Sunday, 30 March 2014

Duncan's Monthly Blog - March 2014

Duncan’s monthly Blog – March 2014

Without a doubt my busiest month for a long time with my daily diary inputs showing that I have been on the bank no fewer than twenty occasions. These sessions have mostly been on stillwaters as the rivers were still high and coloured and I’m not a lover of tackling a flooded river, more for the fear of falling in than anything else. My love for flowing water has continued to disappear and this was further enforced during the last week of the season. After arriving early and managing to fish a couple of swims for forty minutes or so an angler scared the living daylight out of me in the third swim then proceeded to talk aloud and stand sky lining the swim. My confidence dropped to zero so I moved swims only moments later for another angler to arrive and drop in a swim directly below me which was around ten yards away. Having the whole of the river to choice from and with no respect for me I picked my tackle up and left, having no desire to return till the autumn. These twenty sessions totalled 120hrs and have been split between personal outings (11), guiding (6) and features (3) which is a nice balance and shows that as the weather gets better and the days longer other anglers are dusting down the tackle and getting out, hence the increase in my guiding days.
With Frensham Great Pond also closing for the traditional close season my campaign sessions have also come to a close. To be honest the rudd captures took a turn for the worse during March, proof that a constantly changing wind effects Frensham more than any other factor. I did publicise my captures within the Anglers Mail and out of respect for another anglers left it to the last minute. I also kept quiet as the last thing I wanted was for other anglers to follow suit and spoil the peace and quiet I found on the venue this season. A previous blog described this campaign but in short my brother and I landed just short of a hundred rudd over 1lb 7oz with around 50% of these being over 2lb, the best weighed 2lb 11oz. Don’t think things were easy as my only overnight session of the campaign totalled fifteen hours during which time the temperature dropped to -3.5 and my only bite came at 1.30am from a rudd weighing 2lb 2oz. Feeding periods were very short, maybe twenty minutes or so and the most rudd I caught in any one session was five!
The predator season also came to a rewarding end, not for me but a lucky customer who wanted to catch his first ever sizable zander which he did at Old Bury Hill on the final evening in style with one weighing 11lb 6oz.
In a way I’m glad that the traditional close season has kicked in as this removes loads of options and allows myself to review the coming season and start a few new campaigns. Grass carp, tench, catfish and eels will all feature over the coming months as will silver bream. Farnham Angling Societies Badshot Lea Big Pond is still in brilliant form with customers taking big bags of bream and over the next few weeks will only get better as the tench should switch on and add some variety to the fishing.
Viewers of my personal website will also see that I have now started my new series, Challenge Charman which sees me visiting either a day ticket or club venue each week. These articles are directed towards anglers just wanting to catch a few more fish and will show how I approach each session, the tactics employed and baits used. If anyone has any ideas or venues that they want me to visit then please email me duncancharman@me .com and I will try to accommodate.
One enjoyable session was with the Tight Lines crew when I visited Court Farm Fishery in Berkshire. Fishing the Specimen lake and using simple float tactics in the margins and prawn on the hook I was constantly beaten up by carp to around 14lb along with catching a early season tench plus a couple of pound plus roach.
April is in my mind the best angling month of the year so make the most of it and get out their as everything is waking up and looking for a meal.

Images –
1. Frensham in the winter is a cold place.
2. Simple float tactics fouls many carp in the spring.
3. Nash ambassador Jake with a float caught day ticket carp.
4. Martin took this carp first cast on a heli-rig intended for bream.
5. Badshot Lea Big Pond, a great place in the spring.
6. An early season tench with a taste for a prawn.
7. This perch came on a 6mm yellow pellet.
8. A cracking day ticket roach of 1lb 10oz.

New Series – Day ticket challenge – FLE Fishery.

Charman’s Challenge – FLE Fishery.

Date – Friday March 28th 2014

Venue fact file –
FLE Fishery, Greenridge Farm, Green Lane, Ampfield, Hampshire SO51 9BN.
Tickets Adult £10-00, OAP and juniors £6-00 available from onsite tackle shop. Evening and monthly membership also available and Specimen Lake available for weekend hire as from June at a cost of £50 per angler (max 4 anglers).
Stock – The Specimen Lake contains just 15 carp yet they are all over 20lb with the best over 30lb.
The four canal type lakes offer a variety of fishing. Lake 1 contains an amazing variety of fish including ide (to over 4lb), chub and tench. Lake 2 is all carp, lake 3 contains just carp as well as perch to over 3lb and lake 4 is again all carp but these are all over 7lb with the biggest a shade over 20lb.

Conditions – As bad as it gets with atmospheric pressure at 1016mb, white cloud and rain for most of the day and a cold north east wind making the maximum temperature of 9 degrees feel more like 5!

Now and again a fishery shows itself on the radar and with reports of multiple catches of 2lb plus perch in a session it just had to be investigated. It also coincided with a customer that was looking for a good perch venue so after plugging Passies and Alderwood’s postcodes into the sat-nav and finding both to be over an hours drive we agreed to head south and take the shorter route to Ampfield in Hampshire.
Alan was recovering from a nasty cold and just like myself had had a hectic week so knowing the venue didn’t open till 8am was somewhat of a relief, yet it still meant setting the alarm at 6am! Unfortunately the weather forecast wasn’t good, in fact all week we had seen an uncomfortable north east wind blow across the country and as a result catches had plummeted from the previous week. Rain was also forecasted and with a maximum temperature of just 9 degrees we both knew that it wasn’t going to be easy, yet with flasks filled and waterproofs on we continued with our plans.

Now I have caught big perch from small lakes before, yet what greeted my eyes wasn’t exactly what I had envisaged. The complex, apart from the specimen lake, is small consisting of four canal type lakes that run parallel to each other. All the lakes have well constructed platform swims, ideal for the match angler, yet I’m not a great lover when it comes to targeting big fish from platforms as the noise transmitted through these from chairs, nets and just footfall drains my confidence. The other problem is if it’s raining like today then comfortably fishing from under a brolly is difficult, so after trying it was simply a case of sitting it out in waterproofs, however sometimes the blinkers need to go on and an angler needs to focus on what’s appealing subsurface.
Alan headed for the far end of the lake, an area where the wind was pushing with myself starting at the opposite end. Our plan was to work our way to the middle if the perch failed to show. Unfortunately this plan had to be abandoned soon into the session due to another angler arriving. Alan was straight into perch, all net perch taken on the float with a big prawn on the hook. For me though, soon after taking a couple of modest perch the carp moved in and after getting beaten up on a couple of occasions and my watercraft telling me I needed to be where the ripple was I headed down towards Alan in the hope that I might find the stripy sergeant in an obliging mood.
My tactics for the day was two pronged with my main attention seeing once again a pole float fished on running line with prawn or worm on the hook with red maggot fed over the top to get the swim going. My rod was a Preston 13ft Carbonactive with a Shimano 4000 sized reel loaded with 6lb Gardner HydroFlo. On the business end a small 4x14 pole float was attached to the mainline and cocked simply using two number six and one number eight shot with a Reflo 5.14lb hooklink and Korum size 12 barbless hook completing the set up. My other rod was a simple running ledger rig using Nash 8lb Hardcore main, 5.14 Reflo hooklink with a 1oz lead running lead buffeted by a Drennan Quick Change Bead and on the hook, a size 8 Fang-Uni was either a big king prawn or a juicy lobworm.
Surprisingly it took well over thirty minutes to get my first bite and a perch around a pound graced my net; however the small tale-tale bubbles indicated that scaly creatures were beginning to grub around. A few more net perch followed but only after dropping down hook size and fishing double maggot on the hook. Alan was still catching perch and soon called me as one just shy of 2lb had just slipped up. We should have taken a photograph yet with perch falling steadily we both were confident that a two pounder would eventually fall. Wanting to get into the bigger perch I switched to a small piece of lobworm and that seemed to transform my swim but it wasn’t perch that wanted this bait but carp. One after another came, mostly commons around 5lb that fought for England, testing my tackle and patience to the limit. Alan’s swim had also slowed up, whether it was the carp that had bullied the perch out or just that time of day when the perch switched off and we started to realise that not taking a photo earlier was about to bite us on the bum. After around twenty carp I eventually threw the towel in and headed for canal 4 for the final hour in the hope of a double to complete the day. Alan persisted and continued to catch steadily, but by now it was more carp than perch and although confident that plenty of perch over two pound existed the conditions just weren’t favourable today. Soon after plummeting the depth and baiting a swim on canal 4, well two minutes to be precise, my float dipped then disappeared and with the rod bent double I knew a better carp was hooked. A nice mirror around 7lb was the culprit that was soon followed by a slightly bigger common showing that if its arm aching sport you are looking for then this is the place.
With the sun finally burning off the white cloud and the wind easing it was unfortunately time to pack up and on the way home we both agreed that the conditions were against us on the day and it was this that had reflected in our catch, however even in such uncomfortable conditions we still caught loads of fish, probably 100lb each with Alan taking more than twenty net perch. Now where can you go and do that?
Before signing off something that I need to mention is just how friendly and welcoming Graham who owns the fishery is. This guy puts himself out in making sure that his customers go home happy, even refreshing our flasks halfway through the day. He also goes that extra mile to help others, especially youngsters, organising instructional days throughout the year and the complex is also set up to help disabled anglers enjoy angling; it also has a tackle shop on site. What a shame theirs not more fishery owners like Graham, if their was, then we would see far more kids enjoying going fishing.

Image 1 – Alan landing one of many net perch.
Image 2 – Our bait today consisted of prawns, lobworms and red maggot.
Image 3 – Keeping things simple again.
Image 4 – Items used for the more specialist approach.
Image 5 – Alan playing a perch whilst I play yet another carp.
Image 6 – Canal 4 didn’t take long to respond.
Image 7 – Arm aching stuff at FLE!
Image 8 – There’s loads of perch this size in lake 3!

Approaching Tench on a new venue - Part 4

Final part as published within Coarse Angling Today - Summer 2013

With summer turning into autumn my tench campaign has come to an end, somewhat prematurely though. Read on…

The research and complexity of finding a venue for a summer tench campaign was documented in Part 1 of this mini series back in issue 141 of Coarse Angling Today. The following month Part 2 documented our initial feature finding sessions and plans for the future with Part 3 showing the vast amount of thought that has to be applied in order to fine tune rigs and bait application to deal with problems that occur along with a risk taking exercise that finally paid off.
The introduction of groundbait and plenty of it had unlocked the lakes secret in attracting tench into our swims and every night we fished saw tench landed along with the odd double figured bream and twenty-pound carp. Things were looking good and all the pieces of the jigsaw were falling into place. The weather was warming up, albeit someway behind the standard yearly schedule and with the tench beginning to feed in earnest as they built of reserves for the yearly spawning ritual we were sure that our target, a double figured tench would make an appearance.
Once again the car was loaded with kit, groundbait mixed and the hour journey south got underway, however on arrival at the fishery my heart dropped, as on the gate was a sign saying ‘Lake closed, carp spawning’ along with a reopening date which was some weeks away! I could have cried as hundreds of hours had been jointly invested in this project only to see what was surely the best time to catch big tench, June, almost entirely removed from the campaign. In short the car was turned round and to date I haven’t returned. Will I be buying a club ticket next year, definitely not!
On the way home I informed Chris to our problem as a plan needed to be made and fast. After parting with the best part of two-hundred pounds neither of us wanted to purchase another expensive club or syndicate ticket, not for just three weeks anyway and as we were both members of Farnham Angling Society finally descended on my favourite venue, Frensham Great Pond. Chris had never fished the venue so I had to inform him that the chance of a double figured tench was slim, yet numbers of tench in the five to eight-pound bracket was a dead certainty and with a very good chance of a few big rudd thrown into the equation it seemed the perfect place to drown our sorrows.
Unlike the south-coast venue, small fish weren’t a problem and my first choice set-up and more conventional tench tactics, the Helicopter rig could immediately be employed. Straight away I felt happier using 1.25lb test curve rods and 6lb mainline. To be honest the previous water had so many small roach and rudd in it that we were actually fishing carp rigs for tench, which although had to be done to overcome the problem, wasn’t really what I prefer. As I said in Part 1, ‘Catching by design has always been very important’.
Having a passion for big rudd, yet knowing tench were the main target I had to resist using waggler tactics and sprayed maggots so stuck to the helicopter rig on my first night which resulted in twenty-two tench, the best 8lb 1oz along with three two pound perch.
This first nights catch was taken along the bridal path, an area I know well, yet with over sixty acres to go at, and wanting a change of scenery I decided to head to the road bank from then on as this, I hoped would at least give me the satisfaction of getting to know new areas of the lake more intimately. This area of the lake is somewhat more challenging as it’s far shallower and instead of wading out ten yards I found myself some thirty yards out then punching a feeder another fifty or more. Clipping the line in the reel clip and marking the line is paramount and soon I found myself having to buy new Shimano reels as the line clips on my previous cheaper models were to say the least, poor! The pole elastic that I tied as distance reference marks also had to be rethought as if I didn’t make sure this was at the base of the spool before recasting it would catch, resulting in the feeder dropping short and maggots being spread over a wider area than what I wanted. The answer came with Nash sending me some Spot On line paint which instantly removed the problem and now using reels with a baitrunner facility rather than a front adjusting clutch, fishing at this range became so much easier.
Feeding at this distance was a bit tricky, especially knowing the tench loved groundbait so at the start of each session I would place a marker float at the desired distance, cast and clip both rods up to this, wade out as far as I could in chest waders, before throwing in a few dozen balls created from the brilliant Nash Deliverance Ball Maker accurately by hand. This activated the swim and from then on it was simply a case of removing the feeder from my rods and topping the swim up using a small spod filled with fine groundbait and maggots every time it went quiet.
I even tried another tactic that I thought would work, that being a big inline maggot feeder, short braided hooklink and plastic maggots on the hair, however, surprisingly this seem to catch more two-pound rudd than tench!
Knowing that the tench would soon go into spawning mode and become far more tricky afterwards, we put in numerous sessions over the next few week, ones that would have been done on our original choice of venue if allowed and during this time took loads of tench, in fact my results show that I landed over eighty tench, eighteen two-pound rudd and five two-pound perch in just seven sessions. Chris’s results were similar with the icing on the cake being the capture of a personal best rudd of 2lb 9oz.
Float fishing did come into the attack, especially at dawn, as watching the red tip of a float bobble amongst an area of fizzing bubbles before disappearing has to be one of anglings finest moments and for me the highlight of the campaign was slipping the net under a float caught eight pounder.

Looking back, this spring and summers tench campaign has been what can only be described as the ultimate learning curve. Different venues have meant having to adjust accordingly and although the initial disappointment of having the carpet ripped from under our feet after such a painstaking time researching a new venue had to be swallowed, I don’t feel that it’s been a waste of time, in fact the opposite. Yes the double figured tench never saw the bottom of my landing net, that part of the puzzle was out of my control, yet by being able to adjust to an ever changing situation has only made me a better angler, one that will be treading the path of a new venue next spring.

Images for article –
Image 1 - This was my last evening on the tench lake.
Image 2 -Tench paradise, not for long!
Image 3 – This image for Part 1 shows just how our initial tactics on the first lake failed yet were the best on the second venue.
Image 4 – Nash Spot On has solved many problems.
Image 5 - Part of a twenty-two tench catch.
Image 6 – Chris with a seven pounder.
Image 7 – An eight on the float.
Image 8 – The Nash Ball Maker now comes in four sizes and with a slot down the side.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

New Series - Day ticket Challenge - MBK Pump Station

Charman’s Challenge – MBK Pump Station Pond.

Date – Friday March 21st 2014

Venue fact file –
Pump station Pond, Longmoor Road, Greatham, Hants GU33 6AP
Tickets Adult £10-00, OAP and juniors £7-00 available from Grayshott Tackle GU26 6HJ. Tel - 01428 606122. (season tickets available)
Stock – A good mixed fishery with great silver fish sport and some large perch and carp.

Conditions – Atmospherics dropping slightly from 1007mb, wind increasing to 16mph from the south west, sunny with odd shower late on and temp rising from 5 degrees to 12.

I first acquainted myself with Pump Station many years ago when it was controlled by Oakhanger Angling Club. I was a keen match angler back then and remember the long walk down the windy lane from the car park that, back then was situated next to the road. It was never an easy venue; however my most memorable match was when I caught all three golden orfe that lived there, in successive casts, a catch that helped me win the match.
Unfortunately OAC lost the venue around the same time that the A3, that now runs close by, was being constructed, and due to this the lake’s bottom was breached, leading to the water draining away. The army that owned the lake at the time also used the lake for different activities and it was one of these events that polluted the lake and the stock lost.
Many years past and with my match days coming to an end I left OAC and joined Farnham and during this period MBK took over the lakes control. Three years ago I returned to compile a feature for TCF, it fell on a day of wind and rain and with the feature based on silver fish and waggler fishing and having to hold onto a spinning brolly, have to say that although I caught plenty of fish, it wasn’t a session that I enjoyed.
Now though, being able to compile these articles around my strong points, I’ve decided to return with its larger residents on my mind, namely perch and carp, and with a love for float fishing and knowing just how effective prawns are, I’ve decided that the margins will be my first point of attack. I have also bought with me some short carp rods that will be ideal for a change of tactic later on in the day if my preferred method fails.

The forecast for the day ahead was that it would stay relatively dry, yet on route the heavens opened unloading a shed load of hail that soon had me realising that winter is far from over. Couple this with heavy overnight rain and a temperature of just 5 degrees I knew that the fishing would be far from easy.
My girlfriend’s father was already set up by the time I arrived and by now the clouds had disappeared and with the sun illuminating the venue I have to say that Pump Station has to be one of the prettiest day ticket venues I know. Surrounded by tall old pine trees, silhouetted against the calm water the air is filled with a woody aroma and the water colour, as I remembered it, a peaty colour.
Kenny and daughter Kendra who controls the fishing had pointed myself in the direction of the first few swims nearest the car park and had informed me to feed some small micro pellets in the margins which I did in three areas. This would allow myself to rotate these, hopefully taking a fish from each before topping up with pellet and prawns and moving on. Tackle couldn’t be simpler, a Preston 13ft Carbonactive rod teamed up with a Shimano 4000 size reel loaded with 6lb HydroFlo and at the business end all I was to use was a 4x14 pole float, one with quite a thick tip which was connected in three placed to the main line before a 5.14lb Reflo hooklink was attached loop to loop style onto which two number six shot added along with a Korum size 12 barbless hook.
The wind hadn’t decided which way it was going to blow and unfortunately the fish were also undecided whether to feed or not as the first two swims failed to show any signs. Using a large plummet I quickly found the depth of the third swim and placed a whole prawn onto the hook before lowering this right over the primed area. Targeting the margins each area was no more than two feet deep and soon after lowering the prawn in the float started to move from side to side, similar to that of crucian fishing. A small dip then a short solid strike saw the rod blank bend over and the clutch scream. With the carp well out in open water and doing everything it could to avoid the bottom of my landing net I originally thought that a double was the culprit, yet embarrassingly the fish weighed no more than four pound but what it lacked in weight, it certainly made up for in looks, what a stunner! The next hour past without incident, well apart from Mick being trashed by a monster of the deep and I was forced to drop into a swim on one of the other lakes, Spectacle. This proved that the fish were feeding as a couple of hard fighting commons soon found the bottom of the net, yet today was all about trying to catch a big carp on light balanced kit and the main lake was were I needed to be.
The two unproductive swims remained fishless yet the third, where I’d taken the first one showed signs that carp were once again around. Dropping the float in position I watched as a large common surfaced and cheekily sucked a leaf that lay right next too the float before dropping down and within the blink of an eye the rod arched over as the water exploded with a big carp heading out once again into the centre of the lake. Fully expecting a big common to surface I was surprised to see a big scaly double figured mirror to show some five minutes later. It was the size of fish that I had come for, however the common that showed was far bigger so after priming each swim again I went for a walk to see if I could spot any bigger fish only to find most of the lakes population at the dam end sunning themselves. Mick mentioned that this was familiar behaviour and that they would slowly make their way down to the shallow end as the day progresses and that’s exactly what they did, yet not on the side that we were fishing.
Moving round I baited up the forth swim along the left hand bank, one that I remember as being the best in my days of match fishing and soon after lowering a prawn the float dipped, disappeared and again the clutch sounded yet this was only a small carp, around three pounds. Chancing a second cast I soon found myself locked in battle with a real zoo creature and after five minutes was convinced that it must be hooked in the tail due to its sheer power but it didn’t feel foul hooked and slowly but surely progress was made before what had to be the cheeky common from earlier slide over the drawstring. Unfortunately the digital scales that I had chanced on using again failed to work so I had to borrow a set from another angler and although not the most accurate the dial swung past sixteen, slightly less than what I had estimated, but still a great fish to take on such basic, balanced kit.
After the capture of the cheeky common the lake came alive. All the carp had shifted from the dam end of the lake and moved to the bank that backs onto the Spectacle Lake an area that I settled and come 6pm when I called it a day another twenty or more carp had graced my net. With the carp lifting in the water I had to make one adjustment and with floating baits banned finally took the majority of fish fishing a prawn two inches under the pole float. None surpassed the common in weight, although on a number of occasions a big ghosty common almost made a mistake, but all were absolute stunners, mostly heavily plated mirrors with the odd long dark common for variety. I was hoping that one of the lakes big perch would show but today the carp were ravenous, just waking up from their winter slumber and eager to build up some lost reserves.
Pump Station is a beautiful venue with some stunning carp, certainly a water where purist tactics outscore modern approaches and if like me you love fishing at close quarters, almost stalking your quarry then I highly recommend this tiny and rewarding venue.

Image 1 – Id forgotten just how beautiful Pump Station is.
Image 2 – Bait, nice and simple.
Image 3 – Terminal tackle, basic but strong.
Image 4 – Each swim is plummeted before fishing.
Image 5 – It took a while but then this gorgeous double turned up.
Image 6 – Playing each fish on balanced tackle is great fun.
Image 7 – This common has to be one of the biggest in the lake.
Image 8 – Every one was like a wood carving.  

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Challenge Charman

New series – Challenge Charman
Now that the rivers have closed and the weather has improved I will be heading for a different fishery each week (mostly day ticket venues) and reporting back on how I approached the venue and how the session went.
This series will include a fact file on each venue, what it contains and hopefully not only some good tips but some great catch pictures.
For this weeks feature, which will be published next week, I have chosen MBK Pump Station, a great silver fish venue, however having a love for the float I’m going to see if I can extract a few of its larger residence, targeting them right in the margins on a somewhat underrated bait.

If you have a fishery that you would like me to try out then feel free to email me your suggestions

Happy days for a couple of customers

Happy days for a couple of customers.

It’s very rare these days to find a youngster that has a love for running water but young Tom from Winchester is just that. Living within casting distance of one of my favourite rivers, the Itchen, Tom loves spotting fish in its crystal clear water before trying to outwit his quarry, yet these fish can be tricky at the best of times and Tom knew that dusting up on his trotting would pay him back eventually.
With the Itchen flying through we decided to meet in Farnham Park and try for the quality dace that this stretch is known for, yet even after arriving at first light and securing the swim it was soon apparent that for the first time the dace that normally queue up here to be caught weren’t present. What was also noticed was that no trout were about and my heart sunk with the thought that these as well as the dace may well have disappeared, however after getting to grips with the centrepin and feeding Tom was soon playing a good chub which was followed by the biggest of the day, one that weighed 3lb 13oz. A couple of dace followed, both with an unusual rough feeling which showed they were close to spawning and for once my hopes were lifted that the resident shoal may have headed upstream to their spawning ground, a thought that was further enforced when we found loads in the shallows right at the top of one of the tiny carriers further upstream. A couple of small wild brownies also showed and although the river fished far from its best, young Tom went home happy with a new skill that he has confidence in and one that he can now master.

Another angler getting in on the action this spring is regular, Ron Jackson. Ron saw my catch taken from Badshot Lea a couple of weeks ago and having read about how deadly the helicopter rig is, wanted to see it in operation first hand.
Fishing peg 58, an area were the wind was pushing we soon had the bream queuing up and come the end of our five hour session he had taken an incredible 21 bream for a weight in excess of 80lb. The only disappointing part was that no tench showed, yet these will start to feed very soon and when they do expect a varied bag which will also include some quality hybrids and the odd good perch.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Planning and patience pays off!

Planning and patience pays off!
Andy was one angler that was interested in catching his first zander and although we had talked about getting out earlier to Old Bury Hill I prolonged our visit for as long as possible as I wanted him to have the best chance of catching.
Along came the final night, June 14th the day we had pencilled in the diary and with no room to reschedule the day due to the weather arrived in what can only be described as far from ideal conditions, high pressure and a cloudless blue sky which saw temperatures rising to a sun-tanning 17 degrees. Another factor that I was well aware of was that this trip would coincide with a full moon, an element that I have written about before as the kiss of death when zander are concerned. Praying for an overcast day went unnoticed with the fishing god yet a quick check on the mobile showed that light cloud would drift in come dusk, so once again the fingers crossed.
My favoured area was taken and not being a lover of the first few swims along the long bank we headed halfway along the grassy bank, an area that produced well at the same time of year when I was producing a video for Online Fishing. It was also an area that the wind was pushing into and we both agreed that our watercraft senses pointed us in this direction.
Casting out sardine sections we waited maybe forty minutes before recasting and it was a bait positioned close in that produced a strange take that was missed, the culprit assumed to be an over enthusiastic bream, yet as it was only 3pm it was a confidence booster for ‘The Witching Hour’ dusk. Repositioning a bait saw a better bite which produced a small jack then soon afterwards another run saw Andy lose a big fish, probably a carp. We decided to move to the left, into a couple of swims that had earlier seen a couple of anglers catching plenty of bream in a hope that all the action would have a few predators looking for a meal and as darkness descended the bobbins started to twitch before a steady take saw Andy bent into a good fish that I assumed was a carp, yet the head shaking transmitted down the blank told us different. After what I call a ‘jelly-leg’ moment Andy had the fish on the surface and their she lay a massive zander. Lifting the sling the digitals settled at 11lb 6oz and once again OBH delivers the goods for another customer.
It was the start of a short spell of activity that saw another zed of around 5lb taken plus a bream and a small pike plus a few aborted and missed takes, however the 9pm wind in time came around far too quickly yet were we complaining.

Anyone that fancies a go at fishing Old Bury Hill later on in the year needs to either get in touch now and put their name down or keep an eye on this website as spaces will once again be limited.

Predator season starts October 1st 2014.

A winters campaign comes to a close.

A winter’s campaign comes to a close.

It’s taken me forty-nine years to realise that some things have to be kept quiet but respect for other anglers often takes priority over publicising catches as they happen and this is the case on this occasion.
Let me explain. A few years back my good friend Adrian Eves placed a small thought in my brain after catching a two-pound rudd from Frensham on a lobworm intended for perch. Arriving on a January afternoon I set up, cast out simple helicopter rigs and proceeded to land numerous specimen rudd and tench. Turning text book rudd fishing on its head I continued to enjoy unrivalled success, yet as a sponsored angler finally had to reveal all, yet this only led to the venue becoming popular and before long all that could be heard on a calm winters night were feeders and Gardner Pocket Rockets hitting the surface. It was a situation I created and had to live with, yet the final straw came when a few seasons ago I arrived during half-term unable to get a swim along the going bank.
After a season of leaving the venue alone I returned last winter, the banks were empty, yet the fishing was poor. In sixteen sessions I only caught on three occasions and then it was just the odd fish. Then late December 2013, after an appalling autumn of fishing, my brother mentioned visiting Frensham again and after a short session we had both taken a two-pound rudd. Knowing the fate of our past we decided to keep things quiet for a while and enjoy the consistent sport, then one evening who did I bump into but Adrian who informed me that he had been pre-baiting a swim for a number of weeks.
Respecting his efforts and not wanting to attract attention our catches were logged and held. When Adrian moved on he asked when he could publicise his results and I asked if he could hold these for as long as possible and returning the respect he did just that, hence why we appeared in different angling magazines on the same week.
The season has now finished and our tally of rudd for the last two months is 95, 53 weighing over two pound with the biggest going 2lb 11oz, somewhat disappointing. The tench and perch were noticeable in their absence which made the sessions seem far harder than previously remembered and no red-letter sessions were experienced. The average for each session was maybe four fish with feeding spells very short, maybe just twenty minutes which suited me as with a chesty cough lingering I was able to time my visits around these times. I did venture out for a whole night, a session that lasted fifteen hours and in that time I received just one bite which came at 1.35am, a time when the temperature was reading -3.5 degrees.
It’s definitely been rewarding fishing, especially enduring the weather conditions this year and certainly not for the faint hearted!

Approaching tench on a new venue - Part three

Approaching tench on a new venue. Part Three…
Published in Coarse Angling Today Spring/summer 2013

Well, things have started to happen at the tench lake at long last and as you will see tactics have been tweaked even more and with the water warming up things look good for the summer.

Swim choice, baiting and feature finding.
Unfortunately the two swims that we were hoping to bait and fish on a regular basis have become popular with the carp anglers so we have had to bin this approach and keep dropping into new swims, yet in hindsight this has probably worked in our favour as we have been able to learn the water far quicker this way, than becoming stereotyped into fishing two particular spots.
Different swims mean having to spend a few minutes with the marker rod before each session, yet as I initially said, feature finding isn’t, or should I say wasn’t my strongest point yet now I feel competent that I can read a venue subsurface with relative accuracy.

Venue difficulty.
The more we talk to the carp anglers the more we know what we are after, double figured tench are in the venue, yet we have also found out that this lake is far from easy for whatever you are after, in fact one carp angler has fished over twenty nights for just one stocky, so my early results fill me with confidence that I am on track to unlocking the lakes secrets.
We have also found out that the tench population isn’t as big as I had been lead to believe and are certainly not a nuisance to the carp anglers but in a way I’m glad it’s like this as I don’t want to play the numbers game to get a big tench.

Bait application.
Although my rigs have hardly changes since binning the maggot approach and converting all three rods to a boilie approach my bait application has. Averaging just one fish a night from the first five nights wasn’t a return I was happy with, especially when tench weren’t playing a major part in my catches, so although a little early in the season, I decided to ‘bite the bullet’ and give the venue, what I call ‘the Westhampnett approach’ lots of particle laced groundbait. It was a risk but one of us had to do it so out came a Gardner Sling Shot and in went fifty balls of groundbait and come the morning I was grinning from ear to ear as we had finally found the baiting solution to catching the venues tench.

Rod selection.
One area that has changed is rod selection. I started with three different rods, a 2.75lb t/c carp rod for the boilie approach, a 1.25lb t/c for the margins and a 1.75lb t/c for the maggot rod at distance. After hooking a twenty pound carp, luckily on the carp rod I knew that if one of these was hooked on the lighter outfit then the chances of landing this was remote. I then reverted to fishing three 2.75lb t/c rods, not exactly tench fishing, yet after hooking a few tench knew that the nature of the fight and the stiffness of the tips would inevitably lead to the odd hook pull. Not wanting this, but also wanting to land carp I am now using 10lb Hardcore main on all rods but these are now 2.25lb t/c Nash Peg One Transformer Carp rods which seem to be the perfect balancing point in landing big tench plus having the power to subdue the odd rogue carp.

Success at last.
Dropping into a completely new swim mid afternoon towards the shallower end of the lake, one that gave me plenty of protection against the howling south westerly wind I initially did a bit of feature finding. After just half a dozen casts I had located a gravel bar at 45yards and with the margins not producing yet, decided to place all three rods slightly to the rear of this which were marked with elastic stop knots.
Bait as previously mentioned was a bucket of particle laced groundbait, about six kilos. This was made up of one bag of Nash Strawberry Scopex Frenzy Method Mix, one of Old Ghost Alga Carp plus a kilo of whole and broken 10mm Monster Squid boilies, half a kilo of 2mm and 4mm pellets, a pint of hemp plus a handful of corn all mixed together with lake water infused with Fish Frenzy sweetcorn Magic Mix Attractor. The dead maggots had been completely removed as this seemed to attract the Tufted Ducks and the hemp had been reduced dramatically. In fact this mix was created to draw in anything with fins, be it carp, bream or tench and if successful then it could be refined to target out target tench.
The next job was to get the bait most of the groundbait accurately to the marker float and this was quickly completed by the use of a sling-shot. As I was intending to stay overnight and fish till midday I held back on around a third of the mix as I wanted to introduce this at first light the following day. By 6pm I was ready to cast in but decided to leave to settle for an hour before casting in. I had also decided to fish the middle rod on a corn stack as this is a devastating tactic over groundbait, especially for bream, whilst the other rods were fished, one with double 10mm boilies and the other with one 10mm boilie critically balanced with a piece of buoyant corn. Each rod would have a small PVA bag of 2mm pellets attached to it and the plan was to cast every four hours as the small rudd would surely make light work of the small pellets. With around fifty balls of groundbait in the swim, on a lake that’s probably never seen such a tactic I sat back to see if I had overdone things yet at 7.30pm the double boilie rod signalled a bite which came from a five pound tench. Was this a coincident, no as come the morning another similar tench plus a double figured bream had been taken. Risking the last of the groundbait I deposited another twenty jaffa size balls into the swim at dawn and come 11am had taken another two five pound tench, not really the size we were after but with a tactic now working its surely just a matter of time.

Early days.
This spring has been cold and our plans to pull of the lake come the opening of the traditional close season looks like it might be a premature campaign. The lilies on the lake have just hit the surface and our feeling is that the tench are only just waking up and haven’t started to feed in the margins. This will all change once the water starts to warm up and they start to think about spawning and when they enter these margins I can see that float fishing will be a rewarding tactic.
Unlocking a venue takes time, sometimes years and I hope that these articles have inspired you to keep an open mind to your fishing, never to get stereotyped and on occasions take a risk. The fishing on this particular lake is far from easy; in fact it’s what I would classify as tough. Each capture, whatever species is classified as a result and with these captures come satisfaction that the pieces to a difficult jigsaw puzzle are being completed and I have total faith that the final piece will be placed.

Hopefully later in the year the editor will allow me to bring you a final closure to our tench campaign and with it the capture of what dreams are made of, a double figured tench.

Images and sub-titles.
  1. The perfect dawn.
  2. Although my rigs haven’t changed, bait application has.
  3. A fine method type and coarser groundbait compliment each in some situations, especially if fishing at distance when particles such as corn and pellet need to be added, yet this still needs to break down quickly.
  4. Perfection in miniature but wrong species.
  5. It was this twenty pound carp that had me rethinking rods!
  6. The first night using groundbait bought this double figured bream.
  7. These tench were obliging after introducing more groundbait at dawn.
  8. Quite a contrast to what was originally cast out.