Categories
Bob Dellar Coarse Lure River

On The Hunt: Predator fishing 2021/22

Winter is all about predator fishing for me, although I did partake of a couple of short sessions on my local river, the Suffolk Stour, trotting for the numerous dace and chub that inhabit this jungly, overgrown stretch, which I’m happy to say is free-fishing and only a five minute walk from my house. It was great fun using my 10.5 ft Shakespeare match rod, trotting a light stick through and enjoying regular bites using maggots and bread for bait. The bread was less consistent than maggots but seemed to tease out the better fish. That little stretch has become even more jungly and overgrown now following the ravages of Storm Eunice and I may have to wander down there with a chainsaw during the close season to re-establish some swims.

But as I say winter fishing is all about the preds for me, especially pike. In 2021 I joined a couple of clubs that afforded me access to some potentially exciting fishing in The Fens, chiefly on the Great Ouse through Ely and Littleport in Cambridgeshire. In October 2021, I made the hour long drive across the Fenland skyscape to Littleport, armed with a lure rod. I surmised that the best way to get to grips with the Great Ouse there was to walk its banks, casting a jig around as I did so. Saying that, I only walked about a mile and a half. It was hard going, trudging on top of the floodbank fully exposed to frigid autumnal winds the Fens are famous for. Nonetheless, I managed a couple of jacks casting along the near bank reed-line, and a nice perch of over a pound. I had a follow from a bigger fish too but fluffed the retrieve in my excitement and off he went, too wiley for my amateurish jig control.

I returned a couple more times during November to give deadbaiting a crack. My plan was to fish into darkness to see if the odd zander might oblige. But all I managed was a couple of pike just shy of double figures and an interesting tête-à-tête with a group of Eastern European anglers who were fishing in a swim fairly close to mine. It looked like an entire family: a couple of teenage kids, a youngish woman and three (very large) guys. The swim was a mini encampment with two tents and an elaborate BBQ/dining area. It was utterly spotless with not a hint of litter or unkemptness. The very moment I landed one of the pike, the three large guys descended on me, each one a potential Bond villain.

“What you catch there”?, one of them barked. “Only a small pike mate”, I replied. And I immediately thought, “bloody hell he’s going to nab it for his BBQ!” But thankfully my fears were unfounded as they were very congratulatory, saying, “we fish all day for no fish and you come and catch fish, what are we do wrong!” (I paraphrase but that was the general gist). 

So I gave them a few hints on how to float fish for pike and a couple of sardine and mackerel deadbaits. I’ve no idea if they were there illegally or not but they were making no attempt to conceal themselves and were extremely friendly and good natured, I’m very glad to say!

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The Great Ouse at Littleport, Cambs.

The Ouse through Ely is somehow a more welcoming stretch of river than Littleport, which I found slightly desolate and barren. At Ely the landscape is altogether more bucolic with water meadows and gnarled old willows to admire. The only drawback is the people and their dogs, which seem to drift by in a constant stream, with the occasional canine raid on my deadbait bucket or lunch bag. Also, there’s nowhere to have a crafty pee so I learnt quite quickly to lay off the bankside tea. I had a few nice pike during my sessions at Ely, the biggest around 15lb. But the icing on the cake was my first zander for many years, nabbed on a small roach deadbait whilst fishing the well-known town centre stretch, an area where the prey fish congregate during the winter creating a predator hotspot.

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Ely Town Centre Zander

The Suffolk Stour is a river that has a reputation for consistent pike fishing and I’m happy to say I’ve had some of my best sessions on this lovely waterway, specifically through Sudbury. With the river and air temperature still relatively warm, I had an early season Red-Letter Day in late October, banking six fish and losing two, all on float-fished sardine and mackerel. Most were low doubles and the fish were in fine fettle, still powerful and sleek, yet to succumb to cold-induced lethargy. But that was to be my only pike session on that stretch of river. Whilst I was playing my final fish, an otter swirled just a couple of metres from the struggling pike and I nearly had a cardiac arrest. Visions of me having to unhook an angry, frightened otter had me bully that fish to the net and call an end to the session pronto. I did return on a few occasions as there are a couple of deeper, near-side swims with overhanging vegetation that scream perch and chub, and this proved the case as I managed to catch perch to 2.2lb and chub to 5.2lb. Remarkably, during an evening session, another otter porpoised through my swim and I thought, “that’s that then.” But the second he disappeared I had a decisive bite on the tip and landed the 5.2lb chub! What that’s all about I don’t know, but that otter didn’t deter the fish from feeding, on that occasion anyway.

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A Suffolk Stour perch of 2.2lb

The re-introduction of otter’s has become deeply controversial amongst anglers and I can understand why. But I for one love to see these animals and I’m sure that before too long nature with prevail and a balance between predators and prey fish will be achieved. Although to see one swirl at a pike I was in the process of playing was disturbing and put an end to my deadbait fishing on that section of the Stour.

I did fish a couple of stillwaters too, with mixed results, but by far the best session was just before Christmas on a lake managed by Clare Golf Club in Suffolk. There’s only a couple of fishable swims, the best in my opinion is directly alongside the course itself, in a sheltered corner. I fished three rods for a change as I had the room to do so but it became apparent quite early on that that was a mistake as bites were coming thick and fast. At one point, I was unhooking a fish when the alarm shrieked and I had to quickly return the fish on the mat to attend to the new run! I wasn’t complaining as frantic sessions like this are infrequent to say the least but fish safety is paramount so I opted for two rods only. Even then I was kept busy. In the afternoon, a couple of golfers wandered by, one of whom had obviously overindulged in the Christmas festivities. First, he offered to land a fish I was playing, only to become tangled in the mesh as he picked the net up. Over he went. His mate picked him up, giggling as he did so. I was giggling too, it was slapstick at its best. I landed the fish myself only to see the same golfer topple into a bunker. His mate was hysterical by this time and too weak with laughter to offer any assistance. So all in all I had a brilliant day. Nine pike to 12lb and impromptu, side-splitting comedy Laurel and Hardy would have been proud of.

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Clare Golf Club Lake-the mat was busy that day.

Now, with the pike and river season drawing to a close it’s time to focus on my favourite fish-the tench.

Categories
Bailey Payne Lure River

BFS Perch Fishing – Exploring new Rivers

Well, after my house move, I’m back fishing and continuing with Lures. Lure fishing has really won me over, from its simplicity and ease, a rod, net, rucksack and you’re off and can fit in sessions easily around a busy life. And boy, the joy and feel when you feel a fish smash a lure…words can’t describe!

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I headed out to a new very local stretch to me, under 5 minutes from my door, and I’m on the river bank! This was my first trip for quite some time because of the house move. My BFS Setup, and of course the FFS Craw21, fishing Texas style. I was ready for some action!

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The new stretches I was exploring had lovely bends, slight depth changes, and a few little weir pools! Looked good for a fish, I didn’t really know much about this stretch in terms of whether many Perch where in it or not. So it was very much a good learning experience!

I tried the first little lead up to the a weir, and over some small bridges to no luck. And then walked upstream to a lovely little bend. Almost instantly I had a hit…a Chub! Was quite a surprise, my first fish after the move, a little chub smashing my lure. It was maybe around the half pound mark, but a welcome fish.

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I kept going trying some lovely looking swims, but to no luck, not even a touch, I eventually walked the other way to try the last weir on my list, and was straight away bitten off by a pike! A quick re-tie, and some birds nest admiringly! And I was off again and into a lovely chunky blackwater Perch!

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He couldn’t resist the Craw21!

The following week brought me back to a familiar stretch of River, one I have had a lot of luck from, but fancied trying with a few new lures from FFS. I was off to a good start with an initial tiny pike…been told we call these cucumbers?!?!

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Again, a welcome start to a session. Not long after, a chunky perch followed from the same spot! Clearly jealous the Pike got the Craw first!

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I did then have a tiny little wasp a bit later in the session, and then lost what felt like a much better Perch! But hey, thats fishing!

If you guys want to watch these sessions, links are below, enjoy, smash the subscribe button, and tight lines!

Categories
Cameron Harris Coarse Lure River

Lure Fishing What Makes It Tough?

Lure fishing is the most exciting method of fishing known to man, with explosive takes when the rods in your hands and light tackle helping you to feel every bite and head shake. Theres often times when you will be able to just grab your rod, rig up a drop-shot, find a boat. boom, perch. If it was that way every time we’d fall out of love with the sport. And despite the hard days being stressful they help us keep the hunger and wanting more!

My favourite lure fishing conditions are a low pressure, cloudy, little drizzly. But with a busy schedule you cant always pick and choose on days. this is why its important to be fishing in all conditions and learn how to fish, this will make you a much better all rounder angler. From what ive found (everyone will most likely find different) a high pressure affects the aggressiveness and active status of your quarry. I should say this is on rivers around me i haven’t tested this theory on reservoirs and lakes. In a high pressure the fish will be much harder to find and ive found trying to get a reaction bite rather than a feeding bite will result in finding perch and will make your life a hell of a lot easier. The best way i do this is by annoying the target into biting, IE bright colours, rattles, vibrations etc etc.

For this reason i like to pick bright loud crank baits when applicable. In winter ive found just using bright colours works well. The depth the fish hold up in will also be affected by the pressure. My theory is that the reason perch fishing is soo good in low pressure is because all of the perch rigs are on the bottom where the perch will be in low pressure. Following this same idea in a high pressure they are more suspended in the water, and as much as i hate the drop-shot its a very viable rig for high pressure situations. Rigging a lemon tiger slick shad on the drop-shot was a lethal method when i met up with Ben Smith.

Let me know what you’ve found with your fishing and any patterns you’ve managed to home in on.

Categories
Joe Chappell Lure River

A Soggy Morning

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.

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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.

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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.

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The choice of setup for my dad.

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.

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The pike my dad caught on New Years Eve.
Categories
Bailey Payne Lure River

Start of my Lure Fishing Journey (Perch)

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!

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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!

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My PB Lure Caught Perch

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!

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Hope you guys enjoyed this quick read and pictures, if you are keen to watch these sessions head over to my youtube channel below!

https://www.youtube.com/c/EssexAnglers

Tight Lines!

Categories
Cameron Harris Fishing Tips Fly River

How To Catch Pike On Fly!

Pike on fly is easily some of the most exhilarating pike fishing you’ll ever experience the impressive takes, the light tackle, the fact that you are the only drag just makes it such a raw method of fishing and we all love that! However using the correct gear is so important these fish fight hard and you need to be prepared with the correct tackle.

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The rods are usually 9-10WT rods and i use a 9ft rod as i find it easier to use in the sea too. My rod is an Airflo Delta Classic really nice action on the rod and it just looks mega!!

The reel is again an Airflo reel this time its the t6 in 9-11WT, this is a solid reel properly made for the saltwater setting it can really handle all the stick you give it. and its shiny so who wont love it!

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The line is so important, if you buy cheap good luck sending these massive flys. Iuse the airflo sniper 40+ you could cast a wet jack russel with that line! but most of the vision grand daddy lines will be just as good.

Onto the terminal tackle, i use a short length of strong fluro to 12″ of wire. Remember to make this strong as you need to strip strike hard on these fish! Now the flys anything from 10-40cm are used, streamers work well and if you want to use tailed baits be sure to pick up a 10WT. Many people make them including me if your interested in some fly then send me a message on Facebook or instagram on the account “esox express” or i recommend speaking to danny parkins as he ties gorgeous flys too.

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But beyond that now is the best time to get into some fishing for them with the temp getting cold you can work these flys so much slower than lures giving them the edge over lures, be sure to check out fly fishing for pike this winter you wont regret it!

https://youtu.be/gdHdHxIYbu0

Categories
Cameron Harris Lure River Tackle Reviews

Is The Ned Rig Worth The Hype?

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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!

Categories
Coarse Joe Chappell River

Big Barbel, Beginners Luck?

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.

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The longest pike of the competition which helped me secure second place.

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.

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The Prince of the River

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.

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James and his barbel

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.

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Categories
Carp Coarse Guest Lure River

A Little Piece of Essex Found in Switzerland

If you are a regular reader of the blogs on Essex Anglers, you may recall the many blogs my son Joe has written over the past 18 months or so. Unfortunately, both of us have now “partially” moved away from Essex although we have both moved to completely different locations. Joe went off to University and now resides in Lancaster and I relocated to Switzerland almost a year ago for work.

First of all it needs to be said that if you’re not familiar with the geography of Switzerland, the country is landlocked, surrounded by Italy, France, Germany and Austria. For a predominantly sea fisherman like myself, that provides a very unique challenge as the sea is many, many hours away.

But I wanted to fish. Therefore, my choices were to either reduce my fishing exploits considerably or adapt to what many people reading this blog see as their only form of fishing – freshwater. So that’s what I did. It’s not that I’ve never dabbled with freshwater fishing. Before coming to Switzerland I would regularly go with my son Joe, who prefers freshwater fishing to sea fishing. But unbelievably, I’d never actually been freshwater fishing by myself.

I arrived in Switzerland in late November 2020 in the middle of a country-wide lockdown. The weather was dry but bitterly cold, hovering just above freezing most days. I was temporarily living in Zurich, about a 2-minute walk from Zurichsee / Lake Zurich (more on this lake soon) but due to the cold weather, I never actually saw a single person fishing at the lake.

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A map of Lake Zurich and the surrounding area.

A few months later, I relocated to a small village about 30 minutes from Zurich and was now about a 15 minute bus ride from lake Zurich. The weather was still cold in February and 45cm of snow soon fell and stayed around for weeks. Fishing was still some way off. During this time, I started to investigate the local area for fishing locations, tips etc and found the available information on the Internet to be absolutely woeful. No one talks about their fishing here and no one tells anyone else where to fish or what to use.

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Snow! Snow! Snow!

The one thing I did discover from my searches was the biggest challenge of fishing in Switzerland is that it’s heavily regulated and each canton (like a county) has their own unique rules and laws on fishing. In the canton of Zurich, they do allow a person to fish without a licence. But the fishing is limited to a single rod and only natural baits such as corn, maggots, worms or bread allowed. In addition, all rivers are rented by fishing clubs who will refuse anyone outside the club from fishing them. (It’s a shame because the rivers are absolutely teeming with life. I’ve seen stretches of river with stacks of 5lb+ Chub in a small 50-meter stretch!)

Fishing without a licence is possible, but its limited. You are unable to use lures, plastic worms, spinners or even pellets/boilies. There’s also a very strict law that every canton will follow – there’s virtually no catch and release. What you catch, you take! This law is alien to us but is in place to ensure that a fish doesn’t go through the same stress twice in its life (they are very big on animal welfare).

Even considering all of the regulations, I decided that I would go through the process of applying for a fishing licence. In the UK, we can apply and pay for a licence online and in a few minutes, fish completely legal. Well, this is Switzerland and nothing is ever simple here. You can’t actually apply for a fishing licence until you have completed an exam that goes through all parts of fishing, water management etc. The exam is called a SaNa and this must be completed and takes an entire day to complete – no exceptions. Once you have the SaNa, you can then apply for a licence. All of this costs money, quite a lot actually.

So, a few hundred quid in and now that I have my licence, I was able to fish without too many restrictions. All I needed now was some gear. Considering most things in Switzerland are super expensive, tackle is not and is either on-par with the UK or in some cases about 10-15% cheaper. The only downside I’ve found is that Switzerland absolutely love all forms of lure fishing and so the tackle shops cater for this in a huge way and general carp or float fishing tackle is contained to a small corner at the far end of the shop. Very different to the average tackle shop in the UK which is the complete opposite.

After buying what I needed to try my luck at lure fishing, I set off to Lake Zurich in the hope of a Perch or two. I was told by the tackle shop where to fish and what to use and what to expect. Apparently, Perch above 40cm come out of the lake fairly regularly with the odd 50cm fish each year! To most UK fishermen that target Perch, this is the stuff of dreams so I was hopeful lady luck would sprinkle some pixie dust on me. Those hopes were very quickly dashed. I think I blanked on 4 trips before I finally caught my first Perch which was about 10cm, not 40.

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My first fish from Switzerland. (If you don’t count the frozen fish from the supermarket)

But by now the weather was improving and the lake was warming up. I’d spoken to a few locals who told me that most people only fish from May-Oct when the water is at its warmest. When it’s cold, the good fish go deep, very deep. Lake Zurich has an average depth of about 80 meters and is about 120 meters at its deepest. Casting out just 40 or 50 meters into the lake is like shore fishing in the UK. The lead hits the water and then continues to take line for sometimes upwards of 15 seconds. Not what I was expecting in a freshwater lake.

I persevered with artificial worms using both Carolina and Texas rigs for several more weeks with some very limited success, catching plenty of small perch but nothing to ever get excited about. I’d never fished this way before but was confident that eventually I’d have the success I was hoping for as this was a method I was seeing used by virtually every local that lure fished.

The following week I was trying to catch some pesky Perch under a jetty freelining with a worm when a South African came up and asked how I was getting on. “Shocking” probably wasn’t the answer he was expecting but I’m British and we say it how it is. We soon got talking about all things fishy in our own countries and 30 minutes later, he had returned with 2 rods and we started fishing together.

My luck had been pretty poor until that day but over the course of the day I finished with 2 pretty good-sized Roach and a few very exotic looking fish called Pumpkinseeds. These are an invasive species and there is a law in place that dictates all Pumpkinseeds caught must be dispatched and not returned to the lake. Seems a shame but these fish are causing havoc with the native fish and out competing them for food, so something needs to be done.

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A pumpkinseed

Paul, my new South African fishing buddy is passionate about carp and other large specimen fish. Back home he lives 6 hours from the coast so the only fishing he has really done is in lakes and rivers. It was interesting to see the differences of tackle he uses to catch carp. One interesting looking piece was a hair rig set up, but with 2 completely separate hooks baited separately which was designed to improve the chances of catching (like he was sea fishing). Can you imagine what people would say if he were using a 2-hook rig on a lake in the UK? Paul and I fished together every weekend for a few weeks more, having moderate success although he did catch a large Bream from the lake by himself.

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Paul, my South African friend, with his huge bream.

Mid-summer came and with it, so did my wife and Joe my son for their summer holiday. They spent 10 days with me and I think we limited the fishing to about 3 days, which is quite good for us. Joe had reached out to someone on Instagram before he came over to enquire about fishing venues. By chance, the young lad (Aaron) had roots to Essex. His dad was born and raised in Burnham but had lived in Switzerland for 25 years (he still had a bit of the accent). What’s the chances eh? Well, this proved to be a good connection.

Aaron is an avid fisherman (as well as being a Swiss international Rugby player) with a preference to carp fishing. Unfortunately, as I have discovered carp fishing is very limited in Switzerland. He has a number of venues to fish, but unlike Essex that has dozens and dozens of venues, the local area to Zurich has very few. He took us to one lake in the middle of a wood which appeared more like a British lake. The lake was created by a river that had been dammed about a hundred years before and by all accounts, the ancient riverbed in the middle of the lake was where most of the big fish hung out. Being about 3 acres in size, casting into the fishy ancient river bed was possible.

The fishing tactics were simple and recognisable. We were either using method feeders or hair rigs with PVA bags. As we all had licences, boilies were permitted and handfuls of these were thrown out with a baiting stick to get the fish feeding. A few fish were coming in here and there but nothing too large.

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First fish of the day for Joe.

Only Aaron myself and Joe were fishing this lake and after about 3 hours, Aaron and Joe had both caught a few fish and started ribbing me that I was still blanking. I told them I was waiting for the biggest fish of the day, not the most. Little did I know what was about to happen. Just before lunchtime I caught two fish in quick succession. A small carp and a little tench. Joe had lost a fish on his feeder too.

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Tinca Tinca

We decided that it was time for lunch. The sun was hot and we had a belly full of meat from the BBQ (permanent community BBQs are regular sight in Switzerland).

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The Grill. These can be found all over Switzerland on hiking trails and around lakes.

All of a sudden, my alarm screeched and the line took off. I lifted my rod into the fish and was happy that it was definitely on and hadn’t spat the bait out. I was only using a light method feeder rod so the fish felt big, very big. I was worried about the light rod so a loosened the drag off a little and the fish took off. It was zigzagging all over the lake, taking line all the time. I was only using 10lb line so needed to manage this fish accordingly. Eventually, it stopped dead but was not coming in. Was it in some weed or maybe behind a fallen tree? I couldn’t tell, but it was still on and just sitting there somewhere deciding what to do next.

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I don’t think my rod could bend much further!

After a further few minutes, the fish suddenly started moving again. He was still taking line but was now moving which gave me some confidence that I would win this particular battle. After about 2 minutes he finally started to swim towards me and I was able to retrieve the line he had taken. Eventually, he came into the net and I could see it was a very solid looking common.

Strangely, it wasn’t as big as it had felt on the line and weighed in just shy of 10lb. (I honestly thought it was double that) But make no mistake here, this wasn’t some fat, lazy lake carp we get in the UK that’s been caught a dozen times. This was a wild carp. Living in an ancient, river fed lake that is rarely fished. It’s quite likely that this fish has never been caught before in its life as most fish including carp are taken and eaten. It may have been a small 10lb fish, but on very light gear it fought like a stallion and was an absolute joy to land.

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You can see why it fought so hard with a tail that size!

Now, according to the law of land, this beauty should be dispatched and taken home! Imagine my shock when it suddenly jumped out of my hands and landed straight back in the lake. What are the chances of that eh?

The day ended with a few more small carp and tench. As I had predicted earlier, I may not have caught the most, but I did catch the biggest.

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Cameron Harris Lure River

Lures VS Dead baits!

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!

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Not bad for a dyke fish!

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 😉