Saturday, 27 October 2012

Big Barbel and Book Launch

Many will be aware that for the last year l have been dedicated much of my time to writing a book. Well, whilst roving around the river, searching for big barbel on Thursday l received the call informing me that the final colour proofs had been delivered that morning. I had roved the river for nearly seven hours without the slightest sign of life, yet a swim that used to produce lots of fish drew me too it. After a quick lead around l was surprised to find it relatively clear, more often than not getting a solid thud as the lead hit clean gravel. This was a result in its own and although this commotion may well have spooked anything within l still had to drop ‘the pellet-lead’ in for half an hour. With itchy feet, as l knew l had a serious job of proofing to do, l watched the tip and after twenty minutes l was sure l noticed something fishy but wasn’t completely convinced. Then two sharp taps revealed that the swim once again held fish, and although l left before the tip pulled round, l had a feeling that this sign would repay me very soon.
Back at home l collected the proofs and started the tireless job of running my eye over the proofs; however it was more a case of careful proofing. This job took the whole of Friday; a total of sixteen hours and l finally signed the final chapter of in the early hours of Saturday. Well there’s no more l can do but sit back and leave this to the publishing company (Calm Productions) to press the button an get it ready, hopefully for a launch at the Carp Society Show at Sandown Park on the weekend of the 1st and 2nd of December. There will also be a book signing open day at Yateley Angling Centre which has been pencilled in for Saturday December 15th.
As long as everything goes to plan these dates should be good, yet l will keep you informed over the next couple of weeks and confirm these in more details as soon as l have had the thumbs up.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Unseasonable weather

The past weeks weather has been unseasonably warm and just last night l was packing up at 11pm after a zander session at Old Bury Hill in temperatures reaching the mid teens! Some may think that this weather is great for angling but in my mind, its rubbish, as whatever species you are targeting can feed literally when it wants too, throughout a 24hr period and if you just happen to be angling when the switch is hit, great, but for most, were probably nowhere near the waters edge. Consistent white cloud is never good and although some may think that the atmospherics are good, well, their not, around 25 millibars higher than what l would consider ideal.
Last week l tried for crucian carp, fishing the same area as last October. Then we were often catching a dozen of them, many of which were high three’s but this year its different as these seem to be spread out all over the lake, not yet shoaled up, and getting more than one in an evening is good.
The zander at Old Bury Hill also have yet to shoal and most anglers are catching the odd fish, yet big hits are few and far between as are big fish. My latest session was guiding a regular who catches his fair share of fish. We have an understanding that l can fish whilst guiding and not for the first time my results were somewhat lagging behind his. Starting along the grass bank we both had caught three zeds come darkness, yet as the head torches were needed the action ceased. Come 7.30pm Martin asked what l would do if l was on my own and l replied move, so we did. My thoughts are that its so easy to stay put, yet even if l do move and still go home with little to show for my efforts, l still have the comforting thought that, at least l tried. Twenty minutes after the decision was made we were settled half way up the long bank and just ten minutes after casting out Martin got a run. The swims we were fishing were the same as last week, so it was the third time in them. On the first two occasions l had noticed that most runs were coming in one particular swim, so had put Martin in this. Three more runs came Martins way by 11pm but for me fishing identical rigs and bait just a few yards away bought just two bleeps. This just goes to show that although most swims look and feel almost identical, some do hold something that the fish like.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Dates going quickly!

Earlier in the week when l returned home from Old Bury Hill after a successful zander trip with my father and brother, l reflected on the October before and remember just how manic these sessions were. Often it was difficult to get two rods in the water, yet our first session this season, although steady was far from manic.
It had to be an off night, one when the clear sky stopped them from going mad or was it that the sprats were just not as good as the sardine?
Eager to get back, l grabbed the already made up tackle, along with some frozen down sardines and headed back. The weather was perfect, too perfect in fact with a south easterly wind gently pushing into the swims midway along the long bank. The atmospherics were also good, around a thousand millibars and as for the temperature; well it was almost tee-shirt weather. The best factor thou was the heavy cloud cover and with rain forecasted for around ten my intension was to fish as hard as l could until this arrived.
Arriving at 4pm l dropped into a swim that has a knack of producing a few big fish and cast two sardine sections out at around twenty yards. A few small fish and the odd carp moved which lifted my confidence and after ten minutes the light bobbin on the right hand rod slowly headed skywards. A firm strike and a heavy head shake created a feeling of satisfaction, however the desired species, zander, failed to surface, instead it was an over enthusiastic bream. It wasn’t long before the same rod was away and this time it was from my desired species, one around five pounds.
If l have one rod producing then l will cast the inactive rod after each capture, as this often produces a run, yet tonight, even after trying this, it was the same rod that kept springing into life. Amazingly nine more zander came to this rod, before the left hand rod eventually signalled a bite, however as soon as l lifted into the fish l knew it was far bigger than the others that were mainly in the five to seven pound bracket. If anyone hasn’t fished for zander using 1.5lb rods then l prompt them to try as hair-rigging and playing big fish on such balanced tackle is a joy and the way this fish was taking line and staying deep l have to say felt as good as it gets. A few anxious headshakes just out of reach of the waiting net created some nerves but eventually in she went and as l looked down l thought that l might have my first double of the season; however the scales dropped slightly short at 9lb 7oz. One more zander came before the skies opened and the rain descended, yet this did little to dampen my spirits as twelve zeds and a bream in around five hours is some going.

As with the majority of fishing, as the winter sets in the zander fishing toughens up. Autumn (Oct and Nov) is by far the most productive months, with the last two weeks of the season, March, not far behind. If you fancy an after dark session for zander then you need to get in touch soon as this week l have taken six bookings and with dates limited and maybe things changing in the future, you might just miss out.

Call me on 07928 617006 or email me –      

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Predator season of to a flying start

 As soon as October arrives my thoughts turn to Zander at Old Bury Hill. These fish seem to be well up for it, making the most of the new influx of freely available food from us anglers as well as knowing they need to build up their reserves before the winter arrives.
My first outing was delayed due to a week on the river Wye where over fifty barbel were taken by my customers, not quite as good as Septembers tally, but the average size of the fish was noticeable bigger.
My dad and brother jumped at the chance of joining me as they knew that they had the privilege of angling for a few hours into darkness. Arriving at 4pm we headed up the long bank, an area that produces not just big fish but plenty of them in the autumn.
Although l had managed to get some sardines on route, they weren’t frozen (it’s a long story, but dad was on bait buying duties and had bought sprats not sardine) so l decided to keep these for a later session, using a bait that although productive, does seem to have its good and bad day compared to sardine that’s always good. It wasn’t long before the rods were out and straight away the bleeps, lifts and falls of the indicator arrived, however it took some time for the first positive bite to arrive and it was to dad. You don’t need heavy powerful rods with zander, 1.5lb T/C rods are more than enough and put a big zander on balanced tackle like this and it’s a joy. Weighing 7lb 7oz it was a great start. From then on it was steady action all the way and come 9pm when we called it a day dad had given us a right stuffing. Kevin had also taken his fair share, along with the biggest which went 9lb 6oz however for me l had the torment of being called the ‘pest controller’ for the night with zeds to around 5lb.
I’m going to be keeping a close eye on the weather over the next few weeks and as soon as the atmospherics drop then l will be grabbing the opportunity to enjoy predator fishing with a difference.

If you would like to enjoy fishing this fantastic experience then l am offering guided zander days to Old Bury Hill. Just send me an email or give me, but remember as it gets colder it gets harder so the sooner the better! Mobile – 07928 617006. 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Wye adventure - week 2

Day One -

Monday morning dawned damp in the Herefordshire countryside. The river Wye was my destination for the rest of the week and soon after arriving at Sink Green Farm at 7am, l met up with Alan and Barry, my customers for the day. Barry took the banker swim in the morning with Alan roving the main river until 2pm when they would swap over. The river was up around a foot from the last time and although this made fishing the salmon croy a non starter, most of the other swims seemed far more accessible. It was also carrying some colour from the weekend’s rain, not a bad thing. Roving around the second field Alan found the fishing tough but still managed a couple of good barbel along with two chub. Barry was faring better in the banker swim taking three barbel plus a few chub. Swapping over at 2pm it didn’t take long to see that the banker swim was fishing far better in the afternoon as Alan found himself constantly bent into barbel and chub, the best barbel weighing 9lb 6oz. I think Barry was secretly fishing for chub as come the end of the day he had caught nine along with another barbel.

Day two –
dawned much kinder, however the river had dropped a few inches overnight and the colour had almost gone, the water temperature was also dropping which was a worrying factor. Nick took the banker swim and was soon into barbel as was Andy who was on the main river, yet after a couple of early barbel each the action slowed. Changing over at 2pm the anglers had caught four barbel between them but it was noticeable slower with the chub failing to feed. The banker swim picked up in the afternoon and come dusk the pair had taken eight barbel between them, the best 7lb 15oz.

Day three and four –

On Wednesday l had a lie in as Adrian, my customer for the next two days wasn’t expecting to arrive till midday. This gave me some time to tidy the tackle up along with catching up on some paperwork. I gave Adrian the choice between targeting pike or barbel, and although the thought of a big river pike was tempting he took the barbel route. With other anglers on the beat we dropped into three swims, managing to catch from each which included two chub and a barbel. Adrian’s friend Andy was to join us for the following days fishing and after a big English breakfast we headed to the river, once again in rain. Andy dropped into the banker swim and took three barbel to nearly eight pounds whilst Adrian managed one from the main river. There were other anglers fishing and the news was that most were struggling so the guys weren’t to disappointed knowing that the river was just not fishing well. All week the water level and temperature had been dropping and although the swims contained fish, it seemed that they were waiting for the river condition to improve to feed. The two anglers swapped swim early afternoon, yet it was obvious that things would be tough, yet both anglers landed another barbel each before the forecasted heavy rain arrived at 5pm.  

Day five -
Thursday evening the rains arrived and although l slept through it, l knew the river was high and coloured as l could spot it from the bathroom window. The news reported that there was some serious flooding in Cornwall and my two anglers that arrived at dawn both reported plenty of standing water on the roads. Making our way to the river l was pleased to see that the river just a little higher than the previous day, yet it was the colour that worried me as obviously the river Lugg had risen and was pouring its usual red coloured water into the Wye. Steve set up in the banker swim, whilst Martin headed upstream and my worries on if the river had too much colour in was soon forgotten as both anglers found themselves bent into barbel on their first casts. Come 11am both anglers had taken around ten barbel each, mostly good fish in the seven to eight pound barrier, yet the river had risen a couple of feet by now and Martin was struggling to keep four ounces of lead in the river. We agreed that it was best for both anglers to set up for the afternoon in the banker swim, one that actually gets easier to fish in high water as it creates an eddy. The barbel had certainly gone on a feeding spree early on and although sport slowed in the afternoon the anglers still managed another four each, the best 9lb 2oz, bringing the total for the day to a staggering twenty eight.
With the week coming to an end it has to be considered another outstanding success with a staggering fifty six barbel landed. Its also a typical example of just how different two days can be, and l feel for Adrian who unfortunately found himself on the river when the barbel were just difficult to tempt, yet he still managed a couple. I also now realise just how brilliant barbel are at finding your bait as on the last day, eyesight didn’t play one part in them locating there dinner. I for one will never be concerned at fishing a river that’s high and coloured, in fact l look forward to the next day the Loddon or Kennet is in flood.

I have already provisionally booked two weeks next year, one in September and one in October, with thoughts of another in November. The week in September will be mostly a barbel week, yet with an angler catching two twenty five pound pike on another stretch of the Wye this week and a match being won with 59lb of dace l am going to be exploring the river this winter for these species so l can offer some diversity to next years fishing.

If you are interested in spending a day, or more, exploring this fantastic river for barbel, dace or pike then get in touch now.

Here are a few words that l received from one of the anglers that joined me this week –
Hi Duncan
I just wanted to thank you for a cracking days fishing on Tuesday, my wife was so pleased when I thanked her for such as fantastic birthday present.
Having had time to reflect on it over the last few days I want to outline what was so good about the trip.
I thought that the venue that you'd secured for us was fantastic especially the fact that we had the opportunity to fish both the main flow and the banker swim. As you know from our previous Loddon trip my river fishing hasn't been that productive over the years, therefore it was great to learn how to read the main flow, and how to go about fishing the glides etc, and it was so rewarding to have a Barbel in the net within 20 mins of my first cast. Yet another thing I took away was not being frightened to move swims, and on reflection I will apply a roving style to all future fishing. The banker swim itself was a joy to fish, and although I kicked myself when that fish snagged me in front of an audience, i was chuffed to bits having listened to you and slackened right off that it swam out, and that I could actually see the line moving and feel the fish too. This is something that i've read about but never experienced myself as an angler. I've never had the confidence to use micro barbed hooks (I always use barbless), yet the above snagging incident combined with successfully unhooking all the fish I caught in the whirly pool, including one that was wedged really tight in the corner of a fish's mouth, has boosted my confidence mate.
As per my previous trip to the Loddon, it was great to be guided by someone who has amassed so much knowledge and experience, has endless patience and enthusiasm, and thoroughly puts themselves out for their customer. Even when they go and tie their own version of the Wye rig against better advice :-) 

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Perfect Ending

You may remember a blog on my website last year called ‘The Naked Guide’, well it was Craig and Dave’s once a years treat to join me for two days on the river Loddon. Last year l had given most of my time to Dave who went on to land his first ever barbel which turned out to be a double, so with the task in hand set to try and match this we headed to the river full of expectation.
Day one started in style with Dave landing a barbel of 7lb 13oz after just a few minutes, yet l had put Craig in a very difficult swim know as the ‘Jungle’ and whilst taking a few photos for Dave, he had hooked a barbel that unfortunately found a snag and shed the hook. The same swim, an hour later produced another bite for Craig yet this time a much slower barbel headed upstream only to shed the hook somehow. Craig seemed happy that he had received an adrenaline rush twice, yet as a guide l felt gutted. Returning to the swim later Craig amazingly received another bite, yet this time it came from a chub weighing 4lb 12oz, at least we were of the mark. The morning clouds dispersed and the sun came out and with this the bites seem to dry up. Apart from the odd chub bite which the guys missed, we finished the day knowing that it could have been a red-letter day, however we still with another day ahead of us.
The following day dawned bright and finding an angler within the banker barbel swim our feeling of an early result disappeared. Both anglers received signs of fish, yet the three foot twitch failed to materialise. Heading upstream for lunch the guys dropped into a productive chub swim and managed a couple of four pounders along with a smaller sample which rekindled our hopes of an afternoon catch.
Having covered the stretch we decided to head to a much harder part of the river. It was a gamble but l had a barbel swim in mind where, if Craig received a bite, it could come from a real specimen. Knowing the river Dave roved a few swims, but failed to catch, yet after a long walk Craig and myself finally found us settled within the swim. It didn’t take long for a chub to show its presence, yet Craig ignored all the taps in the hope a barbel would barge it out of the way, yet it wasn’t to be and after forty minutes a 4lb 4oz chub hooked itself. It was now make or break time and l decided to drop a few handfuls of pellet into the swim and rest it for thirty minutes. Retuning later Craig swung his rig into position and we sat back watching the tip in the hope a fish would show its presence, this it did with a liner after just five minutes. Its amazing how after watching the tip like a hawk all day, the moment you take you’re eyes of it, the bite you have been waiting for comes and it was one of these occasions again. The movement bought Craig back to his senses and managed to grab the rod that would have been river bound if not secured at the butt end by a gripper style rest. With the clutch screaming and Craig shaking the barbel headed downstream at a pace that was characteristic of a big fish and when it surfaced l knew it was what he had come for. Finally in the net l hosted her onto the mat and weighed her at 12lb 1oz before Craig secured her in the margins and l headed downstream to find Dave.
It was the perfect end to two days on this fantastic river and a fish that Craig will remember for a very long time.
Well done guys!

Craig’s tackle consisted off –
Rod – Korum Neoteric XS 12ft Multi Quiver with the 1.5lb tip added.
Reel – Korum CS3000.
Line – Gardner 10lb HydroFlo.
Hooklink – 10lb Korum Xpert Braid.
Hook – Korum Xpert Specimen size 8.
Other items of kit – 1oz lead and Korum pellet plug and Quick Change Bead.
Bait – Sonubaits Crushed and 6mm Halibuts dosed in CSL and scolded for the lead along with a 13mm Hard Pellet on the hair.