Friday, 27 February 2015

New format monthly blog - February 2015

Duncan’s Monthly Round-up – February 2015

30/1/15 - Well the pike session to Timsbury wasn’t one to write home about. Things looked good on arrival as we were the only anglers around and headed for the deep water at the bottom end of the fishery, however come lunchtime neither Mark nor Chris had any enquiries to their dead bait rods. Even their feeder rods (aimed at chub) were somewhat quiet with just the odd grayling and trout falling. After Lunch we headed upstream but it got even worse as the river died a death and even the normal suicidal trout failed to hang itself. Chris did mange one decent grayling of around 1lb 12oz but sometimes you just have that feeling that things just weren’t going to happen. When I got home I noticed that Bob Roberts had fared in much the same way on a completely different river up in the Midlands catching well for the first three hours then experiencing the switch being triggered. We tried our best to figure it out coming up with an influx of salt going into the river from the heavy downpour the day before but their was something else happening, one we will never figure out.

With January behind me I was looking forward to February but come the 2nd was wishing it would end. I have always said that Feb is often the worst month of the year and well I still stick by this. The only good thing to say about it is that the days are drawing out; well we have seemed to have gained an hour in the afternoon, even if the mornings are still somewhat stagnant.

Here is an example (probably one of the worst) of how things can change in the blink of an eye for a specialist guide. It’s probably best that my customer, Andy had enquired about zander fishing last winter. It was Nov when he made contact and knowing the fishing would be tough through the colder months delayed him till the last day of the season, March 14th. Fortunately he took my guidance and on that very last evening managed a number of zander including a personal best weighing 11lb 6oz. Living in the real world Andy knows how things change and after booking a day’s predator fishing in December on the Thames wasn’t surprised to find the river in flood and having to reschedule. The Thames was our first choice however just days before our second date (Jan 2nd) a friend fishing the Thames called to say that it was pushing hard and coloured. Having rigged two rods a day or two prior to the trip to fish float paternoster rigs as well as organising all the gear including livebait snatching kit we found ourselves looking at Plan B which was a small commercial near me that had turned up a 5lb plus perch back in the summer! The day before our trip the paternoster rods were stripped back and new low resistant running rigs attached as well as buying some king prawns, fifty lobworms and a pint of maggots. This change of venue and tactic was only made 24hrs prior to the session yet come the night before our day out the temperature dropped to -4 freezing every lake in sight. With both venues out of sorts it was decided to reschedule once again. Let’s just hopes its third time lucky! Unfortunately it wasn’t and you can get a feeling for just how unfortunate we were by reading the date inputs of 15/2/15 and 16/2/15!

1/1/15 - Knowing that the Thames wasn’t looking good my once a fortnight weekend day session with fishing pal Chris had to be rethought also. A tip off from another source had put me on some decent perch on the Basingstoke Canal. Now I swore that I would never tread the banks of this canal again due to the amount of dog shit along its bank but was pleasantly surprised to see none (was I still asleep). Fishing just inches from the bank I managed four bites on lobworm in which three were missed and the other coming from a lively jack. Chris and Brother Kevin failed to get a dip of the float, even after trying my spot after my first bite fishing far lighter kit than mine. When they lifted their float and moved I dropped in and away it went again, strange! It wasn’t long before Wayne Kerr came through in his canoe under the bridge with blinkers on that we decided to head elsewhere on the Canal but all three of us failed to get a bite. Kevin called it a day whilst myself and Chris headed to Stanford End on the Loddon, yet it didn’t greet us in style! Now I hate dog shit yet what was in the middle of the small car park certainly was dog shit! Who ever did that should be ashamed on himself. As I have said for a long time, this stretch is just too busy and one look behind the waterworks confirmed this, yes their it was another! If the club loses this stretch then you dirty gits are to blame! The river fished like the car park, a pile of shit and we left once again biteless. I’ve said it before but I won’t say it again, I won’t be going back unless I have to!
2/2/15 - With a guided day having to be rescheduled at least the second day of February wasn’t completely lost as I stayed inside tapping away on the keyboard, mostly for Anglers Mails Question and Answer page, but I’m well ahead of myself on this one and looking forward to venturing out later in the week.
3/2/15 – Another raw day with a covering of snow. I was thinking about setting up the drop shot rod and heading to the canal but the lake behind is frozen and I expect the canal will be as well. Luckily I always have something to do, fishing wise, so spent a few hours writing an article for Pike and Predators based on the short pike pre-baiting campaign completed in January. Come 4pm it was completed and uploading to Neville Fickling, giving myself time to get the chub gear out for a few hours bread fishing on the Loddon in the morning. No it won’t be at Stanford End!
4/2/15 – Making a late start I arrived at the river at noon and with the temperature gauge reading just two degrees and venturing out on a completely new stretch felt that a bite would be classified as a result. With four hours at my disposal my plan was to go back to basics, be disciplined and rove the river fishing a swim for no more than fifteen minutes. Bites usually come on flake quickly so theirs no need to give a swim any more. Forth swim in and the tip rattled then flew round (obviously these chub don’t get much pressure) but knowing that this stretch has done some monsters in the past was somewhat disappointed at its size, 2lb yet it was a fish and a swim to return to on future visits. Sixth swim and another bite this time from a strange shaped chub of 4lb 11oz, that’s better. Unfortunately the next six swims failed to produce yet this is how to learn a stretch of river, bit by bit. The refreshing thing was that their wasn’t another angler or signs of angling anywhere, joy!
5/2/15 – Not really much to say about today as it was one of those ‘get lots of niggling things done’ day. I did keep up my fabulous record with the drop-shot rod and recorded another blank, yet it really was just a glancing visit to the canal on the way back from the bank during which time I had to dodge the drifting ice. Determined to get on track with this method I returned home and watched a few video’s which allowed the rod to be rigged up, hopefully correctly, ready for another visit soon. A couple of hours was also spent getting the grayling kit sorted for a day on the Test tomorrow with a customer.
6/2/15 – Another frosty start yet it was the growing north wind that was the worry. Luckily this didn’t materialise till mid afternoon allowing Aaron to get to grips with using the centrepin, trotting and fishing the Test all for the first time. The area wanted had already gone but fortunately the swim upstream which is almost opposite the small stream and hut on the far bank was free so we settled in this. Fortunately the swim fished really well and with a couple of swims downstream to investigate we were relatively left alone from the other fifteen anglers on the beat! Come the end of the day Aaron had caught probably forty fish including brown, sea and rainbow trout plus a dozen or more grayling, the only downside was the size with no specimens involved. I even managed to try drop-shotting for a few minutes in the side stream and at long last caught a fish on this, so called deadly method, a half pound perch.
9/2/15 – At last that horrid north wind has swung, just a shame that my time been spent sorting things like, car MOT, dentist, cat tablets out and not fishing. In fact it doesn’t look like I will be out till Wednesday, yet its then fishing, fishing, fishing for a few days. With more cash going out than coming in the afternoon was spent tapping away on the computer keyboard once more, this time number eleven in my Day Ticket tactical feature within Coarse Angling Today. Looks like it will be much of the same tomorrow, joy.
11/2/15 – I was hoping to have a days fishing on the Thames, yet with the central heating still playing up and with the car in for an MOT took the chance and headed down for an afternoon fish near the garage in the hope the call would come in that it had passes. This happened so everything went to plan and as for the fishing well I found a lovely stretch of the Itchen and managed bite, after bite from grayling to 1lb 9oz. Cant wait to give it a proper go, yet not quite sure when that will be as next week I’m away for a few days.
12/2/15 – After having a great January pre-baiting and catching plenty of double figured pike I was full of confidence when Sky Sports, Tight Lines asked if I could supply a video for the show. Although I caught it didn’t quite go to plan, yet you will have to keep an eye out for the show coming soon to Tight Lines.
13/2/15 – With strong winds and constant rain forecasted the guided day with Barrie to the Test was going to be a tester, however the forecasted rain never started till midday in which time Barrie managed a mix of Grayling, Sea, Brown and Rainbow trout on the stick and pin. Once the rain came it was cast out the feeder in a roach swim that was full of trout that greedily grabbed every piece of flake cast out. Once the rain eased we were back on the float and again catching, finishing the day with forty fish, not bad in such difficult conditions. Back at home it was a struggle to sort the perch kit out for a couple of days on the Thames, but with the rugby on Saturday it had to be done, I just hope the rain hasn’t buggered the river up again.
15/2/15 – First glance at the Thames and everything looks good, even the swim we wanted was free, however as we sat next to the weir the noise became louder as the river rose, coloured up and with not so much as a tap on the maggot rod intended for livebait it soon became clear that trying to catch perch was going to be a non-starter. Time for a rethink and as we were close to the M3 decided to head south in the hope that the water now reaching the lower Thames had cleared the Itchen. It was a gamble but luckily the river was relatively clear and we managed a couple of hours, using tackle not ideal for grayling fishing, to take around twenty grayling each to around 1lb 6oz. It was an eye opener as both Chris and myself had to use fix spool reels and slightly beefier rods than normal and after just two hours our arms were aching and the amount of fish lost on closing the bail arm reinforced just why every angler wanting to fish the float and catch on a river should invest in a centrepin. Believe me it will put 30% more fish in your landing net!
16/2/15 – With the Thames out-of-sorts it was time to give a local commercial, reputed to contain some big perch a go with my customer Andrew. I’m not to sure what Andy and myself have done to be delivered such bad luck, but after numerous rescheduling due to weather conditions found ourselves looking at a venue that like the Thames was in a very strange mood. The day before a match was won with 90lb but today it was almost dead. Andy did manage a small tench on the prawn and a decent carp on worms yet this was good as everyone around the lake blanked. I even tried a small pole float and maggot in the margins and struggled for just three bites in five hours, two small perch and an 8lb carp, a tactic that would normally see at least 30lb of fish taken. In the end and with the rain now pouring down we decided to throw the towel in, accepted defeat and head to another fishery for a half days guiding in March.
18/2/15 – 50th birthday. Just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone that wished me a happy birthday on Facebook. Sorry for not replying but I have a few problems with this so to the likes of Lee, Tony, Andy and everyone else a big thank you for making my day special.
20/2/15 – After taking a few days off to celebrate my 50th birthday it was good to be out on the river once again. This time I was catching up with fellow Nash man Jake Curry for a few hours on the river Itchen. Fortunately the rains that had been forecasted stayed away, leaving us to explore the river for four hours without disturbance from other anglers. The river was up and coloured somewhat but not to the extent that fish weren’t going to be caught and first trot down Jake latched into his first fish of the day, a grayling of around 10oz. Having not fished for a while, due to studying, I was amazed just how quick he got into his stride, some youngsters are just natural anglers. Having taken a few more grayling and the odd trout from the first couple of swims we headed downstream to what I call the ‘banker swim’ where he netted a further dozen grayling to over the pound. It was whilst we were in this swim that we noticed a big white bird swoop down close to the surface then dive into the river. We were somewhat struggling to see this bird due to a few trees obscuring our view but the length of its wingspan was immense and I assumed that it had to be an Osprey. Luckily the bird flew towards us and into view above, in which time the penny dropped that Ospreys swoop and take fish off the surface, not dive, however we were both surprised to see a seagull fly over. This is where I need your help as the wingspan on this gull had to be 5ft! It was off white and I’m sure it had a red bill or some red on it which wasn’t over extended. I have done a bit of surfing the net and the closest I have found is the Glaucious Gull which is extremely predatory eating anything smaller than itself including fish and has a wingspan of 59-72inches. Its smaller Glaucious-Winged Gull has a wing span of 47-56 inches and also eats fish so to all you Twitchers out there, what do you reckon? Heading back up stream Jake took more grayling trotting corn and by the end of the short session had to have taken more than thirty fish, so a great mornings fishing. Another youngster that seems to be coming on leaps and bounds and like Jake seems to be a natural born angler is my mate Tom who sent me this great image of a lovely perch he caught after asking me for some information on a location. Great job Tom, keep up the good work.
23/2/15 – You would have thought that the fishing gods would have given my customer Tim a break after enduring a freezing morning at Frensham pike fishing when the lake froze in front of us, yet they weren’t as on arrival at the river Loddon for a spot of chub fishing we were confronted with a raging torrent of chocolate coloured water. Due to Frensham freezing Tim still had half a day in loo, yet with the Loddon un-fishable another plan was needed so we headed to the upper reaches of the river Blackwater. Although up and coloured I felt that it was clear enough to get the odd bite and first cast into a reliable swim gave us the answer, yet Tim missed the bite. Fortunately two more followed in the same swim with a chub off around 3lb finally falling into the net. Heading upstream and trying numerous swims proved just how difficult the conditions were as not so much as a tremor came his way, yet back in the first swim and on a change of bait to a lobworm bought a bite, yet this one shed the hook. Dropping down a few yards bought another bite, yet things weren’t on our side as after a few seconds the hook pulled once more, this time from what felt like a good perch. Having caught a double figured pike from a freezing lake, plus a chub from a coloured river as well as loosing a couple of fish proved one thing. If you know your venue then even in the harshest of conditions, if you try hard enough you should get a bite!
24/2/15 – After a week off and having to stay in waiting for not only a collection, but also a delivery from Anglers Mail, allowed me plenty of time to catch up on some paperwork. Today was typical of a day in the life of someone trying to make a living out of fishing and shows that it’s not all about spending time next to water. Fist job was to quickly go through my emails, replying, scrapping; you know the general stuff that seems to take forever. Next was to complete three jobs, the first was to answer a load of ‘Question and Answers’ for Anglers Mail, then it was time to answer a ‘Hot Seat’ question for Coarse Angling Today before sending Colin Bunn at CatMaster Tours some words for his website, all between the phone going and the door being knocked. Luckily things seem to go swimmingly well and by early afternoon things were completed allowing me to get on with other outstanding jobs such as Facebook/website inputs, bait and tackle organisation for a spot of trotting early Wednesday morning as well as familiarising myself with a few more Anglers Mail projects.
25/2/15 – Unfortunately I was on Taxi duty late Tuesday evening and at the last minute called in to taking and collecting the girlfriend, mother and friends to a concert in Guildford. By the time I pulled the duvet over me it was gone midnight, I was totally knackered and knew that setting the alarm would just be a non-starter, yet with everything sorted the trotting session will happen. The day was also one of those bitty days when nothing serious gets done, yet apart from lots of odds-and-sods that will save time later in the week. I did sort out another set of kit for a customer on Thursday and with the temperature rising and some colour in the river, not only was the perch and chub kit sorted but some bits also thrown in just in case I felt conditions looked good for a barbel.
26/2/15 – I hate rain and once again I was looking at a day’s guiding in the stuff, however with the air temperature so high, 12 degrees, and with a customer initially requesting barbel, just had to give it a go. Getting conditions spot in is hard and although the atmospherics, air temperature, overcast skies and wind direction was favourable the river had somewhat dropped since raging through on Monday and was now fining down. Ian today was son of Tim who had fished with me on Monday and having seen his dad catch plenty of specimens under my guidance over the last couple of years wanted a piece of the action, yet I had already been told by Tim not to let him catch anything bigger than his personal best. Meeting Ian at 8am on the river Blackwater I made the decision to head for the Loddon and spend the morning static fishing for barbel. This was when the rain was forecasted so I had a two tear reason for this approach. With some of Nash’s new ‘The Key’ 10m barrels as well as some Key Stick Mix we simply cast out a simple running rig into a previously hot swim and awaited action which came within 30seconds. Unfortunately it was from the smallest chub I’ve seen in years on this stretch, all 8oz of it, yet good to see. For the next few hours we were beaten up by chub, basically letting us know they were around but not giving us more than the odd pluck and drop. To be honest they were doing my head in a bit, yet after a few tweaks we managed a couple of better bites only for them to be missed however a little trick up my sleeve finally saw one gracing Ian’ net, not a monster but a new personal best of 3lb 11oz. The rain slowed as forecasted early afternoon so we headed downstream to another swim with a track record and with a change of tactics saw an instant result in a chub weighing 5lb 10oz. The next swim produced another bite that was missed before we headed back to the Blackwater, yet the banker swim failed to produce the slightest of twitches to neither worm nor bread and the thought was that another angler must have fished and caught earlier in the day. Theirs far more to chub fishing than meets the eye. Knowing your venue intimately is paramount and can take years to understand as can searching the swim in a methodical manner. Rigs may seem simple but tweaking these in tiny ways can be the downfall of a specimen or two and knowing what’s been going on in a swim or on the stretch of river before you arrive by what’s on the bank and by what’s happening to your rod tip is just something that can’t be leant quickly. Fishing is a massive learning curve and although I may have a few years experience I’m glad to say I still learning to this day.
Here are a few words Ian sent me after the trip….

Hi Duncan,
Just wanted to say a massive thank you for a great day’s chub fishing and the pictures sent. As a keen carp angler I wanted to experience a new challenge in the depth of winter and targeting chub seemed the obvious answer. My dad had used Duncan on a number of occasions and seemed to always return with a new personal best, saying you must experience a trip out with him.
I have to say its been one of the best days fishing I have experienced. Duncan as a guide was thoughtful, knowledgeable and experience. Without Duncan I wouldn’t have caught my personal best chub of 5lb 10oz (sorry dad!) or gained the knowledge for the future. Not only have a gained the confidence and know-how to return in the future, but I’ve also gained a friend. It’s only a matter of time before I will be asking for another trip with Duncan targeting a new species.
If you want to catch specimen fish the Duncan is your man.
Thanks for an amazing day, one that I’m not likely to forget.
Kind regards,
Tim McIntyre
27/2/15 – Up early and on the river Wey by sunrise and with the river slightly up and coloured I was hoping for a big bag of quality dace and when one of around 6oz came first trot through I was rubbing my hands together. Unfortunately though ninety minutes later I was scratching my head as just one more dace and two trout had fallen in the normal hot-spot. I even cast a small maggot feeder in the swim, a tactic that’s deadly if they want it static, yet my thoughts were that the swim held very few fish, a first in over thirty-years! I headed downstream but things were tough with half a dozen trout falling along with the occasional small dace. Faced with such a difficult session is some what concerning, I just hope that the river was just not in a good mood and that the fish haven’t ended up on a BBQ!

A quick look at the diary inputs and it shows that I was on the bank thirteen times in the last month which was split between Personal (5), Guiding (7) and Features (1) sessions and totalled 82 hours, not as much as I would have liked but taking that I was away for five days, its not that bad.

Well that’s it for Feb, nothing amazing to report, catch wise, yet a busy month and with the days getting longer and the air temperature on the up I can’t wait till spring arrives and the big fish head is back on my shoulders.

Images –
1 – Timsbury on a cold winter’s morning.
2 – Dab Chicks (Little Grebes) can been seen everywhere at Timsbury.
3 – Chris with a decent grayling.
4 – Mark experienced a number of personal bests at Timsbury.
5 – A bite would have been a result!
6 – Aaron steering a nice grayling to the net.
7 – On the front of Anglers Mail with a brace of Blackwater chub.
8 – Barrie with one of many fish from Timsbury.
9 – Jake steers a grayling to net on the Itchen.
10 – One to watch in the future.
11 – It looked a bit like this!
12 – You don’t get that many young purists these days, but Tom’s one of them.
13 – Against all odds.
14 – Ian with his 5lb 10oz Loddon chub.
15 – Back she goes.

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