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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
Guest Lure Sea

Hartlepool marina.

Hartlepool is situated on the north east coast of England. Its a small town with a beautiful coast line, passionate football fans, a memorable nickname (monkey hangers) and a marina. The marina can hold up to 500 boats, hosted the tall ships event in 2010 and is again in 2023. It has pubs, restaurants and hotels surrounding it too. It’s also home to a lot of fish, of at least 20 species.

I fish it on a regular basis with the rest of the admin team of a Facebook group I help run called Hartlepool Lure & LRF. Kie, Aidan, Andrew, Andy and Paddy. Between us we’ve caught some cracking, strange and unexpected fish from here. If you read on you’ll find out what some of those fish are and what time of the year we caught them.

The sea scorpion. We have long and short spines in there, these are one of my favourite fish we catch out of there. the long spined are there all year round but the short spined are quite rare and we’ve only seen them caught in December and January with Paddy and Kie catching the biggest.

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Kie admiring his awesome catch.
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Paddy, looking like he wanted to eat this huge SS sea scorpion.

The plaice and flounder are caught pretty much all year round excluding February and March when we think they breed because they would swim past, under our feet and ignore everything we put in front of them. Aidan has caught some huge plaice.

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Codling range from about 4 inches long up to 2-3lb. We seem to catch the larger ones in the colder months, the small ones are there pretty much all year round. Andy and Andrew have caught the biggest.

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We have 3 different species of wrasse that turn up in the summer months and disappear in the colder ones. We get goldsinny wrasse, corkwing wrasse and ballan wrasse. Fishing a splitshot rig with a small hooks is definitely the best way to catch them, fishing with either isome type worms or ragworm works really well.

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Whiting and coalfish seem to be ever present,  sparce in the summer months but plentiful in the Autumn and winter. These can be caught on hard lures, isome type worms and bait. Throwing a prawn in with entice a coalfish before anything else, ragworm or squid seem to attract the whiting.

We also get other fish that are a little bit rarer and don’t get caught as often as the others. Leopard spotted goby, common blenny, eel pout, butter fish, thornback ray, haddock big eels and lump sucker.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our little marina, if anyone has any plans to come and fish it anytime don’t hesitate to ask for a few spots and pointers.

Thanks again for reading.

Instagram: Kev_goes_fishin

Facebook: Hartlepool lure and LRF.

Categories
Guest Lure Sea

South shields

Setting off at 8 a.m with a friend, heading towards some rockpools that we’d never fished before. Expecting nothing but hoping for everything, or at least a new species. It turned out to be harder than we thought it would be, more frustrating than we thought it would be, warmer than it was meant to be but still very enjoyable.


We had to really work for our fish in these rockpools. Slipping and stumbling over the seaweed and rocks, I dropped my lure in every little bit of water I came across. It was tough going so we split up to try and find some occupied pools. Eventually, after about 45 minutes of searching I found a small pool that was deeper than the rest, dropping a lure in I immediately had a take.

A very welcome common blenny or shanny. Just as we were about to leave the rock pools, I found a big stone that created a ledge: it looked very “fishy”. These small fish are very fast and another common blenny shocked me by taking my lure as quick as a flash, back into his little shelter. It was safely put back after a quick photograph.


Our next location was about a 10 minute drive and as equally frustrating. We decided to fish the river Tyne for the first time, we were quickly getting small bites on our dropshoted gulp/isome but hooking up seemed difficult. We soon realised why when I pull up a small but cool looking codling, the fish were tiny. After a few more fish, Andrew changed to a smaller hook and pulled out one of smallest Long spined sea scorpions we’ve ever seen. I changed to carolina rig to try and tempt a flatfish but had no luck. We moved on.


South sheilds pier is a mile long and our next spot. The last time we fished this pier we caught one fish between us so anything over that and we’d be happy. We got the car parked and headed off, stopping before the gate to try for a mackerel. Half way up the pier it became apparent that we would be catching plenty of coalies today. Infact that’s all we caught for the next hour. Different techniques caught different sized coalies, small metals and isome doing the job.

We had to head home, walking off the pier I was itching to throw my metal out again as I’d seen a few mackerel brought in. We stopped at the same spot we fished when walking onto to the pier to have a try. First chucking and I was into a fish, I instantly knew it was a mackerel. Tightening my drag, I could enjoy the fight. Hoping that it wouldn’t come off I lifted up the side of the pier, thankfully it was hooked by an assist hook that a good friend made, it had no chance of coming off. 

Thank you

Kevin.

Kev_goes_fishin. Hartlepool lure & LRF

Categories
Guest Lure Sea

Brixham and Plymouth LRF

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During my long and awful 10hr drive home from Brixham to Hartlepool, I had time to think about the fishing I had done and the people I had met. While my family slept and gazed out of the windows at mostly stationary traffic, my mind wandered to the week we’d just had, specifically the fishing.

Arriving on Friday I was keen to get out and see what I could catch, searching for spots that a local angler had giving me. I was excited to wet a line. The first spot I fished was underneath a small pier, on slippy, seaweed covered rocks. Using a 1.5g jighead and a small length of pink isome. I was straight into what I thought was a lot of small pouting, these turned out to be poor cod, a new species for me.

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My first poor cod.

The second day I was up early to fish another mark and started to find more species. Corkwing wrasse were everywhere, aswell as small pollock and more poor cod. My 4th species that morning was another new one for me: a rock goby. Easily identified by the yellow/orange tip on the first dorsal fin. All of these fish were caught using a small length of Berkeley gulp, camo in colour, fished on a dropshot rig and a size 12 hook.

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Corker of a corkwing wrasse.
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Rock goby

I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to fish Plymouth after all the great fish I’ve seen caught from there. So, when we went to visit the National marine aquarium there I took my rod and managed about an hour fishing on a small pier on some steps. I was fishing in 2ft of water so I wasn’t hopeful of getting anything but after a few casts, some definite interest and some positive follows I was into an unfamiliar fish. A common dragonet, another first for me and definitely my favourite of the trip.

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A common dragonet.

After a couple of days without any fishing, enjoying family time, some nice drinks and amazing food, I met up with Brixham regulars Richard Salter and Jon owens. Charlie lerfer also made the long journey to join us for the day. We fished Brixham breakwater, starting at the base and ending up near the end. We caught a lot of fish between us and a total of 10 different species. I arrived before anyone else and before any of the guys turned up I had already had a goldsinny wrasse, corkwing wrasse, rock goby and a small pollock. Jon turned up next and pointed me in the direction the black gobys, I caught one straight away. Richard and Charlie turned up soon after this and we fished the same spot for a couple of hours.

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Goldsinny wrasse.
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Corkwing wrasse.

We moved on to the end of the pier, I switched to a Carolina rig. I started to catch a few Ballan wrasse, all on a small length of pink isome.

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Me, standing over my first and biggest Ballan of the day.

Unfortunately, Charlie had to leave us to head home. Jon, Rich and myself fished on for few more hour. Once the quiet patch had passed, the tide started to turn and rise, we were back in to fish. Each of us catching wrasse, pouting and small pollock. Rich had caught a couple of tompot blennys, a species which I’ve never caught yet. I changed back to a drop shot rig to target one, Rich caught another and I had no luck. Definitely my bogey species. I finished the day with 8 species: Ballan wrasse, corkwing wrasse, goldsinny wrasse, pouting, pollock, poor cod, black goby and rock goby.

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Pouting
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Black goby.

We had a 20 minute spell searching for mackerel until we called it a day. The Devon heat had gotten to all of us. It was great to meet up with these guys, I learnt a lot. Including how to rig and use a “stinger rig”.

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The “stinger rig”. Pretty simple really. A cheb weight, this one is 3.5g. A size 12 long shank hook or similar and a tango hook. Designed for and used to catch the smaller fish the nibble the end of a lure/ isomer type worm.

Going back to the 10hr drive home, I remember saying to my wife Sam “never again, its not worth it”. I regret saying this because it is worth it, every second of travel. If you like LRF wether you’re a beginner or an experienced LRF angler, give Brixham a visit, you won’t be dissapointed.

Thanks

Kevin Benton

Instagram: Kev_goes_fishin

Facebook: Hartlepool lure and LRF

Categories
Coarse Guest

The Elusive Silver Bream

Spring 2021 has been a season of fascinating rediscovery of my local fishy riches.

As predominantly a river angler, but also a scientist working on water systems globally and particularly over recent years in Asia, I have generally saved up my long research trips for the weeks after the Ides of March.  At that time, the river season has just ended and I have enjoyed my birthday with my family on the Ides.  Also, helpfully from a scientific point of view, India is in the drier part of its year leading up to the monsoon.

In spring 2021, for obvious reasons, I have been homebound.  But I have been enjoying it so much that is it getting me thinking about how I’d like to spend my remaining springs.

One major surprise, resulting from being in and around home with opportunities to fish, has been that I never thought I’d fall in love with a canal!  To me, canals were previously not only not particularly local but were also not particularly interesting as, to my eyes, they do not flow and lacked features.  But, this spring, those two assumptions were blown out of the water, so to speak, as I learned how fish respond to the subtlest of water movements such as the distant opening of lock sluices or wind fetch as well as the passage of boats.  I also realised that features were not always obvious, but were certainly there to be found.Aside from the roach, common bream, tench, rudd and occasional eel, reacquainting myself with ruffe was a real joy!  Amazingly, I have already published four books in the first half of 2021, and the title of one of them – Ruffe: The Spiky Little Freshwater Ruffian (which you can find on Facebook @Drredfinrods) – says is all about this feisty and most characterful of tiddlers.

ruffe mark

But the fish that has most captured my heart this spring has been the silver bream.  I have knowingly caught silver bream on and off since at least the 1970s, in Kent, Sussex, from the Thames and assorted other places.  But, this spring, I have enjoyed them particularly on the Kennet and Avon Canal, catching them on so many different baits and tactics.  I have had them on bread, worm, maggots and corn, and on the lift method, bomb, feeder and on the pole.  The fact that this has included successive personal bests – currently 1lb 4½oz – is not really the point.  What I have enjoyed most is re-familiarising myself with how really very handsome these much-neglected fishes are.  Those pectoral and ventral fins are a rich amber, particularly at their bases, and the flanks are brilliantly silvery; in fact, that you only really appreciate how silver they are when you see how bleached the photos are when you have held the fish for a ‘specimen shot’!

silver bream mark

And silver bream are tragically overlooked despite their attractive and sporting qualities.  A few very experienced anglers that I know have confided with me that they had not even heard of a silver bream until I started posting photos of them.  More than a few have also admitted quietly that they could not identify one with any confidence, and probably would have dismissed them as ‘skimmer bream’ or roach-bream hybrids.  Yet the silver bream is relatively widespread, and the British rod-caught record weight is more or less the same weight as that of the much-loved (not least by me) roach.

It is time for a renaissance in our appreciation of what must be Britain’s most neglected freshwater fish.  The handsome silver bream is a native species deserving greater attention and respect; fun to catch in most seasons and on a range of baits and methods.  I hope you too can fall in love this this fish, finding a place in your heart for it and raising its profile as a worthy quarry for all to enjoy!

Categories
Guest Lure

Fishing in Sweden: The Life Changing Fish!

Fishing isn’t a sport or a hobby it’s a life choice. And yes I’m not afraid to say it, I am, 100% fishing and aren’t we all?! 

But seriously, fishing is a sport like no other, anglers experience special moments on every trip. But one trip, one morning, one mad experience all through fishing, may perhaps of changed my life forever. 

November 18th 2020, the UK is manifested in its 2nd COVID-19 Lockdown. Thank the lord for the Angling Trust for allowing fishing to continue. On this very same day, I was in a place called Storuman. A town in the North of Sweden; which I’m sure most of you know, didn’t lockdown and cracked on (each to their own I guess?). Nevertheless, I’m sure with snow dancing off the Pine leaves, Storuman looks magical. Alas for me, it was a solid 5 degrees and looked like a 70’s built council estate. Weirdly had the best Pad Thai I’ve ever had here – which makes things even weirder.

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I was on day 12 of a very rogue fishing road trip around the country. I’d quit my job and gone. Scandi Airways to Stockholm from Manny Manchester and I was away! From there, the plan was to drive around the country fishing everywhere I went. Which if you haven’t seen my YouTube, is where this all started (link below!)

Storuman, was a pit stop before heading further North. Arctic Charr fishing in the North Pole, how random?! But November 18th is a strange day for me. It’s the anniversary of my dad and November 18 2020 marked 2 years since he passed away. 

My old man was the man who got me into fishing and why I’m so passionate about the sport to this day. He told me to never stop fishing, it might save your life/marriage one day. He’s been right about one part! The fish that really turned his rod on though was the Sea Trout. For those who haven’t caught one…the sheer power. Pound for pound one of the hardest fighting fish. He never managed to catch that special 8ib+ fish and it eluded him to the day he died. Although if I’m honest he landed numerous 5-6ib Sea Trout so why was he grumbling?

For his anniversary I planned to throw a line in the morning and get driving in the evening. Luckily, this tiny remote Swedish town had a tackle shop. You guessed it, the Swedes are more fishing crazy than us! I got a day ticket to fish the Ume River, which flows between Lake Storuman and many others. Known for its Charr, Pike, Grayling, Lake Trout, White Fish, Perch, Salmon and Sea Trout (if you hadn’t guessed fishing heaven imagine being renowned for that many species!), I felt the chances were in my favour in terms of a catch. I parked Renault Clio up on the side of the E45 and walked down to the bank side, where the lake narrows and starts to form more of a river. With my Rigged and Ready Adventure X5 in toe I set up a light Perch rod, hoping to jig a deep hole next to an unused bridge. 

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However, I’d purchased this Roach like jelly lure that I would wanted to test the action on. So I lobbed it out in to what was a shallow bay in front of me. The water was crystal clear; perfect for a tester.  I started my retrieve after a couple of seconds letting the lure slowly sink, one jerk, two jerk, three jerk, then a sudden reality in my tummy set in that could only mean one thing…

Before I could blink the fish was charging into the major flow of the river. My heart was pounding, line streaming out the real, my clutch was loose and that wasn’t the only thing. Before I could gain some composure the fish erupted out the water. A bar of silver in the sky! My mind went salmon. That time of year, this weight and size, I WAS OVER THE MOON!

After a good 5 minutes of back and forth with the fish I finally got a glimpse of my prize. The spots below the lateral line the square tail, it could only mean one thing. Sea Trout. And not just any Sea Trout, but a BIG Sea Trout. A million attempts later trying to fit this colossal beast in my far from adequate Aliexpress travel net the fish was in the net, with the net bursting at the seems.  

I got the fish on the bank and just WOW! The large black spots reminded me of a day after a hike in the Trough of Bowland in the October prior and this fish took my breath completely away. I MEAN LOOK AT THAT TROUT! 

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It topped the scales at 9ib and I couldn’t have been more surprised or just taken a back! This is a one in a life time fish for any angler!! I got the fish back and watching it swim off was just as satisfying as catching this awesome fish. A strong tail kick and back into the Swedish wilderness it went.

As the hype/Adrenalin/Madness wore off the reality dawned. 9ib Sea Trout, 2 years to the day he passed away, coinciding with me getting my act together in life and the fish he’d tried to catch all his life? 

Sorry but some things happen for a reason.

Hope you enjoyed this and honestly no words can explain. Big thanks to EssexAnglers for wanting me to share my fishing journey! Love and peace – Bangaveragetravelandfishing!

Check out my first ever video and this awesome fish and fight over on my YouTube channel or Instagram now and make sure you suffice and follow to keep up to date ! 

https://youtube.com/channel/UCpc0lwvGYJaRajfKX9-0MEQ

Categories
Guest

LRF – Flounder On A Bladed Jighead

Flounder just epitomise LRF (Light Rock Fishing) to me… Quirky looking, surprisingly aggressive and fight so well on light tackle. Knowing that they start to come back from spawning in May, could I catch an early one? A trip to Cornwall was on the cards…

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One of the most entertaining LRF target species.

Flounder return from their spawning grounds in deeper water, hungry and aggressive. They have successfully served their purpose for another year and spend the rest of spring and summer building back up their fat reserves. Although they aren’t traditionally targeted by most anglers in these months, for me, this is the best time to find them. These fish are lean and fit, ready to take on any prey they can get their jaws around!

”These jigheads scream flounder, bass and gurnard to me, so I was excited to try them out”

Recently, I had badgered Jon Owens (Jonny Lerfer on Facebook and Instagram) to order the Magbite Blading Jigheads in, and of course he came up with the goods. These jigheads scream flounder, bass and gurnard to me, so I was excited to try them out. They have a thick, strong hook, with a small blade underneath coming from an extended lead head. Flatfish love bling and these seemed perfect. I couldn’t wait to give them a dipping.

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The Magbite Bladed Jighead

Keitech make exceptional soft plastic lures. I have tried and caught on most but there was one I had eyes on that day. The Mini Wag is a perfect worm imitation, especially in natural pink. Scented with squid like most Keitech lures, it has a mad wriggling tail. Unlike your average curl tail it wiggles from the middle of the tail, not the end, so it’s really unusual. Combined with the Bladed Jighead, I had a combo with great potential, but could I find the fish?

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The Keitech MIni Wag

The tide was pushing in around the harbour and with it, hopefully some predators. I often find flounder will hug the structure, skirting the base of the harbour walls hunting for any fleeing prawns, fish and worms in the onrushing tide.

In classic Cornish fashion, myself and Jon were sharing the quay with tourists from across the UK. There were a variety of accents, ordering drinks and enjoying chips and pasties. Cornwall has a love hate relationship with the tourists that make their way to the county every year – they cause chaos but the money is vital for the locals. As angling tourists though, me and Jon were more interested in the life below the waterline rather than expanding our waistlines.

”a vortex of swirling food, an ideal ambush spot for a bass or flounder”

I flicked the lure out, letting it drop so I could work it along the base of the wall, jigging up and then stopping regularly. The tide was pushing over the slipway, created a vortex of swirling food, an ideal ambush spot for a bass or flounder I thought.

The technique is super simple.. Let the lure hit the bottom and leave it for a few seconds. Once the slack is tightened, I then flick the rod tip gently to lift the lure and spark it into action. A couple of turns of the reel bring lure closer, covering the ground, after that I let it sink back down and stop again. For any bottom dwelling species, this is the ultimate lure technique – stop go, stop go, stop go. It keeps the lure in the strike zone.

”There were no bass like headshakes, only the resistance of an angry flatfish!”

After lots of casts working my way around the harbour, about half way in the rod bent round into substantial weight. The fish had taken the lure on the drop and as I tightened the slack I set the hook. This felt good! There were no bass like headshakes, only the resistance of an angry flatfish!

Spring flounder are far more aggressive and active than in winter, they hit lures with ferocity and fight hard. This fish was no different. It went on a number of drag ripping runs, giving it hell to avoid being netted. The hookhold was strong though in the flatfish’s bony jaws. With a now captivated audience of tourists it was in the net. My first decent lure caught flounder of the year.

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The prize!

We moved out of the way of the now gathering holiday makers, onto some steps to get photos. Other than scorpion fish and gurnard, flounder are my favourite muse. If you get the angle right – photographed from their bottom jaw up – you can really capture their moody nature. Photograph them from the other side and they look a little dorky – these are quirky fish after all!

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Moody looking creatures don’t you agree?

After admiring the fish’s mottled markings, burgundy spots and bony head, I held the flounder in the water. The fish caught it’s breath and kicked away powerfully. The tactic had worked first time and this was the earliest in Spring I had caught a flounder. Everything bodes well for a great season to come.

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See what I mean about looking dorky from this angle?

Thanks for reading. You can find the jigheads and similar items on Jonny’s website –
https://japanjonnylerfer.bigcartel.com/product/blading-skirted-jigheads
The Keitech Mini Wag can be bought here –

https://www.chesilbaitntackle.co.uk/keitech-mad-wag-mini-25-31397-p.asp

The set up
ROD – Majorcraft N-One NSL-S662H/AJI 0.8-12g
REEL – Shimano Stradic 1000
MAINLINE – Majorcraft Dangan Braid 8lb
LEADER – Majorcraft Fluoro leader 4lb
Find more articles like this on my blog – www.benbassettfishing.home.blog

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Carping On with Steve Quinlivan

My Fishing Journey, by Steve Quinlivan

My first memory of ‘fishing’ was crabbing with my father and brother. Ok, not what you would call fishing today, but that was nearly 30 years ago.

I then got into fishing a bit more seriously at school where we had our own lake, mainly stocked with silvers and bream, but one legendary carp called Big Bertha. I never did catch Bertha, but did spend most of my free time silver bashing with a simple set up, hook and a little stick float and using bread moulded around the hook.

I did however, manage to win a school fishing match, with 1st prize being an old keep net, by catching a dinner plate sized bream. Once I left school for college, the fishing died off as I focused on studies and life.

However, the fishing shows on TV – Matt Hayes Fishing etc. soon had my interest peaked and I went carp fishing a couple of times with a friend and loved it, but didn’t have the money to get any kit. My father knew I really wanted to do it and managed to find an almost complete carp starter set up 2nd hand off of eBay. That was it, I was down the bank every moment I could.

Not really knowing what I was doing, throwing out big balls of ground bait wrapped around a method, with sweetcorn on the hair. I would manage a few carp every now and again, with the biggest being around 18lbs. While I was waiting for the alarms to scream off I would have a little whip, and amuse myself silver bashing. Due to work, life and getting frustrated with not really catching, I eventually reduced the amount of time on the bank and finally stopped, chucked the gear in the shed and forgot about it.

Move ahead about 10 years and I moved house and found the gear in the shed, most of which the mice had gotten to, but thought why not go out on the bank again. So, I visited the fishery that I had previously been to. It had all changed, new owners, landscaped, new fish stops, lakes redesigned.

Honestly, I didn’t enjoy it as before and didn’t catch. This led me to visit the local Angling Direct store to ask for advice. Not only did they point me to my now favourite commercial fishery that is 2 miles from my house, but also introduced me to Steve, an amazing angler who works at Hinders Baits, who also happens to share my name. With his advice and direction, I caught some carp on my 1st trip. Nothing to call home about, but enough to get me hooked on the sport again. I met Steve a few times on the bank and his tips and direction, especially around tight, accurate and consistent casting, soon had me catching more carp but, I wanted more. So I booked a personal 1 to 1 tuition with Steve, not only did I learn a lot, but I had the best days fishing of my life (up to that point!), catching some stunning carp.

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We ended the day on 37 carp on the bank. From there and with Steve taking me under his wing, I have been consistently improving. With my average day session catch rate going from 7 carp to 50.

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About a year later, I met up with Steve for day session at the local fishery and he surprised me with the opportunity to join the Hinders Bait family as a Product Field Tester, which of course I jumped at. Just after that, I was doing some promotion work with Steve at the local fishery, getting some video content for some new products. The aim of the day was to do some filming, not really go for the numbers and get the content we needed. This quickly changed to one of the best sessions of my life. While we got the content, it soon became apparent that the conditions were perfect, the carp were on the feed and we were in the right spot. 9 hours later, a few retakes on camera, and I had landed over 120 carp. My arms hurts, my back hurt, but the smile on my face said it all. A day I will never forget.

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I also had the opportunity to do some proper carp fishing with Steve at Linear Fisheries, with the direct aim of beating my old PB of 18 Lbs. Which over 2 nights / 3 days we managed to do, not once, or twice but 3 times in succession, with my new PB now standing at 25Lbs. What an amazing session. Since then I have been learning and absorbing all the angling knowledge from Steve and Hinders so that I can improve my techniques and catch rates.

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That’s my fishing career up to now. Still more to learn, new fisheries to visit and more fish to catch. Feed tight, Fish tight, Steve.

https://www.facebook.com/carpingonwithsteveq

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A Passion for Tench

I began fishing with my late grandfather when I was six years old. Usually, I played gilly in the earlier days but even that was a right buzz for me! Just spending precious time with my grandad was enough but the fishing was an extra bonus. We’d usually fish the Basingstoke canal or a local estate lake called Stoneham. Stoneham was what gripped me and what fuelled my passion for angling it was a glorious place to fish! It had two lakes a larger top lake which held larger sized carp and the bottom lake which was more of a mixed fishery. Both had giant trees all around them and various types of bushes. The banks were surrounded in vegetation. The lakes had pads in almost every swim. It really was a magical place to be!

My grandad was a traditionalist and always fished a float rod coupled with a centrepin. I used the same set up minus the centre pin as I couldn’t be trusted at the time. My grandad would always fish the swim next door so he could keep a close eye on me. One particular session I could remember an eruption of bubbles around my float! My grandad explained to me that it was tench behind the jacuzzi. I’d never caught a tench so I was super keen to hook one! I can remember missing several bites. At the end of the session, my grandad asked how I got on and I explained the situation and the next session he set me up on the lift method and explained in great detail on what I had to do and how I could go about catching these mythical red-eyed creatures that turned my swim into a jacuzzi!

That trip I was sat on the edge of my seat box rod in hand eagerly awaiting for that float to rise up! After a generous amount of 6mm halibut pellets were fed into the swim a short while later the bubbles began to break the surface. I attached my sweet corn hook bait and lowered the float into position. It was now down to me. The half-hour or so later the float rose out of depths and I struck into my first hard fighting tench! Luck was on my side and I landed my first ever tench! As soon as the tench graced my net my grandfather patted me on the back! I was over the moon! And overwhelmed at the age of ten id caught my first ever tench. After spending many years catching roach, Rudd & perch hooking a tench was something else and that’s what planted the tench seed!

Time to move on to pastures new After years of angling on local estate lakes catching tench around the 6lb mark, I really wanted to target some seriously big specimen tench! Each year I’d fish for various species suited to the time of year they favour the most. So springtime was set aside for the tench. As fate would have it a ticket came up which held some monster-sized tench this got me very excited indeed! A friend showed me a handful of photos of some doubles he’d caught whilst carp fishing before my first session which got the fire really burning! It was early April and the weather was still cold. This didn’t dampen my spirits as it’s always exciting to fish a new venue. I arrived late morning and due to the northeasterly winds, I didn’t see anything in the form of tench rolling etc. I had a good lead about and dropped in the deeper end of the lake. By this time it was getting on. I favoured a hard area amongst some silt situated next to some weed growth.

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The spot was the size of a brolly big enough to place two rods. Due to the weather and it still being cold I was dubious on whether the tench would feed at all so I didn’t want to overdo it on the bait so I put out six spombs which consisted of red maggot and hemp. My chosen setups were to use my two trusty Drennan MK1 Bream and tench rods coupled with Shimano bait runner reels loaded with 10lb esp synchro. The venue was weedy and held large carp so I wanted to be safe than sorry! My end tackle consisted of two large Drennan maggot feeders fished helicopter style with two short three-inch hook links with size fourteen Drennan super specialist barbel hooks. My chosen hook baits were two red maggots on each. I taped each feeder up with black tape to slow down the distribution of maggot. The rods were out for a short amount of time and the left rod screamed off and I was into my first tench from the venue. It was Spritely Male which weighed around 6lb I was very happy indeed! The first fish from a new venue was always a special one!

Night soon fell and the Male was the only tench to grace my net that evening. It was a sleepless night wondering how my first session would pan out. Before long the sun began to rise and the anticipation of the morning ahead left a sickly taste in my mouth where the adrenaline began to kick in! I recast my feeders fully loaded with juicy maggots onto the spot. During the night the easterly wind dropped off and it was a lot warmer I was feeling very confident! I began to see a few tench roll close to my baited area! A short while later and the left rod tore off and I hooked into what I thought was a large carp! I was wrong!

When I eventually got the fish close to the bank the fish rolled and it was a large tench! I was in bits! I hoped and prayed that it didn’t fall off and fortunately for me, it didn’t and on my first trip I’d landed a decent tench! It went 9.8lb which at the time was a new personal best I was over the moon! A new personal best tench on my first trip! It was a happy drive home indeed! I thought the season ahead would be a lucky one! I was wrong very wrong!

Time to rethink my tactics As the days went on the temperature rose as did the water temperature with this came the eels! And there were heaps of eels! My favourite tactics when fishing for tench are maggot feeders with maggot hook baits or worm. On this venue, it was impossible the bootlace sized eels were relentless. I’m not afraid to admit this but I chucked in the towel that season and pursued crucians. All the time I targeted the crucians I had a bitter taste in my mouth about the tench venue!

Carp anglers would send me pictures of monster tench they’d caught which only rubbed salt into my wounds. The whole year I plotted in my head how I’d tackle the venue the following spring. Soon enough spring came around and I’d binned the maggot and worm approach and opted to fish boilies as the carp anglers would sometimes struggle to feed off the tench some mornings!

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The venue is silty and weedy so my new approach was to fish Drennan open-end feeders helicopter style with three-inch hooklinks with size ten kurve shank hooks and my chosen hook baits were dynamite baits source 14mm hardened hook baits heavily glugged in matching liquid. I’d fish my new approach over a big bed of hemp, pellet and chopped and the whole boilie. I’d also add a generous amount of liquid worm extract. I was unsure of how this new approach would fare but time would tell. I also found regularly recasting wasn’t doing me any favours either! So I’d fish like carp anglers do also. Heavily bait up when I arrive and cast out and leave the rods out until I get a bite.

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My first session with my new “Carpy twist” was a gamble but I didn’t have anything to lose. I fished a new area in the middle of the lake and found a spot again close to some fresh weed growth. I bailed heavily with my chosen mix. It was May and the temps had been consistently in the twenty’s for a while so I knew the tench would be active and would be game for a feed! I put out ten medium-sized spombs with my chosen bed of bait. I cast my feeders out with optimism. It was a quiet night but I knew that the majority of tench fed from first light to lunchtime anyway. I recast my feeders onto my chosen area and waited to see how my new plans would pan out.

That morning was a hectic one and I lost count on the amount of tench I’d caught! Could this be a fluke? That spring was a successful one indeed but no doubles graced my net but at last, I’d cracked the venues code! I knew it would be a matter of time before I landed my intended quarry in the form of my first double from the venue! And the following spring I upped the anti! I pre-baited a couple of areas when I could with hemp, pellet and boilie. Before a session, I’d also make sure I heavily pre-baited which meant when I wished I’d just fish the feeders and in turn try not to create a lot of disturbance.

That spring again was a successful one and I got my first double from the venue in the form of a 10.8lb specimen. Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?

When the going gets tough I often find if you really start to bang your head Against the wall on a venue it’s sometimes good to take a break and fish other venues just to take a break and clear your head! I’ve found when doing this you can some times have some red-letter days! One spring I took a break away from fishing my usual tench venue as I fancied fishing my favourite Maggot and worm approach without getting eel’ed out! I fished a gravel pit a little further from home. Using my trusty maggot feeders fished heli style with short hook links with worm hook baits over big beds of hemp and maggot I landed several big tench weighing over 8lb 9lb with the biggest going 10.3lb. Sometimes having a break can relight that fire! And potentially land you some special fish. The fish of a lifetime.

Spring 2019 was a fruitful one indeed! My shortest tench campaign to date and the most successful to date in terms of catching special tench! This particular spring I’d only managed to get out for three overnight sessions but on my third, I landed a fish I only ever dreamt of catching! I arrived in the afternoon around 5.00 pm. This trip I decided to not put out any boilies in my spomb mix! Just purely hemp and pellet. My thought process behind this would be that my boilie hook bait would stick out like a sore thumb! I did what I usually did and put out around ten spombs onto the chosen area in the afternoon. After out went my feeders.

The night was a quiet one as was first light but the weather was bang on! Warm, overcast and drizzly! My favourite tench conditions! Around 7.30 am my right rod absolutely melted off! From the off, I thought I was into one of the lakes larger carp! And if I’d of lost it I would have said to everyone that it was a carp! The fight was intense and my 2lb test curve tench rods were taking a beating indeed! The fish flat rodded me on several occasions before eventually slowing down and making its way towards my net! It engulfed the surface and I knew it was it was truly something special! When I lifted the net I struggled I then knew it could potentially be 11lb+ but when the scales spun past the 11lb mark I couldn’t believe my eyes! When it settled on 12.8lb I was even more in shock! Three years of graft every spring all for this special moment! A dream come true!

The Spring that we thought we’d never see 2020 Like everyone else due to COVID and the lockdown, all anglers didn’t think we’d get to see spring! I honestly thought I wouldn’t see a tench that spring! But good old Boris gave us anglers the “green light” and indeed that meant I could target my favourite spring green giants! What unfolded I could of never of foreseen or predicted! I fished four overnight sessions for heaps of tench! 7s 8s 9s and two doubles going 10lb and 11.4lb Just when all hope was lost anglers all around the UK graced the banks.

Favourite tench baits Depending on the venue depends what bait I’ll use. If the venue holds eels I’ll opt to use sweet corn, pellet or fishmeal boilie hook baits Such as the ever-faithful source. I’ll use open-end feeders with a fishmeal ground bait such as dynamite baits halibut pellet ground bait with a generous lashing of salmon oil for extra added attraction. My spod mix will contain dynamite baits frenzied hemp, 6mm halibut pellet and whole and chopped source boilies. With a generous amount of liquid worm extract. If the venue doesn’t hold eels then I’ll opt to fish maggot feeders with worm and maggot hook baits. I’ll fish this method over big beds of dynamite baits frenzied hemp, 6mm pellet, dead and live red maggot and chopped and the whole worm.

How I go about tackling a new venue and how I start a new campaign. I’ll walk a new venue as much as I can looking and watching and taking everything in! Your eyes are the best piece of tackle you’ll own! That and a marker rod! I’ll always lead about and write down in a notebook the number of wraps to clear areas or features. This saves you time when you actually turn up to fish. If you put in the groundwork beforehand you’ll maximise the time you can actually fish! If I can I’ll also pre bait this to will enhance your chances of catching. Tench are very nomadic so take note where you see them rolling as that’ll be where they like to feed.

My favourite features for tench are underwater. Clear areas next to weed beds. If you see plenty of tench feeding and rolling amongst the weed either rake the area or heavily pre bait it and make it fishable. You don’t need lots of time to tench fish. The first light to lunchtime is a great time to catch tench and I’ll often just fish these times. Walking lakes around this time is also a great time to spot fish and where they like To feed.

Variety is the spice of life I couldn’t think of anything worse than just fishing for one species of fish. So every year I get out my calendar and set out what time of year I’ll be targeting what species. January, February and March I’d be on the rivers if they were fishable fishing for chub, barbel and roach. And when the rivers closed in March I’d fish for still water perch until April. April, May and June id fish for crucians and tench. July, August and September I’d fish for eels and Rudd then come October onwards I’d be back on the rivers again. Varying my angling keeps everything exciting and it’s always a challenge especially when fishing new venues. Fishing for everything is what fuels my fire.

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A Season to Remember

As an all-round angler, the start of each season brings excitement and new challenges. Plans that have been made, start to become reality, as tickets are purchased and new bits of tackle are unpacked in hope they will be the tools to help me achieve my dreams.
A couple of seasons ago I prepared more than I had ever done before, in terms of having several venues selected and targets set. Spring, summer, autumn and winter fishing was organised in my head and I couldn’t wait to get cracking. But life and work always has other plans and right at the start of spring, before I had even got the tench and bream rods ready, my wife unfortunately slipped a disc badly in her back. On top of that the fisheries I run, had really kicked off and were at their busiest.
Suddenly all my big plans were up in the air and I started to except the season was going to not be as I planned and just getting out fishing for anything would be a bonus. That’s the reality for most of us, so it’s not a sob story or a whinge. Going fishing always has to put in perspective and family and work must come first to achieve a happy balance.
I just had to work around my problems, so my fishing time was kept to short, often first light, morning sessions, before the school run. Or, I would do overnight sessions, arriving in the dark and packing up before rush hour. Every now and again I did manage to get away for an afternoon and the rare, luxury 24-hour session.
But what I did have on my side was picking the best conditions to go in, along with venues which I knew could produce the specimen fish I was hoping for. I’ve always said that timing is more important than time itself. And if you have a flexible life or job you can make the most of it.
It actually took me a while to realise how being self-employed was a huge advantage to catching more specimen fish. I probably put in the same amount of rod hours I did when I had a “nine to five” type job, but I now can put my precise time into the best conditions for the species I’m after. That sounds simple and sometimes it is, but I still get things wrong and sometimes the weather conditions promised are different to what comes along.
My spring campaign started out on a couple of local gravel pits just to get the dust off the gear and enjoy catching an few tench or bream. Nothing big, I just wanted to build some confidence up before I tackled the more challenging lakes, which held my target specimens.

I was happy with my tench rigs and really confident with my method feeder mix and rig for the big bream. I then had to pick the best morning or night to try my luck for monster.
Bream thrive in rich gravel pit waters, but the lake I had plans for was not the most naturally rich venue. Instead it was a specimen carp water, where the “nuisance” bream had got big on the high protein carp baits. I didn’t know the lake, but I knew enough to head there confidently and target the open water, big clear areas, where the resident bream would surly move regularly across. These were the main swims, which see a lot of spombing, so a great location to catch bream, which most anglers on the lake were trying to avoid.

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It was one of those lakes and plans that just went so well. I ended fishing the place for just three overnighters and couple of day sessions and got rewarded with some lovely double figure slabs including two over 16lb.
My big rudd hunt was also straight forward for once. I knew a crystal clear pit, which had a good track record of producing giants. It only had a handful of rudd present, but they could be found by walking and climbing trees, so I popped over there one afternoon for more of a look than a go. Second lap round had me running back to the car for the waggler rod, corn and net. I had spotted two monster rudd, not very far out.
I crossed my fingers as I made one delicate cast towards them. The first rudd definitely spooked quickly, but the second looked interested and swam up to the corn and inhaled it. I couldn’t believe my luck. most pristine rudd was soon in my net and it weighed a staggering 3lb 6oz. This fish equalled my personal best, but looked so impressive on the bank, it was a an absolute honour to catch.

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The tench plan was the opposite, the venue I was hoping to fish was mega busy, most anglers doing long sessions in the decent swims. I had to find somewhere else with less angling competition so I could get a swim for starters. The lake I picked was a very hush hush little pit. Another carp lake, which an old friend had tipped me off holds a few big tench. And a few is correct, I knew this place was all or nothing, but I craved a decent double and was prepared to blank until the magic bite came.
The trouble was, time was running out, my wife also had her back surgery booked in and I knew getting away to fish was going to rare treat in the next month. The lake I was fishing was also two hours away. I had almost written it all off, but perfect conditions in late May were on the menu and I found myself in the middle of the night driving to the lake.

I knew where I needed to be and headed to the weedy corner bay, waiting for first light. Worm kebab style rigs were flicked out with feeders packed full of attraction. and just a little spomb over each rod of caster, maggot and pellet. It was my last chance and nothing happened for hours, but at 10am I was in to a fish and the hardest fighting tench Ive ever played.
I was praying for it to not fall off, it weeded me up a few times but I managed to get it moving. It came up to the top, slap its big paint brush tail and dive down several times. Heart in the mouth stuff, but eventually I won and a huge, fat 11lb 11oz tinca was mine. I just couldn’t stop looking at it. This was a specimen I had dreamt about for years and one I never felt like I would catch. It was a big, personal moment for me, I really felt on top off the world.

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I didn’t fish for while after the tench as things were busy at work and my wife was recovering from surgery. The break was good for me though and I had achieved all three spring targets, which felt amazing. And I had to prepare myself for the next challenge, which I was certain was going to be the hardest one to achieve; a big Eel.
Catching a big eel the previous season had driven me mad. I put more effort and time into trying to bank a big Snig than I had done so for any other specimen. I had learnt a lot as well, mainly from my mistakes. Big eels are like no other species and certainly require more patience, effort, good angling and luck than any thing else.
Any venue can be worth a try, old gravel pits or estate lakes are my favourite, but even commercial match lakes and canals can produce monsters. Last summer I had selected to fish a small, deep gravel pit, which I heard may contain what I was after. It looked and felt right, but I wasn’t sure if there was even an eel in the pit.
All of those doubts soon went on my first session as I landed the biggest eel I had ever seen, at 6lb 9oz and its girth was an incredible nine inches. Half of a small dead rudd produced the bite and the fight was ferocious. It real did not want to come out of its home. Even on the bank it was angry, I really couldn’t believe my luck.

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I did go eel fishing a few more times that summer, but the hunger wasn’t quite there because of my early success, which I was not expecting. I also enjoyed catching / stalking a few carp out form some local lakes and taking my kids for a few overnight sessions. But my next serious target was a big still water roach.

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I had joined a carp syndicate, a deep reservoir, which had a good track record for throwing out a few big roach each season. Most of the big roach were caught by accident by the carp anglers and it was late august, early September, when I started to see a few of these mistake captures being made on social media. My original plan was not to start on there until October, but I couldn’t wait any more.

I even took my 11 year-old son, George, for my first night there at the end of the summer holidays. My approach was to keep things simple and just fish 10mm boilies on scaled down rigs. The first night produced a few missed bites but eventually a few roach hung themselves and the best one went well over 2lb. It was the confident start I was hoping for and I couldn’t wait to return.
A week later I arrived early in the morning and I had time to stay until midday. Action was instant on the little boilies once again, but this time biggish bream and double figure carp were responsible. They were hard fighting, lovely fish to catch on my light roach outfit, but not what I really wanted. The morning session had nearly come to an end when the tip pulled round like another unmissable bream bite. But after a few seconds it felt different and started to kite down the bank, I knew I was attached to a big roach.
Once more, whenever a dream fish is on the hook, my heart is in my mouth and I’m praying the whole fight that it stays on. You can’t rush big roach as they have such delicate, soft mouths, so I was playing it so cautiously and it really did fight hard. Eventually I scooped it up and let out a yell of delight. I knew it was huge and the scales confirmed 3lb 2oz. My first “three” and it was a roach I had longed for.

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I hadn’t finished there with the roach as my next target was to catch another big one, but this time from running water. Big river roach are extra special and unfortunately very rare in my area of the country. However, I did know a couple of spots on my local river Waveney which may still hold the odd 2lb plus specimen.
There is no room for for error when approaching and trying to temp one of these shy big river roach. The conditions have to be in your favour, definitely overcast and a little bit of colour in the water. Not too much flow, but enough to move a bait through under a float in a natural manner. Fine gear is also a must, but it cannot be too light as the river is overgrown and a touch snaggy.
I used my favourite centerpin reel to trot a piece of bread flake through the channel to where I suspected the roach were waiting. I had a couple of modest sized fish before my third bite produced a river monster weighing 2lb 9oz. A lovely fish, which had obviously been through a lot to make it to old age and size in that particular river. It was a privilege to hold for a brief moment and I made sure it swam away strongly.

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With winter approaching I was hoping to stay on the rivers targeting dace, grayling, chub and pike. Conditions were testing with so much rainfall and plans were being made and cancelled most weeks. I spent many afternoons with my ultra light gear trotting or tip fishing for fast biting dace. I was really enjoying it, catching several decent ones on most outings, but unfortunately I lost a monster one, which I couldn’t get out of my mind. I remember pike fishing the next week and still thinking about that huge dace slipping off at the net, so I couldn’t let it win and I returned for more afternoons sessions before I eventually got rewarded with a 15oz and 1lb 1oz brace. Once again rare fish to see these days, but I knew they were there and I putting the effort and time in paid off in the end.

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My dream of a big grayling would require a long drive south or north as we don’t have many in East Anglia. I opted for the Scottish borders as I had been tipped off by a mate where big ladies of the stream lived. Myself and good friend Chris, shared the drive and headed up to the beautiful highlands during the hours of the night.
After lots of coffee and McDonald stops we eventually arrived at first light at the most exquisite bit of river I have ever seen. We were so excited to start, the lack of sleep was soon forgotten. We walked up and down the banks looking for likely spots in the fast water where the grayling could be. I love travelling light and roving around so I was in heaven.
We soon caught a few pristine grayling and they stared to get bigger with several around and over the 2lb mark. Then I hooked one I couldn’t stop, it was so powerful my beloved pin reel was screaming as it raced off. I think the fight lasted ten minutes before Chris scooped her up. An incredible sight, over 3lb and 50cm of long, lean muscle. A grayling of my dreams was quickly held up for the camera (they are very hard to hold) and carefully returned to recover and swim away.

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The last couple of the months of the season were mainly spent pike fishing on stunning but difficult Norfolk Broads. A mixture of lure and dead bait fishing kept myself and boat partner Lee entertained in the picturesque scenery. The wildlife on the Broads is special and every trip is exciting even if we blank.
Between us, we managed some decent pike, Lee had the biggest and I chipped in with some crackers to over 20lb as well. Some days were hectic and other days were biteless. It is certainly not a place for the faint hearted as there are hundreds of acres to explore, many of them without fish. But his season I plan to hopefully devote more time and effort in to achieve my dream of a 30lb broadland esox. If I don’t succeed, it will be good fun trying.
The last couple of weeks of the season saw me having some fun chub fishing on the Waveney. Once again travelling light with just a pocket full of bait and tackle bits. Stinky, garlic infused, cheese paste is hard to beat on most winter days, especially as the Waveney is usually quite a coloured river. The action was pretty good and I banked a good dozen or so chub in three short trips to over 6lb. I never get tired of watching that tip pull round.
Looking back at last season, now feels like a blur and along time ago. I certainly had my share of luck, but I think the planning and timing of each trip was a big part of the success. I’ve fished with many top anglers who make me feel feel very average, but I know if I keep things simple and get on the right venue at the right time I stand a decent chance. And if things don’t work out it always makes me more determined to get back out and try again.

Be lucky, Rich

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