Friday, 27 June 2014

Monthly Round-up June

Monthly Round-up June 2014

May ended with my first Nash Roadshow of the year and it was one that I had been really looking forward to as it was at Broadlands in Hampshire a venue that last year saw a number of twenty pound carp landed on floater kit. Unfortunately this year coincided with a heavy fall of willow pollen that covered the entire lake making it almost impossible to fish. Crashing a method feeder through this did produce a few bream yet the intended night session that proceeded the day for eels never happened and we all cursed an opportunity missed. On a good note the show was well attended with plenty of happy customers leaving with a few extra tricks up their sleeves.
With the crucians having spawned nice and early this year at Enton and with the circus now moving to pastures new I did spend a couple of short evening sessions targeting one of my favourite species. Many anglers seemed to be struggling yet my tried and tested method of fishing right under the rod tip resulted in a few crucians to just over three pounds plus the odd tench to over six pounds.
Any month that sees a personal best landed has to be classified a s a good one and a trip to Newdigate after a tip off from Colin Davidson saw myself and brother both landing golden orfe in excess of four pounds along with tench to well over six pound on a day that was as bad for catching as it gets.
Looking at the diary I wasn’t surprised to see that I had spent more hours’ bankside than in recent months, one hundred and fifty in fact over eighteen sessions. These were split between personal sessions (nine sessions – sixty four hours), Guiding (seven sessions – seventy hours) and features/roadshows (two sessions – sixteen hours). Unfortunately my weekly day ticket challenge has fallen behind schedule due to the extra guiding days yet this is something that I will get back on track with some extra effort in July.
Looking more closely at my personal sessions I have to admit to having lost interest on the tench campaign this year. Unfortunately the tench lake I was hoping to target (same as last year) decided to close for three weeks as the carp were spawning. When it opened in early June coincided with the tench spawning which basically has been a right kick in the nuts to say the least. I will give it a few more sessions over the next couple of months yet if the tench don’t oblige then it will be time to look for a new tench venue for next spring. The catfish and grass carp sessions continue to produce with plenty of high teens and low twenties of both species so its time one of the big cats grace either mine or Chris’s net, a fifty would be nice. Young Nash Ambassador Jake Curry stole the show earlier in the month with a 37lb cat which I have previously mentioned and now that his exams have finished it will be good to get back out and produce a few features for the sponsors. Three of my sessions were spent targeting big eels yet apart from one seven pound eel nothing happened to get the heart beat racing.
Although the river season has now opened I have to admit at having only spent a few hours looking at a couple of new stretches that will hopefully provide me with some quiet interrupted barbel fishing later on in the season. The rivers I have looked at seem to be in great condition, yet reports back from anglers are that most are producing very few fish, especially barbel.
As always I look forward to fishing Frensham Great Pond, yet once again this seems to be well below par with the rudd being extremely tough and the tench fishing not much better. This has to be down to the ever changing wind, something that affects Frensham badly and with it often seeing east or north in its directional course; well it was never going to be easy.
Fortunately my customers have seemed to be luck with Matt managing a dozen tench, all females to well over six pounds in a day session and nearly all taken on the float. Barrie fished the following day, yet as Frensham does so often it changed its mood and after fishing hard all day only landed four, once again all females to a best of 6lb 7oz. I fished the waggler next to him and found the bites almost unidentifiable, yet did connect with six tiny dips which produced tench to 6lb 10oz. Two customers that witnessed just how a swim can be built over a few hours were Ian and Ron. Ian fished Harris Lake using flat bed feeders and on a sunny warm day transformed a slow starting swim into a fish a chuck session loosing count of how many fish he caught. Fortunately he took as many crucians as tench including personal bests of 2lb 10oz and 6lb 14oz respectively. Ron joined me at Broadwater, another under performing venue and was happy to watch as I fished the pellet lead. After a slow start I found it difficult to keep both rods in the water, yet it did take five hours of constant casting to get to this point and the size of fish was somewhat disappointing with most around 7lb. Mark joined me for a night at Badshot Lea and although it was tough still went home landing two catfish including a personal best of 19lb 8oz as well as a 15lb mirror. Fishing next to him all I managed was an angry fifteen pound common along with pulling out of a fish in the early hours.
So all in all a very good month that could have been so much better if the wind had made its mind up which direction it was coming from and with the carp and tench spawning things were never going to be easy.

July looks like its going to be another very busy month with rivers slowly coming into play. The cat sessions might have to be reduced as due to the school holidays Badshot Lea will start to get busy, yet I do have another venue up my sleeve with a different species in mind.

Images –
  1. Frensham, I love it.
  2. Enton also has some big tench in it.
  3. Target species.
  4. Its wasn’t just the fish that were at it during June.
  5. Ian with a 6lb 14oz Harris tench.
  6. Catches like this have been a rarity this season at Frensham.
  7. Barrie with a brace of six’s.
  8. Mark with his first ever catfish.
  9. Mark rounded the session of with this stunning mirror.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Getting to grips with the cats.

Getting to grips with the cats.
Well since the visit to Badshot Lea when young Jake took his biggest UK fish, a 37lb 6oz cat myself and Chris have returned twice and on both occasions caught plenty of cats, grass carp along with the occasional mirror.
Many mistakes have been made since our first exploratory session when the bait boat ran out of batteries twice in the middle of the lake, yet now I think we have got it off to a tee and know exactly how to bait, where to place our rigs and how to get the rods rattling off when things go quiet.
The first session saw us setting up in the same swims as before and although we didn’t arrive till quite late it only took Chris ten minutes to put the first fish on the bank, a cat of around 10lb. Things then went quiet till midnight but a couple of hours of activity saw rods ripping off in all directions resulting in a cat of 22lb 12oz, a grass carp of 17lb 12oz plus a double figured mirror to myself and two grass carp weighing 17lb 2oz and 21lb 2oz to Chris along with a lost fish. Having fished all day at Newdigate Fishery the day before I was totally knackered and didn’t recast after this yet Chris bravely reset his rods but come the 5am pack up hadn’t received anymore action.
The following week we were back yet the swims we wanted were taken so we headed for a new area. Chris placed his two rods well out, while I decided to place one close in where lots of carp were showing as well as refining the rig slightly. That rod didn’t produce but at 11am I took a cat of 18lb 8oz. Chris saw four runs come, all on the same rod and all soon after recasting which resulted in two cats of 21lb 2oz and 17lb along with a double figured mirror and a lost fish. Another two runs, well massive drop backs, probably from grass carp came later on and once again the 5am alarm saw us depart happy anglers.
All our sessions have fallen on nights when conditions haven’t been favourable, nights when very few, if any other fish have been caught around the lake and taking into consideration we are only fishing short sessions, 9pm – 5am we are more than happy with our results so far.
Once again a couple of massive mistakes were made on our last trip, firstly from myself trying the inside line that has now on a couple of occasions failed along with leaving the rods out far too long, only to wind in with no bait on! Learning from these mistakes has now resulted in us knowing exactly how to go about our next session, one that can’t come quick enough, and we both know that when we finally get the conditions right its going to be absolute carnage and who knows it’s about time that one of the big cats saw our nets.

If you fancy a night at Badshot Lea fishing for cats and grass carp then let me know (email – and we will pencil a date or two in the diary and don’t worry if you haven’t got the gear like powerful rods, oval umbrella and bedchair as these can be supplied.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Catch perch on prawns

Perch on prawns – Coarse Angling Today Dec 2013

Just over a decade ago I remember a friend of mine telling me of a small series of day ticket waters that contained big perch. At the time I was perch fishing on the mighty river Thames and although catching, found the venue unwelcoming at the best of times. Needing a venue closer to home and more comfortable I found myself taking a look at the venues and to say I was amazed is an understatement as these ponds were tiny, so small I could easily underarm a small bomb from one bank to the other! If these ponds did contain monster perch then it shouldn’t take very long to extract one I thought. A few days later on a frosty morning I cast two prawn hookbaits into position, one close to a small island, the other under the rod tip close to a submerged tree stump. Within five minutes both rods had produced bites, the first was from a three pound chub, the other from a perch that smashed my personal best at the time, it weighed 4lb 1oz. The bites had come that quick that the perch was landed whilst the chub was still in my landing net!
It was the start of a campaign that spanned a couple of years, on and off, mainly in the winter. The reason I continued was the onsite bailiff had informed me that bigger perch existed. To say the action was incredible is an understatement and three pound plus perch were commonplace, we even started retuning these without photographs! I did manage to catch the biggest in the pond, however it did take me a long time. She weighed 4lb 10oz; I also had one off 4lb 4oz, all different fish! The reason I was using prawns is that I had taken time before fishing the ponds to find out a few things about them. Firstly, like most commercial fisheries, the use of live bait was forbidden, so were spinners and with loads of other fish including carp and roach, using lobworms wouldn’t be very selective. The lakes also contained signal crayfish and as soon as I knew this then a king prawn seemed the obvious answer as its thought that the reason perch have grown to huge proportions in this country is due to them eating these. I have to admit that I very nearly started to use the white flesh of one of the signals, a sure bait for a result, yet after checking the environment agency legislation on these I found that using these was illegal.
Moving on ten years or more I now smile as every time I buy one of the weekly angling magazines they show anglers displaying big perch caught from a commercial, and their new found wonder bait, prawn. I would say that captures of four pound plus perch on commercial fisheries are now at an all time high and anyone wanting to catch a monster realistically needs to look at these. Commercial venues are everywhere; in fact I have one no more than three minutes drive from my home that offers a very good chance of a four. I personally prefer the vivid shades of colour gravel pit and river perch offer and as size isn’t so important these days and getting away from the crowds is, then it’s these that I prefer.
Whether it’s a commercial, gravel pit or river, timing your arrival at the venue is crucial and if allowed I will be found setting up in the dark just before dawn. Rods will be already made up and baits positioned before first light as this is the best time to catch perch.
Locating where the perch are comes with time, often quite a few sessions but once they are found, expect them to be their next time as perch rarely move on a daily basis due to weather conditions. The reason they are in an area is because this is where the food is, normally small fry that they have herded up into a corner, or next to a feature such as an outlet. Low light conditions are best, days that are overcast and mild, yet the four pound perch I caught within minutes of starting so many years ago came on a frosty morning, when blue skies and high pressure was forecasted, proof its always worth a go. If you don’t have prior knowledge of the best areas for perch I will watch the water at first light for small fish, maybe even a perch attacking these. If I am fishing blind then I will never sit in a swim for more than half an hour as if perch are in the swim and feeding then a bite should come well within this time.
Rigs are again simple with attention paid to keeping resistance to a minimum. In the past I have used a small maggot feeder, yet these are tangle prone, so now I prefer to use a small 1oz lead, one with a big eye or better still attached to a run ring. This runs freely on 6lb mainline and is buffeted by a Quick Change Bead onto which a 0.16mm Fluorocarbon hooklink is attached holding a size 8 barbless hook. On the hooklink I add two float stops as if I feel I want to pop a prawn of the bottom I can. This is achieved by adding the tail of a lobworm next to the prawn and air-injecting it, then counterbalancing this by moulding putty around the stops. The float stops allow the height of the prawn to be altered easily and believe me, this can make all the difference. I also add a small PVA bag of red maggots and chopped prawns to the hook. Once cast into position I will then catapult maggots over the top on a regular basis, as these will get the fry feeding right over the top of my bait. Using two rods, I will always pop one bait up a few inches, the other will be fished directly on the bottom and again this will have the tip of a worm added to it. Its this that I feel gives me an edge, as perch are inquisitive and react to movement so the worm does this, as do the red maggots in the bag, and the prawn is a substantial meal for a perch that is as close to a crayfish as I can legally get.
Rods are 1.25lb T/C and if possible positioned on separate bank sticks pointing directly to where I have cast. This reduces resistance and as for bobbins I use the old fairy liquid bottle tops. I could write an essay on bite indication, yet all I will say is that if you choose to use carp style heavy chain hangers and wait for the bait runner to go, then you will be waiting for a very long time, and when you do get a bite, well the perch most probably will be deep hooked!
Well their you have it, the simplest of rigs that will catch the biggest of perch. The key to success is to fish at the right time of day, dawn and dusk, find where the perch are, then reduce resistance in every way possible and by adding the tail of a worm next to the a prawn will increase your catch rate considerably.

Images –
  1. Early mornings are far better than evenings for perch.
  2. 4lb 2oz taken within seconds of casting a prawn out on a new venue.
  3. Rods high with bobbins on long drops.
  4. The old faithful washing up bottle top indicator.
  5. Isotopes and light bobbins for after dark perching.
  6. This was my last four pounder taken after taking a big gravel pit apart.
  7. Link ledger still has a place today.
  8. A brace of cracking perch.
  9. Keep spraying maggots over your hookbait.

Discover what lies below.

Discover what lies below – Coarse Angling Today 2013

The use of pellet on running water has certainly hit an all time high, especially on the small rivers I fish which contain some very big barbel, yet are anglers missing the point to the meaning of fishing? Although I am guilty of roving rivers in search of big fish, every now and again its refreshing to leave the specimen tackle at home, grab a float or quivertip rod, reel loaded with six-pound mono and head to the river with just the basic terminal tackle and a tub of freshly collected lobworms. It’s a difficult thing to do, and in the early days the barbel rod still had a place in the boot, yet I have learnt that roving a river with different rods and in two minds exactly what to do just isn’t enjoyable so now make specific time to discover what exactly lives subsurface of these pellet filled rivers and the only way to do this is to forget about specifically targeting big fish.
Don’t get me wrong, lobworms catch huge fish but what’s great about using worms is as soon as the bait hits bottom, every fish in the swim will be aware of it and willing to have a go from the smallest species like ruffe, bullheads and minnows to the biggest such as barbel, carp and bream. I’m happy whatever picks up my bait on these, back-to-basic days out but it’s the species I class in the middle of the size bracket, ones that often go unnoticed like perch which don’t have a taste for pellet that often show an appearance and uncover what can only be described as a rewarding distraction to the monotonous, time consuming and often unrewarding world of specimen angling.
Many anglers are put of by using lobworms due to the outrageous cost of these, yet using these doesn’t have to be expensive, in fact they are the cheapest of all baits, free in fact, well apart from giving up an hour of your time one evening. Let me explain. Lobworms come to the surface to mate at night and as long as you pick the right night which needs to be damp and mild then literally hundreds can be collected in a short space of time by creeping around on all fours with a head torch on. The ideal night is when we have had some rain, the ground is damp and the air temperature is above ten degrees. You have to wait until any daylight has completely disappeared so two hours after sunset is a good time to head out and you will need to pick you’re location well as the grass needs to be short, continuously mowed if possible and my ideal hunting ground is the local golf course practice green. A word of warning when collecting lobs is to discard and that break when teased out of their holes as these will only kill the rest of the worms in a matter of days. Keeping you’re worms fresh is also easy, I just pull up some long grass when I leave the golf course, add this to the bucket and place in the bait fridge when I get home. Unlike bought worms that are kept in soil and are soft, often lifeless, grass seems to toughen the worms skin and if checked every few days, removing any that don’t look good and keeping the grass damp, worms will last weeks in this condition.

The tackle I take on an initial search of a stretch of new river couldn’t be simpler and by tacking just the basics allows me to move around and search every potential fish holding spot. I hardly ever use a quiver-tip rod but this is one of the few times that I feel such a rod is essential as seeing bites and striking early is important and avoids deep hooking. I use a 1oz glass fibre tip and even though I will be watching for bites still point the rod almost straight to where the bait is as this reduces resistance, something that perch and chub hate. My reel is loaded with six-pound Gardner Hydroflo and although I use a running link ledger simply place this on a short length of weaker breaking strain line as well as a run ring, again to reduce resistance. The weaker link of mono will simply break if the shot or lead becomes snagged whilst playing a fish and is stopped on the mainline by a bead and a float stops which also allow for the hooklink to be adjusted in length if needed. The only knot in the set up is the Grinner used to tie the size 8 barbless hook, the reason is knots are weaknesses, the more you have the more likely one will let you down and if there are barbel about then this setup is going to be tested to the limits. It’s amazing how robust and tough six-pound line is. We’ve all made a bad cast and then had to point the rod and walk backwards only to struggle to pull for a break, put a bend in the rod and its impossible to break, so as long as you’re tackle is balanced and the one knot tied is good then any barbel that’s hooked should be landed as long as you don’t panic! A couple of other essentials are a disgorger and some postman’s red, red being good for perch, elastic bands as a small strip is added to the hook to keep the worm on. I also carry some Fluorocarbon, a couple of stick floats and a small bait dropper as if a perch hotspot is located these items will become invaluable in preparing, reaching then extracting as many as possible. Many anglers like to add a predator additive to their worm or cut the tail off, yet apart from introducing broken worms in a bait dropper, I consider a lobworm as a hookbait is best as it is, just by pushing a hook through its saddle is enough to leak of natural attractants.

My last session using worms was on a stretch of river I know well, yet hadn’t ever tried using lobworms. It fell on a frosty morning and I knew that catching a barbel on the pellet approach would have been like winning the lottery, yet armed with just a few items of kit, a morning to kill and some lobs I headed out fully expecting to get a bend in the rod. First swim was a known big chub hotspot, yet numerous previous visits using pellet had only seen the tip tap as they constantly tested and refused the offering, however within seconds of a juicy lobworm being lowered in saw the tip pull round and one hooked. I have to admit on this occasion the chub won as I hadn’t placed the landing net by my side and as I turned and reached for it the five pound plus chub dived under the bank and threw the hook. As they say no ones perfect and we all learn by making mistakes! Second swim I was ready as it was a known big barbel swim and moments after introducing the worm I was once again playing a fish, not a barbel but another good chub, one of 4lb 8oz. A few more swims were covered, most rewarding me with small perch and another four pound chub yet it was the last swim that revealed an unknown quantity, one that I will be exploring more as a small tremor saw a two pound plus perch slide into the net.

Sometimes you just have to forget about the going big fish methods and take a step back, strip everything down and go back to basics to get the real meaning of fishing back into perspective!

Images & Subtitles
1 – During the day fish will seek cover, it can be real jungle warfare, yet getting your bait in these areas and pointing your rod where you have cast will often bring an instant response.
2 – Lobworms collected from the golf course will last for ages if checked regularly, kept cool and placed in grass.
3 – Many struggle to understand what tip to use but in brief if your fishing for small species, using light leads and fine lines go for a 1oz tip, if your after barbel in fast water use a 4oz tip.
4 – There is no need to carry loads of tackle when exporing with worms and as you can see my rig is very simple.
5 – An upstream cast under an overhanging tree provided me with this stunning perch.
6 – When you know chub are around and just small pluck and pulls are noticed using pellet, give them a lobworm and watch the difference in bites.
7 – Only carry the essentials as taking to much kit will only make you lazy.
8 – Balanced tackle is needed when barbel are around. I have caught barbel to over 12lb on worms and 6lb mainline!
9 – If you only use pellets then you will never experience our smaller species such as this specimen Miller’s Thumb.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Charman’s Challenge – Newdigate Lodge Lake.

Charman’s Challenge – Newdigate Lodge Lake.

Date – Tuesday 10th June 2014

Venue fact file –
Lodge Lake, The Old Green Barn, Rusper Road, Newdigate Surrey RH5 5BE
Tickets Adult 1 rod £10-00, 2 rod £18 no concessions and tickets need to be pr-booked by calling 01306 631573
Stock – Golden orfe to 6lb, tench to 7lb and carp 20lb.

Conditions – A great day for fishing but not for catching with atmospherics on 1028mb, cloudless blue skies, temperatures soaring into the twenties and thankfully a brisk south-west wind

Managing to get a day when not only my brother is free but also my dad, girlfriends dad and his mate john is really rare so we made the most of it and heading into the middle of nowhere, sorry Surrey, to Newdigate Fisheries.
Having to pre-book our tickets we were really taking a chance with the weather and arrived in glorious sunshine knowing that catching may prove difficult. I was producing a feature on fishing the waggler for Coarse Angling Today and was up against a deadline so knew I needed to give it all I could in order to get a result. Walking around the lake, which is around three acres we watched a numerous big carp cruised the upper layers and clearly saw that the tench were on the feed by the patches of bubbles, yet with the temperature rising and sun already high, just how long this would last was questionable. The lake also has a few big golden orfe in, in fact all the lakes on all three farms have big orfe in them and it was this that I had challenged myself to catch with a personal best a real possibility, yet hooking one was the problem.
I set up with the wind coming over my left shoulder, not what I usually recommend, yet this would make spraying maggots and casting to the centre of the lake easier, an area I hoped to intercept one of these big orfe. Kevin and my dad set up further up the bank with Mick and John on the opposite bank, right where the wind was pushing into.
I Sprayed red maggots whilst setting up in the hope of an early result however it took maybe an hour to get a bite that resulted in a tench around 4lb. I then kicked myself for missing a bite on the drop, yet next cast saw a repeat performance, yet this time the hook found its target and a big orfe surfaced. It’s nice to still get that adrenaline rush after fishing for so long and I waved at my brother to come and help me land the fish which easily beat my standing best of around 3lb. On the scales she went 4lb 4oz 8drams, not a monster for the venue but a satisfying start. A few more tench followed to 5lb 6oz before things died and I had to keep working the swim, yet in the early afternoon the bites returned yet hitting them was difficult due to the undertow taking my line on the inside line and causing a bow, yet persistence paid off with two more tench the last weighing 6lb 12oz. Kevin only had five bites all day but had two tench and a best orfe of 4lb 5oz, dad ended with three tench, John had two on prawns and Mick sadly struck at thin air on more than one occasion.

Newdigate is a picturesque venue set in the peaceful surrey countryside, well that’s if you ignore the planes, French frogs with their deafening mating call and cuckoos in the surrounding hills and offers some brilliant fishing, although not easy. With no small nuisance fish within every bite is from a big fish, which is pleasing and with loads of other lakes offering a variety of different challenges i'm sure I will be back later in the year.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Charman’s Challenge – FAS Badshot Lea Big Pond.

Charman’s Challenge – FAS Badshot Lea Big Pond.

Date – Thursday 5th – Friday 6th June 2014

Venue fact file –
Badshot Lea Big Pond – Badshot Lea, Farnham, Surrey GU9 9LQ
Tickets Open membership with Adult permits costing £94.00 along with a one off joining fee of £25, Concessions available for both OAP, disabled and juniors.

Stock – A good mixed fishery with loads of bream, quality tench, king and grass carp to over 30lb, cats to over 60lb plus other species such as roach and perch.

Conditions – Wind swinging from the south west to north east over night. Temperatures ranging from 12 to 22 degrees along with high atmospherics of 1014mb.

Challenges come in all shapes and forms and this one wasn’t about myself catching but up and coming specimen angler Jake Curry who dearly wanted to cat a big catfish.
It wasn’t our first session after the species as last year he had taken one of around 12lb along with loosing one far bigger and just wanted to experience the adrenaline rush these powerful fish create once again.
Fortunately a week or so before my angling companion Chris Petter had cast out a catfish rod during the night whilst on a 24hr grass carp campaign and literally took the swim apart using big halibut pellets which resulted in five cats between 18 and 33lb! The only concerning point was that young Jake would have to experience the advantages of using a bait boat at such a tender age yet it was clear that he realised that at times its needed but for most of his fishing it wasn’t, reassuring or what!

Arriving at Badshot Lea Biog Pond it soon became apparent that it wasn’t fishing well. I had even had a call the day before to inform me of this, yet with plans made and bait prepared it was too late to rearrange so we headed halfway down the railway bank to an are that allowed access to the centre of that end of the lake. Swim choice was biased on a number of reasons, the most obvious was that the wind was pushing down that end; another was that we wanted to fish for cats at night then swap rigs over at dawn and fish for grass carp till midday. Fortunately with no anglers on each of the points we were able to send the bait boat well out into the lake and drop our rigs as well as a kilo or more of smaller pellets over each rod and come 9pm we were sitting with fingers crossed.
Rigs were simple with 2oz inline pears fished bolt style, Spot On tungsten tubing to pin everything down and eighteen inch hooklinks made from the exceptionally abrasion resistant Nash NXT Bullet 25lb braid with size 4 barbless Fang Gaper hooks and two 16mm halibut pellets that had been soaked in Nash lobster Thermadore. Rods needed to be strong as well and we choose Entity 2.75lb t/c with reels loaded with 15lb NXT-D Cam mono.
Knowing that the fishing was tough we decided to leave the rods until hopefully they screamed off, yet if we had known that the fishing was good probably would have reset these every two hours but today was all about getting maybe a fish each if we were lucky.
As the light faded we decided to get our heads down full of hope yet come the early hours not so much as a bleep had come to any of the six rods. Alarms fell quiet also around the lake yet a run to our left from an angler in the bay lifted our hopes. We had placed Jake in the middle of the two of us and around 1.30am I recall hearing a few bleeps then a fast run along with a clutch ticking away and as I approached Jake swim found him locked in battle with an angry catfish. Around ten minutes past when Jake said that he didn’t think it was that big only for the cat to rip fifty yards off him. God knows what his heart must have been doing because I know mine was pumping faster than it should have been. Chris came along to see what was going on and as he did one of my rods shattered the silence and I soon found myself bent into a cat. Things seemed hectic for a while, especially when my other rod screamed off yet unable to set the hooks at the time this one got away with things yet moments later we were all looking down at a couple of big catfish with mine at 22lb 8oz looking somewhat of a baby compared to Jakes that pulled the scales round to a satisfying 37lb 6oz.
Sadly that short feeding spell was the last of the night’s action and although we all swapped to a particle approach come first light with maize hookbaits little happened on the grass carp front. I dropped two fish, not sure why but both seemed to come in like grass carp then hit what I first thought was weed yet the second lost fish resulted in a load of line attached to a swim feeder being retrieved. Maybe I handy hooked fish but had a fish trailing line in my swim. A bream did cause a laugh as I explained to Jake what happens during a grass carp fight, yet the expected explosion of foaming water in close never happened just a slimy bream popping its head up at me.
It wasn’t until l got home and looked at the smile on Jakes face as he lifted his prise just what that fish meant to him. Job done!

  1. The smile says it all!
  2. Farnham Angling club book, value for money or what!
  3. The traps are set, now all we can do is wait.
  4. Big strong and sharp hooks are needed for cats.
  5. NXT braid and mono make a winning combination.
  6. Soak your hookbaits for additional attraction.
  7. Jake looks on as Chris takes the strain.
  8. To get a brace shot with Jake was brilliant.   

Targeting multiple species in a session.

Targeting multiple species in a session.
Look, think, react!

A couple of season ago I found myself targeting eels on a stretch of river more known for its huge barbel. It was a muggy evening and recent rain had coloured the water slightly. Not knowing what bait the eels would prefer I had armed myself with plenty of freshly collected lobworms, two off which had been cast downstream in deep water above a series of trees and bushes that had fallen into the water. The other rod was being used to catch a few small fish to use as dead bait sections. It wasn’t long before a series of bleeps had me striking, it was still a few hours before darkness, yet the culprit wasn’t my intended quarry but a hungry perch. A few more followed before I decided to wait till after dark to cast back out. Whilst catching bait fish I was stunned as the biggest barbel I had ever seen surfaced, gulped some air before leaving a series of bubbles as it made its way upstream. How I wish I had bought some pellets but although I had created a game plan before leaving and come with a two prong attack, I had completely ignored the other species the venue contained. All was forgotten the following morning as a huge eel had been landed on the worms, all 6lb 9oz of it. Another of 4lb 5oz, an 8lb common plus a bream had also been taken, all on the worms and all during darkness. It was a red-letter day to say the least but I also knew that I had wasted more than five hours of daylight, periods either side of darkness, ones normally associated with the best feeding periods for a number of species, ones that could have been used more effectively. I’m not saying barbel and chub wont pick up a juicy lobworm, I’ve had more than my fair share pick one up in the hours of darkness, yet using them during daylight was a non-starter due to the small fish. If I had taken some pellets, who knows what the end result would have been that night!
Since that day I have always thought about what other species the venue I’m fishing contain, making sure that these are not overlooked during periods of the day when my intended species is reluctant to feed.
Returning to the same venue on numerous future sessions I always fished for barbel/chub during the hours of daylight, then when it was dark enough and the perch not problematic change over to lobworm for eels, before reverting back to the pellet at dawn. One memorable night I will never forget was in August 2010, its documented much better in my book ‘Evolution of an angler’ but in general I caught a 5lb 4oz chub along with a 13lb 3oz barbel on pellet, both in the morning, plus a 12lb 11oz barbel on worms plus a modest eel in darkness, yet it was a massive eel I lost in the night that could have made this one of the most remarkable multi-species captures in recent years!
Many will say, taking numerous rods and set ups is just over complicating things, yet a 1.5lb T/C rod will cope with big barbel, chub and eels on a river, so thinking about what you taking isn’t an excuse, as most situations can be dealt with without complicating things and I have to say the one piece of terminal tackle that has revolutionised my type of angling in recent years is the Quick-Change bead!
Let’s take a look at different species and their general feeding habits. Obviously these maybe different depending on water clarity and the time of the year.
Bream – Big bream, I mean double figured bream, are mostly nocturnal feeders with the first two hours into darkness best then another feeding period just before dawn that can continue for an hour or so into daylight. After these couple of daylight hours it’s often a case of waiting till darkness again and this feeding pattern doesn’t really change that much throughout the year.
Tench - Regarded as a daylight feeder and in my experience mornings are far better than evenings. The exception to this is in the depth of winter when tench seem to become nocturnal.
Eels - Apart from in the depth of winter I know of few waters that produce big eels during daylight. This applies to flowing water as well as stillwaters.
Crucian Carp – A summer species that disappear once the first few frosts arrive. Yes they can be caught during the day, but in my experience they are far more active at dusk and for the first two or three hours of darkness.
Barbel – Well this will raise a few eyebrows! If more anglers fished daylight hours and approached each swim in a stealthy manner then I’m sure more anglers would agree that barbel feed best in daylight. The reason most would say that a few hours into darkness are best is because a large majority of anglers turn up just before darkness to fish.
Chub – Well active during daylight hours, however some of my best chub have been taken just into darkness, however chub are opportunist feeders and if they are hungry then they will take a bait whatever the hour.
Carp – On rivers such as the Thames they are very nocturnal, yet on stillwaters I would prefer to fish daylight hours than after dark, however low light is always productive, dawn and dusk.
Catfish – Similar to bream, they seem to be most active a few hours into darkness and again at dawn.
Perch/Pike – Predominately daylight feeders with mornings best, yet there are exceptions and I know a few waters that produce after dark.
Zander – Dusk and a couple of hours into darkness are best.
Rudd – Evenings and a few hours into dark are best.
Roach – Probably the most difficult to predict. On stillwaters during the summer and autumn they are very nocturnal, yet come winter and spring they feed better during daylight. Big roach on rivers are caught regularly during daylight, yet if I had a choice, late afternoons and a few hours into darkness would be my preferred times.

Let’s look at a couple of my venues where multi-species targeting is most noticeable:
Frensham Great Pond, a shallow, clear and sometimes weedy venue. Arriving late afternoon in the summer, rudd will be on my mind with sprayed maggot and the waggler being my preferred method. After a few hours into darkness the rudd will disappear, time to cast out the eel rods. As soon as the light starts to illuminate to the lake I will be up and using the same rod and float with tench on my mind, however this time I will be using groundbait. During the main part of the day very few tench, rudd or eels will be caught so if I were to stay for 24hrs then would have no problem casting carp rods out and getting some kip!
Westhampnett, a deep clear gravel pit that’s often weedy. Targeting the big bream in spring, I would have no problem having a few hours up to dusk using lobworm in the hope of big perch. Doing this I would know that I haven’t effected my bream results, as rarely if ever, have I caught bream during the hours leading up to darkness. It was my brother that stole the show on one occasion regarding the perch.
Frimley Pit 2 a small intermit medium depth venue with few features apart from a central island. My main target was tench and these fed best in the afternoon. Come darkness I changed the maggot and helicopter tactics to corn stacks. Initially it was big bream that fell to this, yet come the early hours the carp became active (quite strange), and once the sun rose the lake died till the afternoon when the tench started feeding again.

The above three venues I fished hard, either over a short period or over a number of years and slowly became in tune with how each ticked. The river Loddon however, was one that took just weeks to understand, although I had fished the river for barbel for years, so had a great understanding of it before setting out

So what is this article trying to promote, you may ask? Are you a carp angler, a pike angler, or in fact an angler? I classify myself as the latter, someone who is appreciative of what ever comes along, especially if it’s caught by design. Maximising my time on the bank and the rewards each session can provide is extremely important as the reason I go fishing is to catch fish. All I ask is that you look at the venue, what’s in front of you, and then fish to the best of your ability. If we all did then the fish wouldn’t stand a chance!

Next time you’re at a venue and setting up – Look, think, react!