Categories
Joe Chappell Lure River

A Soggy Morning

I walked through the door at 4am with a belly full of alcohol and kebab. I stumbled up the stairs as quietly as I could as to not disturb my mum and dad who were fast asleep. I opened my bedroom door more cautiously than a prisoner might do while escaping the bars locking them inside. I got into bed and the warm hug of my duvet sent me to sleep almost instantly despite the loud, continuous ringing in my ears.  

Just two hours later my dad poked his head around my bedroom door to tell me it was time to get up. I was surprisingly untired and still feeling a little giggly from last nights intoxication. After getting dressed in three layers and a glass of fresh cold water it was time to leave. Destination: The River Chelmer. Target: Something Toothy.

My dad and I arrived at Hoe Mill lock and were greeted by my dad’s childhood friend Russle and a couple of his ex-work colleagues Brian and Andy. They were all using light perch set-ups however I opted to try for something hopefully larger, a pike. We planned to walk west, towards Paper Mill lock where we were going to stop for a bite to eat.

It was my first time fishing the Chelmer despite it being so close to me. The river looked stunning in the morning glow. It was surprisingly clear and there was a nice amount of water flowing through. The air was crisp and fogging up in front of my nose with every breath. I was thankful of the many layers of clothing I had on.

After no more than 20 casts, something tried to attack my lure. Unfortunately, it was just as I was lifting the lure out of the water and nothing came of it. The early indication of feeding fish was really promising and we all hoped that it was a sign of what was to come.

The five of us kept moving along, leapfrogging each other and trying different spots. There was a likely looking spot along some reeds and I made the perfect cast. I brought my lure parallel with the bank and something struck my lure. I struck in return and it was fish on! My prize was small jack pike which was in perfect condition. Its green scales glinted in the morning sun and it stared back at me with a toothy  grin. We took a quick snap before returning it back to it’s watery lair.

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We marched on but the ground was treacherous and slippery and clogged our boots with thick mud. We made cast after cast, the wet braid numbed my hands to the point where I had to ask my dad to change lure for me. I had to swap over from the lure I was using because I had straightened out the hook on a snag.     

The rain started but we soldiered on, perch, pike and bacon in our sights. Finally after a couple of hours Andy managed to catch a fish. It wasn’t the perch he was after but a toothy little pike.

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We had all under anticipated the walk between hoe mill and paper mill. With the stopping to fish, it was 4 hours before we made it. We were all wet and hungry. I set my gear down and realised that my lure box was missing. My bag was open so I wasn’t sure if it had fallen out or whether maybe I’d left it where I last changed lure. I just hoped we would find it on the way back.

We stopped off at the café at papermill, the food was really great and the cake was nice too. I’d recommend a stop there if you’re passing by and feeling a bit peckish.

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The choice of setup for my dad.

After filling our bellies we were back on the move. We did much less fishing on the way back. The ground was duplicitous, one minute we were ankle deep in mud and the next we were slipping like Bambi. Thankfully I found my lure box but unfortunately, none of us caught anything on the way back.

Despite the poor fishing, it was a fun day out. It was nice to catch up with Brain the Bridge Troll Holland and Russle, it was nice to meet Andy for the first time too. It was great to spend some time fishing with my dad and I finally got one back on him because last time we went fishing he caught the only pike of the day.

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The pike my dad caught on New Years Eve.
Categories
Coarse Joe Chappell River

Big Barbel, Beginners Luck?

Last weekend I took part in a lure fishing competition on the Lancaster canal. Somehow I ended up coming second out of over 20 people which was a complete shock for me. I’ve only been lure fishing for a couple years and before last month I’d only ever dabbled in it. I never entered to win, for me it was about meeting people and learning. I met some great guys on the day and one of them, James, offered to take me barbel fishing.

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The longest pike of the competition which helped me secure second place.

I’d never been barbel fishing before but it was always something I’ve wanted to do. The stories I’d heard about how hard they fight had me set on catching one but the opportunity had never arose. James and I both had Thursday free and he offered to take me barbel fishing on the River Ribble. The Ribble runs through Preston which is only half an hour from Lancaster where I am at university. Apparently, the best barbel fishing comes in the evening and night so we left around 3pm.

We arrived at the river and it was surprisingly low. Just the previous week it was in flood however James thought that it still looked really good for a fish or two. We chose a couple of swims next to each other and got the rods out. I only brought limited gear to uni with me so my rod of choice was a 6ft 2lb stalking rod. I hoped that the length wouldn’t hinder my casting too much or put too much line in the water. Thankfully the river wasn’t flowing too fast and I was managing to hold bottom with 3oz.

As suggested by James, I opted to use a simple hair rig of about 18 inches on a running ledger set up. My first bait of choice was 2 14mm halibut pellets however after the first cast they had fallen off. I subsequently decided to use just 1 pellet topped with a small piece of buoyant fake corn. I hoped this would prevent the pellet falling off. We also used small pva bags of pellet on each cast as well as catapulting a few handfuls of pellet over our spots.

The sun set below the horizon and cloud cover prevented the moon from shining down on us. It was a dry night with a slight breeze. The weather was really nice. We’d been there for nearly two hours and I was in James’s swim having a chat. A friend rang me to discuss some coursework so I headed back to my swim.

We were talking for no longer than 2 minutes when a fish picked up my bait and line slowly peeled off my reel. I ran to my rod before telling my mate I’d call him back in a minute. I shouted down the bank to James and he came running over. The fish felt good and my rod was coping nicely. The fish went on a few runs before James scooped it up in the net and we exchanged high 5’s. The fish looked really big and James said it looked like it could be double figures. My heart was racing, there was no way my first barbel was going to be a double.

We weighed it in the net and the scales tipped around to 12lb 8oz. The question now was how much did the net weigh? I was ecstatic and we took some photos before allowing the fish to rest in the net. The fish swam off strong and it was time to weigh the net and see if I’d just done the unimaginable. The net came in at 2lb 4oz meaning I’d gone and caught a 10lber as my first barbel. I was over the moon.

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The Prince of the River

The rods went back out and we waited, and waited. Nearly 2 hours had passed and we were both getting restless. I was in James’s swim and he suggested we could try somewhere further upstream with deeper water. We decided to give it another half an hour as we’d both had a couple knocks.  As if on que, James had a savage bite. The result was another great barbel which weighed in just a few ounces under 10lb.

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James and his barbel

We decided it would be best to stay where we were for the rest of the night. Unfortunately I didn’t catch anything else however James caught a lovely 5lb chub. Even though I had just the one fish I cant complain at all. It was more than I could ever have hoped for. It was great to get to know my new friend James a bit better too and I can’t thank him enough for putting me on some fish. Hopefully there’s some more barbel in store for me this year and if not, I’ll definitely be giving them a good go next year when hopefully I’ll have passed my driving test.

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Categories
Carp Coarse Guest Lure River

A Little Piece of Essex Found in Switzerland

If you are a regular reader of the blogs on Essex Anglers, you may recall the many blogs my son Joe has written over the past 18 months or so. Unfortunately, both of us have now “partially” moved away from Essex although we have both moved to completely different locations. Joe went off to University and now resides in Lancaster and I relocated to Switzerland almost a year ago for work.

First of all it needs to be said that if you’re not familiar with the geography of Switzerland, the country is landlocked, surrounded by Italy, France, Germany and Austria. For a predominantly sea fisherman like myself, that provides a very unique challenge as the sea is many, many hours away.

But I wanted to fish. Therefore, my choices were to either reduce my fishing exploits considerably or adapt to what many people reading this blog see as their only form of fishing – freshwater. So that’s what I did. It’s not that I’ve never dabbled with freshwater fishing. Before coming to Switzerland I would regularly go with my son Joe, who prefers freshwater fishing to sea fishing. But unbelievably, I’d never actually been freshwater fishing by myself.

I arrived in Switzerland in late November 2020 in the middle of a country-wide lockdown. The weather was dry but bitterly cold, hovering just above freezing most days. I was temporarily living in Zurich, about a 2-minute walk from Zurichsee / Lake Zurich (more on this lake soon) but due to the cold weather, I never actually saw a single person fishing at the lake.

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A map of Lake Zurich and the surrounding area.

A few months later, I relocated to a small village about 30 minutes from Zurich and was now about a 15 minute bus ride from lake Zurich. The weather was still cold in February and 45cm of snow soon fell and stayed around for weeks. Fishing was still some way off. During this time, I started to investigate the local area for fishing locations, tips etc and found the available information on the Internet to be absolutely woeful. No one talks about their fishing here and no one tells anyone else where to fish or what to use.

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Snow! Snow! Snow!

The one thing I did discover from my searches was the biggest challenge of fishing in Switzerland is that it’s heavily regulated and each canton (like a county) has their own unique rules and laws on fishing. In the canton of Zurich, they do allow a person to fish without a licence. But the fishing is limited to a single rod and only natural baits such as corn, maggots, worms or bread allowed. In addition, all rivers are rented by fishing clubs who will refuse anyone outside the club from fishing them. (It’s a shame because the rivers are absolutely teeming with life. I’ve seen stretches of river with stacks of 5lb+ Chub in a small 50-meter stretch!)

Fishing without a licence is possible, but its limited. You are unable to use lures, plastic worms, spinners or even pellets/boilies. There’s also a very strict law that every canton will follow – there’s virtually no catch and release. What you catch, you take! This law is alien to us but is in place to ensure that a fish doesn’t go through the same stress twice in its life (they are very big on animal welfare).

Even considering all of the regulations, I decided that I would go through the process of applying for a fishing licence. In the UK, we can apply and pay for a licence online and in a few minutes, fish completely legal. Well, this is Switzerland and nothing is ever simple here. You can’t actually apply for a fishing licence until you have completed an exam that goes through all parts of fishing, water management etc. The exam is called a SaNa and this must be completed and takes an entire day to complete – no exceptions. Once you have the SaNa, you can then apply for a licence. All of this costs money, quite a lot actually.

So, a few hundred quid in and now that I have my licence, I was able to fish without too many restrictions. All I needed now was some gear. Considering most things in Switzerland are super expensive, tackle is not and is either on-par with the UK or in some cases about 10-15% cheaper. The only downside I’ve found is that Switzerland absolutely love all forms of lure fishing and so the tackle shops cater for this in a huge way and general carp or float fishing tackle is contained to a small corner at the far end of the shop. Very different to the average tackle shop in the UK which is the complete opposite.

After buying what I needed to try my luck at lure fishing, I set off to Lake Zurich in the hope of a Perch or two. I was told by the tackle shop where to fish and what to use and what to expect. Apparently, Perch above 40cm come out of the lake fairly regularly with the odd 50cm fish each year! To most UK fishermen that target Perch, this is the stuff of dreams so I was hopeful lady luck would sprinkle some pixie dust on me. Those hopes were very quickly dashed. I think I blanked on 4 trips before I finally caught my first Perch which was about 10cm, not 40.

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My first fish from Switzerland. (If you don’t count the frozen fish from the supermarket)

But by now the weather was improving and the lake was warming up. I’d spoken to a few locals who told me that most people only fish from May-Oct when the water is at its warmest. When it’s cold, the good fish go deep, very deep. Lake Zurich has an average depth of about 80 meters and is about 120 meters at its deepest. Casting out just 40 or 50 meters into the lake is like shore fishing in the UK. The lead hits the water and then continues to take line for sometimes upwards of 15 seconds. Not what I was expecting in a freshwater lake.

I persevered with artificial worms using both Carolina and Texas rigs for several more weeks with some very limited success, catching plenty of small perch but nothing to ever get excited about. I’d never fished this way before but was confident that eventually I’d have the success I was hoping for as this was a method I was seeing used by virtually every local that lure fished.

The following week I was trying to catch some pesky Perch under a jetty freelining with a worm when a South African came up and asked how I was getting on. “Shocking” probably wasn’t the answer he was expecting but I’m British and we say it how it is. We soon got talking about all things fishy in our own countries and 30 minutes later, he had returned with 2 rods and we started fishing together.

My luck had been pretty poor until that day but over the course of the day I finished with 2 pretty good-sized Roach and a few very exotic looking fish called Pumpkinseeds. These are an invasive species and there is a law in place that dictates all Pumpkinseeds caught must be dispatched and not returned to the lake. Seems a shame but these fish are causing havoc with the native fish and out competing them for food, so something needs to be done.

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A pumpkinseed

Paul, my new South African fishing buddy is passionate about carp and other large specimen fish. Back home he lives 6 hours from the coast so the only fishing he has really done is in lakes and rivers. It was interesting to see the differences of tackle he uses to catch carp. One interesting looking piece was a hair rig set up, but with 2 completely separate hooks baited separately which was designed to improve the chances of catching (like he was sea fishing). Can you imagine what people would say if he were using a 2-hook rig on a lake in the UK? Paul and I fished together every weekend for a few weeks more, having moderate success although he did catch a large Bream from the lake by himself.

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Paul, my South African friend, with his huge bream.

Mid-summer came and with it, so did my wife and Joe my son for their summer holiday. They spent 10 days with me and I think we limited the fishing to about 3 days, which is quite good for us. Joe had reached out to someone on Instagram before he came over to enquire about fishing venues. By chance, the young lad (Aaron) had roots to Essex. His dad was born and raised in Burnham but had lived in Switzerland for 25 years (he still had a bit of the accent). What’s the chances eh? Well, this proved to be a good connection.

Aaron is an avid fisherman (as well as being a Swiss international Rugby player) with a preference to carp fishing. Unfortunately, as I have discovered carp fishing is very limited in Switzerland. He has a number of venues to fish, but unlike Essex that has dozens and dozens of venues, the local area to Zurich has very few. He took us to one lake in the middle of a wood which appeared more like a British lake. The lake was created by a river that had been dammed about a hundred years before and by all accounts, the ancient riverbed in the middle of the lake was where most of the big fish hung out. Being about 3 acres in size, casting into the fishy ancient river bed was possible.

The fishing tactics were simple and recognisable. We were either using method feeders or hair rigs with PVA bags. As we all had licences, boilies were permitted and handfuls of these were thrown out with a baiting stick to get the fish feeding. A few fish were coming in here and there but nothing too large.

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First fish of the day for Joe.

Only Aaron myself and Joe were fishing this lake and after about 3 hours, Aaron and Joe had both caught a few fish and started ribbing me that I was still blanking. I told them I was waiting for the biggest fish of the day, not the most. Little did I know what was about to happen. Just before lunchtime I caught two fish in quick succession. A small carp and a little tench. Joe had lost a fish on his feeder too.

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Tinca Tinca

We decided that it was time for lunch. The sun was hot and we had a belly full of meat from the BBQ (permanent community BBQs are regular sight in Switzerland).

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The Grill. These can be found all over Switzerland on hiking trails and around lakes.

All of a sudden, my alarm screeched and the line took off. I lifted my rod into the fish and was happy that it was definitely on and hadn’t spat the bait out. I was only using a light method feeder rod so the fish felt big, very big. I was worried about the light rod so a loosened the drag off a little and the fish took off. It was zigzagging all over the lake, taking line all the time. I was only using 10lb line so needed to manage this fish accordingly. Eventually, it stopped dead but was not coming in. Was it in some weed or maybe behind a fallen tree? I couldn’t tell, but it was still on and just sitting there somewhere deciding what to do next.

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I don’t think my rod could bend much further!

After a further few minutes, the fish suddenly started moving again. He was still taking line but was now moving which gave me some confidence that I would win this particular battle. After about 2 minutes he finally started to swim towards me and I was able to retrieve the line he had taken. Eventually, he came into the net and I could see it was a very solid looking common.

Strangely, it wasn’t as big as it had felt on the line and weighed in just shy of 10lb. (I honestly thought it was double that) But make no mistake here, this wasn’t some fat, lazy lake carp we get in the UK that’s been caught a dozen times. This was a wild carp. Living in an ancient, river fed lake that is rarely fished. It’s quite likely that this fish has never been caught before in its life as most fish including carp are taken and eaten. It may have been a small 10lb fish, but on very light gear it fought like a stallion and was an absolute joy to land.

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You can see why it fought so hard with a tail that size!

Now, according to the law of land, this beauty should be dispatched and taken home! Imagine my shock when it suddenly jumped out of my hands and landed straight back in the lake. What are the chances of that eh?

The day ended with a few more small carp and tench. As I had predicted earlier, I may not have caught the most, but I did catch the biggest.

Categories
Joe Chappell Sea

Finally Thorny

Towards the beginning of last month, my Dad and I headed to our local mark on the River Crouch in search of anything that would bite. We’ve fished the Crouch, with mixed success about a dozen times in the last few years because it’s only 10 minutes from home. We’ve caught the usual bass, whiting, dogfish and even a cod but the  Thornback Rays, which the river is renowned for have never played ball with us. With my dad working away in Switzerland and myself headed north for university, this was to be one of our last fishing sessions together of the year.

High tide was around 6:30 however we had to leave at 5:30 because I was heading out for dinner. We arrived at South Fambridge around 1 o’clock and made our way along the river towards an area known as the saltings. Although it’s about a 15 minute walk from where you park, the fishing is much better and the area of marsh means that your fishing away from the sea wall where you can get caught in rocks and weed. If you’re looking at fishing the saltings then make sure to check the height of the tide because anything over about 5.2m and you might be getting wet feet.

By 1:15 our first rods had been cast in. We were planning on fishing 2 rods with bigger baits out for the skate, 1 rod on a 2 hook flapper for anything that bites and 1 rod on a float with ragworm as we’d heard that this was working well for the late bass.  For this reason I hadn’t packed a 4th beach caster, instead I packed an old 12ft carp rod which I thought would be more suitable for float fishing.

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Some Great Ragworm from Trev Hooper

We hadn’t anticipated the strong winds. Upon arriving realising the strength of the wind, we decided that it would be too difficult to fish with the float. I wasn’t sure whether the carp rod would be able to cope with the heavier leads needed to hold bottom in the strong tides but rigged it up with an up and over rig anyway and baited up with a chunk of herring.

While rigging up my second rod, I hadn’t noticed the line slacken on my other rod rigged up with a 2 hook flapper. I tightened the line back up to the lead then the rod tip just hooped over. It was a classic ray bite. I excitedly picked the rod back up and started reeling. The fish didn’t put up much of a fight, as people say it can be almost like reeling in a carrier bag. It’s safe to say that I was delighted with my capture, it was the first ray that either of us had caught from the Crouch. We were surprised to catch it on the top hook of the 2 hook flapper which I had baited with only a three inch piece of ragworm.

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The herring on our up and over rigs wasn’t proving successful so we both opted to change over to squid. I pulled the head off the squid and stuffed it into the body before hooking it and wrapping it with bait elastic. I was really happy with the presentation. The squid had been in the water for about half an hour and I was debating bringing it in to put fresh bait on. Before I could decide, my rod hooped over and I was into my second skate of the day. This one felt much bigger and was darting left and right. It was putting a great bend into my 12ft carp rod. The tide still wasn’t in much and so we had to drag the fish a little way up the bank. As I was lifting the fish up the bank, the hook link snapped leaving the fish stranded on the clay. Without much hesitation I made my way down the slippery mud to unhook the fish and get a quick photo before slipping it back.

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It was about an hour before any other bites came. It was finally my dad’s turn to catch one. We were both standing by my rods when his rod hooped over and my dad rushed to his rod, nearly slipping in his haste. It was his first ever thornback ray from the shore and he was absolutely chuffed. This fish also fell to a whole squid.

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Shortly after slipping that fish back, I had another bite which resulted in another beautiful ray. This one fell to a whole ragworm and put up a great scrap on my 12ft carp rod.

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Around half an hour later, I was rebaiting one of  my rods. I looked up and my other rod  was on the floor along with the tripod. What had happened? Had it blown over? I picked up the rod and something pulled back. I noticed the line wasn’t where I had cast. The fish had kited around about 50ft to the left and would have swam over my over line had I not just reeled it in to change the bait. It was probably the smallest one of the day but more than welcome.

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Despite our best efforts, the last hour was drawing to a close and it was time to start packing up. As I mentioned at the start of the blog, I was heading out to dinner with some friends so we had to call it a day a little earlier than high tide. My dad went to reel his first rod in, ready to pack it away however the fish had other plans. He was hooked up but the fish on the end had given no indication that it was there. He reeled it in and it turned out to be the biggest fish of the day and brought out total fish count to six.

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We finished packing up in a hurry as the fish had put us slightly behind schedule. It was a great afternoon spent with my dad and the fishing made it even better. It might be our last proper fishing session together of the year so it was great to end things on a high note with some amazing fish caught.

Categories
Species Hunt

Joe Chappell – Thornback Ray

One of four thornback rays caught on an October session at the River Crouch.

Categories
Species Hunt

Joe Chappell – Gudgeon

A couple of Gudgeon caught on maggots from a small local river.

Categories
Species Hunt

Joe Chappell -Wells Catfish

A wells catfish Caught from Rochford Reservoir

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Categories
Carp Coarse Joe Chappell River

Making Memories

Last week, I had the pleasure of fishing my local small river with my dad. Due to him working away in Switzerland, we haven’t been fishing together as much as we usually would so it’s been nice to fish when we can.

We were hoping to do some sea fishing in the week however poor tide times meant that this wasn’t a viable option. Instead, we decided to spend Tuesday evening fishing on our local small river. After a quick trip to Pete’s Tackle to get some maggots and a few bits and bobs, we enjoyed some fish and chips before setting the gear up.

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This was my dads first ever time fishing on a freshwater river, so the aim of the session was to catch him some fish more than anything. I set one rod up on a light ledger and the other on a small float. For bait, we had worms, slugs, sweetcorn and of course maggots.

We started in a swim known as the pipe which was aptly named due to the large pipe running across the river. This point of the river is a little deeper than the rest, most likely due to the instillation of the pipe. I started my dad off on the float on worms and I just sat back and watched for a little while. He received a bite almost instantly however it may have been from smaller fish. We were baiting with maggots over the worm and we could actually see small roach and rudd coming up and taking the maggots mid water.

After 10 minutes, my dad had caught his first ever river fish, a meagre perch. It was only small but we were off the mark. This was shortly followed by slippery slimy eel.

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After this, I cast out my ledger rod and sat back and waited. We had been in the spot for about half an hour with little action so decided to give it 5 more minutes. Just then, we spotted a large shadow move into the swim. The fish was obviously big because despite the deep water, I could see its dark shadow with the aid of my polarised sunglasses. I really wanted my dad to catch it but he was struggling to see it without any polarised glasses. We had switched rods and I lowered a bunch of maggots in front of its nose. It turned and swam a foot in the other direction, I repositioned my bait and within 10 seconds, the float sunk under and I had struck. It was fish on!

It was a large carp and definitely my biggest from the river. My friend had previously caught a 10lber from the river and at first, I thought that it was that fish. My heart was racing and after a few close calls, my dad had scooped it up into the net. On closer inspection I realised that it was a different fish to the one my friend had caught and was probably around the 6 lb mark. We took some pictures before slipping it back.

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The 5 minute battle had quite obviously spooked the swim so we moved to the next spot. The next spot is quite a fast flowing section of river, slightly deeper than the rest. It’s the perfect spot for trotting although it can be a little challenging due to the flora. I baited the hook with a worm and handed my dad the rod. He wanted me to show him how to do it first however I had a sneaky suspicion that we may catch one on the first trot downstream. I explained the basics and on just his first proper trot, the float dipped under and my dad had caught his first ever chub.

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Usually, that section of river only produces one or two fish before they spook. My dad had hooked that fish pretty early on so I hoped that there may still be fish there. We received a few more bites however my dad was struggling with striking while the line was free so they didn’t transpire into fish landed.

We moved onto the next spot, a railway bridge / tunnel. The fishing was pretty slow and all we managed was a small roach.

We headed back towards the pipe, stopping off at the second swim for a quick trot down river. 10 minutes fishing for my dad produced another stunning chub and a couple of missed bites.

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Half an hours fishing at the pipe produced another perch for my dad and a couple of roach and rudd for myself, the bigger fish seemed to have spooked of since the carp. We were on the move again and back to the trotting spot.

This time, my dad insisted I give it a go. I had swapped over to a smaller, size 12 hook and armed it with a bunch of maggots. On the first trot down, I received a couple of small shy bites. I decided to leave them because I suspected that they were roach or rudd. The decision paid off because my float sailed under the water and it was chub on! It was the biggest chub of the night.

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In another 10 minutes fishing, I caught 2 roach and a nice little rudd. 4 fish in 15 minutes, not bad from a tiny river if you ask me.

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Back at the tunnel, the fishing was tough once again with my dad just catching an eel. Personally, I was thrilled because I caught a tiny dace which is a new species from the river and a new species for the species hunt. That’s now the 9th species of fish which I’ve caught or seen caught from this little river, pretty amazing really considering it’s quite mucky. So mucky in fact I was once told by a passer by “you won’t catch anything in there it’s a sewer”.

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We decided to call it a day and we headed back towards the car. We were walking past the trotting swim so it would be rude not to have one last trot, right? Well one last trot turned into about 10 minutes fishing which resulted in a little chub, a roach and a rudd.

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All in all, it was a great evening with lots of fish caught between us and lots of good laughs. Definitely one I’m sure I won’t forget.

If you’re interested in reading more blogs about fishing on this river, then check out my 4 part series about a weeks fishing in February.

Tired of reading? Check out my recent YouTube video about a session catching F1 Carp.

Categories
Species Hunt

Joe Chappell – Dace

A small dace caught on a bunch of maggots from a small local river. Caught on the last cast too!

Categories
Carp Joe Chappell

Fishing as Pikachu for 24 Hours – Part 2

This blog is a continuation from my previous post, if you haven’t already, I‘d suggest checking it out before reading ahead. If not then here’s some background. The other week, I took part in a carp fishing match raising money for Great Ormond Street. The venue was Newlands Hall fishery in Essex. Going into the evening, I had caught 5 carp including the biggest of the match so far at 18lbs 8oz. Oh, and to spice things up a tad I was doing the whole thing dressed as Pikachu.

After landing my fifth fish of the session, it took another hour for the spot to produce another bite. The winning tactic was a 12mm yellow pop-up on a Ronnie rig. As far as I knew, this fish took me into the lead. The last I’d heard was that someone else was on five fish a couple of hours previous. Of course, a lot can happen in a couple of hours, but I was quietly confident.

It was now around half past six and my tummy was starting to rumble. I got the stove on and started to fry my burgers.  Just five minutes later I received a savage bite from the left hand margin. The rod tip bent around, and I thought I was in. I lifted the rod and reeled however there was nothing on the end. The fish had obviously spat the hook.

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I finished off cooking before re-casting my right hand rod. It hadn’t produced anything all day so I decided to move it around the swim to try and find a few fish. Just as I was casting it out, I received a bite on my left hand rod to the snags. This produced my seventh fish of the session which was another small common.

A little after an hour later, my left hand rod ripped into action again. I managed to get the fish away from the snags and it was charging all around my swim. It headed down towards my left hand margin however I wasn’t worried as there were no obvious snags. The rod locked up and it seemed the fish had become snagged. I could still feel it on and didn’t want to risk snapping up or a tethered fish.

Although the lake rules state no wading, I weighed up my options and decided to head in. The margins were between three and four foot deep so there wasn’t a risk of my waders flooding. I managed to find my rig however unfortunately whatever was on the end had escaped me. I also found the snag which the fish had taken me around. It was a large branch. It was full of line, rigs and leads including my method feeder rig which I had lost earlier in the day. I must have cast right on top of it.

I decided it would be best to remove the branch from the lake so that’s what I did. I had a feeling that it may kill off my swim for a little while, but I thought I was acting within the best interests of the lake and fish for the future.

About half an hour after losing the fish, I had finished removing the branch and my bait was finally back in the water and fishing. The next hours fishing was uneventful. I decided to swap my right hand rod from a Ronnie rig to a solid bag.

The change obviously paid off because after 20 minutes, my rod was nearly pulled off my rod rest. It was my eight fish from twelve bites but more importantly for me, it was my first fish on the bottom and away from the snags. I was worried about fishing close to the snags at night whilst I was sleeping so it gave me some confidence of night-time bites in open water.

It was now around ten o’clock and I’d just heard that Stewart, who was fishing around the middle of the lake where the island is was on 14 fish. The match was going to be a numbers game, so I had some catching up to do. Although I was already quite tired due to going out the night before, I really wanted to win this match so decided to stay up and catch as many as I could. Staying up and sitting next to the rods would mean I could continue fishing the productive snags to my left and I planned to re-cast my right hand rod every half an hour with a fresh PVA bag.

I decided to get a couple of hours sleep so moved the left hand rod away from the snags and got my head down. My next bite and ninth fish woke me up at about quarter to 11. It was a small common but that didn’t matter because it was all about number of carp.

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I managed a little more sleep before being woken up again an hour and a half later. After this fish, I decided to stay wake. I had run out of solid bags so started to use PVA mesh bags instead. This obviously made little difference to the fish because I caught three more between quarter past one and quarter past two. They were a small common, a mirror around 7 lb and the biggest fish was around 13 1/2lb, this one was caught on the right hand rod in open water.

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I could hear fish jumping out slightly further down the bank than I was, I couldn’t however hear anyone else’s alarms going off. I was now on 13 fish, just 1 behind Stewart who was leading on 14 going into the night.

The rest of the night remained quiet. I didn’t catch another fish until 4:40 the next morning. I had spotted some swirling almost under my feet. The previous night I had put some bait in the margins, and something had obviously moved in and was feeding on it. After having my rig in the water for 20 minutes, it was away with another low double common. This ruined this spot since it was so close to my rods.

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Fortunately, there was another spot slightly further down the bank which I had been baiting up all the previous day. I noticed some fizzing on that spot and lowered my rig on top. I threw a handful of pellet over the top to keep the fish interested. It only took 10 minutes for another bite. I did this again and caught yet another fish, taking my total to 16.

I caught my fourth fish in an hour when my left hand rod towards the snags bent round and I was into my 17th fish, a small common.

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I was absolutely knackered, I’d had about an hours sleep but it was all worth it because I’d found out that Stewart who was leading going into the night hadn’t caught anything all night and was still on 14 fish. Although things were looking positive, there was one downside. It appeared the fish had started spawning again. Apparently, they had spawned a couple of weeks prior to our visit however obviously, some hadn’t finished and conditions were perfect for them to start again.

The fishing suddenly died right off, and I struggled from 6 till 10. The match was meant to finish at 12 and I had 2 hours to cement my lead. I swapped one rod over to the float after seeing some fish feeding in the margins. I fished a worm over some pellet and after half an hour, my float dipped under. I’d caught a bloody eel! I had one worm and an hour and a half left. I watched my float like a hawk and by quarter to eleven, I had another bite. I struck into the fish and watched my float disappear under the water. I never saw it again because the fish had snapped me up.

I had heard bite alarms going off around the lake, everyone’s except mine. On closer inspection with my binoculars, I could see Stewart haling them in down the bank. I needed to act fast!

I re-did my rod toward the left hand snag and threw a few more boilies over it. I also put some more bait down my right hand margin. Just 15 minutes later, I was in. It was my 18th fish but only a small common. Just 15 minutes after that fish, I had another bite brining my total to 19. There was just 20 minutes left of the match and I watched Stewart’s swim with my binoculars like I was an FBI agent. I didn’t see him land any more fish, but I wasn’t sure I’d done enough either.

Midday arrived and the match came to an end. Had I done enough?

Paul came around to let me know the result. Stewart had caught 18 fish, I had won! It was quite emotional to be honest, I never expected to win, I was in an average swim without much water or an island. Many of the contestants came around to congratulate me whilst I was packing up and Paul brought round my prizes. I had won several things including some bait, a gift voucher, and a head torch. The prizes didn’t matter to me, we had raised an enormous amount of money for Great Ormond Street, and I’d had some mega fun doing so.

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Stewart and I

Thanks to Paul for running the competition and thanks to everyone who competed for such a great time. Here’s to next year?

Here is a link to the venue’s website