Image 1 – Not really a fish from 2016 as this 16lb 11oz barbel was actually caught in November 15 but I needed to keep it quiet as not to attract too much attention. Probably the hardest earned fish I have ever caught as it was one of only three barbel that graced my net in a nine month campaign on a southern river. Sorry to those who assumed it was from the Rother, and it may well have still come from the Rother but I never actually mentioned which river it came from. This campaign proved just how barbel fishing has become locally and is the reason that I haven’t spent very little time angling for them in 2016.
Image 2 – This image was taken whilst sitting next to my friend Alan Muller at FAS Badshot Lea Big pond waiting for the alarm to sound on a very moody January evening.
Image 3 – Rudd fishing on Frensham Great Pond proved extremely hard through January and February. Many sessions ended in a blank and the productive sessions from previous years seemed a distant memory as often we were fishing for just one bite. Fortunately a few specimens did grace my net but was the effort worth it? I’m not sure anymore as each and every winter the thought of having to wade out in complete darkness in temperatures often hovering around freezing to catch this beautiful species is becoming harder and harder.
Image 4 – Grayling fishing has for years played a massive part in my winter angling and this year me and my mate Chris decided after failing to land anything over 2lb from the Test or Itchen for a number of years to head to the Frome. Unfortunately although this image looks the perfect grayling morning with a bright blue sky and early morning frost it wasn’t as note the water in the fields behind. Shortly after this image was taken more rain arrived, every river flooded into the fields and the hope of a two-pounder, well it just didn’t happen.
Image 5 – For me the Robin is Britain’s most iconic bird and one that becomes more and more friendly the colder it gets. This really sharp image was taken by Chris Petter, just a shame it wasn’t resting on his rod.
Image 6 – One of the reasons I love Frensham Great Pond is the images that a photographer can take especially at dusk and dawn. This early morning image was taken of another photographer with the same idea.
Image 7 – This personal best dace had a lot of anglers guessing, how big? I did this because how many times do we see dace around 10oz claimed as a pound plus. Believe me a dace of a pound or more is a rare beast, I’ve never been privileged to have caught one as this fell 2oz short and was taken on the float at Testwood Pools. Some say weighing fish of this size on 60lb Rubens is wrong, yet if I had weighed this on my brother Weigh Masters then I would have recorded a weight of 1lb 3oz!
Image 8 – Not quite Frensham Great Pond but its smaller neighbouring water, Frensham Little Pond, a venue I rarely fish but if its pike you want, well smallish pike, then apart from the massive fish that turned up a couple of years back you would be lucky to land one over 10lb, but equally as photogenic as its bigger brother.
Image 9 – Full of expectation of catching a few massive tench I bought a ticket for the Larkfield Complex in Kent. This image shows my mate Chris in a thoughtful mood on Larky 2 in April when unfortunately the tench were noticeable in their absence. Sadly as the season progressed the venue became busy and for an angler turning up with just a day or two to fish we had to head to Roaden Island Lake next door which wasn’t exactly what I had forked out nearly £300 for!
Image 10 – I certainly became a better angler for fishing down in Kent and this was one of an amazing hit of tench taken in one night, all over 7lb but none over eight. Great fishing and a fantastic venue, one I will always remember but if I’m after tench this size then why do a 130mile trip when I have these on my doorstep.
Image 11 – I seem to have a love/hate relationship with Badshot Lea Big Pond as in early spring the bream fishing is fantastic, yet come midsummer it’s packed out and the fishing somewhat unreliable. This net of fish was just part of a 200lb catch taken by regular customer Lewis Deeks on a day when I fished next to him and extracted 20 similar fish in just over an hour. Get conditions right and what could be achieved in a single day session is mind boggling, just make sure you have your spinach before leaving home!
Image 12 – Godalming's Johnson/Enton Lake is certainly the place to head to if you want a massive crucian but some of its off-springs that were taken a number of years back and spread around the country are now packing on the weight, so just how long will this venue be the cream of the cream? Most anglers make the most of the crucian action in
spring, yet this known four-pounder came late in the season, September I think when over a two week period it went mad.
Image 13 – Another picture of my mate Chris, this time returning a mid twenty pound grass carp, again from Badshot Lea Big Pond during a catfish session. These fish turn up regularly whilst offering two massive pellets on 45lb quick-silver hooklinks and size 2 hooks. Who said scaling down bought more bites!
Image 14 – Frensham in summer and thoughts this time are onLewis landing a 2lb plus rudd, which he did. Once again the venue produces another moody, thoughtful image that shows it off in all its glory.
Image 15 – When most other anglers were complaining that Frensham was fishing badly, I took a bit off a gamble whilst out with a customer. Obviously the change in tactics worked, as can be seen by John’s big smile.
Image 16 – I think you are all beginning to understand why I love this place so much and this image just goes to show that by taking a different image can often prove to be the best ones. Big rudd often come together and so they should bereturned together.
Image 17 – Why oh why can’t we fish Frensham earlier than June 16th as soon as it all kicks off the natural food increases and the small fishmake rudd fishing with anything other than boilies almost impossible. Fortunately Neil booked early and was rewarded with a number of huge rudd that he won’t forget in a hurry.
Image 18 – If you can’t beat them then join them. Again at Frensham when distance fishing bought on a whole new meaning but did the tench want to play? Sure they did.
Image 19 – I’m not sure if this image has ever been shown before but its shows a huge haul of specimen rudd taken in just few hours, my favourite species from my favourite venue.
Image 20 – The sight from peg 17 at Johnsons/Enton one early morning when I hadn’t looked at the weather forecast and arrived in what can only be described as crap conditions. The reason for not looking at the weather was I just wanted to go fishing, on my own and get away from things. Catching wasn’t that important, yet I still worked the swim and after three hours without a bite felt I was on right kicking in the nuts. Then the switch was hit and in a short feeding frenzy numerous 3lb plus crucian graced my net including a seasons best, a fish I didn’t recognise weighing 4lb 1oz.
Image 21 – Two pound roach are rare creatures and this one came from a venue that I have fished, quite extensively for a couple of decades but in all that time only ever caught one or two roach. This night twelve or more came, on a session slightly later in the year, over night and when I was specifically targeting them. Proof that certain fish can go under the radar.
Image 22 – It’s always great to be sent a photo from a customer. I first met Nick around five years ago when he booked me up for a session after carp. That session saw us land around a dozen carp using different rigs over a period of around 6 hours. He then asked about zigs. My reaction was why would a carp want a bait on its own high up in the water. Casting one out we didn’t have time to sit back after setting the bobbin before the alarm sounded. Unable to get a second rod rigged up he went on to catch more carp in an hour than we had all day. No guessing what this beauty was caught on!
Image 23 – Mathew really wanted to catch a barbel on the float so it was off to the Wye for us. After catching a few on the feeder we decided it was time to stand out in the water and send a stick downriver with the aid of a centrepin. You will never forget the first time you hook a barbel on the pin, just ask Mathew!
Image 24 – One of the few times I’ve barbel fished locally this year, but fortunately when I do I seem to extract the odd one. I like this image as it was taken by my mate Tom who certainly knows how to use a camera!
Image 25 – You have to admire some anglers and Lewis is one of those who continues to forget just how old he is and head off here there and everywhere. Here he is in Canada releasing one of the many white sturgeon he caught to around 300lb.
Image 26 – Another past customer who is now a very good friend is Alan who has been trying to catch a 2lb plus roach for a number of years. Having come agonisingly close on numerous occasions fishing his favoured Thames he took my tip-off headed to a stillwater and to date has now caught three over that magical mark. I know he dearly wants a river two, so go one mate, you’re on a roll.
Image 27 – Time for grayling and its back down to the Frome.
Image 28 – Grayling are one of those species that I was spoilt with a number of years back with two pounders being released without a photo due to their abundance whilst looking after a stretch of the Itchen. Good times come and go so after last winter’s washout it was good to be back on the Frome and first fish was this two-pounder.
Image 29 – Personal bests are rare to grace my nets nowadays so when I hooked into what I initially thought was a massive grayling my legs went to jelly. Fifteen minutes later I knew it wasn’t a grayling and thoughts were on a rogue carp, yet when this 8lb 2oz brown trout slid over the drawstring I knew another fish of a lifetime had fallen.
Image 30 – Fair play to Graeme who didn’t chicken-out when the temperatures fell to -7 overnight. Some say that grayling don’t care about the cold, oh yes they do, as although we caught plenty of fish, including a personal best for Graeme, after three extremely cold mornings the fishing was far from easy.
Image 31 – The biggest grayling that I have seen for a long time from the Itchen. Well done Barrie, let’s see you best that one soon!
Image 32 – It takes years to learn a river but once you do it takes just a few minutes to catch. Well done Tom, get out and catch a few more.
HAPPY NEW YEAR........