp & tench, have an occasional chuck around with a lure, and have a dabble with maggots to see what else might reside in this mysterious water.

I raked a few swims when I arrived and almost had to give up on my rake in a weedy corner.  It hit a snag and went solid, no amount of pulling would shift it.  I had to go wading through the overgrown, stinking silty margins to get an opposite angle of pull and thankfully I eventually got my rake back.  Now I was in two minds; I had found a snag which may hold fish, but would the disturbance I caused by 15 minutes of tugging on a snagged rake have caused the fish to abandon this sanctuary?  I opted to bait up this corner and rest it whilst I explored the other swims I'd raked.

It was slow going for a while.  I saw no signs of fish except for a few jack pike and a larger one of around 12lb, resting in the margins.  I didn't need to catch these as I had a good visual confirmation of their presence, plus pulling a lure through the shallow margins they were laid up in would more likely spook them than tempt them to strike.

My legered baits over the raked areas got no interest and I decided to have a bash with maggots on the float.  I was aghast when after half an hour of this I'd caught nothing but a micro-perch.  Still, it was another species I hadn't previously known was present.  I later spotted some small rudd and possibly roach, but they were tiny and I decided not to focus on these any longer.

So it came time to cast into the reed-fringed corner where I'd found the snag.  I had baited with some groundbait laced with a few mixed pellets, grains of corn, maggots, casters and broken boilies.  Once again, the kitchen sink treatment!  I liberally poured over some liquid coconut flavouring to appeal to the sweet tooth of any nearby tench or carp.  I then opted to fish an inline lead set-up to drop-off if it got snagged, with a short braided hooklink and a dynamite stick of the same groundbait mix added before each cast.  Hookbait was a stack of real and fake corn on one rod (which was the "searcher" rod I cast around to other areas) and on the rig going into the corner I hair-rigged a 12mm pineapple popup.

 Because the lake wasn't fished, the banks were completely overgrown and access to some of the "pegs" involved crawling with the tackle through some dense hawthorn bushes, nettles and other vegetation.  This is something that would have to be looked at if the venue was developed!  It also meant that although the corner I was fishing in had good casting access to almost half the lake, I was penned in by vegetation at both sides.  This was to become an issue later on...

With the traps set, I waited and waited, gradually losing confidence that there was anything worth catching present.  A passer-by stopped and chatted.  He told me that over the winter there had been a gang of men on the water, up the trees dragging a large net through the lake!  He had assumed they were the owners netting it to move the fish.  I was assured by the farmer that this wasn't the case, so who knows where anything they caught ended up.  Another venue?  On the dinner table...?

My heart sank.  Was I fishing somewhere that had been poached to death?  Would the carp & tench I saw the previous year have been removed by these unscrupulous individuals?  Was this the reason that all I'd seen were small pike and small silver fish?

It was early afternoon and I was running plans through my head of what venues I could move to, to fish in a similar way but actually have a chance of getting a bite.  I decided to give things another hour and if nothing happened I'd drive half an hour or so to a club lake I'd always meant to get around to fishing.  About fifteen minutes later the bobbin on the rod cast to the corner snag smacked the underside of the rod and the baitrunner hit warp speed!  I clumsily fell sideways off my chair, probably out of shock more than anything, and picked up the rod as I laid on the floor.

As I leapt to my feet the water was broken by the huge shoulders of a carp, which kited to my right with phenomenal pace, skirting reeds as it went.  I gave it as much sidestrain as I dared, which was just enough to keep the fish swimming and not getting its nose into the reeds.  Eventually the reedbed ended and a large bush was partly submerged on the far bank.  I realised I had to gain some line because at its current trajectory, the carp would plunge straight into said bush.  It knew where it was heading a long time before I did!

So I pumped the rod and managed to gain some line which steered the fish just short of the bush, but it didn't let up the pace in the slightest.  By now the fish had swum more than 180 degrees in an almost perfect curve and when it reached open water I realised that if it tried to complete the circle it would hit the reeds and submerged bushes round the corner to my right, in the near margin.  I reeled for dear life, barely managing to keep up with the speed of the fish.  I didn't gain enough line and the fish did indeed keep up its circular route and before I knew it, the carp was 20 feet from me, 3 feet from the bank, floundering just the other side of a small bush in the water.  I managed to free my line from the reeds it had gone through to get there, by flicking the rod tip upwards, but the line was snagged in the bush.

I had no choice but to go in with the net and hope the fish didn't try to bolt before I got there, or it was goodnight Vienna!  This sounds simple, but there was a wild rose bush to circumvent and the water was far deeper than my wellies.  I went for it and in a few swift strides, I got my net round the back of the bush and enveloped the carp within it.  Without hesitation I bit my mainline because this was the only way I'd free it.  A bit of bushwacking got me and the fish safely back to the bank.  I was scratched all over from the rose bush and my wellies were full of stinking silty water, but I cared little because I knew I had a PB carp in the net.

I used to fish for carp regularly, at local waters containing few fish above mid-doubles and hence, my PB hovered around mid-doubles before I lost interest with carp fishing in general and sought to pursue a wider range of quarry.  I've limited my carp fishing in the past decade and a half to the odd bit of the methods I love best, stalking, float fishing and surface fishing.  I stalked a fish just shy of 19lb on a worm a good few years ago and whilst it would have been great to have caught a twenty, I wasn't bothered about putting a campaign in to catch one, there are many species I care more about.

It was almost like this fish was sent to test my apathy towards carp, because not only had it mentally and physically left me in tatters, it was a beautifully proportioned, pure chunk of muscle; a dazzling specimen.  To cap it off, this fish was a slow-growing leather carp and it was still in possession of that holy grail of carp fishing, its "curtains".  This was definitely a virgin fish!  It tipped the scales at a very satisfying 24lb 9oz and I'm thrilled and privileged to have such a pristine, previously uncaught fish as my PB.  A definite selling point for the farmer to pitch to angling clubs:

After this huge disturbance I decided to rest this swim and I'd noticed some floaters I'd catapulted up the lake were getting some interest, so I spent an hour or so gaining their confidence and getting an idea of which the largest individuals were.  There were two fish which looked mid to upper doubles and once I was happy they were taking well I made a cast.   The wind was blowing down the centre of the lake and soon my rig was blown well out of the feeding area, so with my second cast I used the wind to my advantage, casting away from the fish and waiting for the bait and controller to drift over them.  It worked a treat and within minutes I hooked one of the bigger pair.  It was a much less eventful scrap than the first fish, owed partly to the shape of the common carp, which was very short and stumpy, with a very short tail wrist.  At 16lb 3oz it was a good fish off the surface and further proof of the lake's potential.

Further baits introduced in this swim failed to raise any carp, so I returned to my corner swim and within half an hour of casting I had a much more hesitant take on the pineapple pop-up, resulting in a tench just shy of 3lb.  Another species that I could provide the farmer with photographic proof of.  I fished on into dark and had no further action, but I was mightily satisfied with my efforts, especially after such a slow and unpromising start.  It was an absolute dream come true to fish such a water which no-one else had access to.  I think I showed what potential the place has and I'm fairly sure I landed its larger resident.  Who knows, I had a great day but I have no plans on returning, however, I wish the farmer every success with opening the venue up to more people, as and when it happens.

Mission accomplished!

Monday 22 April 2013

Caught In The Act - Parts 1 & 2 - DVD Review - Bob Roberts & Stu Walker

Caught In The Act - Parts 1 & 2 (Spring & Summer) DVD review

I recently reviewed the excellent "Caught In The Act" 2 x DVD set by Bob Roberts & Stuart Walker for FishingMagic.  You can read the full review at the following link, but I've also included a few snippets below:

"From the very moment you set eyes on the package the atmosphere is already building...  Press play and the atmosphere further builds with the epic, soaring classical title music which seems to audibly frame the stunning intro visuals perfectly. By this point I was already sucked in and couldn’t wait to see what came next." 

"Both anglers exude enthusiasm and confidence alongside a genuine belief and interest in what they’re doing whenever they are on screen."

"There are no fancy rigs or ‘You must use this specific tackle item or you won’t catch’ and the rigs that are used are well explained, with a few bonus tips...  The mixture of short but well-articulated rig and tackle talks in each act blend effortlessly into the film between scenic wide-angle shots, close-ups of the anglers in action and of course, the quality underwater footage." 

"Every single one of the acts made me want to go out and fish myself, which is surely the ultimate test of any fishing programme.  I highly recommend that you watch CITA to judge for yourself, but I would rate it as one of the best fishing programmes I’ve watched since ‘A Passion’ (For Angling)"

You can find out more information about CITA on the Caught In The Act Facebook Page:

If you're already convinced you can order CITA at the following page on on Bob Roberts' Website:

Or if you still need some convincing, you can view more clips from Caught In The Act on Stu's YouTube page:

Don't forget you can read my full review on FM here:

Friday 15 March 2013

Fishing on the Fast Show, Screaming Reels on 4oD and a few interesting links

The Fast Show goes Fishing

I still love the Fast Show.  A popular opinion is that it revived a genre - the sketch show - which many said was dead, but I think it defined the genre and set a high water mark which no other sketch show has ever reached.  Maybe I'm biased because this programme was on TV during my early teens and was duly lapped up and mimicked by me and my peer group at school.  In fact I specifically remember a golden TV scheduling season, when The Fast Show and Nick Fisher's Screaming Reels (which you can now watch on 4oD here: and on YouTube!) were both broadcast on the very same night!

Comedian Paul Whitehouse is famously an angler in his spare time, as well as an Angling Trust Ambassador.  He often allows his passion to influence his comedy writing, whether it's Ted's futile attempts at teaching Ralph how to fly fish, to convincing Aviva to let him create an angling character, Ollie the Fisherman, for a nationwide advertising campaign!

My personal favourite example of Whitehouse writing angling into comedy has to be the following sketch, with Simon Day playing the brilliantly obnoxious "Competitive Dad", who takes his son Peter fishing for the first time... 

"Don't get cocky Peter.  You're not an American!"  Brilliant clip!

Watching this it's obvious that Whitehouse is an angler.  The tackle and many of the terms & references are authentic; he's obviously had some major input in the writing of this scene.  The angling anoraks ("angloraks"?) amongst us will notice that Simon Day is set-up with a spinner which he just casts out and leaves, rather than retrieving.  No wonder he doesn't catch!

Pike chokes to death on Zander in Netherlands:

We've all heard the bulls*t stories of how gluttonous pike can be, "A pike ate my bull mastif/4x4/mother-in-law...", but this article shows one which really did bite off more than it could chew.  The zander's dorsal spikes failed to put off it's aggressor and this was the result:
Pike chokes to death on Zander
You can read the full story on the BBC News website here:

There's also another related story on the Daily Mail website, about a pike found choked to death on a carp in Suffolk.  I've seen various fishing-related stories on there over the years and they're usually made cringeworthy by the ropey photographs and quotes from their subjects and "experts" (although in this case with Bruno Broughton they at least found an actual expert!), but I had to chuckle at the final sentence, referring to taxidermy costs:  "'So after a couple of days I had to bury it,' said Mr Walker." 

Human sedative drugs making fish greedy?:

Fat Perch fish
Fat Perch!
According to this online article citing the journal "Science", a study carried out on the feeding activities of perch suggests that residues of benzodiazepine passed in human urine may be present in watercourses, in such concentrations that it can "turn fish into greedy, risk-taking loners"!  Maybe that explains why there are so many big perch around nowadays!

These findings suggest that there is a need to improve sewage treatment so that the chemicals from medications we take don't find their way into rivers, where - as this study suggests - their effects on the natural world can't be predicted.

Monday 25 February 2013

Hydropower - Environment Agency Consultation ends March 2nd

This is just a quick, but very important one.  The Angling Trust is urging all anglers out there (AT members or not), to respond to an Environment Agency consultation about their "best practice guidelines" for potentially destructive and controversial Hydropower schemes.  The public can add comments to the consultation without logging in to the EA website, which will help sway decisions made about future legislation imposed upon the operators of these schemes.

This type of electricity-generation scheme looks set to become more widespread in the UK but through both water abstraction and the fish-mincing turbines which are driven by water flow to generate electricity, such schemes pose a massive danger to both resident and migratory fish stocks and the quality & availability of river fishing.

This particular consultation focuses on setting water flow rates & abstraction limits and it's important that angling, fish stocks and other environmental issues are given utmost consideration when setting these limits.  As anglers we need to ensure that opinion swings in this direction, which is why the Angling Trust has offered advice on how to respond to the consultation, to ensure we're all pulling in the same direction. 

Please take a few minutes to read through the information and guidance on the Angling Trust website and follow the link to respond to the EA consultation, which can all be found here:

Be quick though, the consultation closes on Saturday 2nd March.

Fish deaths caused by Hydropower turbines

I'm all for us producing "green" energy from non-fossil fuel sources; it's an issue the whole world needs to address immediately, but surely when a means of generating power is damaging to the environment in other ways, it can't be considered "green"!  Killing wildlife, preventing migration, disrupting natural river flows and potentially drying up spawning grounds, in my view is neither "green", "environmentally-friendly" or "sustainable".

As anglers, we need to stand united, vehemently against the construction of these hydropower sites, which produce a preposturously low amount of electricity.  The Environment Agency has identified 26,000 sites nationwide which are suitable for hydropower installations.  So even if you don't think this issue affects you, it WILL be considered at a river near you!  Even if all 26,000 proposed schemes are introduced, their combined output will constitute less than 0.5% of the country's electricity needs!  There are far more viable alternatives which aren't nearly as destructive.

Towards the end of last year the Angling Trust's legal arm, Fish Legal, won a landmark case on behalf of anglers to stop the construction of a hydropower scheme on Sawley weir on the river Trent.  The fishing on this section is controlled by Pride of Derby, of which I've held membership for over a decade.  I'm delighted that Fish Legal were able to take on this case on behalf of the club and its members, and won.  This action alone has justified my Angling Trust membership, which I have taken out every year since the Trust was formed (I was an ACA member for years before that). 

It shows the power and influence that a unified body for angling can use and although everything the Trust does may not be in every anglers' personal interest, the many benefits to angling as a whole are clear to see.

There will be a lot of companies looking to make a lot of money from these hydroschemes so they will be very determined to get them pushed through, but if we are vocal against it and stand together, we can stop them.

Saturday 9 February 2013

The Best of my Barbel fishing from last Summer

New Years resolution:  Update my blog more regularly!

Three-quarters of the river season has already flown by since I last wrote, which is extremely slack of me, but hopefully there are still a few people out there interested in reading, so I'll update on how my Summer fishing went and then I plan to do a small post on what I've done since (unfortunately not many fish to write about since November!), by which point I should be back in the habit of writing on here more regularly.

The good news is that the fishing I did over the Summer was generally excellent!  I concentrated on a single river, the Derbyshire Derwent, and on a single species, Barbel.

The regular rain certainly helped this Summer, keeping the levels topped up and keeping the barbel feeding confidently.  So many times in the past 4 or 5 seasons, I've heard anglers moaning - on the bank and on the internet - about the low river levels making barbel fishing difficult.  Personally, I never moaned because I still managed to find a good few fish, but I must say that sport was definitely better this season with a bit of extra water and colour in the system.

I've recently published an article on FishingMagic covering the tactics I employed last year and I have an idea for a magazine feature ready for the beginning of the 2013/14 season too, so I won't cover any of that here but all of the fish were caught using large open-end swimfeeders filled with groundbait, mixed pellets and hemp, in conjunction with long mono hooklengths and a mixture of baits.

As usual, my barbel sessions were short, after-work affairs where I started in daylight but fished on into darkness.  I caught a lot of barbel in the 8 to 10lb bracket, with a few going a bit larger.  I was also very pleased to land a pair of smaller fish though.  People I speak to on the bank have shared my concerns over the seeming lack of small barbel in our local rivers.  Regular floods in the Summers surely haven't helped with recruitment, but there does seem to be a distinct lack of fish below 6lb in the Dove, Derwent and Trent.  So, when I had my first barbel double hook-up, I was glad to see a pristine smallish barbel drop into the net.  After a bit of a struggle I also landed the second barbel without letting the first escape!  What a surprise, after landing nothing even close to this size for quite some time, both fish were like peas in a pod!  Two fish of around the 4lb mark which were obviously of the same year class and probably shoal-mates.  They were both fighting fit and after a quick snap which was sadly blurred by a raindrop on the lens, they were quickly returned to hopefully become the next generation of Derwent heavyweights.  You can now read my article - "A Summer of Barbel" - on Fishing Magic.

Double hook-up landed!

Here are some of the best shots of a number of 8-10lb barbel that I landed last Summer:
Summer Barbel
Summer Barbel Fishing
Quality BarbelBarbel
Big BarbelSummer River Barbel
River Derwent Barbel

For the first time I took more than three double-figure barbel in a Summer which, considering that I maybe fit in 15 to 18 sessions averaging 4 hours each, I don't think is bad going.  These fish went 10lb 1oz:

Double Figure Derwent Barbel

10lb 7oz:

10lb Barbel

10lb 8oz (which I later realised was a recapture of the fish above, 17 days later):

Big Summer Barbel

And to top off the lot, I managed to land myself a new PB!  This fish was landed about an hour before the double hook-up above, from the same swim.  Clearly the larger Derwent fish aren't in such an abundance that they only mix with individuals of a similar size and year class, as these fish must surely have been shoaled together to be caught from the same place in such quick succession.  The fish put up an epic scrap, one that I was sure I would lose at several points, which I've described in the FishingMagic article.  The fish weighed 13lb 1oz and added almost 2lb to my personal best.

13lb 1oz Double Figure Derbyshire Derwent Barbel

Other Species

The only brief distraction I had, in terms of other species, was a couple of very short sessions tench fishing.  I chose to fish with the most simple tactics, and used the Lift Method in the margins to land a few hard-fighting tench.

A mallard close to my float on Brierley Park Pond

I also used a centrepin reel on a stillwater for the first time and thankfully landed a fish on it too:

Tench caught using the Lift Method with a Centrepin reel

I have another article pending about my trips to Brierley Park Pond, where I caught these tench.

That wraps up the highlights of my Summer captures and my intention is to be back in the next few days to summarise my Autumn & Winter fishing so far.

R.I.P. Terry Lampard

Between me starting to write this post and me publishing it, I was saddened to hear of the sudden passing of one of greatest specimen anglers of all time, Terry Lampard. His captures and achievements over the decades speak for themselves and, having never met him, I can't add much that hasn't already been said elsewhere. What I can say is that he was an inspiration to a great many anglers - myself included - and widely revered & respected. Never one to shout his own praises, Terry was understated and humble, possibly even unaware of just how good an angler he was, or of the number of anglers he inspired.

Terry's death is a very sad loss to angling, but his contribution to specimen fishing over a great many years will ensure he will never be forgotten. My thoughts go out to his family and friends.

Ian Welch has written a brief and eloquent Obituary of Terry Lampard on FishingMagic which explains a little about his life and summarises and some of his captures and achievements.

Thursday 3 January 2013

Winter Blues - Pike and Barbel Fishing

I only had time to get out fishing once between Christmas and new year.  I'd had a pike fishing itch to scratch for a while and despite conditions which were far from ideal after the bout of mild weather and heavy rain, I decided to pike fish on the Dove, which is a spate river and therefore it's notorious for the speed at which the level rises and colour increases.  So it was to my dismay, but no surprise, that I arrived to find the river coloured and rising!  I should have been barbel fishing but my heart was set on piking, so I had taken my barbel rods out of the van before I left home!

I sat it out regardless and fished to the conditions as best I could, but I only got a single dropped run all day.  A run I didn't even notice at the time because my float, cast to the far bank, would only stay in the slack water if I let out a big bow of line.  However, It was an extremely blustery day and the combination of wind and the flow meant my float was constantly dancing around all over the place, the drop-off was forever rising and falling and my alarm was sounding every few seconds.  That was frustrating enough, but when I reeled in and found my decent-sized roach was badly slashed but the teeth marks were all between the hooks, needless to say I was gutted!  From the size of the marks on the bait, the pike was probably a good one.  It must have picked the bait up sideways but failed to turn it around head-first before it moved off.  Maybe the movement of the line going down from the float spooked it or something.  I'm 99% sure that if I'd had a proper take I would have known straight away because the drop-off did ping off in the wind the odd time, just not on that cast!  Regardless of that, I decided to try and find somewhere more sheltered where I could fish without fear of unwittingly deep-hooking a fish.

I gambled on a move to the Pride of Derby complex, to try on one of the lakes there for the last couple of hours.  However, when I arrived at the gates, this was the sight that greeted me:

The heavy rain had pushed so much water into the Trent that it had flooded the entire adjacent lake complex.  This seemed like a bad thing until I considered that the floodwater would probably mean I was the only angler there.  I was in a van, and thought I might have the height to drive through the water to get to some high ground that I could fish from.  So, not one to be put off from a fishing trip easily, I unlocked the gates and gingerly inched the van into the water, hanging my head out of the window to both monitor the depth and spot the edge of the track; one place I definitely didn't want to end up was on the surrounding underwater grass, or I'd be stuck there until the waters receded!  Unfortunately my pluckiness didn't pay off, the water got so deep that I feared I might damage my van, so I had to slowly reverse back out of the venue.  Had I had my thigh waders with me I could have walked to a peg, but they aren't part of my usual winter kit so they were at home!  I thought about driving back to the Dove, but the combination of the poor piking conditions and by now, falling light, meant I decided to call it a day.  Sometimes you have to know when it's time to quit.

I did bump into James Gould and Stu Walker (who's been filming "Caught In The Act" and previously "Barbel Days & Ways" with Bob Roberts) during the day.  They were barbel fishing and I conceded that this was where the smart money was on such a day.  Why the hell had I taken those barbel rods out!  Both chaps were really friendly and I even got a flattering "It's Andrew, isn't it?  I've read some of your stuff..." from Stu, but I then felt pretty stupid because I recognised him too, but I couldn't quite remember where from, or what his name was.  D'oh!

Despite my feeling that the conditions had been ideal for barbel, I got in touch with Stu & James later and found that they had just the one fish between them all day, which didn't show until after dark.
Before that mild & wet spell ended, I got in an after-work session myself and this time set my stall out for barbel.  I'd soaked some boilies in a spicy, fishy mix and done similar with some luncheon meat in preparation.  There wasn't a fish within a mile that could have avoided smelling my baits!  It was pleasant to sit out in, despite not casting out until 8pm, and despite seeing the odd fish rolling and conditions seemingly perfect, I didn't get as much as a twitch on the rod tip.  So, maybe there just wasn't a fish within a mile!