Monthly Report December 2016
Hope you all had a really great Christmas and managed to get out on the bank for a few hours, pre Christmas Day hopefully as since then the temperature has plunged to below freezing most nights making anything other than grayling or chub probably a non-starter. Saying this even the chub have proved difficult and all I can put this down to is the extremely high pressure that has been almost of the scale on my barometer at an incredible 1043mb for the last few days!
I was going to have a moan about the so called fishing programme ‘Fishing Impossible’ which I had to delete of my series link as after seeing them using bat shit as bait and using dynamite to fire it into their swims guest that the following week they would all cut an arm off just to make the next challenge that much more impossible. What a load of crap! However what with getting really hacked off with trying to load things on my website due to Blogger being a right pain in the arse I have been told by a good friend to stop being the miserable old man of angling and to try a be a bit more happier so as from next month, no more, or far less winging and much more happier angling subjects to discuss!
A quick check on my diary inputs and I have been out either fishing for myself of guiding eleven times this month along with plenty of days also spent on the bank as a freelance photographer creating articles for Anglers Mail. All in all another busy month, one that I will probably remember for the weather conditions, often really cold and foggy and one in which we saw very little in the way of rain which has left every river fished extremely low. Christmas day was also strange as I bet there were hundreds of anglers sitting at home eating turkey and mince pies thinking its 14 degrees outside, I bet the fish are going mad. As for the fishing the Frome has been really consistent in producing two-pound plus grayling, yet I’m now beginning to think that the stretch I’m fishing isn’t going to produce a real monster so time to start looking elsewhere. Testwood Pools was a joy to fish once again but we did make a massive mistake and booked it when the tide was out. This and knowing that a vast majority of the game fish had been removed made it a difficult session but any day which sees roach to 1lb 12oz and dace to 10oz taken on the float is still a red-letter day. The two fish that I will remember are the 2lb 7oz grayling taken by my friend Barrie from the Itchen, the biggest I have seen out of the river for a number of years and the 5lb 3oz chub that Tom Aldous caught during a quick-fire session on the Loddon. The river Blackwater continues to produce however a month ago when fish could be caught from most swims have now shoaled up so if you find them expect a really good day, yet trying to locate them does take time and as for the Loddon, well this is a complete contrast to the Blackwater as even the so called easy stretches are now really tough.
I’m not really one for making New Year’s resolutions but its time I made a few lifestyle changes, started to look after myself more, get into a routine such as always eating breakfast as well as spreading my fishing time out more productively. Chasing massive fish is a thing of the past, yet I will still continue to fish venues that do contain big fish however whether or not a fish-of-a –lifetime will grace my net in the limited time I get to fish myself is unlikely, all I can do is give each session the best I can and enjoy it to its fullest.
Happy New Year to you all and looking forward to catching a few in 2017.
Day to Day events.
01/12/16 – The third morning on the trot when temperatures have plummeted to around -7 but come 6.30am I was on route to pick up my customer Graeme who was booked in for a day on the Frome. A steady drive saw us arrive just after 8am in a total white-out landscape. Undeterred we headed downstream, yet with the rod rings freezing presenting a bait was difficulty, yet just being in such a winter wonderland was worth it. I have always been a believer that grayling don’t get put-back in the cold yet three days of such cold conditions certainly saw a decline in numbers of bites than on milder days so now I’m not a believer! After a few swims and a few small grayling Graeme saw himself bent into a better fish which turned out to be a 1lb 10oz personal best grayling which certainly put some warmth into our bodies and made us smile. Late morning the frost disappeared and the fishing improved slightly and come the end of the day around two dozen grayling and sea trout had fallen. Difficult but certainly not impossible!
Here are a few words from Graeme – Thanks Duncan; Today was certainly a challenge, but a superb day none the less. Managing to bank a few was a bonus! And thanks for the pictures too. Thanks very much for sharing your knowledge and the venue. I now have a new set of tools in the box, so to speak, and am looking forward to getting out again soon. I’ll need that fifteen- footer though! Looking forward to heading back in the New Year when hopefully an early start won’t be so icy. Have a great Christmas, tight lines, Graeme.
05/12/16 – After a couple of weeks off I’m sort of back in the swing of things yet first job was to sort out the last twelve months accounts, joy!
06/12/16 – A full day in the office sorting out fishy things such as updating a few face book posts, making contact with a few possible article possibilities and banging my head against the wall trying to get into my blogger account to post my monthly blog. Sorry for the delay!
07/12/16 – With three long sessions on the trot starting tomorrow it was all about sorting the kit and bait out.
08/12/16 – At long last I’m out on the bank again this time following up a lead of a few big roach. Arriving at first light I headed to the smaller of the two lakes on this day ticket venue, regularly cast out helicopter rigs to the centre of the lake and constantly got beaten up from small carp. My dad and girlfriends dad were experiencing the same so after three hours and sixteen carp decided to move to the larger lake thinking that I had been thrown a curve ball. Same tactics produced the same result, carp so with an hour left headed back to the small lake and cast my rigs into some fast water coming in from a small stream in the hope that the roach were piled up here but yes you have guessed it, all I caught were carp!
09/12/16 – Probably the once a year day I look forward to the most, Testwood Pools. Arriving at dawn myself and Alan were fishing just after 8am however the tide was running out and after just an hour the water had left the pool leaving us with probably the hardest situation possible. Lesson learnt, next year make sure that high tide is around midday as this creates far better fishing. The first hour saw a number of fish taken Inc a couple of dace around 10oz but strangely no trout. We then found out that the majority of these had been moved into the main river! Things then toughened up, yet Alan managed a 1lb 7oz roach on the float that gave us inspiration to carry on. I managed a few trout and small grayling whist Alan switched to the feeder in the hope of more roach but come the end of the day all he caught were frustrating roach/bream hybrids plus a few trout. Having a bad arm I also switched to the feeder and had another 10oz dace plus trout before switching back to the float which produced a 1lb 12oz roach, hybrid, 3lb chub, a salmon par plus the occasional trout. Together we caught around fifty fish made up of eight different species which goes to show you just never know what’s coming next when the float disappears. All in all another enjoyable day but once again the 2lb roach or 1lb dace failed to show. Close again but no cigar.
10/12/16 – On the road come 6.30am this time heading to the Frome in Dorset. The weather wasn’t kind with drizzle and fog making the 80mile trip not that pleasurable. Arriving at 8am and knowing the weather was going to come in wet around 3pm we myself and Lewis headed downstream first. Fishing the stick and pin Lewis was soon into fish but with the river running slightly coloured things weren’t as easy as expected. Second swim produced a few more grayling to 1lb 10oz plus sea trout and the third grayling to 2lb 1oz along with a couple of similar sized ones slipping the hook. Early afternoon we were back at the car for lunch before heading upstream. The wind had now increased making trotting, even for an experienced angler like Lewis difficult. Knowing the swim held fish but struggling for good presentation we switched to the feeder which bought instant bits from brown and sea trout plus grayling to exactly 2lb. Just as the weather was forecasted to do the conditions quickly changed for the worse and not soon after we were back in the car the heavens opened making it another tricky drive home. Even though this was a guiding day, Lewis is an accomplished angler and puts most people to shame when it comes to fishing a centrepin but had never fished the Frome before so it was more of an introduction to the river than anything else. In fact I have to admit that I learnt a couple of things from him!
12/12/16 – In the office all day sorting fishy related items.
14/12/16 – Left home in the dark and arrived back in the dark, which isn’t unusual at this time of year, to create a couple of Anglers Mail features down in Tonbridge with angling guide and top predator angler Rikki Cooper. Keep an eye out in the magazine for these.
15/12/16 – Spent today guiding Barrie on the river Itchen. I have never seen the river so low but this didn’t deter the grayling and trout which just kept on coming. Persistence in a swim where Barrie had a gut feeling would produced a big fish proved right as late in the day he landed an old warrior of a grayling which smashed his previous best. She or should I say he weighed 2lb 7oz and this just goes to show, never ignore a gut feeling. Well done Barrie.
16/12/16 – Another day on the Itchen, this time with one of my regulars Mark who had just bought a centrepin and had it modified as he is left handed. Having only fished the pin once before today was all about learning a few techniques to help master the pin and come the end of the day and after landing again well over forty fish his first steps into presenting a bait perfectly were taken. He even managed a personal best as well.
17/12/16 – Picked Chris up at 8am before heading to Wareham for a few hours on the quay that produced just one modest dace. We then headed upstream for a spot of grayling fishing which produced around twenty fish between us, the best 2lb 3oz to Chris.
18/12/16 – On the banks of the Basingstoke Canal with Tom to create an AM OTB.
19/12/16 – In the office writing up a few features.
20/12/16 – More feature writing!
21/12/16 – Spent a few hours organising tackle for the next couple of days on the bank plus tidying up a few of my tackle boxes.
22/12/16 – It was never going to be easy whatever or wherever we headed today as after a spell of relatively mild weather the skies cleared and a heavy frost lay on the ground as I headed out towards the river Blackwater to meet up with my customer for the day. Barrie who had fished with me on the Itchen last week and landed a 2lb 7oz grayling wanted a introduction in stick float fishing small rivers and if roach could be taken then he would be happy. First swim, a known roach holding spot held no roach just a couple of small chub so we headed to another swim and fortunately this one did produce a few roach. In all Barrie managed around 8lb of fish, mostly made up of a 3lb 13oz chub and 1lb 4oz roach plus others up to around 12oz. That swim made the day as every other one was tough, just a couple of fish then nothing. Switching to a small cage feeder late in the day he managed another modest chub which was lucky to escape the attention of a double figured pike that had lunch on its mind. All in all a great learning day, especially when the producing swim died a death. I said that it was either due to us spooking the fish but this was unlikely as we hadn’t had enough fish to spook them, a pike entering the swim but then surely this would have attacked a previous roach or that some other bigger fish had moved in and this was proved right with the bigger chub. I have never seen the river so low and even tried to tempt a few fish myself from a previous productive swim without any luck which reassured Barrie that he was doing nothing wrong; it was just that the river was fishing below par!
23/12/16 – Hopefully the last early one for a few days as up at the crack of dawn once again this time to pick up my mate Tom Aldous for a few hours chub fishing. We had very little time when we arrived at the river due to being held up in traffic and knowing that the river wasn’t fishing great the previous day and two anglers already on the bank, one in a banker chub swim we headed to the bottom of the beat before working our way upstream in a methodical manner checking out every likely looking area. Second swim and Tom found himself bent into a decent chub which proved to be a venue best for him at 5lb 3oz. I tried a few areas that rarely get explored but with the river low and clear I wasn’t surprised to draw a blank. Toms fish was our only bite but we only fished two and a half hours, missed the first hour of light and had to work around other anglers that could well have fished a few of the swims as there were the odd fishy sign around. I was glad Tom caught as he’s had a tough time of late what with work and studying and has struggled to get out so all in all I would say job done!
27/12/16 – Met up with a couple of lure anglers on the river Thames. Not the easiest of day, what with a hard frost, cloudless blue skies and a barometer that’s almost off the scale at 1043mb! Fortunately after roving around for a few hours we managed to get the job done with a nice perch.
28/12/16 – With a new customer booked in for a day’s chub fishing on Friday thought it would be a good idea to go and check a few swims out on the Loddon. Arriving just after 8am I only had one knock, only fished two swims as other anglers around so moved on to the Whitewater, walked the entire stretch dropping bread in a few swims but again not so much as a single touch.
29/12/16 – A days guiding on the Loddon for chub. Really cold and misty, barely rising above freezing all day and fortunately not that many other anglers to contest with. The swim that produced the knock the day before gave Chas a proper pull round after a few knocks and a big fish was briefly hooked before the hook pulled. Gutted as we probably tried a dozen other swims, all of which produced nothing. After yesterday’s results I can only put the lack of action down to the extremely high atmospheric pressure which yesterday was nearly of the scale on my barometer at 1043mb! Talking to other anglers it seemed that they were too struggling and it just goes to show how one bite can make a difficult day in to a memorable one, that’s if it finds the bottom of the landing net!