Friday, 25 October 2013

Product of the week - Nash Indulgence Nomad Ultra-lite Chair - RRP £88.

The other week I met an angler on the banks of the river Wye who asked if I could stop fishing on my knees, well although this will continue on what I call quick-fire mobile barbel sessions, when it comes to longer sessions targeting big river roach and perch I will in future be tacking a chair with me.
One of the main reasons for not taking a chair on such sessions in the past is just not finding one that was light enough. I exhausted myself with trying to request what I consider a chair for the roving angler with my last sponsor, one that’s not only light but has four adjustable legs and apart from getting myself of the ground, there really nothing else that a roving river angler needs. When I say four adjusting legs, I mean each leg should be able to adjust in height independently, yet just as important is that the framework containing the back and front legs need to fold down neatly to the chair as this allows steep banks to be fished, all you do is not use the back legs at all, something that many chairs classified as roving chairs don’t allow.
As you can imagine when I received a Nash Indulgence Nomad Ulta-lite chair in the post I was sceptical, yet after a quick look I have to say I was well impressed as it not only had everything I wanted but more. Comfort was one added benefit, usually something that comes at a cost in weight, yet this chair has a removable padded seat as well as a zipped back pocket that contains a carry strap. Even with these items added the chair only weighs 4kg, yet it’s the small things that sometimes make a product for me and it was the two Velcro’s straps that stop the chair opening up in transit that really made it for me. Made from aero grade aluminium this chair isn’t just light and comfy but strong so if you do indulge yourself, expect it to last many years of service.

Winge of the Week - Inadequate line-clips

One of the first things that I look at when buying or reviewing a reel is the quality of its line clip. In a day when accuracy seems to be so important between match and specimen anglers I'm amazed that many reel manufactures churn out reels with line clips that, well are just a load of rubbish. I know that most claim that the reels line clip is only their to stop the line unwinding from the spool when not in use and not for use in accuracy casting, yet isn’t it time that when very few anglers actually use it for what its designed to do and many use it as a casting accuracy aid that these manufacturers don’t look more closely to this and actually design a clip for what many like myself are using it for!
I had a nightmare with a certain manufacturers reel a couple of years back, being made to use them it soon became a frustrating experience when the line clip repeatedly let me down. It was a time when I was targeting the rudd at Frensham during the winter, often baiting up after dark and knowing that accuracy was vital in getting results, hearing the ting of the line pinging out of the clip when casting a spod and knowing that a deliverance of maggot and hemp had just overridden the mark by ten yards was just unacceptable. To say I was a happy angler when the dustbin lid was lifted and a dozen or so reels found the bottom of it is an understatement, and to this day the only reels I use are either Shimano or Diawa, two companies that pay extreme attention to detail and just wouldn’t let a reel leave the testing stage if it was unreliable.
So this is a message to all manufacturers that are advertising their reels to be brilliant, take a look at the line clip because if they are not up to scratch for the modern day angler then all you are doing is letting them and yourselves down. And to any angler that’s looking to buy a new reel, steer clear of new reels on the market, especially ones that come from a company with no track record in manufacturing them and keep to, well Shimano and Diawa, companies that take pride in what they offer.

There be perch in that river! - Weekly report starting Sat Oct 19th.

With a technical problem with my Blogger account and with the girlfriend being of very little in my world of angling was achieved over the weekend and even if I were able to head of into the wilderness on Sunday, I think the weather would have even stopped me in my tracks, it was simply horrid.
Monday came and with the feeling of barbel crawling up my rod, just like most barbel anglers I grabbed the gear and headed back to the big fish stretch of the Loddon. Unfortunately the river was fining down with lots of debris on the surface and with bright sunny sky, once on the river felt I was somewhat late in my arrival. Roving around six swims over the space of five hours not so much as a fishy tremble came my way, yet a good pike did show itself, one for the future I think! That evening I headed to my local golf course as I couldn’t resist the temptation of collecting some lobworms for a future perch exploratory trip. After some twenty minutes and with more than fifty quality lobs in the bucket I headed home.
7am Tuesday I found myself standing in a torrential rain once again on the Loddon, a different stretch with a new customer looking at being introduced to barbel fishing. What colour the river had was short lived yet it was obvious from the start that the chub were active, yet hitting chub bites at the best of times is difficult, especially on stepped up gear intended for barbel. Chris experienced a number of missed opportunities, yet finally managed to connect with one only to see the hook pull after a couple of seconds. Was it a barbel? The bite wasn’t the three foot twitch, the initial uncontrollable surge never happened and its rare for a hook pull yet what was on the other end seemed considerably big. Was it that 10lb bream? With long-tailed tits making the most of natures larder in the trees above we decided to try a few of the swims were bites had come for a second time and finally Chris made contact with a chub which pulled the scales round to 4lb 8oz a new personal best. I stuck the rod through some trees and within seconds had a modest chub in the net, proof that sometimes you have to go directly to them and a good lesson for Chris in the future. The weather had somewhat improved by early afternoon and after a spot of lunch we headed downstream with a couple of barbel swims in mind. The first swim failed to produce but the second produced the frustrating pulls and releases of chub and with the clock ticking Chris tried a 50/50 strike at one of them but on this occasion the chub won.
Being the main speaker at The Barbel Societies Berkshire meeting I thought it best to find a few images for a slideshow Wednesday morning. It’s the second time I have been asked by Pete Reading to attend and thought that it was only fair to talk about the Loddon and the Kennet as the member’s could relate to these. Everything went to plan and it was very well attended with a few friends attending, I even came fifth in the raffle, yet with the prize being a Nash rod protector declined the offering.
The following day was spent making up rigs for customers, updating diary entries, placing bait and tackle orders, solving my Blogger account issues, compiling Hot Seat answers for CAT along with getting the tackle ready for the next couple of days which consisted of crucian carp, barbel and perch gear. That evening I teamed up with fellow Nash man Chris Petter for a spot of after dark crucian fishing. Apart from the moon everything looked as if it had the making of a red-letter session yet apart from a lost crucian at dusk all I could record was one small tench. Chris faired better with two tench and a personal best crucian weighing 3lb 4oz, yet come 9pm it was obvious they weren’t having it.
I’d designated all day Friday to a days fishing for myself. A few customers had shown an interest in perch so armed with the lobworms collected earlier in the week I headed to a local water with a realistic target, a two-pounder set. Having quite a late night and restless sleep I didn’t arrive that early, 9.30am to be precise, yet I rarely have breakfast before leaving home, so this morning I decided to look after myself somewhat better. I was quite surprised to see a muntjac deer grazing and as expected anglers were already on the river, yet it was somewhat refreshing knowing I was doing something different. I did have a barbel rod with me and tried a couple of swim but knowing others might have tested the swims earlier felt somewhat on the back foot. One of the swims tried with pellet unusually showed no signs yet when I dropped a wriggling lobworm in it things were different. The tip soon pulled round yet the desired head shaking failed to materialise and with a powerful fish trying to get under the bank I knew it was a chub, yet this one got the better of me, rolled on a snag and shed the hook. Uncomfortable with others around I headed to another stretch, tried a couple of swims for barbel before changing back to the worm. Straight away swims that were somewhat dead came alive and a couple of chub, both weighing 4lb 8oz graced my net, yet it was the last swim that topped the day, as after dropping a lobworm tight to a raft the tip rattled and a swift strike saw what I had come for surface, a perch. Although far from the biggest I have ever landed, it was what I had set out for and weighing 2lb 6oz I smiled as once you have found one, well there’s more around!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Itchen to get at the Ladies - Weekly report starting October 12th

I had to smile the other day when someone mentioned what an easy and profitable job wedding photography was. He seemed to think that I simply turned up on the day, shot a few images then simply downloaded, burn to a disc before sending to the couple. Well apart from two pre-wedding appointments, visiting the venues and meeting both the vicar and wedding planner at the venue, yes I do turn up and take a few photos, usually around a thousand! These then have to be viewed one by one, which takes around two days, before backing up and converting into greyscale which takes another day. When I say a day, I mean around ten hours. So all in all a digital wedding package takes up a week or so, if it’s an album package, add another day. After all this hard, time consuming work I make around the same as what I do when guiding an angler to the fish of their dreams. It’s really a no-brainer why I don’t want more than a dozen weddings each year, I just don’t have the time and anyone that thinks it’s an easy, stress free job, well think again. Time to put my prices up I think! The reason for mentioning this is that September was a busy month for weddings and when I looked at my fishing records I was shocked that I personally only had a bait in the water for seventeen hours! Luckily these few hours were well used and I caught a few good fish, but now the wedding work is all but out of the way for this year and I have no more weeks away on the river Wye I can finally start designating more time to what I love doing, angling.
Back to this week now.
Most of the weekend was lost due to the above reasons, which wasn’t as brain taxing as usual as the weather was simply horrid, yet come Monday I found myself meeting two regulars that travel down from Oxford each year for a couple of days fishing. Last year I helped Craig catch a 12lb barbel and the year before Dave a ten-pounder, yet this year we had decided to do something different. Meeting outside the hotel in Four Marks in the early hours we headed to Eastleigh, The Lower Itchen Fishery our destination. Nether of the guys had ever caught a Grayling so as the light illuminated the countryside we made our way up along side the river to the first angling hut passing numerous Small Grebes that seem to thrive on this waterway. Clayton the river keeper had pointed us in this direction and after a brief explanation of how a centrepin works, feeding and mending the line Dave was trotting a stick float through a steady long run. Craig was using a close faced reel and also trotting and within minutes both had caught a couple of personal bests in the shape of Grayling and Salmon Par. Every swim produced fish, mainly Grayling up to around a pound four, plus Salmon Par, Brown and Sea Trout. At times the fishing was easy with Grayling hitting the loosefeed like mini Sailfish and after a morning of non-stop action we decided to head downstream in the hope of a big roach.
We tried under the motorway bridge yet with Grayling and trout intercepting the maggots instantly decided to try below the main weir. Feeding a few maggots into the fast water we watched as numerous different species readily accepted these, and deep below saw a few dark shapes that turned out to be big bream and possibly a barbel. Dave was soon trotting again, yet with small fish intercepting the bait quickly headed downstream where after feeding the swim took a couple of good Chub plus a few small Roach which really was the icing on the cake for him. Craig tried the feeder and again caught steadily with Chub, Perch and the pesky Minnow showing as well as being broken by something slightly bigger and whilst he took a pee, I cast out his feeder and dropped a Roach well over the pound into the net.
Well need I say more, if you fancy a day with a difference then The Lower Itchen Fishery is certainly the place and if you need a guide, well you know where I am (
The following day we were going to go to the Kennet at Aldermaston, yet with its recent form somewhat light on the ground and an influx of cold water overnight decided to head back to the Loddon. I wish I could say that the river lived up to expectations, yet after the two guys roved around more than twenty swims, all they could show for their efforts were three modest Chub and the same amount of Signal Crayfish as well as watching a Mink on the far bank.
Wednesday dawned wet and although I had made plans with my Dad to fish, we put this off till the following afternoon which gave me enough time to complete the last of the wedding images and deliver to the couple before they returned from their honeymoon.
With the weather far more comfortable come Thursday afternoon we headed to Enton with Crucians and Roach on our mind, yet before leaving had forgotten to look at the conditions in closer detail. It was obvious after an hour that the lake was dead, well fish movement wise; however bankside it was busy as the kids had an extra day on the bank due to the teachers strike. We couldn’t reason why things were so quite yet as the afternoon progressed something raised its ugly face, the moon! Yep it was full and I remember the month before struggling to catch and coupled with a variable wind as well as the influx of cold water earlier in the week we all struggled. The standard crucian rig failed to catch yet the maggot helicopter rig did at least produce a tench and around a dozen rudd, yet with out target species not showing come 9pm we were heading home.
Friday morning I was joining up with young Jake who has just joined the Nash crew and having not seen him for a while due to important exams and joining college we had plenty to talk about, especially ideas for forthcoming articles. We were hoping to fish for perch but on inspecting my lobworms before leaving and finding them dead had to quickly reassess things and head to the river in the hope of a barbel, however once again the river fished hard and after covering seven of the best swims had to console ourselves with another modest chub.
Having plenty of things to do before the weekend and with Jake wanting to get through a pile of homework we threw in the towel slightly earlier than expected.
Having everything of my mind I’m now looking for a few good weeks, lets just hope my efforts are rewarded?

Friday, 11 October 2013

The Pellet/Groundbait Lead - Part 3

Duncan Charman – The Thinking Angler.

If you have read part 1&2 of my articles on the Pellet/Groundbait Lead then I’m hoping that although you may be reluctant to get rid of the PVA, Method feeders and boilies, when you approach each future session you look at what’s in front of you and only use these items when necessary, instead of reaching for them out of habit. By the amount of emails I have received congratulating me on part 1&2 and how I have got some anglers brains working, they must be working.
I might be wrong here, but I get the general rule of thumb that when carp fishing, anglers believe they need to get a bed of bait down, then offer something over the top that stands out like a bright yellow highly flavoured pop up, as this is what the carp will home in on first. Well if that’s the case why lay the table first, if it’s the pop-up they see and want first then why waste money giving them seconds! A bright coloured pop-up catches fish, it’s a tried and tested recipe for success but casting one to a carp that’s just head-and-shouldered to the side of you will probably get just as good, if not better results. My thoughts on carp fishing in general, is that if I’ve just placed a kilo of 14mm Nash Monster Squid boilies into my swim, why on earth would I want to offer anything different over the top. In fact who’s to say that when my rod rips of on the ‘in-your-face’ presentation, it’s not the last to be taken! I have always worked on the theory that when my double maggot hookbait impaled on a size 16 has produced a bite over a handful of completely freefalling natural ones then, it’s probably the last to be taken, time to introduce more! Another thought is why would I use a white maggot on the hook if I was feeding reds? Generally I wouldn’t, I’d be using reds. What I have always tried to do is match my hookbait with the feed, however when this is attached to a hook it decides to work completely different to the rest, so more thought on presenting your hookbait as naturally as possible over your freebies will without a doubt catch you more fish. How we go about neutralizing the weight of the hook or making it look and act the same on the hair as those around it comes with experimentation, but when carp fishing using exactly the same hookbait as what you are feeding is the perfect starting point.
I’m going to start this paragraph as I finished the last, the perfect starting point. What this simply means is think about what you are introducing into your swim and what you are using as bait. When fishing for barbel or carp, if I’m introducing pellet around my hookbait, it’s a sure fact that it will be pellet on the hook and the same goes for boilies. From this starting point we can then progress into introducing loose feed that may differ from our hookbait, as this will attract other species that will in turn increase the chances of catching our chosen quarry. To name a couple of instances is the introduction of hemp and dead maggots at Frensham whilst targeting rudd. Tench love hemp and whilst feeding on this will send maggots up into the water. If you have a couple of maggots presented two inches above the bottom, well it’s right in the eyesight of what you’re after! Fishing for big perch also shows the need to think laterally. Loose feeding maggots will attract small fish into your swim, small fish attract perch and placed below is a big juicy worm or prawn.
By the time this article is published it will be bang in time for anglers with crucian carp on there mind. Probably not good for me as many will be trying out this new tactic on Godalming’s Harris and Johnson’s come early spring (Actually it was published at this time, yet almost every angler was still using what’s considered the best tactic, the flat-bed feeder. Sorry guys you missed an edge here!), however before revealing all; let’s take a quick look at barbel and bream.
Barbel - The ‘Pellet-lead’ is simply a variety of different sized scolded pellets, including the odd hook bait sized freebie, compressed around a lead. Slightly contradicting what I have mentioned before, as this is one of the few times when loose feed size to hookbait varies, however I’m still using pellet on the hook. This is simply dropped into likely looking areas along a river with a pellet, usually an 11mm or 13mm on the hair. The advantage of this is that the pellets around the lead break up and settle mostly above the hookbait which is often picked up within minutes of settling. It’s a quick fire approach where the angler goes in search of his fish, instead of waiting for them to come to him. It’s a fantastic daylight approach on small rivers like the Loddon and Kennet where big fish are few and far between. If you take this method onto, let’s say the Wye, I’d love to hear of your results.

Crucian Carp – The ‘Groundbait-lead’. The days of delicately pole floats in the margins have all but gone. Bring on the scaled-down bolt-rigs. Don’t get me wrong, if I could catch twenty plus specimen crucians on the float in a night then I would, yet have I ever done this, no. Have I achieved this using bolt-rigs, oh yes, on numerous occasions and surpassed this number by a huge margin. Before progressing, can I just classify what a crucian bolt-rig consists off? Rods are 1.25lb T/C, reels are loaded with 6lb Gardner HydroFlo and the heaviest weight I have ever used is 1.1oz! The lead is buffeted by a Quick-change bead and although free-running on the mainline a couple of float stops are positioned one inch above to create the bolt affect. The float stops above the lead is in my mind the most influential part of this rig. Hooklinks are just 4inches and created from Grand-Match Fluorocarbon in a strain of 4.84lb with a size 16 Drennan Super-Specialist completing the set up tied knotless-knot style. Nine times out of ten the smallest grain of corn is mounted on the hair, yet on the odd occasion when this fails a Nash 6mm or 8mm Squidgee pellet is the next best option. Groundbait around the lead has to be fine and I now use Old Ghost Green Alga. Its important to mix this a couple of hours before leaving home, then sieved (again very important) just before using it and the end texture should be just firm enough to be compressed around the lead. Apart from pre-spawning, crucians are rarely found far from the margins so this tactic involves holding the ‘groundbait-lead’ next to the reel and simply swinging it out. This may seem simple, yet swinging a 1oz loaded lead out to its furthest point on a tight line, then releasing it on a limp line is easier said than done. Get the consistency wrong and your bait will be all over the place! Once the groundbait-lead has hit bottom do not pull the lead away from the pile of groundbait. Simply tighten the line up against this, place the hanger on the line and wait for them to alert you to a bite. I like to use a tight line (once again going against the trendy at the moment popular slack lines) from rod tip to lead and if possible try and position the rod tips under the water and as close to the bottom as possible. When the crucians arrive you will receive loads of bleeps as they rummage through the groundbait. Resist these until the hanger starts dancing and don’t be surprised if line is taken from the baitrunner. When a bite develops, do not strike, the hook is already firmly in the crucians lip, just lift the rod gently and play the fish with kid-gloves into the net. If you are getting lots of bleeps and aborted runs then change your hooklink, it might look perfect but obviously its not. If the rig is working correctly, more often than not the hook will be bang in the centre of the crucians bottom lip.
Try to avoid loading the ‘groundbait-lead’ with freebies, as crucians are clever and they will be able to tell a 6mm free pellet to a 6mm pellet with a hook attached. When crucians arrive in my swim, I can almost visualise them getting frustrated as they shift around in the fine groundbait looking for something substantial. When they come across the small piece of corn or pellet it’s almost a relief that they have found something to get their teeth into, hence how effective this method is.
It’s also amazing just how quickly after a recast a bite will come. Just like using the ‘pellet-lead’ on a well stocked carp lake, if you don’t get a bite quickly then the chances are you will be fishing a single hookbait and it’s the same with the ‘groundbait-lead’. This ball of bait will only be effective, or working to its fullest potential for a certain amount of time before it looses its appeal and an angler has to judge just when this is. I will almost always recast the ‘groundbait-lead’ every fifteen minutes, even if the fish haven’t arrived. Once they arrive, believe me, you will be casting far sooner!
A word of warning when using this rig. It’s extremely effective for tench and king carp. Take it to a commercial such as Gold Valley Lakes and you will be catching big carp all day. Use it on Godalming’s Harris, once famed for its monster crucians and you may have to move swims as the tench, and often big tench, in excess of seven pounds will bombard your swim making targeting crucians almost impossible.
The difficult point to crucian fishing is location. Crucians will give themselves away at dusk, sometimes a couple of hours into darkness, so you need to get to know the venue in order to find them and get the best from it. Crucians are relatively predictable and if you have a good night in a swim, then your probably find them in the same place the following night. They are however quite temperamental and although they maybe in the swim, if the wind changes from a west to an east they maybe far harder to tempt.

Well that’s about it in this mini series. Plenty to get the brain working overtime and a few new tactics to take to your local venue that will certainly get your indicators moving.

Ideas for Christmas

Christmas is Coming!
Sorry I know its only October yet lm sure the wife or girlfriend has dropped a couple of feelers trying to find out what you want for Christmas? Well if you are like me and stumped for ideas why not mention buying ‘A day with Duncan’ Voucher to her. You can then use this for whatever takes your fancy, be it barbel fishing on the Wye or Loddon, Grayling fishing on the Itchen or a more leisurly night spent under the stars targeting Frenshams Rudd?

I had a customer this week who’s son bought him a voucher and he returned with a personal best barbel and chub. Now I cant guarantee such a result for everyone, yet I will try my best when we are out.
Another idea, especially for Farnham Angling members or sprcialist all-rounders is my book which covers over four decades of targeting and catching big fish. Although lve been told it’s a good read from many, being a photographer I wanted to create something that was also appealing to the eye so included all the best images from my exploits. If you buy or receive either then im sure you wont be disappointed. 

Anglers Mail - Action Replay

This week: How to approach Grass Carp on particles.

Peter Hooper uses big beds of particles to catch big Grass Carp.

When targeting Grass Carp theirs no skimping on bait as Peter displays and the only way to deliver this is via a bait boat.
Peter Hooper is treasurer of Farnham Angling Society and has been fine tuning his preferred particle approach over many years to catch literally hundreds of specimen grass carp. Ignoring the unselective and convenient boilie and pellet approach that most anglers use on the venue, Peter’s session starts more than forty-eight hours before leaving home as this is when he starts to prepare the vast quantities of bait needed for an overnight session, something that most anglers just cant be bothered with.
Targeting Badshot Lea Big Pond, well known for its big cats and bream shoals Peter has spent countless hours trying to reduce interference from unwanted species and has finally achieved a catch by design technique that he feels just cant be bettered. ‘Going in on a little and often basis just wont produce the goods, Grass Carp love heaps of food and that’s exactly what I’m going to give them today’, he remarks.

Anglers Mail Rating: Will the far from ideal conditions beat a local expert’s knowledge?

Arriving mid morning, Peter already has an idea of where he wants to head as grass carp aren’t like most fish that follow the wind, preferring to stay well out in the centre of the lake. Heading for a swim halfway down the railway bank the first job is to send out the bait boat equipped with feature finder to get a feel for the typography of the swim in front of him. ‘I’m looking for a channel that is 5ft deep which has produced for me before, its just short of halfway across and fortunately the anglers opposite aren’t casting far out so I’m not going to interfere with them,’ he comments. The viewfinder soon has the mark noted and immediately shows a fish symbol, not necessarily a fish, but a real confidence boost.

Peter’s rig is certainly not subtle which is surprising as the conditions are bright with an easterly wind and atmospherics of 1030mb which would see most anglers scaling down to buy a bite. Consisting of 20lb fluorocarbon mainline, three-feet of ESP Anchor Tubing, 2oz inline lead, 15lb Nash Missing Link hooklink and a size 10 Gardner Continental Boilie hook tied knotless knot there’s nothing written about buying a bite in this script!
‘There’s no reason to scale down when using a bait boat and lots of particles, as most of the particles will fall onto the rig which drops out of the boat first, and as long as you pin everything down the rig should be very inconspicuous,’ Peter explains.

With both rods made up and ready to go its time to bait each hair. On one rod Peter places three pieces of maize, two real plus one buoyant fake piece nearest the hair stop. This has been soaked in Richworth Pineapple flavouring for added attraction and his maize has had some sugar syrup added. On his other rod he places two whole peanuts.
‘I’m not one to get stereotyped into one presentation and will always use different baits on each rod as the grass carp can switch of a bait from week to week, especially if they have been caught a few times on one specific presentation. Even if one baits producing more, I rarely change as I find on occasions a bigger, clever fish falls to the quieter rod. I also find that maize is better in the summer whilst peanuts produce in the spring,’ he remarks.

Loading the bait boat Peter’s really giving them a banquet and initially places his rig on the shelf before loading on top, hemp followed by cut maize and finally a good scope of maize. ‘I never cover my hookbait with free offerings as in the past, whilst doing this; have found the odd piece of maize to cover the hook point. I now straighten the rig out and load the shelf around the lead area. In total I would estimate that there is around a kilo and a half of bait per rod and I will leave these out for two hours before refreshing them,’ he recommends.
Having sent the boat out and dropped the rig Peter quickly places a line marker on his main line made from electrical tape, and positions this just of the reel before loading his peanut rig into the boat. This time he starts with hemp, followed by kibbled peanuts and finally a good helping of peanuts. This is sent out and after clipping on the indicators Peter starts to organise camp for the proceeding session.

An hour and fifteen passes without any indications and the lake seems to be very quiet which isn’t surprising as its beginning to get hot, then a single bleep has Peter looking at his indicator. Five minutes pass before a typical bream bite sees him picking up the rod and setting the hook. ‘Grass carp often give very strange bites, very similar to bream where the indicator just rises and drops yet these are grass carp so don’t ignore them, pick the rod up and strike,’ he reveals.
The bite has come on the maize rod and although the fish isn’t fighting hard Peter knows it’s a grass carp. ‘These fish are very unpredictable, some fight hard and long and others can be lead in like a dog on a lead. These are the worrying ones as often they go ballistic in the landing net,’ he comments.

Having fought hard in the margins Peter confidently rest the carp in the net before wetting his unhooking mat down and zeroing the sling to his scales. It’s not the biggest grass carp Peter’s caught but a great start to the session. ‘I reckon this one around fifteen pounds, there’s a lot this size however a thirty is a possibility’, he remarks.
Placing the fish carefully in the weigh sling Peter takes the weight and is shocked that the scales swing round to 17lb 3oz. ‘Well that goes to show its been a while since I have targeted these’, he jokes.

With the fish safety returned Peter places fresh grains of maize onto his hair, carefully places his rig into the boat before loading this once again with a good helping of particles. ‘Just like casting, I have to take the boat out in line with a far bank marker, in this case its straight towards the anglers in peg 23 and as soon as I see the taped marker leave the spool and reach the end of the rod I stop the boat and drop everything. Its coming up to the two hour since the peanut rods was sent out so I think its time I refreshed this one as its obvious the grass carp are feeding’, he remarks.

Amazingly it only takes five minutes for the indicator of the maize rod to start dancing again and once again Peter finds himself playing another grass carp. ‘This one doesn’t feel as big and its one of those that’s slowly coming towards me and not fighting’, he grimaces as he know full well what’s about to happen.
In the net the grass carp goes ballistic, its around fifteen pounds but Peter keeps the fish well away from the shoreline and allows itself to tire before simply removing the hook whilst the fish is still in the net and releasing her.

After loading the boat once more and sending it on route Peter sits back, puts the kettle on before revealing a few more secrets about grass carp. ‘Grass carp love the sun, that’s why I wasn’t that concerned about catching today. They are one species that are usually obliging when everything else heads for cover. Water craft isn’t that important as they rarely follow the wind and as long as you target open water, and at distance, in this instance around seventy yards, you’re in with a chance. Loving the sun they seem to prefer feeding during daylight, not always, but generally this is without a doubt a more productive time with mornings best, before a lull in action during the afternoon, then a feeding spell from six till dusk’, he reveals.

It’s not long before an alarm starts to sing and at long last it’s the peanut rod, but will it be the big one. ‘This feels better, maybe it’s a twenty, its not doing a lot but I can tell from the sheer weight its substantially bigger than the last two fish’, he comments.
The fish kites to the right and Peter, as always drops the rod tip of the other rod under the water. Slowly he edges the grass carp closer but this ones not coming in easily and makes a couple of desperate runs before being encapsulated in the net, but is it the twenty we were hoping for?

The End Result 13:00 –
In less than three hours of having baits in the water Peter has landed three grass carp, the biggest going 20lb 8oz, yet with another twenty-four to go it’s intriguing to just what he’s capable of!
‘This isn’t unusual, if their feeding action comes quite quickly, yet after catching a few they seem to spook and become less frequent’, he comments.
Leaving him to it I call him the following day and even though he has wasted five hours fishing, having to attend a committee meeting in the adjacent scout hut his tally of fish is simply remarkable. Five further grass carp graced his net including two mid twenties along with five king carp to fifteen pound plus a unexpected twenty pound catfish that took a liking to his maize hookbait in broad daylight just after I left.
This is what can only be described as twenty first century grass carp fishing!

Ticket information – Badshot Lea Big Pond is part of the incredible array of venues offered by Farnham Angling Society. Tickets cost £86 plus a joining fee of £25 and concessions apply.

Top tips -
1. Pinning down end tackle is crucial and a simple way of securing tungsten putty to hooklinks is by moulding it around a mini float stop.
2. If your serious about particle fishing then buy your bait in bulk at an animal feed supplier, however if using peanuts make sure these are of human consumption grade; a lesser quality just isn’t acceptable.
3. All anglers targeting carp, not just grass carp, should be carrying a first aid kit and if possible apply an antiseptic solution to areas that show damage.
4. Grass carp have small hard plates just inside the mouth, not dissimilar to catfish. After capture these pads can blunt hooks so checks them after each capture. In fact, check them after every cast!
5. When playing a fish it’s a good idea to drop your other rod under the surface ensuring the baitrunner is still on as this removes the possibility of a hooked fish becoming entangled.

When using particles its paramount that all seeds, pulses and nuts are soaked for a minimum of 48 hrs. After this they need to be boiled for a further thirty minutes! This process allows moisture to penetrate them allowing them to swell up to their maximum capacity. If you don’t soak and boil them for this time, then they will swell up inside a fish’s body if eaten, often with fatal consequences. If you are thinking of using particles then start with items such as maize and hemp, more complex particles like peanuts, maples and tiger nuts need to be sourced correctly and prepared carefully. If in doubt then buy readily prepared particles for your local tackle shop.

Barbel Society - Berkshire Regional Meeting

Barbel Society
Berkshire Regional meeting
Land’s End Pub, Twyford, Reading, RG10 OUE
Wednesday 23rd October, 7.30 pm for 8.00pm start.

Duncan Charman, fishing local rivers, accomplished all-rounder
Pete Reading , Fishing the Zambezi, BS conservation work
Steve Pope BS chairman, barbel angler supreme.
Duncan’s new book, and the BS book Barbel Tales on sale.
Free entry to BS members, others £3.
Forum and raffle to end the evening.
Free entry to those joining on the night.
See BS website/blog for more detail

God l need a holiday! - Weekly report starting 5th October 13

Getting back from the river Wye early on Friday at least gave me some extra time to clean up the kit and get organised for another guiding day come Monday and although I did sneak in a few fishy related jobs over the weekend it was the girlfriend’s weekend off, so these were minimal.
Having dropped the lady off early Monday morning I headed to the river Kennet to meet up with a regular and good friend Ron Jackson. Ron had purchased a syndicate ticket earlier in the season and although it gave him great access to each swim, had failed to get the rod tip twitching in four previous outings. Today though wasn’t all about catching fish but looking at the stretch, using my watercraft to pinpoint potential swims then trying the tried and tested method ‘The pellet-lead’ in these in the hope of a bonus fish. The first swim we tried, once Ron had picked himself up after stumbling in a pothole was where two streams meet and although the first cast yielded nothing, the second did. Unfortunately I was walking the stretch at the time but when I returned Ron looked well happy with himself after landing a modest barbel. The second swim failed to produce yet the third resulted in a personal best bream weighing exactly 7lb. A couple more swims were tried before dropping into our last swim, one that looked really fishy and sure enough after half an hour the tip started to rattle in true chub, maybe bream style but the bite was missed. Both Ron and myself know why the bite was missed; let’s just say mobile phones and fishing don’t always go together!
Back at home I was hoping to get a few things sorted like getting my weekly blog uploaded, yet this never happened as my time was taken trying to find time over the next couple of weeks to accommodate more anglers wishing to fish the Wye. I’d love to say I succeeded but looking at the diary I have very little time and not wanting to cancel any pre-made arrangements just couldn’t fit these requests in. It’s good to be busy but sometimes I just would love to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Tuesday I finally managed to upload ‘The Wye Experience’ as well as finding time to play nine holes of golf very badly with my mum. I might be busy but we should all find time for family, if we cant then, well what’s the point!
With the weather forecasted to see a dramatic drop in temperature over the next few days I almost grabbed the barbel kit and joined Chris on the banks of the Loddon, yet more important things got the better of this and I ended up tapping away on the computer. Unfortunately the call never came from Chris and I feared another blank, yet like me, if you’re after a massive fish then you just have to keep you’re chin up and forget these.
Wednesday I met a new customer Tim, who’s son had bought him a days guiding with me as a Christmas present. We had purposely held back on going to the Loddon as I told Tim that September and October where the best months for barbel. We couldn’t have timed it better as the following night the mild spell was to end with chilling north east winds forecasted for Thursday and temperatures dropping some ten degrees. Arriving at the river we found one angler on the river and as expected saw him snuggled up in the best swim. Fortunately he was one of my regulars so we were able to work around each other. The first two swims only produced the odd knock yet with Mark having vacated the good swim we tried our luck and within a few minutes the tip pulled round which saw a personal best chub of 4lb 14oz landed. Heading downstream and having no further success in a couple of swims we dropped into a swim that now and again produces a barbel, however never a big fish. Tim was by now moulding the pellet round the lead and lowering this into the river and as we chatted I noticed the rod fly round. To be honest we were getting on so well and having a good chat that the standard forty minutes was well gone when the bite came, another lesson learnt maybe and after a nerve whacking few minutes that saw the barbel heading upstream and burying itself in a weed bed Tim finally got it moving and when she surfaced I slipped the net underneath. Weighing 10lb 6oz it was another personal best and a surprise to see this swim produce a double. A few more swims were covered before moving to another stretch and after dodging the Pheasants and Partridges in the road on route soon had a bait positioned in a productive swim. Some fifteen minutes past before once more Tim found himself attached to another barbel, however she was ‘the one that got away’ as they say, as after a long first run went through a snag. No more action came, yet with another double caught for a customer, I had the urge to go myself and with the tackle all sorted set the alarm early the following day.
Heading for a much harder stretch and with a few swims on my mind I spent the standard forty minutes in each. The first, the banker swim bought one hand trembling moment and after three more failed to show any signs I decided to call it a day, or should that be morning. The previous night saw temperatures dropping to five degrees and with a strong cold north east wind felt I was on the back foot, yet on passing a swim I felt the urge to cast out. Five minutes later I found myself slipping the net underneath a big barbel, one that weighed 12lb 2oz and unfortunately was the same one caught around half a mile downstream, last month. I was beginning to think that they had moved; now I know.
Back at home it was a case of spending a couple of hours returning emails, downloading images, updating diary entries etc before sorting out the crucian kit for a couple of hours into dark with crucians on our minds. I knew it was never going to be easy, what with the drop in temperature, but more importantly the change in wind which was now strong and coming from the north-east. Chris joined me and come 5.30pm the rods were out, however with just three anglers on and the one I spoke to in the car park having blanked I wasn’t expecting fireworks. A small tench gave us hope early on, yet it was obvious things weren’t going to happen, yet I did still manage a couple of two pounders and a small common so it wasn’t all doom and gloom.
The last few days I been feeling a bit under the weather and really shouldn’t have pushed myself so hard on Thursday and as a result seem to have picked up a cold so as for Friday it’s a day in the office working my way through a thousand or so wedding images that need to be sorted by next weekend, joy!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Another week on the Wye - Weekly report starting Saturday September 28

Having a wedding shoot on Saturday plus a week on the Wye as from Monday things were somewhat hectic over the weekend, yet come 4am on Monday I found myself, once again heading to Herefordshire.

Day One
The journey up was good and I arrived a little earlier than planned which allowed me to have a quick look at the river before greeting my guests for the day, Chris Brimble and father and son duo Barry and Rodger. 

I gave the anglers a quick demonstration and caught a barbel straight away which not only surprised the anglers but filled them with confidence for the coming day. Knowing that a swim upstream had been fishing well I decided to place Chris there as he had never caught a barbel whilst Barry and Rodger dropped into the ever reliable swim at the downstream boundary. The weather was looking good with mild temperatures and cloud cover and first cast Chris found himself locked in battle with a Wye barbel. Chris fished the swim till early afternoon and managed three more, all good fish with the biggest going 8lb 1oz. 

My other two customers were also catching, yet the boundary swim isn’t easy fishing and needs not only a long cast of some forty-five yards but also an accurate one. If your short or to far right then you probably wont get a bite, however if you stick it in the right spot then a bite comes almost instantly. By early afternoon nine fish had graced their nets, again with a good average size of barbel to a best of 8lb 8oz. Things always go quiet in the afternoon and after swapping the anglers around Chris managed just one more barbel and come 5pm left having had a great experience and a few personal bests to his name. Barry and Rodger found the upper reaches somewhat difficult and when I left them at 6pm they hadn’t had another bite, yet with a total of fourteen barbel for the day along with a couple of chub it had to be considered a result, especially when other anglers were reporting blanks from the Wye and Usk beat upstream. During the day House Martins and Kingfishers could be seen around the fishery.

The Wye Experience - Day Two

Tuesday dawned in similar fashion, humid and dull, great for fishing and with just one customer to look after, Lewis Deeks we managed to drop into both productive swims. 
The swim upstream was slowly improving, probably due to the amount of bait going in and although the size of fish was smaller than the previous day, Lewis took seven barbel from it before it went quiet. 
It was time to drop down to the bottom swim and come 6pm Lewis had taken a further eight barbel bringing his total to fifteen for the day!
We were hoping to get into the river and do some float fishing but although getting in was easy enough, getting out was a different story, however we did have a few casts from the bank and after reading how Dave Harrell backwinds tried this only to have my arm ripped of by a barbel in doing so. 
Lewis stayed at The Falcon B&B where the owner keeps some amazing birds including a pair of Great Grey Owl’s, we also saw during the day a few docile Hornets, not something you want to be stung by!