Joe Chappell

Fishing for Pennies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joe Chappell

Stalking Carp Using the Lift Float Method.

Over the past month, I haven’t had the time to go fishing or write any blogs because I’ve been revising for my A levels. My last exam was yesterday (Thursday) morning. I got home at about half past eleven and enjoyed some lunch before my mum to drop me off at my local park lake. I only packed light. 1 rod, a bit of bait and a selection of hooks, floats and shot.

The tactic of the day was the lift float, the presentation you get with this method is fantastic and it’s hard to miss bites. With the lift float, 99% of bites will result in either the float rising up or completely disappearing from view. I like to fish the float about an inch under the water, when the bait is picked up, the float will rise to the surface. The float may often knock from side to side, as tempting as it may be to strike, DON’T!

Here’s how I set up for this method.

Now to the afternoon’s fishing.

I arrived at the lake at about half past 12 and immediately started looking for signs of carp. I baited up around 10 marginal spots around the lake. On my second lap, I spotted some bubbles coming up below a small overhanging tree. At this point, I think I should add that polarised sunglasses are a must when doing this type of fishing. They make it much easier when staring at a float for hours but more importantly, they make it so much easier to spot sings of fish such as coloured water.

I stealthily set up my rod, opting for sweetcorn on the hook. I usually like to use worms, however I had no time to dig for them in the garden. I lowered the float into place, sat back and waited. After a few minutes, I saw the flash of a tail just to the right of my spot. I received a few twitchy bites but struck into nothing. I had a feeling that maybe some roach were picking up my corn and running off with it. I decided to swap out my hook bait for a small bit of bread, just to check weather they were roach. The float twitched from site to side but after 5 minutes without any proper bites I decided to check the bait. It was gone. I decided to opt for a larger ball of bread on the hook in the hope that it would temp the carp I had seen 15 minutes or so prior.

Sure enough, after just a few minutes using the bigger hook bait, I was hooked up to a carp. Unfortunately, after only 20 or so seconds, the carp spat the hook. I caught a glimpse of the fish and it only looked a few pound (or so I told myself) so I wasn’t too bothered.

Thinking I had spooked the spot, I trickled a bit more bait in and continued walking around the lake, looking for signs of fish. On my third lap, I noticed that the water over one of my spots was ever so slightly coloured up. After standing back and observing for a few minutes, I noticed the odd bubble too. I baited my hook with corn, cast in, stood back, and waited. I waited for about half an hour, however unfortunately the fish seemed to move away. I put a little more bait in, before continuing my walk.

After failing again in another spot, I noticed some bubbles coming up from under the disabled fishing platform. I wasn’t sure how deep it was here, so set my float about 3 ft deep. I dropped my bait just past the spot and dragged the float into prime position. The float sunk and I presumed I was fishing too shallow. As I brought the float in, something pulled back and I was into a fish. The bite was literally instantaneous! The fish was only about 2lb, one of the smallest in the lake however it gave me confidence. I decided to stay in this spot for about 20 minutes in case any fish returned to the area, unfortunately they didn’t.

I continued walking around the lake, and after a while found a fish absolutely going crazy in the corner. I could see it tail up, leaves and chod were rising to the surface and the water was noticeably murky. I think the excitement got to me because I ended up spooking the fish. Undeterred, I continued my laps. On returning to the previous spot, the fish was back feeding. I decided to switch over to bread on the hook since the sweetcorn had been proving unsuccessful. After just a few minutes, the float shot up and I was in. After a fantastic fight, I netted the fish and what a beauty it was. It wasn’t massive but it was a beautiful scaly one which was a perfect end to the afternoons fishing.

Joe Chappell

Passing Time

For Christmas, my parents bought me a DSLR camera. I’ve always loved nature and as good as our smartphones are nowadays, they can’t capture spectacular moments the same way a proper camera can when used correctly. Emphasis on the correctly here because they can be tricky to use at the best of times. Coupled with cold hands, rain, fish slime and a complete novice using them, good photos can be few and far between. In todays blog, I’m going to talk about a sessions carp fishing and my (un)successful attempts of capturing the world around me.

A couple of weeks ago, I met with two friends at a local commercial to have a friendly but socially distanced get together. As you can imagine, there was a whiff of competition on the wind and the fighting talk had begun the night before. It really was anyone’s to win, Jack had completely spanked me just three weeks prior catching four to my one, Brad was due some good fishing after a string of trips without much luck.

Brad was first to arrive and picked a few swims next to each other. It was quite busy considering it was midweek and some of the only swims left together were arguably some of the best on the lake. I chose to fish on the right, Brad chose the middle and Jack chose the left. We all chose different tactics too. I decided to fish small pva mesh bags filled with boilie crumb and pellet in conjunction with a 12mm wafter on one rod and an 11mm boilie and a half pop-up on the other. Brad opted for singles on one rod and solid bags with Nash citrus on the other while Jack put all his eggs in one basket and went with pva mesh bags of pellets and two 8mm robin reds on simple mono hair rigs for both rods.

After about half an hour with rods in the water, I had bite which resulted in a small common. It gave me bragging rights for the foreseeable future, so I wasn’t bothered. Lots of chatting and about an hour later, I had another bite which resulted in a mirror. I had a smug grin on my face for the next hour until Brad caught the biggest fish of the day which was closely followed by another common drawing us level on 2 fish each.

Brads first fish of the day.

For the next few hours, nothing was being caught however I’d managed a run but lost it. As the afternoon progressed, a few more fish around the lake were being caught and soon enough I had caught my third fish of the day taking me ahead of Brad once again. Not long after slipping my third fish of the day back, the fourth one came along.

My third fish.

With the gates shutting at 5, we only had an hour or so of fishing left at this point. Desperate to catch one, Jack jumped in the swim to my right for the last hour. He decided to stick with his robin reds despite my offer to let him try some of the bait I was using. After about half an hour in the swim and swans trying to parkour over his rods, Jack managed a screaming run. The fish was putting up a good account for itself and finally Jack managed to slip my net under it (my net was already wet and it didn’t seem logical to get another net wet with only 20 minutes left). As we were taking photos of Jack’s fish, I had a run which resulted in a lovely linear. Unfortunately due to social distancing we couldn’t get a photo together but it was a nice end to the day and we had all caught one.

The two which came at the end of the day.

As I mentioned earlier, recently I’ve taken up photography. It’s great to pass the time whilst sitting on the bank and some of the wildlife I’ve seen is fantastic. It’s unbelievable what spectacles you miss sometimes when you’re not looking. Below are some photos I’ve managed to capture over the last couple of months.

A not too Impressive self take in the wet just as I was packing up.
A photo I’m actually pretty pleased with.
Another one of the little friend I made.
Joe Chappell

‘Chance of That?’

The Half Term Campaign Chapter 4 – ‘Chance of That?’

Last week I had a week off from online school. Me and my friend Jack decided to take advantage of our last free week before the close season to target anything which swims in our local river (except for ducks of course). This the fourth and final blog about our adventure so if you’d like to check out what else we caught throughout the week you can check out the other blogs below.

The day started early, at the same time as our other missions, 7am.  We headed straight to the pipe swim and as it was Jack’s turn to fish, he got his rod in the water armed with a few maggots on the hook. We fed a few pellets and maggots over the top and within 20 minutes a small carp had slipped up. I’m not sure whether the fish was scared, had eaten a lot, or both but it left its stool all over poor Jack.

It was now my turn to try and catch one. I used the same tactics that we had been successfully using all week but the fish just hadn’t turned up. I think, being the fourth day in five that we had been fishing the river, the fish had been hammered at this spot and grown wary. After an hour or so without success, we baited up a little more and headed upstream to the tunnel swim.

It didn’t take long at the tunnel before my float disappeared. I was on my phone calling a friend and struck late, into nothing. I got the bait back out and then missed not one but 2 more bites. I decided my hook was too small and upped from a size 16 to a 14. I got the bait out and after 5 or so minutes waiting for a bite, I finally hooked one. The result was a small chub of under 2lb. The fish had a big dent / scar in it’s skull, my guess is that this little guy had survive an attack from a bird of some sort. I’ve seen kingfishers, herons and white ibis so it could have been any of those.

After I caught that chub, Jack had a go in that spot but wasn’t too confident. He left me and went for a wander downstream. Just as he got back, I hooked into a little mirror. It gave me a good run around before spitting the hook and shooting back off into the depths of the river. We decided it would be best to give the tunnel some bait and a rest before heading back to where Jack caught the carp.

After my catastrophe missing 3 bites and losing a carp, I let Jack have the first cast after we moved. Unsurprisingly it didn’t take him long to catch one. It was another little common, typical of this river. I definitely think the fish were becoming wary because within the next hour, we didn’t have another bite from that spot. Consequently, we moved back up to the tunnel.

Just like usual, it didn’t take long to get a bite after giving the swim a rest. Funnily enough I missed it, AGAIN! Fortunately, I was given another chance and hooked into a little common. We persevered by the tunnel but the fishing had died off and in an hour of trying, we caught nothing. On our way to the pipe, we decided to give a few different spots along the river a go, trotting maggots about a foot under the float. In one spot, Jack managed a little roach and in another spot I managed a little chublet and a little roach, the other spots proved unsuccessful.  

Once back at the pipe, it was Jacks turn to fish. While he was fishing, I had a wander along the river through thick brambles and brush. I found a few ok looking spots and just ahead of me I could see a perfect looking meander. It was then that I heard my name being called by Jack, he’d managed to catch a small but beautiful chub.

I really wanted to see what was upstream so I headed back through the brambles to the meander. After nearly falling down the bank, I heard my name being called yet again. Jack had managed another chub from the river. I headed back to Jack to take some pictures for him in the sun. We fished a little longer by the pipe but the fish had obviously spooked so we decided to head back to the tunnel.

It was my turn to catch one but bites were slow. After half an hour of trickling in maggots, my float shot under like a bullet and I struck into something which felt big. The fish was holding in the deep water by the entrance of the tunnel and not showing himself. The fish felt heavy but wasn’t swimming around frantically like a carp, more slow and steady. After what felt like an age, the fish popped to the surface and I slipped the net under it. We weighed it and it weighed in at 3lb on the nose, it was a new PB chub for me.

After taking some celebratory photos, Jack had a cast. It only took 15 minutes for him to catch one. On closer inspection, we realised it was the same chub I had caught that morning. It had the distinctive scar on its head. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing, the fish had miles of river too swim around and it had stayed in the danger zone we had caught it from. We slipped the silly thing back before heading to the pipe for the last hour of the day. Jack stayed behind and chatted with a couple of anglers fishing a neighbouring lake while I headed to the pipe.

It didn’t take me long to hook another fish, this time it was a bream. I left her in the net and gave Jack a call. After he came, we got the fish on the bank and realised it was the same fish I had caught 4 days ago in the snow. It had a black mark on its shoulder about the size of a pea and after comparing photos we realised it was the same fish. What are the chances?

Despite fishing for another half an hour, we caught nothing and it was time to leave the river behind us. It will likely be the last time we fish the river before the closed season due to online lessons resuming, schools opening soon and me being busy with working at the garden centre. I think we’ve near enough completed the river now, Jack’s caught a 5lb chub and 10lb carp from the river and I’ve caught what we believe to be the only bream in there along with a good number of carp, chub and other species. I hope you have all enjoyed reading this series as much as I did fishing the river. Don’t forget to check out our social media links below.

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.

Chapter 4:

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.

Part 3:

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! 🙂