Monday, 27 May 2013

A week in paradise - Weekly report starting Sat 18th May 2013

This week was spent down in Devon at Anglers Paradise with my girlfriend, her parents as well as my parents. This was a Christmas present to them and although I knew before leaving that it wasn’t going to be my cup of tea, I hoped that both fathers would enjoy themselves.
Arriving in bright sunshine and wind of no description we hoped that the weather would continue in the same form, however we were wrong. Fortunately the rains stayed away, yet it was the chilly gusty strong north winds that we had to endure all week that dampened our spirits.
Before mentioning the fishing I have to mention the accommodation. We stayed in ‘Anglers Retreat’ and I have to say this was immaculate with everything needed to make the stay as comfortable as possible. A warm welcome on arrival and a few glasses of Zyg’s wine certainly warmed our tummies and after a quick walk around the complex we were all preparing the tackle for a start in the morning.
Heading for the float only lake we all sat in a line and caught numerous different species from golden tench to kio, yet it was a couple of big golden orfe that continuously swam in front of us that I wanted to see closer. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be as after stalking these for a while, one finally got annoyed sucked in my corn offering, only to see me strike thin air.
The following day I headed to ‘The Specimen Orfe and Golden Tench Lake’ as this was where I was going to concentrate my efforts for the week, yet I only fished the lake for a few hours as on arrival at 5am a couple of inconsiderate anglers had decided to leave their tackle in a couple of the best swims, something I didn’t take kindly too. When they did arrive in went around thirty balls of groundbait and I knew from that moment the lake was going to shut up shop and it did. Taking into consideration the quantity of fish in this lake, theirs only one to tackle this and that’s on a softly, softly basis so I decided to call it a day after just a couple of hours and leave till later in the week. Reports were that the lakes were all fishing hard, almost certainly due to the changeable weather that had now slowly started to get worse. Their was also another problem as the Tench Lake that the fathers had been looking forward to fish was closed due to an algae problem that I suspect had filtered into the other lakes and made the fish feel a little ill, especially the golden tench that had almost disappeared.
The dad’s had now decided to fish ‘The Beginners Carp Lake’ as this provided non-stop action from carp up to 12lb along with orfe and rudd. I spent a few hours during the week on ‘The East Access Lake’ and could have caught double figured carp all day but this was very popular with others who seemed to think it acceptable to leave brollies and bivies in swims overnight and all day, even when they weren’t their!
One day we headed to Anglers Elderado to fish ‘The Orfe and Tench Lake’, yet once again the tench weren’t playing ball and we all fished hard for a few hours for just the occasional small orfe. A day to Bude to keep the ladies happy midweek broke up the fishing as well as giving the Specimen Orfe Lake a rest. I had been keeping a close eye on this small intermit lake every day and had started to think that what is supposed to be in their wasn’t as the same orfe were spotted along with a grass carp and a lone black and red kio around 9lb. Undeterred I booked the lake for Thursday only to find once again I wasn’t alone, yet instead of trying to stalk the fish on the float, which would have been impossible due to the high wind, I decided to drop a small feeder as close to the island, almost in between the weed. This seemed to work as on the first day I managed eight bites, all apart from one was converted into orfe, the best a blue orfe of 4lb 4oz along with a golden of 2lb 12oz. The same tactics were employed the following day and again seven fish from nine bites were converted. Six were orfe but again the best maybe 2lb 8oz along with the grass carp that I had spotted earlier in the week. I must admit when I turned my back on the lake late that afternoon my thoughts were that I had been chasing ghosts all week.
All in all we had an enjoyable, relaxing week enjoying some home cooked food from the onsite chef as well as a few drinks in the bar. The Jack Russels kept the girls happy whilst we fished and the peacefulness of the venue has to be experienced as the air is just filled with bird song.
My final thoughts of Anglers Paradise are mixed though. The location, accommodation and friendliness of venue is second to none, and its this, and this alone that would see me returning in the future, yet don’t believe everything about the fishing that’s written in the brochure.  

Friday, 17 May 2013

A time for tench - Weekly report starting Sat 11th May 2013

Farnham Angling Society held the first Nash junior carp and catfish teach-ins over the weekend and I managed to pop down on Sunday morning and have a chat with organiser and fellow Nash consultant Dave Benton who does a fantastic job, along with his helpers at making the weekend one to remember for six lucky anglers. Whilst I was there a number of carp were caught including a personal best common to a young lad called Jack and the night before a massive 44lb catfish was landed. Places are limited so if you are interested take a look at the fixture list within the FAS permit and get your name down as quickly as possible as places are limited.
Monday morning dawned wet, yet by the time I met Alan at Court Farm Fishery the skies clouds had dispersed and we spent a few hours creating an Action Replay on catching carp in the margins. Keep an eye out in Anglers Mail as this approach is a devastating way of catching carp. By lunchtime he had caught a dozen or more carp and I headed home for lunch before heading south to the tench lake for an overnight session with angling companion Chris. The wind was howling across the lake so we tucked ourselves within a couple of sheltered swims on the south bank and prayed that the rain wouldn’t come which it didn’t. I decided to try a new approach and put a big bed of groundbait laced with particles just past a gravel bar and then drop two rods with Nash Monster Squid 10mm boilies on top as well as a corn stack, whilst Chris stayed on the spodded particle approach. Unfortunately Chris still is to get on the score sheet yet my tactic was an eye opener as four good tench came my way at regular intervals throughout the session plus a double figured bream. Amazingly the corn rod didn’t produce so as we were beginning to realise, this is, at the moment a boilie water.
I managed to get away from the tench lake before the rains arrived yet come the afternoon I had planned to meet up with my brother and dad at Godalmings Johnson’s Lake with crucians in mind. They had arrived at 10am, well before the rain, yet when I finally got to the lake at 4pm the heavens were well and truly open. Both had caught plenty of fish, Dad with a 22lb common on his crucian gear plus tench and one three pound crucian and Kevin with numerous tench along with six three pound crucians to 3lb 12oz; however things had now slowed down. Setting up next to them it only took me ten minutes to land my first crucian, one of 3lb 9oz yet unlike the skies the flood gates didn’t open. I did manage another three crucians, 2lb 15oz, 3lb 2oz and 3lb 7oz but with the wind increasing and the rain getting heavier come 9pm I threw the towel in and hurriedly made my way to the safety of the car.

Wednesday and Thursday is all about catching up and completing a couple of articles, getting up to date with emails and paperwork as well as getting everything dry before another attempt at the catfish come Thursday night.
Unfortunately the weather played a big part in the catfish session on Thursday evening as although a couple of good swims were secured the wind decided to swing from a south west to a north east overnight. It did take me by surprise and every angler was questioning why the lake was in such poor form, yet come the morning our questions had been answered. Fortunately I had already decided not to go all out on the worm approach and both myself and Mark fished one rod on this tactic along with the pellet lead and small boilie on the other and it was these rods that produced a few bream throughout the session with Mark taking a tench on the worms.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Three hours, ten 3lb plus crucians, incredible! Weekly report starting Sat 4th May 2013

 No fishing this weekend and with a bank holiday throwing my week into turmoil it looks like I might not get out fishing for myself till Thursday, however that doesn’t mean I wont be on the bank as a few guiding days are booked in.
The first was on Tuesday with my good friend Mel Smethurst. It’s been a while since we have been out, mainly due to the winter weather, yet it was time to get back on track and see if we could start knocking a few specimen fish of his list. Mel’s target is to try and catch as many species weighing 50% or more of the British record and with the silver bream on the feed at Mill Farm Fishery and his best a creditable 1lb 6oz it seemed the perfect starting point. With a cloudy day forecast we were rubbing our hands together yet when we arrived the forecasters had been premature in predicting its arrival as blue cloudless skies dominated the skies. Knowing that I had fished a tough two day session the week before I had doubts to what was going to happen, especially with the lakes motionless due to the lack of wind. Fortunately a few small silvers showed early on as well as the standard bombardment of carp and when the wind started to blow from the south hopes rose. At around 11am Mel connected with something fighting differently and when a big silver surfaced I reached out with the net and engulfed it. Weighing 2lb 8oz Mel was over the moon and with the pressure of we relaxed in the sunshine catching plenty more carp, tench and the odd quality roach, and among the small silvers that were also taken three more specimen silver graced Mel’s net, 2lb, 2lb 1oz and another monster of 2lb 10oz. What a day and with our next target, catfish on our minds, I don’t think it will be long before we join up again.

A few words from Mel…
‘Duncan, I can’t thank-you enough for a personal best that has been beaten all my personal bests.
Your guidance delivered a stunning result in far from perfect conditions.
I am still buzzing a day later as I write this.
We must get together again ASAP’

Wednesday morning was spent writing another article and compiling the images for Nash Peg One. They have got me working hard but I’m doing something I love and meeting the consultants on the bank and getting into their heads is great as it often gives me a totally different outlook on my fishing and in many cases creates edges otherwise ignored. Another really rewarding part of being a consultant for Nash and Nash Peg One is every month I receive a box of goodies containing all the new products have been developed. It’s a bit like Christmas coming early. By midday the file was on its way to Paul Garner who I’m looking forward to catching up with this Thursday. After lunch I was once again sorting kit and mixing bait for another guiding session, this time targeting crucians at Harris Lake on the Marsh Farm Complex.
Almost to the venue I realised I hadn’t packed the bedchair and sleeping bag, proof that we are all human, so after a return journey home I finally reached the venue at 5pm, only to find the far bank packed with anglers. With the rain commencing I made the decision to set up in peg 4, however just after getting sorted four anglers started to pack up so once my customer arrived at 6.30pm and after getting him placed in peg 32, I packed away the kit, headed back around the pond and set up again. I can only describe Harris Lake as the best tench runs water in the country, a crying shame to its former crucian glory and come the end of the night we must have taken more than forty between us, the best 5lb 15oz. The crucians were difficult to tempt, just because they don’t get time to find the bait and between us we took maybe a doze, the best exactly 2lb. With bream now finding there way into the lake the future doesn’t look good for the crucians and I can only see them being dramatically effected. Time will tell.

A few words from Neal…
‘Thanks once again for a thoroughly enjoyable session Duncan.
Another devastating method is added to my Angling weaponry.
Although in a hectic session the Tench far outweighed the Crucians it was a brilliant introduction to a killer method.
As always great teaching and company.
Roll on Enton’.

Thursday dawned cold and with a severe weather warning forecasted my trip to the south coast tench fishing was cancelled. The reason is that the location of the venue means it feels the full force of the wind and the makeup of the swims mean that its very difficult to secure storm poles so on edging on the side of sensibility we decided to rearrange our next visit to Monday. Paul Garner dropped in for a catch up before heading of to Marsh Farm for a crucian session, so with an evening spare I decided to meet up with him just before the full force of the gales hit. Unfortunately, or should I say fortunately, the swims where the crucians have been showing were all taken and as I passed Paul he was in need of a photograph as he had just landed a personal best crucian. Reports were that everyone was catching a few and with most over three-pound I was left to head of to another area of the lake. Tucked under an umbrella and at risk of doing a Mary Poppins I didn’t have to wait long for the baitrunner to whirl as a tench ploughed through the swim. Soon after returning this another bite came, this time from a crucian weighing 3lb 3oz. From then on it was just frantic and come 10pm, when due to not having a night ticket I packed away a further ten crucians had been obliging, nine over three pound with the best 3lb 13oz which came at the same time as a 3lb 5oz (Photos next week). In fact the weather was so bad, and with the camera getting wet every time a self take was taken, I even slipped a 3lb 7oz and 3lb 9oz crucian back without a photo. Three more tench also came, the best 7lb 14oz. What can I sat, what an incredible session.
I was looking forward to a well earned lie in but the cat had other ideas and I was up earlier than wished. I needed to get my tackle ready for an overnight catfish session at Badshot Lea and once this was completed took my mother out for a game of golf. I could have blamed the wind for my game but although the ball went straight, starting it of ten degrees left is only going to lead to a few lost balls. Lucky my short game was better than the long game. Arriving at the lake around 6pm I was left with little choice of swim and decided to head to a quieter corner of the lake with my customer Steve. Unfortunately, just like the golf, the fishing and weather was well below par and apart from a few aborted runs on the worm’s just one 6lb tench found the net. It seems that the worm tactic isn’t working this season as the bream and tench have become active before the cats, so I have promised Steve a return later in the month where we will be edging our bets with a pellet approach.  

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Dream Bream Session - Weekly report starting Sat 27th April 201

With the girlfriend on call and with the mornings free I was able to book in a couple of morning guiding sessions with one of my regulars, Ron Jackson. He wanted to try for perch on Saturday, yet knowing these have spawned and probably best left to the autumn we decided to fish perch tactics but had already accepted that we might just catch other species and that’s exactly what happened. Targeting a local day ticket water, one that holds big perch, we used simple pole float tactics with prawn as bait dropped in the margins. First three casts produced small perch, yet the forth took Ron by surprise as a powerful common ripped line of the spool with a split second of striking. The weather was raw, ranging between 4 and 5.5degrees with a chilling north east wind, yet three more carp followed to 11lb plus a tench in the five hour session.
The following morning we met at a frost covered Marsh Farm with tench on our minds. Harris Lake was our destination, however I had told Ron that the session maybe tough as the cold start and bright blue skies might just kill sport. Using the groundbait lead with corn on the hook we were pleasantly surprised as after just ten minutes the alarm sounded and a crucian weighing just over 2lb dropped in the net. The sport was then steady up till the time we left with Ron taking eleven fish in total, five tench and six crucians the best a new personal best of 2lb 4oz.
I spent the day writing the words for a Nash article on Monday, yet come 4pm I was once again heading south for an overnight tench session. The bait has been rethought slightly, with the dead maggots being replaced with more pellets as we need to get fish in our swim, whether they are tench, bream or carp. Once feeding we can then amend the feed to give us a better chance of singling the tench out. Setting up in a new swim and casting 70 yards to a deep gulley I had to wait to the early hours for the first bite but unfortunately this came from a tufted duck. Fortunately at 4am the same rod rips of and after a nerve wracking fight a 20lb 4oz mirror slides over the drawstring. Another bite at 7am which had tench written all over it was aborted but at least the ploy looks like its working.
Back at home I had to do a sequence of images and subtitles to complete the Nash article before organising the kit again for another overnight session, this time for bream, little did I know what was about to happen.
Arriving at the lake at around 5pm I found my first choice swim taken, yet after checking the weather noticed that the wind was going to swing from a southerly to an easterly, so took a risk and set up in the hope this would materialise. If it did then it would be blowing straight into my face. Setting about baiting up I deposited thirty balls of groundbait out per rod, before leaving this an hour and then casting all three rods over the top. As forecasted the lake went dead calm at 7pm before the wind started pushing into my face and I rubbed my hands together as the plan seemed to be coming together. At 8.30pm the right hand rod produces a bite and as I draw the bream over the drawstring I can see it’s a double and at exactly 12lb it’s a great start, yet an hour later the middle rod produces a bite and I can feel from the sheer weight that it’s bigger. As I watch the bream in the beam of my head torch in the deep clear margins I initially think she’s around the same size, yet when she goes in the net my jaw hits the floor as it’s far bigger. I know its close if not bigger than my best and as the dial spins on the scales it finally settles at 16lb 1oz, a dream fish if ever their was. Things then just get better as another bream of 13lb 3oz comes at 10.30 before the swim dies. At 1am and 4am I recast the rods and refresh the method balls and just as the dawn sun warms me from another freezing night another bite comes, this time from another lump weighing 13lb 5oz. Just as she goes in the net one of the other rods signals a bite and I’m thinking of a big brace shot, yet unfortunately the hook pulls. (photos next week!)
Wednesdays a bit of a blur, as although on a high I find myself rushing about getting the silver bream kit ready for a two day attempt at breaking the British record yet the session turns into a real gruller as the wind swings to the north, Thursday and Friday mornings dawn with a hard ground frost, high pressure brings cloudless skies and the fish switch of. Fishing hard all day Thursday, some nine hours all I have for my efforts are four small silvers, a few roach and a dozen carp which might sound good but at Mill Farm Fishery, a couple of dozen is considered an average day. Fridays slightly better with a dozen silvers, but they are again all small and another dozen or more carp and come early afternoon I decide to throw the towel in. As they say, if their not feeding, then you can’t catch them.
After three nights on an uncomfortable bed chair and through cold nights I’m glad and looking forward to spending the next five nights at home in a comfortable warm bed.