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Tom Baird

Midweek Blues

Afternoon fellow anglers, I hope you all had a great Christmas and you were happy with the fishy bits you received as presents. So, its that time between Christmas and New Year’s. The Turkey has finally run out and looking forward to a lovely joint of roast beef on New Year’s Day.

I haven’t been fishing since last Wednesday. I know it has only been a week but it seems much longer and I was getting the itch to go. Last night we agreed it would be a family outing. But I found myself going on my own. Even though I love fishing with the kids and family, it was nice to hit the banks on my own and reflect on a busy and unusual year.

I was in two minds whether to hit the river or go to a club lake. I thought I would check the river first to see how it was. To my surprise it was quite calm and a steady flow in a certain section. I spoke to some fellow anglers who were already battling the cold and felt it was going to be a good day.

I went up river to a nice spot and started to fish. I hit a nice pocket of Roach and pulled in 17 fish, not bad I thought. I also had a lovely Perch which was a nice treat on red maggots. What I did notice with the Roach, is that some had Black Spot. I thought it would be a good opportunity to explain what Black Spot is and how it ends up on a fish.

Black Spot is a parasitic flatworm that appear as tiny black spots on the skin, fins and flesh of fish. There is no method of control to eliminate this problem. This organism does little harm to the fish. The main problem related with black-spot is the unsightly appearance it may cause.

What is remarkable is the life cycle of the parasite which is quite complex. It starts when a fish-eating bird (Great Blue Heron, Kingfisher) eats an infected fish. The black spot or worms are released and grow to sexual maturity in the bird’s intestine.

The adult worms pass eggs with the bird’s droppings. When the eggs reach water, they hatch into free-swimming organisms which then penetrate snails for further development. Finally, after leaving the snails they burrow into the skin of fish and form a cyst. The fish scales surround the cyst with black pigment that gives the disease its name. If an infected fish is consumed by a bird, the cycle starts again.

I hope you found that interesting or useful. Obviously if the fish is riddled with Black Spot, take as many pictures as possible and report it to the Environment Agency. They should then look to see how serious it is.

Until Next time, Tight Lines…….. Happy New Year…….

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Tom Baird

Christmas Rush

Happy Christmas Eve Eve, Hope you are all well and keeping it together. This week is full of emotion and mixed feelings. As most of our county has been put in tier 4, I’m one of the fortunate ones that are still in tier 2. But as I write my blog, I have just learned we will be joining you as of Boxing day.

Enough of that, this week I was off work as I booked leave. I have an amazing wife who is really organised and we are ready for Christmas, so not much to do. Apart from going fishing and as much of it that I can fit in lol.

Started off on the River Chelmer and had two amazing Pike on the lure. I used bright colours as the water is still up and murky and this seemed to work. Next was a club water of mine and the whole family went as we are all members.

We didn’t do so well there and Unfortulantly we blanked. Which was a bit disappointing due to the amazing day the day before. But that’s fishing for you and was grateful I was with the family and enjoyed the lunch the wife prepared.

Today saw me back on the river, this time the River Stour at Dedham and there was a fast flow and it was up. Whilst there I saw a friend and his Son fishing. So, keeping social distancing in mind we fished the same area.

Again, today was a blank as the heavens opened and we decided to pack up. It was great to see my friend Dariusz and his son Lukas. Lukas is fishing mad and has come on leaps and bounds in just a year of fishing.

The last three days have been great getting out on the bank and enjoyed every moment of it. There was only one bit of the three days that was disappointing and it wasn’t the bit blanking either.

I bumped into two walkers, who stopped to talk to see how we were getting on. They started talking about how Eastern Europeans have been taking fish out of the Rivers and Lakes around the area. Only if they knew that Dariusz and Lukas are Polish. Now Dariusz didn’t say anything, but it must have made him feel mad.

Not all Eastern Europeans take fish and kill them. Dariusz has always had a licence and knows the law behind fishing. Not even all English anglers know that, as I have met so many without licences. We need to take a look at ourselves before we judge and stereotype others.

Sorry for ending on a bit of a gloomy note, but felt it needed to be said. I genuinely wish you all a Happy Christmas. I hope you get the tackle you wanted lol.

Until next time, Tight Lines……

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Tackle Reviews Tom Baird

Tackle Box Darent Valley Specialist Rod

Review

I was asked to test out this particular rod which is one of 10 in this range of Darent Valley. As an active angler I decided that I would test the rod with Carping and Float fishing. So, over the last four weeks that’s what I have done.

First let’s look at the design of the rod. When you first pick it up you notice it’s a very light rod. I like that its light, this makes it easier to carry if walking a River or equally a large Lake. The slim line length and the carbon black finish really sets the rod off in the sun. The Cork handle gives it a bit of class whilst fishing. I do like a cork handle. Its like fishing with history with you. Also, when you’re reeling in you have that soft but durable handle.

The eyes go from 25 near the handle to 8 at the tip. The line moves freely and smoothly through the eyes. Just before the cork handle is a hook keeper, which allows ease when moving swims or location depending where you’re fishing.

When transporting the rod, it folds well into two sections and comes with a rod sleeve, which has a Velcro strap near the reel area. I would like to see an extra strap at the top end of the sleeve to make it a bit more secure. 

The length is 11ft 9inches which is a good size for Carping and moving up and down a River. The 2.25lb test curve is powerful and still allows that amazing bend and play for the fish. The thought in the carbon technology in this rod really does show when landing that prize.

So, the first test was Carping on one of my club waters. I used a bolt rig with a 4oz weight. The cast was good and I felt comfortable in the flex of the rod. After an hour I was in with a 7lb Common. It was a great play and the bend was good. It took me back a few years to when I caught my first Carp.

Next was the float test. Out came my Guru 0.14oz torpedo float, which goes far. There was a good flick on the cast and was fishing at about 6ft depth. I was fishing for Roach and they were coming out thick and fast. Again, a good curve in the rod and a great play bringing them in. I had 42 in total and the rod performed well with every fish.

This rod is usually £74.99 on the Tackle Box website, but at the moment there is 20% off, making it just £59.99; an absolute bargain.

https://www.tacklebox.co.uk/rods-en/specialist/specialist-rods/tackle-box-darent-valley-11ft-9ins-2.25lb-specialist-rod.html

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Tom Baird

Dead Bait and Lure set up’s

Evening all and I hope you are all well and safe. Thank god we can still fish and get out there to free our minds from the troubles we are all facing at the moment. I thought I would share my setups with you for Piking. So, come the 1st October my rods are ready, so I can fish at a moment’s notice.

Now every angler would have their favourite brands or some might use a mix of brands. Me being the way I am, I have to have the same brand for the species I’m targeting. I know it sounds nuts, but some of you will be in the same boat. I have to have matching everything lol.

So, for my Pike set ups I use Fox. I just like the styles and the way the rods handle when fishing. The rod I use is a Fox Warrior S. I find the bend and the play in the rod really suits me. My reels are Fox ESO 12000, now these are a chunky reel, but when you’re fishing for Crocs you need a good system you can rely on.

Now I need to equip my tools with Braided line, which I must have for Pike fishing. The braid lets you feel the whole take and enjoy it more. You can find all sorts of braid out there. Go into your local tackle shop and see what they recommend. You will get valuable knowledge and at the same time support your local business.

Then I look at my wire traces with triple hooks on them. Now you can make your own and there are some great videos out there, or again your local tackle shop might show you. I was lucky I had someone show me how to do this. If you are feeling lazy or just don’t have the patience, you can get them already done. So, look for dead bait Pike rig which is around 20 inches in length. The length is important because if the Pike roles then you want that extra length on there.

There are plenty of dead baits out there and each water works differently. So, speak to other anglers to see what works. Could be Markell on one water or Roach on another.

For my lure and spinning I use the Fox Warrior Rage Spinning rod and the same reel. What a lovely rod. Its light and amazing to handle. Again, braided line and a wire trace with hook clip swivel which makes changing lures and spinners quick and easy.

I find there are lots of techniques out there for bringing your lures in and making them more attractive for the fish. Watch a few videos and the go and try them out. Also, if you know someone who is skilled in lure fishing see if you can tag along. Once you catch on a lure or spinner you will fall in love with that style of fishing. Moving to different spots or trolling up and down rivers until you get that strike on that rod. Remember you are being hunted by the ultimate hunter fish.

Until next time, Tight Lines……

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Tom Baird

A weekend in wellies

Hello there my fellow anglers and I hope you are all safe and well. So, this weekend saw me fishing both days. Which was amazing as I only have time for once a week usually. It started after work on Saturday I met up with fellow blogger Bailey.

Bailey wanted to have a go at lure fishing for Pike and choose me of all people to teach him the ways (poor man). We met at Heybridge and headed inland with lures in hand stopping at different points along the way. We started just past the last mooring, which was quite weedy due to strong flows and dead weed off the bottom.

We soon bumped into fellow anglers and exchanged some banter and catch reports. They seemed to be doing much better, as we had 0 catches. To top it off, fellow angler Russ caught a cracking Perch whilst chatting (well done Russ). I was like an excited little school kid, offering my net to help out.   

Well done Russ.

Once we had parted ways, we carried on trying different spots along the navigation, recognising the areas mentioned by the other group. Which was ok as Baily was getting his style of lure fishing together, which is always great to see. I was giving a few pointers every now and then, but he was doing fine. Sometimes you have got to do what you are comfortable with and what works for you.

We got to a nice section of river and Baily was doing his thing and I was a few swims down and bang, I was in to a nice little Jack. The way they take a lure still amazes me. As we landed it, the baby crock decided to do a famous death role in the net. The lure came out and tangled up in the side of the net. Which I wasn’t worried about, as I was more concerned about the Jack. Checked him over and all was good. After some photos, put the little fighter back and he swam off perfectly.

Whilst sorting out a nightmare of a double triple hook lure in my net, Bailey was in, his face was like Charlie from Willy Wonka finding the golden ticket. He played it well and we landed it very carefully, as my lure was still tangled. I was so happy that he had caught one. The pressure was off. I couldn’t blank with him again lol.

Unfortunately, that was the only fish we were catching that day. Bailey did have a few more takes which come off, but he was still a happy bunny.

On Sunday me and Harry decided to hit the River Stour again. Wellies on we headed to the mill pool, had about half an hour there and nothing. So, we decided to head on up river. Found a lovely spot and had a few casts out. We had to stop for a little while, due to a swimming group going past. Had a good chat, but obviously fishing had died off by that point. Now I could say Harry got caught in a tree, but it was me. I was trying to get to a difficult spot where I know some nice pike had been caught.

I passed Harry my rod and went to retrieve my line and lure still attached to the rod. After fighting a jungle I was finger tips away, the bank gave way and my whole welly went in. Harry had thought I had gone in. The poor boy of seven didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Once he knew I was ok, then the laughter happened. My whole right leg was drenched from groin to toes. Our fishing session was over. Back to the car we went with a squelching sound with every step. The water I emptied out of my welly was quite impressive.

Once at the car we had some cheeky custard creams and made our way home. My boots are still drying out in the garage.

Until next time fellow anglers, tight lines….

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Tom Baird

The Young Angler

So, its no secret that I fish a lot with my son Harry. I enjoy every moment of it, even the arguing about where to fish and what set up we are going to use. Now Harry is only 7 years old and he runs rings around me at fishing. He has a list on his wardrobe of coarse fish that he is targeting before he’s 8 years old.

This week we had to target the Pike. After school I took him to a lovely spot on the River Stour with spinning rod in hand. We did have two rods set up for dead baiting, but some silly dad forgot the dead bait (what a numpty)

It had been raining on and off all day, but Harry was really looking forward to going after school and I was too. So, we went for it. We got to the river at 16:00 and was planning to stop at around 18:30.

We looked like two drowned rats. I have showed Harry how to use lures and spinners before and he loved it. Standing in the shallows in his wellies, jigging the line as he reeled in. I was a happy Dad.

Then the heavens opened up. What a down pour it was, the rain was running off my waterproof and down my trousers. Harry found this very amusing, as it looked like I had wet myself. After trying several lures, Harry chose a spinner, yellow and red. He loved how it moved under the water.


After around 10 minutes of casting BANG Harry was in. He played the fish so well, another happy moment. He had caught a lovely Jack.

There were several high fives and fist bump. We got the little croc onto the mat and took the hook out. Harry was perfect telling me how to handle the fish and what would happen if I got bitten.

When putting it back, Harry was instructing me which way to face the fish to get the oxygen into its gills and so it can get its bearings. Then off it went never to be seen again.

What an amazing memory to have with my son. That’s what’s it’s all about.
Now for the next species and until next time……

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Tom Baird

Father-In-Law strikes again

Today I went fishing with the Father-In-Law and what a session it was. I was on the river by 05:30 sharp and not a soul to be seen. It was lovely, I love that time in the morning. Just me, the river and the nature around you.

I had lightly baited the area with ground bait (banana & coconut) mixed with sweetcorn, hempseed and some mussel flavouring with maggots mixed in. Then a few handfuls of mixed maggots to top it off.

Again, a simple float set up, but I have found these Guru floats in my local tackle shop (Clacton Angling) which are amazing. I call them the torpedoes, but have no idea what they’re actually called. They fly through the air and hit the water with such grace. Float sizes are 14mg and 8mg which are just right for the way I fish.

I had nothing, loads of swirls all around my float and area, but nothing on the end of the line. So, the line came back in, I checked the depth and the set up and back out I went. Otter came and said hello, which was nice of them and a few kingfishers. Later my Father-In-Law showed up.

Once he was fishing, we set about sorting out his new chair. Well it was more like putting up a tent, there were poles everywhere. Once up, he sat on it and slid off towards the water. Inside I was laughing my head off and to be honest on the outside too.

I ended up going to the car and lending him one of my spare chairs. Thank god we sorted that and that I had a spare. As most of you would probably agree Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance (the 6 P’s, always remember them).

Within ten minutes he was in, I was not impressed lol. I felt like I did all the donkey work and he had just swooped into my fish. (Love you really Stan). He had a lovely Gudgeon and then a Roach. The irony is that I set his rod up for him too.

So, for five hours my amazing Father-In-Law was catching and I had nothing, not a peep. Come 10:15 I was thinking of packing up, as the rain started to come. The cloud was just over me lol. 11:20 came and I was in, thank god for that a Roach. Nothing amazing, but not a blank and then another. Then a golden beauty. Was loving life again.

We had four different species today, which was great to see. So, Gudgeon, Roach, Rudd and Chub. What a morning session. Now getting ready for my next trip on Saturday with the Essex Anglers team, so watch this space. It will be a test of skills and I think my fellow blogger Bailey and I have a little match going on too.

Make sure you check out Tackle Box above, Tight Lines………

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Tom Baird

Fishing the Stour

So, it was an early start today. Was fishing by 05:45 and made the rookie mistake of setting up my rod once I was at my swim. Still a bit dark at that time and took me a bit longer to thread the line through the eyes lol (getting old).

I was in the Colchester area and found a lovely mill pool, it was just the right spot. I used a basic float set up. So, stopper on first followed by my choice of float, a shot either side of the float and then a size 12 hook at the depth I needed and three maggots on the hook and I was out. The mill pool was teaming with life. So much fry around, which was great to see.

The first fish of the day was a tiger (Perch), as I was told it was fin perfect. Such a great fish to start the session off with. Then came some Roach nice sizes too. Then as I was taking a picture of the Roach, out the corner of my eye I felt someone or something watching me. As I turned, I could not believe it. Three otters just staring at me and me at them.

Now I know there are lots of mixed feelings about this creature and don’t get me wrong I agree with some, but it was amazing to see the two cubs and the mother together. They went in the water and swam to the other side of the pool.

Now obviously it was nice to see, but it had now messed up my fishing. I was in two minds whether to pack up or hang it out. So, I hung it out and I was glad I did. Whilst waiting for the fish to return, I watched a Kingfisher in the tree next to me and sorted out my tackle box.

After about an hour they returned, had some more Roach, Perch and a lovely Gudgeon which is my first in Essex. Very happy with that. It was only a short day today and was back home by 11:30. Unpacked my gear and cleaned my net etc. Until next time fellow anglers. Tight Lines.

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Tom Baird

Fishing the Broads

So, last week I was on holiday on the family boat which is moored at Brundall on the River Yare. We are very lucky to have a family boat on the Broads and in a lovely spot. I’m also lucky to have a tolerant wife who allows me to fish every day whilst on holiday. Obviously after family days out etc.

We arrived last Sunday and after unpacking and while the kids were being showered, I had a quick go as the tide was in, so it was nice and deep. Had one Roach which was a good sign of things to come. Then I had to go in like a little school boy to have my shower and bunk down for the night.

On the Monday we went to Mundsley just before Cromer. A lovely beach and miles of golden sand. Well the tide was in and people were sitting on the pathways etc, so we went to a local forest and spent a few hours there. On the way back we popped into Wroxham to pick up some mags. Once back at the boat we were fishing. We had around 10 Roach up to 1lb.

Tuesday, we went into Norwich as the rain was heavy, so we had a game of bowling which was great fun and I even got a strike. Once back at the boat the sun was out and fishing was back on. Whilst sitting there my wife genuinely got excited over fish and pointed under the boat. Wow there were 4 massive Chub just sitting there. I tried everything, mags, bread, sweetcorn and worms. I could see them just look at the lot and turn there nose up at it. Yes, I was very stealthy, but nothing worked. Nice to watch though and the other boat owners must of thought what the hell is that man doing hiding and sneakily looking over the stern of the boat.

Wednesday we were off to the Miniature museum in Wroxham and then met up with an old friend in Potter Heigham. Once fishing again, Harry struck into a nice Roach, as he was brining it in a Pike took advantage of the situation and decided it was his dinner time. So, we nearly had a Roach and a Pike but the Roach came off and the Pike won this time.

Thursday, I did try fishing, but the wind was really bad. Strong gales kept blowing the line into the weeds and I wasn’t in the mood to muck around with tangled line all afternoon. So, the rods came in and we watched a film instead.

Friday we were back on it, after a gruelling trip around Norwich which was quite funny in the end. My wife wanted to try this murder mystery trail, where you download the clues and you have to find who committed the crime. Well after she jumped from clue 5 to clue 11 without realising lol, we called it a day. We had another 13 Roach and 1 Perch which was nice.

Saturday was pouring down all day again, so we went to the Sea Life Centre and looked at fish instead. Showed the Kids some beautiful Mullet, Bass, Dogs and smooth Hounds. Then it came to the Black Tip Sharks and the Turtle in the main area. Sophie and Harry were in awe with it all. Then we met up with my friend and Fishing legend Nick Beardmore and his lovely partner Belle. We had a laugh and a good catch up. Now back at home I wish I was still on the boat trying for them big Chub, but that will be the next fishing trip. 

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Tom Baird

Back on the River

On Saturday I attempted the River Chelmer again near Baddow Road. It’s a nice part of the river and this time my friend Jeff asked if he could bring his god son along to have ago at fishing for the first time. I was in two minds about going Saturday, as I knew the weather wasn’t going to be great and also didn’t want to put any stress on the fish, due to temperature change etc.

But I hand the bug to go fishing, so met Jeff and Josh at 08:00 sharp in the car park and set up the poles for the kids and got them fishing straight away. Well this was Josh’s first-time fishing ever, so wanted him to catch. Also wanted Harry to catch, as he loves this stretch.

Within 5 minutes, Josh was in with a Roach. What a great way to start fishing and catching most people’s first ever fish. Josh was so happy and was loving every second of it. Once Josh was back out fishing again, I set up a float rod for Jeff, as he hasn’t been fresh water fishing for years (now a sea angler).

Whilst I was sorting out my tackle box, as it was all quiet on the western front, Harry caught a lovely roach too. Thank god he wasn’t going to blank; I would have had a 7-year-old turning into teenager mode lol. With that I heard a splash coming from Jeff and Joshes direction. I could see they had caught a Tench, wow what a second fish to ever catch.

As they were bringing it in to the net, you guested it, it came off. The poor look on Josh’s face, he was excited and so sad at the same time. I was even a bit down about it and Harry was too. We explained that the one that gets away, will now be on your list to catch next time. Lesson learnt and back on with the fishing.

The rest of the day went very slowly and could see the kids were getting bored. Then the heavens opened up and any of you fellow anglers who were fishing around the Chelmsford area on Saturday know that it poured down. That’s when we decided to pack up and call it a day.

Josh and Harry were still happy with their catches, and me and Jeff, well we were just wet. Until next time guys. Have a safe one and tight lines.