Duncan’s Monthly round-up – December 2015
I’m not sure exactly where this month has gone or if I have logged every session as it’s been so manic that I even forgot to keep my fishing record up to date which is just unheard off. Strange as it may seem but I actually don’t get out that much over Christmas, unlike many who seem to grab the holiday period with both hands, and it shows as just 11 sessions have seen me on the bank, either for myself or guiding. As you can see this isn’t the whole story as most of my time has been spent getting articles to publications on or, as it’s been this month, before deadlines. I wish I could say that an article can be completed in a day, yet travelling down to let’s say, the Dorset Stour, taking the photos before travelling back all takes time, in fact just this is a day’s work. Then the article needs to be written up along with images manipulated and then everything sent, another days work, so you can see where my time goes, so although I love my job, it’s far from casting a line all day, every day! Fortunately with lots sorted well before Christmas it does allow me to spend time with the girlfriend and family, before getting right back into it come the start of January.
I would like to reassure every river angler that’s been struggling to catch that it’s not all down to your angling. Ask yourself this simple question – what day in December was the best day to target barbel? You would be struggling to pinpoint one specific day as almost every day has been screaming barbel and knowing that they can feed pretty much 24/7 being on the bank at the right time is almost impossible to predict. It’s not just barbel that are proving difficult as other species like roach, perch, pike, grayling and chub need a consistent cold spell to get them into their normal winter routine. I know a few anglers that had a feeling that the crucians would still be on the feed early December but this species is one that is predictable and I put it down not to the air or water temperature but the length of daylight hours as after the first week of November they become so difficult to catch that I’ve learnt to leave them alone to the following spring. In these mild conditions why are the cats not feeding? Yes the odd one, just like the odd crucian does get caught but once again I put this down to the amount of daylight hours and not the water or air temperature, so some species are still predictable. I find it funny when I watch so many anglers struggling at Broadwater in these conditions; however this isn’t because of the weather which is so often blamed. If they were to arrive at first light, weren’t stereotyped into what swims they wanted to fish, moved to showing fish and put a little thought into their rigs and baiting then believe me they wouldn’t be struggling! There are a few exceptions to the rule such as the roach fishing on the river Blackwater that has been brilliant this winter. Unfortunately I keep meaning to get myself down there and sample this but time just faded away in December, maybe January?
I was looking at buying a ticket to target some big grayling, yet although I know the odd big one is showing, to me fishing for this species has to be when it’s so cold that almost every other species is a non-starter, so unless this weather changes it’s looking as if this won’t be happening.
So was 2015 a good year? Well it has to be as three personal bests graced my net, two of which were from species I never thought I would beat! More details to follow in my yearly round-up coming soon.
What plans do I have for 2016? To be honest I’m wishing for this horrid mild wet spell of weather to pass as if it continues I fear that the spring will be another long cold one. Barbel, tench, catfish and carp will all feature up until the autumn, after this who knows but one thing is for sure barbel won’t be on the list.
All in all 2016 looks like it’s going to be a busy one and if I beat my tench and carp personal bests then I will be a happy angler.
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year.
1/12/15 – Well what a day, well actually not! I was hoping to head to the river last night but the Amber forecast had me rethinking. Shame as the rain and wind failed to arrive and it would have be a great evening to fish. This rethink also made me change plans and a quick trip to the vets revealed that a simple shave of the rabbits bum was all that was needed so the first light assault was also missed. After dropping the rabbit off and a hearty breakfast I headed to the river, yet just as I arrived the phone went to say the bunny wasn’t as ill as first thought and was ready to collect, great that he was ok, great for the vets that cleaned me out of another £60 but not so great for the few hours on the bank.
2/12/15 – After dropping the girlfriend of I headed to my parents for a proper English breakfast before picking up one of my regulars for an exploration trip to his local lake in search of big perch. Conditions were spot on, however the farmer was pumping thousands of gallons of water into the lake and with a look like weak tea I knew things wouldn’t be easy. Prawn on the long rod was the tactic and with three swims baited we sat back to see what was install. Swim one produced one small dip of the float, swim two a carp of just over 10lb which livened up the session plus a tiny perch which came to a worm that a more than helpful match angler had given us and swim three, another smaller carp. All in all it was an enjoyable few hours in far from uncomfortable temperature, thirteen degrees to be precise and the friendly match angler gave us an honest account of the perch population which was there are a few big ones around but they are rarely caught and when they are they are more by accident than design. Job done!
Back at home it was all hands on deck as I had arranged to meet my brother at first light for a spot of perch fishing myself so an hour or so was spent sorting out the kit as well as replying to the weekend’s load of emails etc.
3/12/15 – Fished Broadwater today for perch. Both myself and brother Kevin had just two bites each fishing prawn in the four hour stint. I missed a definite perch bite and converted the other with a 15lb common. Kevin converted both his with a 10lb common and a 1lb 8oz perch. In the afternoon prepared the barbel kit for an overnight session Friday before popping over to see my mum who had a little trip earlier in the week.
4/12/15 – With one thing and another the mornings been somewhat wasted however on the road come 3.30pm and fishing by 5pm. Forecast is for a mild, dry night so should be a comfortable one. Oh, didn’t check the wind speed as it slowly got up as darkness fell to 22mph with gusts up to 42mph! To be honest nearly packed up at 2am as things were somewhat uncomfortable what with thinking the brolley would take off at any moment and that one of the old trees above that were swaying somewhat unnervingly would break off. Chris joined me and also had a similar uncomfortable night but was it worth it, well you will have to wait and see.
7/12/15 – Spent the day in the office checking out a number of carp rods for an Anglers Mail feature.
8/12/15 – Spent most of the day in the office checking out big-pit reels for an Anglers Mail feature, then at 3pm headed to the river in search of a massive barbel. Only fished four hours but managed to put two fish in the net, but what were they?
11/12/15 – Managed to head to the river, more to bait up than fish but took the rods and cast them out for a couple of hours. I say rods, as for the first time in my barbel fishing days I have now had to resort to two rods in the hope of increasing my chances. Haven’t done a great deal of fishy related things this week as having some time out with the girlfriend and getting things sorted for Christmas. Also had the news that my friend Alan had just landed a massive fish from the Test at Timsbury. What a shame that he never had the time to drink in the atmosphere surrounding the catch, look closely at the images and decide what to do with these as before he had even left the fishery a photo had gone viral on Facebook. Obviously the fisheries objective was to get as much publicity as they could by stating what they thought the fish was, well they have achieved there aim and you can bet your life that the already overcrowded banks will be even more busier in the next couple of months. I know Alan well and felt for him as many of the cyber claws seem to direct their comments at him and not the fishery, shame on you! My thoughts are that when an angler spends £25 to fish a day ticket venue, catches a memorable fish then it’s his rights to do what he wants with it, not the fisheries and in this case it was very disrespectful. If this had happened to me I would have been fuming! I would like to put his brilliant capture into perspective as I have fished Timsbury on many occasions and to catch anything other than a grayling or game fish is an achievement. In fact in maybe twenty visits I have caught hundreds of fish but only two can be classified outside of the game/grayling category, so well done Alan that was some fish!
14/12/15 – Spent the day writing up a few Anglers Mail Tactical Briefing before heading to the river to fish 2hrs either side of dusk.
15/12/15 – Made the most of a relatively dry bright day and managed to get the basic rod shots done for the Anglers Mail feature.
16/12/15 – Having spent most of the season fishing for barbel on a clear river who would have expected to arrive at the river Loddon to find it up-and-coloured water. This wouldn’t have been too bad if barbel were on the agenda but they weren’t as my customer, Christian wanted to learn the art of fishing for chub using bread! To be honest we decided to give it our best shot, fish all the good swims and if nothing happened by midday, throw in the towel and return when the river was in a slightly better condition. Luckily the weather was dry and mild and although little happened in the first three banker swims, the forth, one that is a bit hit-and-miss produced the goods, a chub approaching 4lb that gave Christian a right beating up. The odd half-chance then followed however it was obvious, even after trying cheese paste, that the chub weren’t that interested and although fishing till dusk I felt it was only fair to offer Christian another bash at ‘old rubber lips’ when the cold arrives!
17/12/15 – On the way back from dropping the girlfriend off at work I met up with my brother for a few hours pike fishing. It was more for a ‘catch-up’ than a serious fish and with temperatures well above average and the skies clear of rain clouds we sat and chatted along with getting three runs resulting in three pike to around 12lb. I was hoping to get an image of the double to complete a feature however to keep things short we named it ‘Houdini’.
Back at home and in the office by midday I made the most of the weather and spent a few hours taking images of some big pit reels for an Anglers Mail ‘Best-Off’ feature.
18/12/15 – The weathers back to its wet and windy theme so time to review all the big pit reels and get them over to Anglers Mail slightly earlier than they expected before heading to the river to bait up.
19/12/15 – Today was all about getting on top of some outstanding fishy paperwork before Christmas.
20/12/15 – Another early start this time to pick up young Tom in Winchester and head to a couple of venues in Berkshire to get a couple of short videos done.
21/12/15 – Up early and heading south to the Dorset Stour at Throop to meet up with Pete Wilson on beat 2 to create an Anglers Mail Venue Expert. The weather was what can only be described as changeable and the red sky at dawn as I drove down was a sign of things to come. Fortunately arriving early with no more than a two hour window before the wind and rain moved in was enough to get everything sorted including Pete catching which wasn’t a foregone conclusion when he arrived to find the river up, fast and coloured. Keep an eye out for this feature in Anglers Mail as it’s a good one with plenty of great tips to learn. There was no let up for me even getting home early as it was straight in the office, once everything was placed on the radiators to dry out, to get on top of more things such as writing up a ‘where to fish’, once again for Anglers Mail.
22/12/15 – As if I needed another early start, especially knowing the weather was going to do its best to soak me once again, but yes, this morning I was once again on the road by 6am, this time heading to Wylands Fishery in East Sussex to meet up with carp angler Jed Kent to produce another Anglers Mail Venue Expert. Arriving a little after 8am I found Jed to have a sizeable carp ready for the camera, along with returning a couple of doubles, so things looked good for a few more fish, however the feeding spell stopped on my arrival. Keep an eye out for this feature coming soon to A.M as if you fish this venue then you will learn very quickly just how to approach and get the most from it.
Some say I have the best job in the world, yet believe me as much as I love it, it is somewhat frustrating at times. The last couple of days should have been pure enjoyment, however as much as I did enjoy them the driving I hate ( the best part of 400 miles on the clock over two days) especially when its dark and raining. Early starts have never been my best point, yet once up I love them, and trying to be efficient with taking notes when everything’s getting wet and worrying that the camera equipment is going to pack in due to the damp is never far from my mind. Fortunately tomorrow looks a better day, however frustrating again as its a planned day in the office!
23/12/15 – With Christmas looming today was all about completing the Venue Expert feature on the Dorset Stour at Throop for Anglers Mail.
27/12/15 – It was good to spend a few hours on the bank with my brother, this time perch fishing at GAS Broadwater. The weather, although forecasted to be dry, did its best to dampen our spirits, yet a few bites in during morning session kept our minds away from the constant drizzle. I managed just two bites and missed both whilst Kevin had four on his perch rod resulting in a couple of scrapper two-pound perch and a few on his heli-rig which saw the odd better roach netted.
29/12/15 – I was hoping to get a few hours in pike fishing this morning yet this didn’t happen so headed to the river for a few hours instead and obviously the fish have been missing the pre-bait over the holiday period as within thirty seconds the tip tapped then pulled round, however that was the only action from the five hour session.
30/12/15 – You must have been on one of those sessions when it soon becomes apparent that whatever you do is just not going to make things happen. Well I had one of those today. I was on the Loddon roving around with a loaf of bread in the hope of a big chub. Conditions weren’t ideal, yet not impossible, or so I thought. Storm Frank was forecasted to arrive early afternoon so the early start saw me covering all the known hot-spots, however come early afternoon, the chub were like anglers on the bank, nowhere to be seen. In fact I tried fifteen swims for just two taps! Undeterred I headed to an easy stretch of the Blackwater yet after covering a further six swims for just one small chub and a couple of missed tiny taps called it a day when the rain finally arrived around 3pm.