I walked through the door at 4am with a belly full of alcohol and kebab. I stumbled up the stairs as quietly as I could as to not disturb my mum and dad who were fast asleep. I opened my bedroom door more cautiously than a prisoner might do while escaping the bars locking them inside. I got into bed and the warm hug of my duvet sent me to sleep almost instantly despite the loud, continuous ringing in my ears.
Just two hours later my dad poked his head around my bedroom door to tell me it was time to get up. I was surprisingly untired and still feeling a little giggly from last nights intoxication. After getting dressed in three layers and a glass of fresh cold water it was time to leave. Destination: The River Chelmer. Target: Something Toothy.
My dad and I arrived at Hoe Mill lock and were greeted by my dad’s childhood friend Russle and a couple of his ex-work colleagues Brian and Andy. They were all using light perch set-ups however I opted to try for something hopefully larger, a pike. We planned to walk west, towards Paper Mill lock where we were going to stop for a bite to eat.
It was my first time fishing the Chelmer despite it being so close to me. The river looked stunning in the morning glow. It was surprisingly clear and there was a nice amount of water flowing through. The air was crisp and fogging up in front of my nose with every breath. I was thankful of the many layers of clothing I had on.
After no more than 20 casts, something tried to attack my lure. Unfortunately, it was just as I was lifting the lure out of the water and nothing came of it. The early indication of feeding fish was really promising and we all hoped that it was a sign of what was to come.
The five of us kept moving along, leapfrogging each other and trying different spots. There was a likely looking spot along some reeds and I made the perfect cast. I brought my lure parallel with the bank and something struck my lure. I struck in return and it was fish on! My prize was small jack pike which was in perfect condition. Its green scales glinted in the morning sun and it stared back at me with a toothy grin. We took a quick snap before returning it back to it’s watery lair.
We marched on but the ground was treacherous and slippery and clogged our boots with thick mud. We made cast after cast, the wet braid numbed my hands to the point where I had to ask my dad to change lure for me. I had to swap over from the lure I was using because I had straightened out the hook on a snag.
The rain started but we soldiered on, perch, pike and bacon in our sights. Finally after a couple of hours Andy managed to catch a fish. It wasn’t the perch he was after but a toothy little pike.
We had all under anticipated the walk between hoe mill and paper mill. With the stopping to fish, it was 4 hours before we made it. We were all wet and hungry. I set my gear down and realised that my lure box was missing. My bag was open so I wasn’t sure if it had fallen out or whether maybe I’d left it where I last changed lure. I just hoped we would find it on the way back.
We stopped off at the café at papermill, the food was really great and the cake was nice too. I’d recommend a stop there if you’re passing by and feeling a bit peckish.
After filling our bellies we were back on the move. We did much less fishing on the way back. The ground was duplicitous, one minute we were ankle deep in mud and the next we were slipping like Bambi. Thankfully I found my lure box but unfortunately, none of us caught anything on the way back.
Despite the poor fishing, it was a fun day out. It was nice to catch up with Brain the Bridge Troll Holland and Russle, it was nice to meet Andy for the first time too. It was great to spend some time fishing with my dad and I finally got one back on him because last time we went fishing he caught the only pike of the day.
Last weekend I took part in a lure fishing competition on the Lancaster canal. Somehow I ended up coming second out of over 20 people which was a complete shock for me. I’ve only been lure fishing for a couple years and before last month I’d only ever dabbled in it. I never entered to win, for me it was about meeting people and learning. I met some great guys on the day and one of them, James, offered to take me barbel fishing.
I’d never been barbel fishing before but it was always something I’ve wanted to do. The stories I’d heard about how hard they fight had me set on catching one but the opportunity had never arose. James and I both had Thursday free and he offered to take me barbel fishing on the River Ribble. The Ribble runs through Preston which is only half an hour from Lancaster where I am at university. Apparently, the best barbel fishing comes in the evening and night so we left around 3pm.
We arrived at the river and it was surprisingly low. Just the previous week it was in flood however James thought that it still looked really good for a fish or two. We chose a couple of swims next to each other and got the rods out. I only brought limited gear to uni with me so my rod of choice was a 6ft 2lb stalking rod. I hoped that the length wouldn’t hinder my casting too much or put too much line in the water. Thankfully the river wasn’t flowing too fast and I was managing to hold bottom with 3oz.
As suggested by James, I opted to use a simple hair rig of about 18 inches on a running ledger set up. My first bait of choice was 2 14mm halibut pellets however after the first cast they had fallen off. I subsequently decided to use just 1 pellet topped with a small piece of buoyant fake corn. I hoped this would prevent the pellet falling off. We also used small pva bags of pellet on each cast as well as catapulting a few handfuls of pellet over our spots.
The sun set below the horizon and cloud cover prevented the moon from shining down on us. It was a dry night with a slight breeze. The weather was really nice. We’d been there for nearly two hours and I was in James’s swim having a chat. A friend rang me to discuss some coursework so I headed back to my swim.
We were talking for no longer than 2 minutes when a fish picked up my bait and line slowly peeled off my reel. I ran to my rod before telling my mate I’d call him back in a minute. I shouted down the bank to James and he came running over. The fish felt good and my rod was coping nicely. The fish went on a few runs before James scooped it up in the net and we exchanged high 5’s. The fish looked really big and James said it looked like it could be double figures. My heart was racing, there was no way my first barbel was going to be a double.
We weighed it in the net and the scales tipped around to 12lb 8oz. The question now was how much did the net weigh? I was ecstatic and we took some photos before allowing the fish to rest in the net. The fish swam off strong and it was time to weigh the net and see if I’d just done the unimaginable. The net came in at 2lb 4oz meaning I’d gone and caught a 10lber as my first barbel. I was over the moon.
The rods went back out and we waited, and waited. Nearly 2 hours had passed and we were both getting restless. I was in James’s swim and he suggested we could try somewhere further upstream with deeper water. We decided to give it another half an hour as we’d both had a couple knocks. As if on que, James had a savage bite. The result was another great barbel which weighed in just a few ounces under 10lb.
We decided it would be best to stay where we were for the rest of the night. Unfortunately I didn’t catch anything else however James caught a lovely 5lb chub. Even though I had just the one fish I cant complain at all. It was more than I could ever have hoped for. It was great to get to know my new friend James a bit better too and I can’t thank him enough for putting me on some fish. Hopefully there’s some more barbel in store for me this year and if not, I’ll definitely be giving them a good go next year when hopefully I’ll have passed my driving test.
Towards the beginning of last month, my Dad and I headed to our local mark on the River Crouch in search of anything that would bite. We’ve fished the Crouch, with mixed success about a dozen times in the last few years because it’s only 10 minutes from home. We’ve caught the usual bass, whiting, dogfish and even a cod but the Thornback Rays, which the river is renowned for have never played ball with us. With my dad working away in Switzerland and myself headed north for university, this was to be one of our last fishing sessions together of the year.
High tide was around 6:30 however we had to leave at 5:30 because I was heading out for dinner. We arrived at South Fambridge around 1 o’clock and made our way along the river towards an area known as the saltings. Although it’s about a 15 minute walk from where you park, the fishing is much better and the area of marsh means that your fishing away from the sea wall where you can get caught in rocks and weed. If you’re looking at fishing the saltings then make sure to check the height of the tide because anything over about 5.2m and you might be getting wet feet.
By 1:15 our first rods had been cast in. We were planning on fishing 2 rods with bigger baits out for the skate, 1 rod on a 2 hook flapper for anything that bites and 1 rod on a float with ragworm as we’d heard that this was working well for the late bass. For this reason I hadn’t packed a 4th beach caster, instead I packed an old 12ft carp rod which I thought would be more suitable for float fishing.
We hadn’t anticipated the strong winds. Upon arriving realising the strength of the wind, we decided that it would be too difficult to fish with the float. I wasn’t sure whether the carp rod would be able to cope with the heavier leads needed to hold bottom in the strong tides but rigged it up with an up and over rig anyway and baited up with a chunk of herring.
While rigging up my second rod, I hadn’t noticed the line slacken on my other rod rigged up with a 2 hook flapper. I tightened the line back up to the lead then the rod tip just hooped over. It was a classic ray bite. I excitedly picked the rod back up and started reeling. The fish didn’t put up much of a fight, as people say it can be almost like reeling in a carrier bag. It’s safe to say that I was delighted with my capture, it was the first ray that either of us had caught from the Crouch. We were surprised to catch it on the top hook of the 2 hook flapper which I had baited with only a three inch piece of ragworm.
The herring on our up and over rigs wasn’t proving successful so we both opted to change over to squid. I pulled the head off the squid and stuffed it into the body before hooking it and wrapping it with bait elastic. I was really happy with the presentation. The squid had been in the water for about half an hour and I was debating bringing it in to put fresh bait on. Before I could decide, my rod hooped over and I was into my second skate of the day. This one felt much bigger and was darting left and right. It was putting a great bend into my 12ft carp rod. The tide still wasn’t in much and so we had to drag the fish a little way up the bank. As I was lifting the fish up the bank, the hook link snapped leaving the fish stranded on the clay. Without much hesitation I made my way down the slippery mud to unhook the fish and get a quick photo before slipping it back.
It was about an hour before any other bites came. It was finally my dad’s turn to catch one. We were both standing by my rods when his rod hooped over and my dad rushed to his rod, nearly slipping in his haste. It was his first ever thornback ray from the shore and he was absolutely chuffed. This fish also fell to a whole squid.
Shortly after slipping that fish back, I had another bite which resulted in another beautiful ray. This one fell to a whole ragworm and put up a great scrap on my 12ft carp rod.
Around half an hour later, I was rebaiting one of my rods. I looked up and my other rod was on the floor along with the tripod. What had happened? Had it blown over? I picked up the rod and something pulled back. I noticed the line wasn’t where I had cast. The fish had kited around about 50ft to the left and would have swam over my over line had I not just reeled it in to change the bait. It was probably the smallest one of the day but more than welcome.
Despite our best efforts, the last hour was drawing to a close and it was time to start packing up. As I mentioned at the start of the blog, I was heading out to dinner with some friends so we had to call it a day a little earlier than high tide. My dad went to reel his first rod in, ready to pack it away however the fish had other plans. He was hooked up but the fish on the end had given no indication that it was there. He reeled it in and it turned out to be the biggest fish of the day and brought out total fish count to six.
We finished packing up in a hurry as the fish had put us slightly behind schedule. It was a great afternoon spent with my dad and the fishing made it even better. It might be our last proper fishing session together of the year so it was great to end things on a high note with some amazing fish caught.
Last week, I had the pleasure of fishing my local small river with my dad. Due to him working away in Switzerland, we haven’t been fishing together as much as we usually would so it’s been nice to fish when we can.
We were hoping to do some sea fishing in the week however poor tide times meant that this wasn’t a viable option. Instead, we decided to spend Tuesday evening fishing on our local small river. After a quick trip to Pete’s Tackle to get some maggots and a few bits and bobs, we enjoyed some fish and chips before setting the gear up.
This was my dads first ever time fishing on a freshwater river, so the aim of the session was to catch him some fish more than anything. I set one rod up on a light ledger and the other on a small float. For bait, we had worms, slugs, sweetcorn and of course maggots.
We started in a swim known as the pipe which was aptly named due to the large pipe running across the river. This point of the river is a little deeper than the rest, most likely due to the instillation of the pipe. I started my dad off on the float on worms and I just sat back and watched for a little while. He received a bite almost instantly however it may have been from smaller fish. We were baiting with maggots over the worm and we could actually see small roach and rudd coming up and taking the maggots mid water.
After 10 minutes, my dad had caught his first ever river fish, a meagre perch. It was only small but we were off the mark. This was shortly followed by slippery slimy eel.
After this, I cast out my ledger rod and sat back and waited. We had been in the spot for about half an hour with little action so decided to give it 5 more minutes. Just then, we spotted a large shadow move into the swim. The fish was obviously big because despite the deep water, I could see its dark shadow with the aid of my polarised sunglasses. I really wanted my dad to catch it but he was struggling to see it without any polarised glasses. We had switched rods and I lowered a bunch of maggots in front of its nose. It turned and swam a foot in the other direction, I repositioned my bait and within 10 seconds, the float sunk under and I had struck. It was fish on!
It was a large carp and definitely my biggest from the river. My friend had previously caught a 10lber from the river and at first, I thought that it was that fish. My heart was racing and after a few close calls, my dad had scooped it up into the net. On closer inspection I realised that it was a different fish to the one my friend had caught and was probably around the 6 lb mark. We took some pictures before slipping it back.
The 5 minute battle had quite obviously spooked the swim so we moved to the next spot. The next spot is quite a fast flowing section of river, slightly deeper than the rest. It’s the perfect spot for trotting although it can be a little challenging due to the flora. I baited the hook with a worm and handed my dad the rod. He wanted me to show him how to do it first however I had a sneaky suspicion that we may catch one on the first trot downstream. I explained the basics and on just his first proper trot, the float dipped under and my dad had caught his first ever chub.
Usually, that section of river only produces one or two fish before they spook. My dad had hooked that fish pretty early on so I hoped that there may still be fish there. We received a few more bites however my dad was struggling with striking while the line was free so they didn’t transpire into fish landed.
We moved onto the next spot, a railway bridge / tunnel. The fishing was pretty slow and all we managed was a small roach.
We headed back towards the pipe, stopping off at the second swim for a quick trot down river. 10 minutes fishing for my dad produced another stunning chub and a couple of missed bites.
Half an hours fishing at the pipe produced another perch for my dad and a couple of roach and rudd for myself, the bigger fish seemed to have spooked of since the carp. We were on the move again and back to the trotting spot.
This time, my dad insisted I give it a go. I had swapped over to a smaller, size 12 hook and armed it with a bunch of maggots. On the first trot down, I received a couple of small shy bites. I decided to leave them because I suspected that they were roach or rudd. The decision paid off because my float sailed under the water and it was chub on! It was the biggest chub of the night.
In another 10 minutes fishing, I caught 2 roach and a nice little rudd. 4 fish in 15 minutes, not bad from a tiny river if you ask me.
Back at the tunnel, the fishing was tough once again with my dad just catching an eel. Personally, I was thrilled because I caught a tiny dace which is a new species from the river and a new species for the species hunt. That’s now the 9th species of fish which I’ve caught or seen caught from this little river, pretty amazing really considering it’s quite mucky. So mucky in fact I was once told by a passer by “you won’t catch anything in there it’s a sewer”.
We decided to call it a day and we headed back towards the car. We were walking past the trotting swim so it would be rude not to have one last trot, right? Well one last trot turned into about 10 minutes fishing which resulted in a little chub, a roach and a rudd.
All in all, it was a great evening with lots of fish caught between us and lots of good laughs. Definitely one I’m sure I won’t forget.
If you’re interested in reading more blogs about fishing on this river, then check out my 4 part series about a weeks fishing in February.
Tired of reading? Check out my recent YouTube video about a session catching F1 Carp.
This blog is a continuation from my previous post, if you haven’t already, I‘d suggest checking it out before reading ahead. If not then here’s some background. The other week, I took part in a carp fishing match raising money for Great Ormond Street. The venue was Newlands Hall fishery in Essex. Going into the evening, I had caught 5 carp including the biggest of the match so far at 18lbs 8oz. Oh, and to spice things up a tad I was doing the whole thing dressed as Pikachu.
After landing my fifth fish of the session, it took another hour for the spot to produce another bite. The winning tactic was a 12mm yellow pop-up on a Ronnie rig. As far as I knew, this fish took me into the lead. The last I’d heard was that someone else was on five fish a couple of hours previous. Of course, a lot can happen in a couple of hours, but I was quietly confident.
It was now around half past six and my tummy was starting to rumble. I got the stove on and started to fry my burgers. Just five minutes later I received a savage bite from the left hand margin. The rod tip bent around, and I thought I was in. I lifted the rod and reeled however there was nothing on the end. The fish had obviously spat the hook.
I finished off cooking before re-casting my right hand rod. It hadn’t produced anything all day so I decided to move it around the swim to try and find a few fish. Just as I was casting it out, I received a bite on my left hand rod to the snags. This produced my seventh fish of the session which was another small common.
A little after an hour later, my left hand rod ripped into action again. I managed to get the fish away from the snags and it was charging all around my swim. It headed down towards my left hand margin however I wasn’t worried as there were no obvious snags. The rod locked up and it seemed the fish had become snagged. I could still feel it on and didn’t want to risk snapping up or a tethered fish.
Although the lake rules state no wading, I weighed up my options and decided to head in. The margins were between three and four foot deep so there wasn’t a risk of my waders flooding. I managed to find my rig however unfortunately whatever was on the end had escaped me. I also found the snag which the fish had taken me around. It was a large branch. It was full of line, rigs and leads including my method feeder rig which I had lost earlier in the day. I must have cast right on top of it.
I decided it would be best to remove the branch from the lake so that’s what I did. I had a feeling that it may kill off my swim for a little while, but I thought I was acting within the best interests of the lake and fish for the future.
About half an hour after losing the fish, I had finished removing the branch and my bait was finally back in the water and fishing. The next hours fishing was uneventful. I decided to swap my right hand rod from a Ronnie rig to a solid bag.
The change obviously paid off because after 20 minutes, my rod was nearly pulled off my rod rest. It was my eight fish from twelve bites but more importantly for me, it was my first fish on the bottom and away from the snags. I was worried about fishing close to the snags at night whilst I was sleeping so it gave me some confidence of night-time bites in open water.
It was now around ten o’clock and I’d just heard that Stewart, who was fishing around the middle of the lake where the island is was on 14 fish. The match was going to be a numbers game, so I had some catching up to do. Although I was already quite tired due to going out the night before, I really wanted to win this match so decided to stay up and catch as many as I could. Staying up and sitting next to the rods would mean I could continue fishing the productive snags to my left and I planned to re-cast my right hand rod every half an hour with a fresh PVA bag.
I decided to get a couple of hours sleep so moved the left hand rod away from the snags and got my head down. My next bite and ninth fish woke me up at about quarter to 11. It was a small common but that didn’t matter because it was all about number of carp.
I managed a little more sleep before being woken up again an hour and a half later. After this fish, I decided to stay wake. I had run out of solid bags so started to use PVA mesh bags instead. This obviously made little difference to the fish because I caught three more between quarter past one and quarter past two. They were a small common, a mirror around 7 lb and the biggest fish was around 13 1/2lb, this one was caught on the right hand rod in open water.
I could hear fish jumping out slightly further down the bank than I was, I couldn’t however hear anyone else’s alarms going off. I was now on 13 fish, just 1 behind Stewart who was leading on 14 going into the night.
The rest of the night remained quiet. I didn’t catch another fish until 4:40 the next morning. I had spotted some swirling almost under my feet. The previous night I had put some bait in the margins, and something had obviously moved in and was feeding on it. After having my rig in the water for 20 minutes, it was away with another low double common. This ruined this spot since it was so close to my rods.
Fortunately, there was another spot slightly further down the bank which I had been baiting up all the previous day. I noticed some fizzing on that spot and lowered my rig on top. I threw a handful of pellet over the top to keep the fish interested. It only took 10 minutes for another bite. I did this again and caught yet another fish, taking my total to 16.
I caught my fourth fish in an hour when my left hand rod towards the snags bent round and I was into my 17th fish, a small common.
I was absolutely knackered, I’d had about an hours sleep but it was all worth it because I’d found out that Stewart who was leading going into the night hadn’t caught anything all night and was still on 14 fish. Although things were looking positive, there was one downside. It appeared the fish had started spawning again. Apparently, they had spawned a couple of weeks prior to our visit however obviously, some hadn’t finished and conditions were perfect for them to start again.
The fishing suddenly died right off, and I struggled from 6 till 10. The match was meant to finish at 12 and I had 2 hours to cement my lead. I swapped one rod over to the float after seeing some fish feeding in the margins. I fished a worm over some pellet and after half an hour, my float dipped under. I’d caught a bloody eel! I had one worm and an hour and a half left. I watched my float like a hawk and by quarter to eleven, I had another bite. I struck into the fish and watched my float disappear under the water. I never saw it again because the fish had snapped me up.
I had heard bite alarms going off around the lake, everyone’s except mine. On closer inspection with my binoculars, I could see Stewart haling them in down the bank. I needed to act fast!
I re-did my rod toward the left hand snag and threw a few more boilies over it. I also put some more bait down my right hand margin. Just 15 minutes later, I was in. It was my 18th fish but only a small common. Just 15 minutes after that fish, I had another bite brining my total to 19. There was just 20 minutes left of the match and I watched Stewart’s swim with my binoculars like I was an FBI agent. I didn’t see him land any more fish, but I wasn’t sure I’d done enough either.
Midday arrived and the match came to an end. Had I done enough?
Paul came around to let me know the result. Stewart had caught 18 fish, I had won! It was quite emotional to be honest, I never expected to win, I was in an average swim without much water or an island. Many of the contestants came around to congratulate me whilst I was packing up and Paul brought round my prizes. I had won several things including some bait, a gift voucher, and a head torch. The prizes didn’t matter to me, we had raised an enormous amount of money for Great Ormond Street, and I’d had some mega fun doing so.
Thanks to Paul for running the competition and thanks to everyone who competed for such a great time. Here’s to next year?
When a friend asked me to take part in a charity fishing match for Great Ormond Street Hospital that he was hosting, I jumped at the chance and signed up. Unfortunately, a couple of weeks after paying, another friend planned a trip up to London for his 18th birthday which was the same weekend as the match. Due to covid restrictions not easing on the 21st of June, the trip to London was cancelled and the charity match was back on! To make it more entertaining and to raise as much money as possible, I decided to do the whole match dressed as Pikachu.
In the month leading up to the match, I had had nothing but bad luck. I hadn’t caught a carp in over a month and I had lost 4 fish in a row on 3 different sessions. The first couple took me into some snags and snapped me up while just a couple days before the match, I had lost a stunning upper double mirror at the net due to weed. To say I had lost my confidence would be an understatement.
With all preparations made on the Friday, I was up early on Saturday to make the 40 minute journey to the venue, Newlands Hall fishery. I’d fished there once before, but blanked. I arrived a little late so didn’t make the walk around before the swim draw. I drew swim 1 and didn’t know what to expect. It did mean one thing however, it was only a short walk from the car park with what must have been the most loaded barrow I’ve ever pushed.
Once arriving in my swim, I was met with fizzing and fish cruising on the surface right in front of me. I was confident of a bite but we still had over an hour before it was time to put the rods in. I set up the bivvy and prepared my rods, eagerly waiting for 9 o’clock to arrive.
Although it was a 2 rod match, I had brought 6 rods with me to cover any situation which arose. I started the day with one rod on the method feeder and one rod fishing a Ronnie rig with a small pink pop-up. Due to my swim being in the corner, I had a good set of marginal snags on my left as well as an overhanging tree to my right. I had a large amount of open water in front of me but I could only cast about 35 yards out before entering someone else’s water.
9 AM arrived and the rods went out. I dropped my method feeder under the overhanging bush to my right and used my baiting pole to ship out my Ronnie rig to the snags on my left. I had a feeling the fish were going to be hungry, so I put quite a few boilies, some pellet and some sweetcorn in the spoon too. I set my rod down before sitting back after the manic hour setting up.
Beeeeep. My rod tip swung round after just 5 minutes in the water. It was fish on. Although I was fishing locked up, the fish had taken me into the snags. I could still feel it on, but the line was grating against the submerged branches. The rod locked up and I wasn’t sure weather the fish had escaped me leaving my hook embedded into a branch or, it was still on. I allowed the line to go slack for 5 minutes but there was no movement. I assumed that the fish had spat the hook and pulled for a break.
This was now the 5th fish in a row that I had lost and I was devastated. I wasted no time in getting the rod rigged back up and on the spot. This time, I dropped it about a foot away from where I had previously dropped it. I hoped that this would stop the fish from reaching the snags.
Half an hour later, my rod ripped off again. I put my rod tip straight under the water, this helps to bring carp away from snags as they feel less threatened being pulled under the water than up, out of it. I played the fish for a couple of minutes and it was ready to be netted. I fumbled around for the net and must have applied too much pressure. My line went slack and the fish splashed it’s way back into the depths. Now I had lost 6 in a row.
I was seething. Why was this happening to me? What was I doing wrong? I was loosing confidence rapidly. I’m not a religious person but I was so desperate that I had a little pray to the ‘Carp Gods’ asking for a little luck and forgiveness.
I prepared the bait and rod again, shipping it out with the baiting pole to the same spot as before. The fish seemed hungry and I had received 2 bites within an hour of each other. I decided to keep piling the bait in, so put a spoonful of bait out before placing my rig out with more bait.
Meanwhile, I hadn’t received much activity on the method feeder for a while now. I had been casting it under the tree to my right mainly, however after a few hours without any action I decided to move it around a bit and have a few pub chucks. I swapped the hookbait from a wafter to some sweetcorn but still hadn’t caught anything.
After a few hours of just receiving liners, I decided to re-bait. I wasn’t too happy when the rig went out in the first place because the line got caught around the pole and I wasn’t sure if the rig had been moved slightly. I reeled in and put the rod back out. 10 minutes later the rod bent round and the result was a stunning mirror – I was finally off the mark and had broken my run of bad luck. little did I know what the carp gods had in store for me.
I had also noticed many fish cruising around on the surface. I reeled in my feeder rod and tried to trip one up using some white bread and a breadbomb. It’s surprising how far you can cast with just freelined bread loading in a breadbomb. You can easily manage 30 yards. I had a couple of fish come up and nose my bread but they were obviously wary. I noticed that most of the fish on the surface were good double figure fish too. The fish seemed to have spooked off so I put my feeder back out for a little while.
All of a sudden, I noticed a large set of lips on the surface gulping down some dog mixers which had drifted over from an adjacent swim. I quickly reeled in my feeder but it was snagged up. It was in the margin but there were no obvious snags. I was in a rush and didn’t have the time to try and free it. I pulled for a break.
My bread rod was already set up, but the bread had been on for a good 45 minutes. I decided to leave the slightly soggy, half dried bread on and flicked it out where I’d last seen the fish come up. 30 seconds later and my bread had been engulfed. I struck and it was fish on. The fight lasted a good 10 minutes and the fish was taking lots of line. I gave a shout to the guy who was fishing in the next swim and he helped me to net the fish. Eventually it was in the net and mine.
I gave Paul, who was hosting the competition a call and he came round to witness the weighing and take some photos for me. It weighed in at 18 lb 8oz and was the biggest fish of the match so far. There was going to be a prize for biggest fish of the match, as well as 3 prizes for most fish caught. The prize for biggest fish was a 60 minute tattoo session which I had no interest in, so I had won some pride more than anything. It seemed my words with the ‘Carp Gods’ had paid off.
I slipped the fish back and sat back for a minute, looking back over the pictures. It was a stunning half linear mirror. I decided to call it quits on the feeder rod and replace it with a Ronnie rig and white pop-up. I hooked on a pva mesh bag and placed it under the overhanging tree to my right.
It had been a little while since I had caught from the left hand snags too. I decided it was time to re-do that rod too. My rod was on the bank sticks, bail arm open and alarm off. I was bringing my baiting pole in when I noticed line splaying off my spool. In panic, I dropped the baiting pole to pick up the rod for fear of the fish running into the snags. The fish was on but I heard an almighty crack. The end section of my baiting pole had snapped in half. I managed to land the fish which was a battered old common but I was gutted about the baiting pole.
I was sure that I wouldn’t be able to catch as many without the help of my baiting pole. I scattered a good amount of bait around the spot instead. Although I wouldn’t be able to keep with the tight baiting approach which I would have preferred, the fish were obviously in the area and I was hoping it wouldn’t make too much difference. Around the lake, not many fish were being caught, there was an obvious lull in the action. I took this time to eat some late lunch and enjoy the stunning wildlife.
If you enjoy your birdwatching while you fishing, then Newlands is great. I spotted a kingfisher, long tailed tits, blue tits, great tits, wrens, bats and all sorts of other fantastic birds while I was there.
The time was nearing 5 o’clock and a few people had started catching. I decided to trickle a few more boilies over the spot and re-cast my rod. It didn’t take long for another bite to come. The result was a pristine little common. It was my fourth fish from 6 runs, all of which had come from the left hand snag.
I got the rod straight back out and just 15 minutes later, I landed my 5th of the session. It was looking like it would be a productive evening.
Thanks for reading the first part of this blog. I was hoping to fit it all into one, but I’m afraid of it becoming the Lord of the Rings. The second part should be out next week, most likely on Friday. You don’t want to miss it because I had a crazy night with no sleep and managed to overtake the leader.
The other month, I turned 18. It’s not every day that someone turns 18 and therefore, my Grandparents wanted to get me something special for my birthday. I wanted to get something that I’d always remember and something that I could take into later life. After many hours pondering over what to get, I decided that I would like a days fly fishing tuition. There’s a few different fly fishing tutors around Essex but I decided to go with Iain Fraser. He has nearly 50 years of fly fishing experience and seemed like a fantastic option. After exchanging a few emails, we decided on Wednesday the 2 of July. I couldn’t wait.
I had only ever been fly fishing once before and that was a couple of years ago. Iain recommended that our session take place at Chigborough fisheries as it’s perfect for anglers of all abilities. I’ve been carp fishing at Chigborough a couple of times and it’s absolutely stunning, the fishery is set in acres of beautiful woodland and on site there’s 3 trout lakes and 3 course lakes. There really is something to suit every anglers.
Wednesday morning arrived and I was so excited. The sky was blue and temperatures were set to reach the mid 20’s. My mum and I arrived about half an hour before we were meant to and spent the time watching the water. We saw many trout around and even an absolute monster fish which looked about 7lb. It was hugging the bottom and we couldn’t tell weather it was a trout or a tench. This made me even more excited and before long, Iain had arrived and my mum had left.
Iain started the day by explaining watercraft to me. We went through the different things the trout feed on and where and when they can be found. He explained how the trout feed and it was really fascinating. It amazed me just how different they were from the fish I usually catch.
We then went through all the different types of flies. There’s so many different types of flies for different situations it’s crazy. They can be so minimalistic or so majestic.
After a short break, we moved on to casting. I’ve done a little casting before but not much. It really is difficult but luckily I managed to pick it up quite quickly. Apparently my timing was great but I need to work on my technique. Iain said that I had the same problem that many coarse anglers do. I was putting too much effort into my cast. Casting a fly should be almost effortless, it’s all about technique and timing unlike casting a conventional fishing rod where distance is more about the amount of power you put into the cast.
Iain said that he thought my casting was ready. We stopped for lunch before heading out onto the water.
We went walking and looking for the fish. Glasses are a must when fly fishing to protect your eyes from the fly. Polarized glasses are even better as they cut the glair from the water. We spotted the odd fish rising and swimming but we kept walking. In the corner, we found a huge group of trout shoaled together.
Iain picked out a dry fly for me to try and I had my first cast. There was a hedgerow not too far behind us so I wasn’t able to cast too far. Fortunately, the trout were only about 20ft out. I missed one bite but it was quickly followed by a second, which I missed again and a third which I hooked into. The initial burst of power caught me off guard and I held onto the line too tightly. TWANG. The line had snapped.
We tied on another leader and fly before making another cast. It didn’t take long for a trout to gobble up my fly. The fight was fantastic and I’d finally caught my first trout. It was also another species in the Essex Anglers species hunt which was great. We humanely dispatched of my catch before drying off the fly by blowing on it hard and casting out again.
Within 5 minutes, my second fish of the day was on. This fish was a bit bigger and put up a great fight. The disturbance of catching those two fish had caused the rest of the shoal to push further out into the lake out of casting distance. Fortunately, because we were fishing he corner we were able to move round a little and reach the fish.
I spent a little while decorating trees before the fish moved further down the bank and I was able to cast from a position which was clear of trees. I missed a few more bites before finally connecting with a fish. Unfortunately it spat the hook. Iain had ran out of tea, and the fish had stopped feeding. We headed back to the fishing lodge for a break and a chat. We were watching the lake the whole time and it was devoid of showing fish. The heat had caused fly activity and the fish to slow down.
As I mentioned before, the complex has three trout lakes. Two of which we were yet to explore. We decided to take a walk over to the larger of the two lakes. There was a few fish showing and we spent around half an hour fishing. We weren’t feeling it and decided to head back to Home Water, the lake we were fishing originally.
We only had about 45 minutes before it was time to go and on our way to the swim where we had our previous success, we spotted a couple of fish rising and nebbing. I had a few casts towards them but being unsure of what was ahead, we decided to keep walking and to maybe return if we didn’t see anything. It was a good job that we did move on. Just around from where I’d caught my previous 2 fish, there was a large shoal of fish.
I cast out and missed the first couple of bites. When fly fishing, you don’t actually strike, you just pull back the line. I was really struggling with this technique. Finally, I hooked into another trout. It was the smallest of the day but still more than welcome.
After a couple more casts and about five minutes, I did an absolutely fantastic cast. The line straightened out perfectly and the fly landed right in the middle of the shoal. A trout came up and engulfed my fly. I resisted the urge to strike and I pulled back on the line to tighten it. I felt the resistance of the trout and raised the rod ready for the fight. It put up the best fight of the day and after a little while, it was in the net. I didn’t have time for another cast as it was time to go.
My grandparents were picking me up and they enjoyed a nice chat and cuppa with Iain. It was a fantastic day and I learnt so much thanks to Iain. It’s a skill that I will hopefully never forget (as long as I keep up practice) and I’m so grateful. Thanks to Iain for an enjoyable and informative day, and thanks nan and grandad for a fantastic present.
Iain’s Website is linked below if you’d like to check it out.
Last week, I only managed to get out fishing once for the afternoon. I thought the conditions were perfect, a warm wind, low pressure, and a temperature of about 14 degrees.
After dropping my dad off at Heathrow airport, I headed to my local park lake for a quick session. Upon arriving at 2 and talking to a couple of other anglers including the bailiff Graham, it became apparent that the fish weren’t feeding. Only a couple of fish had been caught all morning and all but one swim was occupied. Apparently someone had been fishing the last swim available just half an hour before I arrived too.
I pushed my barrow over to the only free swim on the lake and prepared my rods. It was a swim tucked away in the corner which only commanded a small amount of water. Thankfully, I had large overhanging and fallen trees either side of me which gave me options to place my rods.
I decided to fish one rod on a Ronnie claw rig with an 11mm Pink Secret Sauce pop-up. I placed this rig and a large handful of11mm Gods Gift boilies by the overhanging tree to my right with my baiting pole. On my other rod, I fished a small solid pva made up of crushed Gods Gift boilies, pellet and I used a 15mm secret sauce wafter on the hook.
My rods had been in the water for about an hour and the fishing showed no sign of picking up. A few people around the lake had packed up and I was thinking about doing the same. My mum was at my nans doing some gardening and I called her to ask if she could pick me up on her way back. Seconds after she picked up the phone, I had a bite on my right hand rod. It was fish on! It put up a decent fight for its size. I got some photos and slipped it back.
I called my mum back and explained to her what had happened. I decided that I would stick it out for a while longer and asked her to pick me up at around 7.
Around the lake, other people seemed to be catching too. I noticed one angler a few swims down had a double take and was playing a fish for quite a while. I was thinking of re-doing the rods so I reeled in and took a walk over. He’d caught two lovely commons, the biggest being mid doubles. He said that he thought it was a 20 the way it was fighting! He said both fish came from using his bait boat to get tight under the island.
I headed back to my swim and re-did my rods. Just after, I got a call from my friend Jack. He was catfishing on the opposite bank and had just caught something special. Luckily, I had my camera with me so brought my rods in again and headed round. When I got there, I was expecting to see a huge catfish. Instead there was a fat carp sitting on his landing mat. It was his new PB and weighed in at 21lb 10 oz. We got some fantastic photos and I let Jack borrow my waders so that we could get some water shots.
After chatting, it became apparent that Jack thought that he was hooked into a catfish too. The carp had taken 3 14mm halibut pellets intended for a catfish and fought exceptionally hard too. It was a well deserved PB even though it came by accident. Jack’s really been putting the hours in over at that lake over the last year.
I headed back to my swim with a couple of hours to go before my mum was going to pick me up. Unfortunately, the rest of the evening passed uneventfully. Even though I only had the one, it was more than I expected when I first arrived and to see one of my closest mates catch a new PB was fantastic.
It’s safe to say that this year, I’ve been out of the carping game. Over the winter I dedicated my time to some pike and river fishing. Once the weather warmed up, I was overloaded with revision for my A levels and only managed to hit the bank once for a quick overnighter at my local park lake. That session resulted in 3 lovely looking fish, two of which were caught in the last hour out of the 26 hours that I was fishing. Last weekend, I finally managed to catch up with my friend Jack and catch a few carp.
The previous night, I had made up some spod mix. It consisted of crushed up God’s Gift economy boilies, whole 11mm regular Baylys Baits God’s Gift boilies, breadcrumb, pellet, and some leftover white rice from dinner. I gave it all a good soaking of Secret Sauce Glug+ to add even more attraction, it’s not only a glug but also a liquid food & Lysine Amino Acid. When adding many boilies to my mixes or crushing them up, the economy boilies are fantastic. They’re affordably priced but still offer lots of attraction. I think that by using them in conjunction with the regular boilies, it can make the regular boilies which I will use on the hook stand out more too. I also made up a stick mix and a few pva bags which consisted of crushed up God’s Gift boilies, pellets, and Glug+.
With my bait and rigs prepared, I was up early and at the lake by 7. Jack had arrived before and picked out a likely looking swim. To our left was a large fallen tree, out in front of us was the island and to our right was a large overhanging weeping willow. Jack had picked the right hand side of the swim which left me with the left hand side which I actually prefer.
I started by throwing a few handfuls of my spod mix about 15 ft out next to the fallen tree. I then prepared my rods. I decided to fish a Ronnie rig with a yellow God’s Gift boilie on my margin spot, and a simple snowman rig with a God’s gift Boilie and 11mm Secret Sauce pop-up towards the island. I fished just a few feet off the island and used one of the pva mesh bags that I had prepared the previous night. Around the island, the bottom is quite firm, so I opted to use a 3oz lead to help drive the hook home.
It took about an hour for the first bite to come. It came from my rod over the baited spot to my left but was rather twitchy, probably because I was fishing slack lines. The fish took me on a short run before shaking the hook, never to be seen again. Although slightly disheartened, I looked at the positives. My rig, bait, and spot were working and the fish were obviously hungry for me to get such a quick bite over quite a bit of bait. I re-cast and threw another couple of handfuls of bait over my spot in the hopes of getting the fish feeding. I’d also brought with me my new spod rod which I was eager to try. After getting the first bite, I decided to spod some bait towards the Island. It didn’t quite go to plan and using the stiffer rod was harder than expected. I think some practice is needed.
While waiting for a bite, Jack and I baited a couple of marginal spots in the swims next to us in case a stalking opportunity arose. We soon noticed lots of swirls coming up along the bank under the willow tree. Armed with sweetcorn, Jack lowered his improvised float setup into place. After a little while, he received a bite from a bream. The bream was covered in spawning tubercles and was oozing milt. We thought that although we had caught a bream, there may be carp feeding on the eggs, so we persevered. Suddenly, a huge sheet of bubbles came up and the massive disturbance patterns came up. We suspected that it was one of the dozen or so catfish in the lake. Jack decided to reel in one of his rods and switch it over to a catfish rig. I’ve never really catfished properly however Jack is quite a competent catfish angler. Unfortunately, nothing came of Jack’s efforts and the fish weren’t playing ball.
I was receiving frequent line bites on my rod to the island and suspected that the fish might be feeding on the bait which I’d spodded just short of my rod. After receiving no indication on my rod in the margin, I decided to move it to just off the island where a few of the spombs landed. I also decided to change the rig on my rod towards the island. I changed to a Ronnie claw rig and used a pink Secret Sauce pop-up as a hook bait.
At around 2 o’clock, I received an absolute screaming take. It was fish on! After a great battle, I had the first fish of the day in the net. It was a beautiful mirror and weighed in at 14 lbs 8 oz. The fish looked familiar and after examining some photos, I realised that it was a fish I’d already caught the previous year. Last year it weighed 12lb 12oz so I was pleased with the increase in weight. I slipped the fish back, and got the rod straight back on the spot.
The fishing around the lake was starting to pick up, Louie who was fishing a couple of swims down managed to catch a nice looking mirror and a couple of other fish were being caught around the lake.
Before long, I was into another fish on my rod towards the Island. It was a very shy drop back bite and at first, I thought that the fish had escaped me. Fortunately, it hadn’t and before long, I had my third fish of the day on the bank. It was a chunky common which we estimated as around 8lb.
Jack was starting to lose confidence in his bait so I offered him some God’s Gift to try. He cast his rig perfectly under the overhanging tree on the island. A fish showed over his spot and a bite was inevitable. Finally, he received the bite he was after. It wasn’t quite the size he was after but it was better than a blank. The action continued all around the lake, Louie who was a couple swims down from us had a bite not long after slipping Jack’s fish back and his rod was almost pulled in.
By about 5, the bites were slowing down. I’d lost one which I think must have been foul hooked because I brought back a scale on my hook. Eventually I received another bite and managed to catch my third fish of the day. It was another common, this time slightly bigger than the previous one and around 12lb.
Jack’s dad arrived at around 6 and brought with him some catfish gear. The conditions were apparently perfect for catfish. Unfortunately, the last couple of hours were quiet. All in all it was a good day’s fishing in good company. I’d recommend getting yourself some Bayly’s Baits, the proofs in the pudding. All the fish were caught using Bayly’s Baits.
Click Below to head over to the Baylys Baits Website. Enter code BB10 at checkout to get 10% off your first order.
As some of you may know, my dad recently moved to Switzerland for work. Due to travel restrictions and lockdowns, we hadn’t fished together since last year. Fortunately, last month he returned home and finally, after all my sixth form exams, we managed to go fishing together earlier this week. We wanted to do something special since we probably won’t be fishing together again for a while.
We wanted to find a charter boat but all the boats out of Essex were fully booked. After a quick search on the net for charters less than 2 hours away, we found Bonwey Charters out of Ramsgate which was very reasonably priced at £50 each including all frozen baits of squid, herring and shrimp. We also wanted some fresh crab so the day before we were due to fish, we headed down to Southend in search of some crabs. We’re unsure whether it was the recent poor weather or something else, but we only managed to find a few crabs of the right size. Despite the lack of crabs, we did find a dead pipefish and caught a little goby in our net which was pretty cool.
We set off early at half 5 to ensure we made it to Ramsgate for 8. We arrived about half an hour early and met with the skipper Paul and the two other lads who were fishing Jay and Mick. The boat had plenty of space, it’s licensed for 10 anglers however there were only 4 of us fishing on the day. This meant that we were able to use two rods each. The harbour itself was beautiful and unlike anything near to us on the Essex coast. The sea was flat calm, the sky was blue, and the sun was beaming down on us. It really was a beautiful day. We left the harbour at about quarter to eight and made the journey to the mark we would be fishing. It took about an hour to get there and on the way, we had a chat with Paul and the other two lads as they had been on Pauls boat previously.
We prepared our rods on the journey so once at the mark, all we had to do was bait up drop in. We opted to use up and over rigs & pulley pennel rigs with huge 6/0 hooks while Jay and Mick were using a running ledger. The tide runs so fast around the mark that we were all using 12oz leads to hold bottom, which even increased to 16oz later in the day. It was only my second time fishing on a boat and Paul was very helpful showing me a few bits. It didn’t take long for the fish to find our baits and within five minutes, my dad was bringing up the first fish of the day. Unsurprisingly it was a dogfish. The target of the day was smoothhounds so although the dogfish was an encouraging start, it wasn’t quite what we were after.
The action continued and within half an hour, everyone had caught a couple of dogfish. The smoothhounds were proving illusive and Paul suspected that they would show up shortly after high tide at about 2 o’clock. Jay had the first good bite of the day after an hour or so of a dogfish on every drop. The result was a nice sized thornback ray.
Whilst the rest of us continued to bring up dogfish, Jay managed another ray, both were around the 7-8lb mark. The squid and herring that I was using was just attracting dogfish, so I decided to switch over to lugworm. It didn’t take long before my rod hooped over and I was into something different. The result was a 40cm bass which got a little too excited and shot an odd white liquid all over my leg and the boat!
Not long after returning my bass, Jay was in again and this time, it was target acquired and the first smoothhound of the day. He caught it on frozen king prawn and as you can guess, I switched one rod over to prawn. Unsurprisingly, it was quickly devoured by a hungry dogfish.
Over the next hour, my dad and I caught a few more dogfish while Jay and Mick, who were at the back of the boat were tearing it up and each caught another skate and smoothhound. By now, the tide was rushing through and the fishing stared to die down a bit.
We enjoyed some lunch while it was a bit quieter and only a few dogfish, a whiting, and a pouting were boated.
As Paul predicted, the fishing started to pick up again at about half past one. By half past two, another 5 or so smoothhounds had been caught including my dad’s first of the day and a 10lber caught by Jay. I, however, still hadn’t caught one despite my best efforts. I had tried the crabs which we had gathered the previous day, herring and squid but still wasn’t catching. All of the hounds bar one were being caught with the prawn so I decided to use the prawn and stick with it.
Thankfully, my turn finally came around and at about half past 3, I was into my first hound of the day. Unfortunately, it was also the last hound caught. The wind had picked up and the sea was getting choppy which made bite detection hard and our lines were starting to constantly get crossed. In addition, the fishing was also dying off. My dad managed the last fish of the day which wash two dogfish on one Pennel rig. The swell was so strong that he had no idea he’d even caught them. We headed back to harbour and I even fell asleep for the last 20 minutes of the journey lol.
Overall it was a fantastic days fishing in great company. Paul, the skipper was fantastic and his years of experience and wealth of knowledge showed through. Although we didn’t use any, all tackle is available to borrow for anyone that doesn’t have anything and frozen bait is also included. Hot drinks were provided all day and usually (before covid) breakfast is served on board too. As previously mentioned, the price is fantastic at £50 a head (usually £35/£40 before covid) and the whole boat can be booked for just £250 midweek or £300 weekends. Another bonus was the fantastic fishing. If you want to know more about Bonwey Charters, then I’ve linked the website below.