Monday, 29 December 2014

Monthly round-up December 2014

Monthly round-up December 2014
To be honest, I’ve really enjoyed my fishing this month, really getting back into it. Although its not been about catching massive fish, it has actually allowed myself to take a step back, have a good chat with my angling mate Chris and decide that its time to get back into the big fish world and stop chopping and changing daily between species and venues, so expect new things come spring next year.
Anyone that’s into facebook will have realised that, with the help of young Tom Aldous, I now have a facebook page – Duncan Charman Angling, much to the disapproval of the girlfriend who thinks I’m looking for totty! Its early days but please do take a look, add a comment or send me a message as it will be good to talk.
Looking at my diary inputs, amazingly I’ve been bankside no fewer times than 17 in the first 22 days! This monthly input is somewhat premature as I’m out once again with a customer on the Test before the end of the year, yet with a sore throat and aching shoulders think that come the New Years might just be on my back. During one week I even targeted six different species, Grayling, Roach, Pike, Chub, Barbel even Tench so it’s easy to see why things have got to change as just preparing the kit takes absolutely hours. These sessions have totalled 105hours and have been split between guiding (6) which is an increase on last month due to the weather, features (5) and personal sessions (6) which is a nice balance.
The guided sessions have varied from fishing the beautiful river Test for Grayling to targeting Stillwater chub at Bowsaw Lake. Anyone that keeps an eye on my website updates will see that the Test at Nursling provided Mel and myself a brilliant day out yet the desired 2lb grayling was no where in site. The Test at Timsbury supplied Alan a roach but unfortunately slightly smaller than my two-pounder, sorry! Another customer Mark was introduced having never fished the river, used a centrepin, caught a grayling or trout before yet mastered the art of fishing the pin, even being a lefty which was somewhat amusing! He caught steadily all day and took plenty on the pin and float including grayling, sea, rainbow and brown trout to over 4lb before seeing exactly why fishing the feeder for grayling should be banned! Then later in the afternoon tried his luck for a fish of a lifetime, a 2lb roach only to be beaten up by, yep trout! Adrian needed his angling fix so we headed to Bowsaw where he experienced constant action from numerous species including our target, chub and finished the day will well over 100lb. However in perfect conditions Neal who wanted to add a new skill, waggler fishing to his armoury strangely struggled at the same venue, however he still had a dozen carp, eight chub, two tench plus perch the odd strange one!
Feature days have played a massive part this month, just watch Tight Lines on Jan 23rd to see how I failed to produce after pre-baiting a lake for the best part of three weeks. Thankfully you won’t have to read my reasons for such a dismal performance, its just fishing! Anglers Mail have kept me as busy as ever and I had to do a double take to get the result I needed for a recent feature. Heading to the Loddon I failed to catch a chub on the float and bread so dropped off on the way home to a free stretch of the Blackwater to take two 4lb chub in three cast. Confident as ever and with cameraman beside me I proceeded a few days later to land a dozen chub plus a roach, great you may think but none were over 3lb. A few days later we were back and in less than 10 minutes I put two big chub on the mat, job done but once gain, that’s fishing. Keep an eye out for this feature soon in Anglers Mail. Two other occasions I found myself bankside, this time providing Anglers Mail with ‘Where to Fish’ information. With young Tom helping me out with the video links we dropped onto the Loddon, the same stretch I had failed on earlier in the month and within a couple of hours young Tom had landed a couple of cracking chub, he’s even smiling in the photo Chris!
Personal sessions have been here there and everywhere from Pike fishing to tench fishing. Success has come in the shape of a 2lb river Test Roach whilst guiding a friend. Tench also featured but only after watching dozens of then roll whilst pike fishing with my mate Chris in temperatures starting off at just -3! Unfortunately the roach pre-baiting campaign didn’t work out, yet at least I had the opportunist desire to try of the beaten track rather than following the circus.
Before mentioning the circus, let’s just take a look at the weather. Once again it’s been diverse. One minute the rivers high and coloured and the atmospherics and air temperature brilliant for barbel, yet just hours later the rod rings are freezing up. I’ve said it before that getting any consistent results are far from easy, in fact they are almost impossible. All we can do is make a call on where to fish and now and again we are all rewarded with a spell where we just can’t go wrong, however in most cases if we put one notable fish in the net (mine was the two pound roach) we are lucky.
As I earlier mentioned, next year will see me once again getting back into the big fish, or more importantly sticking to one species and one venue until the job has been done. Some venues on my hit list are unfortunately ‘circus waters’ but more are off the beaten track for less popular species. Instead of changing with the daily elements I will have certain rods made up ready to go and if the conditions are not right then instead of changing route I will stay at home. The fantastic thing about this is it will give me time to get on top of jobs seriously in need of sorting as well as preparing far better for my customers and compiling far better articles, such as ‘How to weigh a fish properly’ for my website. Sadly my ‘day ticket’ ventures will have to stop, well that’s unless they have a monster lurking beneath.
In a few days I will be 50 and during that time (in fact over the last three years) have compiled a wealth of knowledge which in many cases will be shared with the angling world but some information needs to be protected as 2013 and 2014 were the years of knowing who your friends are! I’m not into winning competitions anymore, preferring to keep things to myself, but my targets and aims for 2015 need to be enjoyed as there are too many prying eyes out their, ones that are only too willing to pounce on fresh news, invade my space then take the credit. Ones that are only to happy to share their waters once blown so to speak, so keep an eye out as I will be around, but then again I won’t!

Just taken a look at the images I’ve attached. Sad really that next year fish image backgrounds need to be thought out with so much care, yet this will be a test for all those sheep out their that want to follow the leader!

Get down to your newsagents now and get the latest issue of Anglers Mail, you never know my 2lb roach might be in there!

Tight Lines and a Happy New Year to you all.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Charman’s Challenge – Timsbury Manor Fishery.

Charman’s Challenge – Timsbury Manor Fishery.

Date – Monday December 15th 2014

Venue fact file –
River Test, Timsbury Fishery, Timsbury, Nr Romsey, Hants SO51 0NA Tel – 01264 365165 / 07759 331385
Tickets - £20 per person (2 rod limit). Dates bookable in advance and payment on day of fishing.
Stock – Noted for its specimen coarse fish with roach exceeding 3lb, chub over 7lb, pike to more than 25lb, dace over a pound and big perch along with grayling over 3lb and off course plenty of trout.

Conditions – Almost perfect with the river fining down after recent rain. Overcast and mild with very little wind and atmospheric pressure rising from 1013mb.

My challenge for today was to help catch my good friend and customer Alan a fish that had eluded him his entire angling career, a two pound roach. It’s a journey that has seen him fish many a venue from the Thames to the Avon, often with myself close by but sliding the net under such a fish is like finding a needle in a haystack instantly!
River Farm Fishery in Hampshire was our closest call with roach to 1lb 12oz yet Alan stumbled on this venue shortly after its prime and is now just a shadow of its former self, well as far as roach it is. The week before Alan had fished the Frome but the tide wasn’t right as well as the Avon but the minnows were still ravenous, heading to Scotland’s Lochnaw Castle even crossed his mind yet hitting the circus waters or joining the high priced syndicates isn’t something he wants to do. Landing such a fish off the beaten track would be a dream and if it came from running water, well even better. I’ve lost sleep trying to fulfil his goal, even tried pre-baiting a secret water in the hope of falling on a 2lb roach goldmine yet all I could do was suggest swims and venues that I know do or have done big roach in the past in the hope that he found himself in the right place at the right time and experienced one of those rare ‘red-letter’ days.
We had hoped to fish an exclusive stretch of the river Test but this had fallen through so I suggested we headed to another stretch, Timsbury, a fishery with a track record of producing some monster roach in the past, yet were they still their? It was a shot in the dark but even if the roach didn’t show plenty of out-of-season trout would keep our rods bent. Apart from two fly chucking pike anglers we had the beat to ourselves and I positioned Alan in what use to be the best roach swim only to see him beaten up by trout after trout. I headed downstream only to be beaten up by a motionless quivertip! Moving swims I found a few trout yet felt once again a million miles away from our target, a monster roach.
At lunchtime I spoke to the owner who suggested we try a couple of different swims and assured us that big roach were still around. Alan’s move resulted in more trout yet I decided to leave my swim alone till dusk and do some float fishing in the shallows which resulted in numerous grayling and trout including a brownie that was pushing my personal best of around 5lb 8oz. An hour before dusk I started to run a float through my new swim feeding bread mash every cast yet come the time the float couldn’t be seen no bites had come. I was contemplating a move, so cast out the feeder and started packing the float rod away when my attention was bought to the quivertip that had started to twitch in true trout fashion. Lifting the rod I felt a few head shakes and assumed that it was another trout yet this fish failed to shoot all over the place and when it surfaced I was sure that I saw red fins. Stumbling for the net and with jelly legs and a squeaky bum I slowly drew the roach over the net and knew that Alan’s dream was, well unfortunately in my net! It was a close call but two weighings revealed it was indeed a close call as the needle stopped smack on two-pounds, a fish of a lifetime but for me I wanted such a fish in Alan’s net so made him grab his kit and set up in my swim. An hour passed before the first bite and yes it was a roach but a 1lb 5oz fell somewhat short, yet still a fish to be mighty proud off.
Darkness was well upon us when the next bite came. I had headed back down stream to cover different spots and was just returning to see a 4lb chub in his net. Now I bet he missed a few heartbeats during that fight. Sitting with him the last cast lasted maybe four casts and our session bought to a close when once again a sea trout splashed itself through the swim.
The perfect day would have been a 4lb chub in my net and a 2lb roach in Alan’s yet that’s fishing our search goes on, however we are now close, very close and I’m confident that it wont be long before Alan’s dream is fulfilled.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Charman’s Challenge – River Test Nursling.

Charman’s Challenge – River Test Nursling.

Date – Friday 5th December 2014

Venue fact file –
Nursling Mill Beat, Mill Lane, Nursling, Southampton, Hants SO16 0YE
Tickets £25-00
Tel Nick on - 07876100095. (Coarse, game and grayling syndicate available)
Stock – Predominantly a game fisher’s paradise but the stretch offers superb grayling fishing along with some chub, a few roach and dace as well as pike, bream, hybrids and carp.

Conditions – An overcast start with occasional shower at midday but eventually giving way to clear skies and a brilliant sunset. Temperature only 4 degrees on arrival and 4 on departure rising to a max of just 7. Atmospherics high at 1026mb and luckily very little wind. River clear fast and dropping.

For one reason or another it’s been a while since myself and good friend Mel had managed to get out together. Mel contacted me a couple of years ago with the view of increasing as many personal best as possible, ones that were at least 50% of the British record. Since our adventures we have managed to complete many of our goals but a couple of species, in particular Catfish and Grayling had always eluded us, so with a window of opportunity presenting itself we grabbed the chance with both hands and headed to the river Test at Nursling. Unfortunately I’m not allowed to guide on this stretch so we both bought a day ticket with the view of exploring the beat along with myself helping Mel to improve his centrepin skills.
I could have quite easily placed a feeder rod in Mel's hands but to me this isn’t grayling fishing so resisted the easy option and stayed traditional. Maggots and worms are banned here in an attempt to protect the salmon par so it was an all out sweetcorn attack; however a few slices of bread were in the van just in case we thought there was a chance of a big roach. Having never fished this particular stretch before it was an adventure for both of us; however I’m familiar with the beat as friends have fished it in the past and painted a near perfect picture of it.
Nick the river keeper was already next to the river when we arrived and quickly gave us a brief of where the best chance of a two-pounder was, upstream of the pool, something I already knew. We decided to head right to the top of the beat on the left hand bank which extends to just above the M27 bridge and borders the Broadlands Syndicate beat. Above the bridge is very shallow, not the best area for a couple of rusty centrepin anglers and after no action came we headed downstream to a worn swim that screamed fish.
I’d decided to set Mel up with an identical rig as myself, a 4.5g 2.5swan loafer float with a 5lb hooklink and a size 14 Kamasan B525 hook. We were both using 15ft rods, pins with 6lb mainline, basically tackle that I used when I started grayling fishing many years ago which accounted for loads of big fish on the river Itchen. By doing this I knew that if it wasn’t working for me then it wouldn’t be working for Mel, however although the end tackle seemed fine it was our centrepins that were causing us a few problems. I had lost the main screw holding the drum on my Okuma pin a few days before and decided to use a new pin that I reviewed a while back, however I noticed that it didn’t spin as freely as I would have liked and put this down to being new, yet after struggling on for a while soon realised that something was seriously wrong with it, a dud probably! Mel's float was pulling in to the bank and holding back and the problem was soon found as he had spooled up with too much line, an easy mistake to make, and it was this that was bedding in, so with some removed it started to perform better as the day progressed.
Forgetting my fishing I started to feed while Mel trotted down a couple of times and probably on the third trot down and after deepening the float slightly it disappeared and he was into a good fish. I have to apologise to Mel as I probably sent his legs to jelly as I momentarily saw the grayling which looked massive and excitingly gave him a running commentary on taking things easy. In the net the size of the fish dropped somewhat and although a great fish to start the day it didn’t beat our goal of 2lb, in fact it didn’t beat his best of 1lb 12oz. Working our way back to the car Mel caught steadily with plenty of grayling around 12oz along with the occasional bigger one of around 1lb 8oz along with the odd sea, brown and rainbow trout. I managed the odd fish even with a pin that needed a helping hand which included grayling, a couple of sea trout and a chub.
Back at the car we had some lunch before trotting down to the Mill. This produced plenty of trout along with a few better grayling but the star of the show was a twenty-pound plus salmon that sat at out feet in the swim.
Heading upstream on the opposite bank we came across a syndicate member who informed us that the roach were now very scarce as were the dace and that this year there had been a big increase in the numbers of grayling along the beat but these were much smaller than the previous season, great! He was trotting bread down river and was getting beaten up by trout after trout so at least the sweetcorn approach was selective and avoided these to some degree.
Heading back downstream we had to try the whirlpool and once again just caught grayling after grayling but nothing bigger than a pound, great sport but we both would have rather had far less fish but a bigger stamp. Id swapped my pin to a back-up Okuma and was now realising the difference between a good pin and a bad pin and was able to control the float perfectly below the salmon run but all this produced once again was modest grayling. Grayling are very strange, some years the numbers seem well down yet the size of fish is big. I experienced this on the Itchen when one year two anglers could catch nearly a hundred fish in a day but none made two pound, yet the next you would struggle for maybe a dozen grayling but two or three would be two-pound plus! Nursling, as well as the Broadlands beat above is full of grayling this year and without a doubt two and three-pounders are there yet singling these out is going to be very difficult.
Nursling is a fantastic stretch of river, without a doubt the best piece of the Test I’ve fished. It may come at a cost but it’s so refreshing to know there are still places to go where bites are non-stop and anglers almost nonexistent. After trying a short club stretch of the Loddon last week and working around three other anglers, all of which hadn’t had a bite it was just the tonic I needed and I will certainly make the pilgrimage south to experience the fantastic fishing Nursling has to offer far more often.
As for the two-pound grayling the search goes on but I already have the next venue up my sleeve!

Here are a few words from my good friend Mel –
Hi Duncan,
Thanks again for a most enjoyable day.
The fishery is picturesque and apart from one other angler we had it all to ourselves.
As usual you were totally unselfish in ensuring I had the best possible chance of a PB grayling. We certainly had the numbers so we rally gave it a good go. In addition catching pristine rainbow, brown and sea trout was a real bonus. I am so grateful for your patience in helping me improve my skills with the centre-pin. I feel much more confident, in what is something of an art, as a result.
Seeing a 20lb salmon lying in touching distance under our feet was such a pleasure.
Looking forward to continuing my quest for PB’s with you.
Kindest regards,

Monday, 1 December 2014

Duncan's Monthly round-up Nov 2014

Monthly round-up November 2014
With the mild weather continuing into November Zander at Old Bury Hill were still high on the agenda. Usually as soon as the water temperature drops they become tough, even after dark yet with this holding up and a couple of customers gagging to have a go we booked a date and enjoyed some non-stop action even if the wet weather tried to spoil session. Around a dozen zeds fell to their rods as well as the sardine munching scaly pest, this time a mid-double common and the friendly badger made an appearance.
Another guiding day saw me take out the winner of the TAC (Thames Anglers Conservancy fish of the year completion who won with an amazing 5lb 7oz perch! Wanting to catch his first barbel we headed to the Loddon and once again found the river in far from great barbel condition, fining down, yet we kept at it, had a great day out and he was eventually rewarded with a good chub. Every TAC member can enter this competition and it’s in remembrance of my good friend Richard Crimp who sadly passed away earlier this year. So if you catch a great fish out of the Thames forward this to Dave Harvey and who knows you might win a day out on the bank with me and the great thing for me is that I find out exactly where the winning fish comes from however I know the spot the perch came from well but the days of tracking big fish down, especially those at a distance or that involve loads of obstacles are long gone.
More details for the TAC can be found here
My other customer, Nick wanted something different that the standard sitting behind buzzers waiting for a carp to show so I suggested that we head down south and try our luck at grayling. Sadly with so much rain around we decided to knock this on the head and try to catch some Stillwater chub on the waggler. Well what a day this turned out to be as we amassed a weight well over a hundred pounds with a high percentage being our target species. Sometimes a change is so refreshing and I think it did both of us the world of good, something to get the mind working and a great confidence boost for our other ongoing campaigns.
In total my guiding days totalled just three (3), slightly down on previous months but due to constantly having to rearrange days organised for such exclusions such as predator fishing the Thames, grayling fishing on the Test/Itchen due to the heavy rain. Once the weather settles, and December has dawned in a favourable way then it should be a busy few months. The bad weather has allowed me to get ahead of myself with feature writing. When I’m not casting a line or helping others then its keyboard tapping time and along with three days on the bank numerous other indoors has seen a number of features compiled including two Anglers Mail Action Replays along with a couple of Coarse Angling Today articles and numerous European article and bits for Nash.
My own personal outings have seen me fishing six times making it a total of 12 outings for the month which have totalled around 70hrs. Not a great deal I have to admit but add a day on the Nash stand at Sandown, a couple of weddings which takes up loads of my time not just taking pictures on the day but manipulating them afterwards as well as a pre-baiting campaign in which I’ve visited the venue on four evenings towards the end of the month, well need I say more. This little baiting campaign will see me actually fishing the venue early December and to say I’m not eager to cast a line is an understatement, in fact once this blogs written I will be sorting out the helicopter rigs with big roach firmly embedded in my mind. Those six sessions have seen myself target those massive silver bream at Mill Farm fishery but sadly I never netted a two-pounder this year and my biggest from the latest session was similar to those in the spring 1lb 15oz. The session was spent with my father and that day we once again caught loads including numerous carp plus a few tench and perch to just under two pound in a bag of around 150lb! Three sessions were spent targeting barbel on the Thames but with the river at times almost un-fishable and 4oz plus leads needed the beards have moved so apart form numerous bream it’s once again head scratching time.
If the weather settles down then I’m expecting December to be far busy, well hours spent on the bank that is and hopefully the secret roach lake will come up trumps and supply me with a few two-pounders.