Joe Chappell

‘The Day for Firsts’

The Half Term Campaign Chapter 3 – ‘The Day for Firsts’

This is the third part in a mini-series of blogs I’ve written this week about fishing a small local river with my friend Jack. If you haven’t already, I’d suggest checking out the first couple of chapters. They can be found here.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

We gave the fish a break on the Tuesday before heading out at 7am on Wednesday for our third session on the river. We didn’t think it could get any better but boy were we mistaken. The morning which followed was spectacular.

The previous night, I had prepared some bait which I think made all the difference that day. I liquidised a few slices of brown bread and added some sweetcorn and crushed up Baylys Baits God’s Gift boilies. I then gave the whole mix a good dose of glug before leaving it in a warm cupboard overnight to get the mix active and the bread fermenting.

As soon as we got to the pipe swim, I sprinkled in a handful of my mix and some maggots before setting up the rod, giving the fish some time to get on the bait. Within 5 minutes of lowering my maggots on the spot, my float shot under and I was hooked into a hard fighting little common. On the cycle to the spot, we had decided to take it in turns fishing the magic spot which we had found the previous day. The swim is only small therefore we thought that this would be the fairest way to fish.

After slipping my fish back, it was Jacks turn. It only took 10 minutes before Jack had caught the second fish of the session, our first mirror from the river.

After the second fish, it was my go again. We had put some more bait in after both fish so I’m unsure weather it was a case of overfeeding them, spooking them or both but it took another 45 minutes for the third bite of the day to come. The result was another small common, typical of the river.

We decided to give the swim a rest and head to the tunnel swim further upstream. Within 15 minutes, Jack had caught our first gudegon of the week and a few minutes after, I caught a little roach.

As soon as I had slipped the roach back, Jack was into a chub which weighed about 3lb. All the fish caught so far had been on maggots, so I decided to switch over to using some corn on the hook while Jack persevered with the maggots. Neither bait worked in the next hour and after out floats remained motionless, we decided to head back to where we had caught the carp just over an hour earlier in the hope that we would find them already feeding.

Since I had caught the previous fish in the spot, it was Jacks turn to fish there. I’m not joking when I say within 10 seconds of his float hitting the water it shot towards the middle of the river. He struck and a massive shadow appeared under the surface of the river. The battle which followed was epic with the fish diving for every snag in the swim. We had no idea that fish of that proportion were in this river and so we had only brought small nets. After too long trying to scoop the fish up, I managed to get it in the net.

We were both in complete shock, we’d only ever seen fish up to about 5lb and caught them up to 3lb. Whatever was in that net was easily twice that size. Luckily, I had brought my scales and the scales tipped round to 11lb 12oz. That meant that the fish was 10lb 10oz due to the net weighing 1lb 2oz and our first double from the river. You may be reading this thinking wow, you caught a 10lber I’ve caught hundreds. If you saw where this fish lived, you would see why we were so impressed. We took some photos before slipping the fish back.

We were in complete awe of what we had just caught. We decided to put some more bait in and head back to the tunnel spot. We gave it 45 minutes in that spot but caught nothing. Still elated from Jacks carp we wanted to head back to the super spot by the pipe and try for another carp. It was my turn on the spot and once again bites came almost instantly. This time however it was a small perch, our first one of the week. We decided not to count the perch so it was still my turn in the swim. After waiting another 20 minutes, I was into a carp for the third time that day. The result was my biggest carp from the river, a 5 1/2lb common.

After that fish, we returned to the tunnel and ate some lunch. Jack managed to catch a chub of about 2lb which obviously wasn’t too happy about being caught and jumped from his hands back into the river before we could take a photo. After an hour we headed back to the pipe to find someone else fishing there. He’d obviously only just got there and after a quick chat decided to head upstream to a place we hadn’t fished since the summer but knew held fish. We fished a couple of spots but only managed to tempt a couple of small roach.

After an hour or so trying our luck in the relatively new territory we headed back to the pipe to find that the man who was fishing there had left. We jumped into the swim and within minutes Jack had hooked another chub of over a pound.

It was now my turn and within 15 minutes I was hooked into a big chub. It looked bigger than anything I’d caught before and after giving it a quick weigh we realised it was a new PB for me at 2lb 10oz.

Bites were slow for the next hour but we didn’t want to leave to try anywhere else in case the swims previous occupant returned. Just as it turned 4 pm, Jack had another bite which resulted in his eighth fish of the day. The result was his smallest chub of the week at a still respectable pound in weight.

The swim was mine once again however the following hours fishing resulted in just two rudd. It wasn’t the big carp or chub that I was hoping for but it was my first rudd of the year which meant another point in the Essex Anglers Species Hunt, taking my total to 6 and putting me in the lead. If you’d like some more information about our species hunt, then you can check out the species hunt tab at the top of the page or click here.

That brings us to the end of the third chapter about my weeks fishing. I hope you’ve all enjoyed it, as always, any feedback is much appreciated. Don’t forget to check out our social media links below.

Also here’s the website for Bayly’s Baits (the boilies and glug I used in my mix)

Joe Chappell

‘Poxy Carp’

The Half Term Campaign Chapter 2 – ‘Poxy Carp’

This is the second part of a little mini-series of blogs. For me, this week is half term which means no sixth form (online lessons) and therefore, lots of fishing. You can check out the first days fishing here if you missed it.

I’d checked the weather the night before, I think every fisherman does this right? and it looked like it was going to be clear.  My friend and I decided to meet at 7 again and get to the river early. When we woke up it was absolutely hacking it down. We had planned to fish for a while before cycling 10 minutes down the road to the tackle shop to pick up some maggots when he opened at 9. Due to the rain, we decided to leave at 8:15 instead and head to the tackle shop straight after putting a bit of bait in a couple of spots.

I decided to set up my rod with a small pole float and size 14 hook. The previous day I’d used a ledger with no luck while Jack had caught a few on the float. For me, switching to a float seemed the best option. I dropped my float armed with a few maggots on the hook into position and fed a few maggots over the top. I didn’t have to wait long for the float to shoot under, the result was a small chub of about a pound. It was a new species for the year which meant another point for me in the Essex Anglers Species Hunt. After that chub, the spot died off and another hours fishing resulted in nothing.

We moved to a bridge upstream and I climbed around the precarious ledge, rod in hand and maggots in my pocket. I hoped that I would be able to fish some water which you’re unable to fish from the bank. Considering I nearly fell in, the one little chub I caught wasn’t really worth it. I have a feeling I spooked most of the fish with my monkey business but I guess it’s a lesson learnt for next time.

After a while at the bridge without much luck, we moved back to our spot downstream. I caught a roach and another small chub however Jack was still blanking. We moved back to the bridge and within 10 minutes of moving, Jack managed to catch his first fish of the day, a nice chub of about a pound. Once again, after our initial success, it died off and after a couple hours without a bite, we moved again.

We fished in the swim which we had first visited and I caught the chub on my first cast. We were still using a float with maggots however I had switched over to a slightly heavier waggler style float. The river was quite flooded and the tide was coming up meaning the small pole float was just getting washed away. I had baited up in the edge with maggots and corn and was fishing a few maggots on the hook. After 20 or so minutes, my float was away. I struck into the fish and it pulled back hard. I was connected to my first river carp of the year, a hard fighting common. We trickled a few more maggots in before we took some photos and slipped him back a little way downstream so as not to disturb the swim.

The minimal disturbance obviously worked because within 20 minutes of getting my float back out, I was away again with another carp. This one was slightly bigger but a hell of a lot uglier. It had some carp pox which are harmless to the fish but don’t look too appealing.

With Jack only catching a couple of fish, I felt pretty sorry and thought I ought to return the favour he gave me the previous day when I caught the bream with his float and rig. He dropped onto my spot and 10 minutes later he was hooked into his own little river carp.

It was getting dark so after that fish, we packed up and headed home. The next day (Tuesday) was meant to be pretty wet and miserable so we decided to give fishing a miss and give the gear a sort out ready for Wednesday when the weather was meant to be a bit dryer. Wednesday turned out to be an even better day than Monday and I’ll talk about that trip in my next blog. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading and thanks for making it to the end.

Joe Chappell

‘Snow Bream’

The Half Term Campaign Chapter 1 – ‘Snow Bream’

This week is half term and for me, that only means one thing. Fishing! Although I’m at home all the time at the moment due to online schooling, I still have work to do so I haven’t been fishing much. This week I managed to hit the bank most days so have a few blogs lined up. This first blog will be about my first days fishing a small tidal river in Essex.

I spent the Saturday preparing my gear and bait. I was hoping to catch some of the chub that reside in the river and after talking to fellow blogger Andrew, I decided to make some cheese paste. I wanted to try something different and Andrew suggested adding anything which is bloody or that absolutely stinks so I blended up some lamb liver and mixed it in with the cheese before adding the spices and flour. It absolutely stunk and I had loads of blended liver left over so I mixed it with breadcrumb to use as a groundbait. I made a few batches and added different spices to each including garlic, cumin, chilli and turmeric.

I won’t go into detail on how to make the cheese paste but if you’d like to know more you can check out Andrews blog on it.

With the gear prepared and packed into just a rucksack, I headed to bed.

Me and my mate Jack woke up early on Sunday and cycled to the river, getting there for about half past 7. We started the day by cycling the length of the river to the weir where it meets the saltwater part of the river. We had never ventured this far down river and wanted to give it a scout out to see if there were any deeper parts. We had a look and a lead around and ended up fishing for about an hour. I opted to use my cheese paste on a light ledger and Jack opted to do the same but with pellets. After an hour without any bites we packed up and decided to head to a stretch upstream where we had caught fish before.

The next spot was a stretch of river separate to the stretch we fished before due to another weir pool. The main feature of this stretch is a bridge / tunnel. Unfortunately, you can’t fish the upstream side of the bridge and trot under it because it’s on private land however you can access the downstream side, this is where we were fishing. Jack switched over to the float and opted to fish with sweetcorn in a small eddy just at the exit of the tunnel under the bridge. I fished underneath a small overhanging tree and decided to persevere with my cheese paste on a ledger. We waited a while but we were confident in this spot. Jack managed to hook a fish after about half an hour in this spot but unfortunately it came off. We hoped that it hadn’t spooked the shoal and luckily it hadn’t. After about another 20 minutes, Jack was in again and he was off the mark with a chub of about a pound. After that fish, we gave it another half hour but with no results decided to put a couple of handfuls of bait in and head off to another spot which was about a foot deeper than the rest of the river.

The first fish of the day for Jack

This next spot is quite a squeeze and can just about be fished by 2 people at once. There’s a pipe running across the river and I took the inside left slack and fished with my cheese paste and Jack fished the right hand side and trotted down the middle. It wasn’t long before Jack had caught another chub. Not long after, I got a bite however missed it because I was checking the weather forecast. I recast to check my paste hadn’t been stolen and waited eagerly. Jack’s float edged under the pipe towards my swim and he apologised for entering my water. It was a good trot, so I told him to leave it and not worry. Well within 5 seconds of me saying that his float shot under and he was connected to something bigger than the rest, it was a nice 2lb chub.

We thought that after all the commotion, we may have spooked the fish so put a few handfuls of corn in and decided to head back to the bridge. When we got to the bridge, we found someone else fishing there so decided to head back to the pipe swim. At this point, I was losing faith in my cheese paste and Jack was feeling sorry for me.

It was nearly the end of the day so Jack offered to lend me his float and rig and corn for the last half hour. I positioned my rig exactly where Jack caught the big chub and waited. After 10 or so minutes the float shot under and I lifted into the fish.  To my surprise a bream popped his head up. We’d never caught a bream from this river before and only ever thought we’d seen one. I was finally off the mark in the Essex Anglers Species Hunt with this bream. We grabbed some photos and slipped him back before packing up and calling it a day.

We were buzzing for what the next day had in stall for us and rightly so, the fishing was even better. Tomorrow I’ll be posting the second part of this mini series so I hope to see you again tomorrow. Here’s a sneak peek of what the day had in stall for us.

Part 2:

Joe Chappell

How Rain affects my Fishing

With spring just a month away, some of the best fishing is right around the corner. At this time of year and for the next few months, the fish are at their heaviest and if you can make the most of the warm spells and south westerly winds then you’re in for some fantastic fishing.

Last year, due to the national lockdown, we missed out on some of the best fishing while the fish were awakening from their winter slumber and piling on the pounds ready for spawning. In the month leading up to the lockdown, I was finally gaining some momentum on my local park lake, Rochford Reservoir – which from now I will refer to as ‘the Res’ for easy reading – and managed to catch 9 fish from 13 takes.

The first carp I caught from the Res

Once we were released from the prisons that were our homes, I only did a few sessions on the Res before firstly the heat turned the fish into lethargic surface swimming beasts who seemed to taunt me when they swam straight past my bread bomb without even flinching. Secondly, I became busy with work and went on a bit of a holiday to see family in the north. And finally, I spent more time chasing bass with my dad at the local tidal river.

By the time I finally gave the Res another shot, autumn was well on its way and I spent many evenings after work and sixth form on the banks of the Res fishing into the hours of darkness when the fish were much more active than in the day. In the 4 or 5 sessions I did in this period I managed my biggest fish from the Res and witnessed a friend catch the biggest carp in the lake, a near 30lb mirror.

Me, Alfie, Jack and the fish.

That brings us to winter, the hardest time of the year but if you can find the fish you’re sure to have a good day providing the weather isn’t Baltic. I proved this when I caught six in one sort day session in early December. It was the most fish I’d caught at the Res in just 8 hours fishing. I’d caught more on a previous session, but I was fishing for around 12 hours.

My approach was simple on this day, I hair rigged 1 and a half 11mm boilies and, using my baiting pole, shipped it out to some marginal snags with a handful of pellet and crushed boilie. In winter, I think it’s especially important to use a top quality boilie. In the summer, the fish are greedy and may eat whatever you chuck at them, in the winter I’ve found that they can be extremely picky. On this day, I was trying out God’s Gift by Baylys Baits which is a fantastic cold water bait and now my go to boilie for cold water. I had 7 bites that day, all of them on the rod with the God’s Gift. The other rod remained motionless all day.

So now I’ve caught you up on my last years fishing at the Res, I’m going to outline what I plan to be doing over the next couple of months and my reasons behind my thinking. Of course, I’m no expert and I’m not claiming that what I’m about to write, is exactly right. It’s just how I think the fish will behave and how I’m going to respond based on my very little experience in comparison with some of the people who will be reading this.

I fished the Res on the Saturday just passed. Yeah, that’s right the one where it didn’t stop raining. I must admit it was a terrible decision, me and about the 6 other anglers on the lake all blanked. I don’t regret it at all however because I learnt something. The neighbouring River Roach had burst its banks and had been flooding into the Res. The Res was also up about 6 inches from its usual level. It’s connected to the river via an inflow and outflow, this means that it gets a fresh supply of water continuously and more importantly, it warms up and cools down much quicker than most lakes.

There is usually 4 ft more bank.

Due to the heavy rain last week, I suspect the water had chilled rapidly, causing the fish to swich off and hunker down. Before now, I never really thought much about the effect of the river on the lake. If we have a warm spell for a few days, most lakes will take a day or two to switch on and will remain a bit more active for longer when the weather cools down again. At the Res, especially if there’s a warm spell and rain the water can warm up quicky and I suspect, it will produce some good fishing.

I’m hoping to test out my hypothesis as soon as I can. Looking at the weather report for the next week, warmer weather and rain are expected on Tuesday and Wednesday, meaning the best fishing will be on Wednesday and Thursday. Luckily, I have Wednesday off from virtual lessons, the Sixth Form would usually set this day aside for ‘Health and Wellbeing’ so I think I might just go fishing as it fits the bill perfectly and if my predictions are right, the weather is a recipe for success.

Over the next two or three months, I’m going to be keeping a close eye on the weather, and as the days get longer, I may even be able to do some afternoons when I have no lessons. I’m hoping that a Res 20lber graces my net, there’s a good few in there now and I have my eye on a couple of them in particular. My membership runs out soon and I doubt I will renew it due to the fact I’ll be over 200 miles away later this year when I’m at university. This gives me just a few months to catch a 20 from the Res, will I do it? I bloody hope so and I’m going to give it a good shot.

If you’re reading this thanks for making it to the end. Enjoy? If so then please like us on Facebook for regular updates and blogs.

Joe Chappell

Frogs as Bait? – A Peek into 15th Century Fishing Bait.

Over 500 hundred years ago they obviously didn’t have boilies and pellets so what did they use? As you can imagine native earthworms such as the anecic earthworm and maggots were readily available and often used however there were lots of strange of baits that have been forgotten about. In this blog, I’m going to cover some 15th century baits and bait tips.

Some anecic earthworm I dug a few months ago from the garden.

All this information is coming from an essay written by Dame Juliana Berners in 1496. I have linked the original and a modern English translation at the end of the blog.

Bernes often mentions using cocktail baits of different things, one such cocktail which she recommends for trout in august is the flesh fly, anecic earthworm and bacon fat. Yep that’s right, bacon fat! It’s a weird combination but one which sounds irresistible to a trout so I can see why it would work.

A sausage and bacon roll which I enjoyed a few months ago.

These next two baits stuck out to me and were mentioned for catching barbel. The first is made by taking some squares of cheese (I’m not sure what cheese she is referring to here but a hard cheese such as cheddar seems likely). Bernes says to burn the cheese at the point of your hook until yellow and roughen the surface to resemble a woodlouse. She says that it needs binding to the hook with arrow makers silk, I’m assuming this is because it is too delicate to hook. I’m sure that maybe a pellet band may do the job just as well. She recommends this burnt cheese bait for March and April.

For autumn and winter Bernes recommends one of the strangest baits mentioned. She says to take equal parts of sheep’s tallow (tallow is a hard fatty substance) and soft cheese (Maybe a brie) and a little honey. She says to grind or press them together and moisten the mixture until tough. Then add a little flour and make into small pellets. This seems somewhat like a cheese paste and I’m sure it would be effective. If you were to add dyes / flavourings to this weird mix, then it could be devastating.

Carp are only briefly mentioned in this book as there are “few in England”. Bernes admits she doesn’t know much about carp however mentions that minnows and worms are good baits. We know that carp are omnivorous and many have been caught on lures and live baits while targeting perch and pike but it surprised me that minnow was one of the two baits mentioned. It shows just how little we knew about carp 500 years ago.

Friend of a friend Wayne Fletcher with a 27lb carp caught on a lure.

You saw it in the title, frogs with their legs cut off. Bernes recommends that if you’re in search of a spring chub, you should use a young frog with it’s feet cut off. Now I’m unsure if she means a developing tadpole or an actual frog here however later on, she mentions using a young frog with three legs cut off at the body and one cut at the knee. Because of this I think she is referring to a frog not a tadpole however I may have misinterpreted.

Butterflies are beautiful and I love watching them fly around in the summer months. Bernes obviously wasn’t too fond of them and recommends using them to catch bream.

A bream caught by my dad. Disclaimer: No butterflies were harmed in the capture of this bream.

Brown bread toasted with honey is another favourite, especially for tench. Another weird bait supposed to tempt the tench is a worm smeared with a paste. This paste is made from the black blood from a sheep’s heart, flour and honey. She recommends mixing with water until a little softer than a paste.

For roach, dace, bleak, gudgeon and minnows bait’s aren’t as unexpected. She recommends many different bugs and grubs including caddis worms, maggots, and “the grub in the dunghill”. She also recommends using bacon fat for roach and dace which is something I might try. Wheat well boiled and then soaked in blood for 24 hours is also bait recommended for roach, dace and bleak.

Finally I’ll tell you about some of the baits used for pike. As you would have expected, roach is one of the baits mentioned. Herring is also mentioned as a top bait. Something which I’ve never heard off is soaking the bait in asafoetida. Bernes says you will not fail to catch if you do this. ‘Asafoetida is the dried latex  exuded from the rhizome or tap root of several species of Ferula’ From Wikipedia. Ferula are a group of herbaceous plant native to the Mediterranean and central Asia. You can buy it from many places, I’m sure some supermarkets likely stock it too. I’ve tasted it once before, I can’t remember where from but I remember it had a strong flavour, somewhat like onions.

One tip which is mentioned throughout is to nip the head from worms, I’m sure many anglers already do this but if you’ve never done it before it sounds like a good recommendation. Especially in coloured water, it could make your worm that bit easier to find for the fish.  It’s definitely one tip that I’m going to be talking forward into my fishing this year.

Another tip is to use any bait which the fish regurgitate. Bernes says this is a good tactic for bigger fish. I’ve actually done this myself when sea fishing before, a whiting threw up a goby so I hooked it on and caught another fish with it.

That’s all from me but I’d recommend checking out the full book. It mentions how to make your own rod, line, hooks, floats and gives a very interesting insight into medieval fishing. It’s not too long and should only take 15 minutes or so to read. I’ll link both the original which has some images but is hard to make sense of and a translated version below. Thanks for making it to the end and I hope you enjoyed. There’s definitely a few tips and tricks that I’ll take forward from this.

Translated Version

Original –

Joe Chappell

7 Useless Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Maggots.

Maggots are arguably the most successful and versatile bait known to man. I doubt there’s a single fish out there that wouldn’t be tempted to scoff down a maggot or two. They’re commonly known to catch the usual roach, bream, tench and carp however they’ve even been used to catch sea bass and mullet. From how they’re dyed to when they were first used I’m going to tell you 7 facts about maggots that you most likely didn’t know.

  1. When were maggots first used for fishing?

Evidence suggests that maggots have been used as bait for thousands of years in primitive traps and fishing methods. The first evidence for pleasure fishing dates back to 1496 in an essay by Dame Juliana Berners. In this she talks about how to catch many of the fish present in England and includes favourite baits, including maggots.

2. How do they get their colour?

Obviously, the natural colour of maggots isn’t red, bronze, blue or fluorescent pink so how do they get their colour? There isn’t an evil doctor injecting every single maggot with dye and they don’t take the maggots for a swim in a pool of dye so how is it done? In fact, the maggots are fed on meat which has been died. When the maggots ingest the meat, they absorb the dye and appear coloured.

3. The Dark Spot

Have you ever wandered what the dark spots within the maggots are? The pair of dark holes at one end of the maggot are the spiracles, these are small holes which act like lungs, they are how the maggots get their oxygen. The black dot that is inside the maggot and slowly moves down the maggot is its food reserve.

4. How many maggots are produced each year?

It is estimated that each year, 1.5 million pints of maggots are sold across the UK. That’s 190,000 gallons or around 2 billion actual maggots.

5. Are maggots actually used medically?

Quite simply, yes. They are used to treat open wounds and there has been evidence that they have been used since antiquity. One interesting case I found was in WW1. A soldier left for several days on the battlefield who had suffered a compound fracture and large flesh wounds. Maggots were infesting his wounds, he had no fever or other signs of infection and survived his injuries, which would normally have been fatal.

6. Maggots in forensic science

ᐈ Zombie cartoon stock pictures, Royalty Free cartoon zombies pics |  download on Depositphotos®

This next fact is pretty grim but quite interesting. If maggots are found on a deceased body, the type of maggot and environmental conditions can be analysed to determine an approximate time of death.

7. Types of maggots

Maggot is actually a general term for insect larvae.  The most common maggot used in fishing is the maggot of the European Bluebottle fly. Other commonly used maggots include squats, the slightly smaller larvae of the common house fly and pinkies, the larvae of the greenbottle fly.

Hope you enjoyed, maybe one of those facts might come in useful at a pub quiz one day! See you all next week when I’m planning to rack up the points for the Essex Anglers Species Hunt. If your wondering what that is then check out last weeks blog where I ran through what we will be doing.

Until then! 🙂

Announcements Joe Chappell

The 2021 Essex Anglers Species Hunt

Today, January First, 2021, marks the start of a year long competition between myself and fellow bloggers on the Essex Anglers site. The goal is simple, to catch as many different species as we can. The only catch being they must be caught in Essex.

Every time a new species is caught, it will be posted on the site under the ‘Species Hunt’ tab and the scores will be updated. This means that you can keep track of what’s being caught and who’s winning.

The hope is that by the end of the year, we will all have tried different fishing techniques. Along the way, we will be showcasing the abundance and variety of fish we have here in Essex.

The rules are simple: All anglers have been presented with a species hunt card which must be in the photograph of the fish, to verify that it was caught this year. All fish must be caught on rod and line (or pole). And finally, they must be caught in Essex.

As some of you may know I’m a bit of an all-rounder and love catching anything that swims. Despite this, I’ve still had to invest. So far, I’ve bought some trout flies, new braid for lure fishing and some pike lures which caught my eye, I’m hoping they will do the same for the pike. I think now I have the gear to cover most species however I doubt my wallet will remain closed for long. There’s bound to be something else I don’t need but want.

My plan for the next 2 months is to target a pike, flounder, cod and rainbow trout. I’m hoping to fish a local river soon too so I might be able to tick off a chub and maybe a roach or rudd. The cod will most likely prove elusive, I’ve only ever caught one before now which was a couple years ago, the flounder shouldn’t be too hard. Although I’ve been pike fishing about half a dozen times, I’ve only every caught one pike. I’m hoping to lure fish a local lake in the evenings over the next couple of months in the hope of catching an Esox. Catching a trout may be a little difficult too. My casting with a fly setup isn’t the best however I’m sure a trip to Chigborough lakes in Heybridge will produce at least one. I’m hoping the new flies I bought will be up to the Job.

Since the idea of the competition was put forward a few months ago, everyone has been planning their tactics, coming up with lists of fish and buying new tackle. The excitement amongst the group has been fantastic and we all hope that you will share our excitement throughout this year. We have put together a list of species so that you can join our adventure. I have also attached a printable species hunt card. Join our Facebook group here so you can let us know how you’re getting on.

Joe Chappell

10 Perfect Christmas Gifts for All Anglers

Are you struggling with ideas on what to get that special fishy someone this Christmas? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Sometimes, unless they’ve specifically asked for a certain rod, or new chair, or in my case a new pair of waders, it can be hard at Christmas to know what to get. Here’s ten ideas that almost ALL fishermen would absolutely love.

Number Ten – Socks

Christmas Socks

All fishermen like warm feet, you can’t go wrong with a pair of socks. There’s lots of brands on offer however, one which particularly stuck out is the new waterproof socks by Korda. I won’t lie they are more expensive than other brands, but your beloved angler will appreciate it when everyone else is sulking with wet feet and they’re still fishing.

Korda Waterproof Socks – £27.99

Fortis Thermal Tech Socks – £12.99

Number Nine – Magazine Subscription

Fishing magazines have been around for over 100 years, so why not treat your special fisherman to an annual subscription to their favourite magazine this Christmas. There’s lots of different magazines on offer. If your beloved angler enjoys spending their time by the sea, then I’d recommend Sea Angler magazine. If they prefer carp fishing, Total Carp is a great choice. And if they’re an all-rounder, The Angling Times has all bases covered. If fly fishing is their passion, I hear Trout & Salmon is a fantastic read.

Sea Angler (13 issues) – £39.95

Total Carp (13 issues)- £52.99

Angling Times (52 issues) – £73.70

Trout & Salmon magazine (13 issues) – £48.40

Number Eight – Power Bank

With technology creeping further and further into our lives, keeping our devices charged is ever so important. A power bank is a great gift idea for any angler. It allows you to charge phones, head torches, cameras and other devices on long sessions. Power banks can range from around £10 up to £100 for the larger ones. The Nedis Mobile power bank range is a great choice.  The largest can charge a phone up to 8 times.

Nedis Power Bank (20000 mAh) – £39.99

Nedis Power Bank (5000 mAh) – £11.99

Number Seven – Headlamp

If your angler enjoys night fishing, it might be time to get them a new head torch. There are lots of cheaper headtorches on the market which will do the job fine, but a decent headtorch can be life changing. There’s nothing worse than squinting in the dark trying to pass the line through the eye of a hook and a decent head torch can change that. The Ridge monkey VRH300 is a rechargeable head torch which can provide up to 200 lumens of light. It’s a great option for £49.99. A cheaper, but just as bright option is the Petzl Tikkina. It runs off 3 AAA batteries but at half the price is a real steal. They’re both great Christmas gift ideas.

Ridge Monkey VRH300 – £49.99

Petzl Tikkina – £25.00

Number Six – Boots

A lot of the time when fishing, you will be outside and a lot of venues, whether they’re lakes, rivers or the sea can be quite muddy! In the winter months, having a reliable, strong and comfy boot can really make the difference. Skee-tex ultralite boots are incredible for keeping you dry and warm in those colder months. They’re light, comfy, seem to be indestructible and are perfect for walking up and down rivers or on those muddy banks. At just under £40, they also don’t break the bank. 

Skee-tex Ultralite Boots – £37.95

Number Five – Line spooler

Soon after winter, spring follows. Many anglers like to get rid of their old line and spool up with fresh line. A line spooler is a fantastic and helpful tool to help do this. Even though it’s less than £10 most anglers just never get one. Surprise someone this Christmas with this amazingly helpful tool.

Line Spooler – £8.97

Number Four – Custom Mug and Kettles

Get your angler something they will remember this Christmas like a custom mug, flask or kettle. Carpy Kettles on facebook do custom engraved kettles, mugs, spoons and more. Prices for kettles start at £50 and the whole kettle is fully customizable. It can be engraved with a fish pixture, a logo, a furry friend, or anything else that comes to mind. If you’re interested, click the link below to contact them.

Carpy Kettles Website

Carpy Kettles Facebook

Number Three – Food Storage

When it comes to keeping food hot and fresh, Alan recommends the Tefal Senator range as a perfect Christmas gift. There’s nothing better than warm soup when you’re fishing and there’s nothing worse than it leaking everywhere (It’s happened to me before). The Senator range is well priced at just £35 for the 1L lunch flask. Apparently they’re also half price from The Home & Cook shop at Braintree Village.

Tefal Senator 1L Food Flask – £35

Tefal Senator 700ml Flask – £23

Number Two – Avid Carp Retracta Tool Set

This tool set from Avid is a perfect stocking filler. All the tools inside are made from titanium and finished with a stylish look. It comes with all the tools you need including a splicing needle, gated baiting needle, boilie needle, hard boilie needle and a bait drill. The bonus being they all fit into a durable and hard waring case. At just £20, it’s the perfect Christmas gift for any carp angler.

Avid Retracta Tool Set – £19.99

Number One – Gift Card

If you want to air on the side of caution and play it safe, then the perfect option is a gift voucher. There are many different companies available and I would opt for a voucher from either The Fishing Megastore or The Tackle Box. Both companies offer a great selection of brands at competitive prices as well as delivery.

The Tackle Box Gift Cards

Fishing Megastore Gift Cards

That’s our top 10 list of gifts perfect for anglers. There’s lots of things we haven’t mentioned so if your looking for more inspiration, click here to take you to The Tackle Box’s website where they have hundreds of recommended gifts.

Check out my previous blog here:

Joe Chappell

A Bit of a Mish Mash

I haven’t been fishing in over 3 weeks, I’m really not sure how I’m coping. I’ve been busy with exams and university applications at school and due to the busy festive period, I’ve been working both Saturday and Sunday. After deliberating over my breakfast on what to write this week’s blog about, I couldn’t decide. I was thinking about re-visiting a trip from last month, or maybe writing a tackle review, or explaining some interesting topics I’ve been learning about at school which are distantly related to fish or fishing (this way I can get away telling my mum I’m revising). I’ve decided I’ll just do all three.

Part 1 – The Fishing Trip

My most recent fishing session was actually a trip to the River Crouch which I blogged about a few weeks ago. However, a few days before that trip I managed a trip to my local park lake which has featured heavily in my previous blogs.

If you hadn’t guessed already, I’m talking about Rochford Reservoir. I arrived quite early and my dad had kindly offered to drop me off. Surprise surprise, I forgot my barrow wheel. My dad wasn’t too impressed with me but he did help me carry the gear to the nearest swim, rather than just telling me to get on with it.

To my surprise the swim was alive with activity. The water was boiling with bubbles cropping up everywhere. Being mindful not to spook the obviously occupied fish, I shipped out my bait using a baiting pole from The Tackle Box. My rig of choice was nothing fancy, just a simple hair rig. Not long after getting the rod out I received alarm beeps and then a tug on my line. I sprung up, ready to reel the fish in but all I had caught was a stick. (does that count as not blanking) Slightly disheartened, I got the rod back out but the fizzing had died down. After waiting about an hour, I decided on a move to another part of the lake. Whatever was in front of me had moved off, presumably into the shallow water at the other end of the lake which was now being warmed by the low November sun.

I moved into the opposite corner where I had seen a fish show. I got both rods out using the baiting pole, one to my left hand margin and one about a rod length from a fallen tree. Both rods were armed with Sticky Baits krill active and a handful of pellet over the top.

After waiting a few hours, I finally received a bite. My reward was a small common which put up a decent account for himself. My mum had offered to bring me a McDonalds and she had arrived just as I netted the fish. I left the fish in the net and ran to the car before returning to the lake and taking a few photos with the fish. Unfortunately, that was the only fish of the day. Hopefully it won’t be the last one of the year though. Lake fishing is certainly a lot slower in the winter months and I can see why the lakes are always empty of anglers. Its tough going for little reward but I know if I persevere, I’ll always catch something – mostly.

The only one of the day

Part Two – The Review

When I say this piece of kit has doubled my catch rate, I’m not lying. I mentioned it above, yep that’s right, it’s my baiting pole from The Tackle Box. I absolutely love it. I’ve been using it for a few months now and in that time 90% of the carp I’ve caught have been while using it.

The baiting pole in action!

What I love about the baiting pole is how stealthy it is compared to a bait boat. With a bait boat, it may be half an hour or more before fish return to your spot after getting your bait back out. While using the baiting pole, if your careful you can drop your rig right on top of feeding fish without disturbing them at all, meaning you are fishing effectively for longer. Another advantage of a baiting pole is its reliability. A baiting pole doesn’t run out of charge like a bait boat. It doesn’t have lots of little parts which can be expensive to fix and replace and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than a boat.

One obvious drawback of a baiting pole is its range. I have the extension kit which is fantastic and gives the pole an even greater range. It has been crucial to reaching those nooks and cranny’s just past the reach of the 18m telescopic section alone. You can add as many extensions as you like, meaning if you wanted to, you could reach distances of over 30 meters and drop the bait exactly where you want with good few hand fulls of free offerings around it. The baiting pole eliminates the need for a perfectly accurate cast which may end up snagging in a branch.

The baiting pole and extension kit fits perfectly on the side of my rod holdall, so I don’t need to haul around any extra luggage and its super light. If you’re thinking of buying a baiting pole, then stop thinking and go get one, you won’t regret it. If you are thinking of buying a bait boat, think again. Unless you’re going to be fishing at silly long distances like 100 yards plus then a baiting pole may be the better option. The Tackle Box are also offering £25 off their baiting pole and £10 off their extension kit. Check them out here: Baiting Pole Extension Kit

Part Three – Eutrophication

I doubt many of you would have ever heard this term before, but hopefully (if my teaching is any good) within a few minutes you will have an A-Level understanding of Eutrophication.

I’ll start by explaining how it has any link to fish, as lets be honest, most of you here are fishing mad like myself. Eutrophication can cause large fish kills in our waterways and upset the balance of life in our rivers and still waters.

It is caused when fertilizers from farmers fields are washed down hill by rain and into our lakes, rivers and streams. The fertilizers cause aquatic plant life, especially algae, to grow and reproduce rapidly. When the large quantity of algae dies, it is decomposed by bacteria. This bacteria, like most living organisms, requires oxygen to breath. Sometimes, when there is so much algae being broken down by the bacteria, oxygen levels can plummet to dangerously low levels. This can kill off any aquatic life including fish, shellfish and many invertebrates that keep the ecosystem healthy. (now you can answer an A-Level question)

What is eutrophication? Causes, effects and control - Eniscuola

I hope you enjoyed my little explanation of eutrophication, learning about it for my biology A level is about as close to fishing as I’ve been this past week. Obviously, this isn’t the only cause of fish kills but it can be a contributing factor towards many.

That’s it for this week’s blog, I hope I kept you entertained. I think I have an afternoon off school next week so I might dig out the lure gear and see if I can manage a pike from Doggets lake in Rochford. Anyway, hope you enjoyed, see you next week when hopefully I’ll have a massive croc in my hands.

Joe Chappell Tackle Reviews

Tackle Review – Tackle Box CF-X 18m Telescopic Baiting Pole

If you’ve read my most recent blog, you would have already heard what I’m about to say. If not then keep reading!

When I say this piece of kit has doubled my catch rate, I’m not lying. I mentioned it above, yep that’s right, it’s my baiting pole from The Tackle Box. I absolutely love it. I’ve been using it for a few months now and in that time 90% of the carp I’ve caught have been while using it.

A recent victim of the baiting pole.

What I love about the baiting pole is how stealthy it is compared to a bait boat. With a bait boat, it may be half an hour or more before fish return to your spot after getting your bait back out. While using the baiting pole, if your careful you can drop your rig right on top of feeding fish without disturbing them at all, meaning you are fishing effectively for longer. Another advantage of a baiting pole is its reliability. A baiting pole doesn’t run out of charge like a bait boat. It doesn’t have lots of little parts which can be expensive to fix and replace and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than a boat.

One obvious drawback of a baiting pole is its range. I have the extension kit which is fantastic and gives the pole an even greater range. It has been crucial to reaching those nooks and cranny’s just past the reach of the 18m telescopic section alone. You can add as many extensions as you like, meaning if you wanted to, you could reach distances of over 30 meters and drop the bait exactly where you want with good few hand fulls of free offerings around it. The baiting pole eliminates the need for a perfectly accurate cast which may end up snagging in a branch.

The baiting pole and extension kit fully extended in our 30m long garden

The baiting pole and extension kit fits perfectly on the side of my rod holdall, so I don’t need to haul around any extra luggage and its super light. If you’re thinking of buying a baiting pole, then stop thinking and go get one, you won’t regret it. If you are thinking of buying a bait boat, think again. Unless you’re going to be fishing at silly long distances like 100 yards plus then a baiting pole may be the better option. The Tackle Box are also offering £25 off their baiting pole and £10 off their extension kit. Check them out here: Baiting Pole Extension Kit

Here’s a few of the fish I’ve caught while using the baiting pole these past couple of months.

A fish caught my my friend jack when he borrowed my baiting pole.