Bob Dellar Coarse

Two PB’s In One Day! I must be dreaming…

There I was, on a windy old day in May, next to a gravel pit called “Ivo” staring at an old, scarred, mahogany-skinned male, and no I wasn’t enjoying a day’s fishing with Morgan Freeman, but admiring the biggest tench I’d ever seen. 

It was my third outing to St Ives Fishery in Cambridgeshire, a complex of truly wild gravel pits containing some exceptional fish, including tench, bream, pike, perch and, of course, the ubiquitous carp. 

Carp take centre stage as far as the bulk of the anglers with a ticket are concerned, but there are also many fisherman who are there for the others, and by others I mean the tench and bream. Thankfully, the management actively encourage this quirky trait, and seem au fait with the gradual, but very perceptible, waning of all things carp, exemplified by the minor exodus away from fish-stuffed commercials towards the exciting challenge that gravel pit and river fishing can provide.

The prospect of a lovely big tench or bream, and the opportunity to hone my non-existent  gravel pit fishing skills, was the excuse I needed to buy a day-only season ticket. Night fishing, if my limited knowledge of pit fishing is concerned, isn’t a prerequisite when it comes to catching big tench, get your approach right and you can bank them at all times of day, so I saved myself the double discomfort of bivvy-back and sleep deprivation.

My very first trip to St Ives was in mid-April, but it felt more like February as the winter refused to give way to spring. By far the best-looking pit in that section of the complex is “Anderson’s”, a gorgeous reed-lined water of around three or four acres, reminiscent of an Irish lough, festooned with weed beds, bars, islands, spits and deep margins. It looked bloody tench-tastic and it had to be my first port of call.

I chose the only peg at the end of short, narrow spit that gave access to a fairly extensive area of the pit that included a large, emerging lily bed and a gravel bar at about twenty yards. I had a little rake around, chucked out a bit of spod mix, not much as in reality the pit was still in late winter mode, and followed that with in-line rigs, bagged-up, with red maggots on one and a worm kebab on the other; one against the lilies the other on the bar. Then proceeded to stare at motionless bite indicators and gradually freeze to death all day. So first visit was a blank. I wasn’t surprised, the place felt a bit dead, or not so much dead as asleep.

I wasn’t disheartened as I knew it often takes effort and a blank or two to crack a new pit. So a few days later I was back in the same peg, with more or less the same approach. This time, however, I felt I had a shout. The weather was much warmer and Anderson’s had begun to emerge from its winter snooze. Fish were moving about and topping over the bar I’d baited up. But when the bite came it was off the rig by the lily pads, and was a rip-roarer. I was dozing off when the alarm wailed, bringing me back to my senses in the blink of an eye and causing the old ticker to race. 

The fish fought like a demon and made numerous attempts to find snags but I held on and at last there she was, a beautiful female tench languishing in the net, still bristling and angry. I let her calm down a bit before I weighed her, 6.9lb of pristine tinca, an absolute beauty.

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A lovely female tench of 6.9lb

It was 10.30 am when I caught her, and I was hopeful for another run of two, but that was it for the rest of the day, despite fish showing themselves, the cheeky blighters.

I didn’t mind that much though, I was pleased I’d cracked Anderson’s and I was content to sit and watch the terns scything through the air above, calling out their harsh shout as they ploughed the water, sending up a perfect V of sparkling droplets. Sharing the air with the terns were swifts, still fit despite their long, arduous journey from Africa. 

I once knocked out a swift, as I cast a Driftbeater float out into a lake somewhere in Surrey. Poor little sod chose the very moment I cast to fly just above me and caught the rod full in the face. Naturally, I thought I’d killed it and was mortified. I laid his little body on the grass under a nearby hawthorn and began to pack up, the fishing was hopeless and frankly I’d lost interest. Then I heard a faint cheep, and a feathery shuffling sound. The swift had come back from the dead, tough little bugger! I picked him up gently and cradled him for a minute or two as his senses returned and suddenly, with an indignant cheep, he shot off, apparently none the worse for his bash on the bonce.

Anyway, back at St Ives, the day wore on and the fish failed to show, so it was time to go home. As I loaded the car, another angler stopped for a chat, and as is the norm for this fishery was extremely friendly and informative, despite looking like a vagrant! “Bloody hell, I said, how long you been bivvied up! Too long, I stink!” he laughed. And then went on to inform me that Anderson’s wasn’t fishing well and hadn’t since a flooding event a few months earlier. My best bet for consistent fishing was the pit called Ivo, a rectangular-shaped water of about four acres adjacent to Anderson’s.

So, without further ado, I dragged my marker rod from the car and had a little cast around before I went home. 

A few days later…yes, I was back again but this time I walked straight past Anderson’s and headed straight for Ivo. I’d found a tucked away peg with deep margins and a gravel bar at about fifteen yards, which was perfect as I prefer not to have to cast too far, and it’s much easier to bait up.

So, out went a few balls of groundbait and a couple of in-line maggot feeders…and, well, I refer you to the very first paragraph. 

I caught three bream in quick succession, all well over 6lb with a personal best of 7.9lb

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My biggest bream so far at 7.9lb. Would have been heavier with a full tail!

Then the old warrior came, and by God he fought. He wasn’t pretty but I was very, very pleased to meet him, my biggest tench ever at 7.4lb, not a monster by modern-day tenching standards but a monster to me and a promising start to my St Ives campaign; although that endeavour may have to take a back seat for a while because the rivers are beckoning and the barbel rods need a polish!

Best fishes,


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And here’s the old warrior, bashed up and wounded but still impressive. 7.4lb
Brian Holland Coarse

Getting Back on the Float

‘About having a float fishing day’ – this was a comment from my good friend Andy.

Now I have not used a float in probably 40 odd years, I agreed, as I still have my teenage float rod and reel, so going into the dark depths of the garage to retrieve all the float gear I need for this session. Blowing off the cobwebs and cleaning off the dust and here is how it went.

Firstly, let us start with the set up.

  1. Diawa Sensor 10’ Carbon Feeder Rod. This was a 13th Birthday present (God that was 1981)
  • Isusu Charger RDX-10 reel (Did anyone else have this reel)
  • Lineaffe Float (The only Float I own)
  • Pack of Kamasan Size 16 Pretied barbless wide gape hooks (Found in the odds and ends)
  • 1 pot of Maggots (Actually bought the day before or they would be a bit dead from 1981).

I would say that we arrived at the lake, but I was already there from the night before where I was in pursuit of carp.  With the carp rods pulled in I set to work setting up the rod. Well, my eyes are definitely not what they used be and trying to thread the line through the eyes of the rod took some doing.  I got there in the end after several times letting go of the line, and it is finding its way back down through the eye’s so having to start again.

I threaded on the only actual float I own which is probably around the same date as the rod. With a couple of shot either side I dropped it in the water where sank all the way to the orange tip, perfect.

Put on the pre tied hook and a couple of very small shot down the line then set the depth around eight foot as the lake was around nine feet deep, attached a maggot then threw (sorry precisely cast it in).

Watching the tip do a little jig before being dragged under the small waves of the lake, I was in and bought a little Roach to the surface this was all in about 30 seconds, happy days.


At this point it was on with a maggot out with the float and in with a fish, I had hit a shoal of perch, some fell off and some stayed on to reach my outstretched hand after an hour of this we had breakfast a fry up is always good for the soul. Anyway, I digress.

Back at the swim we continued the ritual of maggot, cast, float disappearance and then fish on the bank. After 3 hours and 7 Roach and 49 perch, it was decided to retire the rod for another day.


A great couple of hours fishing as I did when I was a teenager and with very basic equipment. You never know I might invest in another float.

Tight lines one and all


Bailey Payne Coarse

Sunshine Tench

Well, we have finally had weather with some resemblance of Summer! It’s been a long time coming and from cold it’s seemed to have gone straight to hot! And clearly the fish have noticed this change to, with mass spawning taking place.

I headed back to Parsonage Farm Fishery, in hopes for maybe a few Tench. Same method as usual, a little hybrid feeder on my trusty quiver and Tincaberry groundbait, a good mix, and hopefully with the heat the Tench would fancy some berry flavoured goods!

Within 30 minutes of baiting up and fishing, the tip had smashed round, and a very un climaxing fight began, with the Tench almost giving up with barely any fight. However great to get off the mark!

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A Lovely Tench!

This beauty weighed in at around 3lb. With sadly a bit of damage to its upper lip, it was swiftly returned.

Unfortunately, the next few hours just provided constant line bites, never developing into anything. It’s always frustrating to see the rod tip moving so much but to no avail.

I opted for a change of tactic, others on the lake seemed to be catching well on float. So I quickly put the only float I had on! And hoped for some more Tench.

Using just corn on the hook, and casting just past the first ledge a few metres out. Similar to where other Tench where being caught, I was hopeful. Although I saw what seemed to be millions of Rudd buzzing around in my swim!

Providing a challenge to get past them, however catching these beautiful small fish really made time go by quickly, and it’s not long before you lose count!

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I possibly forgot about Tench fishing while catching these scale perfect little fish one a chuck, and really just forgot about taking photos. Sometimes it can be such a joy just to constantly catch like this. no matter the size of the fish. Especially sitting in the sun, catching one a chuck proved to be a great way to spend a day.

Before I knew it, my alarm went off and it was time to head home!

Tight Lines all…

Brian Holland Coarse Lure

The Nine Pit Challenge

Well after a night carp fishing which I caught a couple at stupid o’clock in the morning, I had already decided to make the Sunday a perch session on the lake. As I was packing up a knew I need content for a blog, why not turn this into a challenge.  On the club waters I was at has nine pits. So, I decided I need to catch at least one fish from each lake. So, starting at seven in the morning and having to get away at two in the afternoon, I had seven hours to catch from nine lakes ‘simples’.

As I was going for Perch originally on the day, I decided to stick with them in hope that they would be in all the pits. My weapon of attack for this would be my six foot 0.5-to-6-gram rod, 1000 reel loaded with 5lb braid and a 4lb fluorocarbon leader with a size 6 Gamakutsu 325 hook and a 1-gram weight on a Texas set up.  I went small as size was not going to be an issue in what I had challenged myself to do. In fact, I hoped that it would help. First lure of choice was a Gunki Tispy lure.


Bear with me on this as the pits will be out of order and there is no pit 7.

My starting point was pit 9, I had fished for perch and caught out of here before, the lake is shallow full of weed and with lilies at one end, I started walking around casting on the margin’s deep spots and through the holes in the weed. Always the way is that it is full of small carp that were cruising the surface and making their way to the sunny end of the lake where all the lilies are. Typical I am not carp fishing and they must know it. Anyway, after a frustrating half an hour and no fish I moved to the second pit.

pit 9

Pit 5 is the next one to pit 9. This is extremely small and an underarm cast you could cover the lake. At about four to five foot deep and has cut away trees and large roots going into it, these were my first port of call. Dropping the lure in on the first retrieve I had a knock, second cast a large knock but no take at this point I decided to remove the tail of the lure just in case it was too large and quickly has a take that fought and then fell off.  I moved slight around the corner and casting against some reed and a hit on the drop. This time no mistake and the first perch and the first pit down. One hour down six hours to go.

5 perch

Pit 4 was next along, this is u-shaped and just solid with weed and again the carp were cruising through the upper layers, with two lakes with carp cruising I should have gone back to the car and got out the stalking rod with some bread crust, but I did not. So, after about twenty minutes I went onto the next pit, to returning later thinking I would get as many pit’s out of the way quickly.

Pit 2 is just a small bowl that has weed and swims that need repair, not actually sure if anyone fishes it, had a few casts but did not get the feeling that there was fish in there. So on to the next one.

pit 2

Pit 1. This is the main carp lake of the complex with weed around all the margins but clear in the open water, at one end there are some snag’s, so I headed there first. Nothing hit the lure, so I started heading around the lake trying all the margins. Getting frustrated I pulled off and headed back to Pit 4.

Once back at pit four, I decided to drop the lure in between the weed and the edge and blow me got hit and taken by a little fellow, so with two and quarter hours of fishing I had two fish. Woohoo. Now I headed over to Pit 8 which I believed would have been the hardest pit.


Pit 8. This is a large reservoir that is just clogged up with weed, down the far end there is a little inlet that has a few snags to cast at, so I was hopeful a nicking one there. First cast snagged on the retrieve at about a foot out, it started moving slowly as a small branch appeared slowly into view. At this point intuition played a vital role as I had the urge to flick my head to the right as the hook hold gave way at the rig flew past my head imbedding itself into the hood of my coat. Wow that close to another hospital trip. The hook snapped as I removed it from the coat, so I had to re rig my set up. Now I downsized the hook to an 8 and put on an FFS finesse lure. I moved a couple of swims down and caught another little fellow. So, at three hours in I had three fish. On to the next pit.


Pit 3. This is a small pit which predominantly is carp but the day before I had a few knocks on the lure rod so I headed to the spot by a few lilies to see if I could nick one, after half an hour and one knock I trudged off to pit 6.

Pit 6 being a long pit which has a few lilies at one end and a small reed bed the other I headed for the lilies first, had nothing so I went to the reeds and again I had nothing. Time was now really against me, but I was to have a bit of luck as the morning had been sunny, but it was now clouding over and a little bit of drizzle. With this I headed to the last lake that I had not visited which is a small reservoir with and island where I had carp fished the night before.

I cast close to some snags and got a hit and bought the little devil to the surface and to the bank so that was four banked only five to go.

With a bit of hope and with only one and a half hours to go I went back to pit 3, again to the spot by the lilies and after a few casts I had another hit followed by another on the bank. With a spring in my step, I went back to pit 6 to the lilies again and bagged another.

I was now with fifty minutes to go and three fish to conquer. So back to pit 1 and the snags and the weed. I was now just dropping the lure in between the weeds in hope a bite and after a few sessions of removing loads of weed from the lure I had another take.  I was now down to half and hour with two perch to go.

perch 8

Back to pit 2 and casting into the snags dropping it through the weed time was running short, then I had a knock, so I recast and bought the lure back through the same part of the water and this time it was taken. So, I only had one fish to go and ten minutes left.

pit 5

I ran to pit 9 to where this all began and started casting in the weed around the snags. I had a take I was going to do this but unfortunately it came off in the fight, I believe that it was not on the hook and only had the tail.  So, I failed my challenge but what an enjoyable way to spend so time.

Maybe next time I will set up various rods to target various species.

This is all good practice for the #uklureseries that I have entered.

Tightlines to all

#the _bridge_troll

Bailey Payne Coarse

Essex Tenching

Back to BDAC’s Parsonage Farm Fishery, a lovely lake, with no carp, and a lot of Tench stocked, other species such as Perch, Roach, Bream and I’ve heard good size Crucians are also resident to this venue. However I am mainly targetting for Tench.

My first session resulted in landing one, and losing one, along with a small Roach. So I was eager to improve on this. This time, although still cold and not ideal, at least it wasn’t raining! The brolly happily stayed down for…most…of the session. I opted for the same approach as last time, fishing my light quiver tip with a hybrid feeder with a Tincaberry groundbait/micro mix with either a berry boille or grain of sweet corn on the hook. I did decide to feed slightly more aggressively and hand fed the area I was casting too just past the reeds.

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I also had a Berry glug I poured over the feeder for some extra scent!

First cast provided a quick bite, although it was no Tench, as the tip quickly jolted, the Tench usually drag the rod in. This eager fish happened to be a decent Roach, and this venue is really proving to have some chunky size silvers.

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I quickly re-baited and went in again, and it wasn’t long this time before the rod was being dragged in! The fish charged to the reed bed I was fishing by, as did every fish I hooked here, proving a challenge to keep the fish under control. I managed to steer this fish clear, and slowly waited and tired the Tench in the open, free of any snags. The net was swiftly under the Fish, and time for photos.

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A Lovely Tench of just shy of 3lb

This was a great Fish to start with. Sadly, after this quick two bites and fish, the swim went quiet. And hours went by with only a few touches on the tip, but never developing. I had been feeding quite reserved, with only my initial few balls and then what was in the feeder. I still saw a few Tench coming out, and was getting notifications fish were in the area. I decided to try and up the feeding after this hour or so of quietness. And it wasn’t long before it paid off with another wrap round of the tip.

The perk of using a 1oz tip with these Tench, is they are so much more of a joy to play, however I do feel I should probably go to a 1.5oz tip, just to have a bit more beef while playing them away from the reeds, however the 1oz tip has done me well. This fish yet again, was persuaded away from the snags, and had a lot more energy than the last. When the fish got close, it looked a good Tench. And upon weighing, it was infact a new personal best!

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5lb Tench, kindly photographed by a nearby angler

5lb Tench! Not a monster by any stretch of the imagination, however a PB of any size, is a good fish for anyone. So I was chuffed with this! The fish was soon slide back into the Lake.

And on a new high with a new PB, and doubling the amount of Tench I caught last time. I was eager to get back in! And again a cast, another ball or two hand fed over, and the tip wrapped round again! This fish got me while I was hand feeding, so a slower reaction to strike, however I connected quickly to the fish, although it seemed to little to late as the Tench made it’s way to the reeds, and dislodged the hook leaving it in the snag. This is the risk of fishing towards a snag, however the previous Fish shows the benefit.

I quickly re-rigged, and recast, and after another 30 minutes, the tip went round again, however, I was not going to make the same mistake, and brought the fish away from the reeds before the powerful Tench got a sniff of the snag.

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Another fine Tench

Another lovely Tench landed, and with this fish, the heavens decided to open a bit. I was satisfied with my session, and was happy to leave it and head home while still fairly dry and warm!

Tight Lines all…

My Rod:

Bob Dellar Coarse River

A Useful Brother In Law, Or How I Started Fishing.

When I was thirteen in 1977 and living with my parents and younger sister in Chingford, north east London, a brother in law called Steve with a Triumph Herald and a spare rod introduced me to angling. And for that I forgave him his tendency to grind his teeth whilst driving, blank me throughout the entire journey and smoke Players that filled the car with carcinogens. Passive smoking was my next favourite hobby after fishing.

   Being thirteen and without transport, not even a push-bike, I didn`t have a particularly large fishing catchment area. Highams Park Lake was a fifteen minute walk away, the River Lee at Cooks Ferry an hour by bus and feet but that was about it.

   Having Steve on side was without doubt a major advantage when it came to discovering far-flung fishing-well far-flung to me anyway. Copped Hall lake in Epping (my first carp, a common, fit and five pounds;) Hollow Pond, Leytonstone (my first specimen tench, a shining olive-green and coincidently, five pounds, a big fish in 1978), and the captivating Norfolk Broads, (my first bag of bream and my first fishing super store, Lathams at Potter Heigham, like a million Christmases rolled into one.)  And during a session at Hatfield Lakes in Essex, Steve briefly crawled out of his shell, exposing a dash of true colour. A bullying bailiff, who refused to believe I was under 16 and therefore a junior, demanded we pay the full adult day-ticket rate. This riled Steve considerable. I remember the exchange had the two men referring to each other as “chief” frequently; the word punctuated almost every sentence in guttural explosions of derision.

     The tete a tete eventually culminated in the bailiff storming off and threatening us with the police, totally convinced I was at least 25 (I was big for my age, and the beard didn`t help.) Later on that day he almost caved his skull in whilst pulling a hung-up tree over with a tractor. We saw it all and we laughed, leading to a good many more “chiefs” being thrown around like grenades. I think if the bailiff hadn`t been bleeding from a head wound, he soon would have been.

   I`m convinced Steve let off a enormous head of suppressed anger and vexation that day. He was actually whistling to himself on the way home and tapping out a jaunty rhythm on the steering wheel, behaviour I`d never witnessed before.

   But our piscatorial adventures couldn’t last, under the circumstances. Steve was always fine to me but he was, essentially, a fairly disturbed individual. Despised by my mother and younger sister, barely tolerated by my dad, he was indifferent to his two young boys and his wife, my elder sister, who limped along permanently stressed and barely able to make ends meet due to the inadequate house keeping he afforded her.

   The final straw came when it became evident that he spent more money on tackle than he did his family, and thereafter, it just didn`t seem right to accept his fishing invitations, which eventually fizzled out altogether.

   A pal called Nigel suggested I join his fishing club, Intrepid Angling Society, to compensate for the recent decline in fishing opportunities, so in the autumn of 1977 I did just that.

   Before I knew it I was a fully paid-up junior member of I.A.S and attending my first club meeting. They were held at a factory’s social club off Lea Bridge Road, Leyton in a massive brick building that looked like an asylum, and it appeared to me that one or two of the inmates had infiltrated the ranks of I.A.S.

   Around a rectangular table in a tiny room filled to the rafters with eye stinging fag smoke, I was welcomed into the fold by a character who would have made a fine Worzel long before Jon Pertwee.

   Albert Challice dripped straw-coloured hair from every visible orifice, his ears especially were a haystack. His invisible lips permanently sucked on a No6, and his copious beard and tache were the colour of a public bar`s ceiling. He wore what could only be described as Jethro Tull`s cast-offs, (not the father of modern farming, but Ian Anderson, the front man of said band): a tight fitting tweed waistcoat; a rather flouncy but extremely grubby white shirt, and worn to a shine brown Corduroy strides. And whenever he moved, it sounded like a bead curtain in a boutique. Bangles and necklaces of wooden beads, glass beads and various exotic totems adorned his wrists and neck. This was the only outfit I ever saw him wearing. Even when he was fishing his clothes were the same, all but for the inclusion of a decrepit waxed jacket if it was cold or raining. He looked ancient to me, at least eighty, so you can imagine my surprise when I was introduced to his dad, Pop Challice, a man who looked so old he could have drowned worms with Izaak Walton.

     It wasn’t long before my very first outing with I.A.S dawned, although in truth dawn would have been preferable, because the agreed pick-up time was 2.30am. It was to prove an unforgettable experience.

  The night before, my mum hadn`t allowed me to store maggots in a bait box in the fridge to keep them cool and inactive, so I had stupidly left them in my creel in the front passage along with my rods and nets. When I dragged myself out of bed, bleary-eyed and groggy, I discovered hundreds of sweating maggots doggedly scaling walls and traversing skirting boards. They had escaped from an unsecured bait box. Green bottle flies were happily emerging from the house`s numerous nooks and crannies for weeks afterwards, alighting on us, our furniture, our breakfasts, lunches, dinners: it drove my family barmy.

   That was just the start. Due to the maggot exodus I nearly missed the club`s behemoth of a coach and had to run in the dead of night, sweating and clattering with prodding, jutting fishing tackle: I just made it. It shuddered to a squealing stop in a monstrous belch of nauseating fumes that, along with my recent exertion, had me gagging. I was deftly parted from my fishing gear and hauled aboard like a shipwrecked sailor. Suddenly, I had entered another world and was assailed by a fug of tobacco smoke and a maelstrom of undulating voices, like an expectant football crowd. A middle-aged man with mutton chops that bordered on the lycanthropic was sat near the front sucking on a Meerschaum pipe. This was George Fitzpatrick, the Feeder Man, because that was the only method he ever used, a maggot feeder the size of a jam jar. Generally, the float boys would out fish him, but occasionally the vast quantities of maggots he had liberally fed to the river would attract attention. I remember witnessing a George caught net of Thames chub the likes of which I’d never seen before or since. I can’t remember the weight or number of fish but it needed two men to haul the net from the river. When it broke the surface, the water exploded into a seething, foaming mass of silvery flanks. 

    My pal Nigel waved at me to join him and the blue swirling haze parted briefly as I made my way towards his trademark tartan cap. 

   ‘That was close, you nearly missed us. I told `em to hold on a bit for you. Bleedin` long way to walk, Purley.’

   For that was our destination, the middle reaches of the River Thames at Purley in Berkshire.

    Somewhere near Chiswick the beast of a coach required sustenance, and I was mighty relieved to get out and purify my lungs as well as stretch the legs at an all night petrol station.  As me and Nigel stalked the confectionary section, I witnessed a display of practiced pre-CCT thievery that fascinated and appalled me simultaneously.

   While keeping their eyes on the ageing pencil-browed blond on the desk, two brothers, Alan and Keith systematically fleeced the shop, artfully concealing cans of oil, spark plugs, crisps, sweets and thrash mags within the gamekeepers pockets of their fading Barbours; I looked on in disbelief.

   ‘Don’t stare you prat, you`ll draw attention,’ whispered Nigel. ‘Just stuff that Mars in your coat and move towards the door.’

   Back on the coach, Alan and Keith jovially distributed the spoils of their labours and somehow I ended up with a copy of Hustler in my lap.

   ‘Feast your eyes on that’ smirked Keith, a bit of a step up from your usual Kays catalogue underwear section ain`t it?’

   It certainly was. The dusky brunette on the front cover was enough for me. But it was nothing compared to the jungle of eye popping gynaecological gymnastics on the inside. The models sported hair everywhere: great tussocks of it. It was after all the Seventies, when a Brazilian was merely a citizen of a South American country. I was disgusted. But given the hair-trigger nature of an adolescent’s loins, I shot my bolt straight into my new khaki fishing trousers. 

   The river at Purley was beautiful, utterly beguiling. My perception of the Thames up to that point had been of a colossally wide, tea coloured urban watercourse flanked by world famous landmarks. But the Thames I fished that day was draped in a veil of eddying autumnal mist, soon to be replaced by flakes of gold leaf sunlight as the day warmed. It spoke a lilting, liquid language I would come to know well and to this day whenever I have the good fortune to fish it I’m reminded of that first encounter.

     My swim was next to a gnarled willow amongst a drift of nodding Bulrush. It took me a while to set up my fishing tackle as I was so enthralled by the teeming life around me.

   As it turned out I caught very little. Only three tiny perch, striped like a sergeant, graced my keep net. It would take many years to acquire the watercraft and piscatorial know how to do this river justice. But as I watched a pulsing, electric blue damselfly balance artfully on my rod tip, catching fish was merely the icing on the cake.

   It`s May 1978 and my very first Intrepid Angling Society’s Annual Dinner and Dance. I looked hip and swish in my Travolteresque white shirt, cream jacket and black strides, although future examinations of the photos my mum took would prove otherwise.

   By some fluke I`d managed to secure a prize: The Junior Roach Shield for Best Specimen Roach. On a bitterly cold day in January, when every inch of me was an icicle, I caught a roach of 1lb 12oz that shone like an ingot of freshly minted silver with eyes and fins a deep blood red. It was the best fish I`d ever seen and it was mine, and to this day still remains my personal best.

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Intrepid Angling Society Presentation Dinner, 1979.
I’d won the Junior September All-In on the River Cam
Jack and Terry Carp Coarse

Minions Day Out

Hi guys and welcome back to another JT Carpers blog, we hope your all keeping well and getting out onto the bank as much as possible! 

This week we have a little recap of a session we done with our children last month when we were allowed to meet up with another household outside, we decided to go to Tylers common fishery for a few hours on their match lake to try and get a few fish for the children, defiantly not for our own benefit whatsoever 🙄. Unfortunately, upon arriving at the fishery all the lakes were booked out for matches apart from the Specimen Lake, with the main aim of our trip to be quantity over quality (size) we decided to give this a miss and go onto Puddledock fishery as we know they have a few lakes on site which are of a high quality and very likely to catch. 

Upon arriving at the lake, we decided to jump onto ‘The Snake Lake’. We weren’t going to be fishing all day as our children are still young, I’m sure it wouldn’t take long for them to lose interested if we were there all day. 

So, upon arriving we decided to have 1 float rod each using simple maggot tactics and then 1 method feeder rod each to target some of the carp. The day started off somewhat slow and we were beginning to worry we would be forever taunted by our children about our lack of fishing skills. 

Finally, Jack hooked into the first fish of the day, a lovely little roach that saved both of our blushes and made us look awesome to our children, true fishermen with unbelievable amounts of skills! 

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With Jack bringing in the roach to no end it started to become apparent that this was very much a one-sided affair and I needed to catch something or forever be reminded by my children and Jack and his son that I was the only one to not catch. 

BRRRINGGGGGGGGGGGGGG, my bite alarm screamed from out of nowhere and I was into a carp on the method feeder, after a short scrap and letting the children have a go as much as possible without wanting to lose the fish, we had landed the only carp of the day, Hooray everyone was happy! 

So, with a few hours of getting the children out of our partners hair and having some fun fishing we decided it was time to call it a day before the weather took a turn for the worse. All in all a very success day, a few fish under our belts and looking like we actually know what we are doing to our children we went on our merry way. 

So once again, thank you so much for reading the blog, we appreciate all the support as does everyone from the Essex Anglers team. 

As always,     

Tight Lines & Wet Nets,     



Bailey Payne Coarse

Small Pond = Big Fun

With the amount of rain we have had lashing down, it really does put you off Fishing, certainly put me off driving a fairly long way to try and catch some Tench, instead, I stayed at home, warm and dry, and when there was a break in the conditions had the short stroll to my little local pond which has been providing me plenty of fun and bites recently with the numbers of Fish in it, and definetly some true surprises.

My approach for fishing a small pond like this would normally be a light float setup, then fishing over micros with soft expanders or corn on the hook. However, I just used what I was going to go Tench Fishing with, which was a hybrid feeder, with a sweet berry groundbait mixed with micros and corn on the hook. Sure on a small pond, a few fish would fall to this sweet mix.

In the past from this pond, I have had hybrids, Carp to around 5-6lb, and seen even bigger at, a few doubles which is a shock! But these small ponds do throw odd shocks. They do have some crucian/goldfish hybrids too, which are always lovely fish to catch. And I’m sure there is other species in here I have no clue about.

My plan was only to spend an hour, maybe less here just between the rain as a way to get out and catch a few Fish. If I got one, I was happy, I setup, and had a short underarm chuck, and straight away a few fish where there with indications on my feeder straight away. Always a great sign!

From then, the tip went round in my first bite of the day, and I connected to the Fish! A small, perfect condition common carp.

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The one thing I so often find with these little ponds, is the the fish are always in such beautiful condition, no damage on them at all, and they have the tendancy to be a bit scrapier than your usual little Carp too! Which really adds to it, especially on a light rod, these little Fish will try and dart into the reeds and snags and really make a go of it. Afterall, a lot of us grew up fishing these little ponds, catching fish like this, and it’s always fun to roll back the years and do it again. Especially if you do have venues like this on your doorstep.

Back to the action, well, it got a bit quiet, clearly the disruption from this guy had caused a few others to back off maybe, and it was a quiet 10-15 minute wait. And then the tip went round again, for another little energetic Carp. And again, another 15 minutes or so, I managed another one.

So, for under an hour, 3 little Carp, I was quite happy, and satisified the fishing bug for the day! And for a day where I was just on a quick run out, I can’t complain. However, next week, onto a change and hunting some more Tench!

Tight Lines…

Bailey Payne Coarse

Essex Tinca Time!

Finally, something I haven’t done for a while, a good bit of Tench fishing, I will probably spend the rest of my time until the Rivers open in around a month, hunting some Tench! I mean, they are an incredible species, no matter the size. I have joined BDAC for the season, they hold a number of waters and rivers around the county and thought I would have a little look around a few to see if it would be worth it for me, especially since I don’t know any day ticket Tench waters, their lake Parsonage Farm, really appealed.

Parsonage is an interesting venues, holding good numbers of Tench, averaging between 2-3lb. Nothing huge, but great sport from a lovely Fish. I headed there for the first time, with the cold weather still continuing, a cold wet start, and staying cold and wet while I was there, without a good place to put my brolly because of the wind, was safe to say I was quite wet and cold! Surely this couldn’t be Tench feeding weather, and clearly others thought this was the Lake was quite empty!

My tactic, sit under and hold the brolly down in the wind, and sit on a little hybrid feeder with Tincaberry groundbait rotating from corn and small Tincaberry boilles on the hair-rig. Using my trusty 8ft 1oz quiver, I was hoping to get a good bend in the rod, and my aim for this cold day was just to get off the mark on the Lake with one Tench! Surely achievable!

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The first chuck of the feeder just past the reed bed, resulted in a few knocks and taps, certainly building confidence, and I was expecting a quick start, however these soon died down after 15 mins or so. Recast and rebait! Making sure to keep a steady flow of groundbait hitting the same spot, I was hoping this could trigger the Tench to feed on my spot, or just encourage one!

Second cast caused for more excitment with the tip being teased round slowly, and a Fish was on! However, little fight came from this Fish, surely not a Tench, at least not of any size. Up popped from the depths a nice Roach/Bream Hybrid I suspect. A lovely fish to catch, and at least I haven’t blanked!

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Catching at a new venue, even if it isn’t the target species, always adds some confidence. I went in for the 3rd cast with all that confidence, hitting the same spot again. And this time, a much more encouraging bite, as the tip ripped round. This time it was a much better Fish, with is straight away taking line from my reel. This must have been a Tench. I encouraged the powerful Fish away from the main threat of the reeds with little resistance, I suspected it was a Tench on the smaller side, however I was not sure what to expect, I got the Fish into the open, and started bringing him in, taking line quickly off, until the Fish shook the hook! Gutted! Always horrible to lose the first good fish from a venue, especially when it was your target species.

In sync with losing this Fish, the rain seemed to have picked up a bit, along with the wind, and made for a miserable very uneventful next hour or so. I was almost close to the bring of how cold and wet I could be. I had a feeling I would get one more chance as the morning went by, with the rain slowly stopping, and temperature seemingly warming up. I continued to persevere with the spot I chose, despite no further bites, although indications and the odd liner where present, to keep slight hope.

I took the quiet spell to have a texting chat with a few friends on how the session was going. Clearly, the Fish may have been insulted with me feeling calm enough to do some texting! And from seemingly nowhere, the tip smashed round and my rod headed off my lap towards the lake. It’s bites like this why I always opt to have my rod on my lap! This Fish felt much bigger and better than the last one I lost, and really went on a steam towards the reeds! I dipped the rod tip down into the water, and pumped the line to stop the charge, the Fish soon turned around, and got into open water again, having the odd run of energy. But soon I managed to get it’s head up and to get it to gulp some air. This was a Tench too, a nice one. I find the first gulp of air while fighting a good fish is always a good turning point. I soon managed to scoop the net under the fish. And instantly sat back with relief of managing the target species. A lovely Tench, with a tail much bigger than it’s size, as it weighed in at just under 3lb.

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I was happy to end it on this Fish, I packed up and spoke to the few other brave anglers on the lake, and sought advice, although it was a tough day for everyone, a few Tench where caught when I left, it was nice to have contributed one! Hopefully in my next trip, I can get a few more, in maybe some nicer weather, although looking at the forecast while writing this, I don’t think I’m in for much luck!

Tight Lines all…

My Rod:

Bait Choice:

Carp Coarse Joe Chappell

Fishing for Pennies.

Fishing is one of those sports where you can spend thousands of pounds or nothing and have the same results. As much as I love going fishing with all the kit including the kitchen sink, sometimes it’s just not needed. Under some circumstances, expensive rods, reels, boilies, glugs, alarms and all the other trappings can result in more fish on the bank. Sometimes it’s just not needed. Last week, I enjoyed a days stalking at my local park lake and it cost me a grand total of about £1.50.

Let’s talk bait! On the day I had about half a kilo of frozen corn which cost about 50p, and about half a kilo of pellet. There are loads of different pellets out there, but generic coarse pellets are great and when bought in bulk, good value. For hook baits, I spent about half an hour digging for worms in my mum’s flowerbed the day before. This was completely free! To keep costs down, it can be a good idea to get an annual ticket for somewhere. The annual membership for my park lake was just £60, which is a bargain if you ask me.

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Armed with my corn, pellets, worms, rod and reel my mum dropped me off at the lake at about half past 7. I started as I always do when stalking, walking. I did a lap of the lake while baiting several likely looking areas in the margin before doing another couple of laps. On my third lap, I noticed fizzing over one of the spots where I’d baited so I decided to flick out my worm and wait.

My tactics were the same as I mentioned in my last blog however this time, after some advice from several fellow anglers, I fished the float dead on depth. It didn’t take long for something to slurp up my worm and pull the float under. I struck but realised I hadn’t hooked a carp. It was in fact an eel however (un)fortunately – depending on how you look at it – it came off. Undeterred, I rebaited, recast, and waited. The fizzing has died down however my float pulled under again. I struck but once again this was no carp, a perch came up to the surface before violently shaking its head, spitting the hook, and diving to the depths never to be seen again.

After standing back and giving the swim a rest for five minutes in the hope of a carp returning, I saw nothing so decided to keep walking and checking the spots I’d baited prior. After only a couple of minutes walking, I noticed some coloured water over one of the spot’s I’d baited. I adjusted the depth of my float before dropping a juicy worm over the spot. I waited longer than I expected but eventually, a carp picked up my worm and I was in. This spot is definitely the most productive for me when stalking and it didn’t fail to live up to expectations. My reward was a beautiful and plump common carp.

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After that fish, I continued walking and stalking, missing a few chances. I hooked into a carp and even managed to get the bite on camera however unfortunately it came off. I also managed to catch a small eel. Despite having to re-tie my hook afterwards it was welcome because it was species number 8 for me in the species hunt.

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About an hour after catching the eel, I noticed a larger carp and a small carp feeding over one of my spots. I could just about make out the shadow of their bodies and I was so excited. I lowered my worm into position and after just a couple minutes, it shot up then under. I struck, hoping that it was the bigger carp that I had spotted. Unfortunately, it was neither the big carp nor the small carp. It was in fact a new PB perch. It wasn’t massive, maybe just over a pound but it was the first proper perch I’ve ever caught so it was more than welcome.

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Despite my patience and best efforts to temp them. The bigger carp didn’t return. I decided to continue my walk and to check the spots I’d baited. After an uneventful hour, I once again noticed some carp feeding on the spot where I’d caught the perch. After a little while with my worm in the water, I was into my fourth fish of the day which was another common carp. It wasn’t the biggest, but it put a smile on my face.

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By now the wind was picking up and it was getting cold. The fishing was getting harder, so I decided to call it a day. All in all, it was a great days fishing and I can’t wait to return.