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.
Regular follows of my blogs and videos will know, I haven’t done a lot of Lure fishing, until the last 6 weeks or so of 2021. And by god, has it taken me in. In previous sessions, I had started drop shot fishing with worms under bridges on the chelmer which held Perch during July/August, and got the feel or what bites etc where like with the safety net of worms!
However, I have firmly taken the leap into leaving the worms at home and taking lures with me. And it’s been some of the best fishing I have had for a long time, in terms of excitement, it’s hard to beat it!
My setup has been very a light rod and a spinning reel, up to 7g rated rod. And using a 3-5g Texas weight, depending on the flow of the river, and the FFS Craw21, in Junebug, which is my go to lure now. I’ve been fishing and getting to know a stretch of the Chelmer/Can, and have had great success fishing it, viewers of my videos will have seen this.
A relief has been that slowly and surely, the Perch I am catching have got better and better, with each session usually providing a fish over 30cm, which is a lovely Perch to get. And using light gear they do give a good fight!
The above fish gave me quite a fight, getting tucked under the weeds by my feet, luckily I was able to scoop him out with the net! This fish measured 34cm and over 1lb! Chuffed!
I have had a few other quite nice Perch using this, and all falling to the combination above.
One of the best surprises while fishing this style is my first lure caught Chub, no monster fish, but it really meant a lot to land, this however fell to a micro FFS in Get Bit! another good colour for clearer water!
Hope you guys enjoyed this quick read and pictures, if you are keen to watch these sessions head over to my youtube channel below!
Im sure we have all been told at one point that if you wanna catch lots and big perch you need to look at dusk and dawn and to an extent ive believed it however ive never really acted on it always starting my sessions early morning and fishing through the whole day. However ive had a good amount of time and sessions to really say that, dusk is where its at!! i have no experience fishing at dawn because i cant get up that early however dusk i can say with confident is the best time to go fishing! I have had about 6 sessions on the same lake now starting at 9am and ending at about 4pm. Throughout the day even when i fished a variety of different lakes i could not get a bite infact i think i out of all the sessions i landed maybe 5 perch in total. however when the light fell and the temp dropped the bait became alive! the perch were on it!
Now to find the shoal, my go to searching lures are jigs and Texas rigs, both can be fished a fairly faster speed helping to cover more ground and fish through more shoals. i had a few hits on jigs but no hook ups, i swapped to a Texas for a more gentle approach and managed to start banking fish. over the past 5-6 sessions ive landed what must be 10-15 perch just in dusk!
trust me, fish in dawn, go to work, then fish at dusk you will not be disapointed!
I saw the pressure and it just screamed perch! i grabbed my rod and went off to do a test that ive wanted to do for a long time, is the Ned rig really worth it!? is it as good as people say it is? So with the pressure low, spirits high, overcast weather and mild i got the z-mans hooked up and went to visit my favourite mark. Upon arrival i went to a boat which always has a steady shoal of perch below i, nothing big but to get the blank off the table was a brill thing. The pike were EVERYWHERE and didn’t show any signs of wanting to do pike things, so i lost about 4 lures to pike and throughout the day about 7 to snags. When the bite dried off on the z-mans i decided to change to a slick shad in young perch colour this was because id seen perch hitting bait on the surface and the bite rapidly increased, even tho the river was low the fish were on the feed hard! The day slowly got more and more annoying as kept getting bitten of and snagged but the ned rig was killing it as soon as i found the shoal id just wipe up taking what felt like the whole shoal one by one. I stuck to margins and slacks all day really as its very tidal and i cant get 7g to stick on the bottom however one mistake cast ended up seeing the z-man bugz getting crushed in the middle of the chanel by what felt like a solid fish, unfortunately there wasn’t much fight as the tide was pulling too hard when i got it into the net i saw its shoulders and realised this was a big girls child, hopefully shes out there, besides that this fish was already a pb! i don’t do too well on the perch aspect i cant get big ones to save my life but i managed to pull this one out and she was the end of the day on a lovely PB fish!
If you are a regular reader of the blogs on Essex Anglers, you may recall the many blogs my son Joe has written over the past 18 months or so. Unfortunately, both of us have now “partially” moved away from Essex although we have both moved to completely different locations. Joe went off to University and now resides in Lancaster and I relocated to Switzerland almost a year ago for work.
First of all it needs to be said that if you’re not familiar with the geography of Switzerland, the country is landlocked, surrounded by Italy, France, Germany and Austria. For a predominantly sea fisherman like myself, that provides a very unique challenge as the sea is many, many hours away.
But I wanted to fish. Therefore, my choices were to either reduce my fishing exploits considerably or adapt to what many people reading this blog see as their only form of fishing – freshwater. So that’s what I did. It’s not that I’ve never dabbled with freshwater fishing. Before coming to Switzerland I would regularly go with my son Joe, who prefers freshwater fishing to sea fishing. But unbelievably, I’d never actually been freshwater fishing by myself.
I arrived in Switzerland in late November 2020 in the middle of a country-wide lockdown. The weather was dry but bitterly cold, hovering just above freezing most days. I was temporarily living in Zurich, about a 2-minute walk from Zurichsee / Lake Zurich (more on this lake soon) but due to the cold weather, I never actually saw a single person fishing at the lake.
A few months later, I relocated to a small village about 30 minutes from Zurich and was now about a 15 minute bus ride from lake Zurich. The weather was still cold in February and 45cm of snow soon fell and stayed around for weeks. Fishing was still some way off. During this time, I started to investigate the local area for fishing locations, tips etc and found the available information on the Internet to be absolutely woeful. No one talks about their fishing here and no one tells anyone else where to fish or what to use.
The one thing I did discover from my searches was the biggest challenge of fishing in Switzerland is that it’s heavily regulated and each canton (like a county) has their own unique rules and laws on fishing. In the canton of Zurich, they do allow a person to fish without a licence. But the fishing is limited to a single rod and only natural baits such as corn, maggots, worms or bread allowed. In addition, all rivers are rented by fishing clubs who will refuse anyone outside the club from fishing them. (It’s a shame because the rivers are absolutely teeming with life. I’ve seen stretches of river with stacks of 5lb+ Chub in a small 50-meter stretch!)
Fishing without a licence is possible, but its limited. You are unable to use lures, plastic worms, spinners or even pellets/boilies. There’s also a very strict law that every canton will follow – there’s virtually no catch and release. What you catch, you take! This law is alien to us but is in place to ensure that a fish doesn’t go through the same stress twice in its life (they are very big on animal welfare).
Even considering all of the regulations, I decided that I would go through the process of applying for a fishing licence. In the UK, we can apply and pay for a licence online and in a few minutes, fish completely legal. Well, this is Switzerland and nothing is ever simple here. You can’t actually apply for a fishing licence until you have completed an exam that goes through all parts of fishing, water management etc. The exam is called a SaNa and this must be completed and takes an entire day to complete – no exceptions. Once you have the SaNa, you can then apply for a licence. All of this costs money, quite a lot actually.
So, a few hundred quid in and now that I have my licence, I was able to fish without too many restrictions. All I needed now was some gear. Considering most things in Switzerland are super expensive, tackle is not and is either on-par with the UK or in some cases about 10-15% cheaper. The only downside I’ve found is that Switzerland absolutely love all forms of lure fishing and so the tackle shops cater for this in a huge way and general carp or float fishing tackle is contained to a small corner at the far end of the shop. Very different to the average tackle shop in the UK which is the complete opposite.
After buying what I needed to try my luck at lure fishing, I set off to Lake Zurich in the hope of a Perch or two. I was told by the tackle shop where to fish and what to use and what to expect. Apparently, Perch above 40cm come out of the lake fairly regularly with the odd 50cm fish each year! To most UK fishermen that target Perch, this is the stuff of dreams so I was hopeful lady luck would sprinkle some pixie dust on me. Those hopes were very quickly dashed. I think I blanked on 4 trips before I finally caught my first Perch which was about 10cm, not 40.
But by now the weather was improving and the lake was warming up. I’d spoken to a few locals who told me that most people only fish from May-Oct when the water is at its warmest. When it’s cold, the good fish go deep, very deep. Lake Zurich has an average depth of about 80 meters and is about 120 meters at its deepest. Casting out just 40 or 50 meters into the lake is like shore fishing in the UK. The lead hits the water and then continues to take line for sometimes upwards of 15 seconds. Not what I was expecting in a freshwater lake.
I persevered with artificial worms using both Carolina and Texas rigs for several more weeks with some very limited success, catching plenty of small perch but nothing to ever get excited about. I’d never fished this way before but was confident that eventually I’d have the success I was hoping for as this was a method I was seeing used by virtually every local that lure fished.
The following week I was trying to catch some pesky Perch under a jetty freelining with a worm when a South African came up and asked how I was getting on. “Shocking” probably wasn’t the answer he was expecting but I’m British and we say it how it is. We soon got talking about all things fishy in our own countries and 30 minutes later, he had returned with 2 rods and we started fishing together.
My luck had been pretty poor until that day but over the course of the day I finished with 2 pretty good-sized Roach and a few very exotic looking fish called Pumpkinseeds. These are an invasive species and there is a law in place that dictates all Pumpkinseeds caught must be dispatched and not returned to the lake. Seems a shame but these fish are causing havoc with the native fish and out competing them for food, so something needs to be done.
Paul, my new South African fishing buddy is passionate about carp and other large specimen fish. Back home he lives 6 hours from the coast so the only fishing he has really done is in lakes and rivers. It was interesting to see the differences of tackle he uses to catch carp. One interesting looking piece was a hair rig set up, but with 2 completely separate hooks baited separately which was designed to improve the chances of catching (like he was sea fishing). Can you imagine what people would say if he were using a 2-hook rig on a lake in the UK? Paul and I fished together every weekend for a few weeks more, having moderate success although he did catch a large Bream from the lake by himself.
Mid-summer came and with it, so did my wife and Joe my son for their summer holiday. They spent 10 days with me and I think we limited the fishing to about 3 days, which is quite good for us. Joe had reached out to someone on Instagram before he came over to enquire about fishing venues. By chance, the young lad (Aaron) had roots to Essex. His dad was born and raised in Burnham but had lived in Switzerland for 25 years (he still had a bit of the accent). What’s the chances eh? Well, this proved to be a good connection.
Aaron is an avid fisherman (as well as being a Swiss international Rugby player) with a preference to carp fishing. Unfortunately, as I have discovered carp fishing is very limited in Switzerland. He has a number of venues to fish, but unlike Essex that has dozens and dozens of venues, the local area to Zurich has very few. He took us to one lake in the middle of a wood which appeared more like a British lake. The lake was created by a river that had been dammed about a hundred years before and by all accounts, the ancient riverbed in the middle of the lake was where most of the big fish hung out. Being about 3 acres in size, casting into the fishy ancient river bed was possible.
The fishing tactics were simple and recognisable. We were either using method feeders or hair rigs with PVA bags. As we all had licences, boilies were permitted and handfuls of these were thrown out with a baiting stick to get the fish feeding. A few fish were coming in here and there but nothing too large.
Only Aaron myself and Joe were fishing this lake and after about 3 hours, Aaron and Joe had both caught a few fish and started ribbing me that I was still blanking. I told them I was waiting for the biggest fish of the day, not the most. Little did I know what was about to happen. Just before lunchtime I caught two fish in quick succession. A small carp and a little tench. Joe had lost a fish on his feeder too.
We decided that it was time for lunch. The sun was hot and we had a belly full of meat from the BBQ (permanent community BBQs are regular sight in Switzerland).
All of a sudden, my alarm screeched and the line took off. I lifted my rod into the fish and was happy that it was definitely on and hadn’t spat the bait out. I was only using a light method feeder rod so the fish felt big, very big. I was worried about the light rod so a loosened the drag off a little and the fish took off. It was zigzagging all over the lake, taking line all the time. I was only using 10lb line so needed to manage this fish accordingly. Eventually, it stopped dead but was not coming in. Was it in some weed or maybe behind a fallen tree? I couldn’t tell, but it was still on and just sitting there somewhere deciding what to do next.
After a further few minutes, the fish suddenly started moving again. He was still taking line but was now moving which gave me some confidence that I would win this particular battle. After about 2 minutes he finally started to swim towards me and I was able to retrieve the line he had taken. Eventually, he came into the net and I could see it was a very solid looking common.
Strangely, it wasn’t as big as it had felt on the line and weighed in just shy of 10lb. (I honestly thought it was double that) But make no mistake here, this wasn’t some fat, lazy lake carp we get in the UK that’s been caught a dozen times. This was a wild carp. Living in an ancient, river fed lake that is rarely fished. It’s quite likely that this fish has never been caught before in its life as most fish including carp are taken and eaten. It may have been a small 10lb fish, but on very light gear it fought like a stallion and was an absolute joy to land.
Now, according to the law of land, this beauty should be dispatched and taken home! Imagine my shock when it suddenly jumped out of my hands and landed straight back in the lake. What are the chances of that eh?
The day ended with a few more small carp and tench. As I had predicted earlier, I may not have caught the most, but I did catch the biggest.
So on this trip me and a mate decided to visit a small dyke very well known for its large perch and pike, well between me and a few mates its well known. I went with Dan Taylor a charter captain who fishes from Better Days in ramsgate marina. Hes recently got into the freshwater stuff which i think is brilliant, its always good to expand your knowledge and keep learning! Dans had some fantastic perch recently but you can tell hes fallen in love with pike more, and i cant blame him! i decided to take some dead baits so i could make a dead bait vs Lures video and its very easy to tell which was the better choice for this time of year! About 10 mins after setting my bait down i started to get takes unfortunately due to the clarity they were being a bit off and i forgot to add a weight!! so fair to say i deserved to miss that fish. about 20 yards down the river Dan had hooked up onto his first pike ever and on a lure! no better way! after wrestling with hooks, teeth and stinging nettles we finally managed to bank the slender pike, she was hungry!
After that fish it went quiet until we got to the area where Dan had his first, BANG fish on! weather this was the same fish or not who knows but this one was smart and managed to t-bar himself on the weeds and get off the hook, grr! As we sat patiently waiting for the next bite, Dan & I decided to take the lure rods give up on the bait and see if anything wanted to play, Dan cast a little paddle tail out and this pike came from under the weeds and smashed it, second fish, smaller but its another fish so who cares!
I blanked and today baits were 110% outfished by lures, was it luck or skill? lets call it luck 😉
On the day before this i planned to meet up with a mate and go to a super well known mark that is crazy good for things like wrasse. I’ve always wanted to fish this spot as its the best wrasse spot near me unfortunately there is about a 20ft drop so you have to headline or get a dropnet… which i don’t own… that was the scariest part of this session!
Whilst my mate was tying up rigs and baiting up i had already started fishing i had to use a 3oz lead on a 5-20g lure rod just to reach the water because the wind was that strong! after perfecting the rig i smashed a white curly tail on and started jigging. it was a lovely day with a large swell and brilliant water clarity. Within 10 minutes i was in!
With screaming runs and powerful head shakes i knew this fish was a good one! I lowered off on the drag and let the fish run, i was super scared of it getting into a snag, thankfully it didn’t and when it emerged from the bottom i saw it, the colour, size, and aggression was awesome i was shaking s i hand lined the fish up with braid cutting through my hands at every grab but i wasn’t bothered i was too focused on getting the fish in my paws.
She was up and in my hands we poured water over a piece of plastic to keep her off the hard concrete and got the hook out, i was astonished, it was my dream fish and i had it in my hand! i was ecstatic
Throughout the rest of the day we didn’t have anything apart from another small wrasse and a pouting aka conger live bait!
Live baiting can be a spectacular way to weed out the smaller fish and catch the nice size fish as well as dead baiting.
Live baiting can sometimes be an essential way to find bigger fish and beat your PB. The best live baits for pike and perch are roach in varied sizes, the roach is decently easy to catch with floats but I prefer to use a single small hook and a little bit of bread, especially in clear water watching the fish come up and take nibbles out of the bread then finally getting bit awesome fun!
I used a fly rd for this session because I don’t have a rod that can cast a free lined hook but this can be done with any sort of rod, fly is the best tho LOL.
the way I like to keep my live baits are in a large carp net or a keep net then I rig them with a float and a single treble through the nose or dorsal, if your ok with live baiting it is definitely something to try as you can find some good fish and see where the pike like to hold up. it can be a good idea to use it in the autumn when searching for pike winter holding spots.
So the start of the session going down to how mill lock chucking around some crank baits after some perch or chub!
3 small wasps on the Rapala shadow rap so not too bad! Switching over to a cheb rigged reggie in real ale colour caught a few larger ones, one being close to 1lb 1/2.
Getting a bit quiet as I’m walking up and down the stretch, as things go not a bad start but they all seemed to have switched off. A couple of my mates turned up to do a bit of float fishing so I switched up to free lining some worms I had in the box a few nice roach and a couple of gudgeon was a nice change, one of my friends hooked into a nice small chub looking over a pound, as he was reeling it in a large pike decided it was lunch time. There goes a nice chub and for the pike a nice dinner.
So me being a lover of a good pike scrap I go and grab some of my pike floats and deadbait sardines! Time to rig up.
Casting it right where I saw some bait fish jump I waited about an hour before any movement on the float I was fixated on getting that fish. Then the float starts bobbing up and down and shoots under, what a fish and what a fight. Every time I got him to the net he shot off so great sport on the light pike gear. 2 attempts and he was In.
Coming in at 8lb he’s no monster but it’s a great start to the pike season!
Hartlepool is situated on the north east coast of England. Its a small town with a beautiful coast line, passionate football fans, a memorable nickname (monkey hangers) and a marina. The marina can hold up to 500 boats, hosted the tall ships event in 2010 and is again in 2023. It has pubs, restaurants and hotels surrounding it too. It’s also home to a lot of fish, of at least 20 species.
I fish it on a regular basis with the rest of the admin team of a Facebook group I help run called Hartlepool Lure & LRF. Kie, Aidan, Andrew, Andy and Paddy. Between us we’ve caught some cracking, strange and unexpected fish from here. If you read on you’ll find out what some of those fish are and what time of the year we caught them.
The sea scorpion. We have long and short spines in there, these are one of my favourite fish we catch out of there. the long spined are there all year round but the short spined are quite rare and we’ve only seen them caught in December and January with Paddy and Kie catching the biggest.
The plaice and flounder are caught pretty much all year round excluding February and March when we think they breed because they would swim past, under our feet and ignore everything we put in front of them. Aidan has caught some huge plaice.
Codling range from about 4 inches long up to 2-3lb. We seem to catch the larger ones in the colder months, the small ones are there pretty much all year round. Andy and Andrew have caught the biggest.
We have 3 different species of wrasse that turn up in the summer months and disappear in the colder ones. We get goldsinny wrasse, corkwing wrasse and ballan wrasse. Fishing a splitshot rig with a small hooks is definitely the best way to catch them, fishing with either isome type worms or ragworm works really well.
Whiting and coalfish seem to be ever present, sparce in the summer months but plentiful in the Autumn and winter. These can be caught on hard lures, isome type worms and bait. Throwing a prawn in with entice a coalfish before anything else, ragworm or squid seem to attract the whiting.
We also get other fish that are a little bit rarer and don’t get caught as often as the others. Leopard spotted goby, common blenny, eel pout, butter fish, thornback ray, haddockbig eels and lump sucker.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our little marina, if anyone has any plans to come and fish it anytime don’t hesitate to ask for a few spots and pointers.